Bill Bannister


The living legend who calls Devonport home

Bill Bannister lived in Devonport his entire life, despite sailing around the world with the Royal Navy. Bill was dispatched to rescue evacuees during the Spanish Civil War and was at Scapa Flow when the Royal Oak was torpedoed by a German Submarine, costing 833 men their lives. His family home was bombed during the Blitz and left him and his family homeless.

In 1942, Bill married his sweetheart, Gladys, and they were married for 58 years before she passed away. Bill was involved with a raid on St Nazaire docks – and was even forced to make a will as there were no survivors expected. The raid worked and Bill was able to pull aboard any survivors and beat a hasty retreat.

One can only imagine some of the things Bill has seen, but we should be immensely proud of him, as should Devonport itself. Devonport is a place you could say that Bill is familiar with. He was born and raised there, saw it devastated by war, watched as it was rebuilt, and in recent years has seen it regenerated. He has been all over the world, yet it’s where he calls home.

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