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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
20.11.1944 No 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit Halifax II BB254 F/O. Gleason

Operation: Training

Date: 20th November 1944 (Monday)

Unit: No. 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU)

Type: Halifax II

Serial: BB254

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Lindholme

Location: Coppice Avenue, Hatfield

Pilot: F/O. Michael Arnold Gleason J/27667 RCAF Age 26. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Dennis Arthur Dilley 1583059 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Nav: F/O. Derek John Povey 164204 RAFVR Age 31. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. P.D.R. Senn RAFVR Survived - injured

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Ronald Thompson 1866655 RAFVR Age 19. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. A. Blanchard RAFVR Survived - injured

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Horace Samuel Emery 3040593 RAFVR Age 19 Killed


A tragic night for 1656 Heavy Conversion Unit taking part in a night navigation exercise with 3 aircraft crashing within minutes of one another.

Halifax II W7875 taking off at 21:58 hrs flown by 20-year old, F/O. John Douglas Alfred East J/36618 RCAF from British Columbia, Canada and all his crew killed when almost immediately after takeoff crashed into trees at a village called Dunsville, The cause was put down to raising the flaps by mistake instead of the wheels.

Halifax II HR794 taking off at 21:05 hrs Flown by F/O. G.L. Halsall RCAF injured with all the crew when just 1500 yards out from the airfield the aircraft came down in a field catching fire. Investigation revealed that the bomb doors were opened causing the aircraft to fail to climb.

Halifax II BB254 took off at 20:51 hrs. Within two minutes of takeoff the aircraft clipped the end of a house in Coppice Avenue, Hatfield and then dived into a farm. The cause of the crash was put down to raising the flaps by mistake instead of the wheels. P/O. Senn was released from the wreckage with only slight injuries while Sgt. Blanchard was taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary with serious injuries.

Burial details:

F/O. Michael Arnold Gleason. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonewall) Sec. H. Row C. Grave 2. Son of John Thomas Gleason and Mary Anastia Gleason, husband of Violet Isabel Gleason, of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. B.S. (Ottawa): St. Patrick's College.

Sgt. Dennis Arthur Dilley. Braunstone Churchyard (St. Peters) Grave 604. No further details - are you able to assist?

F/O. Derek John Povey. Hatfield Cemetery (Woodhouse). Row DD. Grave 22. Son of John and Ellen Elizabeth Povey.

Sgt. Ronald Thompson. Watford North Cemetery. Sec. B. Cons. Grave 346. Son of Henry Robert Thompson, and of Lily Mabel Thompson, of Watford, England.

Sgt. Horace Samuel Emery. South Hetton Churchyard (Holy Trinity). Grave 121. Son of William and Ellen Emery, of South Hetton, Durham, England.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to David Maugan who provided most of this information to Bill Chorley.

KTY 11.09.2016

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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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