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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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412 Squadron Crest
04.03.1944 412 (Falcon), RCAF Squadron Spitfire LF.IX MJ306 Flt Lt. Andrew B.M. Ketterson

Operation: Ramrod 623

Date: 4th March 1944 (Saturday)

Unit No: 412 (Falcon) Sqn, RCAF, 126 (RCAF) Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force

Type: Spitfire LF.IX

Serial: MJ306 'HOT-BOX’

Code: VZ:M

Base: RAF Biggin Hill, Kent

Location: 15 miles east of Ypres

Pilot: Flt Lt. Andrew Boyd Marjoribanks Ketterson J16990 RCAF Age 22. KiA

Above: Flt Lt. Ketterson and “HOT-BOX” (courtesy of Patrick Herbert)

Note: Flt Lt. Ketterson flew this aircraft most frequently and had 'HOT-BOX’ painted on the forward panel. MJ306 was initially coded VZ:K, and later recoded VZ:M when Flt Lt. Ketterson was transferred from "A" to "B" Flight.


On the afternoon of the 4th March 1944, commencing at 15:25 hrs the Wing took off from it forward operating base at RAF Manston to cover the withdrawal of B-17 Flying Fortresses returning from bombing missions in Germany. The bombers were picked up SE of Brussels. A little Flak was reported at 25,000 ft.

While flying over France on the way home Flt Lt. Ketterson reported on his radio that he was experiencing engine trouble and was seen to be rapidly losing altitude at about 500 feet per min. His No.2, Fg Off. H.A. Heacock, followed him down to a height of 6000 ft where Flt Lt. Ketterson’s Spitfire entered clouds and was lost from sight at 16:30 hrs approximately 15 miles east of Ypres.

Fg Off. H.A. Heacock reported to have seen regular streams of boost smoke from his engine. It was thought that this engine failure could be due to the inferior design of the jettison tank connection which has been known to cause an airlock if not turned off.

Flt Lt. Ketterson baled out but sadly died on the banks of the river Schelde about 800 m (½ mile) from the where his Spitfire crashed near Helkijn, some 43 km (26¾ miles) SW of Ghent in Belgium.

Above is the memorial plaque and below an information panel which have been commissioned by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and mounted on exterior wall of the morgue where Flt Lt. Ketterson was transferred before being buried in the Wevelgem cemetery. The official inauguration of the memorial is scheduled for the 24th August 2024.

A larger version can be read by clinking on Information Panel

Family members of the pilot and Michael Ewasyshyn who is depicted sitting on the wing to the right of Flt Lt. Ketterson, in the above photograph, will fly over to Belgium for the ceremony.

Burial Details:

(With thanks to Franky Mahieu for taking photographs at the Wevelgem Communal Cemetery in August 2016)

Flt Lt. Andrew Boyd Marjoribanks Ketterson. Wevelgem Communal Cemetery, Grave E451. Grave inscription: "HIGH IN THE SUNLIT SILENCE ...FLEW,... PUT OUT MY HAND AND TOUCHED THE FACE OF GOD". Born on the 26th March 1922 in Montreal, Quebec. Son of Maj. Andrew Robert Ketterson, DSO and Fenella Marjoribanks (née Wilson) Ketterson of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) and dedicated to this pilot and his family. (Aug 2016). Thanks to Bart Seynaeve for the update to the Sqn/Call sign correction (Jan 2024). Other updates by Aircrew Remembered (Jan 2024). Thanks to Patrick Herbert for the new information and for the memorial photographs (Mar 2024)

Other sources listed below:

RS 13.03.2024 - Updated with memorial information

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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: 13 March 2024, 07:22

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