12/13.08.1944 No. 101 Squadron Lancaster III PB258 SR-V F/O. Gene Mitchell Atyeo
Operation: Braunschweig, Germany.
Date: 12/13 August 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)
Unit: No. 101 Squadron - Motto: "Mens agitat molem" (Mind over matter)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire.
Location: Barver, Diepholz, Lower Saxony, Germany
Pilot: F/O. Gene Mitchell Atyeo J28179 RCAF Age 22 - PoW No. 7331 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Charles Trevor Keeling 1579149 Age 21 - PoW No. 596 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau - Kreulberg - L7 (2)
Nav: Sgt. John William Lovatt 1583191 Age 20 - PoW No. 600 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau - Kreulberg - L7 (3)
Air/Bmr: F/O. Blake Latimer Patterson J29695 RCAF Age 32 - PoW No. 7486 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. John French Andrews J89901 RCAF Age 30 - Killed (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Fl/Sgt. Clement Fred Robert Pearce J/89902 RCAF Age 18 - PoW 619 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau - Kreulberg - L7 (6)
Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. David Henry Balchin J/89965 RCAF Age 19 - PoW No. 546 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau - Kreulberg - L7 (7)
Specialist Equipment Operator: Fl/Sgt. Hans Heinz Schwarz (served as Blake) 1876107 RAFVR Age 19 - Killed (8)
We would like to appeal to any relatives of the crew with further information/photographs to contact us.
Flying Officer Gene Mitchell Atyeo. Sergeant John William Lovatt
Flying Officer Blake Latimer Patterson. Sergeant John French Andrews
Flight Sergeant Clement Fred Robert Pearce. Sergeant David Henry Balchin
The photographs above were kindly provided by Joe Pearce the nephew of Flight Sergeant Clement Fred Robert Pearce. They were probably taken whilst the crew were at an Operational Training Unit. The aircraft behind the crew members would seem to be a Vickers Wellington that flew with a crew of five or sometimes six. Flight Engineer Sergeant Charles Trevor Keeling joined the crew when they transferred to four engined aircraft and Flight Sergeant Hans Heinz Schwarz joined later when they began using ABC equipment (see below).
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off from RAF Ludford Magna at 21:34 hrs to bomb Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, Germany. The aircraft carried the following bomb load: 1 x 2000HC and 12 x 500 Nose fused type clusters.
Route as per Loss Card: Mablethorpe - 5315N/0400E - 5318N/0505E - 5240N/0700E - 5240N/0800E - 5200N/0920E - Target - 5219N/1043E - 5250N/1000E - 5250N/0700E - 5385N/0500E
Specialist Equipment on board: IFF and ABC see abbreviations
A force of 379 aircraft comprising 242 Lancasters and 137 Halifaxes was dispatched on this mission to bomb Braunschweig. The raid was experimental insofar as no pathfinders accompanied the bomber force and thus there was no target marking. The purpose of the experiment was to determine if a successful raid might be carried out with the individual crews bombing the target as indicated by their own H2S ground scanning radar system. The experiment was unsuccessful with no concentration of bombing. The bombs falling on Braunschweig fell mainly in central and Stadtpark areas but towns as far away as 20 miles were bombed in mistake for Braunschweig.
17 Lancasters and 10 Halifaxes were lost representing 7.1% of the total force.
The ten aircraft provided by 101 Squadron carried specialist radar jamming equipment code named ABC. Each aircraft also had an eighth crew member being a specialist operator of the equipment. The specialist operator on board Lancaster PB258 was Flight Sergeant Hans Heinz Schwarz, selected because of his fluency in German and therefore able to monitor and jam night fighter traffic with their controllers. Three of the ten 101 squadron aircraft were lost that night, the other two being:
Lancaster I DV292 SR-O piloted by Fl/Lt. Leonard Ormond Tugwell RAAF was possibly shot down by a night fighter piloted by Oblt. Arnold Brinkmann and crashed at Brockum. All eight crew members lost their lives and are buried at Hannover War Cemetery.
