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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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101 Squadron Crest
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)

Squadron Badge: Issuant from the battlements of a tower, a demi lion rampant guardant. The battlements symbolise the squadron's pioneering role in the development of power-operated gun turrets, while the lion indicates the unit's fighting power and spirit. Approved by King George VI in February 1938

Type: Lancaster III

Serial: PB258

Code: SR-V

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: P/O. John French Andrews J89901 RCAF Age 30 - Killed (5)

Air/Gnr (MU): Fl/Sgt. Clement Fred Robert Pearce R257188 (later J89902) RCAF Age 18 - PoW 619 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau - Kreulberg - L7 (6)

Air/Gnr (R): Fl/Sgt. David Henry Balchin R218575 (later J89965) 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)



Originally compiled by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock in 2015, this archive report has been updated on several occasions since.

However, in 2024, due to the provision of further substantial information by our well respected colleague, Canadian aviation researcher David Champion, the story has been fully revised and re-edited.

The story is one of several such successful collaborations between Roy Wilcock and David Champion.

On behalf of Aircrew Remembered, Roy would like to thank Dave for his continuing significant contributions to, and support of, our research projects.




INTRODUCTION



Friday 12 September 1941, Union Station, Toronto.

All aboard! - Urgent hugs, kisses, handshakes, a high ball from the conductor and Basil was suddenly gone. To Halifax NS, to England, to OTU, to 419, to bomb Boulogne, to bomb St. Nazaire, to bomb Brest, Le Havre, Essen and Duisburg.

Just two months later, Basil would spend his 21st and last birthday at 12 Operational Training Unit at RAF Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire, 3500 miles from his home and family.

Clem idolised his brother Basil and promised to follow him as soon as he was old enough to enlist, but he was not yet 16 and still had 18 months to wait for the opportunity.


But on Sunday, 19 July 1942, came the telegram that every serviceman's family dreaded.

TO: MR A E PEARCE 695 VAUGHAN ROAD TORONTO ONTARIO

FROM: CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF

18/7

REGRET TO INFORM YOU ADVICE HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FORCE CASUALTIES OFFICER OVERSEAS THAT YOUR SON CAN R EIGHT THREE FIVE FIVE EIGHT SERGEANT BASIL VINCENT PEARCE IS REPORTED MISSING AS THE RESULT OF AIR OPERATIONS ON JULY FOURTEENTH NINETEEN FORTY TWO

LETTER FOLLOWS

And on 10 March 1943, with no information having been received indicating that he was alive, Basil was presumed to have died on 14 July 1942 along with the other crew members of 419 Squadron Lancaster X3416.

To read the story of the loss of X2416 and Basil Pearce click here



Clem never forgot his brother, nor the promise that he had made to him, and on 11 May 1943 the RCAF Interviewing Officer at the Recruiting Centre in Toronto, was suitably impressed:

'Applicant is exactly 17½ years old. Lost his brother (Sgt. Observer) on operations over Duisburg. Promised his brother he would enlist when he became of age - feels he wants to avenge his death. Prefers pilot but wants AG if he fails to make the grade academically. His parents support for A.C. Exceptionally keen to start training. Motivation very sound. Good looking A.C. material.

MO's assessment 'Very keen, very determined. good material'


'This kid is really tops. Not the slightest doubt about his succeeding

AA Marshall F/O 11 May 1943.'




2 days later Clem enlisted, but to meet the necessary educational standards, he was required to attend a Pre Aircrew Education Course at Danforth Technical School in Toronto, from which he graduated on 10 August 1943 and following 7 days Special Leave commenced training at 1 Air Gunner Ground Training School (1 AGGTS) at RCAF Quebec on 20 August. On 3 October he was posted to 9 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Mont Joli, Quebec.

Three months earlier on 3 February 1943 Dave Balchin had enlisted at No. 6 Mobile Recruiting Centre at Kenora. Dave was almost 19 and enlisted immediately after leaving school but like Clem, he was also required attend a Pre Aircrew Education Course. Dave attended his course at Westdale Technical School in Hamilton and after graduating on 6 August was also posted to 1 AGGTS at RCAF Quebec. On completion of the six week course he too was posted to 9 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Mont Joli, Quebec.

Clem's 7 days Special Leave following his Pre Aircrew Education Course had contrived to place him two weeks behind Dave Balchin at Mont Joli, hence Dave was on Course 63 with Clem following on Course 64.

On completion of their respective courses they were posted to Y Depot at Halifax and both embarked for the UK on 14 December 1943. Dave sailed on board the Mauretania and it would seem probable that Clem did too.

On arrival in the UK they again followed the same path, 3 PRC Bournemouth and on 18 January 1944, to 28 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Wymeswold and its satellite airfield at Castle Donington, Leicestershire.

Despite have been at the same training establishments and probably on the same ship to the UK, Dave and Clem only met for the first time at 28 OTU. In a letter to Dave in 1986 Clem reminds him that: 'I first met you at Wymeswold in that little recreation hall playing ping pong ( I think I beat you unmercifully) and I was sick on my first warm English beer just up the road at the Nags Head.'

In addition to their training coincidences, Dave and Clem both had English born fathers and each had 6 living siblings.

28 OTU was used to train night bomber crews using the Vickers Wellington, but before training began the various trades were required to form themselves into crews in the time honoured process of self selection known as crewing up. Wellingtons originally operated with a five man crew - pilot, navigator, air bomber, wireless operator and air gunner with such crews that advanced to heavy bomber training at Heavy Conversion Units later acquiring two additional crew members, a flight engineer and a second air gunner. However, by the end of 1942 the Wellington's use as a front line bomber was coming to an end and it was being replaced by the Lancaster, Halifax and Stirling, all of which were four engine heavy bombers. Thus by 1944 most crews were being moved on to heavy bomber training and the second air gunner was now being selected at OTU. For training purposes, since the Wellington had only one gun turret, the two gunners took turns in its use.

Just who found who is not known but Clem and Dave were soon part of a crew captained by fellow Ontarian, Gene Atyeo, from Sarnia. Gene had just turned 22 a week earlier, but in the eyes of the two young gunners, getting on a bit.

Wireless operator Johnny Andrews had been born in Montana USA, but had lived in Saskatchewan for most of his life, before moving to Edmonton, Alberta in 1940. Amazingly, as with Clem and Dave, his father had also been born in England. Johnny was a Bank Clerk prior to joining the air force, and was a really old man of 29!

Blake Patterson, or Pat as he became known, the air bomber, was yet another Ontarian. Born in Sarnia he had later moved to Windsor and prior to enlisting was a Paymaster with Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd, Whisky Distillers of Windsor. Aged 32, he was even older than Johnny Andrews - and married!

At least the navigator, John Lovatt, was only 19, even if he was a Brit! He was from Walsall in Staffordshire.


The photographs below, were kindly provided by Joe Pearce, the nephew of Clement Pearce and being pictured with a Wellington bomber, are believed to have been taken whilst the crew was at 28 OTU at RAF Wymeswold.







At 28 OTU, RAF Wymeswold, the crew was assigned to Course No 35. The course concluded on 18 May and the following day the crew was posted to 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Sandtoft, a satellite of RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire and 3 miles further east in the adjoining county of Lincolnshire. At Sandtoft the crew was assigned to Course 92 from 19 May until 9 June for training on four engine heavy bombers.

To fly heavies the crew needed a Flight Engineer and John Lovatt, quite unbelievably, found the perfect fit, in the shape of an old friend from his home town of Walsall and Trevor was immediately welcomed into the crew.

Sufficient Lancasters could not be spared for training purposes so the crew trained on Halifax's until 9 June when they were posted to 11 Base at RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Posted onto Course 20 at 1 Lancaster Finishing School at RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire the crew finally got their hands on a Lancaster and from 1 to 5 July learned to love the beautiful lady.

2 days later, on 7 July and now deemed ready for operational duty, they were posted 20 miles east, RAF Ludford Magna , the home of 101 Squadron.

