Lest we forget

Rear Gunner, Squadron No. 428

| Service Personnel Information | Essay | Military Service Record | Crew Members of Mackenzie's Final Flight | Grave Reference | Additional information/links | | Works Cited | Archival Reference

Service Personnel Information

  • Name: Mackenzie, Alan Edward
  • Service Regimental Number: R-157380
  • Rank: Pilot Officer, Rear Gunner
  • Height/weight: 5'9"/145.5 lbs
  • Colour of eyes: Blue
  • Marital status: Unmarried
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • Address: 108 Spence Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Margaret Mackenzie (Mother)
  • Date of enlistment: 16 March 1942
  • City and province of enlistment: Winnipeg, Manitoba


Alan Edward Mackenzie was born February 20th 1923 in Saskatchewan. His father, Kenneth Bruce Mackenzie who worked as an electrical engineer, was from Manitoba and his mother, Margret O'Dowd, was from the USA. When he was young, he attended St. Mary's Grade School, and then he went to St. Paul's college when he was old enough. He spent some time in the US as a truck driver, but permanently returned to Winnipeg later.
Before entering the Air Force, Mackenzie received word of his brother; he had died in Libya, while serving in the RCAF. Being the younger of the two, its likely that Mackenzie looked up to his brother with respect and love. It could have even been that he wished to follow in his footsteps. Whatever the reason may have been, he enlisted in the RCAF.
He was accepted into the Air Force on the 16th of March, 1942 into Squadron Number 428. This particular Squadron by today's standards is an amazing thing to look back on. The motto of 428 was USQUE AD FINEM - "To the very end", which is an accurate statement on his time spent in it. No. 428 Squadron has been accredited with the titles of the first operational mission in WWII and the last operational mission in WWII. It was referred to as the "Ghost" squadron, it's insignia being a skull (No. 428 Squadron). His entrance test said that he had trouble learning, but was able to work hard. He was a very charismatic person and soon found his way into the hearts of his comrades and superiors. He was stationed in Dusseldorf, Germany. He was praised for shooting down a German Aircraft, the Junkers JU-88 which could have been a reason for his promotion to Pilot Officer.
One of the raids that Mackenzie and his Squadron took place in was the raid on Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf targeted or a strategic Air Raid, by the RAF in their campaign against the Ruhr industry. The raid was a critical strike against the Germans because it directly targeted their oil reserves (World War II Order of Battle). In this mission is where Mackenzie's plane succumbed to enemy fire.
Mackenzie died at 21:45 hours (9:45 AM) November 3rd, 1943. His plane, the Halifax LK-954 Heavy Bomber, crashed into the earth with such force that half of the entire body was embedded in the earth and the bomb doors were propelled over a mile away. When examined it discovered that his plane hit the earth at a thirty degree angle while upside down. Both wings were most likely either torn off or completely destroyed. The extent of his injuries are not fully known but when they found him, he was already dead. Of the crew he was one of five Canadians, the other three being British (Halifax Bomber). In the official letter sent to his mother (who was his next of kin) the RCAF says how he will be missed by family, squadron and country.

Military Service Record

Military Service Documents

  • Age (at death): 18
  • Force: Royal Canadian Air Force
  • Unit: No. 428 Squadron
  • Service Number: J. 18334
  • Honours and Awards: Memorial Bar, 39-45 Star, A/C Eurostar, General Service Medal, C.V.S.M., Air gunners badge
  • Photograph: See above
  • Next of Kin (and relationship): Unchanged
  • Date of Death: 3 November 1943
  • Country of Burial: Britain, Lincolnshire
  • Grave Reference: SPC. Mem. Grave 14543
  • Location: Cambridge City Cemetery (Cambridgeshire)
  • Book of Remembrance: Pg. 184 (Link to page)

Crew Members of Mackenzie's Final Flight

The Canadian crew members:
  • Flying Officer Lester Lyle WHITHAM (Navigator) Age 23. He was the son of Harry and Agnes Catherine Whitham (nee Huffman) of North Bay, Ontario, Canada .
  • Pilot Officer Alan Edward MacKENZIE (Air Gunner) Age 18 (one of the youngest Canadians to be killed on bomber operations) He was the son of Kenneth Bruce and Margaret MacKenzie of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada .
  • Flying Officer Robert George EATON (Pilot) Aged 31. He was the son of Bertram Holtby and Florence Myers Eaton and the husband of Elizabeth Ramsden Eaton of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
  • Flying Officer Allen Keith HODGKINSON, (Pilot).
  • Flying Officer Bruce Alan ELMORE (Air Bomber).

The British crew members:
  • Sergeant Harry Bernard SHIMWELL (Air Gunner) Age 19. He was the son of Humphrey and Ada Matilda Shimwell of Balby, Doncaster S.Yorkshire.
  • Sergeant Albert Edward MOSS (Flight Engineer) Aged 23. He was the son of Thomas and Margaret Moss from Seaham, Tyne and Wear.
  • Sergeant Allan Desmond WEIGH (Wireless Op/Air Gunner) Son of Edwin McRobie and Nellie Weigh of Chester

(Halifax Memorial)

Grave Reference

  • Name of Cemetery: Borough Cemetery
  • Grave Reference: SPC. Mem. Grave 14543

Additional information/links

One of these is the house that he lived in. Most likely the one on the right.

View Larger Map

Edited Memorial video of crew of Mackenzie's final flight

Original Memorial video of crew of Mackenzie's final flight

Picture of the memorial stone in place for the crew of the final flight of Mackenzie
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Picture of a British-made Halifax Bomber similar to the one Mackenzie would've been in

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Picture of the coat of arms for the No. 428 Squadron
external image 428squadron.jpg

Works Cited

1. No. 428 Squadron. Accessed May 16 2012.
2. Halifax Bomber (LK954 NA-E) of 428 “Ghost” Squadron. Accessed May 16 2012.
3. Stanton, Shelby, World War II Order of Battle: An Encyclopedic Reference to U.S. Army Ground Forces from Battalion through Division, 1939-1946 (Revised Edition, 2006), Stackpole Books, p. 174.
4. Halifax Memorial. Accessed May 16 2012.

Archival Reference

Military service files of Pilot Officer Alan Edward Mackenzie (SN. J. 18334) obtained from Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario.