18/19.08.1944 428 (Ghost) Squadron RCAF Lancaster X KB743 Fg Off. Cyril M. Corbet
Date: 18th/19th August 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF
Type: Lancaster X
Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham
Location: St. Jürgen near Bremen
Pilot: Fg Off. Cyril 'Bus' Mansford Corbet J86489 RCAF Age 25. PoW No: 7608 *
Flt Eng: Sgt. ‘Shorty’ Richard Gerald Enfield RAFVR PoW No: 659 **
Nav: Fg Off. Stuart Francis Bryans J36321 RCAF Age 29. PoW No: 7604 *
Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Greville Llewellyn Jones J35736 RCAF Age 27. PoW No: 52715 ***
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alan 'Dick' Rae Richard MacNaught R181619 RCAF Age 23. PoW No: 672 **
Air Gnr: Sgt. Thomas Davidson R202589 Age 20. RCAF PoW No: 657 ** (1)
Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Ralph Edward Good R18907 RCAF Age 20. Killed
* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).
** Stalag Luft 7 Bankau nr. Kreuzburg O.S." (O.S. standing for Oberschlesien, Upper Silesia). Today called Bąków nr. Kluczbork (Poland).
*** Stalag 9c Mühlhausen near Bad Sulza, Thuringia, Germany. Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria)
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.
KB743 was coned by searchlights from 2./Flakscheinw.Abt.268, 4./Flakscheinw.Abt.498, 3./Flakscheinw.Abt.238, and 1. & 4./Flakscheinw.Abt.269. The aircraft was hit by flak from 1.schw.Flak.Abt. 542, 1./schw.Flak Abt. 531, 5./schw. Flak Abt. 162, 1., 2., 3. & 5./schw. Flak Abt.611. The aircraft crashed in flames at St. Jürgen near Bremen at 00:22hrs.
Survivors of the crew reported that the aircraft was also hit by bombs from above whilst flying at 17,000 ft over Bremen. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (24 July 1944 - 15 October 1944) Part 4 - Theo Boiten).
(1) Sgt. Davidson was Commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. (J90317) Whilst a PoW.
The rear gunner from this crew was a replacement for 21 year old, Sgt. John Sandulak R208898 RCAF. This crew escaped unhurt from a previous operation disaster:
On the 24th/25th July 1944 during an operation to Stuttgart flying Lancaster KB740 NA:V, they were involved in a mid-air collision with KB743 (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 because his parachute was still aboard. They were unaware that an extra parachute had been loaded aboard the aircraft which was the one he used. It fact he had survived and evaded capture and returned to RAF Northolt on the 18th August 1944.
John Sandulak passed away on the 22nd May 2010 at the Carman Memorial Hospital after a brief struggle with cancer. Husband of Wilma Roth and father of 6 children.
Fg Off. Cyril 'Bus' Mansford Corbet - Born 1917, Owen Sound, Ontario. Passed away on the 17th November 1971, at Don Mills, Ontario. Canada;
Fg Off. Stuart Francis Bryans - Born 28th July 1915 Passed away on the 26th May 2000. From Blyth, Ontario, Canada;
Fg Off. Greville Llewellyn Jones - Born 30th May 1917, Tisdale, Saskatchewan. Passed away 27th August. 2002, Regina, Canada. Husband of Berna and father to 7 children;
Sgt. Alan Rae Richard MacNaught - Born 18th June 1921, Carnduff, Saskatchewan, Canada. Passed away 24th July 2003;
Fg Off. Thomas Davidson - Born 1924, Castlegar, British Columbia. Passed away 20th April 2008, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Plt Off. Ralph Edward Good. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 10.C.13. Born on the 1st May 1919 in Carcross, Yukon Territory. Son of Reid and Sophie (née Hammond) Good from Carcross, Yukon Territory, Canada. His father predeceased him.
Flt Sgt. Good was Commissioned and promoted to Plt Off. (J88030) with effect 11th June 1944.
Researched with contributions from Mr. Alan Howe, nephew of Sgt. Richard Enfield and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Also many thanks to Dave Champion for detailed information/photographs on this loss. Thanks to Wendy Andrews for the newspaper clipping for Fg Off. Corbet (Jun 2021) Updated with additional information regarding the Flak claim and other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jun 2021). With thanks to sources as shown below.