In Memoriam  - Sgt. Norman Leonard Hornsey                                                                            Home

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Norman Leonard Hornsey

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NORMAN LEONARD HORNSEY, born 14.7.1920, entered the School in September 1931.  In December 1935 he joined the Staff of the Wellingborough Co-operative Society. 

In January 1937, he joined the Electric Wireless School at Cranwell as an R.A.F. apprentice.  He was posted to Coastal Command in Scotland in September 1939.  He took part in flying operations over the Atlantic, Iceland and Norway and spotted the notorious prison ship Altmark, which was subsequently captured by the Royal Navy.  In March 1941, he was promoted to Sgt. and posted to Nova Scotia as Wireless Instructor.  He was killed on 23rd October 1941, and buried at Terrace Hill Cemetery, Truro, Nova Scotia. 

He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Hornsey, 12 Parkhurst Avenue, Fishponds, Bristol.       'In Memoriam' book

 

As with Peter Felce, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave no squadron number for Norman.  The explanation was the same in both cases, they were members of an Operational Training Unit (OTU):

 

Hornsey, Norman  L      Sgt  570784      31 OTU     1941  Vol 7  351   Source: Military option on  www.findmypast.com

 

 

There is surprisingly little information on the web of the operation of Coastal Command.  In its early days, other arms of the RAF had priority and Coastal Command had to make do with obsolete planes and weapons.  The Scottish group of Coastal Command covered much of the North Sea and areas to the north and west of Scotland, north of a line running north west from the Mull of Kintyre.  Its function was to protect shipping from attacks by the Luftwaffe and submarines. 

Fortunately, from his parents letters we know that Norman was:

Transferred to Coastal Command and crewed on Sunderland Flying Boats, Inverkiething, Forth of Firth.  On operations Atlantic, Iceland and both operations at Narvik also at Tronshiem, Norway.  Also patrolling over Tronjeness during the occupation and evacuation f our troops.  It was during one  of these patrols that he sighted aship in one of the fjords and sent a message to the following aircraft to investigate the prison ship Altmark which led to its capture by the royal navy.  Flying regularly in this area until March 1941 during which time he spotted.

He took part in rescues from the Firth of Forth on several occasions.  Once with four other airmen he went out in the stations Lanark in a dense fog on a cold winters night 1939. in answer to the cries for help from four sea men whose dinghy had capsized. after three hours  search they rescued the seamen saving the lives of three, the other died after being brought ashore.  The airmen received a presentation from the people of Inverkeithing, Fife. 

Mar 1941 promoted to Sgt. Transferred to RAF station Debert, Nova Scotia as wireless operator.

 

Incidentally, whilst Norman was at Coastal Command, planes didn't have depth charges instead they attempted to bomb  submarines;  unfortunately the bombs had a tendency to "skip" off the water.

 

Norman left Coastal Command to join number 31 Operational Training Unit in Nova Scotia in 1941, just 6 months before he died in a plane crash:  The Hudson aircraft AM896 was on a final long distance exercise prior to it being ferried across the Atlantic, when it flew into the ground and disintegrated at Great Village, Nova Scotia.

 

No reason is given for the crash which killed P/O R.A. Luard, Sgts R.F. Kelley, N.L. Hornby, and one RAF Airman.  But, it is notable that on the same day another crash occurred also involving an OTU crew:                                 (Right:  Lockheed Hudson Aircraft)

 The crew of Hudson aircraft # AN895 were also engaged in a final night training exercise when their aircraft crashed and burned when the pilot attempted a forced landing at Abord La Ploutte, near Cartierville, Quebec.   The two planes landed some distance apart, but....     

Source: http://www.debertmilitarymuseum.org/RAFDeaths.html

Coastal Command  

In its early days, other arms of the RAF had priority and Coastal Command had to make do with obsolete planes and weapons. Supplies of aircraft were so short that many units were in fact "on loan" from the Royal Navy.

 

Their primary weapon was a small bomb that had to hit the submarine.  This bomb had a tendency to "skip" off the water, and in one case hit and destroyed the plane that dropped it. Early operations were almost comical, often ending with the U-boat the victor on the occasions they could be found by the aircraft.

