B17G Flying Fortress 43-37516 'Tondalayo' was an overall matt black finished special operations aircraft attached to the 406th Night Leaflet Squadron based at Cheddington, and was the personal aircraft of the unit's commander, Lt Col Aber, being retained by him when the squadron converted to Liberators. Aber was on his 51st mission when he was shot down. Co-pilot was Lt Maurice Harper who had flown Spitfires with the RCAF, before volunteering for a tour on 'Heavies.'
Both men perished on the night of March 4th 1945, when their aircraft was shot down by British anti- aircraft defences .The tragedy unfolded around 9.15pm, when the Tondalayo ,returning from a leaflet drop on Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, was crossing inland over the east coast. At the same time two enemy aircraft, homeward bound after a sneak raid, were heading easterly at a lower altitude, which no doubt confused the defenders. At 12,000 feet, over Clacton-on-Sea, exploding shells set the aircraft alight in the area of the waist gun positions, severing control cables and injuring the Bombardier, Lt Connie Morton., who sustained injuries to his eyes and right leg. The aircraft rapidly descended to 8,000 feet, and was heading for an emergency landing at Woodbridge when the aircraft was hit again, crippling her further and this time injuring the tail gunner. It was at this point the 'bail out' order was given, all the crew abandoned the aircraft apart from Aber and Harper. Captain Stonerock (naviagator) was the last crewman through the hatch at 5,000ft , and later reported that both Aber and Harper had their harnesses on, but not their chutes, so it can only be assumed that they had insufficient time or altitude to do so.