101 Squadron Lancasters were equipped with Airborne Cigar or ABC for short, which required a 'Special Duty Operator' who, if not German speaking, was at least able to recognise when German Ground Control Interceptors were sending directions to Luftwaffe fighters and then, using the ABC equipment, jam any VHF transmission presenting a threat to the bomber stream. Thus 101 Squadron aircraft were placed at intervals throughout the bomber stream during all main force raids on German targets from October 1943 until the end of the war and as a consequence, suffered the highest losses of any RAF squadron.

On 10 July Gene Atyeo and his crew flew an air test but before taking his crew on operations Gene was required to fly an operation as second pilot with an experienced crew, so on 12 July he was detailed as 2nd Dicky, under the captaincy of Flight Lieutenant William Stewart to bomb the railway centre of Revigny. However, cloud cover prevented the Master Bomber and his deputy from identifying the target and although some aircraft bombed, the rest, including Stewart's Lancaster, LL757, were ordered to return to base with their bomb loads.

Two days later Gene Atyeo was detailed to take his own crew to war. The target, once again, was the railway infrastructure at Revigny and the ABC operator assigned to the crew was to be the Squadron ABC leader, Flying Officer Fergus Smith. Again, the Master Bomber instructed the 101 aircraft to abandon the operation as the target had already been sufficiently destroyed. As instructed, the Atyeo crew jettisoned 2 x 500lb GP. LD. bombs and returned to base. An inauspicious start but at least they had broken their duck.

On 18 July they were detailed for a daylight raid on Mannerville in support of the battle for Caen and that night they were off again this time to bomb the railway yards at Aulnoye. 60 years later Sgt Keeling would recall,

'I particularly remember on this raid how the tracer shells rose like a curtain as we crossed the enemy coast and that there was constant flak until we were back from enemy territory.'

7 days leave from 21 -27 July gave the crew a welcome respite and it was to be 31 July before they were detailed for their next op, a daylight raid on Joigny Laroche.

Another daylight raid followed on 2 August, this time to Conquereaux. This was the last time that Fergus Smith flew as their ABC operator.

The following day, 3 August, was another daylight raid with the target being a V2 rocket site at Trossy Saint Maximin and for this operation the crew was allocated the Squadron's famous ’S’ Sugar DV245, the Lancaster which completed 118 operations before being lost on 23 March 1945. The crew's ABC operator on this occasion was F/O. F. Wayne.

On Saturday 4 August, they were detailed for an attack on Pauillac, and once again they were flying DV245.

Trevor Keeling the Flight Engineer described the raid as follows:

'On this operation we flew out at low level keeping below 1,000 feet from take off, flying down the Cheddar Gorge out over into the English Channel and out over the Bay Of Biscay, the entering the Garonne (Girronde) Estuary and rising to a bombing height of 11,000 feet. The enemy was completely taken by surprise, the flak guns only opening up as we approached the target. Pauillac was a submarine refuelling base; the smoke from the blazing fuel seemed to rise in a column to the height at which we were flying.'

The crew was fortunate to have DV245 for three more raids, i.e. 5 August, a raid on the submarine base at Blaye, 7 August, a night raid on military objectives at Caen and 10 August, railway marshalling yards at Dijon. Sgt. P. D. Kaye was the ABC operator on all three trips.

The crew was then forced to bid a fond farewell to DV245 as the much respected Lancaster was taken in for a major service


On Saturday 12 August 1944 10 crews of 101 Squadron were briefed for an operation that night to bomb Braunschweig (aka Brunswick). This was to be an experimental raid insofar as no Pathfinder aircraft were to take part. There was to be no marking and each crew was to bomb as indicated by their own H2S set.

The Gene Atyeo crew was one of those detailed for the raid and Flight Sergeant Hans Heinz Schwarz was the designated ABC operator. It was to be op number 11 flown by the crew within the space of a month.

Born in Berlin in 1924, Hans had come with his parents to live in London in 1939. Being a German-Jewish refugee he had been ordered to change his name by the RAF, before being allowed on operations, and therefore served as Henry Blake.

Recorded in the Squadron ORB as Sgt. Schwartz H.H., he was posted to 101 Squadron at Ludford Magna on 18 January 1944 and just 3 days later flew his first operation as a Special Operator with the crew of P/O. R.A. Nightingale on a raid to Magdeburg and in the ORB is again recorded as Sgt. H. H. Schwartz.

On 14 February 1944, he was posted to No. 1481 Bombing and Gunnery Flight at RAF Ingham in Lincolnshire and later posted to 11 Base.

His return from 11 Base to Ludford Magna is recorded in the Squadron ORB on 12 March 1944 under his alias, i.e. Sgt. H. Blake (A/G/SD). He later flew two more ops; on 9 May 1944 with P/O Bob McHattie for an attack on Mardick and on 7 July 1944 with Sqn/Ldr. C. V. Reade for a raid on Caen. He is recorded in the name of Blake in the ORB for both operations.

The attack was to be carried out in three waves. With H hour timed at 00.05 hours the first wave was to bomb from H to H+3, the second wave from H3 to H+8 and the third wave from H+8 to H+13. The Atyeo crew was designated to fly in the second wave.

For this operation the Atyeo crew were allocated Lancaster PB258, V Venus, a Mark III delivered from to Ludford Magna straight from the A.V. Roe factory on 4 July. After being prepared for operations, at 32 Maintenance Unit at RAF St. Athan in South Wales the aircraft was returned to Ludford on 23 July. Since the then it had flown on three ops:

25 July, Stuttgart. 9 hrs 10 mins

5 August, Blaye. Mission abandoned over base Port Outer engine u/s. 1hr 20 mins

9 August. Fort de Nieppe. 2 hrs 35 mins

Thus, having flown barely 13 hours operationally, PB 258 was to all intents and purposes, brand new. In addition to ABC the aircraft was equipped with Gee and IFF (see abbreviations)

By early evening with bomb loads on board and fuelled up, the ten Lancasters awaited their crews at dispersal. And after their traditional pre operational meal of bacon and eggs it was time for the crews to get ready to go. Many years later Clem Pearce was to recall:

'Johnny [Andrews] asked me to draw him a parachute as he had to go back for the latest signals - ours was a Special Duty Squadron and we were receiving instructions right up to the moment of take off. I returned with two parachutes and proffered them. He reached for one, thanked me and climbed into the Lancaster.'





REASON FOR THE LOSS


First away at 21.15 hours was F/O. John Edward Porter flying Lancaster ME857, the others following at intervals until 21.34 hours when last in line, PB258, with Gene Atyeo at the controls got away. Carrying bomb loads of 1 x 2000HC and 12 x 500 Nose fused type clusters the 10 Lancasters clawed their way into the darkening skies and after joining the other Group 1 aircraft, the 82 Lancasters crossed the Lincolnshire coast at Mablethorpe. Turning roughly east south east, on a heading towards the Friesians, they were joined by a further 74 Lancaster of Group 3 from bases in East Anglia. This, the second wave of 156 aircraft, later turned south east onto a course that took them between the German cities of Bielefeld and Hanover and onward to a point approximately 30 miles south west of Hanover where they turned almost due east towards the target.

The first and third waves took more northern routes across the North Sea and from the Bremen area approached the same turning point, approximately 30 miles south west of Hanover, before they too then headed towards Braunschweig.



Trevor Keeling's story


In 2004 Malcolm Keeling, 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.

To read the full story of Sergeant Keeling's war experience including his subsequent capture and time as a prisoner of war click the following links

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories..

The following extract from Trevor's story concerns the operation to bomb Braunschweig 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 Hannover. Just 2 or 3 minutes later the rear gunner, David Balchin, said that flack [sic] was coming up at our rear. Gene Atyeo, 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 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.'


John Lovatt landed safely, later saying that: 'The only casualties I sustained were many bruises and abrasions to the face when I baled out.'



