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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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440 squadron
16.07.1944 440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron, RCAF Typhoon IB MN703 WO2. Carl J. McConvey

Operation: Armed Recce, France

Date: 16th July 1944 (Sunday)

Unit No: 440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron, RCAF, 143 Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force

Type: Typhoon IB

Serial: MN703

Code: I8:L

Base: ALG B-9 Lantheuil, France.

Location: ALG B-9 Lantheuil, France

Pilot: WO2. Carl Joseph McConvey R146645 RCAF Age 24. KiA


On the 5th September 1943 Sgt. McConvey was taking part in a formation training mission whilst with 59 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Milfield. At 07:40 hrs flying off Hedderwick, East Lothian his Hurricane was involved in a mid-air collision with Hurricane I T9532 flown by Fg Off. Gordon Andrew McDougall 425726 who was killed in the collision.

The following is the short statement from the Sgt. McConvey’s injury report:

"While flying in position #2, in Hurricane I W9145, in formation echelon starboard, leader ordered peel off to port. Seconds after I started to dive after the leader I experienced a terrific crash. The next thing I remember was aware I was free of the a/c and falling downwards. I went unconscious again before falling into the sea. I released my parachute and inflated my dinghy. A civilian fishing boat picked me up after I had spent a period of time in and out of dinghy".

He had suffered 2nd degree burns on both hands, both wrists and to his forehead, and also a fractured right ulnar. He was treated at the Military Wing, Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh and was discharged on the 29th September 1943. After 7 days Sick Leave he returned to full flying duties.

Note: Hurricane I W9145 was delivered to 245 Sqn and was flown by the Sqn’s CO, Sqn Ldr. John William Charles Simpson DFC and Bar. The aircraft was then delivered to 59 OTU on the 11th August 1943.


REASON FOR LOSS

On the 16th July 1944 at approximately 19:20 hrs at the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) B.9 Lantheuil WO2. McConvey lined up for his 13th sortie as the starboard member of a formation of three Typhoons each loaded with two 1000Ib bombs, for a sortie over Normandy.

Leading the three Typhoons as Red #3 was Flt Lt. Harold Orville Gooding J10608 with Fg Off. Gordon Douglas Russell J13714 on his port side and WO2. McCovey to the starboard and slightly behind Fg Off. Russell.

Soon after the take-off commenced he began to swing, appeared to overcorrect, eventually running off the runway, struck a mound of earth about 180 ft from the edge of the runway, became airborne for 180 ft, touched down for approximately 400 ft during which the aircraft travelled through a field of wheat.

The port wing of MN703 struck the starboard wing of parked Typhoon IB MN633. 70 ft further on one bomb exploded completely disintegrating MN703 killing WO2. McConvey and two airmen working in the near vicinity.

Airframe Mechanic LAC. John Sinclair Holmes R188236 and Engine Fitter LAC. Richard Henry Wilman R191061 were seen working on 438 (Wildcat) Sqn Typhoon IB MN633 with LAC. Holmes standing close to the tail and LAC. Wilman by the port wing.

The investigation found that the overcorrection to the swing during take-off caused a series of increase swings and eventually the aircraft ran off the edge of the runway into the wheat field. The dense growth of wheat dragged on the tail fusing link on one of the bombs and pulled off the safety clip from the tail unit thereby arming it.

After striking the parked MN633 the resultant swing probably collapsed the undercarriage of MN703 and the acceleration detonated the armed bomb.

The outcome of this tragic accident resulted in instructions being issued that only two aircraft were to take-off at a time when fully loaded. Also that all pilots were again warned to throttle back and turn off the runway if a bad swing developed, particularly when carrying 1000 lb bombs.

Burial details:

Above: Plt Off. Carl Joseph McConvey; left Courtesy of PictureMe; right Courtesy of Woose - FindAGrave

Plt Off. Carl Joseph McConvey. Laid to rest at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, XII.F.7. Born on the 19th December 1919 in Toronto, Ontario. Son of Francis Aloysius and Mary Helen (née Heck) McConvey (deceased in 1926) of Toronto, Ontario, Canada

WO2 McConvey was posthumously commissioned and promoted to J88446 Plt Off. with effect the 15th July 1944.

Groundcrew:

Above: Final grave markers for LAC. John S. Holmes on the left and LAC. Richard H. Wilman and the right. (Courtesy of François Dutil - Aircrew Remembered)

Above: LAC. John Sinclair Holmes from his service record.

LAC. John Sinclair Holmes. Laid to rest at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War cemetery, XII.H.9. Inscription: 'EVER LOVINGLY REMEMBERED. A DEAR SON AND BROTHER, A LOYAL FRIEND'. Born on the 4th August 1921 in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Son of Alexander Brown and Deborah Elizabeth (née Varnell) Holmes of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

His twin brother LAC. Alexander ‘Alex’ Ray Holmes R188237 was serving on the same Sqn.

Above: LAC. Richard Henry Wilman from his service record

LAC. Richard Henry Wilman. Laid to rest at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War cemetery, XII.H.10. Inscription: 'GONE IS THE FACE WE LOVED SO DEAR SILENT IS THE VOICE WE LOVED TO HEAR'. Born on the 21st April 1914 in Griswold, Manitoba. Son of Frank Bevan and Clara Ellen (née Smith) Wilman of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, Canada.

Researched by Ralph Snape and dedicated to these airmen and their families. Thanks to François Dutil for the grave marker photograph for LAC. Holmes and LAC. Wilman (Jan 2024).

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 07.01.2024 - Grave markers for Ground crew added.

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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, 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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