Force 9 at Friston

Sergeant George McClusky.
Toronto Star, October 1941.
Donald Richard McNabb
Operation Picture Me
A restored Miles Magister ('N3788' G-AKPF) similar to the one flown by McClusky on 18/10/1941.
Alan Wilson
Captain McNabb's original temporary grave marker at Brookwood Military Cemetery.
RCAF Service File
Captain McNabb's grave at Brookwood Military Cemetery in June 2023.
Linda Duffield

Kenley’s role as a sector station meant its controllers were involved in the events leading to a tragic accident at Friston, on 18th October, 1941. 

402 Squadron RCAF were stationed at Southend. A statement from their Commanding Officer tells the story:

“Sergeant McClusky was authorised to pilot Captain McNabb in a Magister Aircraft No. N3934 to Friston aerodrome and return on the afternoon of the 17th October. Captain McNabb had recently been posted to the Squadron from that vicinity and permission for this visit was given for the purpose of visiting friends and picking up some of his belongings.

“Word was received at Southend that the return flight could not be made the same day due to the weather. Sgt. McClusky and Captain McNabb arrived at the aerodrome at about 0900 hours the morning of the 18th. Sgt. McClusky phoned operations at Kenley for permission to take off on the return flight. He was asked whether the weather was suitable and replied that it was quite O.K. although there was a gale blowing at the time estimated to be 50 m.p.h. plus. Operations on being told the weather was suitable gave permission for the flight.

“The take off was made at about 0925 hours into wind. There were several eye witnesses to the crash and their testimony was the same in each case. The aircraft rose to about 100-200 feet when the pilot began to turn to the right. The plane immediately flicked over and dove in as a spin was developing. The aircraft crashed on sloping ground about thirty yards from the edge of the aerodrome. From the marks on the ground and the attitude of the aircraft it would appear that it had already begun to spin.

“Both Captain McNabb and Sergeant McClusky were rushed to the Princess Alice Hospital, Eastbourne, Sussex. Captain McNabb died of injuries approximately 0955 hours same day. Sergeant McClusky died of injuries approximately 1400 hours same day. Verdict of inquest conducted by the Coroner of Eastbourne Sussex 20/10/41 was accidental death.”

(V. B. Corbett) Squadron Leader,
Commanding Officer
No.402 Squadron, RCAF.

SERGEANT GEORGE MCCLUSKY was the son of John A. McClusky and Jessie McClusky. He was born in Bracebridge, Ontario, and was 22 years old when he died. He was, by all accounts, a very good pilot who had seen some success on operations, but during training it was noted that he tended towards being over-confident. He was laid to rest in Southend-On-Sea at Sutton Road cemetery. (Grave ref: R12136).

CAPTAIN DONALD RICHARD MCNABB was the son of Robert John and Christina McNabb of Lethbridge, Alberta. He was 31 years old and with the Canadian Army Dental Corps. He was laid to rest in Brookwood Military Cemetery (Grave ref: 31.J.5).

Rest in peace gentlemen and thank you for your service.

McClusky’s service file.
402 Squadron Operations Record Book.

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