27/28.09.1943 No. 149 Squadron Stirling III EF495 OJ-R Fl.Sgt. Hotchkis
Date: 27/28th September 1943 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 149 Squadron
Type: Stirling III
Base: RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk.
Location: North Sea.
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. George Stewart Hotchkis AUS/413386 RAAF Age 25. Missing
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Donald Francis Tweedie 1677594 RAFVR PoW No: 621 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Nav: Sgt. John Walter Crowe 1585095 RAFVR PoW No: 627 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air/Bmr: P/O. Clifford John William Bevan 50678 RAF Age 21. Missing
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Bernard Joseph Schollum NZ/421992 RNZAF Age 19. Missing
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Patrick Lyons 1320268 RAFVR PoW No: 620 Camp: Stalag Luft Heydekrug
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Clifford Bruce Andrews NZ/41174 RNZAF Age 22. Missing
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 20:04hrs from RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, England.
Above L-R: Sgt. Clifford Bruce Andrews, Sgt. John Walter Crowe, Fl/Sgt. Bernard Joseph Scholium, Fl/Sgt. Bernard Joseph Scholium and Fl/Sgt. George Stewart Hotchkis (courtesy Luther Moore)
Left: 149 Squadron Stirling III being 'bombed up' at RAF Lakenheath (Courtesy IWM)
Over the course of the Second World War the city of Hanover and the surrounding environs were targeted 88 times. The city itself, being an important road and rail logistical centre, received heavy damage and by the end of hostilities 90% had been destroyed and over 6,000 inhabitants killed.
Around the city were clustered numerous industries producing weaponry and other supporting materials for the war effort.
At Stöcken to the north lay the AFA works producing batteries for submarines. On the east side a major oil refinery at Misburg and to the west the M.N.H. tank factory at Badenstedt, the Hanomag military vehicle plant at Linden and the Continental rubber factory at Limmer.
The attacking force of 678 aircraft was comprised of 312 Lancasters, 231 Halifaxes, 111 Stirlings, 24 Wellingtons and 5 B-17’s. In total 47 aircraft were lost, 38 over or enroute to or from the target and nine crash landing in England.
According to RAF reports after the raid, the Pathfinders had used incorrect wind forecasts which blew the target markers away from the city centre. Reconnaissance photographs taken after the raid showed that the majority of the bombs fell in a concentrated area consisting of villages and open country some five miles to the north.
Another crew photo (courtesy Luther Moore and Stephen Hotchis)
Left: Fl/Sgt. Bernard Scholium
21 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitoes of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid on Brunswick which was successful in drawing off some night fighters. 218 people were killed in Brunswick - 51 Germans and 167 foreigners. 1 Lancaster lost.
9 Mosquitoes on another diversion to Emden, 5 Mosquitoes on Oboe tests to Aachen (3 were successful), 19 aircraft minelaying in the Kattegat and the Frisian Islands, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.
No details as to how this aircraft was lost but no nightfighter claims have been made. Lost without trace, although a distress signal was picked up at 00:57 hrs - with the W/Op informing that they were about to ditch in the North Sea.
However, some reports from Germany state that the aircraft crashed at Lingen, Germany, we are unable to confirm this. MACR state that this was investigated but no evidence found.
On return to England after release from the PoW camps the other crew members were required to make statements - all stated that at the time they had baled out of the aircraft Sgt. Hotchis was not wounded and continuing to fly the aircraft. It is thought possible that they were trying to nurse the aircraft back to England
Melinda Stevenson contacted us in November 2015, she takes up the story of her Uncle:
Clifford ‘Bruce’ Andrews was my mum’s older brother. Bruce was her hero and his memory was never forgotten his younger sisters and brother all raised their children and then their grandchildren on stories of ‘Uncle Bruce’ – his photo took pride of place in each of their homes and while none of us ever ‘met’ him, we feel we knew him.
He was the eldest child in a family of 5. Born and raised on an isolated farm, he was short but muscly and strong. He had a tenancy to be mischievous and the local girls loved him! Bruce’s dad, Frank Mitchell Andrews had served in France during WW1 with the New Zealand armed forces and returned home suffering from shell shock and terrible nightmares, where he married his 17 year old childhood sweet heart. In 1921 when their first child Bruce was born, Frank apparently used to look at him and tell his wife Doris, ‘this little boy will never have to see war because we fought the war to end all wars!’. Sadly that wasn’t the case, because just 25 years later that ‘little boy’ died aged just 22 somewhere over the North Sea....his death broke his Dad’s heart!
In 1943 Bruce was wearing a historic cultural treasure when his plane went missing. Coming from a small farming community in New Zealand with a high Maori population, Frank’s best friend, Roa Hira, lent him an ancient Pounamu (greenstone) pendant that was a ‘taonga’ (treasure) in the Hira family - to Maori this pendant held special protective powers, so by giving it to Frank to wear on the front during WW1, it would ensure he’d be ‘protected’ and come home safely to his friends and family....which he did after 3 years at the front in France. Then just 25 years later, when Frank’s young son, Clifford Bruce Andrews (known as Bruce), was leaving for England with the Air Force, old Roa Hira visited his old childhood friend, Frank, and told him to tell young Bruce to wear the ‘taonga’ to protect him in battle.....but sadly the pendant went missing with Bruce when his plane was lost over the north sea.
Photo right shows, Clifford Bruce Andrews just before he left home for England during WW2 – the last official photo the family had!
