We Shall Remember Them – Harold Stanley Seabrook

Harold Stanley Seabrook
March 25, 1924 – April 12, 1944

When Harold was born on March 25, 1924, the family was living in the remote Northern Ontario railroad town of Hornepayne and his mother travelled to Fort William for his birth. He was the second son of Eleanor and William Seabrook, a CNR Locomotive Engineer. A daughter and another son followed.

The family remained in Hornepayne until early 1939 when William had an opportunity, with CNR, to move to Southampton. Their first home was on Victoria St. immediately north of the Anglican Church. They soon after moved to Albert St. into a home that now houses a Law office.

Following graduation from High School in 1941 Harold went to work at Hepworth Furniture as an “edger” until May 1942. After his initial application in the RCAF, at London, on May 2, he was required to take an Aircrew aptitude orientation course in Hamilton before his acceptance to aircrew. His enlistment was finalized on June 16, 1942. References provided were C. Steele of Hepworth Furniture and Mayor McVittie as well as High St. merchants Messrs. Plante and Greathead.

A thorough medical examination determined that the 5 ft. 8” and 131 lb. Harold was “fit”. His interviewing officer commented; “Seems keen and prepared to make good; young, should develop into fine aircrew.” His training begun in Toronto for 3 months followed by 7 months in Calgary that ended in May 1943. Next was 2 months in Fingal ON near St. Thomas which was a major Bombing and Gunnery Commonwealth Training Base.

What followed for Harold after almost a full year of training in Canada was a 6-month posting to Nassau Bahamas. This was from July 43 to January 1944. Nassau was a major RAF and Commonwealth Airbase for crews having General Reconnaissance Training which eventually included Anti-Submarine patrols.

He returned to Canada and departed Halifax for England on January 20, 1944, arriving on January 31. Initially he was in the south of England and on March 14th he was posted to the Longtown Training Base in the far north of England, just south of the Scottish border. He was assigned to the crew of a Handley Paige Halifax Bomber as part of a Heavy Conversion Unit. With this came a promotion from Sergeant to Flight Sergeant.

The crew had little experience with this aircraft, and they were required to do considerable work before proceeding on any bombing missions. Training involved classroom as well as in flight training. On April 11, the crew of 9 departed Longtown Airbase on a training flight. There were two Pupil Pilots at the controls. The 1st Pupil Pilot had more than 700 flying hours with 19 hours on Halifax Bombers and only 3.5 hours of night flying this aircraft. The 2nd pupil pilot had just over 200 flying hours with this being his first flight on a Halifax Bomber. There was a Flight Instructor on board. The rest of the crew including Harold, consisted of Air Gunners, Wireless operator, Navigator etc.

After completing more than 8 hours of the flight plan and less than 60 kms south of the Longtown Airbase, the Bomber crashed into a 2,300-foot hill killing all on board. The location is known as Little Dun Fell in the Pennine chain of hills to the north of Appleby.

Following is the report of the investigating officer: T. Earp, Squadron Leader

A. Crash occurred at 0137 hours 12.4.44 10 miles east of Penrith, on return from O.F.E.

B. Cause unknown.

C. Aircraft is presumed to have been uncertain of its position and was flying too low in vicinity of hills. Crew had been comprehensively briefed and had been ordered prior to take off to obtain D. T. C. from RAF Crosby at completion of exercise. This order was not carried out.

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The crash scene report states that the aircraft was under power when the port side wing tip hit the hill and that the main wreckage was within 150 yards of the initial point of impact. Fire occurred upon impact and the hills at the time of the accident, were covered in mist.

Harold is buried with some of his crew comrades in the Chester (Blacon) Cemetery. It is a cemetery designated for Aircrew and is in Cheshire, south of Manchester. There are 557 service men buried there, including 191 Canadians. He is in Section A, Grave 853.

On May 1, 1994, a memorial was erected at the crash site through the efforts of a relation of one of Harold’s comrades that also died that fateful April night 50 years earlier. In August of 2016 a nephew of Harold’s visited the crash site. Harold’s youngest brother, Allan, passed away in Southampton in 2016.