Austin Hallett's long and decorated career in the military began when the Dorset native was with a special unit
of the Home Guard. The eighteen year old Hallett and the men of the unit he was part of operated out of secret
bunkers, where, in the event of an invasion by the German forces on the British homeland, they were to take
up positions to attack the invaders.
He remembers having to keep his rifle, ammunition and other gear near to him at all times.
At nineteen he was posted to Blackpool for wireless training, then sent to Isle of Anglesey to qualify as
an air gunner with the RAF.
After crewing up with F/L George Scade, he continued his training at No.24 OUT, and then, after completion of
Heavy Conversion training, arrived at 419 Squadron in September of 1943.
As the Wireless Air Gunner member of F/L Scade's crew, Sgt. Hallett flew his first operation on September
27/28th aboard a Halifax bomber, an aircraft he remembered later as being the most robust aircraft and his
favourite. The crew, with a few changes along the way, continued on with their Tour until August 3rd,
completing many sorties of their Lancaster operations with KB750 VR-N.
November 25/26 1943 -Frankfurt
As Sgt. Hallett's Halifax LW243 VR-Y entered the target area it was attacked without any indication from the
Monica radar. Tracers, headed at the aircraft from slightly above astern, were the first indication of the
enemy fighter. Sgt. Scade made evasive maneuvres to avoid further damage to his Halifax as the large aircraft
continued its spiral dive even after the "resume course" had been given. LW243 finally pulled out of its dive
at 10,000 feet.
The Halifax was again attacked as it left the target area. Almost an hour after the first attack, the Monica
radar detection system gave the alarm of an aircraft behind the Halifax. Sgt. Lee, the rear gunner, could only
see the enemy fighter's navigation lights at about 600 yards off. The following evasive maneuvres did not shake
the fighter from their tail. The fighter continued to follow them at about 600 yards behind them for 30 miles
until they crossed the coast and headed out towards their base.
The attack had not injured any of the crew. For Sgt. Hallett, the gaping hole he discovered afterwards, just
inches away from his seat, must have come as a shock.
The Halifax had sustained a lot of damage. The perspex nose was lost, bomb doors damaged, starboard
undercarriage door blown away, a hole in starboard wing and starboard inner cowling, damage to leading
edge of port side rudder, and their navigation equipment was destroyed.
February 19/20th 1944 -Frankfurt
Sgt. Hallett was with the crew during a second incident with a night fighter just five minutes into the 20th
of February 1944. As Halifax JD459 was approaching the target area, Sgt. Lee, the rear gunner, spotted a Ju88
on the skyline on port side closing in for an attack. Lee gave the order for corkscrew to port then opened
fire with a short burst. As he tried to fire a second burst, three of the four guns jammed. By this time
the enemy fighter had broken off the attack as it neared to 300 yards from the bomber and was lost to sight.
Lee was able to clear the guns and they headed on to the target.
Post 419 Squadron
In August of 1944, P/O Hallett and the rest of the Scade crew flew their last operation and completed their tour.
As an RAF crew man, he was allowed time away from operations before starting a second Tour. On August 21st he has
posted to No.1664 HCU., then 1666 HCU and in February 1945 was posted to 434 Bluenose Squadron.
He accumulated 310 hours over 48 sorties for which F/L Hallettt received a DFC.
When the war was over he stayed with the RAF and flew supplies into Berlin during the Berlin Airlift for which
he received his AFC.
He was later posted to Burma with 194 Squadron. The squadron at this time was engaged in general transport and
During one of his flights, the cords of the dropped supplies had become tangled with the aircraft, causing the
aircraft to lose height as it flew along. To help save the crew, he cut the cords while being held by the ankles
out of the open door by one of the crew as the aircraft flew thousands of feet over the jungle. He jokingly
told his family much later he was selected since he was the most expendable member of the crew.
Postings to 62 Squadron, then 52 Squadron and finally for VIP duties with RAF in Japan.
He eventually retired from the RAF in 1970, the same year he received his MBE.
He retired to successfully run a Post Office and shop in Blackpool, where his customers never knew the quiet man
they met everyday lived a series of exploits which they could never imagine. Only through prying would he
relate to his family some of these adventures.
Austin Hallett passed away this November (2015) on the 12th, which is also listed as his birthday. On that
very day, his family received a Legion of Honor medal, sent from the French Embassy a few days earlier.