RAF officers to help give Stanion war veteran ‘the send-off he deserves’

Jack Linaker back in 2010
Jack Linaker back in 2010

Family, friends and officers will gather to pay tribute to a war veteran who has died at the age of 97.

A number of officers from RAF Marham will be among those honouring the life of William John Linaker, who was known as Jack, at Kettering Crematorium tomorrow.

Lancaster rear gunner Jack Linaker

Lancaster rear gunner Jack Linaker

Jack was born in the county in June 1919 and trained as an air gunner after joining the RAF during World War Two.

He was posted to 9 Squadron at RAF Bardney near Lincoln and became the tail gunner in a crew with lifelong friend Bunny Rothwell.

On 21 Dec 1944, when returning from an operational sortie, his Lancaster crash landed and Jack’s rear turret was severed from the rest of the sliding Lancaster.

Jack was catapulted into the air and landed in a potato field without his flying boots, which had come off.

Bunny found him and they looked around for the rest of the crew, but sadly they found two of their crew dead and their pilot was missing - he had been catapulted through the cockpit roof, still attached to his seat, but was found alive.

Jack returned to flying a few weeks later and was promoted to flight sergeant and then warrant officer.

He survived the war and married Theresa, who died several years ago.

Rob Sutton, a retired RAF officer, said: “Both Jack and I are members of the 9th Squadron Association.

“Because Jack lived in Stanion, we used to take him backwards and forwards to RAF Marham for the reunions.

“We have done that for a number of years, and because of that we always kept in touch to say hello and see how he was.

“He was an absolute gem.

“It was only this year when he had his fall that he went downhill.”

Jack spent most of his life in Corby and had a bungalow in Stanion, where his neighbours would check in on him and help with his shopping.

All are welcome at the funeral, and Mr Sutton added: “We want to give him the send-off that he deserves.

“We are trying to honour one of our own.”

The funeral for Jack, who died on October 21, is taking place at midday tomorrow (Wednesday) at Kettering Crematorium.

Anyone who would like to attend the funeral is asked to email Mr Sutton on robsutton54@gmail.com.