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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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575 Squadron Crest
05.08.1944 575 Squadron Douglas Dakota III (DC3) FZ674 I9 F/O. Peter Carl Hakansson

Operation: Transport of freight and evacuation of casualties to and from LG B14

Date: 5 August 1944 (Saturday)

Unit: 575 Squadron - Motto: The air is our path

Squadron Badge: A hand couped at the wrist, supporting a terrestrial globe

Type: Douglas Dakota III

Serial: FZ674

Code: I9

Base: RAF Broadwell, Oxfordshire

Location: near Amblie Advanced Landing Ground B-14, France

Pilot: F/O Peter Carl Hakansson 152699 RAFVR Age 20 - Killed (1)

Nav: F/O. Norman Lomas 154352 RAFVR Age 32 - Killed (2)

Nav B: Fl/Lt. John Alexander Morrison 131804 RAFVR Age 26 - Killed (3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/Sgt. Ernest Francis Guy 1317603 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (4)

Cpl. William Edward Brennen (N/Ord) 867113 RAF Auxiliary Air Force Age 37 - Killed (5)

We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our Helpdesk


575 Squadron was formed on 1 February 1944 around a core of aircrew from 512 Squadron. Initially allotted 10 Dakota III aircraft, its function was to be the paratroop and supply dropping and glider towing in operations with the Tactical Air Force.

Both Squadrons were part of 46 Group which had been formed on 17 January 1944 as part of RAF Transport Command and, together with 38 Group, was to provide airlift, follow up and resupply of the airborne forces that were to spearhead British forces in the forthcoming invasion of Europe.

The 575 Squadron Operations Record Book (ORB) lists an initial complement of 32 officers, posted to the Squadron as of 2 February, among them were the 20 year old pilot F/O. Peter Hakansson and navigator Pilot Officer later Flying Officer, Norman Lomas. Peter Hakansson was one of eight children born to a Swedish father, Ignat Hakansson, and his English wife Florence. Ignat was a successful Nurseryman in Enfield Middlesex. Norman Lomas aged 37 was a former Police Sergeant from the Sheffield area and married to Vera, with whom he had three children.

There are, alas, no details of the arrival of the other two crew members who were to complete Peter Hakansson's crew and who were: Scotsman, Flying Officer, later Flight Lieutenant, John Morrison, aged 26, the B navigator and 21 year old wireless operator, Welshman Ernest Guy.

The following day, 3 February, it is recorded that 'As aircraft arrive, and "crew up", conversion training carried out.'

At the time, both squadrons were based at RAF Hendon but on 14 February they were relocated to RAF Broadwell in Oxfordshire; four days later, operational training commenced.

The other Squadrons of 46 Group were based some 30 miles or so south of RAF Broadwell at RAF Down Ampney and RAF Blakehill Farm both near Cirencester and all equipped with Dakotas.

On 29 February 'Early day flying and night flying programme commenced. 52 crews now allotted to "A" "B" and "C" Flights. Aircraft strength now 30 (thirty).'

Training was to continue in earnest for the next three months and included night and day glider towing, low level release, parachute and pannier drop, all undertaken both solo and in formation. The Squadron also took part in large scale operational exercises.

Although it was clear to all that the training was in preparation for the forthcoming invasion of Europe, the question on everyone's lips was, where, when and how?

During the second half of April several leaflet drops were undertaken by some crews but Peter Hakansson and his crew were not detailed to take part.

On 1 May 'Officers and aircrew attended [a] talk on [the] function of 46 Group and Airborne Forces given by General Browning C in C of Airborne Forces'

Training and exercises continued until 22 May, when the ORB recorded that:

'The main training programme has been completed and Squadron Personnel will now be occupied on lectures, vaccinations, inoculations, and preparing for the final exercise in conjunction with SHAEF.' [It is presumed that the term 'final exercise' was a euphemism for the long awaited invasion]

Apart from air tests, little flying now took place during the final days of the month and on 31 May: 'All aircrews attended Station Sick Quarters for Night Vision Tests'

Also in May 1944 the 8th and 9th Parachute Regiments and the 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles took up residence in a veritable tented village near the airfield


1 JUNE. 'The day's programme consisted of lectures on security and operational subjects for aircrew, whilst ground crews were completing modifications to aircraft.'

