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Thread: How many in a Halifax crew?

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    Default How many in a Halifax crew?

    I am researching the flight of LK913, bombing mission to France, Halifax Mk V, September 1943.

    I have read that a Halifax typically had 6-7 crew. This one had 8. There is some family lore that one or more were officers that were not supposed to be flying but they went anyway.

    Can anyone shed light on what is typical or atypical of this crew list (number, rank, roles)?

    Pilot Wing Commander SMITH, D.W.M. RCAF Sqd. Leader
    Pilot 2 Pilot Officer BELL, E.N. RCAF Aircraft Commander
    Engineer Sergeant HEYWORTH Charles RAF
    Navigator Flight Lieutenant MASON, E.B. RCAF
    Bomb Aimer Flying Officer DERENIUK, H. RCAF
    Wireless Operator Pilot Officer MALINS, Richard O. RAF
    Air Gunner Pilot Officer NELMES, J.M. RCAF
    Air Gunner Flight Lieutenant FORMAN, J. Murray RCAF

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    Looks like a perfectly normal crew to me, with two exceptions.

    1) The "Boss" (squadron commender, rank of W/C) is along for the ride.'
    '
    2) I do not understand what is meant by Pilot 2 for the Aircraft Commander. The Aircraft commander cannot be the second pilot, he IS the commander, and as such is not, in a sense, under the command of the squadron commander in the operation of the aircraft, although the CO can always politely offer helpful advice and suggestions, which the aircraft commander can take into consideration (with due consideration and deference to his CO's possibly greater experience and wisdom)!!
    David D

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    For aircraft commender read aircraft commander (if this confused you that is; no doubt most members will have already automatically corrected this error mentally as they read my nonsense!)
    David D

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    Another thought. It is rather unusual (but not completely unknown) to have "Tail end Charlie" outranking his captain!
    David D

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    Hello,

    Unless you are able to read French go to translate.google.com and put in this website:

    http://clajouin.club.fr/p11.htm for a fascinating story about this crash and crew under the title "An incredible odyssey"

    From http://www.rcaf.com/6group/428.html it appears that W/C Smith was the OC of 428 Sqn.

    There are numerous reasons why he might have been on this sortie as a 2nd Pilot. I know in 101 sqn, especially in 1943-44, the OC would fly a few missions either to instill confidence in his crews or when there was a shortage of healthy pilots. Some OC's just loved to fly as well.

    Oliver Clutton-Brock's "RAF Evaders" has Charles Heyworth listed as an evader but notes he was flown back to the Uk via Lysander after he contracted pneumonia and subsequently died 25/11/1943. He was commissioned P/O wef 20 August 1943 hence a change in service number.

    http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2722935

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Thanks David.

    I understand, mostly.

    What do you mean by "Tail end Charlie outranking his captain!"?

    The WC would normally be on the mission to lead the squadron, but would not fly the plane, correct?

    The only photo I have of the crew shows SMITH, not BELL, but that may have been before SMITH was made WC. In one place I found BELL referred to as "Aircraft Commander". I picked up the "Pilot1, Pilot2" reference from another website, obviously incorrect.

    The Navigator was Ft/L MASON, described in one record as ""Lead Squadron Navigator". In the photo, which may have been out-of-date at the time of the last mission, the navigator is PO Morley Snow.

    I was told that once they (not sure which "they") got back to England the brass chewed them out for going on the mission. Does anything you see here fit with that, or should I dismiss it as embellishment?

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    Default Heyworth

    Thanks Dave.

    Yes I have a lot of the details on the evasion of Forman, who escaped on the same Lysander as Heyworth. Heyworth had been ill for some time in France - The French Resistance report I read said he had Pleurisy and they didn't think he's survive the flight; a British source mentions Pneumonia and his buddy/crewmate Malin (who married Heyworth's wido after the war) wrote that is was appendicitis.

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    Sorry if this is a stupid question. But was there room for 2 pilots in a Halifax? Or would the 2nd one hang out elsewhere?

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    David D. I noticed your location - The Lysander that took out my cousin was piloted by McBride of the RNZAF, about a month before he was killed in a crash.

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    Default Re: how many in a Halifax crew

    Well I am not sure about any bomber comand sortie's but the Halifax that were in Coastal Comand on the anti shipping and sub patrol's had 8 crew as the war drew onward not due to an excess of aircrew, with always two Pilots. Ther was a rest area too, which I thought was provided with a fold down bed (someone will correcert we if wrong I am sure) it was so there could be some rest period for the WOP/AG's long (sometimes boring) patrols when 8 hours could pass and nothing be seen. Which I am assured happened many times.
    Last edited by Ant; 23rd September 2009 at 07:24. Reason: Spelling and other information left out on first entry

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