No. 428 Squadron RCAF

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No. 428 (Ghost) Squadron RCAF
428 All-Weather (Fighter) Squadron
Badge of 428 Squadron
Active 7 Nov 1942 – 5 Sep 1945
21 Jun 1954 – 1 Jun 1961
Country  Canada
Branch Royal Canadian Air Force Ensign (1941-1968).svg Royal Canadian Air Force
Role Bomber/All-Weather Fighter
Part of Royal Air Force 1942–1945
Nickname(s) "Ghost"
Motto Latin: Usque ad finem
"To the very end"
Squadron Badge heraldry In a shroud, a death's head[1]
Squadron Codes NA (Nov 1942 – May 1946)[2]
Aircrew and groundcrew of Avro Lancaster KB760 NA:P "P-Peter", from No. 428 Squadron RCAF. The badge for the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire is visible on the nose. Photo taken after the squadron's 2,000th sortie, a raid on Bremen, Germany.
Damage to a Vickers Wellington Mark X, HE239 'NA-Y', of No. 428 Squadron RCAF. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire, while approaching its target at Duisburg, Germany on April 8–9 1943.

No. 428 Squadron RCAF,[2] also known as 428 Bomber Squadron,[3] and 428 Ghost Squadron, [4] was a bomber squadron in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, based in Yorkshire. [3]

After the end of the war the squadron moved to Canada before being disbanded in September 1945. In 1954 the squadron was reformed as 428 All-Weather (Fighter) Squadron, before being disbanded in 1961.[3]

The motto of the Squadron is Usque ad finem (Latin: "To the very end") and the Squadron's badge contains a Death's Head in a shroud.[4] The badge refers to the Squadron's Ghost designation which was earned through its night bombing operations, and the death and destruction which it inflicted upon the enemy.[4]

No. 428 Bomber Squadron RCAF

No. 428 Squadron RCAF was first formed during the Second World War at RAF Dalton in Yorkshire, England on November 7 1942.[3] The squadron was first assigned to No. 4 Group RAF.[2] With the creation of No. 6 Group RCAF, the Squadron was reallocated on January 1, 1943 operating with it until April 25, 1945.[2]

The squadron was first equipped with Vickers Wellingtons (Mk III and Mk X), and its first operational mission was on January 26–27 1943, when five Wellingtons bombed Lorient.[4] In the early part of June 1943, the squadron moved to RAF Middleton St. George where it remained for the remainder of the war.[2] Around this time the squadron was converted to Handley Page Halifaxes (Mk V, and later supplemented by Mk II Series IIA).

In January 1944 Halifax's from No. 428 Squadron RCAF participated in the first high-level mining raid, when mines were dropped by parachute from 15,000 feet (4,570 m) over Brest. The squadron flew its last sortie with the Halifax on June 12,[5] and again converted, this time with Canadian-built Avro Lancasters (B. Mark X). The first sortie involving the squadrons new Lancaster's took place on June 14, 1944[5] and they were used for the continuation of the war.

For the final phase of the air campaign against Germany, the Squadron took part in both day and night raids,[5] with its last operational sortie on April 25, 1945, when 15 Lancasters bombed gun batteries on the Island of Wangerooge.[4] No. 428 Squadron RCAF remained in service in the UK until the end of May 1945.

By the end of May the squadron had moved to RCAF Station Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, where it was disbanded on September 5, 1945.[3][6] 428 Squadron was "sponsored" by the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, an organization based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Aircraft Operated

Aircraft[3][2] Period of service[5] Representative serial[5]
Vickers Wellington Mk III November 1942 – May 1943 ZI719 (NA – P)
Vickers Wellington Mk X December 1942 – June 1943 HL864 (NA – D)
Handley Page Halifax Mk B.V June 1943 – January 1944 DK237 (NA – L)
Handley Page Halifax Mk B.II November 1943 – June 1944 JN955 (NA – L)
Avro Lancaster Mk B.X June 1944 – September 1945 KB763 (NA – S)

