Wartime Service




The Bare Details:


Harold George Waters joined the Cambridge University Air Training Corps in 1926 in the rank of Private.


Cambridge University Air Squadron, abbreviated CUAS, formed in 1925, is the training unit of the Royal Air Force at the University of Cambridge and forms part of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. It is the oldest of 15 University Air Squadrons in the UK. For many years it was based at Cambridge Airport at Teversham.



He was granted a commission on 10th January 1941 (Gazetted 4th February 1941) in the rank of Pilot Officer on Probation for the duration of hostilities in the Administration and Special Duties Branch of the RAFVR.


Harold was promoted to Flying Officer 10th January 1942 (Gazetted 12th May 1940)


On 11th September 1942 he relinquished his rank at his own request and was transferred to Ground Duties in the rank of Pilot Officer. ( Gazetted 12th January 1943)


He was promoted to Flying Officer on 11th March 1943. (Gazetted 30th April 1943)


He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant on 11tyh September 1944. (Gazetted 29th September 1944)


He relinquished his commission – retaining the right to use the rank – on 10th February 1954, having served in the reserve since the end of his war service.



The added value:


Harold was stationed at RAF Loughborough with effect from 10th January 1941 and he was attached to No. 7 PRC establishment on 31st January, 1941. (PRC = Personnel Reception Centre). This was based at Harrogate, Yorkshire.  He returned there on 19th March 1941.


On 29th November 1941 Harold was sent to No. 13 JTW


With effect from 31st January 1942 Harold was stationed at No 1 Elementary Air Navigation School in Eastbourne. That unit moved to Bridgenorth, Shropshire on 14th October 1942 which was then an established RAF station with its own airfield.


On 31st January 1942 Harold was at No 1 Air Navigation Training School in Trenton, Ontario, as part of the Canada British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which gave a four-week course on Astro Navigation. This base was later moved to Rivers, Manitoba and retitled the Central Navigation School.


By the end of its life in 1945, the program had graduated 131,553 pilots, navigators, bomb aimers, wireless operators, air gunners and flight engineers from the four founding partner nations, as well as other parts of the Commonwealth and the US. Graduates also came from several Nazi-occupied European countries including Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

Almost half the total aircrew personnel who served in British and Commonwealth flying operations during the Second World War were graduates of the BCATP. The majority of graduates, nearly 73,000, were Canadian, who would go on to provide crews for 40 RCAF home defence and 45 overseas RCAF squadrons, as well as make up about 25 per cent of the overall strength of RAF squadrons.



On 30th January 1944he was posted to No 31 General Reconnaissance School at Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island where he would have flown in Ansons.


The Avro Anson first flew in March 1935 and a year later entered service with RAF Coastal Command as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft. On retirement from front line service in 1939, the Anson really came into its own with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), as an aircrew trainer.

The Anson Mk. II was a Canadian built version of the British Mk. I, but differed in having Jacobs engines instead of Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetahs. A total of 1,832 Anson Mk. IIs were built in Canada between 1941 and 1943, by a number of manufacturers. They were used by Service Flying Training Schools to train pilots to fly multi engined aircraft.

Due to a wartime steel shortage, a moulded plywood aircraft - the “Vidal Anson” was developed in 1941 and the first production Anson Mk. V flew from Cartierville, Quebec in January 1943. Eventually 1,049 Mk. Vs were built, by MacDonald Brothers, Winnipeg and Canadian Car & Foundry, Amherst N.S., before the war ended in 1945.

The Anson Mk. V trained BCATP aircrew in bombing, aerial photography and radio operation, but its main role was in navigation training. After WW II, Ansons continued in military service for quite a time. They were retired from the RCAF in 1954, but continued flying with the RAF until 1968. When manufacture ceased in 1952, over 11,000 Ansons had been built - nearly 3,000 of them in Canada.


On 22nd July 1944 to No 1 Manning Depot in Toronto, Canada. From there he was moved to No 111 Operational Training Unit.


This was based at Nassau in the Bahamas.

No.111 Operational Training Unit (OTU) was established by the Royal Air Force in Nassau to serve as a training location for the B24 Liberator bomber. The Bahamas provided space to carry out operational flying training beyond the range of German aircraft. Canadians also trained at No. 111 OTU.

