Personnel Index - Detail
Richard Bailes is on the right of the picture.
'VILLAGE INN' TRAGEDY:
During the month of April, F/Lt Bill Healey RCAF DFC, and crew were attached to the Bomber Development Unit at Newmarket. Along with a 1 Group crew from 460 RAAF Squadron, Binbrook, they were testing a new radar operated gun turret (A.G.L.T.); the code name for this equipment being 'Village Inn'.
Late Sunday afternoon 30 April, tactical trials using 'Village Inn' were being carried out between an attacking friendly fighter and Lancaster (ND553), being flown by F/Lt Bill Healey. During the bomber’s vigorous evasive actions, the dinghy accidently started to inflate and burst from its stowage hold in the Lancaster's starboard wing. It blew back covering one fin and causing the aircraft to flick onto its back; F/Lt Healey's immediate reaction was to haul back on the control column in an attempt to complete a full loop. With insufficient height, the Lancaster smashed into the ground near Witchford; the time was 16.55hrs.
The following 49 Squadron crew members were killed:
F/L W.A. Healey DFC RCAF Pilot (Killed)
Sgt F. Boardman F/E (Killed)
Sgt J. Jones W/AG (Killed)
F/O R. Bailes NAV (Killed)
Earlier in his career F/O Bailes and crew had an incident with a JU88 as described below.
Leipzig, February 19th 1944:
F/O Bill Healey RCAF (JB679) and crew, flying D-Dog also returned early with a collision report, but this time it was between his Lancaster and that of a German aircraft. A sudden jar shuddered through D-Dog; looking out along the port main plane, Bill saw the shadowy shape of a Ju88 sitting on his wing tip with the German pilot clearly visible. The time was 02.01hrs and they were flying at 21,000ft. Within moments the Junkers fell away, taking ten feet of Lancaster wing with it.
F/O Healey fought for control as they lost height rapidly in a spiral dive. His crew watched as the German burst into flames as it crashed on the ground.
Struggling back to Fiskerton on three engines and a severely shortened wing, the Healey crew touched down at 03.39hrs. A daylight inspection revealed extensive damage with the port outer engine pushed askew and the airscrew bent beyond redemption.
For his excellent display of airmanship, F/O Healey RCAF (shown pointing) was awarded the DFC.