Clem's amazing escape

While Trevor, Pat and John were making good their escape from the stricken Lancaster, Clem Pearce, having extricated himself from the mid upper gun turret, was in trouble. Amid the flames, smoke and exploding oxygen bottles the 18 year old gunner was unable to find his parachute. Terrified, he curled up on the floor and froze.

But as he did so, a strangely familiar airman appeared through the smoke and flames and calling him by name, assured him that all was going to be OK.

Inexplicably calm, Clem got up, found his chute and baled out, only to realise on his way down that the apparition had been his brother Basil.

Clem was never able to explain his experience in the blazing plane and simply accepted it for what it was.


Lancaster PB258 crashed at Barver, Germany approximately 51 miles WNW of Hannover at 0115 hours on 13 August 1944.



In August 2021, John Jones informed us that Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944 Part 4 by Theo Boiten included the following

'101 Squadron Lancaster III PB258 SR-V - Claim by Uffz Franz Frankenhauser* 1./NJG1 North West of Hanover: 4,600m at 00:26.'

* According to Tom Kracker Lufwaffe Archive this claim was by Uffz Franz Frankenhagen.

Despite this claim, it is interesting to note that none of the crew ever made any suggestion that they were, or might have been attacked by a night fighter. According to Trevor Keeling's memoir, rear gunner 'David Balchin, said that flack [sic] was coming up at our rear.' Almost immediately afterwards, they were hit. And Clem Pearce in Testament of Honour by Blake Heathcote (2002), asserted that 'During the war we were never attacked by fighters and so I never fired my guns in anger.'



An unsuccessful raid


A force of 379 aircraft comprising 242 Lancasters and 137 Halifaxes had been dispatched on this operation. 17 Lancasters and 10 Halifaxes representing 7.1% of the total force were lost.

In the event, the raid proved unsuccessful. The bombing was not concentrated and towns as far as 20 miles away were mistaken for Brunswick and subsequently bombed in error.


THE 101 SQUADRON LOSSES

Of the ten 101 squadron aircraft despatched on this raid, 3 were lost that night.

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.

The other seven aircraft of 101 Squadron were all safely back at base between 02.47 and 03.10




CAPTURE


Trevor Keeling landed safely but by the evening of the 13th he was in the bag. Taken to the nearby village of Diepholz he was locked up for the night in a store room and the following morning taken to Dipholz Airfield where he was handed over to the Luftwaffe. Dave Balchin was also brought in and the pair then joined Gene, John, Pat and Clem, who were already in captivity at the airfield, and locked up two to a cell.

In the afternoon of the next day, they were taken by train to Dulag Luft at Frankfurt where they arrived on Tuesday 15 August. They remained at Dulag Luft for the next 48 hours for interrogation.

On 17 August Dave, John, Trevor and Clem, the four NCO's, each received a Red Cross parcel containing some items of clothing, toothbrush, razor, brush, comb, a pipe and tobacco. They were also permitted to write one postcard home.

The following day, they each received a Red Cross food parcel as they set out on a four day train journey to Stalag Luft 7 located at Bankau, Silesia (now Bąków, Poland). Gene Atyeo and Blake Patterson were sent to Stalag Luft III, an officers camp, at Sagan in Lower Silesia.

Stalag Luft 7 was established at an airfield in Morzyczyn in 1943, then relocated to a remote wooded area near Bankau and opened on 6 June 1944 as a camp for RAF NCO aircrew. By July it held 230 prisoners and among other aircrew, members of the Glider Pilot Regiment captured in September at the Battle of Arnhem were later held there. By 1 January 1945, the camp held 1,578 prisoners.

On Tuesday, 22 August the four reached Stalag Luft 7 where they were searched before being photographed, fingerprinted and their personal details taken for registration purposes. Finally, they were permitted a shower before being marched into the prison compound.

According to Trevor Keeling they were 'accommodated in what were probably chicken pens. These huts were about twelve feet wide and sixteen feet long and less than six feet high at the apex sloping down to about four feet at the eaves. There was a hole about 2’ square that served as a window. The floor was bare of any furniture. We were provided with a laminated brown paper sack that we filled with wood shavings to make a palliasse.'

It soon became apparent that the two most pressing problems with their incarceration was lack of food and boredom. The former was exacerbated when instead of receiving one Red Cross food parcel per week they received on average, one every three weeks with the Germans blaming the RAF bombing of their railways as being responsible for the shortfall.

To alleviate the many hours of boredom, prisoners played ball games, but not football since they had no facilities to deal with any bad injuries that might be sustained. They also had a library of books provided by the Red Cross, a drama group, a choir and they played endless games of cards and chess.

In October there was an improvement in accommodation as described by Trevor:

'A new camp had been built with the standard type of P.O.W. huts designed for R.A.F. prisoners of war. These huts were on stilts and were designed to deter tunnelling. They had a central passageway with rooms on each side. These were designed for twelve people. Each room had six double bunk beds and a table in the centre with two benches. There was a coke stove standing on a concrete plinth. It was only a short time before two more bunks were added making it a room for sixteen people. The accommodation, already overcrowded, was now becoming rather cramped, to say the least.'

One of those held at the camp was F/Sgt. Donald George Gray of 50 Squadron, whose aircraft had crashed on 30 March 1944 during a raid on Nurnberg. He had initially been held at Stalag IXC at Bad Sulza but at some later date transferred to Stalag Luft 7. Below is a drawing by Donald of the camp layout in December 1944 and below it is a transcript of notes he made on the reverse of the diagram.



'When I approached that camp, top right, I wondered who those naked brown creatures were, not to worry they were POW. The pump in the field was our only means of washing and once a day in [the] morning we formed a line and each succeeding person had to pump that cold water on the one ahead to get a bath. The little shacks were about eight by ten, no floor, no furniture, no window but a hole about 10" x 8" that the guard dogs loved to look in and show their teeth. On the outside were the toilets, a shack with a pole, [and] beneath [was] a pit for excrement. At night it was a long way to go and the guards would let the dog loose, the POW would yell to his comrades to open the door and slam it on the dog. Everyone thought it was great fun except the poor runner.'


Christmas promised to be a depressing event but the prisoners were determined to make the best of it. Everyone was involved in doing something towards making some sort of celebration, food was put aside wherever possible, and alcohol was being distilled from whatever was available.

On Christmas Day, the men sat down to enjoy the day albeit far from there families. For now at least their camp friends were their surrogate family and many friendships forged here, lasted for the rest of their lives.

We are most fortunate that the family of Dave Balchin have provided an unusual piece of information about the day at Stalag Luft 7 in the form of the following drawing by Arthur Rigby of where Dave and each of his his roommates were seated at their table for the Christmas dinner of 1944.



The others at the table with Clem, Trevor, Dave and John are:

Sgt. George Edward Bower, Flight Engineer of Lancaster PD252 of 218 Squadron, shot down 12/13 August 1944.

Sgt. P. Coyne - thought to be Patrick Coyne, Wireless Operator of Lancaster JA702 of 156 Squadron, shot down 30/31 January 1944. https://aircrewremembered.com/rule-john-edward.htm...

Sgt. Kenneth Norman Thomas Monk, Rear Gunner of Lancaster ND852 of 7 Squadron, shot down 26 August 1944.

https://aircrewremembered.com/strong-trevor-herber...

Sgt. William Hill Agnew (Wireless Operator), Sgt. Leonard William Bell (Flight Engineer), Sgt. Reginald Leslie Ames (Rear Gunner) and F/Sgt. G. Kydd (RCAF) ( Mid Upper Gunner), all of Lancaster PD274 of 115 Squadron, shot down 26 August 1944.

Arthur A. Rigby (who drew the diagram and fought at Arnhem Bridge), C.G. Watson, Frank Powell and Staff Sergeant Donald Parker* were all members of the Glider Pilot Regiment captured at Arnhem.

