20/21.12.1943 No. 466 Squadron Halifax III HX273 HD-W Fl/Sgt. Patrick John Edwards
Operation: Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany
Date: 20/21 December 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 466 Squadron. Motto: "Brave and true"
Squadron Badge: None
Type: Handley Page Halifax Mk III
Base: RAF Leconfield, East Riding of Yorkshire
Location: Near Beltershausen (Marburg-Biedenkopf, Hesse, Germany)
Pilot: Fl/Sgt Patrick John (Pat) Edwards Aus/413748 RAAF Age 21 - Killed (1)
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Reginald Stephen Hall 1812950 RAFVR Age about 21 - PoW No. 267451 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria - L3 (2)
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Beamish Gore (George) Brett Aus/410143 RAAF Age 20 - PoW No. 267437 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe - 4B (3)
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Ralph Spencer Parsons Aus/409226 RAAF Age 30 - PoW No. 269796 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe - 4B (4)
W/Op/Air/Gnr: F/O. Bruce Loane RAAF Age 22 - PoW No. 3263 Camp: Stalag Luft 3 (5)
Air/Gnr (MU): Fl/Sgt Francis Shamus (Jim) Cahir Aus/419441 RAAF Age 20 - PoW No. 267500 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe - 4B (6)
Air/Gnr (R): Sgt. Reginald Edward Frank Spalding 932656 RAFVR Age 22 - PoW No. 267480 Camp: Stalag Mühlberg-Elbe - 4B (7)
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It was May 1943 when the five crewed up. Along with dozens of other airmen they had been posted No. 27 Operational Training Unit based at RAF Lichfield in Staffordshire to be coached in flying the Vickers Wellington medium bomber and the complexities of night bombing attendant therewith.
Pat Edwards, the pilot, was 20 years old and from Newcastle, New South Wales. Unsurprisingly he was drawn towards his fellow countrymen when seeking his crew members, but seeing as most of those posted to the unit were Australian he had plenty of options but still ended up with a token Pom.
His navigator of choice was Beamish Gore Brett, a 19 year old former Shipping Clerk from Toorak, an affluent suburb of Melbourne.
Ralph Parsons, the air bomber of the team, was from Euroa, a small town at the foot of the Strathbogie Ranges in Victoria, a haunt of Ned Kelly who held up the town's National Bank in 1878. A Motor Mechanic in peacetime Ralph was 29 years old and would become affectionately known to the others as "Bloody Old Parso".
The wireless operator was Pilot Officer Bruce Loane. Aged 21 he was from the Sydney beach-side suburb of Manly and the only officer of the crew. But despite being out-ranked by Bruce, Pat Edwards being the pilot, was still the man in charge when flying.
Completing the crew was air gunner Reginald Spalding from Lowestoft, Suffolk. Aged 22 he was a Wood Machinist before joining the air force.
(Brett and Parsons had been on the same course at Mount Gambier from 29 April 1942 to 26 July 1942 (No. 24 (O) Course) before being posted to different bases for further training)
On completion of training at Lichfield the crew, now deemed ready for operational flying, was posted on 22 August 1943 to No. 466 Squadron based at RAF Leconfield some 13 miles north of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
They had barely settled in when they learned that from 1 September that the squadron was to withdraw from operations with Vickers Wellington Xs to re-equip with Handley Page Halifax II and III heavy bombers.
All aircrews except for eight training crews, were sent on leave prior to proceeding to Conversion Units for instruction on the Handley Page Halifax.
The eight training crews were to undertake advanced training on four Wellington X aircraft retained by the Squadron.
On 7 September the Pat Edwards crew were posted to No. 1652 Conversion Unit at RAF Marston Moor in the North Riding of Yorkshire near York where they were to make the acquaintance of the four engine Halifax heavy bomber and a week later they were to make the acquaintance of two additional crew members necessary to fly the larger aircraft, flight engineer Reginald Hall and air gunner Jim Cahir.
Sgt. Reginald Stephen Hall was a member of the RAF but nothing is known of his family background or age. Air gunner, Jim Cahir was 20, and like navigator Beamish Brett, hailed from Melbourne where he had been employed as a Clerical Worker.
The five became seven and training on the Halifax commenced in earnest. On 30 September they returned to Leconfield where 8 Halifax IIs had now been delivered for training purposes.
