The Military Museums

Albert Dorey

Albert Dorey grew up in London, Ontario, and was 25 when he enlisted with the RCAF in February 1943.

Albert Dorey

Albert Dorey grew up in London, Ontario, and was 25 when he enlisted with the RCAF in February 1943.

Albert Dorey

P/O Albert Dorey

Early on the morning of 31 March 1945, Albert and his crew climbed aboard Lancaster KB-859 (SE-U) for a daylight mission to bomb the U-Boat shipyards in Hamburg, Germany. It was his 21st mission. As their formation of Lancasters arrived over the target, they came under attack by a squadron of ME-262 jet fighters which strafed their aircraft.

As the pilot struggled to regain control of the damaged plane, he ordered everyone to bail out. Of the three men who got out, only the pilot survived. The other four airmen, including Albert, went down with the plane and perished in the crash.

Albert Dorey's Early Years

Albert Dorey was born in London, Ontario, on August 24, 1917 to Arthur and Florence Dorey. He attended Beal Technical School in London, Ontario prior to taking employment at Penman’s Ltd. as a machine operator. His hobbies were hunting, fishing, skating, baseball and swimming. On August 19, 1939, Albert married Jean Pierce in London, and they moved into a small home that his father had helped build.

Albert enlisted with the RCAF on February 10, 1943, and soon afterwards left for No.2 Manning Depot in Brandon, Manitoba. In April, he transferred to No.5 Bombing and Gunnery (B&G) School in Dafoe, Saskatchewan.

Albert then traveled to Calgary, Alberta to study wireless radio operation at No.2 Wireless School, and remained there until the end of January 1944. The first entry in his log book is dated August 10, 1943 when he flew as a passenger for air experience in a Norseman IV. During his time in Calgary, he also flew the Fleet Fort II, Yale, Anson and Bolingbroke Bomber (shown in photo). Before leaving for overseas, he spent time at No.2 B&G in Mossbank, Saskatchewan.

Albert left for Liverpool, England on April 10, 1944 and was assigned to the Advanced Flying Unit at Millom, Cumberland where he flew in Ansons for bombing and navigation experience. He was taken on strength with the 431 Iroquois Squadron on October 24, 1944.

Albert Dorey's Flight Missions

Albert’s first Operational Flight was December 21, 1944 in an attack of the Nippes rail yards at Cologne, Germany. He then went on to complete the following missions:

Mission DateTargetLog Book
24 Dec 1944 Dusseldorf Lohausen airfield
28 Dec 1944 Opladen Rail yards
6 Jan 1945 Hanau gun turret shot off
14 Jan 1945 Merseburg Leuna synthetic oil plant
16 Jan 1945 Zeitz Synthetic oil plant
28 Jan 1945 Stuttgart marshalling yards
2 Feb 1945 Wiesbaden  
4 Feb 1945 Bonn  
7 Feb 1945 Goch in support of the 1st Canadian Army
20 Feb 1945 Dortmund numerous fighters; incendiary damage
23 Feb 1945 Pforzheim landed Manston
27 Feb 1945 Mainz  
1 Mar 1945 Mannheim  
5 Mar 1945 Chemnitz  
7 Mar 1945 Dessau  
11 Mar 1945 Essen  
12 Mar 1945 Dortmund  
14 Mar 1945 Zweibrucken  
15 Mar 1945 Hagen  
31 Mar 1945 Hamburg Albert’s last mission

The Last Flight of KB-859

It was on his 21st mission on March 31, 1945, that the crew of KB-859 failed to return. Eight Lancasters and three Halifaxes were lost on this raid; it was Bomber Command’s last double-digit loss of the war from a raid on one city. Reports from returning aircrews said that Messerschmitt 262 twin-engine jets had attacked their Lancaster.

Remarkably, pilot Pat Hurley survived the attack. The following is his account of the last flight of KB-859, recalled by his son Bruce: “On March 31, the crew of KB-859 was on a daylight bombing raid on the Blohm & Voss shipyards over Hamburg. That day, 361 Lancaster bombers were split into three groups and their plane had slot #13 in the third and last formation.

Through an apparent navigation error by the wing commander, this group was fifteen minutes later than the first two. The fighter aircraft sent to protect the bombers had already swung back toward England assuming everyone had completed their bombing runs. By the time KB-859 and other planes in the third formation were over the U-Boat shipyard, enemy fighters were airborne.

Their plane was hit and badly damaged by German fighters. Internal communications were also knocked out so the pilot did not know how many of the crew were killed or injured by the strafing.

"Bail out"

With their plane going down, the pilot thought he could attempt a belly landing in a farmer's field, but when he finally realized he was not going to make it, he yelled for everybody to bail out. But by this time the plane was so low that when he finally got out himself, his parachute barely had time to open.

Pilot Pat Hurley was the only one of the crew to survive. He also said that the only reason he survived the jump was because he landed in a huge manure pile. Their plane crashed into a farmhouse and exploded.

When Pat was able to stand up, he saw farmers approaching him on one side with scythes and pitchforks and the Gestapo coming from the opposite direction with their pistols drawn. He turned himself over to the German troops because he suspected that he would not survive an encounter with the people whose farmhouse had just been destroyed by their plane.

Pat Hurley spent the remainder of the war as a POW, and like everyone else in the crew, including Albert Dorey, he was reported as missing in action and presumed dead by his family. They did not know he was alive until he and other POW’s were liberated by Russian soldiers and eventually turned over to British forces in May 1945.

The aircrew were originally buried in Hittfeld Civil Cemetery, Germany, in a common grave since at the time identification was considered impossible. When the bodies were moved to Becklingen War Cemetery, Germany in August 1946, identification was confirmed and each crew member buried individually.

A Remarkable Reunion

Among Albert’s personal possessions, was a photo of his baby daughter Margaret, just 3½ months old at the time of his death. Albert was also wearing something else at the time his plane was shot down, an engraved bracelet.

In 2005, sixty years after his death, his daughter Marg Liessens discovered the bracelet had survived the war when it was sent to her by a relative. Marg is shown holding the same bracelet that her father Albert is wearing in the photograph. The bracelet now resides with the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton, Alberta.

Sponsored by Marg Liessens in memory of the crew of KB-859, and for her Father, P/O Albert Dorey WAG (1917 - 1945)

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