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RAF hero who helped defend Norfolk coast in 1953 floods dies aged 85

PUBLISHED: 15:29 27 October 2014 | UPDATED: 15:29 27 October 2014

Geoffrey Williams with his wife Primrose at their diamond wedding party. Picture: supplied

Geoffrey Williams with his wife Primrose at their diamond wedding party. Picture: supplied

Archant

An RAF officer who helped defend Norfolk’s east coast during the devastating 1953 floods has died, aged 85.

Sqn Ldr Geoff Williams was a young flying officer when he was sent to Cobholm in Great Yarmouth to protect a railway bridge against the rising waters.

Born in London and trained at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, he was posted to RAF Horsham St Faith - now Norwich Airport - where he flew meteors, Britain’s first 
operational jet that was introduced into service in the summer of 1944.

While there he took part in the flypast for the Queen’s Coronation Review of the RAF. He also met Primrose Henderson-Gray, of the Manor House, Coltishall, whom he married in 1954.

Before he married he was among hundreds of servicemen who waded in to help flood-struck communities in January 1953.

The floods, which wrecked devastation along Norfolk and Suffolk’s coast claimed hundreds of lives. In Cobholm little boats from the seafront boating lakes were used to rescue people from upstairs windows.

After tours to Germany and Aden Sqn Ldr Williams returned to the UK and was promoted to squadron leader in 1965. He finished his career at RAF Coltishall, commuting from his home at the Manor House.

Sqn Ldr Williams enjoyed a long and active retirement, during which he was chairman of the Norfolk branch of the RAF Halton Apprentices Association.

He died a few days after he and Primrose had celebrated their diamond wedding. They had two sons and one grandson.

His funeral is being held at St Faith’s Crematorium, near Norwich, at 2pm today (Tuesday).

■ Would you like to pay tribute to Sqn Ldr Williams? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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