Training continued throughout October on the Mark IIs but these were gradually replaced with the Mark III model in early November and by the end of November the Squadron had on charge 19 Halifax IIIs and just 3 Mark IIs remained.
On 3 November Pat Edwards and another pilot, Flying Officer John Scales, were sent to No. 158 Squadron at RAF Lisset near Bridlington in the East Riding to do 2nd pilot trips. In the late afternoon they were both airborne as part of a force despatched to bomb Dusseldorf from which they returned safely. Halifax HX236 captained by John Scales was also lost on the Frankfurt raid of 20 December (see later)
During the latter part of November the squadron undertook seven sea searches over the North Sea seeking ditched air crews none of which had any success. Pat Edwards and his crew took part in three of them, on 18, 19 and 25 November.
On 1 December the Squadron undertook its first operation for three months, a minelaying operation to Terschelling by 12 Halifaxes.
Further minelaying operations to the same area were carried out by 12 aircraft on 4 and 6 December and the Edwards crew took part in both of them, laying their mines successfully.
For the next two weeks the squadron was not required for operations and the training of air crews continued by day and night, on the ground and in the air whenever possible and during this period, the Pat Edwards crew were posted again to No. 1652 Conversion Unit from 9 to 14 December for further training.
But long before dawn on Monday 20 December the teleprinters of Bomber Command were busily chattering away, conveying all the necessary instructions for another major raid on a German city.
That night, a force of some 650 aircraft comprising 390 Lancasters, 257 Halifaxes, and 3 Mosquitoes was to be despatched on what would be the heaviest raid of the war on Frankfurt. Zero hour was to be 1935.
4 RAF Mosquitoes were to follow up at +40 +45 +50 and +55 aiming at fires in order to hamper firefighting efforts.
A force of Lancasters and Mosquitoes was to carry out a diversionary attack on Mannheim shortly before the main attack.
At 1929 Blind Markers and Supporters were to illuminate the target followed by Visual Markers at 1931 and Backers Up from 1933 until 1953. The main attack, led by two waves of Halifaxes and followed by 3 waves of Lancasters was timed to last for 17 minutes until 1952 hours.
16 aircraft of No. 466 Squadron were ordered for the operation, the first main operation by the Squadron on Halifax IIIs.
The Pat Edwards crew was one of the 16 crews detailed for the raid.
REASON FOR LOSS
The first of the sixteen Halifaxes was away at 1644, the others following at approximately one minute intervals until by 1705 they were all airborne. Pat Edwards flying HX273 was fifth in line and took off at 1658. On board was a bomb load of 1 x 2000 High Capacity bomb, 8 SBC (small bomb containers of 50 x 4lbs each) and 3 SBC (8 x 30lbs each) and 1808 gallons of fuel sufficient for 6 to 7 hours flying. Special equipment on board was Monica and H2S.
Once formed the whole bomber stream crossed the East Anglian coast at Southwold, over the North Sea, across Holland and into Belgium. South west of Liege the bomber stream turned eastward towards Germany and Frankfurt.
Unknown to the crews of the bomber force the German control rooms were able to plot the bomber force as soon as it left the English coast and were able to continue plotting it all the way to Frankfurt. There were many combats on the route to the target the first of these at 18.19 just south of Gilze en Rijen in the Netherlands. At least 10 bombers were lost to fighters on the outward journey.
The Pathfinder Force had prepared their ground marking plan based on a forecast of clear weather but arriving over the target found it to be shrouded in 8/10ths cloud. The resulting marking was not good and a German decoy fire site 5 miles SE of Frankfurt and their use of dummy Target Indicators compounded the problem.
Flying at between 17000 and 20000 feet the first wave of 100 Halifaxes bombed the target from Z to Z + 3 followed immediately by 138 Halifaxes of the second wave including that of Pat Edwards and his crew from Z + 3 to Z + 7
In the target area the heavy flak was at first predicted but subsided to a moderate barrage bursting between 17000 and 20000 feet. Though this was the height at which the bombers were bombing only 2 were seen to be brought down by flak over the target.
As Pat began the bombing run, air bomber Ralph Parsons took command directing the approach. He duly despatched his bombs and once the photoflash had gone off Pat took over again making all haste to clear the target area as quickly as possible.
The briefed route for the homebound journey took them about ten miles east of the city before turning north for about 35 miles and then west towards Belgium.
