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Post Info TOPIC: 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit 'Blyton'


Aircraftsman 1st Class

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1662 Heavy Conversion Unit 'Blyton'
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I am trying to find anything about Sgt.William Mawrey Harvey - 1582500 , who would have been my uncle had he survived.

He was killed whilst training with the 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit based at RAF Blyton in Lincolnshire. He was on an exercise named 'Bullseye' on 04.05.1944.  They were returning to base and crashed into the Post Office at Kirton-in-Lindsey, killing 6 and injuring 1 crewmember.

If anyone can tell me anything about this, I am trying to piece together the events.

Any help or info would be very much appreciated.



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D.Tye


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Found these details from Chorleys Bomber Command Losses, volume 8, Heavy Conversion Units - 

John



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- Winthorpe 1661 HCU - 630 Squadron " Nocturna Mors " East Kirkby - The LE-K for Kitty Crew - " There is nothing glorious about war with the exception of those who served us so valiantly " stirlingaircraftsoc.raf38group.org/  

Anonymous

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Dear John,

Thank you very much for the information.  Do you know what the 'Bullseye Operation' was?  I presume some sort of training exercise?

Thanks again

Deborah



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R. Fulford

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"Bullseye" was the term used to denote a night training exercise which encompassed navigating a long cross country route often of about 800-900 miles and of around 5 hours duration, encounters with the searchlight defenses and usually with night fighter defense forces who would press home simulated attacks.  The Bullseye routes sometimes ventured out over the North Sea or the Channel and often right up to the Coast of France or Holland particularily after D-Day.  Other times they were routed solely around England.  They usually ended up with the dropping of bombs over a selected Bombing range before returning to Base.  I guess one could think of them as sort of "graduation" exercises bringing the culmination of a long process of crew training together in a sort iof simulated Op prior to going on the real thing though I believe even Operational Squadrons flew Bullseyes occasionally as training exercises.

 

My Dad's crew flew a Bullseye when they converted onto the Lanc III at No. 1668 HCU.  They flew out over the Wash and did an overflight of Rotterdam and a short leg along the Dutch coast before they returned to drop red T.I. markers and bombs at the Bombing range at Ragdale prior to returning to the Base at Bottesford,  I believe they were the No. 1 aircraft for a number of others who flew the same route on the same exercise that night. Their T/O was at 2145 and comprised some 13 legs of various durations between turning points in a Lancaster coded J9-G.  The Pilot recorded 3:30 minutes instrument/cloud flying time during a Bullseye of 5:10 duration.

 

 



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Anonymous

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Dear R.Fulford,

Thank you very much for the information.  This is something that I know nothing about but I am keen to discover as much as I can. 

William was in the cadets whilst at school and joined up from there,(Spondon, Derbyshire) but I have no idea where he went to do his training etc.  Are you able to recommend a book or a website that might tell me more?

Again many thanks for your help.

Deborah



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R. Fulford

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Per chance do you know your Uncle's trade as aircrew, i.e., Air Gunner, W/Op, etc.?  Upon enlistment he would have had probably at least a year's training and depending on the trade may have been a part of the Empire Air Training Cheme or the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan wherein he may have even trained here in Canada as well as in England.  In the normal flow of things, he likely joined his crew at an Operational Training Unit (OTU) where the various air trades learned to work togther generally in twin-engined aircraft (Wellingtons or Whitleys being the primary & dominant type).  Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) was the next phase where the crew changed over to & trained on the heavy four-engined Bombers.  There a crew generally picked up a Flight Engineer & a second Air Gunner.  It appears this is where tragically the crew perished.  That so many were killed in the training even before being assigned to an Operational Squadron speaks volumes as to the risks inherent in the process.

Of course there are any number of variations in the steps one could undergo in joining aircrew so without his records or an account of where he may have been it's diffcicult to outline it more precisely for you.

 

One of the most enjoyable and fascinating reads of the period is a book by a Canadian Pilot entitled "A Thousand Shall Fall" (Murray Peden)  ISBN 0-920002-05-6.  While written from a distinctly Canadian point of view its perspective gives a very human touch to the experiences of the time as well as the process from enlistment through training and onto operations.  My entire Dad's aircrew shared this book and each and everyone said that in so many ways they could practically insert themselves into the highlight roles.  At times it's hard not to laugh and at others it's hard not to have one's eyes mist up when you recognize the terrible loss of so many people, primarily young men, during the trying years of WWII.

I hope you get a chance to read it and find it sheds a tremendous light on the sacrifice your Uncle and others paid and that it brings them to life in recognition of their spirit and character.



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Leading Aircraftsman

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My maternal Grandfather (William Leak) was also in this unit, although we don't know what his role at Blyton was, he was a wirless operator and/or navigator.

 

We have a photo of him at Blyton just prior to the unit closing.



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Anonymous

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See http://www.bcar.org.uk/new1944-incident-logs

 

Killed in a Halifax BB316 Airborne 2155 from Blyton on a Bullseye sortie. Returned to base with the starboard outer feathered around midnight. Whilst approaching the circuit the aircraft turned steeply and crashed near Kirton Lindsey village at 0005, bursting into flames on impact. No definitive cause was found, though the investigators suggested that the starboard inner engine may have stopped due to running out of fuel. Sgt J.N. Robertson killed, Sgt H.J. Street killed, F/O S.J. Chaplin killed, F/O S.J. Spencer killed, Sgt W.M. Harvey killed, Sgt S. Bird killed, Sgt L.G. Garrod injured.



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Aircraftsman 1st Class

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The airfield was initially used by Bomber Command's Number 1 Group: "B" Flight of 18 (Polish) Operational Training Unit, followed by 199 Squadron. These were transferred elsewhere in 1943 to be replaced by Number 1662 Heavy Conversion Unit who remained at Blyton until April 1945.


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