01/02.02.1945 No. 61 Squadron Lancaster I NF912 Sq/Ldr. Hugh W. Horsley AFC
Date: 01/02nd February 1945 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No. 61 Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire.
Location: Airfield base
Pilot : Sq/Ldr. Hugh Wilkinson Horsley AFC. 68786 RAFVR Age 28. Killed
Fl/Eng: W/O. Henry John Pyke 575245 RAF Age 22. Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Samuel Fleet 1670353 RAFVR Age 22. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Victor Douglas Merrow 1522918 RAFVR Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leslie Chapman CGM. 1576762 RAFVR Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Arthur Albert Sherriff DFM. 514220 RAF Age 35. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. R.T. Hoskisson Injured.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 15:42 hrs from RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire to join 271 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitoes.
Shortly afterwards the port outer engine cut as the Lancaster became airborne. After using considerable skills Sq/Ldr. Horsley managed to fly a very tight circuit and a minute later he force landed the aircraft back onto the field. As the aircraft touched down there was an explosion followed by fire. Just Sgt. Hoskisson escaped injured - the remainder tragically killed.
Previously on the 23/24th September 1944 flying Lancaster III LM718 QR-E again with 61 Squadron on a raid to Ladbergen they were shot down by German Night fighter, the aircraft was abandoned. 2 of the crew were killed, Fl/Sgt. George Twyneham and Sgt. Herbert Jennings, 2 others made PoW. F/O. Webber and F/O. Wheeler and 3 others managed to evade capture and return to England - Sq/Ldr. Horsley AFC, P/O. Cawthorne DFM and Sgt Hoskisson
Sq/Ldr. Hugh Wilkinson Horsley. AFC. Leeds Crematorium (Lawns Wood). Screen wall. Panel 2. Son of Edgar and Renee Horsley, husband of Mildred Elsie Horsley, of York, England.
W/O. Henry John Pyke. Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery. Sec S.10 Grave 19894. No further details - are you able to assist? Believed to be from Croyden, Surrey England, Born on the 7th March 1922.
Fl/Sgt. Samuel Fleet. Greatham Church Cemetery. Centre plot. Son of Samuel and Rebecca Fleet, of Greatham, England.
Fl/Sgt. Victor Douglas Merrow. Tynemouth Cemetery (Preston). Sec. K. Grave 14509. Son of Victor and Elizabeth Merrow, husband of Linda Winifred Merrow, of North Shields, England.
Fl/Sgt. Leslie Chapman CGM. Whaplode Cemetery. Grave 1391A. Son of Ernest and Eva Ellen Chapman, of Moulton Washway, England.
Fl/Sgt. Arthur Albert Sherriff DFM. Cambridge City Cemetery. Grave 15754. Son of Samuel L. Sherriff and Sarah Sherriff, husband of Marion Sherriff, of Bolton, Lancashire, England.
Researched and submitted by Tony Cantlow for relatives of the crew with thanks to some of the sources quoted below. Thanks to Alison Glass for details on W/O. Pyke.