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Wartime Keighley RAF hero was ‘full of fun’
A Keighley man who was decorated for his courage during the Second World War has died at the age of 92.
Former Royal Air Force flight engineer, Matthew Holliday, who lived in Westburn Crescent, died last month.
He was born in Durham in 1921, but had lived locally since he was a teenager.
He joined the RAF at the start of the war in 1939. He was a member of 10 Squadron and 77 Squadron, and completed a total of 52 combat missions.
While on a bombing raid against the heavily-defended German city of Dusseldorf, his Halifax aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters. After taking evasive action, Mr Holliday and the rest of his crew were separated from the other RAF bombers. However, they pressed on and were able to attack their target.
All the aircraft’s crew members were decorated, and Mr Holliday was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.
His daughter, Diane Petherick, said: “The war was a big part of his life, it had a major impact on him.
“He was a lovely man. He was full of fun, cheeky and had a brilliant sense of humour, which was why so many people loved him.
“He never had a bad word to say about anyone – he was a true gent really.”
Ian Walkden, of Keighley Royal British Legion, said a successful campaign to have a memorial plaque for members of the Royal Air Force and Royal Flying Corps at Keighley War Memorial originated in a request from Mr Holliday.
He told a friend of his he would like to see a tribute to the RAF on the cenotaph before he died. The plaque was installed and unveiled in late 2011.
Diane said her father left the air force at the end of the war and married her mother, Doreen, in October 1945. The couple were together until Doreen’s death 17 years ago.
Mr Holliday worked in engineering at Salts Mill and Keighley Laboratories.
For the last 20 years of his working life, he was a primary school teacher at Glusburn School, and was deputy head at the time of his retirement.
Mr Holliday’s funeral service took place on September 26 at the Knowle Chapel of Rest in Keighley, and was followed by a cremation.