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Training

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These men were trained to be part of Bomber Command, the Bombing Air Force of the RAF, which operated mainly at night.

OTU

In February 1943, five of them were sent to the Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Upper Heyford which had Vickers Wellington bombers. The purpose of this unit was to put into practice the theory learned so far and to familiarise themselves and to work together like any Bomber Command aircrew.
The Vickers Wellington bomber was equipped with two Bristol Pegasus engines of 1000 hp each. With a wingspan of over 26 meters, it weighed 8.4 tonnes unladen and carried a crew of five men.

On their arrival there, the hundred newly promoted airmen were gathered in a hangar and they were to form their own new crew for the rest of the war. Thus, each looked for a patent on the uniform of their Comrades, "Hello, we are looking for a gunner. Are you Scottish? Me too, welcome on board ! ".  The Bomber Command had determined that was the best way to build up strong crews.

Thus Arthur Wright (bomber), Edward Higgins (radio), James Spence (gunner) and Davidson (navigator) joined Horace Badge (pilot) for this first step.

HCU

Four months later, at 1654 Heavy Conversion Unit, based at Wigsley, this new crew will train for four weeks to master its new ride: the Avro Lancaster. This magnificent machine required the presence of a flight engineer and an extra gunner. Thus Bobby Wood and the Australian Ronald (Ossie) Brett completed the team.

The Avro Lancaster was a larger plane than the Vickers Wellington, equipped with four Rolls Royce Merlin XX V12 engines developing no less than 1200 hp each, she had a wingspan of 30 meters and weighed 16 tonnes when empty. In 1943, she composed the backbone of the Bomber Command.


At the same time, Flying Officer Graham Mitchell and his RAAF crew were also attached to this unit. Subsequently, they joined the Australian 467 Squadron based at Bottesford and lost their life when their plane crashed in Thyon (Switzerland) during the same raid on Turin of 12/13 July 1943.

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