Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1942, Pilot Officer Michael John Mortimer (pictured), 255 Squadron, Royal Air Force, and Sergeant Geoffrey Bedford, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, were killed when their plane crashed at Haveringland, Norfolk.
Operational patrols were mounted when the radar at R.A.F. Coltishall indicated the possibility of enemy aircraft. On the day of their deaths the weather was described as poor with clouds and limited visibility, so training flights had been cancelled and only operational flights were allowed. Towards the evening invisibility improved, so Pilot Officer Mortimer took off with Sergeant Bedford as observer for a night-time patrol. On returning, he asked for assistance with his approach, and it was thought this was due to the strong cross-wind and the possibility of ice on the windscreen reducing visibility. It was just before midnight when the aircraft’s engines were heard to roar then sputter before the plane went into a spin and crashed, bursting into flames.
The eldest son of a vicar and a ballet school principal, Pilot Officer Mortimer was educated at Lancing College, where he served in the Officers’ Training Corps, before going on to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and was commissioned in July of 1941. Born in New Zealand and raised in Camberley, Surrey, he was 27 years old. He lies buried in the Scottow cemetery in Norfolk, and is remembered on the war memorial at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford.
The son of a boilersmith, Sergeant Bedford, from Old Brumby, Scunthorpe, was 22 years old. He is remembered on the memorial stone at the North Lincolnshire museum, and lies buried in the Brumby and Frodingham Cemetery in Scunthorpe. On his headstone are the words: “True brave heart God bless thee, wheresoe’er in God’s great universe thou art today”.