Worsley, Eric, GM, MBE

A scientist and staunch Methodist, born in Northwich, Cheshire on 9 April 1914, he was educated at Winsford Verdin Grammar School and Queen Mary College, London, to both of which he won scholarships. He was teaching Science at Thetford Grammar School when in June 1940 he was recruited into the Navy as a bomb disposal officer. On 19th October he was called to the naval training establishment, HMS Collingwood at Portsmouth, where a bomb was buried nose-deep in the space between two buildings, timed to explode about seven hours later. It took him 3-4 hours to defuse the two fuses. He was awarded the George Medal.

During the second blitz on Portsmouth in March 1941 he defused another 250kg bomb which crashed through a shelter where Wrens were sheltering. The next morning he investigated a bomb crater outside St. Ann’s church in the Dockyard, and gave warning of another bomb buried too deep to be tackled, which exploded at 1.30 p.m. without loss of life. Meanwhile he had dealt with another bomb buried 15ft down in the Dockyard. He was awarded an MBE and after a rest period was posted to a desk job, but found it boring and retrained as an aircraft direction officer. He completed his war service in the cruiser Royalist and the aircraft carrier Glory.

After the war he returned to Thetford and then became a lecturer in Physics at the University of Hull. A staunch Methodist, he and his family were associated with Tower Hill Methodist Church, Hassle where his funeral was held. Among his extensive family, his son Paul became an Old Bailey judge and one of his granddaughters Katie O’Brien an outstanding lawn tennis player.

He died at Hessle on 30 December 2016, followed by his wife two weeks later.

  • Hull Daily Mail, 9 January 2017
  • Daily Telegraph, 24 February 2017