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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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Bomber Command Crest
13.05.1944 No. 1655 MTU Oxford I DF517 F/O. Geoffrey H. Bowen

Operation: Training

Date: 13th May 1944 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 1655 MTU (Mosquito Training Unit - 8 Pathfinder Force) (1)

Type: Oxford I

Serial: DF517

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire

Location: 2.5 miles West of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire

Pilot: F/O. Geoffrey Hugh Bowen 161261 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Aubrey Edward Henderson Cattle 117960 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: Fl/Lt. Malcolm McIver DFC. J/11107 RCAF Age 24. Killed (2)

Nav: F/O. Geoffrey George Halestrap DFC. 127308 RAFVR Age 22. Killed


Took off from RAF Worboys for a cross-country sortie, during which the crew encountered turbulence of such severity that the trainer broke up and crashed at 16.15 hrs. with debris falling some 2 to 3 miles W of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

(1) The purpose of 1655 MTU was to train Mosquito crews in the use of Oboe and they did this throughout 1944 and in early 1945. Oboe training was a six week course for pilots and navigators who were eventually sent on to 105 and 109 Squadrons for Oboe marking duties, most were on their second tour. The Pilots at 1655 MTU had to learn how to fly a Mosquito while the Navigators were being taught Pathfinder navigation and marking techniques.

Above L-R: Fl/Lt. Aubrey Edward Henderson Cattle and Fl/Lt. Malcolm McIver DFC (Courtesy Francois Dutil)

(2) The parents of Fl/Lt. McIver DFC. lost another son the following year. His younger brother, 19 year old, Fl/Sgt. Jack Samuel Mciver R/277937 was missing - believed killed on the 26th March 1944 whilst serving with 354 Squadron. Liberator VI EW319 during an attack on the Japanese supply ship ‘Rise Maru’ crashing into the Andaman Sea off Thailand. The pilot, 29 year old Fl/Lt. William Gordon McRae J/6834 RCAF was also missing with 9 others - 2 survived after being picked up by HMS Suarez. (see here)

DFC Citation: “This officer has completed a tour of operational duty during which he has displayed outstanding ability and the greatest keenness and enthusiasm for his work. He has taken part in attacks on many of the major targets in the Ruhr Valley as well as the more distant objectives in Germany and Italy. He participated in a successful attack on Friedrichshafen and returning from North Africa materially assisted his pilot in the raid on Spezia. Flying Officer McIver has performed his navigational duties with skill, accuracy and steadiness, setting a fine example to the other navigators in the squadron.”

McIver bay in Ontario, Canada was named after Fl/Lt. Malcolm McIver DFC.

Burial details:

Fl/Lt. Aubrey Edward Henderson Cattle. Leigh Cemetery, Essex. Aubrey was the son of Kenneth Stanley Cattle, who died aged ninety one and Marjorie Louise Cattle who died aged ninety. Number 745418 prior to commission. From Leigh on Sea, Essex, England.

F/O. Geoffrey Hugh Bowen. Oystermouth Cemetery. Section B Grave 10. Son of Percival and Mary A Bowen (née Smith) of West Cross, Swansea, Wales. (1252093 as a NCO prior to commission 27th October 1943). Grave inscription reads: “Dearest Loved Eldest Son Of Peggy And Percival Bowen, They Shall Grow Not Old”.

Fl/Lt. Malcolm McIver DFC. Brookwood Cemetery. Grave 49 B1. Born 04th February 1920, the son of Murdoch and Mary McIver (née Glen) of 151 Mortimer Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mother and father originated from Scotland. Grave inscription reads: “For God Proved Them, And Found Them Worthy For Himself”.

F/O. Geoffrey George Halestrap DFC. Thorpe Road Cemetery, Melton Mowbray. Section W. Grave 4171. Son of Fred Francis and Gladys Mary Elizabeth Halestrap of Kingswood, Tadworth, Surrey, England. Grave inscription reads: “In Proud And Grateful Memory Of A Much Loved Son And Brother”.

(note) Liberator crew: All remembered on the Singapore Memorial. See here.

Researched for Aircrew Remembered by Linda Ibrom - November 2017. Special thanks to Maureen Cheeseborough and Michel Beckers. Further thanks to RAF Commands Forum, RAFA Melton Mowbray Branch. For further details our thanks to the following sources shown below.

LI - 01.11.2017

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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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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