Battle of Britain London Monument – Sgt. L R Karasek

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Privacy Statement The Airmen’s Stories – Sgt. L R Karasek

Laurence Robert Karasek joined the RAF about July 1939 as a direct-entry Airman u/t Observer. He completed his training and was posted to 23 Squadron at Collyweston. It is unclear when his posting took effect but it must have been prior to the 18th June 1940 as he was in action that night when the Luftwaffe mounted one of the first substantial night raids across an area stretching from the Thames to the Humber estuaries.

 

The Luftwaffe force was composed of aircraft KG4 and KG27. The raiders approaching the Wash were from KG4 stationed at Merville and Lille-Roubaix. Their targets were RAF Mildenhall, RAF Honington and RAF Marham.

An element of He111’s from KG4 crossed the Norfolk coast near Wells and No 23 Squadron Blenheims were ordered to engage. From their standing patrol, Sergeant Close with his gunner, LAC Karasek, headed east in Blenheim L1458 (coded YP-S) and intercepted a He111 in the vicinity of King’s Lynn.
Caught in a searchlight beam, it seemed an easy prey. However, to get within range to fire, Sergeant Close was also caught in the beam and hit by return fire as he engaged the bomber. Close was fatally
wounded by the burst of gunfire that shattered the cockpit.

Karasek managed to bale out just before ground impact and both were rushed to sick quarters at nearby RAF Sutton Bridge where Close was officially pronounced dead.

Karasek was still with 23 Squadron in September when the squadron had moved to Middle Wallop. On the 25th he was aboard Blenheim L8639, crewed with pilot P/O E Orgias and gunner AC2 RI Payne. The pilot reported a rough-running engine and his intention to return to Middle Wallop. On the approach, with flaps and undercarriage lowered, the aircraft stalled and crashed at Broughton, south of the airfield. All three crew were killed.

The post-crash report said:

….. From the trail of evidence on the ground – namely a battered cylinder, then a frayed steel cable, and finally the crashed engine with these items missing – we came to the conclusion that for some reason the bolts holding the top cylinder of the radial Mercury engine had become lose. Then the pounding of the piston in the loose cylinder eventually broke the steel cable at the front of the motor allowing the huge top and bottom cowlings to open out suddenly forming an overpowering brake on one side of the aircraft, altogether beyond the control of the pilot. The cowlings of the Mercury were held on by steel cables clamped tightly around at the front and the rear of the motor.

Karasek was 23 and is buried in St Peter’s Church, Over Wallop.

 

 

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