Desmond George Thomas Pillar

Picture of Desmond George Thomas Pillar.

Send to a Friend

Mr Desmond George Thomas Pillar

Born 10th November 1921 in Dartmouth Devon, the eldest son of Harry Gillard Pillar and Ernestine (Tina) Julia Linard Pillar, Desmond grew up with his younger brother and sister, Maurice and Avril. His childhood was a good one, filled with school work, morning paper rounds and running errands for his Mum and Gran.

Upon leaving school he became an apprentice carpenter and enjoyed the work till he was 20 when he decided to join up instead of waiting for his call up papers, so he went along t the recruitment office and asked to join the Navy but there were no vacancies, so he asked to join the Army, again he was told no vacancies and the recruitment officer asked what trade he had and when Desmond stated he was a carpenter, he was told to join the Royal Air Force as they still had wooden framed aircraft so he could help mend them, thus started a career that lasted 35 years and went all over the world.

Whilst on leave he met Lillian Patria (Pat) Sanders, who in 1946 would become his wife. Desmond spent most of the war years in the Far East and Burma but when asked by his grandchildren ‘what did you do in the war Granddad?’ it wasn’t about the battles or the narrow escapes, it was about how they got their hands on half a dozen chickens and the cook couldn’t pluck or clean them so he showed him how and built an oven out of an oil drum to cook them in. There was also the time that his team had to go and reclaim three aircraft that had been shot down and they were away so long with the job that when they eventually got back to base they were accused of being absent without leave.

On his demob at the end of the war, Desmond drew the short straw as most were flown back home but his journey took him by train overland and it started before Christmas and he finally got home in February. After demob he couldn’t settle so he re-enlisted into the RAF and made a career out of it.

He and Pat married in July 1946 in Brixham and had two children, Martyn and Julienne.

His postings took him to Singapore three times and the States to work on the Thor Missile project and he kept going back to either St Athan or Brize Norton and when both himself and Pat were at his last overseas posting to Singapore in 1969, their first grandchild was born and a request was sent to them both via the Forces Radio Station, but Desmond had already left for work and his work crew kept singing Granddad until he got a phone call from Pat to tell him their granddaughter Karen had been born.

When they came back from Singapore he stayed in England till 1976 when they retired and they bought a property in Torquay and settled down to civilian life. By now they were proud grandparents to four granddaughters and two grandsons. They settled down and Desmond started to work for Torex, a hire company where he wrote the safety manuals for the equipment for hire, this he enjoyed.

Unfortunately Pat passed away after a short illness in 1988 but Desmond carried on and worked until his 70th birthday when he gathered the family around him to celebrate this with the announcement of his retirement from Torex. This was November 1991 and at this time, his first great grandchild Ayden was born, Jessica Nathan followed in 1992. Desmond’s time was then taken up with his garden and helping out at his daughter and son in law’s farm and generally keeping himself busy and he also visited friends and spent time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He had three more great-grandchildren by 2001 with Georgina in 1999, Liam in 2000 and Michael in 2001.

Unfortunately, he lost his daughter Julienne in 2003, after a short illness and his son Martyn in 2006 and he tried to keep going but by 2008 his health had deteriorated and he had a spell in hospital after becoming ill, but Desmond did not take it lying down and after a few weeks bounced back and with stiff upper lip, carried on, but he needed a little help and asked his daughter in law Christine to pop in on a regular basis to help with the heavy chores. He still got around and enjoyed going out and meeting people but when his sister Avril passed away in 2011 his health did deteriorate over the next few years culminating in him passing away in his sleep on the 5th May 2013.

Desmond would always have time to stop and chat and the stories he would tell of his time in the Far East were always amusing and many times if asked if he was in the Forces he would always reply ‘oh yes, 35 years in the Royal Air Force’ then he would tell one of his famous stories. Rest in Peace Desmond, you are now back with Pat, Martyn, Julienne and Avril. We will always love you and you will always be in our hearts.

Added by: Christine Pillar on 26th September 2013.


Find a person

Additional Images

Click the thumbnails below to view as the main image.

Picture of Desmond George Thomas Pillar.
Picture of Desmond George Thomas Pillar.

Make a donation

The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund

Add your tributes

If you would like to add a tribute to Desmond George Thomas Pillar, please use the link below and follow the instructions provided.

Additional links

Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund
67 Portland Place, London W1B 1AR
0800 169 2942
Registered Charity No. 1081009