As the eldest child, Bruce had left school at a young age to help on the family farm (largely because of the Great Depression), when WW2 broke out Bruce desperately wanted to be a pilot in the Air Force but with limited education his math skills weren’t up to standard, so every day for many many months, after completing long physically tiring days on the farm, he’d ride his bike or a horse (war rationing meant there was no petrol for the car!) and go miles to the home of the elderly country Post Master who would tutor him in Maths....eventually he was able to apply for the Air Force, but in the end he didn’t get to train as a pilot, instead, I was told he was an air gunner. (when Bruce was deployed overseas, my mum, aged 14, had to leave school to help her dad (a WW1 veteran and member of ‘Dad’s Army’ in WW2) to run the farm as it was essential to the war effort to keep farm production up).
On the 27/28th September 1943 (at the time Bruce’s plane must have gone down), his dad, Frank Mitchell Andrews, back home in New Zealand, had a vivid dream that something had happened to his boy....my mum found him crying in the cow shed the next morning and he told her what he’d dreamt, but he made her promise not to tell his wife (Bruce’s mum) in case he was wrong. For the following week, Frank made sure that he worked close to the house, because he ‘sensed’ that the news that Bruce was killed or was missing, would eventually be delivered and he wanted to get the telegram not his wife.
Left: This photo shows his dad, Frank Mitchell Andrews just prior to him leaving New Zealand with his best friend Roa Hira – you can see the Pouanmu pendant attached to the belt of Roa Hira.
In due course, with Frank still hanging around the farm house (days after his dream) the elderly post master who had tutored Bruce, was seen slowly and sadly peddling his bike along the country road and then down the farm track to the house carrying the telegram to say Bruce was listed as missing in action. (Being a country area, the local school kids would deliver the mail by horse back on their way home from school as the young man who’d been the ‘postie’ was serving overseas....so when the community saw the old Post Master wobbling along on his bike during the war years, they knew by the direction he was cycling in, who’s farm would be getting the news that their son, father or husband was either missing, wounded or killed; at that point the ‘bush telegraph’ would swing into action spreading the news, organising baking, meals and practical help on the farm while the bereaved family struggled with their grief.
Roa Hira didn’t go to WW1....its a complicated story but not many Maori from the Waikato area of New Zealand (south west of Auckland), fought in either WW1 or WW2, this was because they were protesting that so much of their traditional ancestral land had been seized (and sold and given to white settlers) by the Crown during the Maori Land wars during the previous century. As you’ll probably have heard the Maori Battalion were legendary fighters during WW2 in the middle east and Italy but those Maori came predominantly from other areas around New Zealand, like the far north and the East Cape area...where as the Waikato Maori mainly obeyed their tribal leaders and didn’t join up....this caused hardship for many Maori families and resentment amongst many white New Zealanders who considered it disloyal to the crown...however Waikato Maori actually had their own royal family – in fact, Prince Charles and Camilla met with the present Maori king in November 2015 during their tour of NZ.
About 20 years ago, my mum (then in her 70’s) was at a tangi (a Maori funeral which can lasts 3 days) in the Waikato and she was approached by an elder member of the Hira whanau (family) who asked if Mum knew what had happened to the greenstone pendant. (In Maoridom, those pendants are named, have a very definite oral history and are seriously considered as treasures and can be hundreds of years old....probably Roa Hira wasn’t supposed to gift / lend it to my white grandfather. When mum told the family that the pendant went down with her brothers plane during WW2, the man sighed and nodded sadly and said he ‘thats alright then’...but it was a huge thing to have lost something so special.
For someone from another culture, this must sound very odd but for Maori and many New Zealanders who understand the customs it was huge.
Above and left: Runnymede Memorial, as photographed by Stefan Youngs, May 2013.
Fl/Sgt. George Stewart Hotchkis. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Panel 193. Son of Daniel Stewart Hotchkis and Ada Louisa Hotchkis, husband of Joan Isabel Hotchkis, of Roseville, New South Wales, Australia. (Later of 63 Boyce Street, Glebe. New South Wales)
P/O. Clifford John William Bevan. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Panel 123. Son of William Arthur and Nellie Elizabeth Bevan, of New Tredegar, Monmouthshire, Wales.
Fl/Sgt. Bernard Joseph Schollum. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Son of Joseph James Schollum and Annie Magdalene Schollum, of Ahuroa, Auckland, New Zealand. 178 hours flying experience but this was his first operation.
Sgt. Clifford Bruce Andrews. Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Panel 199. Son of Frank Mitchell Andrews and Doris Myrtle Andrews, of Onewhero, Auckland, New Zealand. 132 hours flying experience, this is thought to have been his 3rd operation.
Sgt. Donald Francis Tweedie survived the war. Son of F.R. Tweedie of 67 Ravenshill Road, Yardley Wood, Birmingham, England.
Sgt. John Walter Crowe survived the war Son of Mr. W.G. Crowe of 12 Empress Avenue, Ilford, Essex, England.
Sgt. Patrick Lyons survived the war. Brother of Mrs M. Fleming of Cullen Castle, Tramere, Co. Waterford, Eire.
Researched for Stephen Hotchkis (cousin of the pilot Fl/Sgt. George Hotchkiss) and Melinda Stevenson - niece of the rear gunner who contacted us in November 2015. Luther Moore, relative of Fl/Sgt. Scholium who also contacted us in November 2015. Page dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Erroll Martin, Australian and New Zealand archives, Weekly News, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses' Vol. 4, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vol's. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Tom Kracker - 'Kracker Luftwaffe Archives'.