HOLLAND, Basil Leonard Alfred Francis

  • 25 years
  • United Kingdom
  • Pilot Officer
  • 104337
  • Hudson III, V9128
  • 15th March 1942
  • Allied Aircrew Memorial, Guernsey

Close up of burial stone

Close up of burial stone

Basil Leonard Francis Alfred Holland was born at Acton in Middlesex on the 20th of March 1917 the elder son of Sir Alfred Herbert Holland, a solicitor and Master of the Supreme Court of the Indicative Chancery Division, and Bertha Eleanor (nee Parrock) Holland of “The Clive”, Lunton Road, Acton, later of “Nightingales”, Penn in Buckinghamshire.

He was educated at Lancing College where he was in Gibbs House from January 1931 to 1934. On the outbreak of war, he was a law student.

He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1939 where he rose to the rank of Sergeant before being commissioned as a Pilot Officer on the 18th of August 1941. He was posted to 233 Squadron who operated Hudson aircraft from St Eval in Cornwall on reconnaissance missions over the Bay of Biscay.

A Roadstead mission was laid on for 15th March 1942 to attack shipping reported west of Cherbourg proceeding along the French coast in the Bay of St Malo, these had been spotted by a single Hudson aircraft of 233 Squadron. The new operation was known as Roadstead 16. 12 Spitfires of 118 Squadron, 12 Spitfires of 501 Squadron providing anti-flak cover and 12 Spitfires of 234 Squadron to provide high cover against enemy aircraft. These fighters were to provide fighter escort for 5 Hudson aircraft of 407 Squadron. The fighters all took off between 13.20 and 13.30. Two Me109’s were sighted South-West of Guernsey on the outward flight and chased by Blue Section of 234 Squadron.

It would transpire that unknown to the aircraft on Roadstead 16, a single Hudson was patrolling in the area, it had taken off at 11.45am from RAF St Eval and was a Hudson Mk III ZS-V V9128. Their mission was to locate and shadow enemy shipping. However, with so many aircraft in the area a number of fighter aircraft were scrambled from Guernsey to patrol and attack these aircraft.

Confirmation of what took place is recorded in the German records and confirms that at 15:00 hrs an enemy aircraft was shot down by a Guernsey based fighter to the north of Guernsey. The four crew of that aircraft were seen to have taken to their rubber dinghy, but a German rescue boat sent to the area failed to find them.

The crew of the Hudson Mk III ZS-V V9128 was:-
Wing Commander Eric Hugh Paul Clarke AFC (Pilot)
Sergeant David Wallace Dewar (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Arthur Herbert Hiles (Observer)
Pilot Officer Basil Leonard Francis Alfred Holland (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Basil Holland’s body was washed ashore at Portscatho near Falmouth on the 17th of May and that of Eric Clarke was washed ashore at Looe the day before. The two other crew members were lost. Holland’s body was taken to Portscatho Coast Guard Station and his funeral took place on the 23rd of May 1942.

His brother received the following telegram dated the 21st of May 1942: – “Deeply regret to inform you that further information now received states that your brother Pilot Officer Basil Leonard Francies Alfred Holland is reported to have lost his life as a result of air operations on 15th March 1942. The Air Council express their profound sympathy. His father has been informed.”

He is commemorated in the St Eval book of remembrance at St Mawgan in Cornwall, on the Allied Aircrew Memorial at Guernsey and on the memorial in the Lady Chapel at Holy Trinity Church, Penn.