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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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19.08.1943 No 1663 H.C.U. Halifax VB DG420 Sgt. Donald C. Ravine

Operation: Training (Cross country)

Date: 19th August 1943 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit, "C" Flight. (H.C.U.)

Type: Halifax VB  

Serial No: DG420 

Code: H

Base: RAF Riccall, Yorkshire

Location: Manor Farm, west of Copmanthorpe, York, England

Pilot: Sgt. Donald Charles Ravine 569748 RAF Age 22. Killed

Instructor: F/O Murray Wallace Bonner J/21902 RCAF Age 23. Killed 

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Norman John Hart 1194214 RAFVR Age 22. Killed 

Flight Engineer: Sgt John Townsend 1568521 RAFVR Age 22. Killed 

Flight Engineer: Sgt Peter Cross Parrott 1174427 RAFVR Age 23. Killed 

Air Gunner: Sgt Albert Edward Gilverson R/184720 RCAF Age 21. Killed 

Air Gunner: Sgt Fredrick David Read 1323650 RAFVR Age ?   Killed 

Civilians: 
Mr. Atkinson - Injured, severe burns
Mstr. John Dawson -  Age 13. injured, severe burns

Reason For Loss:

On Thursday 19th August 1943, at 10:54 hrs. Sgt Terrance C Ashley and crew took off on a training flight in Halifax R9497 from RAF Riccall HCU 1658, it was a bright sunny morning with clear visibility, they had been briefed to fly the first leg North. 

At the same time a few miles North of Riccall Halifax DG420 had taken off from R.A.F. Rufforth, also on a cross country exercise.

        

Above L-R: F/O. Bonner, Sgt. Ravine, Sgt. Ashley (from Halifax R9497) and Sgt. Gilverson (courtesy Jim Sotheran)

Flying Officer Murrey Bonner, a 23 year old Canadian from Miniota, Manitoba was an instructor with the unit, his pupil was Sgt Donald Ravine, following a briefing they made their way to the aircraft, followed the checks and had taken off at 10:50 hrs. They started to climb and flew a track to the West of York, they were passing over Copmanthorpe when the two aircraft collided - it was 10:55 hrs.

     

Cause of crash is believed to be dazzled by the sun, DG420 was flying directly into the sun and it was thought they had not seen the other Halifax, the Riccall Halifax lost its tail section, which was seen to ‘flutter’ down like a leaf, the rest of the aircraft banked to port and climbed steeply before diving into the ground. The rear tail gunner attempted to bail out, but his parachute never deployed in time and he was killed.

     

Leaning on the post 3rd from left is Air/Gnr. Sgt. Albert Edward Gilverson, 2nd from right is thought to be Sgt. Donald Charles Ravine - others unknown, can you assist? (courtesy Jim Sotheran)

On impact the a wide area of ground was covered in burning fuel, injuring two civilians, fortunately well clear of the village, so damage and casualties were minimal. 

The two civilians injured who were involved were on a tractor in a field where one of the Halifax's fell. Both ran when they saw the aircraft coming but were engulfed in burning petrol. John Dawson received very severe burns to his legs and lost all his hair but despite this he found some sacking and started to beat out the flames on his colleague.

He spent the next three months in York County Hospital whilst Mr Atkinson spent considerably longer. 

Halifax DG420 previously served with 76 Squadron under the markings MP-Q flew 4 operations, then sent to 1663 HCU Rufforth.

   

Left to right graves of: Sgt. Gilverson, F/O. Bonner, Sgt. Ravine and Sgt. Read (courtesy Mike Harrison)

Burial details: 

Sgt Donald Charles Ravine. Harrogate  (Stonefall) Cemetery, Sec. C. Row A. Grave 8. Son of Charles Edward and Maude Agnes Ravine, of St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England.

Sgt Norman John Hart. Hampreston (All Saints) Churchyard, Grave 398. Son of Elizabeth Maud Hart, of Longham, England.

Sgt John Townsend. Dundee Eastern Necropolis, Sec. X.C. Grave 458. Son of James Howison Townsend and Jessie Townsend, of Lawton, England.

Sgt Peter Cross Parrott. Sunbury New Cemetery, Sec. C. Grave 672. Son of Tom and Martha Parrott, of Sunbury-on-Thames, England.

Sgt Albert Edward Gilverson. Harrogate ( Stonefall ) Cemetery, Sec. C. Row A. Grave 6. Son of Albert Burdett Gilverson and Eadith Walker Gilverson, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt Fredrick David Read. Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Sec. C. Row A. Grave 7. Son of Frederick David and Rose Read, of Upper Sydenham, London, England.

F/O Murray Wallace Bonner. Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, sec. C. Row A. Grave 5. Son of James Wallace Bonner and Janet E. Bonner, of Miniota, Manitoba, Canada. 

Researched by Jim Sotheran for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to all the relatives of the crew. 

                                    

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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