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AYKLEY HEADS

Crossley, E., Pt/Off., 1944
In Reichswald Forest War Cemetery is the Commonwealth War Grave of 185784 Pilot Officer Ernest Crossley, serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, who died 05/11/1945.

Simon Glancey has submitted the following:

Pilot Officer Crossley was the Flight Engineer aboard Avro Lancaster X KB782 NA-H of 428 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron, which was lost on a mission to Dusseldorf. Of the seven crew, three were killed in the crash.
Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War: 1944; W.R. Chorley; 1997; Midland Counties Publications; ISBN 0 904597 91 1, page 471

The four survivors, including P/O Crossley, were captured and taken to Solingen. There they were attacked by members of the local population whilst under an armed escort, and the four P.o.W.s were murdered. Four men were tried for murder, but their fate is unknown.

Traugott Vitz has rpovided the following:

Pt Off Crossley did not die on 2nd Nov - that was the date of his last mission. As you correctly write, the survivors of KB782 were taken to Solingen. More to the point: Their a/c CRASHED at Solingen, and they were taken to the Town Hall where they were put in the city jail. On 4th and 5th November, Solingen was the target of heavy allied air raids. While houses were still burning and the population excited and angry, a Luftwaffe lorry appeared on 5th November to fetch the prisoners to Düsseldorf for interrogation and further processing. When Crossley and three Canadian crew comrades were being led to the lorry by their German escort, the people rushed at them and killed them.> > I have the transcript of the subsequent trial.

Of the four accused, Lomberg's case was separated from the three others. Wahlen was acquitted, Wilinski sentenced to death by hanging, and Kühn sentenced to 20 years. After the sentencing of these three, Lomberg was led back before the court, and 15 minutes later, his trial was over, too: The prosecution had not offered any evidence against him.> > Wilinski was reprieved, his sentence being commuted to 20 years. He and Kühn were released from prison in 1957 when the British closed their War Criminals Prison at Werl, Germany.

I am one of the authors of this report.

Ernest Crossley is remembered in Aykley Heads on A41.02 , in Durham on D47.150 and at Hebburn on H93.15


Transcript of the trial
Aircrew Remembered
The CWGC entry for Pilot Officer Crossley

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk