F/S James Benona Harvey Hill RCAF

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Pieter F, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    I am trying to find more information on F/S James Benona Harvey Hill. Rear Gunner Hill was missing in action when Wellington Z1330* failed to return from Bremen on 17/18 January 1942. The aircraft was believed to have crashed in the sea off Bridlington, Yorkshire, being last fixed at roughly 70 miles NE of Spurn Head.

    The info from the CWGC:
    HILL, JAMES BENONA HARVEY
    Rank: Flight Sergeant
    Service No: R/62261
    Date of Death: 18/01/1942
    Regiment/Service: Royal Canadian Air Force 142 Sqdn.
    Panel Reference: Panel 104.
    Memorial: RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL
    Additional Information:

    While doing some research on this man I found some more information:

    Date of birth 5 May 1918 (Library and Archives Canada)
    Son of Mrs. J.H. Hill of Vancouver, British Columbia. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial)
    Married with a woman from London (The Winnipeg Tribute, 21 September 1942)
    Mrs. J. B. H. Hill ( (wife), 125 Down ton : avenue, Streatham-Hill, London S.W. 16, Eng. (The Ottawa Journal, 21 September 1942)
    Posted to 142 Squadron on 18 October 1941 from 23OTU (142 Squadron ORB)
    Arrived at 23OTU on 11 August 1941 (23OTU ORB)

    Is there anybody who can help me finding more information on this man? Is it possible to find out who the woman in London was, with whom he married? Is it possible to find out if there are any living descendants in Canada or England? Any help is very much appreciated!


    * The other members of this crew were: P/O Astley Cleveland Pickett, Sgt Robert Bell Glover RCAF, P/O Daniel Joseph Clifford RNZAF, Sgt Robert Charles Mellings, Sgt Ronald John Kennedy. The CWGC does not mention any additional information for Pickett and Glover as well.
     
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Pieter,

    Am having some trouble finding the info you need, however one question that needs asking - the info above shows he died in Jan 1942, yet his marriage is shown as being in the Canadian press in Sept 1942 - ???? - any further info on this ?? - I would have presumed the marriage to be 1941

    TD
     
  3. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    TD, thanks for the help. The information about the marriage is from casualty lists from the Canadian newspapers. They mention the next of kin.
     
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Trouble is the initials used are his, so we have no initials for her or obviously a maiden name. Have searched for marriages from 1935 - 1945 but cannot find one, searched for the name 'Benona' because they may have passed it on to a child, but nothing, perhaps a more detailed search by a Canadian member might throw something up, e.g. his arrival date in UK etc.

    An assumption here is that he was in the UK for a 'short' time, married in 1941, joined 142 Sqdn 18 Oct 1941 was killed 18 Jan 1942, without any children??

    Sorry on this occasion there seems little more help I can provide

    TD
     
  5. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    TD: It's not like you to give up quite so soon!
    I'd guess that the newspaper reports are dated September, recording his details following his death in January 1941..

    I don't know when he reached the UK but there is this Marriage record:-
    Name: James B Hill. Spouse Surname: Edith Barber. Date of Registration: Apr-May-Jun 1940
    District: Calder, Yorkshire West Riding. Volume: 9a. Page: 1740.

    It seems a bit "quick" in the rapid sense unless he was over here pretty soon after War broke out.
    Of course if it was quick in the other sense, there may be issue!

    Might be worth checking for a death of an Edith Hill, presumably London area?
     
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Kevin
    I know its not good enough, but having searched for a while on very 'open' parameters nothing was looking right. I saw the info you have but from #1 the info from Pieter shows:

    Married with a woman from London (The Winnipeg Tribute, 21 September 1942)
    Mrs. J. B. H. Hill ( (wife), 125 Down ton : avenue, Streatham-Hill, London S.W. 16, Eng. (The Ottawa Journal, 21 September 1942)

    so the assumption there would be they married in London?? - may be wrong on that.

    Just checked for an Edith Hill - died 1945 - 1965 and there are 185 in all - so I will follow up on that and see if there is a probate record which would tell me shes a widower and perhaps a childs name

    TD
     
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Pieters info tells us that " Arrived at 23OTU on 11 August 1941 (23OTU ORB)"

    Does any member know where this was in geographical terms, and also are there any records??

    TD
     
  8. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member

    23 Operational Training Unit was at Pershore, Worcestershire at that time (Source: Ray Sturtivant RAF FT&SU)
     
  9. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    TD, thanks a lot for all the helping efforts. Pete is right, 23OTU was based at Pershore in Worcestershire. There are records, as there is an ORB for 23OTU. That's were the information in the first post comes from. There is nothing more about his arrival then his name on a list of 'new arrivals'.
     