It has been suggested that Pat Edwards was forced to turn north due to his aircraft being damaged by flak but later statements by the crew make no mention of any flak damage and it would seem therefore, that Pat was merely following the briefed route.
Having turned north and flying at 19000 feet the Halifax was attacked from beneath and slightly astern by a night fighter flown by Leutnant later Hauptmann Heinz Rökker (8) of I./NJG 2 at 1947 hours. Halifax HX273 was about to become his 9th victim out of a career total of 64.
Jim Cahir in the mid upper turret had a grandstand view of events as the starboard engine was hit and burst into flames. He reported what he saw to Pat Edwards who immediately ordered engineer Reg Hall to apply the fire extinguishers. The extinguishers however had no effect and the fire eventually began to spread along the wing towards the starboard inner engine. Quickly losing power and height Pat Edwards realised all was lost and gave the order to bale out.
As Ralph Parsons, the bomb aimer baled out at 12000 feet Pat Edwards was then at the controls with his chute harness adjusted. The aircraft was burning and in a steep dive. Ralph saw the aircraft crash in flames but was unable to say definitely whether the pilot had abandoned the aircraft or not.
Jim Cahir made his way to the rear escape hatch and baled out at about 8000 feet and as he fell he saw the aircraft diving in flames before disappearing behind a hill.
Navigator George Brett left the aircraft at 2000 feet with Pat Edwards still at the controls. Some ten seconds later he saw the aircraft hit the ground and explode.
By the time wireless operator Bruce Loane got out of the aircraft it was below 2000 feet. The front hatch had jammed and he had left the inter-com to try and release it eventually jumping at something under 2000 feet. Rear gunner Reg Spalding baled out either directly from the rear turret or from the rear escape hatch and engineer Reg Hall also got out, probably via the front hatch.
Pat Edwards, fighting a losing battle to hold the aircraft steady, stayed at the controls whilst all his crew had baled out, but by that time it was too late for him and he died as the Halifax the crashed near the village of Beltershausen at 2000 hours. Whether by accident or design the blazing aircraft crashed in fields thus avoiding the village itself and the attendant loss of life which such a catastrophe would surely have caused.
The following day, Pat's body was recovered from the wreckage and buried in the local Cemetery.
Ralph Parsons landed safely and although details are unknown, managed to evade capture until 23 December when he was captured north-east of Frankfurt. He was held in cells near Frankfurt until 31 December when he was transferred to Dulag Luft where he was held for a further 6 days. On 6 January 1944 he was transferred first to Stalag Luft III and later to Stalag IVB Mühlberg Elbe.
Jim Cahir made a relatively soft landing in a ploughed field albeit becoming tangled up in the shroud. Extricating himself he gathered up the chute made for a nearby pine forest where he buried it and moved off not knowing where. By daybreak he found himself on the edge of the forest and seeing a small bridge decided to hide up beneath it through the daylight hours. After setting out that night with snow threatening, feeling tired and cold he took shelter in a barn, but the following morning when the farmer entered with two dogs the game was up. He later learned that he had been captured at the village of Lollar 50 miles north of Frankfurt.
He was taken to Dulag Luft where he remained from 23 December for 7 days before being transferred to Stalag Luft III and later to Stalag VIB.
George Brett hit his head fairly hard on landing and having made his way to a small wood, fell asleep. He was awakened early in the morning by two civilians with shot guns. Handed over to the military authorities he was eventually transferred to Stalag IVB.
After landing safely, Bruce Loane was later captured at Heskem Station and sent to Stalag Luft III. He was later transferred to Stalag IVB.
Reg Hall became a prisoner of war at Stalag Luft III and Reg Spalding a prisoner at Stalag IVB.
Stalag IV-B was one of the largest prisoner-of-war camps in Germany during World War II. It was located 5 miles north-east of the town of Mühlberg in the Prussian Province of Saxony, just east of the Elbe river and about 30 miles north of Dresden.
By 1944 the camp was very overcrowded with 250 men housed in barracks designed to hold 150. Daily rations consisted of 250 - 300 grams of bread, a cup of soup and occasional sugar, jam and margarine supplemented by Red Cross Parcels. Heating, washing and sanitary conditions were all bad. By June 1944 the issue of Red Cross Parcels had dwindled to 1 every two weeks and from September 1944 until liberation were only issued "occasionally".