 

In 1941 experiments began on a depth charge.  The depth charge is the oldest anti-submarine weapon.... modified to be dropped from the air. After a successful series of tests, the bomb was quickly replaced with the depth charges. (Somewhat later, an operations research group led by Professor Patrick M. S. Blackett  discovered setting the charges to explode at a shallow depth improved success). In the same year a number of newer planes being introduced into RAF Bomber Command allowed their older bomber designs to be sent to Coastal Command, including numbers of Vickers Wellington.  

 

Operations in Iceland began in May 1940 and by 1942 its aircraft were providing convoy cover and giving U-boats major troubles in those waters previously free of aircraft.

Sources:

http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/RAF_Coastal_Command

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Coastal_Command

http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/Squadrons/RAF_CoastalCommand_FAA_Groups.html

http://www.uboat.net/allies/aircraft/raf_coastal.htm

http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/oct41.html     Jan42 earliest available

 

CWGC

Name: 

HORNSEY, NORMAN LEONARD

Initials:

N L

Nationality:

United Kingdom

Rank:

Sergeant

Regiment/Service:

Royal Air Force

Age:

21

Date of Death:

23/10/1941

Service No:

570784

Additional information:

Son of Arthur Leonard and Lily Hornsey, of Fishponds, Bristol, England.

Casualty Type:

Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference:

Plot 378. Grave 3.

Cemetery:

TRURO (TERRACE HILL) CEMETERY

 

Lockheed Hudson      http://www.uboat.net/allies/aircraft/hudson.htm

The Hudson was a mid-wing monoplane with all-metal stressed-skin construction. The fuselage was elliptical in cross-section, with a transparent nose to facilitate bomb aiming. The wing tapered toward the wingtips, and had a high loading for its day. To reduce the length of take-off and landing runs, Fowler flaps of generous size were fitted. The Hudson was built with a choice of engines, similar in displacement (about 30 liters) and power (1,100 to 1,200 hp), but each having its own small advantages. The nine-cylinder Wright R-1820 Cyclone was the lighter of the two, while the 14-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp ran a little smoother and, because of its double-row layout, had a little less wind resistance. The crew was normally a pilot, navigator, bomb aimer, radio operator, and gunner.

The first 351 aircraft, known as Hudson Mk I, had Wright Cyclone GR-1820-102A engines of 1,100 hp, giving a maximum speed of 246 mph at 6,500 feet. This performance was comparable with that of the contemporary Heinkel 111H-2 bomber. The Hudson spanned 65.5 feet and weighed 17,500 pounds loaded. Weapons included 1,400 pounds of bombs in an internal weapons bay, two fixed forward-firing .303 (7.7mm) machine guns in the nose and two similar machine guns in a Boulton-Paul dorsal turret. Range was a respectable 1,960 miles at a 220 mph cruise. The first flight (there was no prototype) was on 10 December, 1938, and the first arrived in Liverpool the following February.

 

 

Accident

 

HORNSEY, Norman Leonard - Sgt - RAF - 570784
from Fishponds, Bristol, England, killed October 23, 1941 Age 21
#31 Operational Training Unit, Debert,  Nova Scotia  Hudson aircraft AM896 was on the final long distance exercise prior to being ferried across the Atlantic when it flew into the ground and disintegrated at Great Village, Nova Scotia. P/O’s C.B.O’
Hanley (RCAF), R.A. Luard (RCAF), one RAF Airman and Sgt R.F. Kelley (RCAF) were also killed. Sergeant Hornsey is buried
 in plot 378 grave 3 in Terrace Hill Cemetery, Truro, Nova Scotia      Source: http://www.debertmilitarymuseum.org/RAFDeaths.html

 

Others died same night!!!!!!!

MORRIS, Albert James - LAC - RAFVR - 937761
from Haslemere, Surrey, England, killed October 23, 1941 Age 21
#31 Operational Training Unit, Debert, Nova Scotia
The crew of Hudson aircraft # AN895 were engaged in a final night training exercise
when their aircraft crashed and burned when the pilot attempted a forced landing at
D’Abord La Ploutte, near Cartierville, Quebec. P/O (P) J.F. Fisher (RCAF), P/O A.E.
Wainwright (RCAF), and Sgt (WAG) A. Kirsh (RCAF) were also killed. Leading
Aircraftsman Morris is buried in grave 288, in the Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal,
Quebec

 

