A WAR veteran who worked on a secret radar system, and a new radar station on the Isle of Wight, has celebrated his 100th birthday.

‘Bill’ Harry Gordon Woolstencroft was born on October 24, 1923, to Harry and Winifred Woolstencroft, nee Tilford.

His older sister (Babs) Diana was born in 1921 and died in 2015, while his younger brother Rex was born in April 1932.

Prior to joining the war effort, Bill acted as a local defence volunteer and built an Anderson shelter in the back garden, using the back door of the house as the entrance to the dugout shelter. 

He was caught during an air raid and almost killed by raining shrapnel as he was walking home; a massive, unexploded bomb falling just outside his back garden.

Bill soon joined the RAF and was sent to Glasgow for an intensive training course, later becoming a communication technician assigned to work on a secret radar system.

The top-secret project was an aerial precision bombing system based on aircraft radio transponder technology.

Bill, now aged 21, spent the rest of the war with a small covert unit which on D-day was tasked with setting up and controlling bombing operations in France.

Following the war, he applied to the Civil Aviation Department in England for a job. 

After initial training at Bletchley Park as a radio technician, he was assigned his first station at Ringway, Manchester Airport, where he worked on maintenance of communications and navigational aids, including VHF direction finders and instrument landing systems.

He went on to become the station telecommunications officer at Belfast Airport, and the telecommunications technical officer at Ronaldsway Airport on the Isle of Man.

He was later appointed officer in charge of the planned new radar station to be erected on the site of the former RAF radar station at St. Boniface Down, above Ventnor, and guided it into full operational standard.

Bill sat exam after exam, earning himself a coveted Membership of the Royal Aeronautical Society, gaining professional chartered engineer status.

During his time on the Island, he befriended Mary Ellis, the famous Island wartime air transport pilot who became the commandant of Sandown Airport.

He was instrumental in providing technical expertise and guidance in establishing radio and navigation aids at the airport and, at the same time, learning to fly a Tiger Moth aircraft based at the airport.

From Ventnor, he then went to Edinburgh for work and met his future wife, Anne.

They married and took an early retirement 1980, emigrating to Vancouver, Canada.

Retirement was short-lived, and he was soon employed again with a company called Microtel, which became Northern Telecom and latterly Nortel. 

He worked as a technical editor well into his 70s.

His birthday was celebrated with his family in Vancouver.

He was thrilled to receive congratulatory messages from King Charles and Queen Camilla, as well as from the Canadian Prime Minister and Governor General, and many more from old civil aviation colleagues back in the UK.