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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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Bomber Command
09th March 1944 1667 HCU Halifax V DJ998 P/O. Burton DFC

Operation: Training

Date: 09th March 1944 (Thursday)

Unit: No. 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit. 1 Group

Type: Halifax V

Serial: DJ998

Code: GG-E

Base: RAF Sandtoft, Lincolnshire

Location: Belton

Pilot (Inst): P/O. Stanley Burton DFC 158541 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Pilot (U/T): P/O. Eric John Patterson NZ/422046 RNZAF Age 28. Killed

Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Robert Marshall 936381 RAFVR Age 27. Killed

Nav: Sgt. Reginald George Williams 1585239 RAFVR Age 22. Killed

Air/Bmr: Sgt. John Macmillan-Clark 1430818 RAFVR Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Donald St. Clair 1607227 RAFVR Age ? Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Douglas Robert William Hall 1895735 RAFVR Age 29. Killed

Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alexander Forsyth 1894970 RAFVR Age ? Killed


The aircraft took of from RAF Sandtoft, Lincolnshire, at 13:30 hours on a training exercise for duel circuits and landings.

Only five minutes into the flight when the bomber went into a spin from 700 feet, and burst into flames upon impacting at the village of Belton

Subsequent investigations into the cause of the accident considered that it was probably the result of fluty fuel cock handling causing one or both port engines to fail.

Above and below: Funerals of some of the crew at Stonefall (courtesy Alf Patterson/Sonia Edwards)

Burial and personal details:

P/O. Stanley Burton DFC. Welford-On-Avon Churchyard (St. Peter) South east of church. The pilot was from Welford-on-Avon, no additional details. P/O. Burton had flown a tour of operations with 625 Squadron, with the award of his DFC being published in the London Gazette 21st January 1944.

P/O. Eric John Patterson. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. F. Row C. Grave 12. Born on the 13th January 1916 in Auckland. Worked as a butter packer for Rangitaiki Planes Dairy Company.Enlisted on the on the 18th March 1942 as aircraft hand. Re- mustered as a pilot under training on the 23rd July 1942. Pilots badge awarded and promoted to sergeant on the 09th April 1943. Embarked for England on the 24th April 1943. Commissioned on the 12th January 1944. Joined 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 26th January 1944. Son of Edward James Herd Patterson (died 13th December 1969, age 80) and of Emmeline Patterson (née Coad - died 10th May 1981, aged 92) and husband of Ivy Josephine Patterson (nee Brady - later Simonsen - died 19th September 1996, aged 75), father of Alfred and John, of Whakatane, Auckland, New Zealand. Total of 483 hours flying hours logged. Additional details below.

Sgt. George Robert Marshall. Idle Churchyard (Holy Trinity) Sec. A. Row 9. Grave 8. Served in the Metropolitan Policeman in north London. Son of George and Rosina Marshall and husband of Louie Marshall, of Idle, Bradford. Grave inscription: 'At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Will Remember Him'.

Sgt. Reginald George Williams. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. F. Row C. Grave 15. Son of Walter Augustus James Williams and Annie Ellen Williams and husband of Marjorie Eva Sybil Harris Williams, of Plumstead Common, London. Grave inscription: 'To All The World But One, To One, All The World'.

Sgt. John Macmillan-Clark. Northampton Cemetery (Kingsthorpe). Sec. 300. Grave 11139. Husband of Hilda Nora MacMillan Clark, of Northampton. Grave inscription: 'How Sleep The Brave Who Sink To Rest By All Their Country's Wishes Blest'.

Sgt. Donald St. Clair. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. F. Row C. Grave 14. No further information. Are you able to assist?

Sgt. Douglas Robert William Hall. Ashford Cemetery (Bybrook). Sec. 68. Grave 42. 124121. Joined Metropolitan Police on the 23rd April 1935, and left on the 09th March 1943. Last posted to G Division. Son of Robert William and Annie Moore Hall and husband of Alice Annie Hall, of South Ashford. Grave inscription: 'His Courage And Devotion, Such Memories For A Loving Wife And Son, Mum And Dad'.

Sgt. Alexander Forsyth. Harrogate Cemetery (Stonefall). Sec. F. Row C. Grave 13. Alex Joined the Metropolitan Police on 9th March 1931, number 120800, serving in L Division, Lambeth Borough. Son of Alexander and Isabella Forsyth and husband of Zena Forsyth, of Monks Orchard, Surrey. Grave inscription: 'Policing The Skies He Died That Freedom Might Live. Zena And "Junior".