*Don Parker and Frank Powell would later have a significant influence on Clem Pearce's survival (see below - 21 days of hell).




With Christmas a mere memory, 1944 gave way to 1945, the year that even the staunchest Nazi surely knew, would bring an end to the Third Reich.

News of the Russian offensive at the Baranov bridgehead of 15 January 1945 was picked up via the PoW's clandestine wireless set, and assuming the Russians continued westward, the camp was in the path of the advance. Hopes of liberation by the Russians however, were soon dashed when at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 17 January, the prisoners were told to prepare to move within the hour.



21 days of hell

What happened next is the subject of the following report by Peter A.Thomson, Pilot Officer, RAAF - Camp Leader and Dr Douglas George Howatson, R.A.M.C - Camp Medical Officer. Additional details and their sources are included within square brackets.

For the Attention of the Swiss Commission, Acting as Protecting Power

On January 17th 1945, at approximately 11 a.m. we received notice of one hour in which to pack our kit and be ready to leave the Camp by marching. At the same time we were informed by Ober Feldwebel Frank that for every one man who fell out of the column on the march, five men would be shot. This order was never given in writing.


[Immediately the men went into an uproar. The clothing stores were broken open and all the shoes, underwear, socks and shirts were dragged off the shelves. Some prisoners carried away as much as a dozen undershirts and a carton of socks. The sport store was stormed. From here boxing gloves, crash helmets, footballs, baseballs ans softballs found their way into the hands of the NCOs. Why anyone would want to encumber themselves with such unnecessary articles was beyond comprehension.

In quick succession the library, orderly room and food stores were forced open. The medical supplies were distributed by the Medical Officer. During the riot no discipline or orders had any control over the men. We had hoped to share all in an orderly fashion but this now was impossible. From Torture March Diary by F/Sgt. Joseph John Waltky - Winnipeg Tribune 28 August 1945]


The start was postponed until 3.30 a.m. on January 19th. During the interval 68 sick men were evacuated to the civilian Ilag at Kreuzberg. We believe they were later taken to Stalag 344, at Lamsdorf. [ Ilag was short for Internierungslager, i.e. internment camps established to hold Allied civilians caught in areas occupied by the German Army.]

Each man was issued with two-and-a-half days marching rations before leaving. When the march began at 3.30 a.m. on January 19th, no transport was supplied for any sick who might have fallen out on the march and the only medical equipment carried was that carried by the Medical Officer and three Sanitators on their backs.


[...the column was divided into three sections of 500 men each. It took the Germans until to count all the men as they marched past the officer in charge. 1565 men started the march. From Torture March Diary by F/Sgt. Joseph John Waltky - Winnipeg Tribune 28 August 1945]


Details of March.

January 19th: Left Bankau and marched to Winterveldt, a distance of 28 Kms. This was done under extremely trying weather conditions and severe cold. The only accommodation at Winterveldt was small barns.


[...blustering wind at blizzard speed, Sugar-like snow. The air cut our faces like a knife. Torture March Diary by F/Sgt. Joseph John Waltky - Winnipeg Tribune 28 August 1945]


January 20th Marched from Winterveldt to Karlsruhe arriving at 10 a.m. We set off at 5 a.m. and marched a distance of 12 kms. At Karlsruhe we were housed in an abandoned brick factory. Here for the first time we were provided with two field kitchens with which to cook for 1550 men. Each field kitchen was actually capable of cooking sufficient food for 200 men. The Medical Officer was also provided with a horse and cart for the transport of the sick. The cart was big enough to hold 6 sitting cases. Coffee was provided and after a rest period of 11 hours we were again ordered to move. The Camp Leader and the Medical Officer protested against further marching until the men were adequately fed and rested. We were told by the German Abwehr Officer that it was an order and must be complied with. The same night we left Karlsruhe and marched to Schönfeld, arriving at 9 a.m. on January 21st, covering a distance of 42 kms. The conditions during the night were extreme, the temperature being -13 degrees centigrade.

The Medical Officer's wagon was filled after the first 5 kilometres and from [then] onwards, men were being picked up at the roadsides in a collapsed and frozen state, and it was only by sheer will power that they were able to finish the march. After crossing the river Oder, a distance of 34 kms., we were told that we would be accommodated and that no move would be made for two days.

January 21st: At Schönfeld we were accommodated in the cowsheds and barns of a farm. A room was provided for the sick at Lossen. Rations issued were about lOO gms. of biscuits per man and half a cup of coffee.

January 22nd: At 3 a.m. orders were given by the Germans to prepare to march off at once. It was dark and there was some delay in getting the men out from their sleeping quarters because they could not find their baggage. The German guards thereupon marched into the quarters and discharged their firearms. The column was marching again by 5 a.m. Twenty-three men, it was ascertained at this stage, were lost and their whereabouts are unknown. They may have been left behind asleep, or they may have escaped. Also, thirty-one men were evacuated (we believe) to Lamsdorf, but nothing further has been heard of them. We marched to Jenkwitz, a distance of 34 kms. and were housed at a farm in barns. Here we were issued with a total of 114 kgs. of fat, 43 tins of meat, barley, peas, and three quarters of a pig. Soup was issued, the ration being about a quarter of a litre per man. No bread was issued.

January 23rd: Left Jenkwitz at 6 am and marched 20 kms. to Wanzen.

January 24th: We were rested the day at Wanzen, sleeping in barns. The revier [sick bay/infirmary] was in a cowshed. 31 sick were evacuated to Sagan. 400 loaves of bread were issued.

January 25th: Left Wansen at 4 am for Keidersdorf, covered 30 kms.

January 26th: Spent the day at Keidersdorf. Issued with 600 loaves of bread to last for two days.

January 27th: Left Keidersdorf and marched 19 km.to Pfaffendorff, where we arrived at night.

January 28th: Left Pfaffendorff for Standorf at 5 a.m. and marched a distance of 21 kms. Issued with 24 cartons of knackerbrot [knäckebrot - crispbread], 150 kgms. margarine and 50 kgs. sugar. 22 sick were evacuated to Scheidnitz [Schweidnitz] and eventually arrived at Sagan.

January 29th: Left Standorf at 6 p.m. and marched to Peterwitz a distance of 22 kms. We arrived at 4 a.m. the following day. This march was carried out in darkness under extreme conditions, with a blizzard blowing the whole time. The men arrived at Peterwitz in an utterly exhausted condition. Before leaving Standorf we were promised that we would have to march no further as transport would be supplied from Peterwitz. 104 kgs. of meat were issued, 1 sack of salt, 25 kgs. of coffee and 100 kgs. of barley.


[It was probably at this period of the march that Clem Pearce became so exhausted and in such agony that he collapsed and curled up in the snow, not caring whether he lived or died.

Fortunately for Clem he was spotted by Don Parker and Frank Powell two of his Glider Pilot roommates who were having none of it and pulling him to his feet dragged him along with them. From there on they never left his side, even sleeping one each side of him.]


January 30th: At Peterwitz 30 men from Stalag 344, who had been left without guards, joined our column. 296 loaves of bread were issued, 50 kgs. oats, and 35.5 kgs. of margarine

January 31st: We spent the day at Peterwitz. We were told that we would have to march to Goldberg before we got transport. 300 kgs. of oats were issued, 50 kgs. of coffee and 40 kgs. of margarine.

February 1st: We marched from Peterwitz to Prausnitz, a distance of 12 kms. We remained at Prausnitz from February 1st - 5th. On February 1st we were issued with 380 loaves of bread and 37.5 kgs. of margarine. On February 3rd: we were issued with 112.5 kgs. of margarine, 250 loaves, 100 kgs. of sugar, 200 kgs. flour and 150 kgs barley.

On February 4th the issue was 150 loaves. At night on February 4th the Commandant (Oberst Leutnant Behr) visited the farm and read out an order from okw [Oberkommando der Wehrmacht i.e. Armed Forces High Command] to the effect that five men were to be released and would be liberated at the first opportunity. The purpose of this we were unable to understand.

