The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. L R Karasek
Laurence Robert Karasek was born in Erith, Kent on 1st October 1916, his surname then spelt 'Karesek'. His father worked in engineering. His paternal grandfather had been born in Bohemia, then part of the Austrian Empire. By 1939 the family were using the spelling 'Karasek'.
Karasek joined the RAF about July 1939 as a direct-entry Airman u/t Observer. He went to 7 B&GS from ITW on 25th November 1939. He was withdrawn from No. 2 Air Observer Course on 30th December 1939 after failing his navigation training.
Since direct-entry Airmen u/t Observers received their wireless training before B&GS, Karasek would have remustered as a WOp/AG. He joined 23 Squadron at Collyweston in June 1940, in time for a major Luftwaffe attack on the 18th.
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.