Officers Commanding and Squadron Bases

The seven ‘OCs' of 428 Squadron were firstly W/C A. Earle: 7 Nov 1942 - 20 February 1943, W/C D. Smith: 21 February 1943 - 14 September 1943 (POW), W/C W. Suggitt: 15 September 1943 - 30 October 1943, W/C D. French: 31 October 1943 - 8 May 1944, W/C W. McLeish: 9 May 1944 - 7 August 1944, W/C A. Hull: 8 August 1944 - 1 January 1945, and W/C M. Gall: 2 January 1945 - 2 June 1945. [7]

Squadron bases[3][2] Date[3][2]
RAF Dalton November 1942 – June 1943
RAF Middleton St. George June 1943 – May 1945
RCAF Station Yarmouth May 1945 – 5 September 1945 (disbanded)

The First Officer Commanding, Wing Commander Alfred Earle, the son of Henry Henwood EARLE and Mary Winifred RAWLE, was born on 11 Dec 1907, at Shebbear, in North Devon. At fifteen, leaving Shebbear College, he ‘entered’ The RAF Aircraft Apprentice Scheme, as an RAF Halton Apprentice (11th Entry). Coming-out he was selected for General Duties (Pilot) Branch 'commissioning' in 1925, then attending RAF (Cadet) College Cranwell, before gaining his permanent commission as a Pilot Officer in 1929. Coming to specialize in photographic work, having served as Deputy Chief Instructor at the RAF School of Photography (South Farnborough) and as Command Photographic Officer, HQ RAF Far East Command, from February 1938, he was promoted to Squadron Leader in July 1938. Entering RAF Staff College, Andover in January 1939, on graduation, he was appointed Command Photographic Officer, HQ Training Command, and then Officer Commanding No. 2 Photographic School (Blackpool). Promoted to Wing Commander (Temporary) in December 1940, he was assigned to the Air Staff, Directorate of Plans, in February 1941. [8][9][10][11]

On 7 Nov 1942, he assumed command of No 428 (RCAF) Squadron, standing up the Squadron in No. 4 Group. As the ‘Officer Commanding’, it was noted … “Wing Commander Earle was a grand chap, one who can genuinely be called, ‘One of Nature’s Gentlemen’. He was well liked by the Canadians and sadly missed when promoted to Group Captain and left in February 1943. He did two Ops from Dalton, occupying the ‘astro-dome’. He had previously been flying Fairey Gordons in the Middle East (Iraq), and found the Wellington difficult, partly due to his eyesight not liking the English skies, and partly as he was not a tall man.” After only three months, he left 428 Bomber Squadron (RCAF) as an Acting Group Captain on 7 Feb 1943, when he was assigned as Commander of RAF Ridgewell and then RAF West Wickham, late in 1943, then as a Temporary Group Captain. He ended the war as Air Officer Commanding No. 300 Group RAF (RAF Transport Command) in Australia. [12][13]

Battle Honours: World War Two

During the Second World War, No. 428 Squadron RCAF was awarded multiple battle honours. These honours are certified by the Canadian Air Force.[14]

Award Additional Info
English Channel and North Sea 1943–1944 For ship attack, anti-submarine and mining operations over the English Channel and North Sea from the outbreak of war to VE Day
Baltic 1944 For operations against targets in Germany, Italy and Enemy-Occupied Europe
Fortress Europe 1943–1944 For operations by aircraft based in the British Isles against targets in Germany, Italy and Enemy-Occupied Europe, from the Fall of France to the Invasion of Normandy
France and Germany 1944–1945 For operations over France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany during the Liberation of North-West Europe and the advance into the enemy's homeland, from the start of air action preparatory to the Invasion of France in April 1944 to VE Day on 8 May 1945
Biscay Ports 1943–1944 For operations over the Bay of Biscay Ports from the Fall of France to VE Day
Ruhr 1943–1945 For bombardment of the Ruhr Area by aircraft of Bomber Command
Berlin 1943–1944 For bombardment of Berlin by aircraft of Bomber Command
Normandy 1944 For operations supporting the Allied landings in Normandy, the establishment of the lodgement area and the subsequent breakthrough from June to August 1944
German Ports 1943–1945 For bombardment of the German Ports by aircraft of Bomber and Coastal Commands
Biscay 1940–1945 For operations over the Bay of Biscay by aircraft of Bomber Command loaned to Coastal Command between the Fall of France on 25 June 1940 to VE Day on 8 May 1945
Rhine For operations in support of the Battle for the Rhine Crossing from 8 February 1945 to 24 March 1945