Stalag IVB was finally liberated by Russian forces on 23 April 1945 but it was to be another month before the Russian forces permitted the prisoners to leave.
Jim Cahir, George Brett and Ralph Parsons all arrived back in the UK on 19 May and Bruce Loane arrived back nine days later. Whilst the others were all taken to No 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre at Brighton Jim Cahir was admitted to Stoke Mandeville Hospital suffering from Malnutrition. He was discharged from hospital on 2 June and taken to Brighton.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE OPERATION
Though some bombing fell on the German decoy, part of the creep back fell on the city causing more damage than Bomber Command realised at the time.
466 houses were destroyed and 1948 severely damaged at Fechenheim and outlying townships of Offenback and Sachsenhausen. 117 bombs hit various industrial premises. The cathedral, city library, city hospital and 69 schools were among many cultural historical and public buildings hit.
The Wehrmacht suffered damage to 4 flak positions, a clothing store, the veterinary depot and Army music school.
64 people were killed and 111 missing with 23000 people bombed out. A train standing 6 miles south of city was hit by a 4000lb bomb and 13 people in it were killed.
And even at Mainz, 17 miles west of Frankfurt, a few bombs fell, killing another 14 people.
The Mannheim diversion failed to draw the night fighters away from the main attack until after raid was over but the return flight was quieter.
27 Halifaxes and 14 Lancasters representing 6.3% of the force were lost with 192 crew killed and 92 taken as prisoners of war.
Of the sixteen Halifaxes despatched by No. 466 Squadron 2 returned early due to technical or mechanical defects and 2 Failed to return.
The other aircraft lost by No. 466 Squadron on the raid was Halifax III HX236 HD-J piloted by F/O. John Scales 120525 of Peldon, Essex which crashed at Weisbaden. The pilot and all the crew were killed and were buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery - Collective grave 18. E. 19-25. (see introduction)
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) Fl/Sgt Patrick John Edwards was born on 3 August 1922 at Cardiff, New South Wales, Australia the son of Francis John Edwards and May Edwards later of 33 Morehead Street Lambton, Newcastle, New South Wales.
He had two siblings, Bruce Edwards and Mari Edwards and attended Broadmeadow Central School in Newcastle.
He enlisted on 12 September 1941 and following initial training, embarked for the UK on 13 November 1942.
He is commemorated on the Australian War Memorial at Canberra on Panel 110.
(2) Sgt. Reginald Stephen Hall - was born on 9 December 1924 at Wandsworth, London the son of Ernest William Hall and Lily Florence Hall nee Mousley.
In 1939 the family lived at 18 Steers Mead, Mitcham, Surrey and Reginald worked as a Bakers Delivery Assistant.
In June 1945 he married Jean Margaret Duncan at Lambeth. They had a son Stephen Alexander Hall (1946-2012)
Reginald Stephen Hall died in August 1999 at Surrey Northern, Surrey, aged 74.
(3) P/O. Beamish Gore Brett was born on 29 June 1923 at Toorak Victoria Australia the son of Arthur Adderley Brett and Elsie Beatrice Brett 4 Burnie Street Toorak.
After leaving school Beamish Brett was employed as a Junior Shipping Clerk before enlisting at Melbourne on 5 December 1941 at the age of 18.
After training at No. 1 Initial Training School at RAAF Somers, Victoria, No. 2 Air Observer School at RAAF Mount Gambier, South Australia and No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School RAAF West Sale, Victoria he was awarded his Air Observer Badge on 17 September 1942. Posted to No 1 Air Navigation School RAAF Parkes New South Wales on 19 September 1942 he was promoted to Sergeant on 15 October 1942.
On 2 November 1942 he embarked for the UK. Travelling via Canada he disembarked in the UK on
16 Dec 1942 and posted to No. 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth.
After promotion to Flight Sergeant on 15 April he was posted to No. 10 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Dumfries in Scotland on 20 April for training on Avro Ansons.
On 25 May 1943 he was posted to No. 27 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lichfield, Staffordshire where night bombing training was conducted on Vickers Wellingtons.
He was posted to No. 466 Squadron at RAF Leconfield, East Riding of Yorkshire on 22 August 1943.
His promotion to Warrant Officer was on 15 April 1944 whilst he was a prisoner of war.
On 9 September 1945 he disembarked at Sydney almost three years after he left and on 13 December he was demobilised.
