To celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Handley Page Halifax bomber, here at the Yorkshire Air Museum, we invited current RAF Pilot Flt Lt Daniel Whatmough and WW2 Veteran Pilot, Flt Lt George Dunn DFC (97), together with the RAF Benevolent Fund, to visit one of the only surviving Halifax bombers in the world here at Elvington.
George began his RAF career in 1941 at RAF Chatham careers office in Kent while Dan began his at the same Careers Office some 65 years later. George went on to learn to fly in Canada and then on to the Halifax at RAF Linton On Ouse. Here he flew 30 Operational Missions on 76 Sqn from RAF Linton On Ouse.
He was involved in the bombing of the Hamburg and then the Top-Secret mission to bomb the formidable NAZI German V weapon development site in Peenemunde in 1943. The Mission was called Operation Hydra and of the 596 aircraft launched for the raid, 40 failed to return. A night of terrible loss for RAF Bomber Command.
After the Halifax George went on to flying Mosquitos on 608 Sqn with pathfinder duties and raids into Berlin. Once the war stopped, George was posted to Greece where he flew Spitfires and Hurricanes before leaving the RAF in 1949 to return to work for Pickford’s removals.
Flt Lt Whatmough spent 6 years as an RAF Navigator flying the Tornado GR4 before being selected to train as a Pilot. Flt Lt Whatmough trained on the same Sqn as George 76 Sqn 10 years ago and commented: “Being here today with someone so special as George is an absolute honour, and to hear the stories of what George and his crew went through in Halifax aircraft such as this is truly incredible. It was important for me to get George here today, to remember the incredible effort and bravery that these men once gave. George once again stepped aboard the incredible Handley Page Halifax and sat in the pilot’s seat after 75 years.”
The Handley Page Halifax displayed here at the Museum carries the markings of the most famous Halifax of all, Friday the 13th, on the port side. The starboard said carries the markings of the French Squadrons that were based here in World War Two.
It was a wonderful honour to welcome our two guests, one a serving RAF pilot operating in today’s modern flying environment, the other sharing with us memories of his own youth flying the Halifax into the darkness of wartime Europe.