Wartime Mosquito flier turned his hand to cricket

Eric Hill batted with style for Somerset and reported with great authority, but his record during the last years of the war as a valiant navigator was extraordinary.

Almost all of Eric Hill's life was spent in his beloved Somerset, playing cricket for the county and then covering the game as a journalist. He batted with style and reported with great authority, but his record during the last years of the war as a valiant navigator, was extraordinary. Born, raised and educated in Taunton, Somerset, where his parents had a sweet shop, Eric Hill enlisted with the RAF, trained and joined No 544 Squadron, flying unarmed Mosquitoes. Goering said of it: "I turn green with envy when I see the Mosquito. The British knock together a beautiful wooden aeroplane that every piano factory over there is building. There is nothing the British do not have."

In July 1944, Hill and his flying partner Frank (later Air Vice-Marshal) Dodd, flew their Mosquito on a number of missions into northern Norway, and despite banks of cloud and, on their first mission, being fired upon, and, on their second reconnaissance, losing their top hatch, they returned with intelligence of "outstanding merit". Hill was immediately awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal. One of the enemy ships they photographed was the Tirpitz, the largest battleship ever built in Europe, but floating in the fjords of Norway, it barely saw action. The Norwegians called it the "Lonely Queen of the North"; Churchill dubbed it "The Beast". By November 1944 it had been sunk, and in March 1945, in one of the longest Mosquito flights of the Second World War (about 10 hours), Hill and Dodd took some memorably striking images of the half-submerged ship.

Having completed more than 50 operations, Hill and Dodd were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war, Hill returned home and, from 1947 to 1951, represented his county in cricket. As an opening batsman he scored 2,118 first-class runs with a top-score of 85. After retiring as a player, he covered Somerset as a journalist for almost 50 years. He also contributed to Wisden. Born on July 9, 1923, he is survived by his wife, Dorothy. He died on July 27.

* The National