The Corbett One Name Study

Lest We Forget

Two Canadian Heroes of WW2


George Henry Corbett was born in 1919 in Canada and developed an interest in aviation at an early age. His hobbies were building model aircraft and studying the construction of aircraft. He finished his High School education when he was 16 at about which time his family went on holiday to England. There he applied for and obtained a place with De Havilland's Technical School at Hatfield. At the same time he learnt to fly with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and received his wings in 1939. In the same year he returned to Canada for the summer holiday and upon the declaration of war returned to England and enlisted as a pilot in the RAF.
He was soon commissioned and after brief training was posted to an operational unit, flying the Spitire.
George was posted to No. 66 Squadron on 26 July, 1940 as a Pilot Officer and was soon to find himself in the Battle of Britain where his experience and aptitude soon showed.

He (with his squadron) was posted to RAF Kenley on September 3rd 1940 and on the 9th at 5.35 pm he recorded his first hit, an ME 109, over Maidstone, Kent. He was flying his Spitfire (N 3049) as Blue 3 at 22,000 feet when a formation of enemy aircraft was spotted. Completing a steep left hand turn he saw the ME 109 just in front and below him. Diving, a two second burst from his machine gun at 250 yards caught the enemy aircraft and white vapour poured from the fuselage. He pressed home his attack with two more bursts into the enemy aircraft but was losing height and had to break off.

Attempting to rejoin his squadron he himself was attacked by three enemy fighters. Turning towards them a chase started and then he felt an explosion under the seat. The cockpit was soon filed with smoke and the control column jumped from his hand and jammed in the cockpit's left hand corner. The aircraft went into a tight spiral dive to the left and he parachuted from the plane at about 12,000 feet and landed near Cowden, Kent. Slightly injured he was taken off duty for a few days.

The squadron then moved to RAF Gravesend and by the 27th of September George was back in action, this time in Spitfire P 9575 as Finbus Blue 2. During the long and arduous afternoon squadrons 66, 72 and 92 were involved in a large air battle over Kent. George attacked a Junkers JU 88, hitting the port engine. He flew to within 50 yards of the bomber until the smoke from the burning plane filled his Spitfire. Banking away he felt his own aicraft hit and one elevator was shattered and the rudder partially jammed. With his engine smoking he was forced to land near Orpington. He believed he had been hit by local AA guns. The Junkers crashed at Chelsfield.

On 8 October 1940 George took off in his Spitfire R 6779 as Blue 2 in B Flight. Refuelling at Hawkinge following convoy patrol over the Channel he took off and joined up at Herne Bay with another section. At 23,000 they were attacked with no warning by German fighters coming out of the sun.

An ME 109 closed fast on George's plane which was badly hit, bursting into flame. His plane crashed into Bayford Marsh, one mile north of Upchurch and upon removal of his body it was found to be riddled with bullet wounds. Nearby lay his 21st birthday present from his family, a gold watch, which he had opened early. He was buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Upchurch.

The church maintains his grave still and in 1981 a memorial service was held for him.

In 1982 the engine and propellor of his Spitfire was unearthed by a group of aviation archaeologists from the mud of Bayford Marsh. The remains of his plane can be seen at the Tangmere Military Museum. (Bib: Medals magazine)


V B Corbett, a Hurricane (P3869) pilot was shot down in combat with BF 109's over Cranbrook, Kent at 9.20 am on Saturday 31 August 1940. His plane crashed and was burned out at Biddenden. Flight Lieutenant V B Corbett baled out with burns and landed near Wittersham crossing. His aircraft was a write-off. I have no further information about him.

The book from which these details were extracted is 'The Battle of Britain Then and Now Mk V' edited by Winston J RamsayŠ (After the Battle Press) In addition to details about the many engagements the book contains photos of some of the young men who took part. In the case of George Henry Corbett it contains a photos of him, his grave, the stained glass window in the family's local church in Victoria, Canada and one of the memorial service in 1981 which was attended by his sister.

From website:

P/O George Henry Corbett a Canadian of No 66 Squadron was wounded on the 9th of September 1940 at 18:00hrs.He baled out of his Spitfire I (N3049) over East Grinstead after being shot down by a Bf 109. G.H.Corbett was killed on the 8th of October 1940 at 09:30hrs. His Spitfire I (R6779) was shot down by a Bf 109 near Chatham.

F/L V.B.Corbett a Canadian from No 1 (R.C.A.F.) Squadron damaged his Hurricane I (L1851) at Hornchurch during a scramble on the 18th of August 1940 when he ran into a fuel bowser at 14:40hrs. He was shot down by Bf 109's at 09:20hrs on the 31st of August 1940 he baled out of his Hurricane I (P3869) over Gravesend but suffered burns. He later commanded No 402 Squadron (the second  R.C.A.F. Squadron) and was awarded the D.F.C. on the 13th of February 1942. Corbett was killed in a flying accident on the 20th of February 1945, aged 33.

Let their names be remembered forever more.