  10. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Gentleman

    He was born in Vancouver 5th May 1918

    He arrived at 23OTU on 11th Aug 1941, noted as a 'new arrival'

    Posted to 142 Squadron on 18 October 1941 from 23OTU (142 Squadron ORB)

    Date of Death: 18/01/1942

    Do we know what 'new arrival' means - was he 'new' from Canada, or 'new' from another squadron, was it a 'new' occupation (ie did he change from ground crew for example to flight crew??)

    If he was 'new' from Canada in Aug 41, and died Jan 42 he was in the UK for 5 months. The first 2 months of which he spent in Pershore, Worcs, training.

    Do we know where 142 squadron was based at this time (Oct 1941 - Jan 1942)????

    From Ancestry, marriages for James Hill (qtr Oct - Dec 1941) shows 6, St Helens, Chesterfield, Ipswich, Blaby, Wandsworth, and Manchester.

    Hopefully we can start cutting down the odds

    TD
     
  11. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    For what relevance it may be, the only real occurrence I have found for Benone is Benone Strand near Limavady, which may bring an Irish connection to one of his parents....
    My personal observation is that I believe RAF training was somewhat longer than 2 months with an OTU before becoming Operational.My guess would be to add at least 6 months on, to Winter of '40/'41.... but that's nit picking and not moving us further, sorry!
    Would there be passenger arrivals lists from Canada from Sept '39 onwards?

    EDIT: Pieter shows him as being born 5 May 1918 the son of Mrs J H Hill of Vancouver....
    No mention of Mr J H Hill.... so was he dead or abroad at that time...?

    Could this be why?
    In memory of Driver James Hill who died on October 7, 1918 in France
    Military Service: Service Number: 22129. Age: 27. Force: Army. Canadian Field Artillery. Division: 9th Bde.
    Additional Information: Date and Place of Enlistment: September 23, 1914 Valcartier, Qu├ębec, Canada.
    Son of Charles and Elizabeth Hill, of Denzil, Saskatchewan. Husband of Annie E. Hill, of Shifnal, Shropshire, England.
    Cemetery: BOURLON WOOD CEMETERY; Pas de Calais, France. Grave Reference: I. F. 11..
    Commemorated on Page 429 of the First World War Book of Remembrance.

    Ties back to Shropshire, but.... is it related?
     
  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I would assume the training here (in the UK) would be shorter as they probably had their main training in Canada, as did, I believe many of the RAF personnel from the UK. Other members may know better than I, but 2 months training here may have been to customise themselves with particular aircraft type(s), gunnery practise, systems used for operations from UK bases, how to escape and evade etc, and general (as we would say today) health, welfare and safety issues.

    The question still stands as to where 142 squadron was based at this time (Oct 1941 - Jan 1942)

    Kevin, - a thought - if our James Hill was born in Vancouver (West coast of Canada), then his fathers enlistment in Quebec, Ontario (basically(Eastern Canada after Kevin pointed it out - thanks Kevin) western Canada) seems unlikely to me.


    TD
    edited to add:
    I have a cousin in Vancouver who I am trying to contact (time difference etc) to find out if they can find the copies of the articles in #1 and also any further history on the family - fingers crossed.

    edited to add:
    Correction to notes above via kevin - Ontario is in Eastern Canada NOT Western as I initially typed - thanks Kevin. :rolleyes: :salut:
     
  13. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    142 Squadron was based at RAF Binbrook and RAF Grimsby at that time.
     
  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Interesting notes on the pilot of Z1330:
    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=15247923

    He joined the RNZAF in July 1940 as an Airman Pilot u/t, his pilot training at #2 Elementary Flying Training School at Bell Block was terminated and he remustered as an Air Observer u/t, after Ground Training School at Ohakea he went to Canada in December 1940 and trained at #4 Air Observers School at London, Ontario and #4 Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario where he qualified in April 1941. Daniel then attended the Air Navigation School at Rivers, Manitoba before sailing to the UK, there he attended #27 Operational Training Unit for instruction on Wellingtons at RAF Lichfield in Staffordshire, from there he was posted to 142 Squadron operating Wellingtons from RAF Waltham in Lincolnshire.

    On 17th/18thJune 1942 he was flying in Wellington IV Z1330/B taking part in a raid on Bremen in Germany. The aircraft was last heard of 75 miles ENE of base and assumed to have crashed into the North Sea, it was his second op., Daniel was 23 years old, his next of kin was his wife Jean, he is commemorated on the Runneymede Memorial, Surrey, England...

