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Monday, 12 November 2012

Kerr, Holman Gordon Stanley

[The Lurgan Mail, Saturday, September 27th, 1947
Courtesy - Old Lurgan Photos Facebook group]

Flying Officer Holman Gordon Stanley Kerr
was born on 8th January 1922.  He was known as Gordon and was the son of Thomas John Kerr and Evelyn Margaret Kerr, of Lurgan, Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland. 

Gordon was educated at Lurgan College from 3rd September 1934 until 31st July 1940.
Soon after leaving school, Gordon joined the Belfast Banking Company and worked in Rathfriland branch. 

Belfast Banking Company, Rathfriland

Gordon volunteered and enlisted in the RAF with promotions taking him to Flying Officer with Service Number 185226.  F/O Kerr served with 514 Sqn Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

The following photographs have been given to me by Benjamin Cleynen, Belgium.  Benjamin is a member of a local historical society..

Kerr was stationed at RAF Waterbeach, Cambridge, England.  On the night of 5th March 1945, the crew flew Lancaster bomber aircraft (I NN775 JI-F2) on an operation to Geisenkirchen (Benzol Plant). 

Art by Michael Ferns

The plane crashed at Bunsbeek, Belgium and all seven crew were killed.  Three bodies were recovered and placed in a communal grave with 7 headstones in Heverlee War Cemetery.  Gordon was not one of them.  The others, including Gordon are still in the buried remains of the plane.  A memorial ceremony was held at the crash site on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2015 with officials attending from Germany, UK, Australia and the Belgian Air Force.

Referenced to:

On 11th November 2015, the Mayor of Bunsbeek, Belgium together with the British, Australian and German Ambassadors attended a Remembrance service to commemorate the crew from 3 aircraft (A Wellington, a Junkers 88 and Lancaster NN775) that crashed near the village.

Shortly, a special team will start to scan the area to identify the exact location of the Lancaster and if found, they will start the excavation and recovery.  This will be undertaken under the strict guidance of the RAF, RAAF and the Belgian Air Force.

Crash site

Benjamin Cleynen and his father at the crash site

The crew are buried in Heverlee War Cemetery.

The graves of the 7 crew lie together.

Flying Officer H Gordon S Kerr

Flying Officer F Clarke

Sgt C G Hogg

Sgt W Marsden

Flight Sgt A Olsen (RAAF)

Flight Sgt F Smith

Sgt H P Thomas

Kerr is also commemorated on the Lurgan War Memorial.


  1. The following information was received on 04/04/2016 (Translated from Dutch):

    "... Municipality of harleysville start preliminary investigation crashed Lancaster during world war ii in bunsbeek
    The Municipality of harleysville start on 16 April 2016 in collaboration with the planehunters recovery team Belgium concrete with a first preliminary investigation on the location of the crashed english bomber during world war ii in deelgemeente bunsbeek. Mayor Peter Reekmans (Dorpspartij): " this English 4-motorige heavy bomber type Lancaster of the 514 Raf Squadron is by a defective crashed on 5 March 1945-around 15 in the pamelenstraat (just behind the velp) in deelgemeente bunsbeek . This plane was on Monday, 5 March 1945 Original Directive 10 ascended in waterbeach, Cambridge (England) with 169 other bombers and was on my way to gelsenkirchen in the Germany for an attack on a benzineraffinaderij. The plane crashed at 10 metres from the road diagonally opposite the former residence of the family giedts. Surviving witnesses of this crash saw that the plane with the nose down and crash was in full in the soggy ground to the velp disappeared. This huge plane with a length of 21,18 m, a height of 5,97 M, a wingspan of 31,09 m and a weight of 29.000 KG (10.000 kg) bombs still stabs in the Ground and we also see the spot clearly still a divergence in the meadow, where the impact was. By the wet surface experts expect that this plane crash, well preserved is the last 70 years. Also, the bodies of several crew members and presumably also the bombs would still sit in the subsoil."
    Mayor Peter Reekmans: " on 16 April 2016 will be a professional team during this first preliminary investigation of the location of the crash detection and scan complete with sonar to a depth of 7 TO 8 M. Depending on the results of this first preliminary investigation, there will be hereinafter referred to as a new bodemscan be done to the possibility to be able to detect bombs."

  2. Benjamin Cleynen is not a member of the Planehunters Recovery Team,he is a member of the local History Society.

    We are going to search for the impact point and see if there are still parts to be found

  3. BRUYNINCKX ANDRE27 April 2016 at 11:46

    first parts of motorsupports are found,lots of little peaces spread out in the meadow,a witness recently told that peaces of the costumes of the crew were hanging in the trees around the meadow,Was there an explosion at the crasch?
    Bruyninckx André Tienen

  4. An update received on 04/08/2016:

    Hi Gavin
    Yesterday we did a ground scan of the crash site.We could see that there are still some big parts left in the ground,we are planning a full recovery in october /november if the weather is good.
    Benny Ceulaers
    Chairman Planehunters Recovery Team Belgium"

  5. I just wanted to write in this comment section to say thank you to the PlaneHunters. My great uncle, Navigator Sidney Smith, was one of those who died in this crash. My mother and uncle attended the excavations over the 10th - 13th November. They were very pleased with the sympathetic way in which it was done, and the respect given to those who lost their lives. I understand that the plane was very much compressed by the impact, and largely fragmented, but some personal items were recovered. I also understand that a memorial is to take place next year in early March.


Please add any verifiable information to assist me in building on the biographical information already detailed. Thank you.