Lurgan pilot killed in Second World War bomber crash is remembered

Flying Officer Lloyd Burgess RAF delivers the RAF Collect at the Service of Commemoration.
Flying Officer Lloyd Burgess RAF delivers the RAF Collect at the Service of Commemoration.

A Lurgan pilot killed while on a bombing raid over Belgium was one of seven RAF servicemen remembered during a recent commemoration service.

Flying Officer Holman Gordon Stanley Kerr was the 23-year-old pilot of the Lancaster bomber which crashed, killing all seven crew on board.

They were members of 514 Squadron based at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire and all were honoured in a Service of Commemoration on Friday, April 28, at Heverlee War Cemetery, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium.

The service, organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of Defence Business Services, was conducted by the Reverend (Wing Commander) Ashley Mitchell RAF and supported by RAF Defence Staff based in Belgium.

The ceremony was attended by British and Australian Defence Staff, 514 Squadron representatives and local dignitaries.

Beverley Simon, JCCC said: “It has been a tremendous privilege for the JCCC to have organised this Service of Commemoration for the seven crew members of Lancaster NN775 and to ensure that the appropriate level of dignity, ceremony and respect has been afforded.

“We are especially delighted that so many of the crew’s families were able to attend the Service, some from as far afield as the USA.”

On March 5, 1945, the crew members of Lancaster NN775 took off from RAF Waterbeach for a raid on Gelsenkirchen, Belgium. While flying near Tirlemont, the aircraft suddenly went into a dive from which the pilot was unable to recover. All of the crew were buried together in a collective grave in Heverlee War Cemetery in Belgium.

Families of all of the crew were traced and 17 family members were present at the ceremony with wreaths being laid on behalf of all seven crew by each of the respective families.

Following the discovery of the remains of British Service personnel from historic conflicts, the MOD attempts to identify any living relatives so that they can be involved in the subsequent re-interment and memorial service.