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Handley Page Halifax II – W7933 – DY-D – 102 Squadron - 11th-12th December 1942

At about 1654 hrs on the 11th December 1942 the above aircraft took off from RAF Pocklington to carry out an operation to Turin in Italy.   A total of 82 aircraft took part in the raid, 9 of these were from 102 squadron.  It was reported that more than half of the aircraft had to return before attempting to cross the Alps due to severe icing conditions.

On board were: -

Sgt GJ Morgan - Pilot

Sgt RL Lines – Flight Engineer

Sgt CR Woolley - Navigator/Bomber

Sgt B Norris – Bomb Aimer

Sgt WH Casson - Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

Sgt JA McPhee – RCAF – Air Gunner

F/Sgt F Allen – RCAF – Air Gunner


The squadron reports state that it was a cloudy night with periods of slight rain & visibility was down to between 1 & 3 Miles, the wind was SSE fresh to strong.


All of the aircraft from 102 Squadron reported a slight amount of flak.


On the return journey on the 12th December the aircraft had circled the base due to bad visibility & had been diverted to Middleton St George to the north.   It however flew into the side of a hill at Low Thwaites farm, Hawnby & burst into flames at about 0225hrs.    All of the crew were killed in the accident, Sgts Morgan, Norris, McPhee & Allen were buried at Barmby Moor on the 16th of December.


The Aircraft was relatively new & had only been delivered to the squadron about a month before the accident.

Sergeant Gerald John Morgan – Pilot

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Gerald John Morgan was born in 1921 in West Derby, Liverpool to Joseph  Morgan & Annie Judge.   Joseph & Annie has previously married in 1916.


A brother Joseph had been born in 1919 & sister Mary was born in 1924 & Patricia in 1928, though Patricia sadly died in infancy.


By 1939 the family have moved to 4 Heywood Road in Liverpool, Joseph is working in Life Assurance & Joseph Junior & Mary are working with a Telephone Company. 


Gerald joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves, enlisting at Padgate between September 1939 & February 1940.  He was given the Service No 1081231.  He would have carried out his initial training before commencing the training required to qualify as a Pilot.  He would then have carried out operational training & training in Heavy Bombers before moving to a squadron.


Gerald was 21 years old when he died in the crash.  Morgan Close in Pocklington would be named in his honour.

Sergeant Basil Norris – Bomb Aimer

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Basil Norris was born in Croydon in 1923 to Frank Gordon Norris & Maud Louisa Bird.  Frank, a Master Grocer & Maud had previously married on the 29th July 1917 in Halton, Buckinghamshire.


Prior to World War 1, Frank had served with the 1st West Surrey Volunteers & in May 1917 just 2 months before he would marry Maud signed up & served with the Royal Garrison Artillery for the remainder of the war.


Elder Sons Gordon had been born in 1919 & Anthony in 1921.


By the 1930s the family have moved to 14 Melbourne Road, Wallington, however between 1936& 1939 Maud no longer shows on the Electoral Rolls.   In 1939 a record shows Maud at Netherne Asylum in Surrey where her status just says Incapacitated.


Basil joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves sometime after 1940 & was given the Service No 1335250.


Basil was just 19 years old when he died in the crash.   Norris Avenue in Barmby Moor would be named in his honour.


His mother would pass away in 1945 & Frank would remarry Phyllis May not long afterwards.


Like Basil his brother Anthony Frank Norris has also joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves.  He would sadly pass away on the 6th May 1947 at the Military Hospital for Head Injuries at Holton, Oxfordshire & is buried at Botley Cemetery in Oxford.

Flight Sergeant John Allan McPhee –Air Gunner

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John Allan McPhee was born on the 27th February 1915 in Brock, Saskatchewan, Canada to Samuel McPhee & Margaret Bain Littlejohn.


Margaret had been born in Ireland & had lived for a time with her family in Glasgow before traveling to New York in 1909 & later settling in Canada.


An older Brother Stuart Samuel had been born in 1913 & by 1916 the family are living at Snipe Lake, Saskatchewan. Margaret is working as a Clerk & Samuel appears to be missing from the Census.  Margaret’s parents John, a Merchant & Mary Littlejohn now live in the house next door.


By the 1920 Census the family have moved to Eston & another son James Ernest born circa 1916 is living with the family.  Margaret is working as a Post Mistress & again Samuel is not living with the family.