428 All-Weather (Fighter) Squadron

As the first Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck equipped Squadron, on June 21, 1954, the Squadron was re-activated at RCAF Station Uplands as 428 All-Weather (Fighter) Squadron, stood up as an interceptor squadron, capable of operating day and night. [3]428 All-Weather (Fighter) Squadron was re-activated, as the first of nine such RCAF squadrons, operating under the new RCAF Air Defense Command, protecting North American airspace from Soviet intruders and bombers. [15] The Squadron was disbanded on 31 May 1961, as a precursor to all CF-100 operational ‘fighter’ flying ending in December 1962, when the CF-100 squadrons were withdrawn without replacement. [16][17]

An Ottawa, Ontario Fighter Squadron

The RCAF had established a presence at the Uplands (Ottawa) Airport, in August 1940, under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, as No. 2 Service Flying Training School began operations. [18] With the war ending, No.2 SFTS closed on 14 April 1945, the Station became home to RCAF Maintenance Command Headquarters, when Maintenance Command relocated, in 1947, RCAF association with the site ceased. [19] Flying activities resumed at Uplands, with the re-activation of several WW2 fighter squadrons, designated again for service in Europe. No.439 Squadron was first re-formed in September 1951, at Uplands, as was No.416 Squadron, in September 1952, both departing for in Europe in 1953. [20]

Standing up a fighter squadron, progressing from an initial operating capability, having received its complement of aircrew and "CF-100s", to a full operational capability required a tight and aggressive flying and training program. First, flying practices building pilot/navigator integration took place, with an emphasis placed on Airborne Intercept (AI) and Ground-Controlled Interception (GCI) exercises, to work each twinned crew up as a fighting team. The second stage began with a night flying program and the third stage of training with gunnery practice at an air-to-ground range. A favourite CGI exercise involved simulated combat scrambles against the USAF Boeing B-47 Stratojet, it then the backbone of the USAF Strategic Air Command.[21]

As an RCAF Air Defence Command Fighter Squadron, 428 AW(F) was ‘allocated’ to No.3 ADCC Operational Sector, its Operational Control Centre located at RCAF Station Edgar ON. No.3 ADCC coordinated the operations of No. 31 Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron (also located at RCAF Station Edgar), No. 32 AC&W Squadron RCAF Station Foymount ON, No. 33 AC&W Sqn RCAF Station Falconbridge ON, No. 34 AC&W Sqn RCAF Station Senneterre QC, and 912 Squadron (USAF) RCAF Station Ramore ON. Responsive to the Sector Commander, the Fighter Control Operators at No.3 ADCC provided the Squadron's ‘Ground-Controlled Interception’ direction, through the signing of the NORAD Agreement in 1958.[22]

File:RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron, issued before 1956.jpg
RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron flight suit patch, made by Crest Craft pre 1956. This is the first issue of two similar versions.

Accidents and Losses

Given the serious nature of the Cold War, everything that flew into the Canadian Northern Air Defence Region had to be detected and identified within two minutes by RCAF and USAF Aircraft Control & Warning Squadron personnel. If an aircraft was unknown at two minutes, fighters were scrambled to intercept, to find out why the aircraft could not be identified, to force it to land, or to shoot it down. Receiving intercept notification from No.3 ADCC at RCAF Stn Edgar, 428 AW(F) fighters, on Alert Status, were airborne within five minutes, as under reduced status 15 minutes, even one hour was permitted. To meet the standard, and when on exercise, Squadron aircraft were positioned fuelled and armed, 24 hours a day/seven days a week, in special Quick Reaction Alert hangars.

In maintaining its operational readiness, 428 AW(F), Call Sign: Davenport, Squadron Code: HG, saw its share of pilot/navigator loss over its short seven year CF-100 history. The squadron ably equipped with a Canadian two-seat fighter, designed with two powerful engines and an advanced radar and fire control system, was able to fly in all-weather and night conditions, a role considered less glamorous than the task assigned to ‘day’ fighters. [23] Flying a first rate aircraft, with a good range and payload carrying ability, operating in its all-weather interceptor role, it was second-to-none. Compared to the American Northrop F-89 Scorpion, the CF-100 Canuck was considered to be superior in all aspects. [24][25] The Squadron lost five aircrew during flying operations in 1956 and 1960. [26]