2 JUNE. 'Very little flying was undertaken as final preparations for [the] operational role of [the] Squadron were completed.

Flight Commanders proceeded by road to Advanced HQ 46 Group for consultation.

As from 1400 hours all personnel were confined to camp and 100% security measures brought into force.'

3 JUNE . 'All aircrews were grounded for the day and attended Squadron and Station briefing rooms for final lectures and instructions. Paratroops and Glider troops allotted to aircraft. Stores and equipment marshalled and conveyed to assembly points. Aircraft were painted with special identification markings and all preparations in hand for operational role.'

4 JUNE. 'No flying was possible today as ground crews were fully occupied in painting new identification markings on all aircraft and gliders. Crew attended lectures and film displays - preparation for "D" Day. Weather deteriorated rapidly in the afternoon with much cloud and squally showers followed by rain.'

5 JUNE. 'All crews attended lectures and final briefing during the day. At 2000 hours crews attended "War Room".'


The 575 Squadron ORB includes only the briefest details of its part in operation Tonga, the codename of the airborne operation undertaken by the British 6th Airborne Division between 5 June and 7 June 1944 as a part of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings during World War II.

Proceedings were opened by the Pathfinders, who, having parachuted at 00:20, installed the Eureka beacons and the Aldis lamps to mark three drop zones i.e. 'K' (located north of Sannerville), 'N' located in the Ranville area and “V” (located west of Varaville). Commencing at 00:50, 110 Albermarle and Stirling bombers of 38 Group and 146 C-47 Dakotas of 46 Group delivered the paratroopers and gliders.

The 575 ORB records its part in the operation as follows:

'21 aircraft took off at 2330 hours, led by Commanding Officer [Wg/Cdr T. Jefferson], with No. 5 Paratroop Brigade and arrived over DZ [Drop Zone] at 0057 hours. Troops were safely despatched and all our aircraft returned. One or two aircraft were slightly damaged by ack-ack fire'

'Twenty one aircraft detailed to drop Paratroops and equipment of 3rd Paratroop Brigade on DZ "N" (located on East side of River Orne between villages of Ranville, Amfreville and Le Mariquet.

Aircraft were over DZ at approximately 0057 to 0112 hours on 6 Jun 1944. All troops were dropped successfully. Some enemy opposition encountered and five aircraft were damaged by enemy flak, but all returned safely to base. Weather: 10/10 cloud at 2000 feet. Vis: 10 miles'

Peter Hakansson and his crew were allocated Dakota KG355 for the operation and landed safely back at base at 0300 hours.

The 21 aircraft of 575 Squadron had taken off immediately following those of 512 Squadron and with both squadrons heading for the same general area of Normandy and similarly tasked, the following, more detailed 512 Squadron ORB record, serves to illustrate the experiences of both squadrons.

512 Squadron ORB



The intention of the operation was to drop the 9th Parachute Battalion of the 3rd Parachute Brigade of the 6th Airborne Division by moonlight on a selected DZ [i.e. Drop Zone 'V'] behind enemy lines in enemy occupied Europe. The DZ was located 3 miles inland from a coastal entry point approximately half way between Cabourg and Ouistram on the coast of Normandy. It was the intention of the 9th Brigade to destroy a heavy coastal battery situated approximately 2 miles NW of the DZ [the Merville Battery].

575 Squadron were to drop troops of the 13th Battalion on a DZ [i.e. Drop Zone 'N'] south west of DZ 'V' used by 512 Squadron and it was the intention of these troops to gain and hold intact, two bridges, one over the canal and one over the river north of the city of Caen. Zero hour was timed for 7.00 hrs. when operation 'Neptune' was to take place on the beaches of the Bay of the Seine.

