Lion Wenceslaus

by Lion Wilf Wise MBE (1917 – 2002)

Lion Wilf Wise was one of the original members of Malton, Norton and District Lions Club when it was formed in 1963 – a Charter Member. For almost 40 years Lion Wilf was an active club member and supporter of other charities. In recognition of his huge contribution to Lions he was awarded a Melvin Jones Fellowship, Melvin Jones being the founder of Lions when it started in Chicago in 1917.

Wilf’s poem below was written in recognition of the efforts of a fellow Lion – Peter Grice – to delver Fish and Chips to the elderly and housebound of Malton and Norton on a very snowy Saturday in 1989.

The Daily Telegraph carried a detailed obituary of Lion Wilf’s remarkable life when he died in 2002 and this is reproduced below.

Click on photo to enlarge

The Daily Telegraph – 23rd August 2002

Wilf Wise, who has died aged 85, gave up the chance to take part in the Great Escape from Stalag Luft 3 on March 23 1944: instead he stayed behind to maintain a flow of valuable intelligence to London.

Wise helped to devise and construct the bellows system which ventilated the escape tunnel, and so was an obvious candidate to join the 76 Allied airmen who broke out of the camp. However, the escape coincided with a period in which he was supplying London with important information on V-2 development in the camp’s neighbourhood – information which assisted the Allies in making damaging air attacks.

Fluent in German, Wise managed to garnet tit-bits of intelligence from a variety of sources and to include this in letters to his mother.

He was well qualified for this task: before flying operationally he had received instruction in sending coded messages in the event of being shot down. His letters were intercepted by the Secret Intelligence Service which distilled information from Wise’s ostensibly mundane obervations and family endearments before forwarding them to his family.

Re-location of much of Germany’s V-1 “doodlebug” and V-2 rocket work, from what Hitler called the “revenge weapon” centre at Peenemunde on the Baltic, had made it imperative to keep track of the subsequent dispersal arrangements.

Such information that Wise could obtain supplemented intelligence which had been gathered by underground commandos of the Polish Home Army, who were involved because the PoW camp was situated at Sagan in Lower Silesia.

Naturally, Wise harboured some misgivings about surrendering his opportunity on the night of the Great Escape. But he was later to learn that of 73 of his fellow prisoners who had been recaptured, 50 had subsequently been murdered by the Germans.

Wilfred Arthur Wise was born on January 25 1917 at Norton, near Scarborough, in Yorkshire. Young Wilf was educated at Malton Grammar School and afterwards qualified as a solicitor.

He enlisted in 1940 and the next year was commissioned into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a pilot officer. He joined No 12, a two-engine Vickers Wellington bomber squadron. In October 1941, he was returning from a raid on Germany as second pilot when one engine failed and he survived a severe crash landing in a Dutch sand dune.

Temporarily paralysed, he managed to drag himself out through a hole in the fuselage. After a spell in a German military hospital in Holland he was held at Stalag Luft 3 until Russian troops reached the camp.

Despite suffering badly from gangrene, Wise, who was now a flight lieutenant, led 200 fellow PoWs northwards until he encountered Allied forces, and in April 1945 (VE Day came on May 8) was repatriated. When he reached home he weighed seven stones. Back home in Yorkshire, Wise did not return to the law; instead, he took charge of Headley Wise & Son, the family corn and seed business in Malton.

In recognition of his activities when a PoW, he was appointed MBE.

Wilf Wise was a countryman at heart, never happier than when shooting or fishing. Over the years he was active in the interest of a range of charitable causes, among them the provision of a fish-and-chips service to pensioners and talking books for blind people.

Wise married, first, in 1947, Joyce Bellerby, who died in 1963. They had two sons. He married, secondly, Helen Wallace, by whom he had a daughter.

It’s What Lions Do

Celebrating 100 years of helping the community 👏🎉

Posted by BBC Radio York on Saturday, 21 October 2017

Club Who’s Who 2018 – 2019

President: Lion Steve Sidaway
Secretary: Lion Richard Lukey
Treasurer: Lion Russ Grimshaw
Registered Charity No. 260406
If you would like to make a donation to help us to support those in need locally and further afield, you can do so through Virgin Money Giving. Thank you.

Make a donation using Virgin Money Giving



Recent Donations & Activities

During November 2017

- Donations agreed for Norton and Malton Town Christmas Parties
- Donation made to Malton Primary School to assist young people fund school trips
- We assisted a single parent with a child with ongoing health problems with insurance costs to enable her car to be returned to the road
- The Lions’ Santa’s Sleigh attended the Christmas Lights switch on in both Norton and Malton

District Convention Hosts

Malton, Norton & District Lions hosted the District Convention for the first time in our 50 year history in Nov 2013
Click on the links below to see what it was all about
Host Night
Business Session
Banquet and Ball
Convention Edition of Spotlight

Lions across the British Isles

The Lions motto is “WE SERVE” and we are the largest and most committed voluntary service organisation in the world. We have 46,000 clubs and more than 1.4 million members.
To see the bigger picture take a look at the
NE England & Scotland website
and the
British Isles website