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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
28/29.04.1944 No 1658 HCU Halifax II BB374 Fl/Sgt. Walter H. Rumney

Operation: Training

Date: 28/29th April 1944

Unit: 1658 HCU (Heavy Conversion Unit)

Type: Halifax II

Serial: BB374

Code: Not known

Base: RAF Riccall, North Yorkshire

Location: Irish Sea

Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Walter Henry Rumney 1338135 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Pilot: Sgt. Ernest John Hurr 1435265 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles Albert James 1869076 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed

Nav: Sgt. Robert Macbeth 1559112 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. Robert Dennis Parker Barrett 1315330 RAFVR Age 25. Missing - believed killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Morgan 1433267 RAFVR Age 20. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Ashton Howson 1592372 RAFVR Age 21. Missing - believed killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Herbert Rimmer 2211927 RAFVR Age 31. Killed


Taking off from RAF Riccall in North Yorkshire on a ‘Bullseye Training Operation’. (1)

At approximately 02:00 hrs the aircraft struck Halifax V DG297 flown by Sgt. P. Bailey from 1663 HCU from underneath. The Halifax BB374 plunged into the Irish Sea at the position shown.

Despite extensive damage to DG297 (undercarriage, controls and port outer engine) the pilot managed to crash land the aircraft with a ‘wheels up’ landing at RAF Broadwell Airfield in Oxfordshire. None of that crew were reported as seriously injured. The pilot commended for his efforts to his skill at bringing the aircraft back.

The body of the rear gunner from BB374 was later recovered and buried at his home town.

Just 3 days earlier Fl/Sgt. Rumney and it is assumed the same crew flying on a Halifax II W7821 took off on a night flying exercise at 23:40 hrs. Just six minutes later during a landing mishap when the aircraft was written off. The port undercarriage broke away under strain during an uncorrected swing after touching down.

(1) A Bullseye exercise was a simulated night bombing operation against a 'target' town or city in the UK designed to give crews the experience of an operational sortie but without crossing into enemy territory. Crews would be given a flight plan to follow and a target to simulate bombing. In the early days before cameras were fitted Personnel on the ground would report on how close aircraft came to the 'target'. These exercises could also include co-operation with fighter units, balloon units and of course anti aircraft guns.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Walter Henry Rumney. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 222. Son of Ernest Walter Rumney, and of Alice Jane Rumney, of Dalston, London, England.

Sgt. Ernest John Hurr. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 232. Son of Charles Ernest and Eva May Hurr, of Lowestoft, Suffolk, England.

Sgt. Charles Albert James. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 232. No further details - are you able to assist?

Sgt. Robert Macbeth. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 233. Son of Robert and Mary Macbeth, of Dundee, Scotland.

Sgt. Robert Dennis Parker Barrett. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 224. Son of Robert and Winifred May Barrett, husband of Olive Mabel Barrett, of Withycombe, Devon, England.

Sgt. James Morgan. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 234. Son of James and Helen Morgan, of Liverpool, England.

Sgt. Charles Ashton Howson. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 231. Son of John Ashton Howson and Harriet Howson, of Limber, Habrough, Lincolnshire, England.

Sgt. Herbert Rimmer. Whiston Churchyard (St. Nicholas) Row E5. Grave 2. Son of Charles Alfred and Elisabeth Rimmer, husband of Jane Rimmer, of Whiston, Lancashire, England.

Researched for Jane Cocks - relative of Sgt. James Morgan who contacted Aircrew Remembered in July 2016. Sources as quoted below.

KTY 02.07.2016

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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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