Wing Commander Coventry, leading, took off at 23.15 hrs followed immediately by the rest of the squadron, 32 in all, [all were away by 23.25 hrs followed at 23.30 hrs by the 21 Dakotas of 575 Squadron] who formed up in vics of 3 aircraft, each vic flying at 30 second intervals. Following the route as briefed, Enstone, Fair Oaks and Worthing, the squadron set course on time over the beacon at Worthing flashing the letter 'V'. Visibility was quite good although 10/10ths cloud up till now had obscured the moon and map-reading was not too easy. Our next turning point was a DR [dead reckoning] position some miles off the NW tip of Cap D'Antifer from where we were to make the run up into the coastal entry point for DZ 'V'. When about 12 miles from the English coast all lights were switched off and as the cloud still obscured the moon, formation flying was none too easy but the black and white stripes which had been painted on the mainplanes and around the fuselage were certainly an advantage.

We had been informed that a force of 100 Lancasters would bomb the coastal battery, which was the objective of the 9th battalion, about 20 minutes before our arrival and sure enough while on the final run in, several very large explosions were seen ahead. A small amount of light flak was seen coming from the direction of Le Havre but fell too short to interfere with the formation.

Two other streams of aircraft were to enter the coast on our starboard side and as we were running up to entry point 'V' some light flak was seen away to starboard and an aircraft was seen to crash in flames on the coast. The DZ was located by most crews on the first run in and troops were dropped on time across the centre of it.

By this time there was terrific congestion in the air around the DZ and several crews report having nearly collided with other Dakotas. Altogether there were approximately 250 aircraft dropping troops in the area at the same time!

00.50 hrs was deadline for the squadron and apart from extra runs all troops were dropped on time

Most formations broke up after the drop and proceeded back to base individually via Fécamp

No interference from flak or enemy aircraft was experienced.'


Having dropped almost 1000 parachutists the crews of both squadrons had all returned safely. They were afforded little time to rest however, their aircraft being duly refuelled and prepared for the second lift to Normandy scheduled for the evening of D-Day and code named Operation Mallard.

The 512 Squadron ORB has the following details.

'Operation Mallard

The intention of the operation was to land a force of gliders on DZ 'N' at 21.00 hours with the purpose of reinforcing the 6th Airborne Division who were dropped in the early hours of the morning. The gliders, fully loaded with varying cargoes, jeeps, guns, ammunition, supplies and some of them carrying troops, were piloted by officers and NCOs of 'F' Squadron who had been attached to us since the early days of training. All crews attended briefing in the afternoon and aircraft were marshalled on runway O1 in good time. At the time of take off there was a strong crosswind blowing at 20 mph from the port side at 80° to the runway.

S/Ldr. Rae leading the Squadron was airborne at 1840 hours. Unfortunately the rope broke in the third combination just as F/O Garvin commenced to take off and a valuable 10 minutes was lost while he taxied back into position and had a new rope attached. From then on each take off was fairly regular and all combinations were successfully airborne [by 1850 hours]

Plenty of time had been allowed before setting course over base in pairs, line astern and those combinations that were late were able to catch up. All captains deserve commendation on the take off under difficult circumstances.

The formation set course from Littlehampton for a DR position some miles to the NW of Cap D'Antifer and then altered course to cross the Normandy coast at Ouistram. Occasionally some crews glimpsed some of the 21 fighter squadrons who were escorting the formations.

The leading glider piloted by Capt. Thomas pulled off soon after crossing the coast and went into land on the LZ while s/Ldr Rae flew on to the rope dropping area which was just south of the LZ. As he turned away to starboard he was coned by light flak from 3 flak ships lying in a small harbour off the canal, north of Caen. The aircraft was badly holed, the navigator F/O. Cullingford and the wireless operator F/Sgt. Standen being hit but not seriously wounded by shrapnel. The starboard engine failed and the port engine was running spasmodically. Gradually losing height and spotting 2 air/sea rescue launches ahead, S/Ldr. Rae made a masterly ditching just about 12 miles off the French coast. The crew took to a dinghy and were fortunately picked up within about 15 minutes. It is interesting to note that the Dakota, despite the multitude of holes in it, floated for about 15 minutes. The remainder of the formation, seeing what had happened, dropped their gliders on the LZ and turned port, dropping their ropes at the same time. Even so a few aircraft returned with shrapnel and bullet holes in the fuselage and wings and luckily no casualties. No fighter opposition was encountered and aircraft returned to base individually. All remaining aircraft landed safely at base.'

