Flying Officer Hirst was posted to 419 squadron from 432 squadron on June 16th 1944.
He was the Bomb Aimer for a crew captained by F/O Richard Mansfield, the crew originally
consisted of P/O George Warren-Darley, F/S Douglas Gunn, Sgt. Derek Newland (RAF), Sgt. John
Murphy and Sgt. B Jigursky. With 432 squadron they had been flying the British made Lancaster II,
moving to the Canadian made Lancaster X required some retraining for the crew. This was completed
in the first two weeks of joining 419.
F/O Hirst and the crew were off to a rough and scary start with their new squadron when on the night of June 24th while completing a series of circuits and landings the Lancaster was badly damaged. Coming in for a landing in VR- W, the Lancaster overshot the end of the runway and collided into the tiny Beam Approach building. For F/O Hirst the Bomb Aimer located in the nose of the aircraft it could not have been an incident which he would forget easily.
As their first operational mission came around, Hirst and crew would find themselves with a new member of the crew replacing Sgt. Newland as Flight Engineer would be Sgt. Jones. This first operation on August 15th was to Soersterberg. They would fly two more operations, then on the night of August 29/30th and with Sgt. Newland returned to his duties the crew would again find them selves in a perilous situation.
While on board "S" for Sugar flying over the target at Stettin, a wayward incendiary bomb dropping from another aircraft
tore through the outer port engine covering and exploding inside the nacelle surrounding the engine, stopping the engine
as well as starting a fire that appeared to spread to the wings around the engine. At this point while F/O Mansfield and
the F/E Sgt. Newland were working to extinguish the
fire the Upper Middle Gunner parachuted from the aircraft before any command was given. The fire was put out and the crew and aircraft
headed home. Sgt. Jigursky landed safely and became a POW for the duration.
With Sgt. G E Norwell now manning the Upper gun the crew and Hirst flew four more missions
before again they were struck with bad luck. Following the marked path for the bomb run over a target is a hazardless
business, flying straight and at a steady speed the crew becomes an easy target. On the night of September 17th
while coming in for a pass on a target in Boulogne the bomb doors refused to open, making it necessary for them to come
around for a yet another nerve-racking pass.
Several operations later on the night of Sept 28 after dropping their bombs on Cap Gris Nez, Hirst noticed that the bomb drop didn't feel right. Investigating the bomb racks he found that there were two live bombs hung up on the racks. The hung up bombs caused a period of tension for all those on board while efforts were made to get them to release, flying at a reduced speed while the bomb doors were open was an invitation to any stray Luftwaffe night fighters in the area. The bombs were eventually worked loose and Hirst and crew flew off back to base.
The crews nerves would yet again be tested on the night of October 14th when flak hit their aircraft while over Duisburg. Hirst managed to jettison some his bomb load, but not all could be let go. F/O Mansfield managed to get the aircraft back to Britain and land safely at RAF Woodbridge with the remaining bomb load still on board. As if this was not enough the crew were again assigned to return to Duisburg on the following night. As the heavily laden Lancaster tried to gain height on the way out over the North Sea all four engines began to shutter and lose power. Again Hirst jettisoned some of the bomb load but kept specified bombs on board while pilot Mansfield brought the aircraft back to an auxiliary base. (some bombs were designated as to be kept and never jettisoned without permission)
The missions kept coming some times night after night with no rest in between. Having just completed a
mission on the night of November 1st;
November 2nd rolled around with another target deep in the Ruhr Valley, a night whish was also
F/O Hirst's 22nd birthday. One he would spend peering down the bomb site at yet another target over the European terrain.
F/O Allan Hirst would complete another four operations over the very dangerous skies before
on the night of November 24th while flying in Lancaster KB785 performing night training over the fields of Britain F/O Hirst and his fellow
crewmen would once again find themselves in a potently fatal situation. In this incident there was not even time to know of
the danger, let alone time to react to save themselves.
For the Hirst family the loss of their only son, was heartbreaking together his mother, father and sister would feel the loss and deep sadness. As the final few days before Christmas rolled by their thoughts could only be those of their son and bother who was lost. When the eve before Christmas came, one month to the day of his loss two presents were delivered. Flowers which Allan Hirst had arranged to be delivered to his mother and sister. At some point between the series of operational missions down the heavily defended Ruhr Valley with all it's perils, F/O Allan Hirst had found time to arrange for the flowers that would be so long remembered by all who knew him.