Sergeant Cecil Hill MacAulay (656568) served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. Born on 11th May 1916, he was a twin son of the late Captain Robert MacAulay and Margaret Jane MacAulay (née Matier) of Thornhill, Islandmagee, Co. Antrim.
MacAulay received his education at Coleraine Academical Institution, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry. He then found employment with an accountancy firm in Belfast.
He was a keen sportsman, playing rugby at schoolboy level as well as for Larne Rugby Club. He enjoyed sailing and was a member of Larne Sailing Club. Other pursuits included membership of St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 162 in Islandmagee, Co. Antrim.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, MacAulay joined 3rd Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery, serving as a despatch rider with the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940. After the Dunkirk evacuation, MacAulay joined the Royal Air Force, training in Canada.
Sergeant MacAulay died on 1st September 1943 aged 27 years old while serving in R.A.F. 158 Squadron. He was an air bomber on Handley Page Halifax HR738 NP-Z (Zombie’s Zephyr), which took off from R.A.F. Lissett, Yorkshire, England on 31st August 1943. The mission did not go well.
The Luftwaffe made use of fighter flare to mark the path of the main Allied force. This, along with cloud cover, poor equipment, and a well defended target, led to critical failures in the raid. Of 622 planes, 47 failed to return.
En route to England, HR738 went down over Durnberg, east-northeast of Paderborn, Germany. Oberleutnant Werner Baake of 3/N.J.G. 1 based at Venlo Airfield, Netherlands claimed the victory.
Sergeant MacAulay’s grave is in Section 16, Row D, Grave 15 of Hanover War Cemetery, Hanover, Niedersachsen, Germany. His headstone bears the inscription:
Till the day break.