Operation: Torino, Italy
Date: 11/12 December 1942 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 102 (Ceylon) Squadron - Motto: "Tentate et perficite" ("Attempt and achieve").
Badge: On a demi-terrestrial globe a lion rampant holding in the fore-paws a bomb. The dark demi-globe on which the lion is standing is indicative of night-bombing duties.
Type: Halifax II
Base: RAF Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire
Location: Hawnby Moor, Snilesworth, North Riding of Yorkshire
Pilot: Sgt. Gerald John Morgan 1081231 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Richard Leslie Lines 942146 RAFVR Age 26 - Killed (2)
Nav: Sgt. Carl Robert Woolley 1575390 RAFVR Age 33 - Killed (3)
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Basil Norris 1335250 RAFVR Age 19 - Killed (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Harry (Bill) Casson 778385 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Sgt. John Allen McPhee R/92407 RCAF Age 27 - Killed (6)
Air/Gnr (R): Fl/Sgt. Frank Allen R/87266 RCAF Age 23 - Killed (7)
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REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 16:45 on a mission to bomb Turin. 48 Halifaxes, 20 Lancasters 8 Stirlings and 6 Wellingtons were despatched but due to severe icing more than half of the 82 strong force turned back before attempting to cross the Alps. Although 28 crews claimed to have bombed Turin the city reported that only 3 high-explosive bombs, 2 of which failed to explode, and a few incendiaries fell on the city; there were no casualties. 3 Halifaxes and 1 Stirling failed to return.
On their return the crew of Halifax W7933 were informed that visibility at their home base was poor and they should therefore divert to RAF Middleton St. John, 5 miles east of Darlington and about 45 miles north of RAF Pocklington
At 02:25 hours on 12 December Halifax W7915 hit a hillside near Low Thwaites Farm at Hawnby some 15 miles short of RAF Middleton St. John. After hitting the hillside the aircraft careered across fields and stone walls before damaging some of the farm buildings and coming to rest near the farm house itself. All the crew were killed but fortunately nobody was at the farm at the time.
As there were no survivors the reason for the crash is unknown but the most likely theory is that the pilot had descended below the cloud base in order to determine his position and in doing so hit the hillside.
Photograph of Low Thwaites Farm courtesy of Don Burluraux. Halifax W7915 reportedly hit the distant high ground to the left and finally came to rest near the foreground of the picture having caused damage to some of the farm buildings.
Scale: 1" = 10 miles
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) Sgt. Gerald John Morgan was born in 1921 at Liverpool the son of Joseph S. Morgan and Annie M. Morgan nee Judge, of Liverpool.
(2) Sgt. Richard Leslie Lines was born in 1916 at Coventry son of William Henry Boddington Lines and Lottie Lines nee Sims of Wolstanton, Stoke-on-Trent; husband of Irene Dorothy Lines nee Law, of Wolstanton, Staffordshire.
(3) Sgt. Carl Robert Woolley was born in 1909 the son of Frank Ernest Woolley (a Hairdresser) and Minnie Woolley nee Lancaster. In 1911 the family lived at 268 Woodborough Road, Nottingham.
He was admitted to Nottingham High School in 1923 and was a member of the OTC. He left in 1926 after the 5th form to go to Business College. (Details courtesy of Nottingham High School Archives)
Carl went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant and in 1940 he married Lilian Mary Jackson at Brecknock, Wales. He is commemorated on the Nottingham High School War Memorial and the Roll of Honour of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
(4) Sgt. Basil Norris was born in 1923 at Croydon the son of Frank Gordon and Maud Louisa Norris later of Wallington, Surrey
(5) Sgt. William Harry Casson was born 24 June 1921 at Seascale, Cumberland the son of Henry (? Harry W) Casson and Olive Beatrice Casson nee Boys. The family moved to Penhalonga Southern Rhodesia and later to Salisbury. Harry and Beatrice Casson later took over the Rhodes Inyanga (now Nyanga) Hotel at Inyanga (now Nyanga).
In 1934 Bill Casson entered Grey House at Plumtree School in Mangwe district of Matabeleland. After leaving School in August 1938, he went farming in the Rusapi district and in October 1940 attested in the Air Force and proceeded overseas for training.
