Model of a Short Sterling to honour the memory of my cousin Harry Ernest Hall.
Harry was regarded by his kin as the 'bright' one of the family. He started his working life as an electrician and joined up for war service with the RAF on the 28th May 1941.
His rank on joining the RAF was LAC (leading aircraftman) with a serial number of 1436050. His records indicate that he was sent for pilot training to Canada. He joined 36 Elementary Flight Training School on 13/03/1942. Moved to 33 SFTS(?) on 23/05/1942 Moved to 31 D.D.(?) on 15/09/1942.
Having successfully completed his flight training he disembarked in the UK on 7th Oct 1942 Joined his operational squadron (214) 3/07/1943 with the rank of Flight Sargeant
Awarded the British Empire Medal (Military Division) in November 1943. The citation from the London Gazette (12 November 1943) reads:
One night in Aug 1943, FS Hall was pilot of an aircraft which was returning from Operations. When approaching the South Coast of England the aircraft ran out of fuel and dived almost out of control into the sea. The crew were temporarily knocked out by the impact and the aircraft filled rapidly with water. FS Hall was the first to recover and his first thoughts were for the safety of his crew. He found the wireless operator injured and floating just below the astrodome, and in spite of the rapidly rising water and with complete disregard for his own safety, he succeeded in extricating him from the aircraft and securing him safely in a dingy. He then returned to the aircraft to search for the navigator and Flight engineer who were missing. Five members of the crew were subsequently picked up by an air/sea rescue launch. In a desperate situation, aggravated by darkness, FS Hall displayed extreme courage and coolness throughout.
After this daring rescue Harry was admitted to Swanborough Manor Naval Hospital (Lewes in Sussex?) on 11 August 1943 where he stayed until the 15 August 1943.
Remains of Harrys plane are on display in Brenzett Air museum in Sussex along with a description of the rescue by RAF launch (HSL 156) commanded by F/O Geoffrey Lockwood, Lockwood received a DSC for the rescue. Perhaps an even greater honour the Air sea rescue launch has been modelled by Airfix and the box art shows Lockwood’s HSL156.
F/O Lockwood DSC
HARRY’s LAST MISSION
Harry died on the 23 September 1943 in a raid over Germany. The raid on the night of 22/23 September 1943 a mixture of 711 heavy bombers, including 214 squadron Stirlings were detailed to attack Hannover. It was also either the first or one of the first raids during which “window” was deployed. Harry was the pilot of Stirling EF 393 BU-R which took off from RAF Chedburough at 19:10 hrs on 22/09/1943 but failed to return.
The story that has been relayed was that the bomber was critically hit and was going out of control. Harry held the plane steady while the other members of the crew bailed out. Unfortunately Harry could not bail out as he could not release the controls without the plane spinning. This was told by members of his crew who became POWs to the next of kin either through letters or after the war was over.
From Luftwaffe records it is highly likely he was shot down by Staffelkapitän August Geiger, this would have been Geiger’s 47th victory, he went on to shoot down 3 more planes before his death. Geiger was shot down on 29th September by W/C Bob Braham & was drowned while bailing out.