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: Fl/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. These six men crewed up at No. 28 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wymeswold, Loughborough, Leicestershire having been posted there on 20 February 1944 on to course No. 33.
On 19 May the crew was posted to No. 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire and its satellite RAF Sandtoft for conversion to four engine aircraft. Here the crew was joined by a seventh member, Flight Engineer Sergeant Charles Trevor Keeling. The crew was posted to No. 101 Squadron at RAF Ludford Magna on 7 July 1944.
Flight Sergeant Hans Heinz Schwarz joined later when they began using ABC equipment (see below).
It is believed that the operation of 12/13 August was the 12th operation undertaken by the crew with No. 101 Squadron.
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.
Scale: 1" = 25 miles
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(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 Harold Keeling (a Lay Clerk at Durham Cathedral in 1939) and Lilian Dorothy Keeling nee Pennell. He had four siblings: Dorothy Mary Keeling (1918-2008), Muriel Yvonne Keeling (1920-2017), Frank Ian Keeling (1924-1999) and Margaret Keeling (1931-2016).
On 9 March 1946 he married Thelma Wynne Jones at St. Margaret's Church, Durham.
He died 2 December 2011 at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire aged 88.
(3) Sgt. John William Lovatt was born at Walsall on 18 March 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.
In 1939 the family lived at 100, Mill Street, Walsall. At that time John Lovatt senior was employed as a Railway Sub Ganger.
John Lovatt was a boyhood friend of Trevor Keeling when they had both been members of the same Boy Scout troop.
He died 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)
According to his death certificate he died at Parsons Court, Minchinhampton, Stroud, Gloucestershire . The cause of death was Chronic Tuberculosis. His address was Of.35 Airmans Married Quarters, RAF Station Shawbury, Salop and his occupation was recorded as Flight Sergeant No. 1583191 Royal Air Force. The informant was his brother Kenneth A. Lovatt of 100 Mill Street, Walsall. (Details kindly provided by David Champion)
Following a request for help to the Minchinhampton Local History Group, the Group's Chairman, Diana Wall, took up our enquiry. On behalf of Aircrew Remembered, Roy Wilcock would like to thank Diana for her very swift response with the following information:
In 1949 John Lovatt married Annie Mary Richardson at Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire. Although the reason for John Lovatt having died at Parsons Court in Minchinhampton has not been discovered, Diana's enquiries unearthed the following invaluable information.
"An elderly lady who grew up in Parsons court (which is a collection of small cottages in the centre of Minchinhampton) remembers a very ill young man living in the house of Mrs. Clara Viner, the widow of the former chemist in the town. She was 80 in 1955 and apparently had a nurse/live in companion. My informant said he had been a P.O.W. which means it must be John Lovatt, as I hadn't told her his back story. Incidentally Mrs. Viner was a distant relative of Ivor Gurney the WW1 poet".
If you can add any further details to the story of John Lovatt please contact our helpdesk
(4) F/O. Blake Latimer Patterson was born on 22 December 1911 at Sarnia, Ontario, Canada the son of Francis Patterson (a Tool Maker) and Rosa Patterson nee Allen. The family later lived at 744 Chilver Road, Windsor, Ontario. Blake was educated at King Edward School, Windsor (1919-1928) and Walkerville Collegiate, Windsor (1926-1929).
After leaving school he was employed as a Blueprint Tracer by the Canada Steel Corporation in Windsor from 1929 until its closure in 1931. From 1931 until 1933 he was employed as a Watchman by the Steamship Harmonic, at Upper Lakes and in 1934 he took employment as a Paymaster with Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd, Whisky Distillers of Windsor. He remained with the company until enlisting in the RCAF in 1942.
He was a Scoutmaster for 12 years and occasionally played softball and hockey. He swam extensively and also enjoyed wrestling, motorcycling and playing table tennis.
Prior to enlisting Blake was required to attend the War Emergency Training Programme (WETP) to improve his basic education requirement.
Commencing on 17 April 1942, the course he attended was held at the Ontario Teachers College in Hamilton.
He enlisted at Hamilton, Ontario on 16 June 1942 where he was given Air Force number R516311.
After pilot training at No. 6 Initial Training School at RCAF Toronto, No. 20 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Oshawa, Ontario, Blake was washed out apparently mainly due to his slow rate of progress, slow reactions, tenseness and lack of confidence.
He was re-mustered as an air bomber and after training at No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Fingal, Ontario and No. 4 Air Observer School at London, Ontario he was awarded his Air Bomber's Badge, promoted to Sergeant and immediately commissioned as a Pilot Officer all on 20 August 1943.
The following day he married Miss Velma Lenina Dunk at Toronto Ontario and was granted two weeks of embarkation leave from 25 August. Blake and Velma later lived at 88 Bristol Street, Toronto, Canada.
He embarked for the UK at Halifax, Nova Scotia on 13 September 1943 and on 20 September, the day after his arrival in the UK, he was posted to No. 3 Personnel and Despatch and Reception Centre at Bournemouth. On 23 November he was posted to No. 1 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland and on 18 January 1944 to No. 28 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wymeswold, Loughborough, Leicestershire where he was promoted to Flying officer on 20 February.