Flying Officer CF-100 Canuck Date Details
Stuart Allan Marshall Mark V 18575 [27] 19 May 1956 Starboard wing separated during high-speed low-level pass during air show at Kinross AFB, Michigan
John Nestoruk Mark V Not Listed 17 October 1956 TBC
Bertram Gordon Paul Leon Mark V 18571 [28] 7 December 1960 Collided at night with HG 610 while practising lights out interceptions at night, near Val-d'Or, QC
John Edward McCarthy Mark V 18571 [29] 7 December 1960 Collided at night with HG 610 while practising lights out interceptions at night, near Val-d'Or, QC
John Stanley Read Mark V 18610 [30] 7 December 1960 Collided at night with HG 571 while practising lights out interceptions at night, near Val-d'Or, QC

428 AW(F) Squadron: The First Commanding Officer

W/C E.W. Smith DSO was appointed Commanding Officer of No.428 All-Weather (Fighter) Squadron on 4 January 1955 and served in that post until 26 April 1957. Having first made the transition from heavy bombers and strategic transport aircraft, to fighters, he assumed command after schooling at No.2 AFS RCAF Station Portage La Prairie in May 1954 and No. 3 All-Weather (Fighter) Operational Training Unit, at RCAF Station North Bay, from September 1954 to January 1955. Born in Metis Beach QC, on 11 November 1920, he joined the RCAF on 20 July 1940. Selected for pilot training, he earned his wings in February 1941 and went overseas in March 1941, later commissioned, as a Pilot Officer on November 5th, 1942. He completed two operational tours, first with No.102 (Ceylon) Squadron RAF, and a second with No.424 (Tiger) Squadron RCAF. [31]

Remaining in the postwar RCAF, he first served with the RCAF Test and Evaluation (Establishment), where he flew the original "Rockcliffe Ice Wagon" (RY-3 Liberator) and commanded the RCAF Hadrian Glider Detachment with Operation MUSKOX - the first Canadian to pilot a glider above the Arctic Circle. [32] As the first RCAF Exchange Officer to serve in USAF Air Transport Command, he captained both a 20 and 27 mission C-54 Skymaster deployment in the Berlin Airlift, and, later with the USAF, captained both the morning B-17 (Flying Fortress) Drone Test Flight and the evening B-17 Mother (Drone), on May 14th 1948, supporting ‘Operation Sandstone’ – Test Three ‘Zebra’ at the Pacific Proving Grounds, at Eniwetok-Atoll. [33][34][35]

In January 1950, he captained the No. 412 (Composite) Squadron C-5 Canadair North Star (DC-4 M1 7518) making the first RCAF round-the-world flight. Covering 43,000 kilometres, it transported Secretary of State for External Affairs Minister Lester B. Pearson, and Governor-General Field Marshall Viscount Harold Alexander, to the Commonwealth Conference of Foreign Ministers, held in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), from 9-14 January 1950. [36] In June 1951, newly promoted, he was made Officer Commanding Regular Force Auxiliary at RCAF Station ‘Vancouver’ supporting No. 442 (Vancouver) Auxiliary Fighter Squadron, No.19 (Auxiliary) Wing HQ and later No.443 Auxiliary Fighter Squadron. After commanding 428 AW(F) Squadron, he took up command of the reassigned No.3 All-Weather (Fighter) Operational Training Unit then at RCAF Station Cold Lake. [37]