February 5th: Before leaving we were issued with 500 loaves of bread, 95 kgs. of margarine and 530 tins of meat. We were marched from Prausnitz to Goldberg, a distance of 8 kms. On arrival at Goldberg we were put into cattle trucks, an average of 55 men to each truck. By this time there were numerous cases of dysentery and facilities for men to attend to personal hygiene were inadequate. The majority had no water on the train journey for two days. When the men were allowed out of the trucks to relieve themselves, numerous of the guards ordered them back inside again and we had to be continually getting permission for the men to be allowed out. We were on the train from the morning of February 5th until the morning of February 8th. Before commencing this journey, we were issued with sufficient rations for two days. The total distance marched was 240 kms.


[Pearce recalls that while en route to a prison camp during World War II, he and other prisoners were let out of their cattle cars and promptly started bartering the contents of their Red Cross food parcels with German civilians.

Pearce had taken the precious instant coffee out of his coffee can, replaced it with sand and sprinkled a light layer of coffee on top.

He picked out a woman with a large loaf of bread and made a deal "She took the top off the can, tasted the coffee with her finger and was satisfied," he said.

She ran off and he ran back to the cattle car.

Pearce said he needed a saw to slice the loaf because the old woman had filled it with gravel.

"All I got was a thin crust," chuckled Pearce.

(The Toronto Star 17 April 1975)]


Summary:

As a result of this march and the deplorable conditions, the morale of the men is extremely low. They are suffering from an extreme degree of malnutrition, and at present, an outbreak of dysentery. There are numerous cases of frost bite and other minor ailments. They are quite unfit for any further movement. Food and better conditions are urgently required. We left Bankau with no Red Cross supplies and throughout the march all the rations were short issued, the most outstanding being bread, which amounts to 2,924 loaves.

Peter A. Thomson, Pilot Officer, RAAF - Camp Leader

D. G. Howatson, R.A.M.C - Camp Medical Officer

February 15th, 1945.


Trevor Keeling later wrote:

'We finally arrived at Lukenwalde [sic] and marched to Stalag 111a, a camp of many prisoners of all nationalities. [8 May 1945]

Our camp was on the opposite side of the road to that of the R.A.F officers from Sagan. They came out to their fence to greet us, Gene and Pat*, our crew pilot and bomb aimer were now within hailing distance. It was the first time we had seen them since Dulagluft. David Balchin and Clem Pearce had learned just before leaving Stalag Luft 7 that their promotions to Pilot Officers had come through. I think there was automatic promotion for Canadians in operational squadrons. They went to join the officers. John Lovatt and I remained with the men [NCOs] from Stalag Luft 7.'

* Though Gene and Pat had been among those evacuated and transported from Stalag Luft 3 only Gene had been among those who arrived by train at Luckenwalde on 6 February, two days before his crew mates from Stalag Luft 7. Pat was never at Luckenwalde, he had been taken to Marlag und Milag Nord, a camp at Tarmastedt, near Bremen. Further details of Pat's journey are included later.


Liberation?


On 21 April 1945 the guards fled the camp, leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on 22 April 1945, but if the prisoners thought that they would be free to leave, they were sadly disappointed. General Otto Ruge, former C in C of the Norwegian armed forces, who had taken over as commander of the camp, was taken away to meet the Russian commander and Wing Commander Richard Charles Marler Collard DSO., DFC the Senior British Officer, was appointed camp commander in his absence. At the request of the Russians the Wing Commander ordered all except foraging parties to stay put and not leave the camp.

On 4 May, (via American War correspondent and PoW, US Army Captain Edward Beattie*), Richard Collard reported their situation and camp conditions to SHAEF and the following day an American ambulance convoy arrived. With Russian consent the American sick, and six seriously sick British, were removed.

*For further information see: https://ww2ondeadline.com/2020/09/12/war-correspon...

But on 6 May, when Captain Sinkavitch, an American prisoner of war Contact Officer from SHAEF arrived with a convoy of about 50 trucks and orders to evacuate American, British, Norwegian and French PoWs, the Russians refused to play ball. Against the will of the Russians, evacuation of the Americans was commenced, and 22 trucks were loaded with men. Most of these 22 trucks had gone when the Russians decided to stop the evacuation, and they fired their sub machine guns over the tops of some of the trucks as they moved off. The remaining trucks were then sent away empty.

On 7 May, Captain Grant, another American prisoner of war Contact Officer, arrived with another convoy of trucks. Collard persuaded him to visit General Famin at Marshal Koniev's Headquarters to try to obtain an agreement to evacuate, rather than risk an unofficial evacuation. Meanwhile, the convoy parked outside the camp. On his way to the Russian headquarters Grant met some Russian staff officers who told him they were coming to Luckenwald from General Famin with instructions about the repatriation. Grant therefore returned to the camp.

8 May. Early in the day it became clear that the Russian officers had not brought any instructions about repatriation. Consequently it was decided to load the trucks with Americans and British and then confer with the Russians about approval to depart. Whilst the conference was in progress however, the lorries began departing, either due to a misunderstanding of Grant's orders, or ill discipline on the part of the negro drivers. By this time, most of the lorries had gone, but those that remained were unloaded when it became clear that the Russians were prepared to use force of arms to stop any further evacuation. The Russians then ordered Grant to leave with the remainder of the lorries empty.

By this time there were only some 180 Americans left in the camp but despite 1700 British having left over the previous 3 days some 2000 British were to be held for another 11 days.

On 19 May 1945 a convoy of Russian lorries transported all the remaining British and Americans to the Elbe where they were handed over to the Americans. Among those aboard the Russian lorries was Trevor Keeling, who was later flown home to the UK. Though it is not recorded, his pal John Lovatt was probably with him.

Trevor Keeling recalled that: 'The Americans took us to Halle via Leipzig where there was a large P.O.W reception centre. After about forty-eight hours we flew to Brussels by Dakota. The following day we flew on to somewhere in the South of England. From there we were taken on a top priority train, non-stop, to R.A.F. Cosford, Shropshire which was a rehabilitation centre and hospital for ex P.O.Ws. Here we were debriefed and medically examined. I was found to be suffering from physical debility and stress. A year later I was back to physical fitness, but it took many years to get over stress.'

Safely back in England, Trevor completed and signed his Liberation Questionnaire on 23 May 1945.

Dave Balchin is recorded as having arrived back in the UK on 26 May, he too, is believed to have been on the Russian convoy.

In his Liberation Questionnaire of 12 May 1945, Gene Atyeo stated 'No co-operation with Russians with repatriation. Escaped from camp to American transport.'

As for Clem Pearce, more is known of his experiences after liberation thanks to his propensity for writing newspaper articles about his experiences. This first item relates to an incident shortly after liberation and in a 'Special to the Star' from the Toronto Star of 12 July 1997, Clem wrote:

'Our prisoner of war Camp Stalag IIIA Luckenwalde, just south of Berlin, was liberated by the First Ukrainian Army on 22 April 1945. As a teenage pilot officer [which he didn't know at the time] I couldn't wait to get out from behind the barbed wire and forage for eggs and bread, using for currency the accumulated cigarettes from our Red Cross parcels.

I was in the middle of a farmer's field when suddenly a low flying Focke Wulf fighter plane appeared. The pilot looked down in the field, obviously searching for something. He spotted me and wheeled around for another look. As he banked over me, I thought he was going to machine gun me, and there was no place to hide.

I was conspicuous in my blue uniform; I was just outside a prison camp thet all the Luftwaffe pilots knew about, and to him. I was a terror-flieger who had helped level his beloved homeland.

I did the only thing that was left to me, I waved to him. To my astonishment, he threw me a half salute, half wave. It was the last thing he ever did.

A tremendous blast of anti aircraft fire erupted from a group of trees beside the farmer's house, and he blew up in front of my eyes,

A great shout rang out and a group of Ukrainian girls, who had been manning a concealed anti-aircraft battery, ran toward the flaming wreckage.

