William "Bill" White

We’ve all heard of Olympic Gold Medal winner Duncan Goodhew and his exploits in the swimming pool. Duncan and his family at one time lived in Church Road, but l wonder how many have heard of William “Bill” White who may well be Britain’s oldest living Olympian and who now lives in our midst. Close neighbour and Parish Councillor, John Bryan writes:

A month or so back you may have seen on BBC South Today an item featuring someone who is possibly the oldest member of the 1952 Great Britain Olympics team. The programme rightly celebrated the achievements of a certain gentleman. You may not have thought any more of it but that gentleman, Bill White, actually lives amongst us in Yapton.

I am sure Bill won’t mind if l tell you that he is now 95 years young and still very active. He was a member of the Great Britain shooting team that competed in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics where he won a bronze medal.

Bill began his shooting career in 1931 when he enrolled in the RNVR and found that he had a natural ability and a very steady hand. He shot in competitions until the outbreak of the 2nd World War when he joined the RAF and here his ability was quickly noted.

Bill became an Air Gunner serving on Wellington Bombers and later Mitchell Bombers. During the Arnhem campaign his Wellington was hit by enemy fire and after making an emergency ‘bomb drop’ they made a ‘forced landing’ in a snow covered field, luckily on our side of the conflict!

When the war ended Bill returned to work for the City of London Police. London was to host the 1948 Olympics and Bill along with colleagues from the Bisley Rifle Club ln Surrey constructed the ranges for the competitions. As a member of the 1952 team, he scored 498 out of a possible 600. He narrowly missed selection for the 1956 Melbourne Games. From 1947 to 1961 he was a Great Britain International pistol marksman competing in many competitions.

During 2007 with members of his family he travelled overland to Algeria for a holiday and he celebrated his 95th birthday with a ‘flight’ on the London Eye! Bill can still be found keeping his ‘steady hand in’ on the Ford Air Rifle Ranges along Burndell Road as well as at the Bisley Ranges. Long may he continue to do so! Belated congratulations to Bill on his achievements; we wish him well for the future.

William "Bill" White

John Bryan
December 2007

(Originally published in Yapton News & Views, January 2008)


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