  1. Moyes 1976, p. 247.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 No. 428 Squadron RCAF Royal Air Force Retrieved on 2008-01-13
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 428 All Weather Fighter Squadron Canadian Forces Air Command Retrieved on 2008-01-13
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Vickers Wellington Bomber Veterans Affairs Canada Retrieved on 2008-01-13
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Halley, p. 510.
  6. See: Accessed 03.05.16
  7. Nanton Lancaster Society, Bomber Command Museum of Canada; No. 6 Group and The Canadian Squadrons: No. 428 (Ghost) Squadron. See: Retrieved 07.02.2016
  8. Jennifer Topham, Newsletter 3: The Risdons of Somerset, Malmesbury, England, January 2004. See: Retrieved 09.02.2016
  9. M.B. Barrass, Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation: Air Chief Marshal Sir Alfred Earle. Last Updated 22/03/15 See: Retrieved 09.02.2106
  10. Unit History: (RAF) School of Photography: Post WW2. See: Retrieved 09.02.2106
  11. Dave Humphrey, Legends and Heroes - Behind the Lens, Lulu Enterprises Inc., Raleigh, N.C., 2014. Page 17
  12. Harry McLean, Short Bursts: Crewed Up, CATP Museum Inc., Brandon, MB, Canada, July 2007. See: Retrieved 08.02.2016
  13. M.B. Barrass, Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation: Air Chief Marshal Sir Alfred Earle. Last Updated 22/03/15 See: Retrieved 09.02.2106
  14. "No. 428 Squadron History". Royal Canadian Air Force. Retrieved 3 February 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. RCAF Organization Order 16/54, 18 March 1954, Canadian Forces Publication, A-AD-267-000/AF-004 Page 2-170 See: Accessed 03.05.16
  16. RCAF Organization Order 2.7.1, 24 May 1961, Canadian Forces Publication, A-AD-267-000/AF-004 Page 2-170 See: Accessed 03.05.16
  17. Don Nicks, A History of the Air Services in Canada, Post-War Era. CanMilAir Decals, William Burns, London ON. Available at: Accessed 03.05.16
  18. Flight Ontario, BCATP Schools. See: Accessed 03.05.16
  19. JF Chalifoux. See: Accessed 03.05.16
  20. Bruce Forsyth, Canadian Military History, Closed Bases Ontario: CFB Ottawa (South). Last Updated 3 May 2016, See: Accessed 03.05.16
  21. RCAF Pilot’s Flying Log Book, W/C E.W. Smith, Year 1955, Month/Day Mar 5/6, Apr 29, May 1/12
  22. Huntsville Forester, RCAF Station Edgar - A remnant of the Cold War, October 31st, 2006, metrolandmedia. See: Accessed 03.05.16
  23. John Shupek, Skytamer Images, Whittier, California: Avro Canada CF-100 Mk.4. See: Accessed 07.02.2016
  24. Karl Mesojednik, The Avro Canada - CF 100 Canuck: CF-100 Canuck’s in Canadian Service. See: Accessed 03.05.16
  25. Karl Mesojednik, The Avro Canada - CF 100 Canuck: About… Avro Canada. See: Accessed 03.05.16
  26. RCAF Association, Heritage, Post-War Data: Casualties – RCAF/CF. See: Accessed 02.05.16
  27. See: Accessed 02.05.16
  28. See: Accessed 02.05.16
  29. See: Accessed 02.05.16
  30. See: Accessed 02.05.16
  31. SMITH, F/L Edward William - Distinguished Service Order - No.424 Squadron - Award 15 March 1945, London Gazette dated 23 March 1945, AFRO 721/45 dated 27 April 1945, and DHist File 181.009 D.2610 (RG.24 Vol.20627) Accessed 28.04.2016
  32. Flight Lieutenant Ron Gadsby, RCAF Press Release PN-353-46, Norman Wells, NWT, April 2, 1946. See: DHH Files 79/453 and 79/454
  33. RCAF Pilot’s Flying Log Book, W/C E.W. Smith, Year 1948, Month/Day, May 14
  34. Col. D.W Benner (USAF), ATO at Eniwetok, Letter HQ ATC Washington, 25 May 1948
  35. Smith, F/L Edward William, RCAF Association, Heritage, 1914-1945, RCAF Personnel – 1939-1949: ALPHA-SM.1 See: Accessed 05.05.2016
  36. L.B. Pearson, Secretary of State for External Affairs, Letter: Ottawa February 11, 1950
  37. Captain M.E. Waterberg et al.,Biography Edward W. Smith, Tuner Publications, 412 (Transport) Squadron (History), Page 107. Turner Publishing Company, Kentucky, USA 1995. ISBN 1-56311-011-3. See: Accessed 05.05.2016


  • Halley, James J. The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918–1988. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1988. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
  • Jefford, Wing CommanderC.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988 (second edition 2001). ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
  • Moyes, Philip J.R. Bomber Squadrons of the RAF and their Aircraft. London: Macdonald and Jane's (Publishers) Ltd., 2nd edition 1976. ISBN 0-354-01027-1.

External links