Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1943, Flight Lieutenant Stephen Alers Hankey, A Flight, 161 (Special Service) Squadron, Royal Air Force, was killed in a crash while on a Special Operations Executive mission.
The youngest son of Colonel Cecil Hankey, Royal Sussex Regiment, he was educated at Lancing College where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps and was captain of the boxing team. He went on to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst where he represented the academy in boxing.
Flight Lieutenant Hankey was commissioned into his father’s regiment, but resigned his commission in 1937 and took up employment with Delahave of London, selling sports cars. A year later he joined the Royal Air Force on a short service commission.
At the outbreak of the second world war he was serving with 4 Squadron and went to France in September of 1939, where he survived a crash in May of 1940 while on a reconnaissance mission. He then went to the Middle East to fly for a photographic reconnaissance squadron and also work as an instructor for pilot cadets. In June of 1943 he was posted to 161 (Special Service) Squadron, where he trained in night flying and then took part in many missions bringing operatives to safety.
On the day of his death, during Operation Scenery, he was returning home with two operatives. The heavy fog forced him to divert from his course and his plane crashed in the early hours of the morning, killing him and his passengers.
He lies buried in St. George’s churchyard at Crowhurst in Sussex, and is commemorated on the Crowhurst war memorial.
Stephen, from Westhampnett in East Sussex, was 28 years old and married with two daughters.