Harry Francis McKernin

Sergeant Harry Francis McKernin of Belfast, Co. Antrim died on board Avro Lancaster W4822 on 3rd November 1943. He is buried at Heverlee, Belgium.


Harry Francis McKernin


Sergeant Harry Francis McKernin from Belfast, Co. Antrim is buried in Heverlee War Cemetery, Belgium where he died on 3rd November 1943.

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.

Avro Lancaster of RAF 57 Squadron

Imperial War Museum Photo: CH 18371 (Part of the Air Ministry Second World War Official Collection). An Avro Lancaster of RAF 57 Squadron loads with what the RAF called the "Usual" bomb load of 4,000 impact-fused HC 'cookie' bombs, 12 small bomb containers, each containing 236 4lb incendiary sticks. Copyright Pilot Officer Clarke - Royal Air Force Official Photographer.

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 NameFirst Name(s)RankRoleInformation
WestDonald R1st LieutenantPilotUSAAF. Killed aged 25 years old. Posthumously awarded Distinguished Flying Cross.
ClementsRobert SinclairFlight Lieutenant2nd PilotRCAF. Survived and evaded capture.
BuggyNorman FPilot OfficerNavigatorRAFVR 147138. Became prisoner of war no. 3348 at Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria.
ElliottJames McPhailFlying OfficerAir BomberRAFVR. Survived and evaded capture aged 22 years old.
McKerninHarry FrancisSergeantWireless OperatorRAFVR 1079134. Killed aged 23 years old. From Belfast, Co. Antrim.
HeatonFrancis PatrickSergeantAir GunnerRAFVR 1699714. Killed aged 20 years old.
EdmundsJohnSergeantAir GunnerRAFVR 1392733. Killed.
NeillWilliam FrederickSergeantFlight EngineerRAFVR 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.