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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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428 Squadron Crest
18/19.08.1944 No. 428 Squadron Lancaster KB743 NA-I F/O. Cecil M. Corbet

Operation: Bremen

Date: 18/19th August 1944 (Friday/Saturday)

Unit: No. 428 Squadron (RCAF ‘Ghost’)

Type: Lancaster X

Serial: KB743

Code: NA-I

Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham

Location: St. Jürgen near Bremen

Pilot: F/O. Cecil M. Corbet J/86489 RCAF PoW No: 7608 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria (L3)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. ‘Shorty’ Richard Gerald Enfield RAFVR PoW No: 659 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankan (L7)

Nav: F/O. S.F. Bryans J/36321 RCAF PoW No: 7604 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria (L3)

Air/Bmr: F/O. G.L. Jones J/35736 RCAF PoW No: 52715 Camp: Stalag Muhlhausen (9C) / Stalag Luft Sagan and Bellaria (L3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alan R.R. MacNaught RCAF PoW No: 672 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankan (L7)

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Tom Davidson RCAF PoW No: 657 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankan (L7)

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. (Posthumously promoted to Pilot Officer) Ralph Edward Good J/88030/R18907 RCAF Age 20. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 21:29 hrs from RAF Middleton St. George in County Durham to attack the city of Bremen. 288 aircraft taking part, 216 Lancasters, 65 Halifaxes with 7 Mosquitoes on the most destructive bombing on the city of the war. 274 aircraft actually bombed the target dropping some 1,100 tons of bombs.

The whole of the centre together with the North-Western parts of Bremen including the port area were devastated. 8,635 homes were burnt out during the firestorm, a further 611 were severely damaged.

Over 1000 people were killed on the ground - many able to be identified. In addition the report from Bremen states that the port area had been almost wiped out with 18 ships sunk in the harbour, 61 others suffering serious damage.

Lancaster KB743 was the only aircraft lost on this operation. Some reports state that it had been attacked by night fighters but we have no record of this and no claims were made. Other reports state that it was hit from bombs dropped from above.

However, in the latest edition of the Nightfighter War Diaries it describes that the aircraft was hit by a heavy flak unit at 00:22 hrs with the aircraft crashing at St. Jürgen near Bremen.

The rear gunner from this crew was a replacement for 21 year old, Sgt. John Sandulak R/208898 RCAF. This crew escaped unhurt from a previous operation disaster:

On the 24/25th July 1944 during an operation to Stuttgart flying Lancaster KB740 NA-V, they were involved in a mid-air collision with KB743 (yes - the same aircraft they flew with on this operation!) KB743 returned it is thought to RAF Middleton St. George, but KB740 was seriously damaged and although they managed to make an emergency landing at RAF Martlesham Heath near Woodbridge, Suffolk the aircraft was written off.

During the encounter the tail gunner, Sgt. John Sandulak, heard the pilot give the order to bail out - which after turning round his turret he did just that - failing to hear the order cancelled.

The crew thought that he had been killed, in fact it was over a year before they heard that he had survived and evaded capture.

Burial details:

Fl/Sgt. Ralph Edward Good. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 10.C.13. Understood to be from Tagish Post, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Canada. Next of kin details not available - are you able to assist completion?

Researched with contributions from Mr. Alan Howe, nephew of Sgt. Richard Enfield and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown below.

KTY 31.10.2016

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 31 October 2016, 22:34