Every Armistice Day, as I pay my respects to my fallen comrades at the city Hall Cenotaph, I include the unknown Luftwaffe pilot who had spared me while he was not.'


Clem made it back to the UK on 14 May 1945, almost two weeks earlier than Trevor, John and Dave. An article by Clem in the Toronto Star of 10 November 1991 explains how he got away.

'Later, after liberation, a flying column of Americans came through the Russian lines to take us home. The Russians refused to let us go until Russians who had elected to fight against them, were returned for summary court-martial. As I wended my way dejectedly back to camp under guard, an American Major noting the Canada flash on my uniform reached out, and grabbing me by the shoulder, hauled me aboard his Jeep. "Hit it!" he shouted to his driver, thus ensuring that I would be home weeks before my fellow prisoners.'

It would seem likely that Gene escaped under similar circumstances, however, his Liberation Questionnaire of 12 May 1945, does not elaborate on his escape.


Pat, however, had apparently beaten them all back to England

Though Gene and Pat had both been held at Stalag Luft 3, they were not in the same compound. In his Liberation Questionnaire Pat states that he was at Sagan (East) whereas Gene records that he was at Belaria. The PoWs at Belaria were evacuated on 29 January 1945 and marched some 50 miles to Spremberg where they arrived on 3 February. Crammed into box cars they had then been taken by rail to Luckenwalde where they arrived on 6 February.

The East compound at Sagan where Pat was held, was evacuated on 27 January and marched to Spremberg arriving there on the afternoon of 2 February. They were also crammed into box cars and then taken by train to Tarmstedt near Bremen, then marched in pouring rain, the 3 kilometres to the camp, Marlag und Milag Nord. Needless to say, the conditions experienced by Gene and Pat during their respective journeys to their new places of incarceration were equally as bad as those endured by Clem, Trevor, John and Dave, during their evacuation from Stalag Luft 7.

Pat's stay at Tarmstedt was short lived as on 10 April, with the Allies only a few miles away at Bremen, he was among 3000 prisoners marched out of the camp north east towards Hamburg. Following several attacks by Allied aircraft it was agreed with the Germans that they should march only at night and on 15 April reached Cranz near Hamburg. They continued the gruelling march for another 8 days, and 23 April found the column near the Baltic port of Lübeck. Faced with a Typhus outbreak in Lübeck they remained at the village of Hamberge for 5 days before moving a few miles south west to Trenthorst. On 1 May Trenthorst was liberated by the Allies and their ordeal was finally over.

An examination of his Liberation Questionnaire completed back in the UK, reveals that it was signed by Pat on 3 May 1945, just two days after Trenthorst was liberated. With every will in the world it seems most unlikely that he would have been flown back to the UK so quickly. It is known that during the strafing of the column by Allied aircraft some of the American PoWs had taken the opportunity to escape. Had Pat joined them?

Whatever the explanation Pat was the first to reach England!



Repatriation


Trevor Keeling and John Lovatt were no doubt delighted to get back to home and their families, but as happy as the four Canadians were to be safe in England, they were still a long way from their loved ones.

Fortunately they did not have long to wait before repatriation to Canada. Clem embarked at Southampton 1 June 1945 and disembarked at Halifax, Nova Scotia on 7 June 1945. Pat is believed to have been on the same transport.

Dave embarked at Greenwich on 8 July 1945 on board the troop ship, Ile de France and arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia some 6 days and telegrammed his mother of his arrival.



Gene is believed to have been repatriated at about the same time as the other three.



Demobilisation and return to civilian life


Pat was demobilised on 10 September and returned home to Velma, his wife at Tecumseh, Ontario and his job at Whisky Distillers of Windsor, Ontario. Pat and Velma later had 2 children, Bruce and Linda.

Dave was demobilised on 5 September he returned home to Keewatin, Ontario and was later employed by the Ontario Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company in Kenora first as a Mechanic and later as a Millwright.

Gene went back home to Sarnia, Ontario and his job as a Core Maker at the Holmes Foundry. He later became a manager at the plant and was destined to work for the company until 1984 when he retired having served the company for 44 years.

In his youth Gene had loved nothing more than spending time on his Uncle's fruit farm and eventually moved to a property in Sarnia with four acres and later moved to property in Petrolia (about 17 miles south-east of Sarnia) which had two orchards and a pond. Working on his hobby farm always gave him great pleasure.

His daughter Dawn recalled that 'I lived with my father for the last 6 years of his life as he had gone blind from glaucoma. He still was a very strong, self reliant man until the end. He would get up and drive the tractor on his hobby farm after I left for work. Only got caught in the fence once.'

Clem was trained and used as an Honours and Awards Officer before being discharged on 16 May 1946.

In the Toronto City Directory of 1947 he is recorded as living at his father's address and working as a Clerk. In 1951 he is recorded as being a Clerk at the Globe and Mail newspaper and in 1953 no employment is recorded but he has moved to the Toronto suburb of York. In 1954 he is recorded as an employee of Malton Airport.

In the Toronto Star of 10 November 1991 (when he was 66) he is referred to as being retired and the former manager of The Canadian Institute of Tractor Trailer Training and living in Weston, Toronto.



Marriage and family life


Marriage for the three singles was soon on the cards, Gene married Violet Lilian Chambers c1946/47 and they went on to have seven children.

Next it was Dave's turn; he married Elsie Dora Hulmes on 6 March 1947. A son David was born in 1948 but sadly died whilst still a baby. They later had a daughter, Linda, born in 1949.

In 1949 Clem married Theresa Donovan and settled in Toronto. They did not have any children.

Meanwhile, back in England, on 9 March 1946 Trevor Keeling married Thelma Wynne Jones at St. Margaret's Church, Durham. They went on to have two children.


An untimely death


John Lovatt, the navigator of the crew, chose to remain in the RAF and in 1949 married Annie Mary Richardson at Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire. In 1955 John and his wife Mary were living in married quarters at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire, Salop, which since 1950 had been home to the Central Navigation and Control School.

On 1 August 1955, whilst living in the house of 80-year-old Mrs. Clara Viner, at Parsons Court, Minchinhampton, Stroud in Gloucestershire, John sadly died from Chronic Tuberculosis, he was 31 years old. It seems that he was probably lodging with Mrs Viner whilst on attachment to RAF Aston Down, located a mile from the village.


Once a crew, always a crew


The four Canadians and Trevor Keeling remained in touch, exchanging letters and the inevitable Xmas cards. Clem, Dave and Pat seem to have remained close and with their wives visited each other from time to time.

Clem became an active member of the Toronto Press Club, the Royal Military Institute, The Royal Canadian Legion and The Celebrity Club. He was always keen to attend the RCAF POW re-unions and enjoyed a certain notoriety on account of his youth, a matter which was frequently the subject of much dispute, as alluded to in the following article from the Toronto Daily Star of 7 August 1965

'RCAF fliers gathered at the Royal York hotel last night. It marked the start of the three-day reunion of the Royal Canadian Air Force POWs. The more than 200 former internees are now politicians, doctors, dentists, policemen and salesmen. The convention held every five years in Toronto means more trouble for Clem Pearce, 39, who became the youngest RCAF POW when he was shot down at 18 while flying in a Lancaster bomber over Berlin [sic] in August 1944. Pearce now comes to the get-togethers armed with birth certificate and newspaper clippings to prove he was a POW and yet can still be under 40 more than 20 years after the war ended.'




By 1985 Pat's health was in decline and in his Xmas card to Clem he had mentioned having had three large tumours removed.

In 1986 Dave and Elsie Balchin were to visit Europe and among other things, hoped to meet up with George Bower (see 1944 Christmas dinner table plan) and Trevor Keeling. Before they left Clem made the following request:

'I'd love to see those two little b******s Don Parker and Frank Powell, they sure looked after me on the march. When you're in the UK check and see if there is a Glider Pilot association. I would like to write and get their addresses'

Clem had also written to Trevor informing him of Dave's upcoming trip to England and that he himself hoped to see Trevor at the RAF POW Convention in Southampton in September 1987.

