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William Henry Wastell

Servicenumber : 2041969
Rank : Staff Sergeant
Regiment : Glider Pilot Regiment
Unit : No. 1 Wing
Date of Death : 20-02-2012
Age : 92
William Henry "Willie" Wastell was born on 20 august 1919 in Greenwich. He was a son of William Frederick Wastell (1886-1953) and Elisabeth Beatrice Wastell (nee Wells. 1884 - 1956 ). He had two sisters: Joyce Elizabeth (1921 - ) and Joan Edna (1923-2013). They lived at 14 Victoria Way, Charlton.
In 1937-1938 Wastell took evening classes at South East London Technical Institute Lewisham. He passed in the Electrical Engineering Department.
William Wastell joined the army on 21 april 1937. He enlisted into the Royal Artillery. When the Glider Pilot Regiment was formed in 1942 he made a transfer to this Regiment. Wastell passed the Elementary Flight Training School (EFTS), where he spent twelve weeks learning to fly on a Tiger Moth. After that he moved to the Glider Training School (GTS). He was a member of No. 8 Course from 18 november 1942 to 3 march 1943. At the GTS he was learning to fly gliders. At the school they used the Hotspur glider. After successful completion he was awarded his Army's pilot's "wings". Following the GTS Wastell posted to the final phase of training, at the Heavy Glider Conversion Units (HGCU). Here he was trained flying on Horsa gliders. Wastell attended No. 21 HGCU at Brize Norton.    
After completing his training he was posted to G Squadron, where he served with No. 24 Flight. Wastell was the pilot of a Horsa glider (chalk 437). On 17 september 1944 he, and his 2nd pilot Sergeant T.I. "Yanto" Evans, landed near Wolfheze, on landingzone-Z. They had left England from Fairford airfield. They had 4 to 7 men of the Royal Engineers on board of the Horsa, together with a jeep, a trailer and a heavy motorcycle.
No. 24 Flight was ordered to defend the Divisional Headquarters, as part of the Divisional Defence Platoon, and around 19 september they dug in near the tennis court at the Hartenstein Hotel. During the battle at Oosterbeek William Wastell at least once was part of a patrol to the northeast corner of the Oosterbeek perimeter. He stayed near a bakery at a crossroad, possibly the bakery at the junction of Paul Krugerstraat and Mariaweg. 
On 24 september 1944 Wastell was wounded in his foot by mortar shrapnel. He was taken prisoner the next day when he was taken to dressing station at the Utrechtseweg. He was send to Stalag XIB, near Fallingbostel in Germany. While he was a prisoner of war Wastell tried to escape two times, together with Sergeant Wall "Red" Mullett (also of No. 24 Flight), but was captured again both times. He was liberated from the prisoncamp in april 1945.
In 1946 Wastell was demobilised. He re-enlisted on 11 august 1947, with the Royal West Kent Regiment (Servicenumber: 21014016). He transferred back into the Glider Pilot Regiment on 21 january 1948 and after following the EFTS and HGCU again, he was transferred t 4 Squadron. There he undertook training on fixed-wing aircraft, like the Taylorcraft Auster. On 15 august 1950 William Wastell was attached to 656 Air Observation Post Squadron. He served with this unit untill 30 november 1952.   
Wastell married Sheila Mary Graham on 29 july 1950. They met and married while posted at R.A.F. Middle Wallop. During the so-called Malayan Emergency, from 1950 till 1952 and from 1958 till 1959, Wastell and his family lived in Kuala Lumpur as he was posted with the FARELF (Far Eastern Land Forces). His marriage with Sheila Graham was dissolved on 13 december 1962.
After the first time in Malaya, Wastell became a Qualified Flying Instructor, after passing his training on 26 jun 1953. He worked at the Central Flying School until 11 november 1956. In 1957 the Glider Pilot Regiment was amalgamated into the Army Air Corps. 
On 20 august 1971 Wastell left the army as a Warrant Officer II.  In his years in the army he was posted in Germany for most of the 1960's until june 1971. In total he was in the army for almost 31 years.
After leaving the army Wastell completed a course in radio, television and electronics servicing at Gloucester Government Training Center. This led to a job at Rumbelows
William Wastell returned to Arnhem several times during the commemorations. Around 1949 he met the Dutch couple Tjalling and Annie Koster of Velp. It is possible he was assigned to stay at their house during the first pilgrimage.
After his retirement William Wastell decided to go to Spain for winter breaks, initially up to three months at a time. In Spain he met his partner Rita Meffert, who lived in Dortmund. They spend their time together in England, Germany and abroad until she died. Not too long after this Wastell started a relationship with Uta Stephan, who lived in Berlin.
Wastell settled in a maisonette in Brinsons Close, Burton, Christchurch, Dorset. He was a member of a Bowls club until he was unable to continue because of ill health. 
On 20 february 2012 William Henry Wastell passed away. His funeral took place on 9 march 2012 in Bournemouth.
William Wastell with General Urquhart in Malaya 1951. 
William Wastell at the Westerbouwing in september 1949.  
(2nd from the right. In the middle general Hackett
William Wastell in 1971 when he retired from the army. 
Sources: Jane and Anne (Daughters of William Wastell), R. de Heer, L. Buist, Glider Pilots at Arnhem and website http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/ 


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