Wilmot Reginald Pettit O.B.E., D.F.C.

Wilmot Reginald Pettit O.B.E., D.F.C.

S/L Wilmot Reginald (Bill) Pettit, O.B.E., D.F.C., one of Brantford's most distinguished airmen, had an outstanding record of service during the war. His contribution to the Allied cause was worthy of recognition by His Majesty the King and by the bestowal of one of its highest honors by the Royal Canadian Air Force. He had spent almost three years in the service and had taken part in many operations over enemy territory, when on D-Day, June 6, 1944, with his splendid combat record behind him, and when he might have returned to the safety of Canada, he volunteered for further duty and began the dangerous task of carrying paratroopers into the invasion area. His plane was among those that failed to return and he was officially reported missing. S/L Pettit's R.C.A.F. career began in 1940. An example of his high courage and full sense of his responsibility towards his comrades was cited when he was made an officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The citation reads: "Squadron Leader Pettit was in charge of night flying at an R.A.F. station when an aircraft crash-landed and caught fire in swampy ground. With the aid of LAC J. T. Wray, of the R.A.F. (who received the British Empire Medal, Military Division, for his part in the exploit), he released two members of the aircraft's crew who had been trapped in the fuselage, and then discovered the rear gunner pinned upside down in his turret, seriously injured. Defying flames, danger from exploding ammunition and pyrotechnics, and the fact that fuel tanks had begun to explode, S/L Pettit succeeded in extricating the rear-gunner. He is credited with having saved the lives of three members of the aircraft crew". When in October, 1943, S/L Pettit was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the citation read: "As a pilot, this officer had participated in many attacks on important enemy targets and has displayed great skill and determination. On a recent occasion, whilst over Berlin, his aircraft was hit by fire from the ground defenses but he continued his bombing run to execute a successful attack. Shortly afterwards, the bomber was hit again, this time by fire from an enemy fighter. The rear turret was rendered unserviceable; most of the electrical system was shot away, while the control wires of two petrol tanks were severed. Coolly and skillfully, Flight Lieutenant Pettit evaded the attacker and afterwards flew the bomber to base. This officer displayed great courage and determination throughout." Born in Brantford in 1912, the third son of Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Pettit, 57 Murray St., he had attended Dufferin School and graduated with his matriculation from the Collegiate Institute.

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