Dave and Elsie had a great trip and although they had an enjoyable meeting with George Bower, Trevor Keeling was no longer at the only address known to Dave and Clem.

By July 1986 Clem was concerned that Pat's health was deteriorating and suggested that if Dave came to visit he would also try to get Gene to come too and organise 'one last reunion as a crew'.

Gene's daughter Dawn, refers to Clem Dave and Pat visiting her father, so perhaps the four did manage that one last reunion before Pat sadly died at Metropolitan Hospital, Windsor on 19 February 1988 aged 76.

Dave meanwhile, had been diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and in 1987 underwent surgery to remove his voice box, vocal cords and larynx. Henceforth he spoke using an electrolarynx apparatus.

In 1994 Dave celebrated his 70th birthday with a parachute jump repeating his feat of 50 years earlier. At least this time the aircraft was not on fire!

In 1996 Dave and Elsie were divorced.


Though Clem still hankered after contact with Don Parker and Frank Powell it was not until June 1991 that his wish was fulfilled albeit tinged with some sadness.

Toronto Star 10 November 1991

'Last summer, thanks to the tremendous efforts of Larry Reid, an old friend of mine now residing in England, I made contact with a buddy from my prisoner of war days Don Parker of the British Glider Pilot Regiment. He and his fellow pilot, Frank Powell, had taken this Canadian teenager under their wings and with a "come on Canada!" helped me survive the terrible forced march of winter 1945 as we retreated with our German guards before the advancing Russian army.

I never had a chance to say goodbye to Don and Frank, which I always regretted, especially when I learned that Frank had been killed fighting the Communists in Malaya in 1957 [1954].




The years ticked by and in 1997 Dave and Clem visited Gene in Sarnia.




On 1 October 2002 aged 78 and whilst a resident at the Pinecrest Home for the Aged in Kenora, Dave Balchin sadly died from cancer of the bladder.

Less than a year later, on 6 September 2003, Clem Pearce died at Toronto. He was also 78.

Four years later on 15 September 2007 aged 85 Gene Atyeo died at Bluewater Health Palliative Care, Sarnia, Lambton County, Ontario.

On 2 December 2011, Trevor Keeling, the last surviving member of the crew, died at Wolverhampton, Staffordshire aged 88.




BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW


For completeness, some details of crew members included in the text, are repeated below.



(1) F/O. Gene Mitchell Atyeo was born on 12 January 1922 at Weyburn Saskatchewan, Canada the son of Charles Edgar Atyeo and Sadie Ellen Atyeo nee Fritz. He had three siblings: Cathrine Estelle Ayeo (1919-2011), Ernest Wayne Atyeo (1923-2003) and William Atyeo (1926-2005). The family later lived at 356 Nelson Street, Sarnia, Ontario.

Prior to enlisting in the air force on 9 June 1942, Gene was employed as a Core Maker at the Holmes Foundry in Sarnia and after the war returned to work at the same company, eventually becoming a manager at the plant. He was employed there for 44 years retiring in 1984.

He married Violet Lilian Chambers with whom he had seven children: Ronald Gene Atyeo (1947-1996), Dawn Atyeo, Heather Atyeo, Virginia Atyeo, Jon Atyeo. Ruth Atyeo and Charlene Atyeo.

In 1986 Gene and his family lived in the small town of Petrolia, 16 miles south-east of Sarnia.

Gene Mitchell Atyeo died at Bluewater Health Palliative Care, Sarnia, Lambton County, Ontario on Saturday, 15 September 2007 aged 85 and was buried at Lakeview Cemetery at Sarnia, in Section R, Plot 255, Lot 7

He was a respected elder in the assembly of Christians meeting at the Gospel Hall with a true shepherd's heart and was a faithful servant of the Lord.


(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 née Pennell. The family lived at Penrallt, Hillcrest, Shincliffe, Durham.

He had four siblings: Dorothy Mary Keeling (1918-2008), Muriel Yvonne Keeling (1920-2017), Frank Ian Keeling (1924-1999) and Margaret Keeling (1931-2016).

In 1939 Trevor Keeling lived at 62 Walsingham Street, Walsall, Staffordshire with John and Ada Meakin and was employed as a 'Learner - Electrical Engineer'

He enlisted in the RAFVR on 27 September 1941 and trained as a mechanic. In September 1943 he volunteered for aircrew as a Flight Engineer.

On 9 March 1946 he married Thelma Wynne Jones at St. Margaret's Church, Durham. They later had two children.

Charles Trevor Keeling 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 Charlotte Lovatt née Plant He had two siblings : Joyce Elizabeth Lovatt born 1921 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 was a boyhood friend of Trevor Keeling when they had both been members of the same Boy Scout troop.

In 1949 he married Annie Mary Richardson at Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire and Diana's enquiries unearthed the following valuable information.


John Lovatt 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 John Lovatt died at Parsons Court, Minchinhampton, Stroud, Gloucestershire . The cause of death was Chronic Tuberculosis. His address was 35 Airmen's 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.' (per Dave 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 and providing the following 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'.

We seek a photograph of John Lovatt and any further information. If you are able to assist please contact our helpdesk



(4) F/O. Blake Latimer Patterson was born on 22 December 1911 at Sarnia, Ontario, Canada the son of Francis Latimer Patterson (a Tool Maker) and Rosa Patterson née Allan. Blake had three siblings: Frances Rose Patterson(1913-1997), Allen Francis Patterson (1908-1908) and Ross Stuart Patterson (1915-2005).

The family later lived at 744 Chilver Road, Walkerville, 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 Clerk/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 he was posted to No. 28 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wymeswold and its satellite airfield RAF Castle Donnington, Leicestershire where he joined Course No. 35 and was later promoted to Flying Officer on 20 February.

Posted to No. 11 Base on 19 May and on 7 July 1944 to 101 Squadron at RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire .

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 on 1 June 1945, disembarking on 7 June and was granted six weeks special leave from 11 June until 24 June 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 lived with his wife Velma at Tecumseh, a town near Windsor, Ontario. They later had two children, Bruce and Linda.

Blake Latimer Patterson died at Windsor, Ontario on 19 February 1988 aged 76.



(5) P/O. John French Andrews was born on 21 April 1914 at Eureka, Montana U.S.A., the son of John French Andrews (a Lumberman born Northumberland, England, died 6 August 1935 aged 54) and Margaret Andrews née 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 Donnington, Leicestershire where he joined Course No. 35. 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) F/O. Clement Fred Robert (Clem) Pearce was born on 2 October 1925 at Toronto, Ontario, Canada the son of Albert Edward Pearce (a Butcher, born in Bristol, England) and a Canadian mother, Ruby Alina Pearce née Ryan. He had 7 siblings: Marie Helen Monica (Mona) Pearce (1917-1999), Gerald Pearce (1919-1919), Basil Vincent Pearce (1920-1942), Rita Geraldine Pearce (1922-1994), Rosemary (1928-2009), Walter Pearce (c1930-2013) and Beatrice (1935-2022). The family lived at 695 Vaughan Road, Toronto.

He was educated at St Thomas Public School, Toronto (1931-1939) and Vaughan Collegiate (1939-1941). After leaving school he was employed as a Butcher at Loblaw Groceterias from 1941 until joining the RCAF.

When he enlisted at Toronto on 13 May 1943 he was described as being 5' 8" tall weighing 118 lbs with a medium complexion, brown eyes and brown hair.