He later married Betty Lorraine Philip and in December 1949 received a Bachelor of Law degree from Melbourne University.
On 1 August 1950 he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court.
He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the Air Force Reserve General Duties Branch on 16 February 1951 (Commonwealth of Australia Gazette 2 June 1951)
It was reported in The Argus (Melbourne) of 1 July 1954 that he had been admitted to partnership in the legal firm of Blake and Riggal of Melbourne with whom he had served his articles.
Beamish Gore Brett died 9 April 1993.
(4) WO. Ralph Spencer Parsons was born on 16 June 1913 at Euroa, Victoria, Australia the son of Francis Henry Spencer (a Garage Proprietor) and Rosa Parsons nee Spencer later of Binney Street, Euroa.
He had eight siblings: Frank Spencer Parsons born 1900, Bruce Lyall Parsons born 1901, Ronald Charles Parsons born 1904, Colin Kitto Parsons (1906-1976), Rosa Linda Parsons (1908-1990), Leonard Kirkland Parsons (1910-1964), Richard Lawrence Parsons (1916-1980) and Dorothy Evelyn Parsons (1917-1980)
After attending Euroa Higher School (1925-1929) he became a Motor Mechanic and proprietor of Yambuk Garage, 29 Beech Street, Caulfield, Yambuk, Victoria.
When he enlisted at Melbourne on 20 July 1941 he was described as being 5'4½" tall weighing 130 lbs with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and fair hair and gave swimming as his main sport.
After training at No. 4 Initial Training School, Victor Harbour, South Australia, No. 7 Elementary Flying Training School, RAAF Western Junction Tasmania, No. 11 Elementary Flying Training School RAAF Benalla Victoria, No. 1 Service Flying Training School, RAAF Point Cook, Victoria and No.2 Air Observer School, RAAF Mount Gambier South Australia and No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School, RAAF Port Pirie South Australia he was awarded his Air Observer Badge on 24 September 1942.
He was posted to No. 2 Air Navigation School, RAAF Nhill Victoria on 27 September 1942 where he was promoted to Sergeant on 12 November.
He embarked for the UK at Melbourne on 15 January 1943 and travelling via New York USA disembarked in the UK on 17 March 1943 where he was posted to No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre at Brighton.
On 20 April he was posted to No. 6 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Staverton in Northamptonshire for training on Avro Ansons.
He was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 12 May and on 18 May posted to No. 27 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lichfield, Staffordshire for night bombing training on Vickers Wellingtons.
He was posted to No. 466 Squadron at RAF Leconfield, East Riding of Yorkshire on 22 August 1943.
Whilst a prisoner of war he was promoted to Warrant Officer on 12 May 1944.
On 10 August 1945 he embarked for Australia where he disembarked at Sydney on 9 September and was posted to No. 2 Personnel Depot. He was sent to No. 1 Medical Rehabilitation Unit at Warburton, Western Australia on 3 October. On 21 January 1946 he was posted to No.1 Personnel Depot and seven days later to No. 1 Operational Training Unit at East Sale, Victoria for three months before returning to No. 1 PD. On 3 July he was posted to No. 37 (Transport) Squadron at RAAF Station Schofields, New South Wales. He was at R Hospital from 28 October to 2 December 1946, No. 2 AD from 5 February 1947 and Care and Maintenance Unit Tamworth 12 March 47 to 25 March 47. He was discharge at the Transit Demos and Recruiting Section Eastern Area HQ on 17 February 1948
He married Clarice Mary Skinner at Waverly, New South Wales on 26 February 1948
Ralph Spencer Parsons died at Combara New South Wales on 28 April 2004 at the age of 90
(5) Fl/Lt. Bruce Loane was born on 16 October 1921 at Manly Sydney New South Wales Australia
His mother was Mrs C Loane of 5 Carlton Street Manly Sydney
LAC Bruce Loane was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 12 November 1942 Commonwealth of Aus Gazette 31 December 1942. The dates of his further promotions are not known.
(6) WO. Francis Shamus (Jim) Cahir was born on 18 July 1923 at Melbourne, Victoria, Australia the son of Francis Thomas Cahir and Mabel Cahir nee Murray. He had two siblings: Vincent Brendon Cahir (1926-1992) and Pat Cahir (details unknown) and the family lived at 505 Bell Street West, Preston, Melbourne.
