17.03.1945 No. 550 Squadron Lancaster I NG132 BQ-E2 P/O. Alfred C. Lockyer
Date: 17th March 1945 (Saturday)
Unit: 550 Squadron (motto: er Ignem Vincimus - 'Through fire we conquer'). 1 Group
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF North Killingholme, Lincolnshire
Location: Withernsea sea front, Yorkshire (note)
Pilot: P/O. Alfred Churchill Lockyer NZ/428130 RNZAF Age 23. Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Frederick Edward Drawbridge 1897969 RAFVR Age 22. 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.
Description of Corkscrew Manoeuvre
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 (3) of 7./NJG2 his 3rd claim of the war, although ‘possible’ that the claim from Fw. Rudolf Morenz (4) 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. All crew injured but no fatalities.
(2) Sgt. Frederick Edward Drawbridge survived the war. Born on the 07th November 1922 at Aylesbury. He had been a member of the Fenland Aviation Museum. He is shown above showing a print of NG132 which the museum were selling to raise funds, the painting was done by Mr. Les Pooley of Wisbech St. Mary. Sadly Frederick passed away on the 18th January 1992, age 69.
(3) Fw. Heinz Hommel survived despite being wounded on the 3/4th April 1945 by anti-aircraft fire near Stolzenau. Total of 3 claims.
(4) Fw. Rudolf Morenz survived the war. Total of 6 claims.
During training with 12 Operational Unit the pilot, Fl/Sgt. had been involved in three accidents:
30/31st July Wellington X NC452: Out of RAF Chipping Warden at 22:07 hrs. on a night training exercise made a wheels retracted forced landing as the navigator inadvertently switched off the fuel supply whilst changing tanks. The 3 crew survived with injuries.
14th August 1944 Wellington X HE754: Out of RAF Chipping Warden at 22:09 hrs. on a 'flashlight' sortie. Whilst at 15000 ft the port engine failed. Heading for RAF Castle Comb Fl/Sgt. Lockyer ordered the 5 crew to bale out which they all did successfully. He managed to crash land the aircraft at 23:25 hrs he escaped from the Wellington before it caught fire.
The other accident which took place on the 30th May 1944 we dont have any further details.
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.
10th February 1943 No. 3 Squad, 'B' Flight Pilots course 37B. No. 3 Elementary Flying Training School
L-R: Rear; Allan Graham Moffitt 422973, Alfred Churchill Lockyer 428130 - Killed 17 March 1945, Kenneth Allan Richdale 425291, Richard Edward Ralph Robertshawe 429919, W.D.F May.
Centre; Sydney Logan Scott 428157, John Austin White Pauling 422976, John Charnley Simpson 427333, John Desmond Nash 424826, C.H.T Morrison.
Front; P.W Nicholas, R.D Norrish, Norman Kay Robson 428151, B.R Shakes, Robert Stewart Montgomery 422974.
P/O. Alfred Churchill Lockyer. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonewall) Sec H. Row J. Grave 9. Born on the 02nd October 1921 at Belfast, Northern Ireland. Son of John Adams Lockyer (died 15th November 1957, age 59) and Gertrude Lockyer (née Stuart - died 18th July 1967, age 69), 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 (died 20th March 1959, age 80) and Gertrude Matthews (died 15th July 1968, age 82), of Holme on Spalding Moor, Yorkshire, England.
Sgt. Dennis Lucey. Canovee Graveyard, Irish Republic. Son of Denis and Annie Lucey (née Brown - died 03rd May 1965), 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, Auckland Library Heritage Collection.