Hurst, Herbert Kitchener

Personal Information

Rank Sgt
Forename(s) Herbert Kitchener
Surname Hurst
Gender M
Age 28
Date of Death 26-03-1945
Next of Kin Son of Robert and Martha Jane Hurst. Husband of Winifred Hurst, of Prescot.

Aircraft Information

Serial Number

Memorial Information

Burial/Memorial Country United Kingdom
Burial/Memorial Place Wigan Cemetery
Grave Reference Sec. C. R.C. Grave 241.

IBCC Memorial Information

Phase 1
Panel Number 53

Enlistment Information

Service Number 1588410
Service Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Group 5
Squadron 463 (Australian)
Trade Air Bomber
Country of Origin United Kingdom

Miscellaneous Information

Lincolnshire Echo, Thursday 29th March 1945: "Carried Bomb into RAF Dormitory- Lincs Inquest Story Of Sergt’s Fatal Error. How an R.A.F. flight sergeant walked into a sleeping block at a Lincolnshire station, climbed out of a window with a bomb in one hand and a pair of pliers in the other, was described to the Lincoln South District Coroner (Mr. Reynolds Scorer) yesterday, when he was told that 30 seconds later there was an explosion outside the window and the sergeant was dead. The dead man was Herbert Kitchener Hurst (28) whose home is at 97 Scotchbar Lane, Prescott and was a constable in the Lancashire Constabulary before he joined the R.A.F. in which he was a bomb aimer. Returning a verdict of “accidental death” the coroner observed: “I can only find that this unfortunate man died from severe injuries received from a bomb or missile with which he was in some way interfering. “I cannot think how a man of his experience should have attempted to deal with a bomb with a pair of pliers. The station officer has told us that the orders were most explicit. Frederick William Dove, an armaments worker at the aerodrome, related that about 2.30 on the afternoon of Monday, March 26, Hurst called at his office and placed the missile on the table. Coroner: You knew it was charged? Dove: Not with certainty. I thought it was dangerous inasmuch as any missile is dangerous. He did not tell me where he got it and I did not ask him. Dove said he presumed that Hurst had brought it to the station armaments officer and he (Dove) directed him to take it to Mr. Scott at the Station H.Q. Hurst intimated that would do so and left. “Don't you think it would have been better you had left it on the table and sent for someone?'’ asked Police Inspector Duckles. “It might have been in view of what happened,” replied Dove. Inspector Duckles: This is a dangerous thing and yet you let this man walk away with it. Dove: I was not going to take possession of it, because it was not within my province. Coroner: Were you the appropriate person for him to have brought it to?—No, he should have brought it to the station armoury. “But isn’t your office at the armoury?" asked Inspector Duckles.—Dove agreed that it was so. Squadron Leader F. W. Dovledge intervened to point out that Dove was a subordinate. He could have kept the missile, but it was not his duty to so. At 3.30 the same day, Flight- Sergeant Harry Bigwood was lying on his bed in the sleeping quarters when Hurst entered and went to his bed. Hurst stayed 30 or 40 seconds, and then walked past him to the far end and climbed out of a window. He had in his left hand a bomb- or whatever it was- and a pair of pliers in his right hand. Bigwood went on, “Thirty seconds later I heard an explosion. I looked out of the window and saw Hurst. He was dead.” James Leonard Hunter Scott, an inspector at the aerodrome, said he was not on the camp on the afternoon of the accident. The appropriate action to have taken, he said, would have been to inform the station armaments officer when Hurst called. He explained that. Dove was under a misapprehension in thinking that he (Scott) knew about bombs and shells. It was not Dove's fault that he was wrong. Squadron-Leader A. J. Harker, medical officer at the station, said he saw Hurst a week ago and he was perfectly fit. The injuries were consistent with an accidental bomb-explosion.
Hurst had flown on ops (against Bremen) on 22nd March aboard Lancaster PB203. This aircraft flew ops on 23rd/24th March with an entirely different crew, suggesting that perhaps the crew had been stood down for a few days following the event. PB203 flew again on 27th March with the usual crew- F/O P R Andersen (429301) taking the place of Hurst.

Last Operation Information

Start Date 30-11--0001
End Date 30-11--0001
Takeoff Station Waddington
Day/Night Raid
Reason for Loss A bizarre case in which F/S Hurst was accidentally killed by an exploding bomb with which he was apparently tampering.

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Casualty Pack

IBCC is delighted to introduce a unique facility to link the Losses Database to the relevant RAF Casualty Pack on the National Archives website. This project is the result of on-going collaboration between IBCC, the MOD Records Office and National Archives, Kew. This document describes what Casualty Packs are, when they were created, the process of making them available to the public and then goes on to describe the process by which you can view the contents of the packs. Casualty Packs (CPs) were created by the RAF whenever there was serious injury or loss of life associated with operational activity within the RAF. This includes operational flying losses, enemy action due to air raids, road accidents either on station or even off-station if they involved RAF vehicles. Deaths due to natural causes in service or accidents that did not involve RAF vehicles did not generally give rise to a CP.

CPs were originally given a unique reference number by the RAF. Each begins with the letter ‘P’ and is followed by six digits, then an oblique (forward slash) and the finally the year in which the incident took place- for example P396154/42.

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Once CPs arrive at National Archives they are assigned a unique AIR81 number, so each CP has both a P-number and an AIR81 number. Both are searchable on the National Archives website under ‘Search the catalogue’ and both are included on the IBCC website.

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There is currently no plan to digitise AIR81 files, partly because they are fragile and partly because the information they contain can at times be sensitive, even harrowing, since they may contain exhumation reports and even photographs of corpses. Family members wishing to read the AIR81 files relating to their ancestors are advised to exercise caution and be guided by National Archives warnings where appropriate.

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To attend in person, the attendee should first create a Reader’s Ticket. This can be done online by following this link: Then click on the AIR81 reference on the IBCC website and click Order in Advance. Enter your Reader’s Ticket number and state the date on which you intend to visit. National Archives will have the file ready for you when you arrive, saving you time. When you visit Kew, you must quote the Reader’s Ticket number and take along two forms of ID- one bearing your signature and one bearing your address. When you view the files, you are permitted to take photographs of each page, should you wish.

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