On enlistment he was posted to 5 Manning Depot at RCAF Lachine and on 28 June was posted to 6 Initial Training School at Toronto from where he was immediately sent on a Pre Aircrew Education Course at Danforth Technical School, Toronto from where he graduated on 10 August 1943

Following 7 days Special Leave from 14 -20 August he was posted to 1 Air Gunner Ground Training School at RCAF Quebec. On 3 October he was posted to 9 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Mont Joli, Quebec, Course No.64 commencing on 4 October. Graduating on 12 November he was awarded his Air Gunner Badge and promoted to Sergeant.

Following 14 days embarkation leave from 13 to 26 November he reported to Halifax, Nova Scotia and on 14 December 1943, embarked for the UK. Disembarking on 21 December he was posted to 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth until 18 January 1944 when he joined Course 35 at 28 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wymeswold in Leicestershire. On completion of the course on 19 May he was transferred to 11 Base at RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Posted to 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Sandtoft in Lincolnshire he joined Course 92 on 30 May until 9 June 1944.

He was posted to Course 20 at 1 Lancaster Finishing School, RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire, from 1 to 5 July and 2 days later, on 7 July he was posted to 101 Squadron based at RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire.

Whilst a prisoner of war he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 3 February 1945 but with effect from 11 August 1944 and promoted to Flying Officer on 11 February 1945

Following liberation Clem arrived safe in the UK on 14 May 1945 and was immediately posted to 3 Personnel Reception Depot at Bournemouth.

Repatriated to Canada he received 6 weeks leave from 11 June to 23 July before being posted to Service Flying Training School at RCAF Borden on 3 August, thence to Air Force Headquarters on 26 August and to 2 Reception Centre at RCAF Lachine on 4 September.

Clem was demobilised and transferred to Reserve Class E on 16 May 1946.

In 1949 he married Theresa Donovan.

He was an active member of the Toronto Press Club, the Royal Military Institute, The Royal Canadian Legion and The Celebrity Club.

He died on 6 September 2003 aged 78.

A Memorial Mass was held on 13 September 2003 at Transfiguration of Our Lord Catholic Church at Etobicoke, Toronto followed by a reception at the Royal Canadian Legion at Etobicoke.


(7) F/O.David Henry Balchin was born on 18 May 1924 at Keewatin, Ontario, Canada, the son of Bricklayer, Alfred Balchin and Minnie Jessie Balchin nee Parfitt. His father had been born in London, England his mother Minnie in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire. Almost immediately after their marriage at Camberwell in 1911, Alfred and Minnie sailed for Quebec and settled Keewatin, Ontario, specifically in Superior Street.

David had nine siblings: Richard Frederick David Balchin (1912-1970), Arthur Sidney Alfred Balchin (1914-1947), Albert Kenneth Balchin (1916-1917), a stillborn child (1917), Dorothy Elizabeth Balchin (1918-2002), Joan Florence Balchin (1919-1994), Margaret Jessie Balchin (1923-1995), Elizabeth Mary Balchin (1929-1930), Charles Balchin (1932-1942).

He was educated at Keewatin Public School (1930-1939) and Keewatin High School (1939-1943), played hockey, football, baseball and also skied.

After leaving school he immediately applied to enlist in the RCAF at No. 6 Mobile Recruiting Centre, Kenora, Ontario, on 3 February 1943. He was described as being 5' 11" tall, weighing 135 lbs with a medium complexion, hazel eyes and brown brown hair.

Given service number R218575, he was posted to 2 Manning Depot at RCAF Brandon, Manitoba until 15 April when he was posted to 23 Elementary Flying Training School at RCAF Davidson, Saskatchewan. On 28 June 1943 he was posted to 4 Wireless School but two days later he was sent to Westdale Technical School, Hamilton, Ontario on a Pre Aircrew Education Course from which he graduated on 6 August and the following day he was posted to 1 Air Gunners Ground Training School (1 AGGTS), Quebec. During the 6 week course at the school, he was taught the rudiments of aircraft machine guns including their care and maintenance. In addition he learned military drill, live weapons firing of small arms and physical training.

On 18 September, he was posted to 9 Bombing and Gunnery School at RCAF Mont Joli, Quebec where he was assigned to Wireless and Air Gunnery Course 63 and trained on the Fairey Battle from 20 September to 29 October 1943, when he was awarded his Air Gunner Badge and promoted to Sergeant. Following 14 days leave he was posted to Y Depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia, to await embarkation to the UK which followed on 14 December on board the Mauretania.

On arrival at Liverpool on 21 December he was posted to 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth until 18 January 1944 when he joined Course 35 at 28 Operational Training Unit at RAF Wymeswold in Leicestershire. On completion of the course on 19 May he was transferred to 11 Base at RAF Lindholme in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Posted to 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Sandtoft in Lincolnshire he joined Course 92 on 30 May until 9 June 1944. He was then posted to Course 20 at 1 Lancaster Finishing School, RAF Hemswell, Lincolnshire, from 1 to 5 July and 2 days later, on 7 July he was posted to 101 Squadron based at RAF Ludford Magna, Lincolnshire. On 29 July he was promoted to Flight Sergeant.

After becoming a prisoner of war he was interrogated at Dulag Luft and was then sent to Stalag Luft 7 at Bankau, Silesia (now Bąków, Poland) where he arrived on 22 August. David Balchin was henceforth, PoW number 546.

Whilst a prisoner of war he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 11 August 1944 with the new service number J89965. On 11 February 1945 he was promoted to Temporary Flying Officer.

On 26 May 1945 he arrived safe in the UK and the following day was posted to 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth.

He embarked at Greenwich on 8 July 1945 on board the troop ship, Ile de France and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia some 5 days later.

Telegrams his mother of his arrival.

Officially posted to 1 Repatriation Depot at RCAF Lachine, Quebec on 19 July he first had the matter of six weeks leave deal with before returning to Lachine on 1 September and thence to 5 Release Centre at RCAF Winnipeg for demobilisation and transfer to reserve Class 'E' on 5 September.

On release he stated that he 'desired training (vocational) in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning.'

On 6 March 1947 at St James Anglican Church, Kenora, Ontario, Dave was married to Elsie Dora Hulmes. They later lived at Keewatin, Kent, Ontario and went on to have five children, David Balchin (1948-1948) and Linda Violet Balchin (1949-2013) and three others, details unknown.

Dave worked as a Mechanic/Millwright at the Ontario Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company in Kenora, retiring in 1986.

Dave was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx due to smoking but he also cited the environment in which he had worked at the Pulp Mill.

On 18 May 1994, Dave celebrated his 70th Birthday by repeating his one and only parachute jump.

In 1996, Dave and his wife Elsie were divorced

David Henry Balchin died from cancer of the bladder on 1 October 2002 aged 78, at Pinecrest Home for the Aged at Kenora and following funeral service conducted by Rev. C. Giroux, a family member, at St James Anglican Church - the family church, was buried on 4 October 2002 in Honour Lane Block 3, at Lake of the Woods Cemetery, Konora.

(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 née Siemann. The family arrived in London on 5 July 1939 and later lived at 17 Mapesbury Court, Shoot-up Hill, Cricklewood, London, NW2 and 13 St. Cuthbert's Road, 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 previous 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'.

We seek a photograph of Hans Schwarz - if you can assist please contact our helpdesk


BURIAL DETAILS


P/O 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, (8 miles SSE of Barver). 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 they 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

P/O. John French Andrews's epitaph reads:

Beloved son

Rest in peace

Fl/Sgt. Hans Heinz Schwarz's epitaph reads:

Our beloved son and brother

In eternal memory






Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock in collaboration with David Champion for all the relatives and friends of the crew - May 2024.


With grateful thanks to the following for their assistance with personal information in respect of the crew.

Dawn MacDonald (Daughter of Gene Atyeo), Malcolm Keeling (son of Trevor Keeling), Marla Miller (niece of John Andrews), The Balchin family especially Dave's niece, Darleen Wolfe, Diana Wall and Graeme Clarke (re John Lovatt).

Thanks also to the sources quoted below.




RW 11.05.2024

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Acknowledgements
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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