The crew of MZ589 or the Collver Crew as they would be known around base, completed 18 of the 30 required operations needed before they would be rotated out or "screened" using the term of the day. Unfortunately for the crew, they flew some of the most difficult and costly operations that 431 squadron participated in during the entire war. Had they survived the Hamburg operation or not flown on it they would have likely completed their tour and survived the war.
The crew's Bomb Aimer, Flying Officer R.B White developed pneumonia and subsequently missed the Hamburg op, a twist of fate that in the end saved his life. Unfortunately, Flying Officer Matthew MacFarlane was not so lucky, he replaced R.B. White as the Bomb Aimer on the Hamburg raid and lost his life as a result. In another cruel twist of fate, F/O MacFarlane's original crew completed their tour of operations and survived the war.
Below is the list of operations that the Collver crew participated in, the aircraft they flew, target ,time of take off and landing as well as any other pertinent notes. This information was transcribed from the 431 Squadron Operational Record Books microfilm, all targets with a (G) beside them indicate targets inside Germany all others are in France, the aircraft type used on all operations was the Halifax MkIII.
|Target||Aircaft Code||Aircraft Serial #||Take Off||Landing||Notes|
|1*||May 24/25||Trouville||SE-C||MZ-509||23:07||04:00||The crew's first operation was duly noted by the Commanding Officer as a "good show by all."|
|2||May 27/28||Le Clipon||SE-Y||MZ-628||22:35||02:32|
|3||May 31/June 1||Leubringhen||SE-A||MZ-685||21:52||00:35||Returned early along with 3 other crews due to severe icing and thunderstorms. The aircraft's Gee went unserviceable making navigation more difficult. The Commanding Officer signed off on this op despite the early return.|
|4||June 5/6||Merville-Franceville||SE-A||MZ-685||21:53||03:38||Denoted by the C.O as "Second Front", the Collver crew took the first 431 Squadron aircraft aloft on D-Day.|
|6||June 9/10||Le Mans||SE-A||MZ-685||21:00||03:12|
|7||June 11/12||Arras||SE-L||MZ-537||23:00||03:34||Records indicate that the crew
were attacked by a ME-210 but escaped undamaged, the German aircraft also
For this operation P/O Andrew Mynarski of 419 Squadron from nearby Middleton-St.George was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
|9||June 16/17||Sterkrade (G)||SE-A||MZ-685||22:53||02:54|
|10||June 21 Day||Ouissement-Neuville||SE-D||MZ-517||17:28||21:59||Warrant Officer. G.W. Roche served as gunner for the Preston Green Mid Under Turret the squadron was experimenting with at the time.|
|11||June 24 Day||Bonnetot||SE-K||MZ-657||14:36||18:40||F/O C.J. Johnston acted as Bomb Aimer for this operation, Sgt.J.E. Williams served as Mid Under Gunner.|
|12||July 5/6||Biennais||SE-H||MZ-589||01:30||05:15||Landed at Witchford upon return due to weather at Croft.|
|13||July 9 Day||Mont Condon||SE-H||MZ-589||10:22||14:43||Landed at Methwold upon return due to weather at Croft. Sgt.M.G. Clue served as Flight Engineer.|
|14||July 12/13||Bremont||SE-H||MZ-589||22:02||01:55||Sgt. J.E Williams served as gunner for the Preston Green Mid Under Turret.|
|15||July 18 Day||Caen||SE-H||MZ-589||03:21||07:59||The Operational Record Book lists the aircraft serial number as LK-851 for this operation. I believe this either to be an error as a review of all Halifax serial#'s revealed no such number assigned or perhaps the aircraft was specially modified and being evaluated which led to the different serial#. This aircraft also had the Preston Green Mid Under Turret. Sgt. K.E. Reinehart served as the gunner.|
|16||July 20/21||Anderbelck||SE-H||MZ-589||19:18||22:54||Sgt. C.M McInroy served as Mid Under Gunner|
|17||July 25/26||Stuttgart (G)||SE-H||MZ-589||21:07||05:52||First hand reports from F/O R.B White indicate the crew landed elsewhere upon return, location as yet unknown.|
|18||July 28/29||Hamburg (G)||SE-H||MZ-589||22:15||MIA||F/O Matthew MacFarlane served as Bomb Aimer in place of F/O R.B White. The ORB indicates that all crews for the Hamburg Op were briefed for a daylight op that was later scrubbed, they were sent to bed around noon and told to prepare for a night attack.|
*Although Trouville was the crew's first operation together, F/O J. Collver was required to fly what was known as a Second Dickey trip. This took place with an experienced crew, it was designed to provide a new pilot with the experience of participating in a live operation before commanding his own aircraft. F/O J.Collver flew his second dickey trip with Squadron Leader C.W Higgins and crew to Haine-St.Pierre, read about it here.
Map of Collver Crew Operations