David Wakeford writes:
I was only 11 years old when my father died so no stories, only bits from his flying Log Books. Many times returning with heavy flak damage, one engine out, etc, much like all the others I guess.
I note in his logs while over Berlin April 20th 1945 flying Mosquito PF501 he notes: STRUCK BY LIGHTNING NOSE SPLIT OPEN. LAST RAID ON BIG CITY – RUSSIANS INSIDE CITY.
Lionel was born in Weymouth in 1915 and joined the RAF at age 15 as an apprentice at RAF Halton. At the outbreak of war in 1939, he was a sergeant Pilot in Egypt (Heliopolis) flying Bristol Bombay aircraft with 216 squadron throughout Egypt, North Africa and Greece. After returning to England, he flew Wellington bombers and then Mosquitoes with the Pathfinders, 139 Squadron. By the end of the war he had flown over 2,400 hours, was twice mentioned in Dispatches, and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He stayed in the post-war RAF. In 1952 he moved to RAF Pembrey to form 233 Squadron, a conversion unit, where he ran the tactical wing.
On September 22nd 1953 Lionel was training Pilot W.H. Williams in flying the Vampire Jet, and the aeroplane took off from Pembrey Airfield. However shortly after take-off Lionel requested permission to return to base. The aircraft was seen to weave for 2 miles approaching the airfield which was a method of losing speed. Unfortunately the Vampire crashed at the edge of the runway. The inquest found that the aircraft had suffered a severe fire probably starting immediately after take-off (possibly a re-ignite after a “flame out”) which had led to the crash. Both men were killed on impact, and Lionel is buried at Pembrey (St. Illtyd) Churchyard.