Alfred William Edward Sugden J90713

May 12, 1918 - December 3, 1944

Alfred William Edward Sugden Alfred William Edward Sugden Alfred William Edward Sugden Alfred William Edward Sugden Alfred William Edward Sugden

440 Squadron

Alfred William Edward Sugden was the only child of Frederick Albert and Helen Lillian Sugden of Outremont, Quebec. (Mrs. Sugden's brother served in WWI and died at Passchendaele.) The family was Presbyterian. He graduated from Guy Drummond School and Strathcona Academy as well as Outremont Business College. Sugden was a clerk/secretary with the CPR and was looking for a better position. Then he had worked for Marshall and Morrison Ltd, Canadian Car and Foundry, plus Canadian Power Boat Company, leaving this last position because of a reduction of staff. He was a very good hockey player as well as a track athlete, holding local sprint trophies.

Sugden trained at No. 11 EFTS in June 1942, No. 2 SFTS, No. 13 SFTS and went to No. 16 EFTS on a refresher course. He earned his wings at St. Hubert, Quebec and went overseas in December 1942.

On December 19. 1944, S/L Monson of 440 Squadron wrote a letter to Sugden's parents. "On the afternoon of December 3, 1944, your son took off on a bombing mission with other members of the Squadron over enemy territory, and before reaching the target, he was forced to turn back due to engine trouble, it is believed. On reaching base, he apparently was forced by necessity to make a landing in the opposite direction of that being used at the time. His aircraft [Typhoon 1B MN251] overshot the end of the runway and went into a canal. Unfortunately, the aircraft turned over and he could not effect an escape. Alfred had only recently been transferred from another Squadron -- this sortie was his first since joining this Squadron. It is known that he had an outstanding record to his credit, and I am certain his services would have been a valuable asset to this Squadron....Your son's funeral took place at the Woensel Cemetery in Eindhoven, Holland on the 5th day of December at 11 am, the service being conducted by the RCAF Protestant Chaplain, after which his body was interred in the RCAF plot."

A Court of Inquiry was struck on December 3, 1944 to investigate what had happened. Eight witnesses were called.

The conclusions, signed off by S/L L. M. Lambert: Primary cause of accident was the pilot landing his aircraft with load (2x1000 lb bombs) downwind with wind strength 25-30 mph. Contributory Factors: 1. His inability to stop the aircraft after touchdown although he had 1200 yards of runway left. 2. Unknown factors which caused him to break formation and come straight in to land in spite of red Verey lights. 3. Pilot did not jettison his bombs and therefore had to land at higher speed than normal approach speed. 4. Pilot did not appear to be using much brake or else the brakes were ineffective. By testimony of the 2nd witness, air bottles were empty when he examined aircraft wreck. Air Commander D. A. Boyle commented: "The causes of this accident must remain obscure." G/C P. Y. Davoud commented: "It is not possible to ascertain what prompted one pilot 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."

Harry Hardy, 440 Pilot, remembers this incident. "It was a freak accident," he said.

On January 27, 1947, Mrs. Sugden wrote to the Chief of the Air Staff in Ottawa, requesting confirmation of the location of her son's body as she was planning a trip to Europe and wanted to visit her son's grave. She had requested that her son's remains be returned to Canada, but was denied. "Isn't that a laugh," she wrote. "I suppose the decision was made by one man who thought it a great honour to lie in that hole Europe which drains the blood of this country in every generation."

On his headstone at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery at Nijmegen, Holland, his parents chose "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him."

LINKS:

  • Canadian Virtual War Memorial, newspaper clipping and photo
  • Tribute to Sugden at Roll Call of Honour Website