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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
27/28.09.1943 No. 428 Squadron Halifax II JB968 NA-R Fl/Lt. Ronald H. Sherback

Operation: Hanover

Date: 27/28th September 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No. 428 Squadron RCAF

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JB968

Code: NA-R

Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham

Location: Kalischacht, south of Ronnenberg, Germany

Pilot: Fl/Lt. Ronald Hubert Sherback J/6181 RCAF Age 24. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. Douglas Bryant Stone R/59411 RCAF Age 28. Killed

Nav: F/O. Frank Thorburn Manners J/14239 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Bmr: F/O. Edward Douglas MacMurchy J/20833 RCAF Age 26. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. James Kirby 1237264 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald Willis Matthews R/193148 RCAF Age 23. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. William Ellis McKee R/94589 RCAF Age 24. Killed

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 19.21 hrs. from RAF Middleton St. George on an operation to Hanover. 678 aircraft - 312 Lancasters, 231 Halifaxes, 111 Stirlings, 24 Wellingtons. 5 B-17s also took part. 38 Bomber Command aircraft - 17 Halifaxes, 10 Lancasters, 10 Stirlings, 1 Wellington - lost, 5.6 per cent of the force, and 1 B-17 also lost.

The use by the Pathfinders of faulty forecast winds again saved the centre of Hannover. The bombing was very concentrated but fell on an area 5 miles north of the city centre. No details are available from Germany but RAF photographic evidence showed that most of the bombs fell in open country or villages north of the city.

Above: The Flight Engineer Sgt. Stone, with him his Uncle Percy and his wife, Ruth. Percy Bryant was wounded in the knee by shrapnel in November 1918 at Valenciennes, France. (courtesy Robert Brown)

21 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitoes of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid on Brunswick which was successful in drawing off some night fighters. 218 people were killed in Brunswick - 51 Germans and 167 foreigners. 1 Lancaster lost.

9 Mosquitoes on another diversion to Emden, 5 Mosquitoes on Oboe tests to Aachen (3 were successful), 19 aircraft minelaying in the Kattegat and the Frisian Islands, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.

JB968 joined the squadron from 429 just three weeks earlier on the 3rd September. This is reported to be the first Halifax II lost from the squadron. It is thought ‘possible’ to have been shot down by Lt. Joseph Kraft (1) of Stab II./NJG5 10 km. south west of Hannover at 23.26hrs. Further reports state that it was also hit by flak prior to the night fighter attack.

Left: Lt. Joseph Kraft

A tragic night for 428 squadron losing 5 aircraft this night:

Halifax V DK252 NA-O Flown by P/O. Kogan RCAF. Crash landed after returning with severe icing problems. All crew survived.
Halifax V DK270 NA-U Flown by Sgt. R. Wilson. Injured along with another crew member, 4 other crew members being killed when they overshot and crashed at Saxmundham, Norfolk on return.
Halifax V EB215 NA-T. Flown by 21 year old, Sgt. John Ernest Farmer 1338093 RAFVR from Balham, London. Killed with 5 other crew members after being hit by flak and crashing near Vaassen, Holland. Another crew member survived as a pow.
Halifax V LK915 NA-V. Flown by F/O. M.G. Walley RCAF Understood to have been shot down by a night fighter. 2 crew members made pow's and the remaining 5 killed.
(1) Lt. Joseph Kraft born in Vienna, Austria on the 8th February 1921. Survived the war with 56 victories. No further details, but understood to have died in 1994.

Burial details:

Initially buried at Ronnenberg Cemetery, later re-interred at Hannover. Interesting in that this crew share the same graves as that of a crew from Stirling EE940 from 15 Squadron. A possible explanation is that they were recovered at the same location and not identified individually. Although this is pure speculation.

Fl/Lt. Ronald Hubert Sherback. Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3. D.7-10. Son of Hubert Philip and Norma May Sherback, of Gleichen, Alberta, Canada, husband of Jeannette L. Sherback.

Left: Pilot, Fl/Lt. Ronald Sherback

Sgt. Douglas Bryant Stone. Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3. D.7-10. Son of William and Gertrude Annie Stone, husband of Lydia Stone, of Shoal Lake, Manitoba, Canada.

F/O. Frank Thorburn Manners. Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3. D.7-10. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Dawson Manners of Squamish, British Columbia, Canada.

Right: Navigator, F/O. Frank Manners

F/O. Edward Douglas MacMurchy. Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3. D.7-10. Son of Cameron and Cicely MacMurchy (née Nickelson) from Viscount, Saskatchewan, Canada. (see acknowledgements)

Left: F/O. Edward MacMurchy (courtesy Michel Beckers)

Sgt. James Kirby. Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3. D.7-10. NoK details currently not available - are you able to assist completion of these and any other information?

Sgt. Donald Willis Matthews. Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3. D.7-10. Son of Hartley Willis Matthews and Mary Jean Matthews, of St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Ellis McKee. Hannover War Cemetery Coll. Grave 3. D.7-10. Son of Edward F. and Alice McKee, of Bracken, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Researched for Robert Brown, relative of the flight engineer Sgt. Douglas B. Stone and dedicated to relatives of this crew.

For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Barry of the Saskatchewan Virtual Memorial, Michel Beckers, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol's. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries (Updated 2014 version), Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Les Allison and Harry Hayward - 'They Shall Grow Not Old', Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'. Fred Paradie - 'Paradie Archive'.

KTY - 07.01.2017 Updated

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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