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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 428 (Ghost) Squadron RCAF Halifax II JB968 NA:R Flt Lt. Ronald H. Sherback

Operation: Hanover

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

Unit No: 428 (Ghost) Squadron RCAF

Type: Halifax II

Serial: JB968

Code: NA:R

Base: RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham

Location: Kalischacht, south of Ronnenberg, Germany

Pilot: Flt Lt. Ronald Hubert Sherback J6181 RCAF Age 24. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Douglas Bryant Stone R59411 RCAF Age 28. KiA

Nav: Fg Off. Frank Thorburn Manners J14239 RCAF Age 23. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Edward Douglas MacMurchy J20833 RCAF Age 26. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. James Kirby 1237264 RAFVR Age 19. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upper): Sgt. Donald Willis Matthews R193148 RCAF Age 23. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. William Ellis McKee R94589 RCAF Age 24. KiA

Above left to right: Flt Lt. Sherback, Sgt. Stone, Fg Off. Manners.

Above: Sgt. James Kirby (Courtesy of Caroline Cook)

Above left to right: Fg Off. MacMurchy, Sgt. Matthews, Sgt. McKee.


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 (Bison) Sqn RCAF just three weeks earlier on the 3rd September. This is reported to be the first Halifax II lost from the squadron.

JB968 was claimed by Lt. Josef Kraft, his 2nd Abschuss, from Stab II./NJG5 10km south west of Hannover at 5.750 m at 23:26 hrs. The aircraft was also coned by 1./Flakscheinw Abt. 619 (Wrefer 119), also claimed by Flak of 4. & 5./schw. Flak Abt. 461 (o) and 4. & 5./schw. Flak Abt. 521 90) ('Halifax Kaliwerk Ronnenberg 5000-3000 m at 23.26 hrs')

The Flak claims were rejected by the OKL (Luftwaffe High Command) on the 18.8.1944 and the victory credited to Flak searchlight and Lt. Kraft on the 17.6.1944. (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (23 September - 31 December) 1943 Part 3 - Theo Boiten)

Left: 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.

A tragic night for 428 (Ghost) squadron RCAF losing 5 aircraft this night:

Halifax V DK252 NA:O Flown by Plt Off. 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 Fg Off. 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.

Burial Details:

German records intimate that this crew together with the crew of 15 Sqn Stirling III EE940 were initially buried in the Ronnenburg Cemetery. It reported by Casualty Enquiry No. G.1121 that caskets 7 & 8 that were exhumed contained the remains of the 14 crew members of EE940 and JB968.

Flt Lt. Ronald Hubert Sherback. Hannover War Cemetery. Collective grave 3. D.7-10. Grave inscription reads: "REST IN PEACE". Born 16th May 1919 in Killam, Alberta. Son of Hubert Philip and Norma May (née Chettick) Sherback, of Gleichen, Alberta. Husband to Jennette Louise (née Sales) Sherback. They were married on 9th August 1942 in Calgary, Alberta Canada.

Sgt. Douglas Bryant Stone. Hannover War Cemetery. Collective grave 3. D.7-10. Grave inscription reads: "FATHER, IN THY KEEPING LEAVE WE THY SERVANT SLEEPING."LYDIA AND DOUGIE". Born 21st June 1915 in Brandon, Manitoba. Son of William and Gertrude Annie (née Bryant) Stone, husband of Lydia Stone, of Shoal Lake, Manitoba, Canada.

Stone Island in Karsakuwigamak Lake, Manitoba was named after Sgt. Douglas Bryant Stone in 1995.

Fg Off. Frank Thorburn Manners. Hannover War Cemetery. Collective grave 3. D.7-10. Born 15th June 1920 in Edmonton, Alberta. Son of Joseph Dawson and Emma Victoria (née Marshall) Manners from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Fg Off. Edward Douglas MacMurchy. Hannover War Cemetery. Collective grave 3. D.7-10. Born 17th December 1917 in Pilot Mound, Manitoba. Son of Cameron and Cicely Thornton (née Nicholson) MacMurchy remarried as Bowen. (His father predeceased him) from Viscount, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Sgt. James Kirby. Hannover War Cemetery. Collective grave 3. D.7-10. Born on the 23rd May 1924. Son of William James and Amy Kirby, of Prescott, Lancashire. He was raised up by his grandparents, William and Elizabeth Ann Kirby, after his mother died, and lived in Widnes. He enlisted on 11th September 1941.

Sgt. Donald Willis Matthews. Hannover War Cemetery. Collective grave 3. D.7-10. Born 23rd November 1919 in Brant, Ontario. Son Hartley William and Mary Jane (née Paterson) Matthews from St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada.

Sgt. William Ellis McKee. Hannover War Cemetery. Collective grave 3. D.7-10. Grave inscription reads: "IN HIS WILL IS OUR PEACE". Born 7th May 1919 in Bracken, Saskatchewan. Son of Edward Fobes and Alice Rosalie 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 by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) (Jan 2017). For further details our thanks to the following, Bill Barry of the Saskatchewan Virtual Memorial, Updated by Aircrew Remembered (Dec 2020). Thanks to Caroline Cook for the photograph and NoK details for James Kirby (Apr 2023)

Other sources listed below:

RS 26.04.2023 - Photograph and NoK details for James Kirby added

Pages of Outstanding Interest
History Airborne Forces •  Soviet Night Witches •  Bomber Command Memories •  Abbreviations •  Gardening Codenames
CWGC: Your Relative's Grave Explained •  USA Flygirls •  Axis Awards Descriptions •  'Lack Of Moral Fibre'
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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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