FIRST NAMES: Gordon Leonard
RANK: Flying Officer
UNIT: 76 Squadron - Bomber Command
DOB:21st December 1923
MARITAL STATUS: Married
DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 20th February 1941
STATUS: Shot Down
DATE OF DEATH: 20/21st December 1943
WHERE BURIED: Hotton, Belgium
MEDALS: Distinguished Flying Medal, Aircrew Europe Star, 1939-45 Star, Defence Medal, Victory Medal.
Gordon Hills was born on the 21st January 1923 and was the only son of William and Elsie Hills of Canning Town London and brother to three sisters. He attended the South Halloville Senior School from1933 to 1937.On leaving school he worked as an assistant cashier to Humphrey Grey St Olaf House London. On the 20th February 1941 eighteen year old Gordon volunteered for the RAF. He applied for pilot training but of his own admission failed because his maths weren't good enough.
He was then accepted for training as a wireless operator/air gunner and on completion of his training was posted to No76 Halifax Squadron based at Linton-on Ouse. No 76 Squadron was credited with flying more Halifax operations than any other and were also the first squadron to drop the RAF's first 8,000lb bomb. For a short time Gordon was based at Leeming and it was there where he met Doreen Hogg who's father was mine host of the North Riding Pub in South Parade Northallerton. On the 9th of August 1942 Doreen and Gordon were married by the Reverend Bains at All Saints Parish Church. In July 1943 their daughter Maureen was born. Maureen now lives in Galtres Road Northallerton. At her Christening, Squadron Leader Bickerdyke, Gordon's commanding officer was Godfather to the baby Maureen.
On November 30th at Buckingham Palace His Majesty King George V1 invested F/O Gordon Hills with the Distinguished Flying Medal.Gordon and flown fifty bombing operations with No 76 squadron and had been awarded the DFM for gallantry in air operations during that period. He had shot down two German night fighters and was credited with two more which was quite a score for a gunner. On the 10th February 1943 he was promoted to Pilot Officer,and on the 11th of October 1943 was promoted to Flying Officer.
On the 30th November 1943 Gordon was posted to No77 Squadron based at Elvington near York which was another Halifax Squadron.
On the night of 20/21 December 1943, 390 Lancasters,257 Halifaxes and 3 Mosquitoes,a total of 650 aircraft were detailed to attack the city of Frankfurt. This was Gordon's fifty second bombing raid and one that he had volunteered to fill a vacant crew position. The Pathfinder force encountered cloud over the target and the Germans lit decoy fires and also used dummy marker flares which confused the main bomber force causing the bombs to fall short or into neutral areas. Of the attacking force 27 Halifaxes and 14 Lancasters were shot down, one of the Halifaxes being the one that Gordon was flying and being piloted by Squadron Leader Bickerdyke DFC, the Godfather to his daughter.
Gordon lies in Grave No 1 Row E Plot 5 in the Commonwealth War Grave at Hotton in Belgium . Next to him lies Squadron Leader Bickerdyke his friend and crewman. This is the same cemetery where Captain Alan Wildgoose(East Lancs) lies buried.
Gordon Hills is remembered in the Central Church of the Royal Air Force St Clement Danes London the Romanby War Memorial, Canningtown War Memorial London and No 76 Squadron Memorial at Elvington Aerodrome. Gordon was aged 20 years.