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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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22/23.05.1944 No.419 Squadron Lancaster X KB717 VR-E P/O Charles E.G. Patterson

Mission: Dortmund

Date: 22/23 May 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)

Unit: No.419 (Moose) Squadron

Type: Lancaster X

Serial: KB717

Code: VR-E

Base: Middleton St. George, Yorkshire (Now County Durham)

Location: 2 km south of Mönchengladbach, Germany

Pilot: P/O Charles Edmund George Patterson, J/85360 RCAF Age 22 Killed

Flt/Eng: P/O Robert Eric Norman Wood, 176479 RAF Age 21 Killed

Nav: P/O William Alexander Bailey, J/86335 RCAF Age 21 Killed

Air/Bmr: P/O Donavan Emmerson Derbyshire, J/88396 RCAF Age 26 Killed

W/Op: F/Sgt. Ogwen Jones, 1507140 RAF Age 22 Killed

Air/Gnr: F/Sgt. Adam Philip Chawanski, R/196076 RCAF Age 21 Killed

Air/ Gnr: WO2 Arthur Carleton Beckett, R/159331 RCAF Age 24 Killed

2nd Pilot: F/O William Wilkins Mitchell, C/2106 RCAF Age 29 Killed


During April and May 1944, many of Bomber Command's targets leading up to D-day were in France and Belgium against logistical centres such as railway yards, ammunition dumps, supply depots and communication sites. The raid on Dortmund was one of the larger sorties in terms of numbers of aircraft and the first on this target for a year. Although intended to focus on the Hoesch industrial and synthetic oil production installations many of the bombs fell on residential areas destroying or seriously damaging many houses killing 335 German citizens and 26 prisoners of war. Only six industrial buildings were destroyed.

Captain Patterson and crew took off from base at 22:40 hours crossing the Dutch coast in an easterly direction. In the region of the German town of Ahaus, the stream turned south to attack Dortmund from the north. The raid over the target lasted from 00:40 hours to 01:00 hours after which the return route led the bombers west over the heavily defended Ruhr Valley cities of Bochum, Essen, Duisburg, and a little further to the south, Dusseldorf.
While many of the raiders were claimed by German nightfighters, Flak batteries brought down three Lancasters; ND768 of 75 Squadron, NE134 of 12 Squadron, and KB717.
Homewood bound, the Heavy Flak batteries based in the Duisburg and Dusseldorf area claimed KB717. The bomber was coned by the searchlights of 2./ Flakscheinwerfer-Abteilung 581 (o) and hit by 4.& 6./schwere Flak-Abteilung 244 (o) and 1.,2.,4. and 5./schwere Flak-Abteilung 401 (o) (Boiten, 2021).
Captain Patterson's Lancaster finally crashed and burned killing all on board at 01:23 hours in the southwestern outskirts of Mönchengladbach at Genhulsen.

The Crew

Captain: P/O Charles E.G. Patterson

The son of an Anglican Clergyman, Charles applied for enlistment in September 1941 after working for a short time as a service station attendant at his older brother Robert's Shell Service Station in Oshawa. He had done well at his High School, Oshawa Collegiate, and passed his senior matriculation in several subjects. Charles scored well on his interview being recommended as a pilot or observer and high potential for a commission.
Finally called up in November 1941, he was taken on strength at No.1 Manning Depot on 22 December where he remained for the next four months until he was posted to No.1 Initial Training School, Toronto on 26 April 1942. Selected for aircrew training Charles was posted to No.9 Elementary Flying Training School at St. Catherines, Ontario on 2 August until 10 October when he was next posted to No.6 Service Flying Training School at Dunnville, Ontario. Successfully passing all examinations, Charles graduated with his Pilots Flying Badge and was promoted to the rank of Sergeant effective 5 February 1943.
His training in Canada now complete, Charles was posted to No.1 "Y" Depot, Halifax to await embarkation for the UK. Leaving New York on 9 March, he arrived at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 18 March 1943. Two months later on 18 May, Charles was posted to No.20 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Kidlington, Oxfordshire to begin his training on multi-engine aircraft in preparation for flying heavy bombers. From there he was posted to No.22 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford, Warwickshire on 27 July 1943 where night bomber crews were trained on the Vickers Wellington bomber. It would be here that the basis of the rest of his crew would come together in order to form a working team once they were transferred to an operational squadron. Completing his course there on 15 October he was next posted to No.1659 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Topcliffe, Yorkshire where he and his crew, with the addition of a flight engineer and a mid-upper gunner, trained on the Handley Page Halifax bomber.
Taken on strength of No.419 Squadron on 20 November 1943. To gain operational experience, new pilots accompanied other captains on sorties before captaining their own crew on a raid. On 22/23 November 1943, Charles flew as a second pilot with Captain J.R. Harrison to Berlin and then again with Captain H.R.F. Dyer to Frankfurt on the night of 25/26 November. Charles completed another 18 operational sorties as the Captain of his own crew before he was lost.