By some coincidence 575 Squadron had a similar mishap on take off to the one experienced by 512 squadron. The 575 ORB records the operation as follows

6 June

Nineteen aircraft detailed to land troops of 6th Air Landing Brigade, by gliders, and equipment on LZ [Landing Zone] 'N'. Horsa gliders were used, troops British. [The] combinations commenced take-off, after 512 [Squadron] at 18.45 hours [apart from S/L Sproule at 18.40 hours, the others actually commenced take off at 18.55 hours].

Undercarriage on No. 27, KG434, prematurely retarded [sic] and aircraft finished up Category 'E'. No injuries to crew. Sundry officers and airmen cleared runway within 5 minutes and glider was marshalled into position and taken off by relief tug.

Aircraft were over LZ approximately 2057 hours and all gliders released successfully. Enemy opposition encountered from ground and 3 aircraft were hit by small arms fire from a wood on the West Bank of River Orne, South West of Benouville after turning to starboard on release of gliders. 384 troops of 6 Airborne Brigade carried, plus kit and equipment including Jeeps, Cycles, Trailers and Motor Cycles.

Weather: Vis. 10 miles - Cloud 10/10 medium. Wind speed average 290/25 at 2000'.

[The] tugs commenced landing at 22.30 and all returned safely

Peter Hakansson and his crew, flying Dakota KG326, had taken off at 18.55 hours and landed safely back at base at 22.35 hours

Though both squadrons provided a handful of aircraft and crews for the re-supply operation 'Rob Roy' on the night of 6/7 June. the Hakansson crew were not one of those so detailed.

On 11 June, in preparation for their new forthcoming role, crews were required to attend lectures on evacuation of casualties and on 17 June, 8 Dakotas of 575 Squadron, transported RAF personnel to Normandy and on the return journey evacuated 122 wounded and 2 shot down USAAF pilots. 2 aircraft failed to return having collided whilst landing at LG B5 and subsequently destroyed by enemy shell fire.

0n 27,28 and 29 June a further 12 trips were made transporting RAF personnel to advance landing grounds in Normandy and evacuating casualties (the Hakansson crew were not detailed for any of the evacuation operations of June 1944)

In July, and in addition to transportation of RAF personnel, 575 Squadron operations also involved the conveyance of supplies to Normandy and evacuation of casualties on return. Supplies conveyed ranged from mortars and grenades to tyres, oil cookers, battledress and all manner of items between.


The evacuation of casualties necessitated a Nurse Orderly accompanying the crew to tend to the wounded and though much has been written of the 200 WAAFs who volunteered for the role, and becoming known as the Flying Nightingales, their male counterparts remain somewhat anonymous. Initial training consisted of a six week course during which they were taught to treat battlefield injuries including facial injuries, fractures and burns as well as the administration of oxygen, injections and blood transfusions.

The Dakota aircraft deployed for evacuation were adapted to carry 24 casualties, including 18 stretcher cases, 9 on each side of the aircraft in racks of three. In order that they might also carry freight on the outbound journey, the aircraft were not marked with the Red Cross emblem: thus, they often came under fire and occasionally brought down. Despite being unmarked, the Dakotas were classified as Air Ambulances on the return flights and though Nurse Orderlies were issued with parachutes, they were only permitted to use them on the outbound flights.

In the event of being brought down on the return flight, Nurse Orderlies were under orders to remain with the aircraft in order to treat any crash survivors and just to ensure compliance, their parachutes were locked away!

In the afternoon of Monday 10 July 1944 Peter Hakansson and his crew were detailed to convey 4023 lbs of 'general equipment' to Landing Ground B14 at Amblie, Calvados. Allocated Dakota FZ574 they took off at 1408 and returned with 18 stretcher cases and 4 walking casualties, landing back at Broadwell at 19.44 hours. The ORB records that 'New corridor used No. 7 Christchurch to Barfleur to North of River Vire.'