Having the postal address "Nassau, Bahamas, British West Indies" would appear to be an exotic, extremely desirable overseas posting for RAF personnel during WW2.  Although of pleasantly long duration for ground crew permanent staff; it seemed all too short for aircrew that were put through their flying training programme as swiftly as possible. It was inevitable that Nassau would eventually join the growing list of overseas training locations, the reason being that aircrews were being lost in significant numbers, while at the same time, an increasing number of planes were now more swiftly emerging from more efficient production lines - all requiring qualified aircrews.



The reason of course, that RAF ground and aircrews were posted to this splendid spot, was not to enjoy the Caribbean life-style, but to have space in which operational flying training could be carried out, without being shot down by incoming German intruders. Another advantage of training aircrew at this location, however, was that the Operational Training Unit also served as a Conversion Unit for not only training newcomers to flying duties, but moving already qualified aircrew on from B25 Mitchells to B24 Liberators. The location also enabled Canadian Air Force members to crew up with their RAF counterparts, whereby many crews having completed training at Nassau, would join 45 (AT) group, to ferry more badly needed aircraft across the Atlantic ready for active service. More common, however, qualified crews were posted to the Far East where the Liberator's long-range capability was put to good use in very-long-range operations.

The Unit was set up on 20th August 1942 as a GR Unit with B24 Liberators for Coastal Command.  Thirteen crews per month were to be inducted, building up to a total capacity of 39 crews on a 12-week course.  On 25th November 1942, the first flight of a B25 (FK164) took place, and by 5th January 1943, flying instruction for pupils of No.111 Operational Training Unit took place, under the control of Station Commander Group Captain Waite. At the same time, the Unit operated anti-submarine patrols over the Western Atlantic.

On 5th February 1943, the first batch of B24 Liberators arrived from Homestead, all bearing 'FL' serial numbers, and on 8th February 1943, No.2 Course started with ten crews in attendance.  Two Airfields were eventually established, Oakes Field covering the Conversion part to B25s, this followed by crews moving to Windsor Field, where advanced flying training on B24 Liberators took place.  Pupils from No.1 Course moved on to Windsor on 7th March 1943 to undertake advanced training on Liberators, and on 10th April they left Nassau to collect newly built Liberators, which they flew across the Atlantic to Britain.  No.1 Course had therefore fulfilled one of the primary functions of Nassau flying training, in delivering long-range aircraft to where they were badly needed. Training continued until 1945, when in July the Unit left for the UK, arriving at Lossiemouth, within No 17 Group on 1 August 1945.  On 1 September it was transferred to No 18 Group and finally disbanded on 21 May 1946.

Probably for security reasons, aircrew members selected for training at Nassau had no prior warning of being sent there.

Harold returned to No 7 PRC (see above) on 17th December 1944. On 6th March 1945 he was sent to No. 1674 Heavy Conversion Unit. This unit specialised in training crews for Coastal Command operations and was based at Aldergove, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.



From there Harold was sent 86 Squadron on 7th May 1945. This squadron had converted to Liberators by early 1943 and was stationed in Northern Ireland, before moving to RAF Reykjavik in 1944.


Fresh aircrews began arriving early in October, Liberators being received for the conversion training of No.160 Squadron. By the end of the month, No.86’s own crews were converting and the squadron flew its first patrol on 16 February 1943, from St. Eval. In March, it moved to Northern Ireland to fly anti-submarine patrols for a year before moving to Iceland. In July 1944, the squadron returned to Scotland for the rest of the war and on 10 June 1945 No.86 joined Transport Command’s No.301 Wing. Trooping flights to India began in October and continued until disbandment took place on 25 April 1946.


An 86 Squadron Liberator GR.V in 1943


On 7th June 1945 Harold was transferred to an aircrew holding unit



Harold Waters’ last day of service was 1st February 1946


The crew of “G” for George




And this is what they did…


“My Grandfather Bernard was a wireless-operator air gunner on a Liberator of 86 squadron, Coastal Command. Their job was to keep the merchant convoys safe in their journey from American to England. If U-boats were spotted they would investigate and if found, drop depth charges, and strafe with machine gun fire.

