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Ralph C Ernst


On 3 January 1943 in B-24D 41-23371 while serving as Radio Operator the aircraft made a crash-landing near the crossroads south of Puncheston, Pembrokeshire returning from target U/B yards (submarine) at St. Nazaire, France. Fuel shortage caused the crash. Ernst was injured and hospitalized until 6 January 1943. Copilot Canfield was killed and the only fatality.

On 14-May-43 in B-24D 41-23819 'Rugged Buggy' 44BG/68BS while serving as Radio Operator the aircraft was shot down by enemy aircraft on a mission to Kiel, Germany. He baled out and was captured. Prisoner of War (POW).

NOTE: This entry COMBINES data from an entry from Paul Andrews Project Bits and Pieces.


Units served with


  • 41-23819 Rugged Buggy

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D 41-23819 'Rugged Buggy" 44BG/66BS, Shipdham was shot down 14-May-43 on a mission to bomb the port facilities at Kiel. Germany. The aircraft crashed at Eckenforde, Germany. 2KIA 8POW MACR 15509. ...

  • 41-23771

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D 41-23771 assigned to 44th BG/66th BS, Thurleigh. Crashed 3-Jan-43 near Puncheston, UK, out of fuel, on return from a mission to St. Nazaire, France. The Co-Pilot, 2Lt Dale K. Canfield died on 8-Jan-43 from injuries received in the crash. Aircraft...


  • VIII Bomber Command 28

    3 January 1943
    The U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are once again the target for this mission. This is proving to be a particularly difficult target to destroy due to its massive, reinforced concrete design. It consists of 14 individual pens connected together in...

  • VIII Bomber Command 56

    14 May 1943
    Today's operations will be the most extensive yet mounted by VIII Bomber Command. The operations call for a "maximum effort". Whereas in the past a single target or those close together have been chosen, today's effort is against widley separated...

Associated Place

  • Shipdham

    Military site : airfield
    Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number...


Event Location Date
Born Enderlin, North Dakota
Returned to Duty (RTD) Puncheston, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire SA62, UK 3 January 1943 – 6 January 1943

Aboard B24D 41-23771 when it made a crash-landing, out of fuel, upon return from a mission to St. Nazaire, France. He was injured in the crash and in hospital until 6-Jan-43.

Prisoner of War (POW) Krems an der Donau, Austria

Held at Stalag 17B, Braunau-Genikendorf (near Krems), Austria. Officially Returned to Military Control (RMC) 26-Jul-45.


Date Contributor Update
17 February 2015 23:06:51 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography

Lee Cunningham 17-Feb-2015. Added NOTE of combination of data from Paul Andrews Project Bits and Pieces.

Date Contributor Update
05 February 2015 19:40:14 Lee8thbuff Changes to biography, awards, events, place associations, aircraft associations and mission associations

Lee Cunningham 5-Feb-2015. Added decoration and POW event per National Archives Records Administration (NARA) WWII POW database; confirmed SN per MACR 15509; Added RTD event, edited biography for chronological order, added crew position, corrected A/C nickname per "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE; made connections to Place, 2 AIrcraft and 2 Missions within existing website data; .

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:21:46 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 15509, 44th BG/ 66th BS Shipdam 115 Losses of the 8th and 9th Air Forces Vol. 1 by Bishop and Hey p. 61, p. 119 with picture of plane on 118, MACR 3301, 44th BG Roll of Honor and Casualties by Lundy p. 38, p. 70,The 44th BG in WWII by MacKay and Ad