John attended Eston Public School before moving onto Eston High.  On completion of School he worked for 2 years as a Clerk but was forced to leave the position as his mother sadly passed away in 1935.  She was buried at Naramata Cemetery in Eston.


About 1937 he moved to British Columbia where his brother had bought a farm & for a time worked there picking fruit.


He then took a course at Hemphill Diesel School to learn Electric Welding &   between 1940 & 1941 he undertook a Radio Course at the Radio School of Canada.  During this time, he worked in Kelowna with Mr Simpson as a Sawmill Labourer.


In his spare time, he enjoyed to play hockey, baseball, lacrosse, softball, tennis, badminton, football & swimming.  He is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall with brown hair, blue eyes & a fair complexion.


Enlisted in Royal Canadian Air Force in February 1941 & was given the rank of Aircraftmen 2nd class & Service No R/92407.  At the time of his enlistment he was residing at the St Helens Hotel in Vancouver but gave his permanent address as 193 Leon Avenue, Kelowna, British Columbia.   During the application process he was unable to offer an address for his father stating it was unknown.  


John had wanted to train as a Pilot but had been recommended as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.


He was posted to No 2 Manning Depot in Brandon from March of 1941 before moving onto No 15 Service Flying Training School at Claresholm, Alberta in the April.


In July he attended No 2 Wireless School in Calgary & was promoted to Leading Aircraftman in the August.   On completion of his Wireless training he was recommended for Air gunner only as after addition tuition he still did not meet the Morse standard for wireless operators.


On the 4th January 1942 he attended No 1 Bombing & Gunnery School in Jarvis, Ontario completing this early in the February when he was promoted to Temp Sergeant.   A few days later on the 7th February he was married by the Air Force Chaplain to Nancy Gail Pearce of Calgary & the following month he would leave for the UK.


Between May & June he attended Air Gunner Refresher training at Stormy Down before moving to 24 Operational Training Unit then 102 Conversion flight where he trained in Whitley Bombers, he was graded as above average & it was thought he would so well with experience he left here in the September.


His first posting was 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington from the 30th October 1942.  He was promoted to Temporary Flight Sergeant on the 1st December just days before he would lose his life.


John is commemorated on the Cenotaph at Kelowna & on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton.


His father Samuel died in 1954 in Vancouver.

Flight Sergeant Frank Allen – Air Gunner

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Frank Allen was born on the 5th September 1919 in Leney, Saskatoon, Canada to John James Allen, a Clerk & Annie Muriel Wardlaw


John (known to family & friends as James) was a native of Ireland who had moved to Canada in 1908.


Younger siblings Clifford, Elizabeth & Lola would follow in later years.


He attended Pleasantdale School & Technical School in Saskatoon & enjoyed playing hockey in his spare time.  On completion of his schooling Frank went on to work as a Radio Technician


He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force at Saskatoon & was given the Service No R/87266.   He went on to train at Brandon before embarking for the UK.   Sadly, Franks service record was not available via my usual sources so an application will have to be made to try to source this in another way.


In later years his parents appear to have moved to Vancouver in British Columbia


Frank was 23 years old when he died in the accident & had served with the Air Force for 2 years.   Allen Close in Pocklington in named is his honour & he is commemorated on the Canadian Bomber Command Memorial at Nanton


Franks parents would both pass away in the 1950s & are buried in Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery, Okanagan, British Columbia.

Sergeant Richard Leslie Lines – Flight Engineer

Richard Leslie Lines was 26 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of William Henry Boddington & Lottie Lines & Husband of Irene Dorothy Lines, of Wolstanton, Stoke-on-Trent.    He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 942146, he is buried in Burslem Cemetery, Stoke-on-Trent.

Sergeant Carl Robert Woolley – Navigator/Bomber

Carl Robert Woolley was 33 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of Frank Ernest & Minnie Woolley, of Nottingham & Husband of Lilian Mary Woolley.    He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 1575390, he is buried in Nottingham Southern Cemetery.

Sergeant William Harry Casson – Wireless Operator/Air Gunner

William Harry Casson was 21 years old when he died in the crash. He was the son of Henry & Olive Beatrice Casson of Inyanga, Southern Rhodesia.    He joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves & was given the Service No 778385, his service number indicates that he enlisted in Rhodesia, he is buried in St Marys Churchyard, Gosforth.  His brother Pilot Officer John Casson (C.G.M) who was also a member of the RAFVR also died on active service.

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