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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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440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron
03.12.1944 440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron, RCAF Typhoon Ib MN251 Plt Off. Alfred W. E. Sugden

Operation: Bombing mission at Venlo, Netherlands

Date: 3rd December 1944 (Sunday)

Unit No: 440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron, RCAF, 143 Wing, 2nd Tactical Air Force

Type: Typhoon Ib

Serial: MN251

Code: I8:F

Base: ALG B-78 Eindhoven, Netherlands

Location: ALG B-78 Eindhoven, Netherlands

Pilot: Plt Off. Alfred William Edward Sugden J90713 RCAF Age 26. KiA

Above: Plt Off. Alfred William Edward Sugden from his Service record

REASON FOR LOSS

Plt Off. Sugden took off from B-78 Eindhoven on the 3rd December 1944 at 14:08 hrs as part of a flight of 4 Typhoons for the third of three sorties of the day for 440 Sqn.

Plt Off. Sugden returned to the airfield and at 14:35 hrs landed down-wind but was unable to stop his aircraft and it went through the overshoot of the runway, over the edge of the Beatrixkanaal, swung to Starboard, pitched over on its nose and came to rest inverted and submerged in the canal.

Airmen immediately arrived on the scene and tried to rescue Plt Off. Sugden who was trapped in the submerged cockpit but tragically he drowned.

The Court of Inquiry determined that the primary cause of the accident was the pilot landing his aircraft with 2 x 1000 Ib bombs still on his aircraft and downwind with a wind strength 25-30 mph.

Contributory Factors were:

The pilot’s inability to stop the aircraft after touchdown although he had 1200 yards of runway left;
An unknown factor which caused him to break formation and come straight in to land in spite of Red Very lights being fired off;
The pilot did not jettison his bombs and therefore had to land at a higher speed than normal approach speed.

The pilot did not appear to be using much brakes or else the brakes were ineffective. Fg Off. Douglas M. Seath the Commanding Officer (CO) of the No. 6438 Servicing Echelon, 143 Wing, testified that the air bottle contents gauge registered empty and the brake lever was in the locked "on" position when he examined the aircraft immediately after it had been lifted from the canal. Subsequent investigations could not find a technical failure which could have occurred before the crash.

A statement by Plt Off. Richard A. Watson J88223, 440 Sqn described the events of the mission which was to bomb an enemy observation post in Venlo with 1000 lb bombs. There were four aircraft assigned with one spare all loaded with bombs.

"As acting flight commander I authorised this flight and instructed the pilots that we were not to land with our bombs on, and as to our procedure for bombing, and also to R/T procedure for visual bombing or blind bombing in contact with 'Cosycot'.

We started engines at 14:00 hrs and were airborne at 14:03 hrs. As leader of 'Saffron Red' I contacted 'Pitchdark' before taking off and after being airborne did not notice any of the other three aircraft experiencing any difficulty. After we had formed up 'Pitchdark' called me and informed me that the operation for which I had been briefed had been cancelled and that I was to land.

I called back and informed them that we were carrying 1000 lb bombs and ask if they would contact 'Cosycot' so we could be vectored for blind bombing, as the cloud base was very low, (about 1000 to 1500 ft). We orbited the airdrome while 'Pitchdark' was contacting 'Cosycot'. While orbiting I heard someone calling on the R/T but could not distinguish who was calling as the message was very distorted. I called back to see if anyone was calling 'Saffron Red' leader but received no reply. I contacted 'Cosycot' just after this and then told my section to close in for climbing through cloud. Plt Off. Sugden who was flying as my Number Two overtook me then broke away toward the airfield at a considerable speed. I called him up to find out if he was having difficulty but received no reply. I did another orbit of the airfield and then 'Pitchdark' called me and said that Saffron Red Two would not be going with us. I contacted 'Cosycot' after this and we were vectored and dropped our bombs through cloud and returned to base without much difficulty. After landing I was informed of Pt Off. Sugden's accident".

Note: ‘Pitchdark’ was the Flying Control callsign and ‘Cosycot‘ the Sector callsign.

It was concluded that it was not possible to determine what prompted Plt Off. Sugden to land downwind or why he did not jettison his bombs as he said nothing over the R/T either to his formation leader or to Flying Control.

Note: MN251 was recovered by 413 Repair and Salvage Unit (R&SU) and returned to England for repair by Taylorcraft.

Burial details:

Initially buried at the Woensel Eindhoven Cemetery and relocated to the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery on the 12th November 1945.

Above: Initial grave marker for Plt Off. Sugden

Plt Off. Alfred William Edward Sugden. Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, XV.D.14. Inscription reads: AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER HIM. MOM AND DAD’. Born on the 12th May 1918 in Outremont, Quebec. Son of Frederick Albert and Helen Lilian (née Dusseault) Sugden of Outremont, Quebec, Canada.

Researched by Ralph Snape and dedicated to this pilot and his family.

Other sources as quoted below:

RS 16.08.2023 - Initial upload

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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', 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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