In May of 1944 someone, somewhere decided it would be a great idea to cross-train those who occupied the “front office” of the bombers
with another trade. The aim of the training seems to have been a good idea in principle. The job of Navigation appears to have been the
center point of this exercise. Training the Pilot and the Bomb Aimer to perform the tasks of the Navigator in getting them to the target
and back home.
On or about May 6th four crews set out on cross-country trip with the newly cross-trained "navigators" showing the way around a pin point circuit and the hopefully back to base, their own base. Three of the aircraft had the bomb-aimers doing the navigation while in the other Lancaster a pilot was carrying out the plotting of the route. It is recorded as a surprising and positive experience when the four Lancasters returned back to the expected base on time and that they had closely followed the planned flight path and times that set out for them . Now each member of the cockpit crew had a better understanding of what the other had to go through while on the missions. And it could also give them a auxiliary navigator if an airborne situation called for it.
Although no mention was made of having the gunners try out their hand at navigation. Some air gunners may have actually prior to gunnery school tried out for for the position and through the events of the selection system were later placed in gunnery courses.
another cross training idea....
And yet another cross-training exercise was tried by middle of the month. All the squadron’s aircrew took lessons and actual practice in bombing-up their own Lancasters. Each crew had to load 4 bombs one 2,000 pounder, one 1,000 pounder and two 500 pounders. No mention of how this went or if the loaded bombs stayed on for an actual operation. These exercises sent some odd rumors through the squadron’s mess rooms and barracks.