Remembered by: Roger Turner
Date added: 15 Mar 2013
Flight Lieutenant William Davidson MBE, his wife Euphemia “Betty” and his daughter Heather Turner.
This family all now passed away were, in effect an RAF family. Bill or “Dave” as he was known to many of his RAF friends, was virtually in at the start of the RAF, having first enlisted in the Royal Flying Corp as a Private on 27th August 1917. He served with them in France and transferred to the nascent RAF as an Air Mechanic until finally being discharged on 8th December 1919 . He remustered in the RAF as Fitter Aero Engines in 1921, after completing his Engineering apprenticeship at St.John’s Foundry and Engineering Co. in Perth .
After WW1 Bill served for a total of 37 years including stations in India , Iraq , and Burma . He held the Kurdistan Medal, the Long Service Medal, the Burma Star and was twice mentioned in Despatches.
In the Second World War he was awarded the M.B.E. when he was with No.82 Squadron in Burma .
Flight–Lt Davidson returned to Burma after the war to take up the post of Chief Technical Adviser to the Burmese Airforce where, at the request of the Burmese Government, he undertook alongside his official duties the successful formation of a Burmese Air Force Pipe Band.
Bill Davidson’s experience in Military aircraft propulsion and flight was probably unique, travelling from the “rickety” machines of the First World War to the jets of the modern era.
Even after his retirement from the RAF, he could not be kept away from his “second wife” - aircraft engines. He joined Bristol Siddeley as a Technical Author writing instruction manuals for Jet Engines and was often a visitor to the rocket engine testing facility there. Bill Davidson’s story featured in the Bristol Siddeley Newspaper 23/8/62, where he was described as “exuding a quiet Scottish tenacity, which explains a lot.”
His family have been unable to discover reasons for his two Mentions in Despatches, but the events leading to his award of M.B.E. are perhaps unusual:
“7th February 1944, 82 Squadron
Particulars of Meritorious Service
This officer has been Engineer Officer in this Squadron for the last year, his untiring and brilliant work put in by him during this time have been largely responsible for the success of Vengeance aircraft on this front. A year ago these aircraft were unreliable, and teething troubles abounded; in January 1943 the Squadron serviceability was NIL. By June 1943 the Squadron was operating successfully on these aircraft, and in August 1943 the Squadron serviceability was the best in Bengal command (3rd R.A.F.). This position has been held for the last six months, at a time when the Squadron has been carrying out extensive operations. In fact, in the last six months the Squadron completed over 1000 sorties, and at the same time kept up a serviceability of 15 out of 16 aircraft. Both these facts were undoubtedly due to the exceptional stamina and skill of this officer, who not only refused to be beaten by a difficult job, but promised that the serviceability of the aircraft of his squadron would be the best in the Command, a promise fulfilled during the last six months.
His devotion to duty and his personal drive were of the highest order, and an example to the whole Squadron. The successful operations carried out by this Squadron, would never have been possible, but for this officer’s achievements. He is most strongly recommended for this decoration.
Recognition recommended........M.B.E. (Medal of the British Empire )
Signed D.R.Gibbs S/ LDR – O.C.No.82 Squadron R.A.F. “
F/Lt Davidson was promoted “in the field” on 20th October 1943.
His M.B.E. was posted in the London Gazette on 1st January 1945.
Although there is little surviving evidence of his musical talent, he was a skilled violinist, having been tutored in Perth by the legendary Scottish fiddler Scot Skinner. He was an enthusiastic sportsman, despite an almost career-ending motor cycle accident and he would often be found on The Old Course, St.Andrews playing golf to a very high level. He was also a noted animal lover, starting off with a Seal which he apparently kept in an ice house in Perth (by the River Tay), followed by a Bear, a Mongoose, and a Leopard cub which apparently decided to grace one mess table, to the rigid consternation of his fellow officers.
In describing my wife Heather and her Mother as an ‘RAF family’, in most cases within the UK where Bill went, they went too, living off base. Mum soon made a home from home with her basic kit of personal possessions, ornaments etc. and Heather attended schools in Harlech, Bishopriggs, Edzell, St.Andrews and most memorably in Rangoon, Burma, which she loved and always longed to return to.
Bill Davidson’s final posting was to Edzell and following this he stayed in Newport on Tay . Not for long however, his engines called and so it was on the road again for the family to Coventry and his new career as a Technical Author. Here Heather qualified to teach Speech and Drama having gained a LAMDA Gold Medal. She married Roger an ex-Merchant Navy Purser in 1966, they had two daughters Lindsay and Alison and eventually after the death of Heather’s Father and Mother, they moved back to the family home in Newport on Tay .
Flight L/t William Davidson passed away in Coventry on 6/6/1969, and his ashes courtesy of the RAF were scattered in the North Sea . Euphemia Davidson (Nee Wilson) died also in Coventry 8/3/1975
and her ashes joined her husband’s in the North Sea, as will those of Heather Turner, who died on 20th February 2012 at Torksey, Lincolnshire . She is much missed by Husband Roger, her Daughters Lindsay Davies and Alison Monday and Grandchildren Tom and Bethany .
This RAF memory includes Euphemia’s nephew, John Fortune Wilson (known as Ian) who was looked upon much as a brother to Heather. Unfortunately, after serving in the RAF in Ismalia, he was lost on 19th February 1956 in a well documented air crash in Malta .
Photo shows:- Flt.Lt.Davidson,his wife Betty,Daughter Heather and Betty`s sister Aunty "Peg"