Sergeant Harry Francis McKernin (1079134) served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two. He flew in Bomber Command with RAF 57 Squadron.
He was the son of H McKernin and Minnie McKernin of Belfast, Co. Antrim.
Crash of Lancaster W4822
Sergeant McKernin died on Wednesday 3rd November 1943 aged 23 years old. He was a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner on board Avro Lancaster W4822 DX-P.
The Mark I bomber came down over Hechtel, Belgium. It was one of 589 planes taking part in the raid. Lancaster W4822 took off at 1722hrs from RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire bound for a night raid on Dusseldorf, Germany.
The bombing of the target began between 1942hrs and 2011hrs causing damage to housing and industrial factories. Luftwaffe night fighters shot down 18 Allied planes. A further 13 returned to base with damage.
Oberleutnant Werner Baake of 3/NJG1 shot down McKernin’s Lancaster. It was his 20th victory over an Allied plane. As the bomber went down, the crew battled with extinguishers to control the fire before the Captain issued the order to abandon the plane. Pilot Donald R West heroically remained on board making sure the remaining crew reached safety.
Remembering the Lancaster Crew
|Last Name||First Name(s)||Rank||Role||Information|
|West||Donald R||1st Lieutenant||Pilot||USAAF. Killed aged 25 years old. Posthumously awarded Distinguished Flying Cross.|
|Clements||Robert Sinclair||Flight Lieutenant||2nd Pilot||RCAF. Survived and evaded capture.|
|Buggy||Norman F||Pilot Officer||Navigator||RAFVR 147138. Became prisoner of war no. 3348 at Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria.|
|Elliott||James McPhail||Flying Officer||Air Bomber||RAFVR. Survived and evaded capture aged 22 years old.|
|McKernin||Harry Francis||Sergeant||Wireless Operator||RAFVR 1079134. Killed aged 23 years old. From Belfast, Co. Antrim.|
|Heaton||Francis Patrick||Sergeant||Air Gunner||RAFVR 1699714. Killed aged 20 years old.|
|Edmunds||John||Sergeant||Air Gunner||RAFVR 1392733. Killed.|
|Neill||William Frederick||Sergeant||Flight Engineer||RAFVR 531666. Killed aged 25 years old. From Belfast, Co. Antrim.|
Harry Francis McKernin’s grave is in Section 7, Row D, Grave 1-4 of Heverlee War Cemetery, Leuven, Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium. Members of the Lancaster crew were first buried at Brusthem Airfield Cemetery. He lies next to fellow Belfast man William Frederick Neill.
His headstone bears the inscription:
Even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.