Posted to No. 11 Base on 19 May he was then posted to No. 101 Squadron at RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire on 7 July 1944.
Blake was on his 12th operation when he was shot down. After capture he was incarcerated at Stalag Luft 3 in Lower Silesia near the town of Sagan (now Żagań, Poland).
After liberation in 1945 he was returned to the UK and on 8 May 1945 he arrived at No. 3 RCAF Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre, Bournemouth. He was repatriated to Canada on1 June 1945 and on arrival there on 11 June was granted six weeks special leave until 24 July after which he was posted to No. 1 KTS (Composite Training School) at RCAF Trenton, Ontario.
He was discharged from the RCAF on 10 September 1945 on completion of a term of voluntary service during an emergency and returned to his former position with Whisky Distillers, Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd.
Blake Latimer Patterson died at Windsor, Ontario on 19 February 1988 aged 76.
(Biographical details kindly provided by our friend and colleague, RCAF researcher Dave Champion)
(5) P/O. John French Andrews was born on 21 April 1914 at Eureka, Montana, USA the son of John French Andrews (a Lumberman born Northumberland, England, died 6 August 1935 aged 54) and Margaret Andrews nee Ayre (born Dumbarton Scotland)
He had five siblings: Doris Irene Andrews born c 1913, Grace E. Andrews born c 1916, Beatrice E. A Andrews born c 1917, Robert William Andrews born c 1920 and Edward Harold Andrews born c 1922.
The family lived at Eureka until about 1921, Langbank, Saskatchewan until 1926, Kennedy, Saskatchewan until 1936, Neilburg, Saskatchewan until 1940 and Edmonton, Alberta until 1943
John was educated at Kennedy Public School 1921-28 and Kennedy High School 1928-31. After leaving school he took several part time jobs between 1931 and 1935 before being employed by the Bank of Toronto in 1935 as a Bank Clerk/Teller until enlisting in 1942.
He enjoyed horse riding, playing golf and reading and also played the piano.
He enlisted at Edmonton on 30 June 1942 and given Air Force number R171734. He was described as being 5'5" tall weighing 108 lbs with a medium complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.
After training at No. 15 Service Flying Training School RCAF Claresholm, Alberta, No. 4 Initial Training School Edmonton, Alberta No 2 Wireless School RCAF Calgary, Alberta and No. 7 Bombing and Gunnery School RCAF Paulson, Manitoba he was awarded his Wireless Air Gunners Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 4 October 1943. He embarked for the UK on 22 October and the day after disembarking, 30 October, was posted No 3 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre at Bournemouth.
On 30 November he was posted to No. 5 Air Observer School at RAF Jurby, Isle of Man, Course No. 106 AFU. On 18 January 1944 he was posted to No. 28 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wymeswold and its satellite airfield RAF Castle Donnigton, Leicestershire where he was on Course No. 33. On 19 May he was posted to No. 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire and its satellite RAF Sandtoft.
He was posted to No. 101 Squadron at RAF Ludford Magna on 7 July 1944 and promoted to Flight Sergeant on the same date.
He was commissioned as a pilot officer on 11 August 1944.
(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 on 2 December 1924 in Berlin, Germany the son of Erich Schwarz and Ellie Matilde Schwarz nee Siemann. The family arrived in London on 5 July 1939 and later lived at 17 Mapesbury Court, Shoot-up Hill, Cricklewood, London, NW2.
It is believed that Hans' paternal grandfather was born in London thus enabling his children to claim British nationality.
Hans joined the RAF on Christmas Eve 1942 and after a posting to No. 19 Operational Training Unit at RAF Kinloss, Moray Firth, Scotland joined No. 101 Squadron at RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire on 18 January 1944.
Hans flew one operation with No. 101 Squadron as Special Operator with the crew of P/O. R.A. Nightingale on a raid to Magdeburg on 21 January 1944.
On 14 February 1944 Hans was posted to No. 1481 Bombing and Gunnery Flight at RAF Ingham, Lincolnshire.
The date of his return to No. 101 Squadron is not known.
The parents of Hans Schwarz were subject to great anguish when they learned of their son's death after initially receiving a letter from the RAF informing them that he was a prisoner of war. It seems that the RAF had confused "Henry Blake" with "Blake Patterson".
Sgt.John French Andrews and Fl/Sgt. Hans Heinz Schwarz were initially buried in a joint grave at Ströhen in the district of Diepholz in Lower Saxony. After cessation of hostilities the United States Graves Service visited the cemetery where a number of American servicemen were buried. Not being fully aware of the British policy that all British aircrew buried in Germany would be moved to British Military Cemeteries located in Germany moved the remains of Sgt. Andrews and Sgt. Schwarz to Neuville American Cemetery in Belgium.
On discovery of the error the remains of the two airmen were re-interred at the Heverlee War Cemetery, Belgium in Joint Grave No. 6.E.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.