Obituary: Raymond Worrall, barrister

Raymond Worrall, who has died at 95, was the last survivor of Operation Sherwood, the audacious plan devised by the future MP, Lt Col Airey Neave, to help allied airmen who had been shot down or crash-landed in Nazi-occupied Europe to evade capture by the Germans.

Raymond Worrall

Raymond Worrall, who has died at 95, was the last survivor of Operation Sherwood, the audacious plan devised by the future MP, Lt Col Airey Neave, to help allied airmen who had been shot down or crash-landed in Nazi-occupied Europe to evade capture by the Germans.

The mission was named after a forest camp in the Fréteval forest of northern France, which sheltered 152 British and American airmen between May and August 1944.

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Joseph Raymond Waistell Worrall was born in Roundhay, Leeds in July 1924. He joined the RAF immediately after leaving Shrewsbury School in December 1942, and after completing his training as a flight engineer, was posted to Bomber Command at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

In March 1944 he joined 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron, and began operations in a Lancaster bomber. It marked the beginning of what he later called “the luckiest period of my life”, one in which he knew the odds were stacked heavily against him.

Shortly after his 20th birthday, he and his crew set off on their 26th mission. Their target was Stuttgart, home to the Daimler and Porsche factories, several military bases and a railway hub. They didn’t make it. Having encountered enemy fire over France, their Lancaster was struck and went into a steep dive. Ray and his crew baled out at 10,000 feet, an experience he likened to Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.

For the next few days he lived on his wits and off the land, until he was spotted by a member of the Resistance and taken to a remote farmhouse and then to the Fréteval Forest, where he lived under the nose of the Nazis.

The airmen were eventually liberated in August 1944 by Lt Col Neave, who was working for the Military Intelligence department of the War Office, and a small Allied force.

Following his return to Britain, Mr Worrall was posted to 45 Group (Atlantic Transport Command) in Canada, from which he spent the remainder of the war delivering aircraft to India, Africa, and the Middle East. He later wrote a book, Escape From France, detailing his experiences.

Demobbed in 1947, he went to Leeds University and joined the family law business. In 1963 he joined Gray’s Inn and he was called to the Bar, completing a pupillage with Gilbert Gray QC, one of its great orators.

He accepted a tenancy at 37 Park Square in Leeds, the members of which included, in addition to Gray, Harry Ognall and Brian Walsh before they took silk, and John Munkman.

Mr Worrall was in practice at the Bar until 1982, when he was appointed Chairman of the Industrial Tribunal, a post he held until 1996.

Five years ago, he was appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, which he accepted on behalf of those members of the Resistance who risked their lives to save him.

He married Frederica (Rica) in 1952. She died in 2012 and he is survived by his daughter and son, Lynne and John, and three grandsons.