In the early hours of 18 June 1940, Supermarine Walrus L2312, an amphibious aircraft, took off from Mount Batten, near Plymouth, England. It contained a crew of three, an Australian pilot, Flight Lieutenant John Napier Bell; an Australian observer (acting as an air gunner for this flight), Sergeant Charles William Harris and a British wireless electrical mechanic, Corporal Bernard Nowell. In addition to this was a special passenger, British intelligence officer Captain Norman Hope. The crew did not know their mission, nor their destination, it was Hope’s role to brief them after take-off. At 2.55 in the morning they were airborne and making their way to the French coast.