Unfortunately the Squadron ORB does not record the names of the Nurse Orderlies who accompanied the various crews on casualty evacuation operations.

This was the first operational flight made by Dakota FZ574 which had been delivered new, to 575 Squadron on 23 February 1944.

FZ674 next flew operationally on 3 August 1944, captained by Fl/Lt. H. H. Hague, transporting personnel of 131 Wing to LG B10


On Saturday 5 August 1944 Peter Hakansson and his crew were detailed to convey freight to advanced Landing Ground B14 at Amblie Calvados. They were again allocated Dakota FZ674 and took off at 0850 hours from RAF Broadwell. As they were to return with casualties they were accompanied on the flight by Nurse Orderly Corporal William Edward Brennan. Age 37 William Brennen was from Northumberland, married to Mary with who he had two young daughters aged 5 and 2.

The only known details of the accident are that Dakota FZ674 flew into the ground in fog at Advanced Landing Ground B-14 near Amblie, killing all five men on board.

The bodies of the four crew and nurse orderly Cpl. Brennen lie in the Ryes War Cemetery at Bazenville located about six miles west of Amblie.

Some evidence of weather condition on the morning of the crash, can be found in the records of the Queens Own Canadian Rifles who, on 5 August, were stationed a mile or so south east of Amblie at Fontaine Henry, and whose war diary reads:

0630 Reveille – rather dull and wet.

575 Squadron ORB Summary for 5 August reads:

During the morning 3 aircraft flew with cargoes of mixed freight to LGB14. FZ674 struck ground during flight over N. France and crashed. Crew:- Fl/Lt Morrison, F/O. Hakansson, F/O. Lomas, F/Sgt. Guy and Cpl. Brennan (N/Ord) were killed.

Although the ORB summary states 3 aircraft flew with cargoes on 5 August the ORB Record only shows Peter Hakansson's crew has having flown on operations that day.

We seek further details of this loss - if you can assist, please contact our helpdesk

B14 Advanced Landing Ground

The RRS B-14 (Rearming and Refuelling Strip) was located at co-ordinates 49°17’21”N – 00°29’25”W near Amblie, Calvados France. Constructed from 30 June 1944 to 7 July 7 1944 by the Royal Engineers 25th Airfield Construction Group the airstrip was compacted earth, 1200 metres long by 40 metres wide. It was operational from 7 July 1944 to the end of the war and used for delivery of freight and the evacuation of wounded and the transport of personnel. It was the only British landing strip in Calvados dedicated to the transport of personnel.


(1) F/O Peter Carl Hakansson was born on 8 January 1924 at Cheshunt Hertfordshire the son of a Swedish born father, Ignat Alfred Julius Hakansson and English mother, Florence Hakansson nee Howell. He had seven siblings: Julius Henry Hakansson (1916-2004), Phyllis Florence Hakansson (1918-2005), Dennis Hakansson (1925-2015), Betty Hakansson (1927-1962), Anthony Hakansson (1929-2016), Hugo Ignat Hakansson (1930-2005) and Diana Mary Carolina Hakansson (1932-2000)

In 1939 the family lived at 24 Village Road Enfield at which time Ignat Hakansson was described as a Nurseryman - Glasshouse food production owner.

Peter Hakansson was educated at Enfield Grammar School. He enjoyed playing tennis and ice skating at Enfield Town Park. He was also interested in photography.

1802426 LAC Peter Carl Hakansson was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 9 July 1943 (London Gazette 24 September 1943). He was confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) on 9 January 1944 (London Gazette 14 January 1944. ]

Peter Carl Hakansson is commemorated on the Enfield Grammar School War Memorial.



