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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 17:29 GMT
War hero author fondly remembered
Bill Knaggs
Bill Knaggs' plane was shot down over Normandy in 1944
Tributes have been paid to a World War II hero who has died at the age of 85.

Bill Knaggs, from Stanley in Perthshire, was one of only two crew members to survive when their plane was shot down over Normandy in 1944.

The RAF warrant officer recorded his escapades in a book called 'The Easy Trip'.

He would also give lectures to raise funds for the families of those who had helped people like him escape the Nazis.

Mr Knaggs had spent six nights making the dangerous trip to Rouen, where he was taken in by the French Resistance, after parachuting into France.

He did not speak a word of French, so had to pretend to be a worker who was deaf and unable to talk.

Charming bloke

That was enough to trick the Germans into taking him in a convoy to Paris, where he stayed in a number of safe houses.

He then travelled to a small village north of Paris, where he stayed until the area was liberated.

Mr Knaggs, who was born in Edinburgh, passed away at Perth Royal Infirmary on Monday.

His sister, Margaret Beacher, told the BBC Scotland news website: "He was a lovely gentleman, a really lovely gentleman.

The Easy Trip
Mr Knaggs described his adventure in his book

"He was just a wonderful man, one of the old school."

She added that he gave talks to school children when they were studying that period.

"He did go to Luncarty near where he lived and he gave a talk there," she said.

"He always remembers the children, about a week later he got a load of things through the post from the school, with all pictures drawn of what they imagined had happened, which he was ever so pleased about."

Mr Knaggs spent the last 23 years of his life living at Stanley and was involved in a number of clubs.

He was the president of the Tayside branch of the Aircrew Association.

Fellow member Harry Davey, 76, said: "He was a tough character, he'd obviously lived through an awful lot during that phase of the war and since then with his illness and he'd been very determined to overcome all his problems.

"He was quite a gentleman, a very quietly spoken chap, but steely underneath."

Honorary secretary of the association, Geoff Kirkman, added: "To everyone he was a charming bloke, nice, friendly and kind to everybody."

Mr Knaggs' funeral service will be held on 1 February in Perth.

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