Flight Engineer: P/O Robert E.N. Wood

From Swansea, Glamorganshire where his Father and Mother worked as the manager and manageress of a drapery business.
Although the 419 Squadron ORB states that a Flight Engineer, Sgt. G. Wood, 1709161 was posted in on 3rd December 1943 from 431 Squadron it would appear that some error was made in the entry. F/E Galen Wood, 1047841 was killed when 431 Squadron Halifax LK898 was lost on the night of 3/4 December 1943 during a raid on Leipzig. The service number for F/E Robert Wood was incorrectly recorded in the 419 ORB as 1709161 whereas it should have been 1709160.
Robert did not join the Patterson crew on a full-time basis until the night of 13/14 March 1944. Previous to that he flew with them on one raid to Berlin on 20/21 February.
His first operation with 419 Squadron was on the night of 4/5 January 1944 when he flew with Captain A.G. Hermitage on a mining detail to the Bay of Biscay. On 2/3 February he flew on a mining sortie to the Keil Bay as a member of Captain J.G. Stewart's crew and then with Captain D.D. Laidlaw to St. Nazaire on 10/11 February. Counting these three operations and the fifteen he flew with Patterson, Robert completed 18 trips when he was lost in action.

Navigator: P/O William A. Bailey

William came to Canada with his parents and an older brother and three sisters when the family immigrated from Northern Ireland in 1928. A good student, he completed his High School education at Brantford Collegiate in 1941 after which he secured a position as a clerk at the Slingsby Manufacturing Company. In his spare time, William was an avid hunter and fisherman.
Enlisting at Hamilton in March 1942 he spent the next four months at No.1 Manning Depot before being posted to No.1 Initial Training School, Toronto on 19 July 1942. Although keen to be a pilot, he was selected as being more suited for training as a navigator and passed on to No.1 Air Observers School, Malton, Ontario on 14 September where he completed the course and was awarded his Navigators Badge on 30 December 1942. Now with the rank of Sergeant, William was posted to No.1 "Y" Depot from where he embarked bound for the UK on 26 January 1943.
Arriving at No.3 PRC, Bournemouth, 5 February he remained there until 15 June when he was posted to No.3 (O) Advanced Flying Unit at Half Penny Green, Staffordshire. Promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant on 30 June, William was next posted to No.22 Operational Training Unit where he teamed up with his pilot Charles Patterson on 27 July 1943. Posted to No.1659 HCU on 15 October and finally to No.419 Squadron on 20 November 1943 William flew his first operational sortie one month later to Frankfurt and participated in a further 17 raids. He had only just celebrated his 21st birthday one week prior to the night he was lost.

Bomber: P/O Donavan E. Derbyshire

Tragedy would seem to follow the Derbyshire family as his older brother David died at the age of sixteen and a younger brother Rex was born prematurely and died shortly after birth. Three weeks later, the boy's mother Pearl also passed away from complications following the delivery. Donavan was four years old when his Mother died.
Donavan was a good student and very active in rugby and wrestling. After graduating High School, he was awarded a place at the University of Western Ontario studying business administration. During his fourth year at Western in December 1941, he applied to join the RCAF wanting to be trained as a pilot or navigator. Called up in January 1942 he was sent to No.1 Manning Depot in Toronto and then to No.1 Initial Training School on 7 June. Selected as suitable for aircrew he was posted to No.4 Air Observers School at London, Ontario on 16 August 1942. Things did not go so well at the navigation school as he failed the course there and was passed on to Composite Training School (KTS) at Trenton, Ontario for re-assessment of his abilities and remustering to another trade.
Donavan's level of education should have made it easy for him to pass the navigation course but it is suspected that he was upset that he was not selected for pilot training and did not put in the required effort. The remarks on his KTS school report read:

"This man is a good type. He cannot understand why he wasn't given a chance at pilot training, being fit for all aircrew. He is keen, intelligent, well educated, personable and mentally alert. Board feels he warrants some consideration."

