Handley Page Halifax II – W1039 – ZA-O – 10 Squadron -

10th March 1943

On the evening of the 10th March 1943 the above aircraft took off from RAF Melbourne as it was being ferried elsewhere.

On Board were:-

Sgt GF Peck - Pilot

Sgt AA Muirhead – RCAF – Flight Engineer

Sgt W Browning – Navigator/Air Bomber

Sgt BG Hart – Air Bomber

Sgt AN Boreham – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Sgt DC Retter – Air Gunner

 

At about 1709hrs & 1 mile west of Seaton Ross, Yorkshire the aircraft had issues with one engine not operating, the aircraft crashed & caught fire, all of the crew lost their lives. 

 

Halifax W1039 had been delivered to 10 Squadron between February & April the previous year.

Sergeant William Browning – Navigator/Air Bomber

William Browning was born on the 2nd April 1912 at 50 Rae Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne Australia to Margaret Browning.  No fathers name is given on the birth certificate, but it states that Margaret had been born circa. 1890 in Tasmania & carried out Domestic Duties.

 

For some reason William would be separated from Margaret & would be fostered by John Robert Burrows, a merchant & his wife Jane of 21 Barkly Street, Brighton, Melbourne.  

 

He would attend Brighton Grammar School between 1924 & 1927.

 

On leaving school he went on to work for the National Mutual Life Association.  Aged 25 he left aboard the SS Moreton Bay from Brisbane via Colombo to Southampton in the UK arriving on the 13th December 1937 to work for the company at their offices at 5 Cheapside, London as a Clerk.

 

In 1940 he joined the light anti-aircraft unit of the Territorial Army & transferred to the Royal Air Force in 1941 & was given the Service No 657584.  He would go on to train in Canada & rose to the rank of Sergeant.

 

William was 31 years old when he died in the crash.   Browning Road in Pocklington would be named in his honour.   He is also remembered in the Book of Memory at Brighton Grammar School & commemorated on Brighton War Memorial.

 

His probate gives his address as Barley Lane, Goodmayes, Essex & sadly no next of kin is given with his effects being left to the HM Treasury.

Brighton War Memorial courtesy of Peter Toms

Sergeant Basil Graham Hart – Air Bomber

Basil Graham Hart was born in 1922 in Epsom, Surrey to John Bush Hart & Bessie Louisa Pamphilon.   John & Louisa had married in 1921 at Southchurch, Essex

 

John Hart had been born in Calcutta, India & had served with the Royal West Surrey Regiment & The ‘Buffs’ (Royal East Kent Regiment) during WW1.

 

A daughter Beryl followed Basil in 1926.

 

By the 1930s the family are living at Osbourne, Oxshott, Surrey & John is working as a Bank Clerk.

 

Basil joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1335639.

 

He was only 21 years old when he died in the crash, Hart Drive in Pocklington would be named in his honour.

Sergeant Geoffrey Francis Peck - Pilot

Geoffrey Francis Peck was 21 years old when he died in the crash.  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1332790.  He was the son of Reginald John & Elsie Elizabeth Peck of Isleworth, Hounslow & is buried in Twickenham Cemetery.

Sergeant Archie Allen Muirhead – Flight Engineer

Archie Allen Muirhead was 24 years old when he died in the crash.  He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force & was given the Service No R/89110.  He was the son of James Wesley & Jessie Simpson Muirhead of Toronto, Ontario, Canada & is buried in Reay New Cemetery in the Scottish Highlands.

Sergeant Alfred Norman Boreham – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Alfred Norman Boreham was 32 years old when he died in the crash.  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1366071.  He was the son of Charles William & Elizabeth Douglas Nisbet Boreham of Edinburgh & the husband of Bessie Douglas Wilson of Stenhouse, Edinburgh he is remembered at Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh.

Sergeant Denis Cyril Retter – Air Gunner

Denis Cyril Retter was 20 years old when he died in the crash.  He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1339894.  He was the son of Frederick Charles & Ellen Sophia Retter of Whimple, Devon & is buried in St Marys New Churchyard in Whimple.

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