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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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80 (Fighter) Sqn
02.04.1945 80 (Fighter) Squadron Tempest V SN138, Fg Off. Horsey

Operation: Armed reconnaissance mission over Bremen, Hanover and Osnabrück

Date: 2nd April 1945 (Sunday)

Unit: 80 (Fighter) Squadron (RAF)

Type: Tempest V (Series 2)

Serial: SN138

Code: W2:N

Base: Volkel airfield, Holland

Location: Bösel, Germany

Pilot: Fg Off. Harry Alfred Horsey 186751 RAFVR Age 22. Murdered (1)


On the 2nd April 1945 at 17:45 hrs Fg Off. Horsey took off from the Volkel air base, near Uden in Holland, with ten other aircraft from 80 Squadron to conduct the second armed reconnaissance mission of the day over Bremen, Hanover and Osnabrück.

During the mission Fg.Off. Horsey radioed that his aircraft was having engine problems but nothing further was heard from him and he did not return to Volkel. The following day, during another mission by 80 Squadron his aircraft was located about a 800 m. (875 yds) SW of Bösel in Germany and appeared to be relatively undamaged from a forced landing.

(1) Fg Off. Horsey emerged uninjured from the forced landing and was captured by Wehrmacht soldiers. They took him to the house of the Bürgermeister (Mayor) at Bösel who then contacted the Luftwaffe airbase at Varrelbusch and informed them that he was holding a British PoW. He remained at Bürgermeister’s house overnight, sleeping in the living room guarded by an unarmed old man.

On the morning of the next day, Luftwaffe Feldwebel (Sgt) Rolf Brinkmann and Oberfeldwebel (M/Sgt) Werner Assmussen arrived at the house from the Varrelbusch airbase to collect Fg Off. Horsey. Brinkmann was detailed to escort the PoW to the airbase and Assmussen was to examine the downed aircraft for technical data. Assmussen was unarmed and Brinkmann was armed with a Maschinenpistole 40 (submachine gun).

They were to return to the airbase with Fg Off. Horsey after Assmussen had completed his inspection of the crashed aircraft. They then proceeded to Aumühlen, about 2 km (1¼ ml) away with the intention of continuing on to the airbase by truck. Assmussen wheeled their two bicycles and carried a Panzerfaust (antitank weapon) that he was given by the Bürgermeister to hand in at the airbase. After some distance Assmussen stopped at a farm to obtain some rope to secure the Panzerfaust. Before he could re-join them Brinkmann had shot and killed Fg Off. Horsey claiming that the airman wanted to attack him. There was no official German inquiry into the shooting of Fg Off. Horsey and he was later buried at the Catholic Church of St. Cecilia Bösel, near Friesoythe.

After the war ended a War Crimes investigation resulted in a Military Court being convened at Osnabrück between the 21st and 23rd January 1946 where Brinkmann and Assmussen were charged with the murder of Fg Off. Horsey. A pathologist’s report established that Fg Off. Horsey was shot through the back of the neck resulting in his immediate death. He had also suffered a second gunshot wound to his back consistent with him lying face down on the ground.

The court rejected Brinkmann’s assertion that Fg Off. Horsey was attacking him and found him guilty of the airman’s murder. The court acquitted Assmussen of the charge and he was freed. Brinkmann was sentenced to life imprisonment which was subsequently reduced to 15 years. On the 14th February 1952 his sentence was suspended and he was released.

Burial details:

Above: Left: Catholic Church of St. Cecilia Bösel, near Friesoythe. Inscription translation: “Here lies an unknown English Soldier. Rest in Peace”. Right: Grave marker (Credit: TWGPP)

Fg Off. Harry Alfred Horsey. He was reinterred at the Sage War Cemetery, Germany in Plot 5, Row F, Grave 5 on the 22nd May 1947. The headstone inscription reads “TO KNOW HIM WAS TO LOVE HIM”. Born on the 3rd June 1922, the son of Walter A. and Ada Q. Horsey of Westminster, London.

Researched by Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Traugott Vitz for his work on the database. Thanks also go to the War Graves Photograph Project (TWGPP) for their kind permission to use the images of the grave marker. Other sources as quoted below.

RS 18.06.2018 - Update to remove place of incarceration in last paragraph

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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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