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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
05.04.1943 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) Halifax V DG413 Plt Off. Rawling

Operation: Fighter affiliation training

Date: 6th April 1943 (Tuesday)

Unit No: 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), 4 Group

Type: Halifax V

Serial: DG413

Code: C

Base: RAF Rufforth, Yorkshire

Location: Hutton Cranswick, 4 miles South East of Driffield

Pilot (Instructor): Plt Off. Stockton Gowland Rawling DFC, 136317 RAFVR Age 19. Killed. (1)

Pilot (Trainee): Sgt. Richmond Brough MiD, 416084 RNZAF Age 25. Killed (2)

Pilot (Trainee): Sgt. Robert James Tarren 1238778 RAFVR Age 21. Killed

Flt Eng: Sgt. Peter Arnaud Tinch 616470 RAF Age 22. Killed

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. Vernon Clifford Burt 524215 RAF Age 25. Killed

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Charles Phillip Sheppard 127634 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. David John Rees 1314623 RAFVR Age 25 Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Raymond Lawrence 59128 RAF Age 21. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Harold Widdrington O'Connor 1670354 RAFVR Age 25. Killed

Air Gnr: Sgt. Frederick Hensher Warren 1315426 RAFVR Age 20. Killed

Air Gnr: Plt Off. Ralph Ernest Jeffery DFM, 142511 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Ground Crew: AC2. Donald William Cresswell 1678544 RAFVR Age 18. Killed

Above L-R: Plt Off .Rawling DFC, Sgt. Brough MiD, Sgt. Tarren, Sgt. Tinch.

Above L-R: Sgt. Sheppard, Sgt. Rees, Sgt. Warren, Plt Off. Jeffery DFM, AC2. Cresswell.


Took off at about 10:30 hrs. piloted by Plt Off. Rawling DFC. After some 25 minutes into the exercise crashed after the starboard wing broke away outboard of the inner engine while executing a controlled steep turn at 6000 feet, 3 miles SE of Driffield, some 30 miles east of Rufforth at 10:55 hrs. All 12 occupants died, the New Zealander being buried at Driffield with three of the RAF airmen.

It was later established that the wing had failed when a wing spar lower attachment bolt had worked free, because of faulty assembly.

(1) Plt Off. Rawling DFC, was posted to 1663 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), RAF Rufforth after completing a tour with 51 Squadron. Rawlings must have been an exceptional teenager to become a pilot in the first place. To have the maturity at the age of 19 to command a bomber crew, most of whom would have been older than him, is quite remarkable. Let alone complete a tour of at least 30 ops. for which he was promoted from Flt Sgt to Plt Off. and awarded the DFC on the 14th May 1943. So when he was posted to RAF Rufforth he was a very experienced pilot.

(2) Sgt Richmond Brough, 449 hrs. (12 solo on Halifax)
 Brough was one of two pilots on board in addition to Rawling. It seems likely that both were receiving type handling instruction from the latter. Prior to his posting to the Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), Brough had flown an unknown number of maritime patrols with 10 Operational Conversion Unit (OTU) and undertaken two operations over Germany with 10 Sqn. Sgt. Brough’s Mention in Despatches (MiD) was promulgated on the 2nd February 1943.

Above and below - crew during 'Drink Milk' publicity campaign.

Burial details:

Plt Off. Stockton Gowland Rawling DFC. Bristol (Greenbank) Cemetery TT.633. Son of Tom and Sarah Rawling who had a Chemist and Photographic shop in Bristol, England.

Sgt. Richmond Brough MiD. Driffield Cemetery Grave 6206. Born on the 15th May 1917 at Auckland, the son of Mason Brough and of Edna Brough (née Stephenson) and husband of Marguerite Brough (née Bennett), of Mangateparu, Auckland, New Zealand.

He was an electrician for P&T Dept. prior to enlisting in the RNZAF on the 8th March 1942.

Sgt. Robert James Tarren. Finstall (St. Godwald) Churchyard. N.E. part. Son of Robert and Millicent Tarren, of Bromsgrove and husband of Dorothy Mable Tarren, of Bromsgrove, England.

Sgt. Peter Arnaud Tinch. Driffield Cemetery Grave 6221. Son of Arnaud Edmund Tinch and of G. Rachel Tinch (nee Cracknell), of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sgt. Vernon Clifford Burt. . South Ealing Cemetery. Sec. D.D. Row N. Grave 3. Grave inscription: 'THEY SHALL GROW NOT OLD. AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER HIM'. Son of Richard V. Burt and Mabel Hyatt Burt, of Ealing, England.

Sgt. Charles Phillip Sheppard. Plumstead Cemetery Sec M. Grave 1124. Grave inscription: 'HE FINISHED HIS FLIGHT THEN DIED; BUT COMRADES, HIS SPIRIT SURVIVES'. Son of Mr. and Mrs. William George Sheppard, and stepson of Kate Sheppard, of Plumstead, England.

Sgt. David John Rees. Port Talbot (Goytre) Cemetery Plot 8. Row B. Grave 5. Grave inscription: "NEVER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT WAS SO MUCH OWED BY SO MANY TO SO FEW". Son of David John and Ethel Rees, of Garnant, Carmarthenshire, England.

Sgt. Thomas Raymond Lawrence. Middlesbrough (Acklam) Cemetery Sec A. Grave 237. Grave inscription: 'HE GAVE HIS ALL WHEN HIS COUNTRY CALLED'. Son of Edmund and Annie Lawrence of Middlesbrough, England.

Sgt. Harold Widdrington O'Connor. Sunderland (Mere KNolls) Cemetery Ward 28.B. Grave 5465. Grave inscription: 'IN MEMORY OF OUR DEAR SON. RESTING WHERE NO SHADOWS FALL, IN PEACE HE AWAITS US ALL'. Son of Widdrington and Annie O'Connor, of Fulwell, Sunderland, England.

Sgt. Frederick Hensher Warren. Driffield Cemetery Grave 6215. From Bristol - Next of kin details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Plt Off. Ralph Ernest Jeffery DFM. Driffield Cemetery Grave 6200. Grave inscription: 'FALLEN IN FREEDOM'S CAUSE BUT NOW CALLED TO HIGHER SERVICE'. Son of Ernest Arthur Godfrey and Mary Harbour Jeffrey, of Surbiton, Surrey, England.

1283354 Flt Sgt. Jeffery was awarded the DFM whist with 51 Sqn. London Gazette 18th May 1943. He was appointed to a commission and promoted to 142511 Plt Off. on the 7th February 1943.

AC2. Donald William Cresswell. Coalville (Broom Leys) Cemetery Sec B. Grave 707. Grave inscription: 'SWEET IS THE MEMORY OF ONE WE LOVED. MUSIC, GOD'S GREAT GIFT, FILLED HIS SOUL'. Son of William and Millicent Cresswell, of Coalville, England.

Researched by: Neil the 51 Squadron Historian for Aircrew Remembered with thanks to the following: Errol Martin, John M. Nicholls, Bertram Warren Chappell, Jean A. Lawrence.

Other sources listed below:

KTY Updated page 11.11.2019

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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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