Francis James Appleby, the eldest of nine children, was born in Kirkby Fleetham and attended the local school.
At the age of 16 he volunteered for RAF service with the RAF as a ground gunner, shortly thereafter amalgamating into the RAF Regiment.
After his first posting at RAF Drem he volunteered as an air gunner. Upon completing training, he was then posted to RAF Kirmington in October 1943 crewing Wellingtons, and later Lancaster bombers with 166 Squadron.
His first position was as a rear gunner, where he took part in the bombing of Frankfurt and Nuremberg in March 1944. For his gallantry in service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM).
Approximately 700 out of 961 personnel with 166 Squadron were killed during World War 2. His second tour was with 149 Squadron as a mid under and mid upper gunnerFrank would go on to conduct 55 sorties, less than one crew in eight would survive this.
He gained a commission when he was 21 years old, and following his second tour of operations, transferred to the RAF Catering Corps. He was posted to Cairo and later Pomigliano near Naples as a Middle East Catering Officer.
Whilst abroad, he met his first wife, Patricia and married in 1947. After the war, they bought a business in Leeds from Enid Taylor in 1958.
The business was a staff agency which proved to be very successful, employing and sending women across the world as nannies, typists and secretaries etc. The business then moved to Harrogate on Cambridge Road.
Frank and Patricia had 29 years together before she sadly passed away.
In 1982 he married his second wife June. The business moved to Cold Bath Road where the company evolved into duplicating and later printing. After 19 years of happy marriage, June sadly passed away in 2001.
Frank Appleby was one of Harrogate’s longest outstanding businessmen, who through his kind generosity sponsored many good causes.
He was renowned for always putting his staff first and foremost, and always considering their best interests together with their families. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
The funeral will be held on January 9 at Saint Thomas a Becket Church, Hampsthwaite at 12.30pm.
By Vanessa Fox