Below the panels: ALSO OF THOSE WHO FELL IN THE WORLD WAR 1939-1945



(2) F/O. Norman Lomas was born on 7 September 1911 at Ecclesall Bierlow, West Riding of Yorkshire the son of William Hedley Lomas (a Scythe Maker) and Annie Lomas nee Peacock. He had two siblings: Grace Hilda Lomas born 1908 and Margaret Rachael Lomas (1918-1996)

He married Vera May Webster 25 June 1936 at Chesterfield, later of Pilton, Somerset. They had three children: Diana Lomas born 1937, Rosemary Lomas born 1939 and Norman H. Lomas born 1943.

In 1939 he was a Police Sergeant living at 107 Westwick Road Sheffield.

1620237 LAC Norman Lomas was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 26 November 1943 (London Gazette 14 March 1944). He was confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) on 26 May 1944 (London Gazette 30 June 1944).

(3) Fl/Lt. John Alexander Morrison was born in 1918 at Blair Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland the son and only child of Capt. George James Morrison, M.C., Seaforth Highlanders (died of wounds in France, 11th April, 1918) and of School Teacher, Aenea Kate Morrison nee Fraser.

He was educated at Perth Academy and Skerry’s College, Edinburgh and prior to joining the air force was employed with the Customs and Excise.

John Morrison enlisted in 1940 and after training served with Coastal Command in Britain, the Middle East and Far East prior to being transferred to Transport Command

988942 Tempy F/Sgt. John Alexander Morrison was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on probation (emergency) on 6 June 1942 (London Gazette 17 November 1942). He was confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer (war subs) date unknown.

He was further promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 6 June 1944 (London Gazette 23 June 1944)

He is commemorated on the Perth (West) Church War Memorial and the Scottish National War memorial at Edinburg Castle.

(4) F/Sgt. Ernest Francis Guy was born in 1923 at Cardiff Wales the son of Arthur Stanley Guy and Polly Guy nee Collins. He had six siblings: William James Guy (1916-2002), Robert Norman Guy born 1919, Ronald Arthur Stanley Guy (1920-1986), Alex C. Guy born 1921, Isabel J. Guy born 1924 and Windsor C. Guy born 1931

(5) Cpl. William Edward Brennen was born in 1906 at Blyth, Northumberland the son of James Brennen (a Labourer down a Coal Mine) and Mary Ann Brennen nee Wilton

He had two siblings: Albert Brennen born 1896 and Marjorie Alice Brennen born 1910

In 1911 the family were boarders at 24 Old Gate Row, Bebside Furnace, Bebside (Blyth, Northumberland)

In 1927 he married Elsie Illingworth at Dewsbury, West Riding of Yorkshire. Their daughter Marjorie Illingworth was born at Dewsbury in 1932. Elsie Brennen died at Dewsbury in 1937 aged 31

In 1937 He married Mary J. D. Hudson at Halifax with whom he had two children, Irene Brennen born 1939 and Margaret Brennen born 1942.

In 1939 Mary and two other (closed entries thought to be Marjorie and Irene Brennen) were living at 10 Jackson Street, Long Benton, Northumberland

He is commemorated on the Annitsford Methodist Church Rose Bowl Memorial 1939-1945


(1) F/O Peter Carl Hakansson was buried at Ryes War Cemetery, Bazenville France - Grave ref: 1.C.2

His epitaph reads

You are ever in our thoughts.

And ever in our hearts

(2) F/O. Norman Lomas was buried at Ryes War Cemetery, Bazenville France - Grave ref: 1.C.1

His epitaph reads

Greater love

Hath no man than this,

That a man lay down his life

(3) Fl/Lt. John Alexander Morrison was buried at Ryes War Cemetery, Bazenville France - Grave ref: 1.C.5

His epitaph reads

"To him that overcometh

A crown of life shall be"

(4) F/Sgt. Ernest Francis Guy was buried at Ryes War Cemetery, Bazenville France - Grave ref: 1.C.4

No epitaph

(5) Cpl William Edward Brennen was buried at Ryes War Cemetery, Bazenville France - Grave ref: 1.C.3

No epitaph

Photo: Courtesy Find a Grave

Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Michael Hakansson and all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - February 2021

With thanks to the sources quoted below.

RW 25.02.2021

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