Halifax Mk. VII (serial NP747) was delivered to No. 408 Squadron on 10 August 1944 and became the “property” of a ground crew made up of Gale, Howley, Shearer, Jaxon, and Ledger. The aircraft was assigned code letters “EQ-N” and the ground crew decided to name her “Notorious Nan.” LAC Jaxon painted the nose art that featured a pin-up lady with name “Notorious Nan.” At a later date (possibly after an engine fire on 16 September 44) the nose art received a background that included a full (yellow) moon, a green palm tree and waves of water.
The aircraft completed her first operation on 25/26 August 1944 flown by the squadron’s c/o, W/C A.R. McLernon DFC, who piloted the aircraft a total of four times. From 25 August to 14 October 1944, “Nan” completed 19 operations flown by eleven different crews. NP747 was flown twice (9 and 12 October 44) by F/O Richard MacMillan Wallis from Toronto, Ontario. Sadly this crew was all killed in action on 29 January 1945, flying Halifax NP746.
NP747’s nineteenth and last operation was a daylight trip to Duisburg on 14 October 44. The bomber was damaged by flak and while attempted a three-engine landing, the pilot over-shot and the starboard undercarriage collapsed. The next morning LAC Shearer had his photo taken under the nose art for the last time. The ground crew recovered “Nan” and towed her back to the hangar. The bomber was repaired and ferried to the graveyard at Rawcliffe.
Ground crew – August 1944, top – Bob Gale, Howley, Shearer, Jaxon (artist) and Ledger.