"Per noctem volamus" - Throughout the night we fly

No.40022, Pilot Officer, Harold ROSOFSKY
Aged 26

9 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Killed on Active Service (Air Accident) on Friday, 8th September 1939

Harold Rosofsky was born in South Africa, son of Abraham and Bertha ROSOFSKY, (of Killarney, Johannesburg, South Africa).

Harold came to UK in 1936, aged 23.
On the 9th August 1937 Harold Rosofsky was granted a short service commissions as Acting Pilot Officer (per London Gazette 24th August 1937) On the 21st August 1937 Acting Pilot Officer Rosofsky was posted to the No. 8 Flying School, Montrose. While at Montrose he was involved in a flying accident while trying to land Hawker Audax Mk1 K5131, the wing hit the ground causing the aircraft to swing and tip up.
He was posted to 9 Squadron at Honington on the 13th June 1938 after completing a short Navigation course. On the 31st May 1938 he was confirmed in his appointment as Pilot Officer (as per London Gazette 14th June 1938).
On the 10th July 1939 he was returning to Honington after a flight to Marseilles, France, when he had to make a forced landing at Lyons, France owing to a opened pilot hatch. He returned to base the following day. On 8th September 1939, Harold Rosofsky, piloting Vickers Wellington L-4320, c/s WS-ZB, took off from RAF Honington for air firing practice over Berners Heath ( a high level bombing range). For some unknown reason ( recorded as pilot error) the aircraft flew into trees and crashed near Elveden.
The entire crew were killed:-
Pilot - P/O Harold Rosofsky RAF, aged 26; Observer - P/O Bruce Innes Clifford-Jones RAF (a New Zealander), aged 22; W/Op/A/Gunr - AC1 Hugh M.McGreevy RAF, aged 23; W/op/A/Gunr - AC1 Thomas Purdle RAF, aged 24; Air Gunr -AC2 William Charles Hilsdon RAF, aged 20 (buried in Cowley, Oxon.).

Harold was the first South African casualty of the war. Buried in Honington and with no response to official communications, given the conventional CWGC headstone with a cross, it was not until 2012 when the Jewish community and Harold's family realised this fact and requested a change of headstone. This caused some controversy as no non Christian devices are allowed in Anglican graveyards. In 2017 David Etherington, Q.C, Chancellor of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, said that an exception should be made to the general rule that non-Christian images on monuments should not be allowed in churchyards. It was not known how much it would have meant to PO Rosofsky to have had the Star of David on his monument. But the Chancellor accepted that he was of the clearest Jewish descent, and, doubtless, had been brought up in the Jewish faith, and that the placing of the Star of David on his monument mattered to his family. Another way of looking at it, the Chancellor said, was that if anyone were to ask why one monument in this particular churchyard bore the Star of David, he or she could be told PO Rosofsky's story: how he was one of the first Jewish airmen in the RAF, and might even be the first to have died in the Second World War, and how he came to be buried there. The listener would, no doubt, understand why that exception had been made.

He is also commemorated on the roll of honour of King Edward VII School, Johannesburg and the South African War Memorial, Ditsong, Pretoria.

Pre war 9 Squadron Wellingtons, they changed to call sign WS at the start of the war

photos from South African War Graves Project

His original stone and the replacement in 2017

Harold Rosofsky is buried in Honington (All Saints) Churchyard, grave A:4

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details