The Commanding Officers disagreed however and their response to the board reads:

"Quite impossible to remuster navigators to pilots. Good kid - should make a good A.B."

With this decision, his future in the RCAF was cast and he was posted to No.1 Bombing and Gunnery School, Jarvis, Ontario on 5 December 1942 to be trained as an Air Bomber. For whatever reason Donavan put his mind to it and did well at the school finishing his course third out of a class of 22. Perhaps too he had a change of heart in that it was remarked on his final report:

"Energetic and popular. Good sense of responsibility."

To complete his air bomber's training it was necessary for him to undertake a course in navigation back at his old school No.4 AOS where he had failed previously. Taken on strength there on 7 March 1943, Donavan completed the course on 16 April graduating with his Air Bomber Badge (at that time Air Observers Badge) and promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Interestingly the comments on his report state:

"Map reading and navigation good. Above average." Assessment as an Air Bomber: "Above average."

Posted to No.1 "Y" Depot on 1 May he arrived at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 5 June 1943. Ten days later he was posted to No.3 (O) Advanced Flying Unit at Half Penny Green until he was taken on strength at No.22 Operational Training Unit on 13 July and then to No.1659 HCU on 15 October joining 419 Squadron on 20 November 1943. Donavan had participated in 19 sorties against the enemy when he was lost.

Wireless Operator: F/Sgt. Ogwen Jones

Ogwen the youngest son of Hiram, a coal miner, was living at home and worked as a painter in 1939 prior to enlisting. He crewed up with Charles Patterson at No.22 OTU and flew all of his 18 sorties as a member of that crew.

Mid Upper Gunner: F/Sgt. Adam P. Chawanski

Adam was born in Poland and came to Canada in 1927 with his Mother to join his Father who had emigrated one year earlier. He had been enrolled at United College for one year when he applied to join the RCAF in August 1942. As the only child, he had requested a six-month deferment in order to find work to support his mother and invalid father but this was denied and he was posted to the Manning Depot at Brandon that October. Adam was then posted to No.12 Service Flying Training School on 26 November but it is unclear as to his duties there. He remained at No.12 SFTS until 6 March 1943. Sadly during his time there his Father passed away that February. Whether this had any bearing on his training is unknown. Posted to No.2 Air Gunners Ground Training School at Trenton on 7 March he completed the course there and then attended Course 54 at No.3 Bombing and Gunnery School, MacDonald, Manitoba from 5 April until 25 June 1943 where he gained his Air Gunners badge and the rank of Sergeant. After 14 days embarkation leave, he embarked at Halifax for the UK on 16 July arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 26 July 1943.
Posted to No.22 OTU on 10 August where he crewed up as a member of Patterson's crew he moved with them to No.1659 HCU and then finally to 419 Squadron. Adam completed 18 operations.

Rear Gunner: WO2 Arthur C. Beckett

Arthur completed his senior matriculation at high school after which he enrolled in a six-month business course at Commercial High in Edmonton. He worked as a clerk and stock keeper for two years during which he married Miss Vera Verna Dunlop on 30 July 1940 before he enlisted in May of 1942. Arthur was called up on 29 May 1942 and taken on strength at the No.3 Edmonton Manning Depot where he would spend the next eight weeks. After being posted for six weeks of temporary duties at No.7 Service Flying Training School at Fort MacLeod, Alberta, he was posted to No.4 Initial Training School in Edmonton on 13 September 1942. While he was stationed there, he injured his knee playing volleyball when he collided with another airman during a game in the drill hall. Taken to hospital, he was operated on to remove bone and cartilage fragments from the injured knee which in-told required a hospital stay of some 29 days. Whether this had any bearing on his future training or not is unknown, but by the end of his stay at No.4 ITS he was selected for the trade of air gunner and posted to No.3 Bombing and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba on 24 January 1943. After twelve weeks of training there, Arthur graduated with his Air Gunner's badge and the rank of Sergeant on 16 April 1943. The remarks on his final report read:

"Has applied himself to his work and obtained above average marks. Can be relied upon to work and co-operate with others. Will make a good air gunner."