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to Jenifer Lemaire and to the extensive research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Library Heritage Collection, Weekly News of New Zealand, other sources as quoted below:

Special additional information on P/O. Eric John Patterson by Sonia Edwards researching all who lost their lives from the Bay Of Plenty area of New Zealand.

Pilot Officer NZ422046 Eric John Patterson (1916-1944) served in the Airforce in Europe, during World War Two, 1939- 1945. He was the son of Edward James Herd PATTERSON (1889- 1969) and Emmaline Patterson of Whakatane. They had two children Eric and Edna. Eric married Ivy Josephine and they had two young sons, Alfred and John Patterson, before he went overseas.2 Josephine’s brother Mick BRADY was killed in action 1944 in Italy.

Eric J Patterson was born in Auckland, 13 January 1916. He attended Oratia School in Shaw Road, where his name is commemorated on the Second World War Memorial Gates.3 Eric’s secondary schooling was at Pukekohe District High School, before his family moved to the Eastern Bay of Plenty, where Eric found employment at the Rangitaiki Plains Dairy Factory as a butter packer. He was up for promotion when he left to join the Airforce.On 18 March 1942, Eric Patterson joined the RNZAF at Rongotai, as an aircraft hand with general duties. He transferred to Hobsonville 31 March 1942, to become part of the 1 Store Depot 9 May 1942. Eventually he re- mustered as an Airman Pilot under training, at the Initial Training Wing 23 July 1942 at Rotorua.

At last he was able to fulfil his dream of flying, when he entered 2 Elementary Flying Training School, 4 September 1942. By 28 November 1942 he attended 2 Service Flying Training School, preparing to gain his Pilot’s Badge. This became effective 13 February 1943. His Sergeant’s promotion followed 9 April 1943. All his training took place in New Zealand.

NZ422046 Pilot Officer Eric John Patterson embarked for the United Kingdom, 24 April 1943, having been attached to the Royal Air Force. He arrived at 12 Personnel Depot and Reception Centre to await deployment, 3 June 1943, and quickly joined #20 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit by the end of the month. From 25 -31 July, Pilot Officer Eric Patterson was attached to 1539 Blind Approach Training Flight, where he became proficient in further skills. His final training was done with 28 Operations Training Unit, flying Wellingtons from 12 October 1943.

Left: Ivy Patterson with sons Alfred and John (courtesy Alf Patterson/Sonia Edwards)

Commissioned 12 January 1944, Pilot Officer E.J Patterson joined Bomber Command. He was at the base for 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit (using Halifax), 26 January 1944.On Thursday 9th March 1944, Bomber Command was practising dual circuits and landings at Sandtoft, Lincolnshire.5 No 1 Group went first. Halifax V DJ988 took off about 1330, captained by pilot instructor Pilot Officer S Burton, RAF, but five minutes later spun from 700 feet and crashed near Belton, 7 miles WSW of Scunthorpe. All eight crew died: the pilot under instruction and three RAF members being buried at Harrogate, Yorkshire. Investigators considered that control was probably lost as a result of a faulty fuel cock handling, causing one or both port engines to fail.

Right: Shown with his son Alfred (courtesy Alf Patterson/Sonia Edwards)

The pilot under training was NZ422046 Pilot Officer Eric John Patterson, RNZAF, aged 28 years. He had flown 483 hours. He was buried at the Stonehall Cemetery [Plot F C 12] Harrogate, Yorkshire England.6

In 1951 a Cross of Sacrifice was unveiled in Stonefall RAF Cemetery, Harrogate. There are 23 New Zealanders, 97 Australians, 158 British and 667 Canadians buried there. More than 1000 people attended the ceremony.

Pilot Officer E.J Patterson is remembered on the Whakatane War Memorial, and at the Hall of Memories, Auckland War Memorial Museum and at Oratia School.

Credits: Images courtesy Alf Patterson 2020. Alf & John were educated at Dilworth School. Their mother Josephine later remarried Thomas Simonson c.1957. Bay of Plenty Beacon Vol 7 issue 56 14 March 1944 Roll of Honour

KTY 22-07-2021

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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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