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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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401 Squadron crest
03.08.1943 No. 401 Squadron Spitfire Vb BL339 F/O. Ralph B. Delbridge

Operation: Non - operational.

Date: 3rd August 1943

Unit: No. 401 Squadron RCAF

Type: Supermarine Spitfire Vb

Serial: BL339

Base: RAF Redhill, Surrey.

Location: Underhill Farm, Buckland, Surrey

Pilot: F/O. Ralph Balkwill Delbridge J/9490 RCAF Age 22. Killed


This aircraft was flying at low level when it suddenly dived to the ground and crashed. Sadly, the pilot was killed instantly.

F/O Ralph Delbridge - Ralph was the Uncle’s best friend of Kathleen Fraser at High School - graduation photo 1938 (courtesy Kathleen Fraser) We were advised in July 2017 that the photo on the left was taken outside the camp in Sudan by the Uncle of Wanda Robinson in July 1942.

History of Spitfire Mk.Vb (BL339)
Built by Vickers Armstrong at Castle Bromwich. Contract No. B981687/39
Third order for 1000 Spitfires, 23rd October 1940
Built as a Mk. Vb October / November 1941
Serial range between BL231 BM653.
Armament: Two 20mm Hispano Cannons and Four .303 Browning Machine Guns.
Delivered to No. 8 M.U. on the 15th November 1941
To No. 74 Squadron 23rd November 1941
To No. 232 Squadron 8th April 1942
To A.S.T. MR. (Air Service Training, Marwell) 9th June 1942
To No. 332 Squadron 20th August 1942
To No. 431 Squadron 21st November 1942
To No. 412 Squadron 3rd February 1943
F.A.A.C. (Flying Accident Category AC) Cat: AC Repair is beyond the unit capacity (May be repaired on site by another unit or contractor)
ROS 4165 (Repaired on site, Station 4165) 25th May 1943
To No. 401 Squadron 1st June 1943
3rd August 1943 D.I.G. (Dived into the ground) Underhill Farm, Buckland, Surrey, Category E. (Cat: E Aircraft write-off)

Grave of F/O. Ralph Balkwill Delbridge at Brookwood (courtesy Charlie)

Burial details:

F/O. Ralph Balkwill Delbridge. Brookwood Military Cemetery. Grave 45. C. 5.

Son of Franklin James Delbridge - died 1944, buried at Exeter Cemetery, Ontario, Canada and Eva Delbridge (née Balkwill) died 1971, buried at Exeter Cemetery, Ontario,of Exeter..

Family grave photo shown below (courtesy Kathleen Fraser)

Delbridge Lake in Kenora, Ontario was officially named after F/O Delbridge in 1960

With thanks to Wanda Robinson who contacted us in July 2017. Also to Kathleen Fraser who sent the original photographs.

KTY Updated 09.07.2017
CHB 13.08.2020 Commemorative feature link added

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, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), 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', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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Last Modified: 21 March 2021, 11:34

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