Flight engineer’s story is sought for memorial book

Sgt Benjamin Hallett's headstone in Portsmouth
Sgt Benjamin Hallett's headstone in Portsmouth
Graeme Clark of Wet Wet Wet

Popped in, Souled Out and going strong 30 years on

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This is one of the hundreds of war graves in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth.

It remembers Sgt Benjamin Hallett, who came from Portsmouth but died when his Lancaster bomber crashed in a field in Leicestershire.

Sgt Hallett, 23, the flight engineer, was one of six of the seven-man crew who died when the plane came down in the early hours of March 5, 1943, after laying mines at St Nazaire, France. The seventh died in action later in the Second World War.

Later this year local people will unveil a memorial stone to the men on the spot where the Lancaster crashed close to the Leicestershire/Nottinghamshire border.

And organisers of the memorial are seeking details of Sgt Hallett’s short life to include in a booklet marking the occasion. His parents were Mr and Mrs WH Hallett, who lived at Fratton.

Tim Chamberlin, one of the organisers, said: A recently discovered piece of the aircraft shows damage from a cannon shell, so perhaps some crew members were either dead or wounded which would explain why a bale out order was not given.

‘It would appear the pilot was struggling to maintain height and control which could indicate that it had suffered battle damage.’

The Lancaster belonged to 100 Squadron which was formed in February 1917 and by December 1942 was operating from Lincolnshire.

The squadron had only just been given Lancasters and this was their first mission flying them. Two of the crew killed outright came from Ontario, Canada, and a third was from Barbados. They are buried at Long Bennington, Lincolnshire.

Please get in touch if you have any details of Sgt Hallett’s life and I’ll pass them on to Tim.