Advance Party

Avro 685 ‘York’ –  Tour Advance Party


Bottomly & Collard Inspect the Avro York 685

3rd July 1946 Wednesday
The Commander-in-Chief Bottomley addressed the Repair & Inspection Personnel at No.2 Hangar and inspected the Avro-York Aircraft and its Crew.  This is the Aircraft allotted to the Commanding Officer of the Detachment, Group Captain Collard.

Avro York 685 MW234 (Advance Party)
R C M Collard (C-I-C)
Air Crew – 7
A B S Pearson
(Pilot), J B Rush (Pilot), D J Earl (Navigator), R D Wooland (Signaller)
S Spann (Signaller), C V Dove (Gunner),J McKay (Flt Engineer)
Ground Crew – 22
C V Dove
LAC Dunnicliffe of Doncaster
Sgt Grayson
Cpl Gumbrell
Cpl McDuff
W/O Smith – Leeds

The Detachment Commander, Group Captain Collard & Advance Party left by Avro York Aircraft (MW234) on the 1st Leg of the Flight to the USA (Graveley to St Mawgan).  Many Press Representatives & Photographers were present to cover the Take-off. A large number of Squadron Personnel & Friends were assembled at the end of the Runway to give them a send-off.  A Farewell Party to Main Party [“A” and “B” Flights] Officers was held in the Officers Mess

5th July 1946 Advance Party Departure Saturday
Squadron Leader A B S Pearson (Pilot)  and his Crew were flying in advance of A & B-Flights in the Support Aircraft Avro 685 York (MW234) (10-Ton Payload) with the Advance Party consisting of Group Captain RCM (Dickie) Collard, various Ground Crew Teams and probably also loaded with general Spares Equipment for the 18,000-mile Round Trip and the 6 weeks Duration Goodwill Tour.

The Avro York was designed to an interim Cargo Specification numbered C.1/42 and to shorten development time the Wings, Engines, Undercarriage & Tail Unit (production Aircraft had an Extra Fin mounted on the Fuselage) were taken from the Lancaster Bomber.  Internally, the York could be fitted out with Passenger Seats or as a Freighter or a combination of the 2. Designed by Roy Chadwick, the York had a new all-metal, square section Fuselage with twice the cubic capacity of the Lancaster.  Power was provided by 4 – 1,620hp Merlin T.24 or 502 Engines although a single Aircraft (the prototype LV626was fitted with a quartet of 1,650hp Hercules VI Engines to become the sole York C Mk 2.  Some 203 Yorks were delivered to the RAF from a total production of 257 Aircraft built in the serial ranges: MW100 to MW149, MW161 to MW210, MW223 to MW272, MW284 to MW333 and PE101 to PE108 all constructed at Woodford, Ringway & Yeadon.  Range 3000 Miles.

Wing Commander Richard Collard, was the son of a Stockbroker and was Educated at Haileybury College. On leaving the School he enlisted in the RAF and was Commissioned as an Officer.  Serving with No.4 & No.615 Squadrons, he then became a Flying Instructor.  He also played Rugby League in the RAF 1st Team.  At the outbreak of War in 1939, Collard joined the Advanced Air Striking Force which was based in France. After the withdrawal from France, he transferred to Bomber Command for a while, and then to the Middle East in Command of No.37 & No.12 Squadrons.  In 1941, he was Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and in 1942, he received the Distinguished Service Order.  He also had the Norwegian Liberty Cross

During a Bomber Raid on Duisburg in 1942, Collard was shot down and taken Prisoner by the Germans. He remained there until the end of the War, then rejoined the RAF.  In 1946, he Commanded the Avro Lancaster Goodwill Tour of the United States and became Commander of RAF Stradishall in Suffolk until 1948. He spent the next year in charge of Development at the Central Bomber Establishment. He was then posted to the Middle East to serve as Group Captain Operations in 1950, and from 1951 he was Group Captain Operations for RAF Coastal Command until he retired from the RAF in 1953.  On leaving the RAF, Collard joined the Handley Page Aircraft Company and became a Director in May 1958. He also became involved in Politics and in November 1957 he was chosen to follow Brigadier Sir Frank Medlicott as Conservative Party Candidate for Central Norfolk for the next General Election; Medlicott was in dispute with his Association over the Suez Crisis and had resigned the Conservative Whip.  His Parliamentary Speeches concentrated on RAF & Aviation issues.  He also took up Farming Issues, based on his mostly Agricultural Constituency.  In March 1960 he appealed to Members of Parliament who visited British Forces’ Bases in Foreign Countries to think about what they reported about the morale of the Servicemen.  He defended the Government’s decision to abandon the Blue Streak Missile and buy the American SkyboltCollard was ill in June 1961 and was advised to rest for 2 months. He did return to Parliament and in July 1962 objected to Noise Abatement Rules and their effects on Airlines, arguing that Aircraft took off at the Maximum Load and the Pilots should not be distracted by other considerations.  However, in the middle of August, he was found dead at his home in Whitwell Street, Norwich aged only 50 (25 August 1911 – 9 August 1962). He now has a Road named after him in Kenley, Surrey, adjacent to the former Site of RAF Kenley.

