Harold Ashworth was well over the average age of pilots when he joined the squadron at 39. He was an experience civil pilot having flown in the 1929 Kings Cup Race. He undertook this arduous race in a Avro 594 Avian IIIA, sadly he did not finish the 2 day 1,179 miles race when he smashed his propeller on a heavy landing at Lympne. He had joined the R.A.F in 1939 as a pilot officer, by March 1942 he had reached the rank of acting squadron leader.
On June 20/21st 1942 the squadron attacked Emden the raid was marred by the loss of the popular “B” Flight commander Squadron Leader Harold John Ashworth and crew who fell victim to Lt Johannes Werth of 7./NJG2 at 02.00hrs. Attacked soon after leaving the target area the Stirling was set on fire, with the Stirling becoming increasingly unstable and the fire spreading Ashworth gave the order to bail out. Five of the crew managed to leave before the Stirling crashed at Wognun, 4kms NNW of Noorm, Holland.Squadron Leader Harold John Ashworth was eventually posthumously awarded a well deserved and long overdue D.F.C it was gazetted on July 27th 1943, the citation read;
“This officer commenced his operational tour in March 1942. He has carried out sorties involving attacks on Hamburg, Pilsen, Cologne, Mannheim and Essen. During his period of service Squadron Leader Ashworth has shown immense energy, courage and inspiring leadership. On the night of 4th May 1942, his aircraft was shot down over the south coast while returning from a sortie over northern France. Before escaping by parachute he made a thorough search from end to end and remained at least ten minutes in the fiercely burning aircraft in order to ensure that all his crew had safely baled out and that everything of a secret nature was effectively destroyed. Although considerably older than the maximum limit laid down for aircrew, this officer offered his services and was accepted as a pilot in the early days of the war.”