Erskine, Basil Pollock (No. 44190)

Erskine, Basil Pollock (Basil)

Pilot Officer (Pilot)

No. 44190, 233 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Killed in action on Thursday 31 October 1940 (aged 19)

Buried:

Sola Churchyard, Norway (British Plot B. 4)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Holywood and District War Memorial

Campbell College, Belfast

Brother of Lieutenant Commander (E) John Gordon Morrison Erskine

BIOGRAPHY

Pilot Officer Basil Pollock Erskine was born on 28 September 1921 and he was a son of Robert Magill Erskine JP and Eleanor Erskine (nee Pollock) of Donnybrook, Holywood.  Robert Magill Erskine was a travelling goods manufacturer (luggage) and leather merchant and he and Eleanor Pollock were married on 15 April 1902 in High Street Presbyterian Church, Holywood.  Eleanor Pollock from Holywood was a daughter of John Pollock, a merchant.

Robert and Eleanor Erskine (nee Pollock) had at least four children:

Robert Colin Erskine (born 25 June 1903 in Hillbrook, Holywood; died in an accident in 1950)

John Gordon Morrison (born 20 December 1907 in Hillbrook, Holywood)

Margaret Gordon (born 26 April 1911 in Donnybrook, Holywood)

Basil Pollock (born 28 September 1921)

Basil Pollock Erskine attended Campbell College from 1935 until 1939 and a short biography was published in the December 1940 edition of The Campbellian:

‘Basil Erskine’s most striking characteristic was the concentrated drive which he applied to anything he undertook. As a small boy he constructed single-handed and in term time, an excellent canoe, a work requiring unremitting labour and infinite patience; as a Cadet at Cultra Yacht Club he was ready for his tests before the examiner had quite learnt them himself; as a Scout he obtained his First Class Badge within four months of joining the Troop, a record at Campbell – and possibly anywhere. When he joined the Air Section of the Officers’ Training Corps, he rapidly became its senior NCO.

But it was as a Scout in camp that you saw Basil at his best. The woods seemed to be his native place. His remarkable native ingenuity found full scope in devising the shifts and gadgets that make camp a home-from-home; the lashings and knots were the joy of his skilful hands. His cooking done over a wood fire made the mouth water. We shall always remember with pride his excellent running of his Patrol in camp at Mourne Park, and with affection his cheery, vivid presence, his shrewd jokes, and his good company around the campfire.  His life was short, but he lived every minute of it’.

During the Second World War Basil Erskine served with the Royal Air Force in Coastal Command and he was killed in action on 31 October 1940 during an offensive patrol operation.  He was one of a crew of four aboard a Lockheed Hudson Mark II aircraft (T9377) that took off at 10.20 am from RAF Leuchars in Fife, Scotland.  They reached the Norwegian coast in formation with two other aircraft and attacked a cargo vessel.  Their plane was shot down by fire from a German minesweeper and crashed at 12.55 pm north of Lister in Norway.  The other crew members who died that day were:

  • Pilot Officer William Owen Weaber
  • Sergeant Henry Dean (aged 20) from Stoke-on-Trent
  • Sergeant James Andrew Wallace

Sergeant Dean has no known grave and is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey.  The other three men were buried in Sola Churchyard, Norway.

Pilot Officer Basil Pollock Erskine (No. 44190) was 19 when he died and he is commemorated on Holywood and District War Memorial and in Campbell College, Belfast.