Albert and Stanley were brothers, the only children of Albert and Annie Margaret Hathaway nee Blunden. (Some records say Blundell). Albert was the elder by two years. Their father, also Albert Bertie, was born in Moreton in Marsh in Gloucestershire and came from a large family. He was the youngest of twelve children.
Albert snr started training as a stable lad at the Weyhill stables near Andover and joined the Royal Artillery for the duration of WW1.
His older brother William was a stable lad in a racing stables in Lewes by 1901, and with his wife Florence may have run the Sussex pub on Fisher Street in 1917. This may be one of the reasons why Albert moved to Lewes following his demob.
Lewes racecourse was in full operation at the time. He and Annie Margaret were married in Lewes in early 1920. Annie’s father was a bootmaker living in Lancaster Street. The Hathaways lived in Paddock Road and seem to have moved around the street. They can be found at numbers 17 and 35 at different times.
Albert’s birth was registered in Lewes in mid 1921, but on the 1939 register he gave his date of birth as 07/08/1920.
It is known that, like his brother, he attended Pells school and was a choirboy at St John sub Castro.
In 1939 he had followed his father into working with horses and was listed living at Hodcott Buildings, West Ilsley and working as a stable boy. Hodcott Buildings formed part of the Lockinge estate and are still a racing stables, now run by Mick Channon.
On his obituary it was said that Albert had worked for George Poole who ran the Heath House Racing stables in Lewes and had trained the winner of the 1921 Grand National.
Albert joined the RAFVR at Cardington and was numbered 1437229. From this number we can work out that this was some time after 1941.
He was sent to the Middle East and was an aircraftsman 1st class . He seems to have been based at RAF Haifa. RAF Haifa was actually the airport at Haifa.
Commercial flights were stopped in 1940 and the site taken over by the RAF and renamed. It was primarily a maintenance base servicing the various squadrons based in the area. The majority of the aircraft were Hurricanes but some Tomahawks and some Hawker Audax also came in.
The circumstances of Albert’s death are not clear. It is recorded that he was drowned in Haifa on 07/05/1942. He is buried in the Khayat Beach War Cemetery in grave A. C. 1, and remembered on the St John sub Castro Memorial as well as Lewes War Memorial.
Stanley’s birth was registered in Lewes in mid 1922. Like his brother he was a Pells boy and sang in the choir at St John sub Castro. From his obituary we also know that prior to enlisting he had worked at the Lewes Co-operative. The 1939 register contains a redacted entry which is almost certainly him still living at home. He would have been 17.
He joined the RAFVR at Uxbridge in late 1940 and was numbered 1330482. He trained as an air gunner and rose to the rank of flight sergeant. He joined 83 Squadron who flew Lancasters out of RAF Wyton from August 1942. 83 Squadron formed part of Group 8 of Bomber Command. Their primary role was as part of the Pathfinder group, laying target indicator bombs for the main group to follow to ensure more accurate bombing raids. His Lancaster was numbered W 4955 and had the call sign OL-R. His regular crew included two members of the RAAF. The pilot had previously been awarded the DFC.
Most of their flights were night operations. During March 1943 they had been part of an offensive against the Ruhr. On 13/05/1943 they took off from RAF Wyton as part of a major bombing raid to Duisberg. Take off time was 00.31.
It is believed that they were able to drop their indicators but then encountered heavy flak and suffered some damage. They were attacked by Feldwebel Heinz Vinke of 11/NJG, flying a Bf 110 G-4 out of Bergen airfield. He claimed the hit. The navigator, F/Lt Ransome of the RAAF was the only one able to bail out and he spent the rest of the war as a POW. The remaining crew all perished in the crash near Hilversum.
They are buried in adjacent graves at Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery.
Stanley is in plot 13, row 7 grave 128. He is remembered on the International Bomber Command Centre Memorial at Canwick Hill near Lincoln, in Phase 1 panel 46 as well as at St John sub Castro and the Lewes War Memorial.