Walter Icly Wraith

Born: 14 November 1903
Died: 13 June 1998
Service number: 1537608
Rank: Corporal
Regiment/Service: RAF fitter/armourer
Family information: Son of William and Mabel Wraith and husband of Jenny Adelia (nee Hartley)

War service

Dad had his medical at Huddersfield 21 May 1941 and reported to RAF Padgate on 19 July1941. After kitting out he was posted to Redcar for basic training. He was then posted to Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire to work on Hurricanes. After passing to be ACI he went on a 5 month fitters course at Kirkham nr. Blackpool, passed the course and was then posted to Castle Kennedy in Scotland. Next posting was to Mona on Anglesey where he passed for LAC. Then it was back to Castle Kennedy, 36 Operational Training Station. Soon after he was made up to Corporal.

His main work was working with the Aircraft Guns and on one flight test-fired over 500 rounds into the Irish Sea. He also repaired turrets which had damaged perspex. It was not all work and he was able to partake in his love of fishing and refereeing rugby matches.The last posting was to Church Fenton and he could not be any nearer to home. He came home every night and I used to meet him at Normantion Station at 5.55pm. Sometimes he would bring a rabbit home for a meal that he had shot on the Airfield.

Click to see large rimage of Walter's release papersHaving worked on Ansons, Bothas, Hurricanes, Spitfires, Lancasters and Halifaxes the last plane was a Mosquito. One of his last jobs was to go to Sherburn to clear up unexploded bombs after a train had blown up. I remember this, hearing the explosion and the plume of smoke and this was at Normanton! He was discharged on 19 November 1945.

Family story

Walter was born at Robin Hood and left school at 12 years old to work at Armitages Farm at Thorpe. Later he worked at Robin Hood Colliery as a Clerk, then Armitages Brick Works, making bricks. Then up to call up as an Insurance Man for Refuge Ins. Co. Whilst at the BrickWorks he married Jenny Adelia Hartley at Eastmoor Chapel on 19 September 1931 and lived at 73 Jacobs Well Lane, Wakefield. As his work for Refuge was at Normanton it meant a move to 109 High Street. Here he was in the A.R.P until his call up.

He always thought that the Germans used the Half Moon at Kirkthorpe as a turning point, one way they went on to bomb Sheffield and the other Leeds.

On his demob he went back to work for the Refuge but he did not like it, so he bought a milk round when milk was still rationed and delivered with a horse and cart. The round was in Wakefield on Lawfield Lane, Thornes Road and Mount Crescent area. Another house move came in 1950 to 56 Wakefield Road, Flushdyke, Ossett. Mum died in 1968 and when no.56 was purchased for the new industrial estate the following year, he moved to 13 Athold Drive, Ossett. Walter finally retired in 1970.

Even having a seven day a week job he was still able to take part in his love of sport. He refereed his last Rugby League match in 1953, having joined Wakefield Referees Society in 1930. He was made a life member.

His real passion was for fishing and caught his first fish at 5 years old (1909). He joined Wakefield Tradesman Angling Club in 1923 and was made Life President in 1986. His other clubs were West Riding Anglers and they made him a life member in 1983 and Ossett A.C. in 1984.

Walter passed away on 13th June 1998.

Story submitted by David M Wraith.

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