Sergeant Charles MacFarlane DFM


Sergeant Charles MacFarlane DFM was the only son of the MacFarlanes, 27 Campbells Buildings, Dunkeld Road, Perth. He was educated at the Northern District School and worked as a waiter at the Salutation Hotel in Perth. MacFarlanejoined the RAF in 1940 at the age of 20. 

On the night of the 12/13 May 1943 Handley Page HP 59 Halifax II DT776 from RAF 10 Squadron took off at 2329 hours from RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire to bomb Duisburg in GermanyOne of the four engines became unserviceable en route, some height was lost but they flew on. At 0207 hours and at 17,000 feet, they bombed the target. While still over the target area, the aircraft was slightly damaged (close to the bomb doors)  by a burst from a flak gun. 

The crew managed to fly the aircraft safely back and landed at the nearest airfield at 0435 hours, despite it rapidly losing height as the English coast was crossed. 

Flight Sergeant Gordon Roger Hewlett RNZAF (NZ415847) – pilot 

Sergeant D McClelland RAFVR – navigator 

Sergeant Kenneth Hamilton Dempster RAFVR (1451840) – bomb aimer 

Pilot Officer Leslie Victor Williams RAFVR (126738) – wireless operator/air gunner 

Sergeant Ronald Stanley Minnett RAFVR (1702041) – air gunner 

Sergeant Tom Leonard Thackeray RAF (648457) – flight engineer 

Sergeant Charles MacFarlane RAFVR (993788) – air gunner 

Sergeant Frederick John Hands Heathfield RAFVR (1235550) – 2nd pilot 

Many of the crew were later awarded Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC and DFM for service with RAF 10 Squadron  MacFarlane was mentioned in the Supplement to the London Gazette on 16 November 1943 as having been awarded the DFM. He was officially described as an ‘outstanding air gunner’. 

Handley Page Halifax DT776 was in service with RAF 466 Squadron from September 1943. It was later damaged beyond repair on the night of 29/30 November 1943. A crew from 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU) were carrying out basic night circuits and landings exercises at RAF Riccall in Yorkshire. The aircraft flew a circuit and five minutes after taking off at 2301 hours, upon landing, possibly a tyre burst. They swung off the runway and an undercarriage collapsed. The crew were unharmed. 

In total at five factories, 6,176 Halifax’s were built during the Second World War. During 1939, English Electric constructed a ‘shadow factory’ and a new airfield at Samlesbury near Blackburn, Lancashire.  From 1940 onwards, a total of 2,145 Halifax’s (including DT776) were built by English Electric with a peak delivery rate of 81 aircraft a month (achieved in February 1944).   

Charles MacFarlane, Perthshire Advertiser 17 November 1943

This image is probably of some of the Hewlett crew standing on the wing of Halifax HR691. Taken in September 1943. This work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain. UK Copyright contended to have lapsed 50 years after publication.

Left to right: Pilot: G. Hewlett NZAF, Nav: G. McClelland RAFVR, MU: R. Minnett RAFVR, W/OP: L. Williams RAFVR, B/A: J. R. Hulley RAFVR, FE: T. Thackray RAFVR, RG: C. MacFarlane RAFVR

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (CH 7910) Ground crews overhaul the Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engines of Handley Page Halifax Mark II, BB194 ‘ZA-E’, of No. 10 Squadron RAF, in a dispersal at Melbourne, Yorkshire. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210296

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (CH 7900) Handley Page Halifax Mark II Series 1s of No. 10 Squadron RAF based at Melbourne, Yorkshire, gain height in the failing evening light while outward bound on a raid to Turin, Italy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205210294

ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: BOMBER COMMAND (CH 7905) A bomb aimer demonstrates the selector switches and bomb release in the cramped nose of a Halifax of No 10 Squadron at Melbourne, Yorkshire in December 1942. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205218653