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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
25/26.05.1943 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF Wellington X HZ476 NA:A Sgt. Pepper

Operation: Düsseldorf

Date: 25th/26th May 1943 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 428 (Ghost) Squadron, RCAF

Type: Wellington X

Serial: HZ476

Code: NA:A

Base: RAF Dalton, Yorkshire (satellite airbase of RAF Topcliffe)

Location: Bree, Belgium

Pilot: Sgt. William George Pepper R105665 RCAF Age 21. KiA

Pilot 2: Plt Off. Roy Gibson Madge J13710 RCAF Age 23. KiA

Nav: Flt Sgt. Frank Greenaway Baker R115073 RCAF Age 24. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Flt Sgt. Norman James Waters R107768 RCAF Age 22. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Kenneth George Higgs 1380092 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

Air Gnr: Sgt. William Ernest Douglas R102484 RCAF Age 20. KiA

January 2015 - we have been contacted by the family of Sgt. Kenneth Higgs - they are seeking the buyer from Ebay who purchased his medals. All they want to know is where the medals originated from - they have emailed the buyer and await a reply.


759 aircraft taking part on this operation with Wellington HZ476 taking off from RAF Dalton at 23.34 Hrs.

Above and below - the photographs sent by the family of Sgt. Higgs. (courtesy Bridget Higgs) Sgt. William George Pepper identified as the chap in the centre of above photograph (see credits)

Sgt. William George Pepper identified as the chap in the top centre of above photograph (see credits)

Thought to be possibly the crew of Wellington HZ476 (courtesy Michel Beckers of the Netherlands)

Left to right: Plt Off. Roy G. Madge, Flt Sgt. Frank G. Baker, Flt Sgt. Norman J. Waters.

Above - crash area of Wellington HZ476 at Bree in Belgium

Some 94,000 lbs of high explosive bombs were dropped, together with 133,000 lbs of incendiaries. The bombing effect was undermined by diversionary fires set by the Germans resulting in scattered bombing over a wide area with less than 100 buildings destroyed with some 30 people killed in the city. The allies lost some 27 aircraft either through night fighter attacks or by the fierce flak. No claims by the Luftwaffe for this Wellington.

Crew graves - available to relatives at higher resolution (courtesy Michel Beckers of the Netherlands)

Burial details:

All the crew initially buried at St. Truiden, reinterred at Heverlee after the end of hostilities.

Crew initial grave markers - taken we understand in the late 1960's (courtesy Bridget Higgs)

WOII. William George Pepper. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.16. Inscription: "IN LOVING MEMORY. MOTHER, FATHER, SISTER AND BROTHERS". Born on the 15th March 1921 in Ryley, Alberta. Son of William George and Annie Maxwell (née Ramsey) Pepper of Ryley, Alberta, Canada.

Promoted to Warrant Office Class II on the 13th March 1943.

Fg Off. Roy Gibson Madge. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.15. Inscription: "GOD LIFTED HIM UP". Born on the 21st March 1920 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Son of Alfred Gordon (deceased) and Edna Muriel (née Smith) Madge of Varsity View, Manitoba, Canada.

Promoted to Fg Off. on the 28th February 1943.

Madge Island on the Porter River was renamed after Fg Off. Roy Gibson Madge in 1995

Plt Off. Frank Greenaway Baker. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.17. Inscription: "LOVED BY ALL WHO KNEW HIM". Born on the 14th August 1918 in Wainwright, Alberta. Son of George Staley and Ada Alberta Baker of Wainwright, Alberta, Canada.

Posthumously commissioned and promoted to J17661 Plt Off. on the 7th May 1943.

WOII. Norman James Waters. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.F.8-14. Inscription: "HE DIED THAT OTHERS MIGHT LIVE". Born on the 3rd April 1921 in Saskatchewan. Son of Albert James and Anna Josephine (née Treffry) Waters of Lipton. Saskatchewan, Canada.

Promoted to Warrant Office Class II on the 14th February 1943.

Above: medals of Sgt Higgs (courtesy Michel Beckers)

Sgt. Kenneth George Higgs. Heverlee War Cemetery. Coll. grave 4.F.8-14. Son of Edward John Higgs and Rose Higgs, of Halmore, Gloucestershire. England.

WOII. William Ernest Douglas. Heverlee War Cemetery. Grave 4.F.20. Born on the 18th June 1919 in Balcarres, Saskatchewan. From Balcarras, Saskatchewan, Canada. Son of William Dedas Simpson and Katherine M. (McDonald) Douglas of Balcarres, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Posthumously promoted to Warrant Office Class II 13th September 1943.

Douglas Lake, Saskatchewan is named in his honour

Researched for relatives of this crew. For further details our thanks to the following, the family of Sgt. Kenneth George Higgs, Michel Beckers of the Netherlands. Thanks also to Bill Pepper who contacted us in February 2017 and identified WOII. William George Pepper in the crew photographs. Thanks to Caroline Cook for the NoK details for WOII Douglas (Nov 2022).

RS 17.11.2022 - NoK details for WOII Douglas added

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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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