17.03.1945 No. 550 Squadron Lancaster I NG132 BQ-E2 P/O. Alfred C. Lockyer
Date: 17th March 1945 (Saturday)
Unit: 550 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF North Killingholme
Location: Withernsea sea front, Yorkshire (note)
Pilot: P/O. Alfred Churchill Lockyer NZ/428130 RNZAF Age 23. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. T. Drawbridge 1897969 RAFVR Baled out - injured
Nav: Sgt. William Berry 1802847 RAFVR Age 21. Killed
Air/Bmr: W/O. Harry Lawrence Farmer 1333628 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Leslie Elliot 1591992 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Sidney Matthews 1597703 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dennis Lucey 1796049 RAFVR Age 25. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Lancaster NG13 had taken off from RAF North Killingholme at 17:04 hrs on a night-fighter affiliation exercise. 10 minutes into the flight the crew were informed that it had been cancelled and that they were to proceed to the bombing range at Alkborough.
During the exercise, after dropping some 10 bombs out of the 16 they carried, base advised them at 21:15 hrs to return. This they did flying at about 6,500 ft. Arrived near the airfield flying at 4,000 ft noticed no sign of any circuit lights.
At 21:35 air raid warnings were heard over Hull and at 21:37 hrs the crew were advised that there were bandits about and to douse their lights, which they immediately did.
Sgt. Lucy reported that a twin engined aircraft was flying behind them and began to close rapidly. He gave the instruction corkscrew port, which the pilot carried out and the night fighter overshot them. A two further attacks were made and in each the pilot evaded by making corkscrews.
The final attack hit the Lancaster at the rear and fire broke out.
Losing control of the aircraft the pilot ordered the crew to bale out. It is known that W/O. Farmer did, and locals heard cries for help, but it seems that despite the lifeboat being launched and the navy informed he was lost over the sea. Sgt. Drawbridge also managed to bale out after some difficulty making his way to the escape hatch. He landed in a field about a mile east of Partington and severely sprained his ankle on landing. He then crawled across a field to a road and managed to stop a bus which took him to a doctor in Withernsea where he was collected by the local Police station and called his base.
The bombing of Hull during the night caused some 13 fatalities with a further 22 seriously injured. Some 41 houses suffered light damage with 10 shops reaching the same.
It is thought ‘probable’ that the claim for this night fighter attack was Fw. Heinz Hommel (2) of 7./NJG2 his 3rd claim of the war, although ‘possible’ that the claim from Fw. Rudolf Morenz (3) of 5./NJG2 also claimed a kill at around the same time.
Fw. Heinz Hommel also dropped 2 x AB 500 on Hull shortly afterwards and reported seeing red fires stating that it was probably from automobiles.
(1) P/O. Lockyer then Fl/Sgt. with No. 12 Operational Training Unit, escaped with injuries when the Wellington X NC452 force landed at 00:47 hrs at RAF Chipping Borden when the navigator inadvertently turned off the fuel supply whilst changing tanks. No fatalities.
(2) Fw. Heinz Hommel survived despite being wounded on the 3/4th April 1945 by anti-aircraft fire near Stolzenau. Total of 3 claims.
(3) Fw. Rudolf Morenz survived the war. Total of 6 claims.
Note: Some publications have the crash site as Sunk Island, which is further south on the River Humber, we feel that we have the correct location but of course if you know different we would like to hear from you.
P/O. Alfred Churchill Lockyer. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonewall) Sec H. Row J. Grave 9. Son of John Adams Lockyer and Gertrude Lockyer, of Wellington City, New Zealand. Total of 527 hours logged.
Sgt. William Berry. Eastbourne Cemetery (Ocklynge) Plot Z. Grave 686. Son of Alfred and Ethel Winifred Berry, of Eastbourne, Sussex, England.
W/O. Harry Lawrence Farmer. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 269. No further details - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Leslie Elliot. Goole Cemetery. Sec. B. Plot 4. Grave 758. Son of Wilfred and Esther Ann Elliott, of Goole, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Sidney Matthews. Holme-Upon-Spalding Moor Churchyard (All Saints). Sec.C. Grave 35. Son of William and Gertrude Matthews, of Holme on Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Dennis Lucey. Canovee Graveyard, Irish Republic. Son of Denis and Annie Lucey, of Model Village, Tower, County Cork, Irish Republic.
Researched and placed for relatives of the crew. We are in contact with the daughter of the sole survivor, Sgt. Drawbridge Mrs. Sheila Kimberley and also the Nephew of W/O. Harry Farmer, Mr, Derek Saunders. With thanks to sources as shown below. Also to RAF Commands Forum and Errol Martyn’s publications - “For Your Tomorrow” for additional details.