KELLEY, Robert Frederick - Sgt (WAG) - R83547
from Toronto, Ontario, killed October 23, 1941 Age 21
#31 Operational Training Unit, Debert, Nova Scotia
Hudson aircraft # AM896 was on the final long-distance exercise prior to being
ferried across the Atlantic when it flew into the ground and disintegrated at Great
Village, Nova Scotia. P/O’s C.B. O’Hanley, R.A. Luard, and one RAF Airman, Sgt N.L.
Hornby also killed. Sergeant Wireless Operator Air Gunner Kelley is buried in plot
378 grave 1 in Terrace Cemetery, Truro, Nova Scotia

 

LUARD, Richard Aubrey - P/O (OB) - J7801
from Burford, Ontario, killed in action October 23, 1941Age 26
#31 Operational Training Unit, Debert, Nova Scotia
Hudson aircraft # AM896 was on the final long-distance exercise prior to being
ferried across the Atlantic when it flew into the ground and disintegrated at Great
Village, Nova Scotia. P/O C.B. O’Handley, Sgt’s N.L. Hornby, R.F. Kelley and one RAF
Airman were also killed. Pilot Officer Observer Luard is buried in Plot 378 Grave 2,
Terrace Hill Cemetery, Truro, Nova Scotia

 

O'HANLEY, Charles Beeching    - P/O (P) - J5296
from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, killed October 23, 1941 Age 20
#31 Operational Training Unit, Debert, Nova Scotia
Hudson aircraft # AM896 was on the final long-distance exercise prior to being
ferried across the Atlantic when it flew into the ground and disintegrated at Great
Village, Nova Scotia. P/O R.A. Luard, Sgt’s R.F. Kelley, N.L. Hornby, and one RAF
Airman were also killed. Pilot Officer Pilot O’Hanley is buried in the Church of
Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Robie Street, Truro, Nova Scotia

 

 

 

Below: http://www.rafweb.org/OTU_2.htm

No 31 Operational Training Unit

Planned as No 80 OTU it was formed at Debert in Canada on 23 May 1941 as a Hudson equipped General Reconnaissance training unit.  It also undertook anti-submarine patrols from Dartmouth over the Western Atlantic.  In May 1944 it began to receive Mosquitoes and its role changed to that of training strike crews, but on 1 July 1944 it was disbanded by being redesignated No 7 OTU, RCAF.

Codes used: -

LR

May 1942 - Oct 1942

Aircraft & Markings

 

A trainees memories

Below: http://www.mcmaster.ca/ua/alumni/honourRoll/o_neil.htm

On 30 March, when his all too short leave came to an end, Tom said his goodbyes and was posted to 31 Operational Training Unit (O T U) located at Debert, Nova Scotia. An RAF installation, 31 O T U had been established to prepare aircrew for the gruelling task undertaken by Ferry Command, organized in the dark days of 1940 to dispatch military aircraft from Canada directly to the United Kingdom. To this point there had been fewer than a hundred Atlantic air crossings but with the activation of Ferry Command such became regular and constant. All the same, those in the vanguard could be forgiven if they thought of themselves as virtual air pioneers.

As Ocean Bridge, the aptly named Ferry Command history, notes, those in charge of the training at Debert were on the lookout for particular attributes in their prospective trainees - quickwitttedness, initiative, above average mental and physical stamina, and a high level of proficiency. Thus Tom's selection for the program was a further tribute to the aptitudes and skills he had demonstrated in the BCATP. With other designated aircrew - a pilot and two wireless operator/air gunners -- he, serving as navigator, was put through a rigorous round of night flying and long distance exercises designed to prepare candidates for the protracted flight over the North Atlantic. Unlike those civilian and service personnel who operated a shuttle service to and from the United Kingdom, Tom was to be a "one tripper”, that is. he would make no return flight to Canada but rather proceed to other duties in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

Having been cleared for departure on 1 May, Tom and his crewmates reported to the large embarkation base at Gander, Newfoundland and were introduced to their charge, a twin-engined, all-purpose Lockheed Hudson bomber. It was a tension-filled as well as exciting moment. The crew had been left in little doubt of the hazards, natural and man-made, that they might encounter on the mission, hazards that would ultimately claim the lives of 500 aircrew and bring about the loss of 150 aircraft.

With all preparations completed, Tom and his comrades took off from Gander on the evening of 3 May, climbed to the prescribed altitude over the sea, and set course for the British Isles. En route any number of things could have happened to thwart the flight - storms and high winds, faulty visibility, engine failure, mechanical problems with the reserve fuel tanks needed for the long trip, and not least the loss of the aircraft's oxygen supply, so vital a commodity at high altitudes.