In 1943, whilst doing a routine anti-submarine patrol, the crew spotted a U-boat on the surface making steady speed towards the location of a nearby convoy. 

Jack, the pilot banked the Liberator into a tight turn to make a run straight across the sides of the U-boat. The crew of the U-boat had already spotted the threat and opened fire with light machine guns and the deck gun. As the Liberator flew over the first time the gunner manning the single browning in the nose opened fire trying to clear the crew from the deck gun, and Bernard fired his 4 browning machine guns from the rear turret. Jack turned the aircraft round for another turn, again with the gunners returning the U-boat's fire. The bomb aimer had set the depth charges and dropped 2 of them either side of the U-boat. Just as the Liberator passed over a shell from the U-boats Deck gun blew a large hole in the left wing, in between the 2 Pratt and Whitney engines. The crew of the U-boat evacuated the deck and started to dive. On the third pass more depth charges were dropped and soon after one of the Liberator crew spotted oil on the surface. This was usually a good indication of a sunk U-boat, but it was never confirmed.

On the return back to base, the crew began to survey the damage. The no.1 engine cut out, due to the cut fuel line. So any extra ammunition was throw out of the aircraft to try to make it lighter. The Liberator wasn’t easy to fly on 3 engines, unlike the nimbler Lancaster.
Through some great flying Jack the pilot managed to land the aircraft perfectly and the crew returned to base in Northern Island.

The crew and ground staff looked closer at the aircraft and it appeared that the shell from the U-boats deck gun had managed to pass in between the rotating propeller blades of the 2 engines, without knocking them both out! 

A real case of luck, and I'm so thankful to God for looking after Bernard as he has been the best grandfather I could have ever wished for. This account is told as accurately as I remember.

Bernard has fond memories of his time with the crew, unfortunately the pilot Jack was transferred to a Mosquito squadron and was killed in action in 1944.

"Ad libertates volamus" - 'We fly to freedom'
86 Squadron Motto.












1674 Heavy Conversion Unit, 17 Group  RAF Coastal Command 1943-45


Background to unit formation:




Unit formation:


It is recorded in the unit ORB  that the Liberator flight moved from  1 [C]OTU  to RAF Aldergrove,

on 7 Sept. 43 with  the H.Q. forming on the 10 Oct. under the command of Ulsterman Wg Cdr T.W.T. McCombe. Shortly after on the 19th Oct. '43 the unit H.Q. was re-located to RAF Longtown,  and the Liberator detachment at Aldergrove was left under the command of  Sqn Ldr F.B. Everest. During this month the Halifax and Fortress aircraft moved from Thornaby to Longtown with support personnel. The Engine Control Demonstration Unit another part of the HCU commanded by Sqn Ldr Freke was situated at  RAF Great Orton and operated a Wellington. October saw the start of training at all  locations. An example was Flt Lt  Joe Owen-King who attended Liberator conversion with his crew prior to posting on 224 Sqn, St. Eval, Cornwall.  Joe had previously served a tour on 269 Sqn flying Hudson's and  instructor duties on Beauforts at  9 [C] OTU  prior to his  Liberator conversion training. His course comprised  a total of 35 flying hours of day and night  training flights  which encompassed  bombing gunnery and navigational exercises. A typical O.F.E. from Aldergrove would entail a flight of 760 nm i.e. Aldergrove-Inishtrahull-St. Kilda-Benbecula-Portrush-Ballykelly-Aldergrove. During this exercise photographs were taken of main way points and practise bombing runs from a height of approx. 100ft against a simulated U boat target. It is worth noting that the Leigh Light training for this crew was carried out on 224 Sqn.