Their second son John, born in 1923, was killed in 1944 and was awarded a posthumous Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. For further details click here
Olive Casson was the daughter of Harry Hanson Boys well known in the Cumberland area as a Hotel and Coach Proprietor. The week before his death William Casson had been on leave to see his grandparents and other family at Seascale and stayed at the family owned Scawfell Hotel. The Whitehaven News of Thursday 17 December 1942 published the following report of his funeral:
A Popular Flight Sergeant
Within a few days of spending a leave with his grandfather, Mr Harry Boys, Seascale, 21-year-old Flight-Sergeant William Harry Casson was killed during an operational flight with the R.A.F. The news was received with very deep regret by the many friends he had met during his stay at Seascale.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry W. Casson, who were particularly well known and popular in West Cumberland, and who are now living at Salisbury, Rhodesia. Flight-Sergeant Casson came to this country about 18 months ago with the Rhodesian Air Force. During his service in Britain he made many friends and was popular with all ranks in his squadron.
At the funeral service at Gosforth Church yesterday a R.A.F. firing party acted as bearers and guard of honour. The service at St Cuthbert's Church, Seascale, was conducted by Canon J.W. Akam and was attended by a large number of sympathisers including many old friends of Mr. and Mrs. Casson. The service was fully choral and as the cortege passed into church the salute to the dead was given by the firing party lining the path from the gate to the chancel door.
At Gosforth Churchyard where the interment took place, Canon Akam was assisted by the Rev. T.O. Sturkey. The three volleys were fired over the grave and the "Last Post" and "Reveille" were sounded by a R.A.F. bugler.
Amongst the floral tributes were wreaths from the Commanding Officer and officers of Sergt. Casson's unit and from his colleagues in the sergeants' and senior N.C.O.'s mess. The Squadron was represented at the funeral by Sergt. H. Simpson, a colleague of the dead airman.
William Harry Casson and his brother John Casson are both commemorated on the Plumtree School Roll of Honour.
(6) Sgt. John Allen McPhee was born on 27 February 1915 at Saskatchewan the son of Samuel McPhee and Margaret Bain McPhee nee Littlejohn.The family later lived at Eston, Kindersley district of Saskatchewan. His father lived alternatively in Canada and USA from 1915 and in 1921 whilst a lodger in British Columbia describes himself as a single man. John McPhee's mother died in 1935 and he moved to Babb, Montana, USA in 1937.
(7) Fl/Sgt. Frank Allen was born 5 September 1919 at Leney, Saskatchewan, Canada the son of J. James Allen and Muriel Allen later of Pleasantdale, Saskatchewan. He was educated at Pleasantdale School and the Technical School at Saskatoon and later worked as an agent for the North Star Oil Company. Whilst at school he played Hockey.
He enlisting at Saskatoon and after training at Brandon, Toronto, Montreal and Fingal he proceeded overseas to serve in England in 1942. He had two sisters, Beth and Lola and a brother Clifford.
Details of Frank Allen from "The Price of Freedom" by B. Kirkbride Hill and kindly supplied by David Archer - Operation Picture Me.
Photograph courtesy David Archer - Operation Picture Me.
BURIAL DETAILS AND EPITAPHS:
(1) Sgt Gerald John Morgan was buried at Barmby-on-the-Moor (St. Catherine) Churchyard, East Riding of Yorkshire - Row C. Grave 3.
His epitaph reads:
May he rest in peace,
(2) Sgt Richard Leslie Lines was buried at Stoke-on-Trent (Burslem) Cemetery - Sec. V, Grave 2597
His epitaph reads:
That they which live,
Should not henceforth
Live unto themselves"
(3) Sgt Carl Robert Woolley was buried at Nottingham Southern Cemetery - Sec. O.24. Grave 9
His epitaph reads:
Rest in peace
(4) Sgt Basil Norris was buried at Barmby-on-the-Moor (St. Catherine) Churchyard, East Riding of Yorkshire - Row C. Grave 4
His epitaph reads
In proud and loving memory
He died that we might live
In 2007 part of a new housing development in Barmby Moor was named Norris Avenue in memory of Sgt. Basil Norris.
(5) Sgt William Harry Casson was buried at Gosforth (St. Mary) Churchyard, Westmoreland. Grave location not stated.
His epitaph reads:
They shall not grow old
As we who are left grow old
Photograph courtesy M. Ann Ashton nee Casson
(6) Sgt John Allen McPhee was buried at Barmby-on-the-Moor (St. Catherine) Churchyard, East Riding of Yorkshire - Row B. Grave 7
(7) Fl/Sgt Frank Allen was buried at Barmby-on-the-Moor (St. Catherine) Churchyard, East Riding of Yorkshire - Row B. Grave 6
His epitaph reads:
Lie our dear son
Among the brave:
He never shunned
His Country's call
Photograph courtesy David Archer - Operation Picture Me
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Nottingham High School and all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - March 2016
With thanks to the sources quoted below.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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