Lancaster III LM598 SR-M2 piloted by Fl/Lt. Neville Marwood Tucker RAFVR was probably shot down by a night fighter piloted by Maj. Werner Husemann in the Sulingen-Wagerfeld area. All eight crew members were killed and are buried at Hannover War Cemetery.
In 2004 Malcolm Keeling, the son of Flight Engineer Sergeant Charles Trevor Keeling, contributed his father's story to the BBC WW2 People's War Archive. Entitled 'My Dad's Reluctant Story' it was written in 1997 by Trevor Keeling and is a comprehensive account of his wartime experiences including the Braunschweig raid and his subsequent time as a prisoner of war.
The following extract from the story covers the mission to Brunswick on 12/13 August 1944.
'Our next and what turned out to be, our last operation on the 12/13 August 1944 with ‘V’ (Venus) PB258 was to Brunswick, Germany. I remember that Clem Pearce the mid-upper gunner complained that he was not getting an oxygen supply. I gradually turned up the oxygen supply but only enough to satisfy realising that if I had turned it up full there would not have been enough to supply the crew for the duration of the flight, probably resulting in us having to abort this mission and turn back.
We made a successful run over the target, dropped our bombs, a mixture of H.E.s (high explosives) and incendiaries. On leaving the target we were to descend to 16000 ft and level out. Later the navigator, John Lovatt reported that it was now 0110 hours and we were twenty miles north of Hanover. Just 2 or 3 minutes later the rear gunner, David Balchin, said that flack was coming up at our rear. Gene Atyoe, the pilot asked to be advised if the flack got any closer, David did not need to do so as we were hit, puncturing the main fuel tanks on both sides of the plane, the starboard side tank immediately burst into flames. The order came, “Bale Out” - “Bale Out”.
Until the recent raid on Dijon I had always been rather careless as to where I left my parachute. A Lancaster that was over the target in front of us had had its inner port engine knocked out by a bomb falling from above it, resulting in the wing snapping off and the plane diving to the ground. I only saw one parachute partly open. I actually met this survivor in Stalug luft 7 many weeks later. He had been in hospital with broken legs.) Since this incident I was more careful where I stowed my chute.
I clipped on my ’chute’ and proceeded to the front hatch. Blake Patterson, the bomb aimer, and always referred to as Pat, had attempted to eject the hatch cover, but it had jammed diagonally across the rectangular exit. It was impossible to push out by hand so I sat on the front spar and repeatedly kicked on one side of the hatch inching it forward until it finally fell out.
Pat indicated that he had not yet clipped on his parachute and that I should jump first. John Lovatt was close behind me. As I was already sitting on the edge of the hatch opening I simply rolled forward somersaulting out. I spotted one other chute on the way down travelling faster than mine, this I thought was probably John Lovatt, who later told me that one panel of his chute had torn.
There were 10 Lancasters from 101 Squadron on this raid, 3 of, which were lost. Other Lancasters from 101 Squadron were on another German target and lost one aircraft. Of the 4 Lancasters lost 32 men lost their lives and six survived all members of my crew. I have since learned that Henry De Solla a Special Wireless Operator, also from 101 Squadron, and on the Brunswick raid, and tasked with a new jamming technique thought that his transmissions were attracting the night fighters. He decided to disobey orders, stopped jamming and returned safely.
I landed in a field right beside a young bull, which immediately showed his dislike at being disturbed. I began to run, gathering up my chute as I went. By the time I reached the edge of the field the bull was almost upon m. I dived though strands of barbed wire fence suffering no more than a small rip in my trousers.
I was unable to retrieve my parachute to hide it as it was by now completely entangled on the barbed wire fence.
I removed my “May West” life jacket and retrieved a small lamp and battery that was clipped onto it and threw the May West under a bush. I had always carried an airman’s small prayer card with me that I read and then decided to move from this spot.'
