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The crew

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The crew

Our story begins two years earlier in Great-Britain.

The future captain of this crew is Horace Badge, he was born April 5, 1923 at the family farm in Broadwood, near Lifton in Devon, close to the shores of Lake Roadford. After completing his compulsory education at the School of Ivyhowe Broadwood, his father enrolled him at the Shebbear College to study the world of finance in 1937. Apart from this very Cartesian world, Horace was also the school librarian, member of the rugby team and played violin in the school choir.

In April 1941, at the age of 18, he enlisted as a cadet in the Air Training Corp. He wanted to be a pilot. He began the core curriculum in September 1941 and in April 1942, Horace was sent to Canada to start his training as a military pilot. He then flew on Boeing Stearman and Tiger Moth (36 Elementary Flying Training School, Pearce, Alberta). Selected for the bombing, he continued on the twin-engine Cessna Crane and Avro Anson (33 Service Flying Training School, Carbery, Manitoba).

Returning to England in November 1942, he joined South Cerny airbase (3 Advanced Flying Unit) to complete his training on Avro Anson and win the rank of sergeant and, more importantly, his pilot wings. He was not yet 20 years old.

Throughout his training, he remained in contact with his former comrades of Shebbear College. He wrote : "I still have some more work to do, so I must close this letter."

Arthur "Bert" Wright, son of John and Susan, was born February 19, 1911 in the district of Hackney in London. Married to Winifred , he was the father of three sons: John, James and Peter. Following the "Blitz", all this little family which was living in the district of West Ham, had to evacuate in Wales to the small village of Llanhilleth. Bert volunteered April 5, 1941 as a pilot / observer and practiced his trade of carpenter / roofer until he was called, August 11, 1941.

He was sent in April 1942 in South Africa to follow his basic training on Tiger Moth (75 Air School, Lyttelton, Pretoria then 7 Air School, Kroonstad). As a result of a hearing problem, he had to unfortunately give up his dream and joined the continent December 15, 1942 as a bomber / observer before being promoted to sergeant two weeks later. At 32, he was the oldest of the crew.

Robert "Bobby" Wood, son of John and Mary, was born on October 29, 1921 at Pollockshaws, near Glasgow in Scotland. He completed his schooling at St Conval schools and St Mungo's Academy in Glasgow and then trained as an auto mechanic. His dream was to one day own his own garage. Bobby volunteered as an aircraft mechanic in the RAF April 2, 1940.

He completed training in St. Athan (Wales) and served with 75 Sqn on 214’s equipped with Vickers Wellington then with 226 Sqn, on Havoc A-20’s. He later had the opportunity to specialize in a course with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Unit based in Colchester. Before asking to be transferred as aircrew and being transferred to St Athan for training as a flight engineer. He was 21.

F.C.J. Davidson (service number 1276515) was the first navigator assigned to our crew. Volunteered for the RAF January 22, 1941, he trained as a navigator and was a sergeant in 1943. This "8th man", whose very existence remains unknown to the families  of our crew, we only know that he eventually was returned to public life June 12, 1946.

Edward "Eddie" Higgins, was born December 9, 1918 in Knightswood, Glasgow, Scotland. After completing compulsory education at St Aloysius's College, Glasgow, he worked in the family business and, at the age of 14, he attained the position of Senior Secretary. Like his brother Ian, he joined the RAF in February 1940.

As a future radio operator Eddie was assigned in October 1941 to Montrose, 8th Flying Training School, then in February 1942 to 10 Signal Centre of Blackpool and May 2 at Signal School at Yatesbury. He continued his career in October at 4 Signal School and completed additional training required of  gunner at the 10 Air Gunnery School in Barrow. At 24, he picked up his sergeant stripes.

Ronald "Ossie" Brett, son of John and Lydia, was born July 7, 1916 at Mount Bute, Victoria, Australia. After completing his schooling at Mount Bute and then Senior Secondary School in 1932, he worked on the family’s sheep farm and with his brother Jack operated a Share Farming business on local farms near to their Mt Bute farm. Ossie enlisted voluntarily in the RAAF on January 30, 1942 in Melbourne and began his training as a gunner at Parkes.

He continued his specialist training in Port Pirie and as a Sergeant he sailed on January 15, 1943 for a trip  which lasted two months. As a gunner, in May 1943, he attended a specialised course in 1485 Bombing and Gunner Training flight at Fulbeck (Lincolshire). Some airmen of the squadron remember him as a man of temperament (former amateur boxer) and quite popular with the ladies. At 27, this strapping man was the mid-upper gunner of the crew.

James "Jimmy" Spence, son of Arthur and Alice, was born March 27, 1922 at Althorpe in Lincolnshire. He attended the Althorpe and Keadby Schools and qualified for the Scunthorpe Modern School. Before the war, he trained as a solicitor's clerk and worked for four years from ME Sharpe, Symes & Thompson, Lawyers in Epworth. In his spare time, Jimmy was an active member of the Athletic Association, the Boy's Brigade, where he was particularly fond of swimming and football. He was well known in the district of Epworth & Trent-side. On February 17, 1941, James volunteered in the RAF, as did  two of his brothers.

Wanting to become a pilot, Jimmy went to the Initial Training Wing 7 based in Newquay. Then he was sent to Canada to continue his training at Quebec on Bristol Bolingbroke, Norseman or Hurricane (9 Bombing and Gunnery School, Mont Joli), was transferred to the United States (3 British Flying Training School, Miami, Oklahoma) and finally returned a month later in Ontario to fly Avro Anson (12 Elementary Flying Training School, Trenton). Unfortunately, after nearly a year of training, he was not selected as pilot but as a patented gunner who returned to England in December 1942.

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