Sergeant Arthur Ernest Belshaw (1795491) served in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War Two. He was the son of Thomas Belshaw and Mary Eliza Belshaw of 14 Thiepval Avenue, Cregagh, Belfast, Co. Down.
He joined up in June 1942 from Cregagh Air Training Corps Squadron. The Belshaw family had a strong military pedigree. Thomas had served in the First World War with 15th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Arthur’s brother Tom served in the Royal Air Force and another brother Bill served in the London Irish Rifles becoming a prisoner of war in Italy.
Death in England
Arthur died on 6th September 1943 aged 19 years old. He was a Bomb Aimer on board Avro Lancaster ED392 PH-D2 with RAF 12 Squadron. The Mark I bomber took off from RAF Wickenby, Lincolnshire. At 1956hrs, only 15 minutes into their flight, the starboard outer engine constant speed unit failed. This meant the engine could not feather the propellor.
The Lancaster could not maintain height on 3 engines and the Captain gave the order to jettison all incendiaries plus a 4000lb bomb. The crew turned back for the base but a fire broke out in the starboard engine and spread along the wing. The Captain took the decision to ditch in water and after a hard landing, the plane broke in two. As a result of the plane sinking, Sergeant Arthur Ernest Belshaw and Tail Gunner Sergeant Clifford Walton drowned. The remaining 5 crew members scrambled to their rescue dinghy.
The Wireless Operator had transmitted their position shortly before the crash landing and so an Air Sea Rescue unit was soon dispatched. They found the survivors 18 hours later in a dinghy at 1510hrs on 7th September 1943. Several hours later, they were back in Grimsby receiving treatment for exposure.
Arthur Ernest Belshaw has no known grave. His name is on Panel 142 of the Runymede Memorial, Surrey.