Lest We Forget
Canadian Heroes of WW2
PILOT OFFICER 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
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.
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.
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: http://www.the-battle-of-britain.co.uk/pilots/Co-pilots.html
P/O George Henry
Corbett a Canadian
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.
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.