General Events: November '43- Oct. '45


In  November  the training schedule proceeded as planned . Wg Cdr McCombe was posted to  7 [C] OTU RAF Limavady and replaced by Wg Cdr R.D. Williams from 86 Sqn. During this month   P/O  Freddie Church a Radar Specialist was posted in  to set up the ASV sections at both HCU locations these were  responsible for the servicing of the radar in addition to   assisting  Air Crew on the equipment operation. Freddie had previously served as a Warrant Officer on 144 Sqn before commissioning and  commented that his ASV course was held at the Victoria & Albert Museum London. He would serve on the HCU until April 1945 , then posted to 8502 Air Disarmament Wing, a Unit based on the continent responsible for examining and  returning captured Luftwaffe  equipment to RAE Farnborough.

During December  Wg Cdr J.M.N. Pike DSO DFC attended  a Senior Officers Conversion Course at the Fortress flight  RAF Longtown prior  to taking command of 22O Sqn in the Azores. His previous posting  was flying   Beaufighters and the two day course was spent  flying Mk II A L199  . Total hours under instruction were 12hrs 30 minutes comprised of  low level bombing, air to ground firing, day and night sorties.  Also during this month The Engine Control Demonstration unit was transferred from Gt. Orton to  Aldergrove this month.


January 1944 saw the commencement  of  the movement of the Fortress flight consisting of 4 aircraft from Longtown to Aldergrove on the 15th followed by the main party arriving by rail the next day. On the 22nd January  the 17 Group Navigation Officer Sqn Ldr Dick  English DFC was attached to Aldergrove for Liberator conversion this  resulted in a subsequent posting to 220 Sqn to fly the Fortress! He  had previously flown the Fortress on 220 Sqn from Ballykelly in 1941. It is of interest to note that Dicks original flying log book was destroyed during the Luftwaffe raids on RAF Detling in August 1940 whilst serving on  500 Sqn . The Aldergrove detachment took part in a security exercise against RAF Long Kesh and  the RUC detained one officer as a genuine suspect! The ORB detailed  a RCAF Liberator was detached to Aldergrove for training and RP sorties. It has not been possible to confirm the latter RP sorties  but other references have indicated that a 10 Sqn RCAF aircraft was modified at Scottish Aviation Prestwick with the RP "fit". Unlike the RAF method of attaching the RP's to winglets on the fuselage this method was  retractable into the bomb bay. Also during this month several Flt Lt's were detached to the unit for Liberator training dependent on crews coming from 111 [C] OTU Nassau.  The Flt Lt's  all pilots were J. Howard, G. Davison  & Powell   had recently completed a 'rest period'  instructing on Hudson's at 31 OTU, Nova Scotia. It became apparent that the crews from Nassau would  be delayed so  they would be employed flying Oxford & Martinets ,the latter was used as a target tower for air-to-air gunnery practice.  Flt Lt's Howard and Powell would be trained on the Halifax at RAF Longtown and return to the HCU in 1945 as instructors.


On the  1st February 1944 the Unit HQ was moved from Longtown to Aldergrove and the premier of the Consolidated film" Flying the B-24D" took place . An informed source has told me that new Liberator crews were shown the film  & taken down to the flight line allocated an aircraft and told to get on with it! It would be interesting to note whether Senior Officers were ever subjected to this practical joke! Another point of interest is that Senior Officer's could be  allocated a  "tired" aircraft for their first circuits and bumps with the resulting sweating and heaving of the control yoke!

Sqn Ldr Everest O.C. Lib Flt was posted to 7 [C] OTU Limavady and replaced by Sqn Ldr Ben Fleming DFC who was returning from attachment to 120 Sqn , Iceland where he had been instructing on LL tactics. This month saw the units first fatal crash in which a Halifax   BB278 of the Longtown detachment captained by  F/O C.J. Mallard RCAF crashed into the sea at Morecambe Bay with all  on board perishing .  The Court of Inquiry stated the aircraft caught fire following  the pilot's  recovery from an earlier flat spin. The following day F/O Freddie Church  was detailed to remove the ASV & IFF equipment from the wreckage at low tide. Also during this month Liberator F 592 from 10 [BR] Sqn RCAF captained by Flt  Lt  James RCAF was  still undergoing training sorties at Aldergrove during this month.


March '44  was  a typical training month  with Fortresses taking part in fighter affiliation and the occurrence of an Oxford completing  successful trials with a Leigh Light bomb sight.


