Tributes to war hero, Bill after an ‘incredible life’ at sea

Bill Perks shows off his Medal of Ushakov. NNL-141013-123658001
Bill Perks shows off his Medal of Ushakov. NNL-141013-123658001

The family of a decorated war hero have paid tribute to his incredible life after he died at the age of 91.

Leslie Perks, known to his friends and family all his life as Bill, died at Myton hospice in Warwick on May 30.

His daughter Jane, said her father will be sorely missed after a long and active life in Leamington and abroad.

The war hero, who lived in Lillington, was decorated with one of Russia’s most prestigious medals - as well as being awarded with the Legion of Honour days before his death.

Bill was born and schooled in Leamington. After working in the fire and rescue service once he left school at the age 17, he decided to sign up. He joined the Royal Navy there and then in what led to a long and impressive career in the forces.

The keen youngster went on to sail on the destroyer HMS Walker on nine convoys between Scotland to Russia, braving icy storms and the threat of bombings and torpedo strikes.

MHLC-18-06-13 Convoy medal Jun72 
Pictured,Bill Perks, 92, with his medal he received a Russian Convoy medal on Sunday after waiting for almost 70 years. ENGNNL00120130619115353

MHLC-18-06-13 Convoy medal Jun72 Pictured,Bill Perks, 92, with his medal he received a Russian Convoy medal on Sunday after waiting for almost 70 years. ENGNNL00120130619115353

His actions on board later earnt him the honour of Medal of Ushakov - Russia’s equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

The grandfather was given the Atlantic Star, the Arctic Star, The Italian Star, and the France and Germany Star in the years following his service.

Just days before his death he was honoured with one of the highest medals in France - the Legion of Honour in recognition of his part in the D-Day Landings in 1944.

After returning from the war, Bill met the love of his life, Betty and the pair were married in Leamington in 1952.

My father was a great man and will be missed by so many people

Jane Davies

They went on to have three children, Linda, Ian and Jane, and five grandchildren.

Bill worked for an engineering firm in Warwick until partially retiring and devoting his time to a job at Kingsley School.

In 2009 he took full retirement and enjoyed spending time with his wife, working in the garden, and devoting time to the RNLI and Sea Cadets for which he was given a Citizen of the Year award.

Bill was left widowed in 2013 when Betty died shortly after the pair celebrated a happy 60 years of marriage.

Bill and Betty Perks celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary on Thursday. MHLC-30-03-12 Perks Diamond Mar72 ENGNNL00120120330122222

Bill and Betty Perks celebrated their Diamond Wedding anniversary on Thursday. MHLC-30-03-12 Perks Diamond Mar72 ENGNNL00120120330122222

His daughter Jane, who moved back in to the family home at this time, described her father as her best friend who will be sorely missed.

“My father was a great man and will be missed by so many people,” she said.

“His time in the navy was so special to him. He wanted to go to London for the Russian VE celebrations in May and it made him so happy.

“A week later he was admitted to hospital and we never imagined he would not come back home. But his face lit up when I took in a picture of him and mum, and then his medals. We were best friends and he was so special. I will miss him so much. He did so much for Leamington and was very popular and active.”