Flight engineer: Sgt William Hatton

Born in Wakefield on 24 March 1920, William Hatton was one of four children, two boys and two girls. He went to Holy Trinity and Thornes House School in the town.

When he first joined the RAF he was placed in groundcrew, training at both No.10 and No.2 Schools of Technical Training. In May 1941, he went to RAF Speke in Liverpool and worked servicing aircraft in the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit. This was a short lived scheme whereby Hawker Hurricanes were sent to sea on special merchant ships, which were equipped with catapults for launching them. The plan was to enable the Hurricanes to be launched far out at sea to help protect the Atlantic convoys. The only drawback was that they had no way of landing, so the pilot had to bale out of the Hurricane and let the aircraft fall into the sea. As his spell there drew to a close, the opportunity arose for experienced groundcrew to become flight engineers on heavy bombers. William applied and was sent to the only flight engineer training facility, No.4 School of Technical Training at RAF St Athan.

The job of the flight engineer was to look after some of the controls (such as fuel consumption) that previously had been the responsibility of a qualified pilot. They were also expected to cope with any mechanical problems which arose while airborne. Most flight engineers were also given some rudimentary flying training, so that they could keep the aircraft on a level course if the pilot needed a short break, or in an emergency. After qualifying as a flight engineer, William went on to Swinderby, to join 1660 Conversion Unit, where he was to join up with Vivian Nicholson, Antony Stone, John Fort and Harold Simmonds.

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William Hatton, probably taken in 1941.