20.11.1944 No. 75 Squadron Lancaster III ND911 AA-V F/O. Patrick L. McCartin
Operation: Homberg, Germany
Date: 20th November 1944 (Monday)
Unit: No. 75 Squadron (RNZAF)
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire.
Location: Not known - target area.
Pilot: F/O. Patrick Leo McCartin AUS/419328 RAAF Age 28. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. William John Warlow 1653307 RAFVR Age 30. Killed
Nav: P/O. John Miles 187426 RAFVR Age 35. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Leonard Arthur Martin 153528 RAFVR Age ? Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Phillip Francis Smith AUS/427206 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dennis George Albert Bryer 1874880 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. John Gray RAF PoW (No further details available as yet.)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Lancaster ND911 took off from RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire at 12:47 hrs. Part of 3 Group with a force of 183 Lancasters to bomb Homberg (Oil Refinery Plant). Weather was stormy and many of the aircraft failed to keep formation. Despite little resistance from Luftwaffe fighters the force suffered very heavy flak and a total of 5 Lancasters were lost on this daylight raid.
Lancaster ND911 Crew Left to right: Sgt. John Gray, Sgt. Dennis Bryer, P/O. John Miles, Fl/Sgt. Phillip Smith, F/O. Patrick McCartin, F/O. Leonard Arthur Martin, Sgt. William John Warlow. Front row: Ground Crew - LAC Geordie Brown, LAC Geordie Dryden, LAC Mike Masters and LAC Jim Woods.
On the bomb run at about 13:00 hrs. the pilot was forced to lose height as the starboard outer engine failed and he decided to feather it. At 15:00hrs. and the aircraft was forced to leave the formation, however, at 15.15hrs they bombed the target - at 15:17hrs. they then received a direct hit from the flak and the aircraft burst into flames, the tanks exploded and the Lancaster broke up in mid air and a very violent spin developed. Sgt. Gray the rear gunner, was knocked unconscious but prior to this the pilot did not give the order to abandon aircraft. When he came to the entire tail unit had broken away during the mid air explosion and Sgt. Gray, the rear gunner, managed to rotate the turret to enable him to bale out at 10,000 ft. He stated that he saw no other parachutes during his descent.
During his parachute drop at around 2,000 ft. he was shot at by German ground troops but was not hit.
F/O. Patrick Leo McCartin pictured left receiving is wings (Courtesy Anne and Paul Hickey) and right with whom it is thought to be Sgt. Denis Bryer in the cockpit of Lancaster ND911 (Courtesy AWM)
The aircraft also has the ribbon of a Distinguished Flying Cross painted on it, either awarded to a crew member or unofficially to the aircraft itself by the ground maintenance crew.
On landing he was captured and taken to the flak battery HQ near Orsna. (during this time, pieces of the aircraft were still falling giving him a strong indication that the aircraft did in fact explode in the air) Later that night he was treated by a German doctor who informed him that two bodies had already been found in the wreckage and that he would be required to identify them the next day.
Following day he was then taken to a Night Fighter base also in Orsna (without seeing the bodies) and was kept there for 3 days. No other members of the crew arrived. He was finally taken to Frankfurt-On-Main for final interrogation. He was told again that two of the crew were found dead but that the other four were still at large. He was kept there for five days and then moved to a transit camp.
F/O. McCartin enlisted on July 1942 and after graduating from advanced flying school in Canada, he was promoted to Flying Officer and flew on numerous operations over occupied Europe. He was named after his Uncle, Lieutenant Leo Aloysuis McCartin, MC, who served in the First World War and was killed in action in 1918.
The bombing was understood to have been scattered and a repeat raid was made the next day with significant resulting damage to the Oil refinery. A further 3 Lancasters were lost on that raid.
F/O. Patrick Leo McCartin. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 25.G.4. Son of Michael Albert James McCartin and Anastatia Clare McCartin, of Brunswick, Victoria, Australia.
Sgt. William John Warlow. Reinberg War Cemetery Collective grave 7.B. 5-7. Son of William Charles and Elizabeth Warlow, of Llanelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
P/O. John Miles. Reinberg War Cemetery Collective grave 7.B. 5-7. Son of William and Elizabeth Miles, husband of Olive Manwell Miles, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex, England.
F/O. Leonard Arthur Martin. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery 25.G.10. No further details as yet - are you able to assist?
Sgt. Phillip Francis Smith. Reinberg War Cemetery Collective grave 7.B. 5-7. Son of Arthur Joseph and Ireen Elizabeth Smith, of Maylands, Western Australia.
Sgt. Dennis George Albert Bryer. Reinberg War Cemetery Collective grave 7.B. 5-7. Son of Albert Edward Bryer, and of Dorothy Beatrice Bryer, of Grays, Essex. England.
With thanks to the sources quoted below and also many thanks to Jim Smith for new updated information on this loss.
(1) We have also been contacted by Anne Hickey (niece of F/O. Patrick Leo McCartin) and her husband, Paul - they have supplied us with some further names on the crew photo and photographs.
(2) We are in contact with Stuart Gray who is the grandson of Sgt. John Gray and anyone who has further information on this loss we would be proud to place them in contact with Stuart.