A WELL-KNOWN Haverfordwest gentleman whose Second World War exploits were featured in a book detailing the bravery of the RAF had a fitting send-off recently with a funeral featuring full military honours.

Bill Thomas took on a role as a gunner with the RAF in his teens, excelling in Morse code during his military career.

Mr Thomas, who died aged 92 last month, is known across the county for his work as salesman for Ivor Rowlands Wholesale Grocer.

He was born in Clarbeston Road in 1924 and didn’t go further than 20 miles before signing up for the RAF at 18, after joining the Air Training Corps in Narberth age 14.

He began his RAF career as a wireless operator and was top of the class at Morse code training, achieving 25 words a minute, before training as an air gunner.

The War Veterans Association arranged Mr Thomas’ military honours, which his family thanked them for.

His funeral was held on October 26.

“It was very moving, it was wonderful,” said his widow Shirley Thomas.

“He was the type of person who would say I don’t want any fuss but I know he would have been very proud.

“It is only in the last few years in the war, he did say he was lucky to be alive after so many near misses and losing a lot of his comrades.

“He was a rear gunner and fluent in Morse code.”

A brief insight into Mr Thomas’ service can be found in Mel Rolfe’s book Flying into Hell, with a chapter highlighting his time in Egypt and Italy during the Second World War.

Following the war Mr Thomas went to work for Haverfordwest Railway, driving a Scamel, around town before starting his salesman role.

This is when he met Shirley, as she helped her father run Sycamore Stores in Merlins Bridge. The couple married in 1963 and had three sons, Colin, John and Mark.

Their daughter Anne sadly died in 2012.

“Bill later went to work for Weslec Electrics in Snowdrop Lane and thought nothing of walking to work and back, and again home and back for lunch.

“He was a very well-known figure walking to Haverfordwest and around the town and back again, having met so many to chat to, even in his later years,” added Mrs Thomas.