In April '44  Ten Liberator crews from 206 Sqn reported for conversion training prior to the D-Day invasion. On the 11th the Engine Control Demonstration Unit was moved to RAF Angle. The following day saw units  second crash involving Halifax BB310 from Longtown. The aircraft concerned was on a night time O.F.E. when it flew into mist covered hills near Penrith killing all ten on  board, four of which were HCU instructors . Wg Cdr "Whirlwind" Wright DFC attended a Senior Officers Liberator Conversion Course before taking command of 547 Sqn.


During May postings affecting the unit were : Sqn Ldr Ben Fleming to 547 Sqn to be replaced by Sqn Ldr Barry Peck from 224 Sqn, RAF St Eval. Wg Cdr W.H. Ingle arrived on attachment   & Wg Cdr Hutchings reported for Liberator conversion.  F/O P.C. "Bob" Cherry  was posted onto the Liberator flight as an pilot instructor after a tour with 547 Sqn ,RAF St Eval.


In June '44  the  Halifax flight was re-located from Longtown to Aldergrove.


During July  Halifax DT 642 crashed  on  a night time O.F.E. .  Captained by  W/O Lenz RCAF, the aircraft crashed shortly after take off into the woods of Massereene  Estate, Antrim  some 6 miles north west  of the airfield. All on board were killed The accident record card from RAF Hendon archives indicated that this Halifax crashed on the Shanes Castle Estate but Lord O'Neill has confirmed that  this was not the case.

Flt Lt Keith McGonigal RAAF was posted in to the Halifax flight for instructor duties from 518  Sqn.


August recorded the Liberator flight practising Leigh Light interceptions against a submarine from the Royal Navy in the vicinity of  South Rock and fighter affiliations with Hurricanes. Sqn Ldr Peck O.C. Lib Flt proceeded  on a two month course at the Empire Central Flying School Hullavington.


September '44 : the first "designated " Liberator Leigh Light course was undergoing training though it would appear to be an error in the ORB as LL training was carried out from early '44 as and when suitably equipped aircraft were available. The Halifax  flight is reported as carrying out fighter affiliation and low level estimation sorties. The "1st LL" course conducted exercises against a moving target in Lough Neagh.  Sqn Ldr Snowball converted onto Liberators this month and practised bombing against fixed and towed targets. No. 2 LL course was occupied  with radar manipulation and coast reading exercises. Both LL courses carried out Q.G.H. , B.A.B.S. and bombing training  in addition to the previous  sorties.  Navigator F/O S.D. Easterbrook RAAF was posted onto the HCU from  53 Sqn. He had  flown in Whitley VIII's with 53 as a Sgt before being commissioned.


October  '44 :  Wg Cdr B.O. Dias converted on the Liberator before a posting to command 220 Sqn. Sqn Ldr Don Hannah RAAF was posted in from 502 Sqn to command the Halifax flight. The 23rd saw Halifax JB963 captained by instructor Flt Lt D.Evans crash into the ground nr Dundesert Bridge whilst on approach to  Aldergrove during a flying exercise killing all on board . The other crew members were  F/O M. Gillis RCAF , Flt Sgt J.H. Saunders, Sgt R.L. Dixon.


No 2 LL course completed training and were posted as follows:

F/O Miskiman, F/O Nixon, Flt Lt Wilcox were posted to Iceland.

Flt Lt R.C. Pretlove - 224 Sqn

P/O R.W. Ridler - 547 Sqn

Flt Lt J.J. Gubbings - 206 Sqn


November saw No. 3 LL course completed training and the postings were as follows:

Wg Cdr J.P. Selby - 547 Sqn

Sqn Ldr E.A. Johnston - 224 Sqn [ later CO 111 OTU RAF MIlltown Sept. '45]

Flt Lt Alexander - 206 Sqn

Flt Lt D. Richards - 206 Sqn

Flt  Lt G. Haggas - 206 Sqn

Flt Sgt D. Melleship - 53 Sqn


No. 14 Halifax VLR course consisting of  three crews reported for training.


