13th January 1942 235 Squadron Beaufighter IC T4764 P/O. Austen
Date: 13th January 1942 (Tuesday)
Unit: No. 235 Squadron (motto: aculamur Humi - 'We Strike Them to the Ground') 18 Group. Coastal Command
Type: Beaufighter IC
Base: RAF Dyce, Aberdeenshire
Location: North Sea off Aberdeen
Pilot: P/O. Desmond Thomas Austen NZ/404881 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Obs: Sgt. Raymond Gordon Hornsby 988129 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. John Francis Lake 106174 RAFVR Age 32. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 14:40 hrs on a navigation and air-to-sea cannon firing exercise.
At sometime after 15:00 hrs hit the sea off Aberdeen. The body of Sgt. Hornsby was retrieved from the sea near Belhelvie (see map) the following day, no trace of the other two crew were found.
The Beaufighters dingy was recovered close to a balloon of the type towed by ships. It is thought that in the poor visibility the aircraft collided with the balloon which had broken free.
Burial and personal details:
P/O. Desmond Thomas Austen. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 115. Born on the 19th May 1919 at Napier. Worked as a clerk for the Postal and Telecommunications Department prior to service. Enlisted at Levin on the 30th November 1940. Awarded his pilots badge and commission on the 24th May 1941. Joined 235 squadron on the 19th November 1941 from No. 2 Coastal Command Operational Training Unit. Son of Arthur James Austen and of Ada Mary Austen (née Hills), of Hastings, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
P/O. John Francis Lake. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 70. Son of John and Caroline Lake and husband of Winifred Emily Lake, of Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire. F.A.I.
Sgt. Raymond Gordon Hornsby. Middlesbrough Cemetery (Acklam). Sec. A. Grave 506. Son of Thomas Albert and Florence Maud Hornsby, of Linthorpe, Middlesbrough and husband of Gladys Doreen Hornsby. Awarded the King Haakon VII Life-Saving Medal. Grave inscription: 'He Saw A Beautiful Heaven And Earth. No More Sea'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, AWMM, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below: