Monday, 27 April 2015

Halstead, Wm Derek Taylor - Warrant Officer (Pilot)

(No soldier photo available)
90 Sqdn.
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died 27 August 1944
Age 26

Warrant Officer Derek (as he was known) Halstead was the pilot of a Lancaster bomber which took off from Tuddenham, Suffolk, at 2015 hours as part of a force of 382 planes detailed to attack Kiel, Germany. Derek's aircraft was at first reporteG missing, but it was later known to have crashed into the North Sea with the loss of the entire crew. Three bodies, of which Derek's was one, were washed ashore on the German island of Sylt.

Derek was the second son of William Arthur and Emma Halstead. He was married to Mary Elizabeth. He was 26. After leaving Haslingden Council Mixed School (where his father was headmaster), he went to Haslingden Grammar School. He was at York Teacher Training College when he enlisted. In May 1943 he took part in Haslingden's 'Wings for Victory Week' and showed himself as an accomplished public speaker.

Derek's body, with those of his comrades, was originally buried in the public cemetery in Westerland, Sylt. All were re-interred in Kiel War Cemetery after the war. The cemetery contains 983 Commonwealth graves, mostly airmen lost in bombing raids over northern Europe. Derek lies in Plot 3, Row C, Grave 14. N.B. Derek's brother, Philip, died in November 1944.