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Bill Malins, author of 'Coming in to Land', was recently published by Memoirs Books. The only son of a farming family, Bill gives a fascinating insight into rural Oxfordshire life during the 1920s and 30s, and then goes on to describe his 14-year career with the RAF, serving as a low level reconnaissance pilot during the Second World War and earning a Distinguished Flying Cross in the process.
From his Oxfordshire farmhouse, Bill said, “It’s taken three years of hard work, but I’m delighted to see my memoirs in print at long last.” Bill’s phenomenal memory brings an incredible level of detail to the book, and his recollections of being trained to spray mustard gas on British beaches in the event of a German invasion and seeing the horrors of the Belsen concentration camp shortly after the war ended have already sparked interest in the national press.
At the age of 95, he still remembers growing up on an Oxfordshire farm in the 1920s, where he would help with the haymaking, steer a horse-drawn harrow, milk a cow and ride sheep for entertainment.
Amid the happiness there were moments of tragedy. There was the loss of his baby sister to peritonitis when Bill was seven years old. A couple of years later he had to stand by as the farm were burned to the ground, taking with it his favourite horse and dog. Bill would cycle each day to the local RAF base to deliver milk, often stopping to gaze at the aircraft overhead. By the time he was 22 years old he had become an RAF pilot himself.
Bill Malins was one of the first officers to set foot on Sicilian soil when the Allies invaded the island in 1943 (and still has the top secret maps he was issued), and the same year he narrowly survived the deadly doodlebug which struck the Strand, killing more than 80 people. Bill was there when the Allies crossed the Rhine in 1945 in the closing stages of the war, and his squadron was one of the first inside the gates of Belsen when the notorious concentration camp was liberated.
After completing a post-war world tour with the RAF Directorate of Accident Prevention, Bill gave up the airborne life in 1952 to return to the farm, where he has lived and worked ever since.
Sadly Bill passed away shortly after his book was published.