6th July 1946 Sunday
The Advance Party in York MW234 flew from St Mawgan to Lagens (Azores)
Captained by  S/L Anthony B J Pearson with a Crew of  6 and Some 21 of the Ground Crew for support of the Main Squadron of 16 Lancasters.

7th July 1946 Monday
The Advance Party in York MW234 flew from Lagens to Gander (Newfoundland) Overnight on 7th/8th


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Manufactured by Avro and incorporating the Wings, Tail, Undercarriage & Engines of the Lancaster Bomber, the York was to prove a reliable Military & Civilian Transport Aircraft in War & Peace.  In 1941, following his work on Heavy Bombers, Avro Designer Roy Chadwick began to sketch out a long-range Transport Aircraft based on the Lancaster.  The resulting design became the Avro Type 685 York, and the Prototype 1st flew on 5th July 1942. Essentially, the York married the Flying surfaces of the Lancaster to a new square-section Fuselage.

Avro 685 York MW234
Imperial War Museum
has Film of 35 Squadron Lancasters, Aircrews & Ground Crews on RAF “Operation Goodwill” Tour of the USA 1946 from the East Coast to the West Coast.

Reel 1:
San Francisco
– Military Base during an Open Day – various US Aircraft on Display – overflight by 12 Lancasters in Formation.  Constellation, B-17 C-47, C-54 on the Apron.  US Army Recruiting Service bus, CBS Info Desk, shot of Lancasters (TW657 TL-C) (TW892 TL-L) & Avro York.  Shot of Staff Cars and Senior Foreign Officers being greeted by US Officers.  RAF Air Chief Marshal in shot (Sir Guy Garrod).  Foreign Officers viewing white painted Lancasters. Street views of China Town, Officers ‘window-shopping’. View of Golden Gate Bridge and local Bay Area.  Driving over Golden Gate Bridge.  Marshall of RAF arrives by Aircraft, walkabout RAF Station then departs in Dakota (KG782).  B-17 overflying Lake, Servicemen swimming, shot of log cabin and Crews sitting around a campfire.  Officers throwing rocks into lake.  Scene of outdoor swimming pool, couples posing for Photographer.  B-29 (521785) taxiing, Lancasters lining up for Take-off. Air to Air shots of Lancasters in Formation flying over (Los Angeles).  Shot of Lancasters on Apron (ramp) & Crews on Parade and taking part in March Pasts.  Marshalling, taxiing Lancaster & Dignatory Speeches.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory was killed 14 November 1944 while flying to his new posting in Ceylon to take command of Allied Air operations in the Pacific, when York (MW126) struck a Ridge in the French Alps in a Blizzard, 30-miles (48-km) South of Grenoble, France. His wife Dora & 8 Aircrew also died.  The Wreckage was found by a Villager in June 1945.
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7th September 1946: A British South American Airways Avro York Star Leader G-AHEW on a Flight from London to Buenos Aires via Lisbon, Bathurst, Natal, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo, Crashed shortly after takeoff from Bathurst, The Gambia.  The Captain lost control of the Aircraft as it was climbing.  The accident killed all 24 Passengers & Crew on Board.  The aircraft was on a flight from London to Buenos Aires via Lisbon, Bathurst, Natal, Rio de Janeiro & Montevideo. It had arrived at 02:43 hr at Bathurst where a new Crew took over. At approximately 04:08 hr the York took off again for Natal.  The weather was fair, with visibility 10 miles and cloud base 1,500ft 3/10 strato-cumulus. The wind was WSW at 2 knots.  Shortly after takeoff, the Aircraft had crashed in the bush nearly 2 miles South of the Airfield. The Port Wing 1st struck trees 40-50ft high and then crashed through more trees as it rolled over to the left. The Aeroplane burst into flames.  The accident Flight was the Captain’s 1st York Flight on a Scheduled Service, and it was also the 1st takeoff he made in a York loaded to more than 69,000-lb.


Avro 685 York (MW234) On Display at Long Beach Airport California

Other Named Ground Crew Members
W/O  Stephen Appleyard
– of Scarborough
Sgt   William ‘Bill’ Ashpool 
of Dewsbury, Yorks – was based at Graveley and went on the Goodwill Tour. Part of the Ground Crew, working on the Maintenance of H2S Radar Equipment on board the 16 Lancasters
Cpl   George Barnes –
Sowerby, Yorks
WO  Dennis Baker
WO  Brooks
WO  Peter Bentley – Liverpool
WO  George Davis – of Kidderminster
WO  Dickinson of Leeds
LAC Colin Earnshaw
Part of the Ground Crew, working on the Maintenance of H2S Radar Equipment on board the 16 Lancasters, Flying on TL-P
Cpl   Hanley of York
LAC Norman Hayward
– of Plymouth
LAC T F Hornaday
LAC  James Hunter
– of Donegal, Ireland
WO  Lambert
of Sheffield
LAC Punt
LAC  Jack Rollit
WO  Reeve
WO  Montague Roberts
WO  Scull
WO  Smith of Leeds
WO  Sparling of York
WO  Stevens
Cpl   D C Sturman
WO  J T Tait
Born in Helena, Montana~
LAC Thomas
of Barnoldswick, Yorks
Sgt   Tompkins
LAC Trainer
LAC Upsher
WO  Vaughan

Avro York in the Berlin Airlift