Granted fourteen days of pre-embarkation leave to spend with Vera, Arthur was posted to No.1 "Y" Depot to await shipment to the UK on 4 May 1943.
Arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 12 May, he was stationed there until 27 July when he was posted for training at No.22 OTU. Posted to No.1659 Heavy Conversion Unit 15 October where he was promoted to the rank of Flight Sergeant and then to 419 Squadron on 20 November 1943. Arthur first flew with Captain Patterson on the night of 15/16 February 1944 to Berlin completing 16 sorties before he was lost.

2nd. Pilot William W. Mitchell

William was from a large Scottish family of six brothers and seven sisters who emigrated to Canada with their parents in 1930. William completed his schooling in Glasgow and upon arriving in Canada found a position as a parcel inspector for the T.Eaton Co., in Toronto. In 1932 he joined the 48th Highlanders of Canada Active Militia until he was discharged in 1936 seeking to enlist for non-flying duties on a permanent commission in the RCAF. Posted to Trenton, Ottawa and Dartmouth stations over the next six years, William married Miss Mary Evelyn Tough in 1939 and a daughter Sandra Louise was born at Halifax in 1941. Rising to the rank of temporary Flight Lieutenant as an Armament Officer and Instructor, William applied to remuster for flying duties in July 1942.
Successfully passing his aircrew medical, William was posted to No.3 Initial Training School at Victoriaville, P.Q., on 23 October 1942 and then to No.20 Elementary Flying Training School at Oshawa on 11 January 1943. Next posted to No.16 Service Flying Training School at Hagersville, Ontario on 8 March he graduated with his Pilot's Flying badge on 25 June 1943. On 16 July William embarked for the UK arriving at No.3 PRC Bournemouth on 23 July. Posted to No.20 (P) Advanced Flying Unit on 24 August and then to No.82 Operational Training Unit at RAF Ossington, Nottinghamshire on 21 December. Taken on strength at 61 Base and attached to No.1666 Heavy Conversion Unit 29 March, he joined 419 Squadron on 19 May 1944.
William would never get the chance to captain his own bomber crew which he had longed for and trained so hard for. He was given the opportunity to ride along as the second pilot with Captain Patterson to see for himself what it was like on an actual operation just days after arriving at Middleton St. George when the Lancaster was shot down and all were lost.

Burial Details

P/O Charles Edmund George Patterson, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of the Revd. Robert Brunker Patterson, M.A., and Fannie Rand (nee Blachford) Patterson, of Islington, Ontario, Canada.

P/O Robert Eric Norman Wood, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of Harold and Greta (nee Jones) Wood, of Morriston, Glamorgan

P/O William Alexander Bailey, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of William Speers Bailey and Margaret (nee Dagwell) Bailey, of Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

P/O Donavan Emmerson Derbyshire, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of Seth Carman and Pearl (nee Reid) Derbyshire of Shedden, Ontario, Canada.

Derbyshire Island in Parry Sound was named after P/O Derbyshire in 1960

F/Sgt. Ogwen Jones, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of Hiram Austin and Mary Lizzie (nee Roberts) Jones, of Rhos, Denbighshire.

F/Sgt. Adam Philip Chawanski, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of Joseph and Katherine (nee Stepkiw) Chawanski, of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canada.

Chawanski Lake, Manitoba was named after F/Sgt. Chawanski in 1974

WO2 Arthur Carleton Beckett, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of Waitland Jay and Nellie (nee Daugherty) Beckett and husband of Vera Verna (nee Dunlop) Beckett of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

F/O William Wilkins Mitchell, Rheinburg War Cemetery Germany, Collective Grave 3H 18-22. Son of William Wilkins and Mary McKergow McCullogh (nee Higgins) Mitchell and husband of Mary Evelyn (nee Tough) Mitchell of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Canada; Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947; Series: RG 24; Volume: 24848
Boiten, Theo. Nachtjagd Combat Archive 1944 Part 3. Walton on Thames, Wing Leader Publications, 2021

CHB 28.11.2021

Pages of Outstanding Interest
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Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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