Bomber pi­lot who lies in the cor­ner of a FOR­EIGN FIELD

Black Country Bugle - - NEWS - By CLIVE COR­BETT

AN­OTHER chance dis­cov­ery spurred me on to find out more about the tragic loss dur­ing World War Two of Flight Lieu­tenant Sel­wyn Henry Al­cock, son of the vicar of Brock­moor, Wil­liam Al­cock.

The Lon­don Gazette of Tues­day 19th May 1936 records the ap­point­ment of Wil­liam from his post near Leek: “White­hall – May 18th. The King has been pleased by War­rant un­der His Majesty’s Royal Sign Man­ual, bear­ing the date the 12th in­stant, to ap­point the Rev­erend Ge­orge Wil­liam Henry Al­cock, Vicar of Onecote with Bradnop, to the Liv­ing of Brock­moor in the County of Stafford and Dio­cese of Lich­field void by the ces­sion of the Rev­erend Ken­neth Ge­orge Wil­liam

Wil­liam’s son, Sel­wyn, was born in Edg­bas­ton, on 16th Fe­bru­ary 1919. He went to Well’s Cathe­dral School on a mu­sic schol­ar­ship, where in 1935 he be­came cap­tain of the rugby team. He then be­gan a de­gree at Durham Univer­sity but at the out­break of war in Septem­ber 1939 he vol­un­teered for the RAF, al­though he wasn’t called up un­til 9th March 1940.

Plaque

Mil­ward.”

In the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod Sel­wyn moved back to Brock­moor. As Peter Ed­monds wrote in an on­line ar­ti­cle a few years ago, he played for Dud­ley-kingswin­ford Rugby Club and is re­mem­bered with oth­ers on a club house plaque.

Sel­wyn was mar­ried on 10th Oc­to­ber 1942 to Dorothy, who he had met whilst posted in Devon. She moved in and lived with his par­ents at Brock­moor Vicarage.

Much of the re­search on Sel­wyn’s RAF ca­reer was done by Roger Perkins in ‘Pathfinder Pi­lot - the Search for Sel­wyn Al­cock DFC’. We know that Sel­wyn flew seven op­er­a­tions with 49 Squadron be­fore mov­ing to 83 Squadron, but at just after 11pm on 27th Jan­uary 1944, Lan­caster OL-V, cap­tained by Flight Lieu­tenant Al­cock, was at­tacked and shot down by a night-fighter. So sud­den and dev­as­tat­ing was the at­tack that none of the crew were able to es­cape the stricken bomber which crashed near the Bel­gian town of Sau­tour.

Mem­bers of the crew are re­mem­bered by a plaque in Sau­tour Church. They were orig­i­nally buried at the Ger­man air­field at nearby Florennes, from where the night­fighter was based.

Later they were moved to the War Ceme­tery at Hot­ton (Ar­rondisse­ment de Marcheen-fa­menne, Lux­em­bourg, Bel­gium, Plot: VE 10) in the Ar­dennes.

Very soon af­ter­wards, a tele­gram boy would call at Brock­moor Vicarage to de­liver the chill­ing mes­sage to Sel­wyn’s young widow and his par­ents:

“Deeply re­gret to in­form you that Flight Lieu­tenant S H Al­cock RAFVR is re­ported miss­ing from air op­er­a­tions over en­emy ter­ri­tory.”

But Sel­wyn would be re­mem­bered for his courage. He was rec­om­mended by 83 Squadron’s Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer in the fol­low­ing words:

“Flight Lieu­tenant Al­cock, as cap­tain of a heavy bomber, has com­pleted 46 op­er­a­tional flights against the en­emy, 15 of these be­ing with the Pathfinder Force.

“Through­out his op­er­a­tional tour he has been de­tailed to at­tack most of the heav­ily de­fended tar­gets in Ger­many, in­clud­ing 7 sor­ties in the Bat­tle of Ber­lin.

“With­out fail, Flight Lieu­tenant Al­cock has car­ried out his ar­du­ous du­ties with de­ter­mi­na­tion and skill, al­ways coura­geously press­ing home his at­tack to his ut­most.

“On two re­cent oc­ca­sions, when ap­proach­ing Ber­lin, his air­craft suf­fered very con­cen­trated and ac­cu­rate anti-air­craft fire which re­sulted in an en­gine be­ing put out of ac­tion on each oc­ca­sion.

Val­our

“De­spite this, Flight Lieu­tenant Al­cock con­tin­ued on his bomb­ing runs and marked and at­tacked his tar­get suc­cess­fully.

“His ex­em­plary op­er­a­tional con­duct and val­our have con­trib­uted largely to the suc­cess of op­er­a­tions in which he has taken part. I strongly rec­om­mend the award of the Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross.”

His rec­om­men­da­tion of a DFC ar­rived on the desk of Air-vice Mar­shall Don­ald Ben­nett, Air Of­fi­cer com­mand­ing the Royal Air Force’s Pathfinder Force. Ben­nett counter signed the paper with “Strongly rec­om­mended.”

The quiet Brock­moor church­yard of St John the Evan­ge­list still con­tains a sim­ple head­stone, mark­ing the pass­ing of its vicar, Ge­orge, on 26th Au­gust 1949, and his wife, Eva May, in 1982.

It also records the pass­ing of their son, Sel­wyn, whose mor­tal re­mains lie still in a for­eign field.

A well-worn pho­to­graph of the wed­ding of Sel­wyn and Dorothy, Oc­to­ber 1942

The Al­cock fam­ily grave in Brock­moor ceme­tery

Roll of Hon­our at Dud­ley-kingswin­ford Rugby Club, fea­tur­ing Sel­wyn Al­cock – spelled in­cor­rectly

Brock­moor Church

Sel­wyn Al­cock’s grave­stone at Hot­ton in the Ar­dennes

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