    So in this case April 1941 he qualified, then trained in Manitoba, and presumably in June or July 1941 (?) arrived in UK, then 27OTU, then probably in Sep or Oct 1941 posted to 142 Sqdn.

    So this makes me feel more comfortable that F/Sgt Hill arrived in the UK in Aug 1941, as # 10. On 18 Oct 1941 when he joined 142 Sqdn at RAF Brinsbrook (north Lincs) they had just taken delivery of new Wellington Mk IV's, and that on 26 Nov 1941 they moved to RAF Waltham (Grimsby)

    So I think we can understand that our man was only in the UK for 5 months, of which 2 months were in Pershore, Worcs, about 1 month at RAF Binbrook, and about 2 months at RAF Waltham (both in Lincolnshire).

    So any ideas how someone in that short time, and in those locations could meet up and marry a girl from Streatham Hill, maybe as Kevin says she was a land girl, perhaps a WAAF, any other ideas? Were there munitions factories in or around these airfields or OTU's,

    TD
     
  15. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Can't fault your reasoning (I noted the RNZAF connection but never tried accessing their records - RAAF not a problem).
    Whatever, seems to have been a very fast worker to fit in marriage in that time, almost indecent haste one might say....

    ... and can't resist... Ontario, WESTERN Canada???? but I take your point!
     
  16. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Thanks Kevin - have corrected post :salut:
     
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    OK all,

    We know that James Hill was in the UK from Aug 1941 until 18th Jan 1942, and that apparently he married a woman who had an address in Streatham Hill.
    Based on this then there is only 1 possible marriage that it could be, which is registered in Wandsworth, about 2 miles from Streatham Hill, and this was to a Betty M Mancini in the qtr Oct - Dec 1941.



    England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 about James H Hill




    Name:

    James H Hill

    Spouse Surname:

    Mancini

    Date of Registration:

    Oct-Nov-Dec 1941

    Registration District:

    Wandsworth

    Inferred County:

    London

    Volume Number:

    1d

    Page Number:

    1149

    Find Spouse:

    Find Spouse




    England & Wales, Marriage Index, 1916-2005 about Betty M Mancini




    Name:

    Betty M Mancini

    Spouse Surname:

    Hill

    Date of Registration:

    Oct-Nov-Dec 1941

    Registration District:

    Wandsworth

    Inferred County:

    London

    Volume Number:

    1d

    Page Number:

    1149

    Find Spouse:

    Find Spouse


    TD
     
  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    To add further info:

    Searching for children from the 'marriage' there was in 1942, 41,404 children born with the surname Hill, but none with a mothers maiden name of Mancini.
    The only children born in 1942 with a mothers maiden name of Mancini, was an M Baggett (Maidstone) and a Marie Clarke (Essex)

    So I think I will assume that there were no children between a James Hill and Betty Mancini (married 1941)

    TD
     
  19. Pieter F

    Pieter F Very Senior Member

    You have been busy TD! =)

    Hill joined 23OTU in August 1941, so he could have been in England some weeks before. But it could also be that he was already in England in another role, like ground crew and was now trained as air crew. The only way to find out would be his service records I guess..
     
  20. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Pieter

    I guess his service record will hopefully provide some detail. I know from my fathers records that it shows his leave to become married in July 1942, so perhaps James Hills may show the same. My best guess would be that he came to the UK as trained aircrew, and that from Aug 1941 to Oct 1941 was on a 'familiarisation' course at 23 OTU prior to his posting to 142. I assume you have the document from the TNA for 23 OTU (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/SearchUI/details?Uri=C4100376).


    On checking out 23 OTU, and comments for it I see someone has written:
    In O.T.U., the airmen "crewed up", i.e. making a crew together, usually of 5 comprising a pilot, a navigator, a bomb aimer, a wireless operator and an air gunner. This was for example the standard crew of a Wellington. From then on, they were flying as a crew, sometimes with an instructor, otherwise on their own. The aircraft was larger and more complex than what they had been using before, so it was a step forward.
    I'm not sure about the duration of a course, I'd say between 2 and 3 months, but I've seen longer periods, probably due to the weather.Next step was directly to a Squadron

    No. 23 OTU was formed in April 1941 at RAF Pershore as part of No. 6 Group RAF Bomber Command to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington.

    The problem here is that we can continue to speculate for ever, ie perhaps Mrs Hill, pregnant, went to Canada to live with her in laws. I also think that it needs some input from the Canadian side to see what family tree he still has in Canada.

    TD
     
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