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Karl Aalborg – First of the 10,673 Names

Born in Lloydminister, Saskatchewan, L.A.C. Karl Aalborg trained as a bomb-aimer at #5 Bombing and Gunnery School in Defoe, Saskatchewan from 9 November, 1942 until 4 July, 1943 flying in Anson and Bolingbroke aircraft.

After travelling overseas, he was posted to #82 Operational Training Unit where he joined the crew of F/Sgt. R.J.L. Banks and completed O.T.U. training aboard twin-engined Wellington bombers during the period from 29 July, 1943 to 22 September, 1943. Following his O.T.U. experience, F/Sgt. Aalborg was noted as, “above average” as both a bomb-aimer and an air-gunner. Notes in his logbook refer to him as, “very keen and very conscientious” and that he, “should do well on operations.”

The crew then flew aboard four-engined Stirling aircraft at #1651 Heavy Conversion Unit from 1 November, 1943 until 10 January, 1944.

Despite having no operational experience, the crew was selected for training at the Pathfinder Force Training Unit at Warboys. F/Sgt Aalborg completed the Pathfinder Force navigational training course on 20 February, 1944.

The crew was then assigned to No. 7 Squadron PFF in the Royal Air Force. Sgt. Banks’ crew completed 36 operations, the first being to Essen on 26 March, 1944. Aalborg listed his crew position as NAV 2 while on operations with the Pathfinders.

F/L Aalborg and his crew were lost on their 37th operation aboard Lancaster NE-126 (MG-R). Seventeen of 378 Lancasters were lost on this operation to Frankfurt on 12/13, 1944. The raid was reported to have been very successful. F/L Aalborg’s aircraft took off at 1913 from Oakington and was reported to have crashed at 2300 at Damscheid about three km WSW of Oberwesel, a small town on the west bank of the Rhine River, six km NNW of Bacharach. All aboard were killed and are buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery.

The crewmembers aboard Lancaster NE-126 were:

  • F/L R.J.L. Banks (pilot)
  • F/L Karl Aalborg (navigator 2)
  • Sgt. H. Easthope
  • F/L R.V. Stoneman
  • P/O D. Mapleson
  • F/S A.C. Scott
  • W/O A.D. Price

Karl Aalborg’s name is the first of the 10,673 inscribed on Canada’s Bomber Command Memorial at the Nanton Lancaster Air Museum. His logbook, crew photo, and RAF portrait were presented to the museum by his relatives, Ken and Lorraine Taylor of Edmonton, Alberta.

F/L R.J.L. Banks (left); F/L Karl Aalborg (second from right); others unknown.