Jim attended St Patrick's College East Melbourne and after leaving school was employed in Clerical work and studied Bookkeeping and Accountancy part time.
He played football, cricket and athletics.
When he enlisted at Melbourne on 11 August 1942 he was
5' 11¾" tall weighing 150 lbs with a medium complexion, hazel eyes and auburn hair.
After training at No. 1 Initial Training School RAAF Somers, Victoria, No. 2 Wireless and Gunnery School at RAAF Parkes New South Wales and
No. 2 Bombing and Gunnery School at RAAF Port Pirie, South Australia he was awarded his Air Gunner's Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 1 April 1943.
On 4 June he embarked at Adelaide for the UK where he disembarked at Cardiff on 4 September 1943 and was posted to No. 11 Personnel Despatch and Reception Centre at Brighton.
On 14 September he was posted to No. 1652 Conversion Unit at RAF Marston Moor in the North Riding of Yorkshire where he joined the Patrick Edwards crew.
On 30 September he returned with the crew to No 466 Squadron at RAF Leconfield in the East Riding of Yorkshire where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 14 October.
His promotion to Warrant Officer was on 1 October 1944 whilst he was a prisoner of war.
Disembarking at Sydney on 28 November 1945 he was posted to No. 1 Medical Rehabilitation Unit at Warburton, Western Australia on 21 December and finally demobilised on 17 April 1946
In 1949 he married Valda Lillian McMahon with whom he had ten children, Mary, Penny, Helen, Pat, Pauline, Simon, Bernard, Michael, Joseph and Fred, 38 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.
Jim Cahir died at Melbourne on 8 April 2017 aged 93
(7) Sgt. Reginald Edward Frank Spalding was born on 1 May 1921 at Mutford Suffolk the son of Trawler Engineer Reginald Edward Spalding and Gertrude Spalding nee Wicks
He had four siblings: Audrey G. Spalding born 1922, Dorothy W. J. Spalding born 1923, Bernard A. Spalding born 1925 and Neville S.J. Spalding born 1931
In 1939 the family lived at 92 Beresford Road Lowestoft.
Before enlisting in the RAFVR Reginald Spalding junior was a Wood Machinist.
In 1946 he married Doris I. Sterry at Lothingland Suffolk and they later had a daughter.
Reginald Spalding died in 1979 at Waveney Suffolk aged 58.
(8) Haptmann Heinz Rökker was born on 20 October 1920 in Oldenburg, Germany. He was accepted as an officer candidate and entered the Luftwaffe on 1 October 1939 and completing his training at Nachtjagdschule 1, near Munich on 1 November 1941. He was then posted to 1 Staffel, Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 operating in the Mediterranean on 6 May 1942. He remained with this wing until the end of the war. His first victory was on 20 June 1942 when he shot down a Bristol Beaufort near Crete. On 4 August 1./NJG 2 relocated to Belgium and he was appointed its Staffelkapitän on 15 December 1942. The wing returned to the Mediterranean on 9 February 1943 and based in Sicily. In July 1943, 1./NJG 2 returned to Europe to undertake Reichsverteidigung (Defence of the Reich) duties.
Heinz Rökker was credited with 64 victories (63 at night) in 161 missions. He was the eighth most successful night fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare.
Hauptmann Heinz Rökker died on 2 August 2018 aged 97.
Frontflugspange (Front Flying Clasp):
in Bronze (after flying 25 missions on 17 June 1942)
in Silver (after flying 500 missions on 5 August 1942)
in Gold (after flying 100 missions on 19 January 1944
Eisernes Kreuz (1939) (Iron Cross): 2nd Class (3 July 1942) 1st Class (14 August 1942)
Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz (Wound Badge in Black) (14 July 1942)
Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe) on 12 June 1944
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold) on 13 June 1944 as Oberleutnant in the 2./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross) on 27 July 1944 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 2./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves) Number 781, for 60 victories on 12 March 1945 as Hauptmann and Staffelkapitän of the 2./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS
Fl/Sgt Patrick John Edwards was originally buried at the Beltershausen Civil Cemetery and re-interred at the Hannover War Cemetery, Niedersachsen, Germany - Grave reference 5.G.1
His epitaph reads
Under the wide
And starry sky
Dig me a grave
And let me lie
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - August 21019
With thanks to the sources quoted below.