S/Ldr Samuel Eric 'Red' Esler DFC 1918-1949
A Belfast man, Esler was educated at Skegoniel School and Belfast College of Technology. Before the war he was a car salesman in Belfast and a sergeant in the R.A.F.V.R. Commissioned in May, 1942, he served in No. 120 Squadron, Coastal Command,flying Liberators.He was awarded the D.F.C. on December 4th, 1942, the citation recording that he had damaged two enemy submarines (heavily damaging U-449) and that on three occasions he had taken part in operational sorties necessitating almost continuous blind flying owing to extremely bad weather.
On September 6th 1949 the 707 arrived at Farnborough for static exhibition at the S.B.A.C. Display. On September 30th, VX784 was on a flight from the Royal Aircraft Establishment when it crashed killing Esler. The crash occurred near Blackbushe and the aircraft was almost totally destroyed by fire.