H2S Development 1942

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Stephenph
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H2S Development 1942

Post by Stephenph »

I am doing some research into the earliest use of the radar system H2S first used officially by Bomber Command in January 1943.

The reason is my wife's uncle was 21 year old commanding Pilot Officer Jack Heathcote Morphett who died on the 9th April 1942 in a raid over Germany.
The story in the family goes that Jack had completed 30 successful missions and was on leave in Wales, R&R when he got a call from his commanding officer at Scrampton.
Two Avo Manchesters were to take part in a raid over Hamburg and the nominated Pilot Officer was regarded as not being sufficiently experienced, and the mission was an important one.
This plane was fitted with some experimental equipment- he told his sister but could not say more, -and it was essential an experienced pilot ensured that if the plane was in difficulty
and had to crash, that the equipment did not fall into the hands of the Germans.The plane left RAF Scrampton at 22.15h.

The last signal was received at 1am over the Lastrup area of Germany, and the plane crashed NE of Cloppenburg.
My mother in law was told by the RAF that Jack managed to get his co-pilot free who bailed out but the plane lost control and he had to ensure that the secret equipment was totally destroyed.
The reference was L7427-01-Q.
Sadly Pilot Officer Lovegrove who bailed out was captured and died in November 1942 in Pozen Old Garrison Prison, Poland.

Does anyone know if this plane might have been fitted with a test rig of H2S? the first operation use was 30th January 1943, and on the 2/3 February a Sterling Pathfinder crashed without destroying
the H2S equipment and Telefunken developed within 6 months a detector of the equipment from the crashed plane.
Surely, before the system went into full operation there must have been some trials?

Any thoughts or advice on where to research this would be much appreciated.

Stephenph.

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AlanW
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Re: H2S Development 1942

Post by AlanW »

Hi Stephen, and welcome to the forum. I see that P/O J.H. Morphett was with 83sqdn at the time of his death. I have a copy of the 83sqdn Operations Record Book, and later today, i'll have a look through it to see if there's any info.
Regards...Alan.
There is no paralell in warfare, to such courage and determination in the face of danger, over so long a period. Such devotion, should never be forgotten.

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ME453
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Re: H2S Development 1942

Post by ME453 »

A little background from a quick internet search:

"H2S performed its first experimental flight on 23 April 1942, with the radar mounted in a Halifax bomber, the scanning unit installed in the aircraft's belly using the position previously occupied by the mid-under turret, which was by that time seldom installed. The scanning aerial was covered by a distinctive streamlined radome that was later to become a characteristic fitting of RAF heavy bombers. On 7 June 1942, the Halifax performing H2S tests crashed, killing everyone on board and destroying the prototype H2S. One of the dead was Alan Blumlein, and his loss was a huge blow to the program."

"By 1 January 1943, twelve Stirling and twelve Halifax bombers had been fitted with H2S. On the night of 30 January 1943, thirteen "Pathfinder" bombers, which dropped incendiaries or flares on a target to "mark" it for other bombers following in the bomber "stream", took off to give H2S its introduction to combat by marking the German city of Hamburg. Seven of the Pathfinders had to turn back, but six marked the target, which was hit by a hundred Lancasters. Bomber Command didn't use H2S generally until that summer. On the night of 24 July 1943, the RAF began Operation Gomorrah, a large attack on Hamburg. At that time, H2S was also fitted to Lancasters, which became a backbone of RAF Bomber Command."

Significantly there is no mention of Manchesters being fitted with H2S, they had become so unreliable that I can't think the risk would be taken because of all the inherent difficulties of losing top secret equipment and, as above, the boffins developing it. Also perhaps significantly whilst the Nachtjagd War Diaries records L4727 being shot down by Fw. Gerhard Goerke of 1./NJG3 at 00.49hrs, it doesn't mention anything about the coup of H2S falling into the Germans' hands. Development tests most definitely would not have been carried out using operational aircraft over enemy territory.

Max
www.ordinarycrew.co.uk
Dedicated to the crew of Lancaster ME453 467 squadron

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AlanW
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Re: H2S Development 1942

Post by AlanW »

Hi Stephen,
It looks very much, as though the story about your wife's uncle, may have "innocently" had little bits added to it over the years, as it was passed on. There is no evidence in the ORB, that he was on leave at the time, and he was actually, the pilot of this crew for previous operations, before the Hamburg raid, and not a stand in pilot. The loss card for L7427, does not record any "special equipment" being on board for that night. If you would like any details for this crew, on the Hamburg raid, and all previous ops, please let me know, and i'll sort them out.
Regards...Alan.
There is no paralell in warfare, to such courage and determination in the face of danger, over so long a period. Such devotion, should never be forgotten.

