Joseph Murray Donnelly


Squadron: 226 (RAF)
Rank: F/O
Job: Wireless Air Gunner
Aircraft: Mitchell Bomber

Motto: "Non sibi sed patriae -For country not for self"

Joseph Murray Donnelly, who went by his middle name "Murray", was born November 27, 1922 in Roleau, Saskatchewan to the late Frank and Agnes Donnelly. At the age of two, the Donnelly family moved to Fort Francis.

In 1942 Murray joined the RCAF, and was posted overseas. He was a Wireless Air Gunner (WAG) on Mitchell B-25 Bombers in the RAF Squadron 226. He was also the Gunnery Leader for Wing 137.

During his overseas stint, he made 47 operational flights over Europe in close support of the Allies advancing armies.

On May 1, 1945, Hamburg radio announced the death of Hitler. Grand Admiral Donitz, Hitler's appointed successor, orders the German troops to fight to the end while Himmler, who has no authority, is attempting to negotiate favourable surrender terms with the Allies. British troops advance on Lubeck and Hamburg, and US forces are dug in on the west bank of the Elbe. On May 2nd, 1845, Mitchell light bombers of 2nd T.A.F. made their last mission of the war, when 47 aircraft of Nos. 98, 108, 226, 320 and 342 Squadrons bombed the railway marshalling yards at Itzehoe.

You can see the upper turret where Murray would have manned the guns

GROUP 2 No.226 SQUADRON Squadron code was MQ (Sep 1939 - May 1945)

No. 226 Squadron, Group 2, began the war as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force, making it one of the first squadrons to be sent to France. The Fairey Battle suffered very heavy loses during the Battle of France. No.226 Squadron was forced to retreat west, and had to be evacuated from Brest in mid-June, reforming at RAF Sydenham in North Ireland.

In the spring of 1941 the squadron moved to East Anglia, and began a series of attacks on German occupied ports and shipping, swapping its Blenheims for Bostons in November 1941 and for Mitchells in May 1943. The North American B-25 Mitchell was an American twin-engined medium bomber manufactured by North American Aviation.


In 1944 the squadron became part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, operating in support of the Normandy invasions. As the Allies advanced towards Germany, the squadron moved to France, operating in support of the advancing armies to the end of the war. The Mitchells were the most versatile aircraft in WWII. They carried a crew of six.

However, the RAF received nearly nine hundred Mitchells, using them to replace Douglas Bostons, Lockheed Venturas and Vickers Wellington bombers. The Mitchell entered active RAF service on 22 January 1943. At first it was used to bomb strategic targets in occupied Europe. After the D-Day invasion the RAF used its Mitchells to support the armies in Europe, moving several squadrons to forward airbases in France and Belgium.

Mitchell Air Bombers : A fresh supply of bombs awaits incoming Mitchell bombers, March 1945. Fuelling and bomb-loading operations sometimes began even before crews alighted from the aircraft.

By May 1943 No. 2 Group had been transferred from Bomber Command to 2nd Tactical Air Force and the squadron's targets were enemy airfields and lines of communication, both inside and outside the immediate invasion area. The largest number of RCAF (Canadian) aircrew to fly in Mitchells served in RAF medium bombers in Britain. Four squadrons-Nos. 98, 180, 226 and 320-operated in the Second Tactical Air Force as No. 139 Wing. Before D-Day in June 1944 they attacked flying bomb sites, rail yards and supply depots in France and Belgium; after D-Day their target lists were extended to road junctions and bridges. Operating at 10,000 feet and below, their principal enemy was flak which took down bombers almost randomly. The Luftwaffe spent little time on countering well-escorted Mitchells. Two exceptions were on Sept. 21, 1943, and Sept. 25, 1944. On each occasion, FW.190s shot down two Mitchells of No. 98 Sqdn. Warrant Officer Harry Bowmaster, a wireless air gunner from Calgary, survived the latter action as a prisoner of war.

Following the invasion it moved onto the continent and continued to support the advancing Allied armies for the remainder of the war, disbanding at Gilze-Rijen on 20 September 1945.

Postwar, Murray was a 30 year veteran of the Land Registration system in Ontario. He was appointed as Local Master of titles for the Rainy River District Office in 1957, where he worked for 19 years, and later transferred to the Thunder Bay, Registry Office, serving another 11 years, until his retirement in 1987. Murray passed away Tuesday, March 29, 2013. Murray Donnelly had a brother, Captain Mel Donnelly, in the Canadian Artillery. Mel was killed by a sniper in Holland, just weeks before the war ended. It was a sad and bitter blow to the family.


We Will Remember

animated maple leaf

Thank you, Veterans,

With sincere gratitude from all Canadians

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