b. 26/10/1911 Brentford. d. 08/04/1980 Sliema, Malta.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: June-November 1940 Malta.
William Marsden “Bill” Eastman (1911-1980) was born on 26th October 1911 in Brentford, Middlesex, the son of Ralph and Margaret Eastman (nee Marsden). He attended Uppingham School, in Brooklands House, from 1925 to 1929. Before he going to Cambridge University, he worked in Perth at Pullars. This would have been part of his training to work in his father’s dry-cleaning business. Bill, as he became known, attended Cambridge University for only one term, as the outbreak of war in 1939 curtailed his studies.
Due to the fact he worked with chemicals in his father’s business, it was considered he was suitable for the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and was amongst the first to follow the wartime Inspecting Ordnance Officer’s course at Bramley. In 1940, he was posted to Malta, where he teamed up with Captain Robert Jephson-Jones. As there was no bomb disposal team on the island, both men became involved in having to deal with numerous devices. In all, between June and November 1940, they dealt with 275 devices. At the end of 1940, a specialised Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Unit replaced them, and on Christmas Eve, it was announced both men were to be awarded the George Cross.
Following the award, he spent the majority of the rest of the war in the Middle East, and as a result didn’t get presented with his medal until December 1944. In 1943 he had married Yvonne Vassallo and they went on to have two daughters, Diane and Kim. He reached the rank of Brigadier and before his retirement was Commandant of the RAOC Training Centre at Blackdown. On retirement he and Yvonne returned to Malta.
Sadly, Bill was struck down by several strokes in later years, and spent the remainder of his life in a nursing home. He died on 8th April 1980 in Sliema, Malta and was buried in Ta Braxia Cemetery. His medals including his GC, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star with clasp, Italy Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, 1953 QEII Coronation Medal and 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal were auctioned in March 2008, and were purchased by the Royal Logistic Corps Museum, Camberley, Surrey.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL LOGISTICS CORPS MUSEUM, CAMBERLEY.
BURIAL PLACE: TA BRAXIA INTERNATIONAL CEMETERY, MALTA.
Bill Eastman's medals on display at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum (Picture - Thomas Stewart).