To read the full story of Sergeant Keeling's war experience click the following links
Sgt. John Lovatt stated: 'The only casualties I sustained were many bruises and abrasions to the face when I baled out. I have all the NCOs of the crew with me and Gene and Pat are safe but the W/Op is missing'.
Lancaster PB258 was 'possibly' shot down by Lt. Josef Förster of 8/NJG.2 N.W. of Hanover at 5200 metres at 24:00hrs and crashed at 0:15 at Barver, Diepholz about 80km North West of Hanover. This was his sixth abschüsse out of a total of 15. He survived the war.
Sgt. Andrews and Fl/Sgt. Schwarz were initially buried at Ströhen in the district of Diepholz and later re-interred at Haverlee War Cemetery in Belgium.
Scale: 1" = 25 miles
(1) F/O. Gene Mitchell Atyeo was born at Weyburn, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1922 the son of Charles Edgar Atyeo and Sarah Ellen (Sadie) Atyeo nee McLucas. He married Violet Lillian Chambers and they had seven children. He died at Sarnia, Ontario on 15 September 2007 aged 85 and was interred at Lakeland Cemetery in Sarnia.
(2) Sgt. Charles Trevor Keeling was born 17 January 1923 at Walsall the son of Charles H. Keeling and Lilian Keeling nee Pennell. In 1946 he married Thelma Wynne Jones at Durham Central. He died 2 December 2011 at Wolverhampton aged 88.
(3) Sgt. John William Lovatt was born at Walsall in 1924 the son of John Lovatt and Elizabeth C. Lovatt nee Plant. He had two siblings : Joyce E. Lovatt born 1922 and Kenneth A. Lovatt born 1931. John Lovatt was a boyhood friend of Trevor Keeling when they had both been members of the same Boy Scout troop.
He died at Walsall on 1 August 1955 aged 31 and was buried at Ryecroft Cemetery, Walsall in Grave 412.1.133B. His brother Kenneth was buried in the same grave in 2000. (Details kindly provided by Graeme Clarke)
(4) F/O. Blake Latimer Patterson was born 22 January 1912 at Lambton, Ontario, Canada. He was married to Mrs B.L. Patterson and lived at 88 Bristol Street, Toronto, Canada.
(5) Sgt. John French Andrews was born 21 April 1914 in Montana, USA the son of John Beeton French Andrews and Margaret Andrews nee Ayre. The family lived at Eureka, Lincoln, Montana until 1921 when they moved to Langbank, near Kennedy, Saskatchewan, Canada.
(6) Fl/Sgt. Clement Fred Robert Pearce. Son of Mr. A.E. Pearce 695 Vaughan Road, Toronto, Canada.
(7) Sgt. David Henry Balchin was born 18 May 1924 at Keewatin, Ontario, Canada the son of Alfred Balchin and Minnie Jessie Balchin nee Parfitt. In 1946 he married Elsie Dora Hulmes at Keewatin, Ontario, Canada. He died 1 October 2002 aged 78 at Pinecrest, Kenora, Ontario.
(8) Fl/Sgt.Hans Heinz Schwarz (served as Henry Blake) was born in Germany c1925 the son of Erich and Elli Schwarz of 17 Mapesbury Court, Shoot-up Hill, Cricklewood, London, NW2. The family had fled the Nazi regime and settled in England as Jewish refugees. He volunteered for aircrew on 25 April 1943 and this was his first operational mission.
Sgt. John French Andrews - buried at Haverlee War Cemetery, Belgium. Joint Grave No. 6.E.8 (5)
Fl/Sgt. Hans Heinz Schwarz - buried at Haverlee War Cemetery, Belgium, Joint Grave No. 6.E.8 (8)
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for Marla Miller, the niece of Sgt. John French Andrews and all other relatives and friends of the crew - September 2015.
With thanks to the sources quoted below.