War hero from Ballyronan laid to rest in Australia

Flt. Lt. Walter Scott DFC [extreme right] with his comrades during the war
Flt. Lt. Walter Scott DFC [extreme right] with his comrades during the war
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A Second World War veteran from Ballyronan who flew almost 60 missions as a navigator, has died at his home in Australia.

Flight Lieutenant Walter Scott DFC was involved in some of the most treacherous assignments of the war, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross at the age of just 20.

Flt. Lt. Walter Scott DFC

Flt. Lt. Walter Scott DFC

Walter’s father and mother were William James and Ellen May (nee Reynolds) Scott who set up home on a farm adjacent to Ballyronan.

William James was a veteran of WW1 during which time he was wounded. They had four sons, Herbert, Walter, Oswald and Rennie.

Walter was born in 1923 and went to the local primary school and then on to the Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt.

He always wanted to be a pilot and WW2 brought the opportunity. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force on his 18th birthday, 23rd August 1943 alongside his brother Herbie.

He went on to fly 21 missions in American B17 Flying Fortresses with 214 Squadron. At the age of 20 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross

Initial flying training was at Manchester with follow-on experience planned for Canada. Fate intervened at this point and Walter had to put his pilot aspirations on hold for the duration of the war. Navigators were in short supply and Walter found himself in navigation school, first in Eastbourne and then up in Scotland.

On qualifying as a navigator, he was posted to 101 Squadron at Ludford Magna on 10th September 1943. He flew seven missions in Lancasters with this squadron before being transferred to the newly formed 576 Squadron on 25th November 1943, also a Lancaster squadron.

This squadron operated out of Elsham Wolds and he flew 22 missions from here. Targets were Berlin, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Hanover and Magnaburg.

He went on to fly 21 missions in American B17 Flying Fortresses with 214 Squadron. At the age of 20 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, in recognition of the extreme bravery he showed during the many dangerous missions he undertook over Germany. Walter’s crew-mates were all young men and were soon designated as senior crew, giving them the benefit of being first away on a mission and hence first over the target. At the end of the war, Flight Lieutenant Scott DFC, who had flown perhaps up to 57 missions, was posted to 243 Squadron in Camden, near Sydney, Australia followed by 52 Squadron in India. He flew in DC3 (Dakota) aircraft ferrying medical personnel and supplies throughout the Far East. He was finally de-mobbed on 31st January 1947 and returned home to Ballyronan.

On his return, he, with the assistance of his brothers, founded a successful sand, gravel and concrete products’ business.

He finally gained his Private Pilots Licence in 1962 and take off at will in his single engined Beagle Airedale aircraft. It is said that when snow lay thick on the roads between Toome and the pit and Limavady, Walter would take off and reconnoitre the area to see if the trucks could get through.

In 1967 Walter decided to emigrate to Australia with wife Jean and their six children. They moved to Townsville in 1972, where he set-up Scott Brickworks. The extended family numbers 54 at this time and many of them still return to Ballyronan and Toome to stay connected with Walter’s legacy.

Information kindly supplied by Ben Scott (Walter’s son)

101 Sqn. Association; 576 Sqn. Association; RAF Fiskerton Airfield website.