Stephenph
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Re: H2S Development 1942

Post by Stephenph »

AlanW wrote:Hi Stephen,
It looks very much, as though the story about your wife's uncle, may have "innocently" had little bits added to it over the years, as it was passed on. There is no evidence in the ORB, that he was on leave at the time, and he was actually, the pilot of this crew for previous operations, before the Hamburg raid, and not a stand in pilot. The loss card for L7427, does not record any "special equipment" being on board for that night. If you would like any details for this crew, on the Hamburg raid, and all previous ops, please let me know, and i'll sort them out.
Regards...Alan.

Many thanks Alan.
Two RAF officers came and consoled Barbara Morphett his sister,(later Lady Barbara Lawrence, wife of the Senior Master and Queen's Remberencer) whom he had taught to fly. They gave her the impression that he may have been forced to crash the plane to destroy certain vital secret equipment. I see (on Wikipedia), on 2/3rd Feb a Halifax bomber was shot down and the crash did not destroy the H2S and Telefunken repaired some of it and built a detector unit.
She flew in the women's auxilary Air Service delivering Spitfires and Lancaster bombers from the factory to airfields.But you are right about the unreliability of the Manchester, Jack and most pilots hated flying them.

There is an amusing story of her landing at Hendon, rather clumsily, bouncing it on the runway, and the station Commander marching out as it taxied to a halt, and shouting out "What the bloody hell do you think you are doing landing a plane like that?" as she climbed out of the cockpit. She unbuckled her helmet and a mass of bright red hair flowed out and as all 4 ft 10 ins of her climbed down, she said "I'm frightfully sorry Sir, its my first landing here and I did bodget up a bit, but it is all in one pieces!"
The Commander said "Oh, I beg your pardon, perhaps young lady you would like to come to my mess and have a still brandy after that bump".
So she did know a lot about planes and vowed to help as much as possible. She also did night spotting duties and could recognise about a dozen British and German planes just by their engine sound and outline.

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AlanW
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Re: H2S Development 1942

Post by AlanW »

Hi Stephen
This crew, were posted in to 83sqdn, from 25 OTU, on 13th Jan 42.

67046, P/O. J.H. Morphett, Pilot.
61284, P/O J.A. Lamb, Pilot.
NZ402188, Sgt G. Hutchinson, Obs.
647009, F/Sgt A. Salter, Wop/Ag.
923926, Sgt R. Williams, Wop/Ag.
R66159, Sgt G.C. Fisk, A/G.
R69897, Sgt C. Gellatley, A/G.

Ops carried out.......
28/1, Boulogne.
10/2, Bremen.
12/2, Gardening.
27/2, Kiel.
3/3, Billancourt.
8/3, Essen.
9/3, Essen.
5/4, Cologne.
8/3, Hamburg.

Attached is the raid report for that night, and loss record for L7427, which clearly shows that no "special equipment" was carried by the aircraft (bottom left corner) as it would have been clipped to show otherwise.
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There is no paralell in warfare, to such courage and determination in the face of danger, over so long a period. Such devotion, should never be forgotten.

149NUTS
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Re: H2S Development 1942

Post by 149NUTS »

Hi Stephen,

A friend of mine is currently writing a book about radar in WWII and may be able to help you. He was working on the sets at that time. Contact me on alan.fraserATstirlingpilotDOTorgDOTuk if you want to be put in touch. He is John Johnston, the author of 'Strong by Night', 149 sqn History.

Alan F

Volker
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Re: H2S Development 1942

Post by Volker »

Hello,
to read all this is very interesting for me.
I know the crash site exactly. I have located the crash site and explored with a metal detector. I have found many small parts of this Manchester.
For me, a long time it was not clear which aircraft crashed on this pasture. The records in the village chronicles were totally wrong.A difficult case. In the last year I have a found a witness. He is 86 years old and in good health. We talked a long time and he said to me he remembered a name. The name was Palagref.
This crew member was injured taken at night by his family. After a short time I knew that it was the co. pilot P.A. Lovegrove.Now I am in very good contact with the nephew of Peter Anthony Lovegrove. His name is Peter Lovegrove. Peter comes to Germany on 23.April with his family and visit the crash site. We have full support of the community and authoritis. Near the crash site we built a memorial (rockstone with a plaque and a wooden cross) in Memoriam for the crew.
The story is very interesting and I hope other members of the crew see this report. Maybe additional contacts incur.
For any further assistance, I am very grateful. There are many pictures of this aircraft. Unfortunately, there seems to be no pictures of the crew. To date I have only a picture of P. A. Lovegrove.
Perhaps there are other documents of this plane? I'm very interesting for all information.!! (Please excuse my poor english)
friendly regards
Volker

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