Died 29 July 1943
Sub-Lieutenant Joseph Pilling took off from the aircraft-carrier HMS Unicorn in a Grumman Martlet fighter on a flight to engage German forces in Norway. Sometime later his engine failed and he was forcec. to ditch into the sea. Joseph's body was never found.
Joseph was the only son of Tom and Dorothy Pilling. He was aged 20. Joseph attended Helmshore Council School and then Haslingden Grammar School. He continued his education at Bryanston Public School in Blandford, Dorset. In the interval between leaving school and joining the Fleet Air Arm, he became an apprentice with the Burnley Paper Works Company and attended Manchester College of Technology. Joseph worshipped at Helmshore Sion Methodist Church and Sunday School. He was a member of Accrington Arts Club. He gained his 'wings' after training in Canada and America and gained his commission on 27 February 1943.
Joseph is commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial, Hampshire. The Memorial is on the sea-front, on Marine Parade, West. It bears the names of almost 2,000 men of the Fleet Air Arm who have no grave but the sea. Joseph is named on Bay 4, Panel 7.
Monica Berry said on 18th August 2015:
Thank you for your research. I remember Joseph Brooks Pilling from a brief meeting when I was a little girl, aged about six years, when I visited my Aunt Maud (Davies) at her home in Helmshore c. 1941/42(?).
My aunt was in service with the Pilling family and, I believe, she had known and loved Joseph since his childhood. I also recall meeting Mr & Mrs Pilling probably in 1944 and seeing a shrine to their son in their home. The sadness of his death has always lingered with me. I am now almost 80 yrs.