An incident was reported in the ORB for this month with regards to a Liberator crash at Tain in which Navigator F/O Easterbrook RAAF and Flt Sgt J. Humphreys WOP/AG were both killed. Upon investigation I have been informed by the MOD AHB that the crash in question was  Liberator BZ 943 of 86 Sqn which was engaged on a night training LL sortie.

Crew  List 18/11/44 - "Missing presumed dead."

Flt Lt G. Gates - Pilot

F/O J. W. Norrie RNZAF - Co-pilot

F/O S. D. Easterbrook RAAF - Navigator [Instructor from 1674 ]

F/Sgt J.A. Humphreys - WOP/AG [ Instructor from 1674]

W/O J. Mellon RAAF -WOP/AG

W/O I. Noble RAAF - WOP/AG


F/Sgt B. McCabe - F/Eng

P/O H. Pordage  RAAF - Navigator

W/O  G. Gough RAAF - Navigator




December '44 : Nothing of significance can be found recorded.


On the 5th January '45 a report was received from 15 Group regarding a ditched Mitchell , they

requested that the units aircraft  be put  on standby for ASR. Due to deteriorating  weather  conditions the following day ,  instructions were received to abandon the search. During the night of the 12-13 th  a Mosquito from England routed around Lough Neagh was reported missing and  HCU aircraft were tasked to keep a  look out but  nothing was seen. On the 15th  an urgent operational request was received from S.A.S.O of 15 Group  for sorties over the Irish Sea. Two crews were offered but the aircraft concerned were not fitted with Leigh Lights and the Royal Navy would not permit the use of flares. The night sorties were cancelled with  dawn patrols being laid on instead. On the 21st  a Halifax captained by HCU Instructor Flt Lt Keith McGonigal RAAF was prepared for standby   ASR of a ditched Halifax from 15 Group. The HCU Halifax was unable to take off due to ice on the wings and a second attempt was postponed due to poor weather in rescue area. Later on this day the search attempt was abandoned because of  prevailing  conditions.  The ditched aircraft was from 518 Sqn on a night  "Bismuth" sortie captained by the C.O. Wg Cdr N Morris . Engine trouble had initially been signalled before the  SOS transmission . Despite extensive searches by air and sea for the next four days no trace of the aircraft or crew was ever found.

Postings of note during this month was Sqn Ldr M.J. Martin C.F.I. Lib Flt to 206 Sqn. his replacement was  Sqn Ldr J.AR.M. Reid from overseas[ ex 200 Sqn].


February : saw the visits of Air Chief Marshall Sir Sholto Douglas AOC-In-C Coastal Command,

Air Commodore Churchman DFC AOC R.A.F.N.I. Air Vice Marshall Sir L.H. Slatter AOC 15 Grp, Air Vice Marshall H.G. Smart AOC 17 Grp. Wg Cdr D.K. Banks reported for training in the Halifax VLR role.


No. 16 Halifax Course crews completed training this month as were posted as follows:

Flt Lt Holden - 58 Sqn

F/O F.W Mawdsley - 502 Sqn.

The third crew was delayed owing to the suspension of the captain  F/O S.N.Howland  and the Navigator F/O R. Appleyard RCAF [ subsequently posted onto Liberator crew under training ]


No. 9 Liberator LL Course commenced training with eight crews. One captain Flt Lt G. Dring was withdrawn on medical grounds and his place taken by instructor F/O P.C. "Bob" Cherry. On 16 th February Liberator EV 954   flew into high  ground nr Ballyclare during a night time O.F.E.  F/O Cox the pilot and co-pilot F/O G.J. Fenwick RAAF along with Sgt K. Howden WOP/AG survived but the remaining seven crew were killed.


On the 19th  March  during a night time O.F.E. a further  Liberator accident occurred . KG 896 captained by F/O W.I. Holmes RNZAF crashed into nearby Tournaroy Mountain also known as

" Black Mountain" some 6 miles east from the airfield. All 11 crew were killed  including HCU Instructor F/O C.A.J. Honey WOP/AG   [ ex 59 Sqn] &  F/O Appleyard RCAF who was formerly on  Halifax no 16 Course. F/O Appleyard  RCAF   was buried in Glenavy RC Church Co. Antrim,  five  were buried in the church at Eglantine nr Long Kesh with the remainder of the crew  repatriated for burial on the mainland.


