Halifax HR803 was one of twenty three No. 35 Squadron aircraft detailed to attack Hamburg on the night of the 24th / 25th July 1943.
Its seven-man crew comprised:
- Nicholas Joseph Matich (Pilot)
- Cyril Arthur Hewlett (Navigator)
- Ralph Wilbert Tully (Air Bomber)
- Francis Robert Dolling (Wireless Operator)
- Albert Thomas Tuck (Air Gunner)
- Albert Victor Forsyth (Air Gunner)
- Ronald McTavish Mather (Flight Engineer)
The squadron’s Operations Record Book shows “When taking off, both outer engines failed at a height of 2 feet and the aircraft crash landed in a field beyond the aerodrome. There were no casualties”
AM Form 1180
The AM Form 1180 shows: Engine Failure on take-off; port outer and starboard outer. Pilot retracted undercarriage. Shortage of fuel port outer due collapsed …….. pipe.
AM Form 78
The movement card shows that the aircraft was classified as Cat FB on 24th July 1943; it was sent to Handley Page on 14th August 1943 and struck off charge on 23rd August 1943.
CA Hewlett Letter
In a letter, CA Hewlett recalled “At the point of take-off we lost an engine; the engine restarted, we had a quick consultation and I confirmed that we could reach our target on time by taking a direct route. We went round again, again the engine failed at the same point and we now had no brakes, so the undercarriage was selected up and we belly flopped into a field. No casualties and no after effects”.