April '45 saw an in-flight emergency to a Liberator which resulted in  a heavy landing causing the undercarriage to collapse. The crew believed that their aircraft  was suffering from fires to both inner engines and abandoned the sortie accordingly . The Court of Inquiry commented that the problem was probably  due to turbo torching.

Wg Cdr Ingle was posted out to command 58 Sqn and Wg Cdr J. B."Mouse" Grant DFC from there to take charge of the HCU.  The previous June Wg Cdr Grant had been shot down whilst attacking a U boat and rescued the next day along with two other surviving crew members by a Canadian Corvette. The Unit Admin. Officer Sqn Ldr A.A. Halley was posted to H.Q. C.C. this month.



During May the HCU  received instructions to prepare for a move to RAF Milltown a SLG of RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland. It is worth noting that  several Coastal Command flying boat pilots reported for conversion training onto Liberators this month.


The unit structure at this time was as follows:

C. O.  Wg Cdr J.B Grant. DFC

O.C. Lib Flt  Sqn Ldr B. Peck DFC E.C.F.S.

O.C. Halifax  Flight Sqn Ldr  Don Hannah RAAF.

Liberator C.F.I. Sqn Ldr J.A.R.M. Reid.

Liberator Instructors : Flt Lt's Alcock & O'Reilly.


June witnessed all RCAF Air Crew withdrawn from training and posted to  RAF Bircham Newton. The RAAF personnel were likewise posted to Aircrew Holding Units. Postings "in "of note were Sqn Ldr J. Howard DFC and Flt Lt Davison DFC  .


The following month saw the King and Queen with Princess Elizabeth visit Stormont for an awards ceremony . Aldergrove was chosen to accommodate the fighter escort of Mustangs flown by Polish pilots. The  following HCU members were awarded the following decorations.



Wg Cdr J.B. Grant   DSO

Sqn Ldr Peck  DFC [ Also mentioned in dispatches this month]

Flt Lt G. Davison AFC

P/O S.L. McCaul DFC


The Antrim Marine Craft Unit was tasked with the ASR patrols during the visit and one of its members AC1 R.E. Ashard fell overboard and  drowned despite the rescue attempt by AC  1 McLouglin who was subsequently recommended for a Mention in Despatches. AC1 Ashard is buried in the Eglantine Churchyard .


During  August the Liberator & Halifax flights moved to Milltown  in two stages, the advance party on the 8th followed by the remainder on the 16th .  Fortress training at Aldergrove ceased this month and several  Fortress crew were subsequently trained on the Halifax. Already at  Milltown were the Liberators of 111 [C] OTU Nassau. Many crews who passed through the HCU prior to a posting to operational squadrons received their initial Liberator training at Nassau where  Mitchell's were used as a lead in to the Lib's. RAF Milltown was placed under the operational control of  RAF Lossiemouth. It has been commented that the HCU as indeed was the RAF undergoing a great deal of change at this time with a lot of personnel being de-mobbed.


October witnessed the disbandment of the HCU, all training thereafter was   absorbed by 111 OTU.

Prior to October 1943 RAF Coastal Command Liberator training was carried out at 1 [C] OTU Beaulieu, Hampshire and Fortress & Halifax commitment by 6 [C]OTU Thornaby.,Yorkshire  1674 HCU would now be responsible for the training  of Aircrews on the Liberator Halifax and Fortress aircraft prior to service with an operational Squadron. The unit would be initially co-located , the  Liberator flight  at RAF Aldergrove, Co. Antrim with the Halifax and Fortress flights at RAF Longtown, Cumbria. Trainees could arrive singly or as part of a crew . It is  noteworthy that many Air Crew  had in fact completed a tour of duty on Coastal Command flying a different  type of aircraft  . There was no set pattern for crews or individuals  to be allocated as instructors, they could be posted onto the HCU straight from a training unit or have many hours of operational flying  experience. Obviously the latter Airmen could pass on their experiences gained on the anti-submarine sorties.  Senior officers would receive a customised course on instruction relevant to prior experience and future posting.

86 Squadron Photo.jpg