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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
28/29.07.1942 16 Operational Training Unit (OTU) Wellington Ic R1450, Plt Off. Francis Lowe

Operation: Hamburg, Germany

Date: 28th/29th July 1942 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit No: 16 Operational Training Unit (OTU), 92 Group

Type: Wellington Ic

Serial: R1450

Code: XG:Y1

Base: RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire

Location: Brunsbüttel, Germany

Pilot: Plt Off. Francis Lowe DFM 118019 RAFVR Age 22. PoW No. 600 * (1)

2nd Pilot: Flt Lt. Patrick Wilson ‘Pat’ Langford MiD C1631 RCAF Age 24. PoW No. 710 */ Murdered (3)

Observer: Plt Off. Arthur Ferdinand 'Ferdie’ Litzow 121572 RAFVR Age 33. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. William John Atchison 1028991 RAFVR Age 31. KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Trevor Haughton Cray 411066 RNZAF Age 21. KiA

Air Gnr: Sgt. William White 1252067 RAFVR Age 21. PoW No. 27046 ** (2)

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).

** Stalag 8b, in 1943 renamed Stalag 344, Lamsdorf (now called Łambinowice) in Silesia, Lamsdorf (now called Łambinowice) in Silesia.


On the 28th July 1942 at 22:14 hrs R1450 took off to join a force of 256 aircraft on a mission to bomb targets in Hamburg. The weather outbound and over the English bases worsened and as a consequence the OTU aircraft were recalled. However, a number of OTU aircraft including R1450 did not receive the recall and went on to bomb Hamburg. Many more aircraft turned back because of the worsening weather and only 68 arrived over the target.

Hamburg sustained minimum damage and overall casualties were light. However, Bomber Command lost 33 aircraft, which included R1450 as one of the 4 OTU Wellingtons lost. The other were:

16 OTU Wellington Ic L7894 XG:U2. The five crew were KiA, four of whom were from the RCAF;
22 OTU Wellington Ic X3201 DD:O bar. Two of the RCAF crew were KiA and three became PoWs;
22 OTU Wellington Ic X9696 DD:Z. The five RCAF crew were KiA.

R1450 was claimed by Oblt. Günther Köberich his 1st Abschuss and first of two this night, from Stab II./NJG3 over Brunsbüttel at 1.600 m. at 00:16 hrs.

He had been scrambled from Schleswig in Bf110 D5+BC at 23:42 hrs. His Bordfunker Uffz. Heidenrich recorded the following in his Leistungsbuch. "The victories were scored on a Bf 110 E. (1st Victory) Two attacks climbing from below: Enemy aircraft burned immediately. Light return fire. Crash not observed, probable victory, attack had to be broken off at 1.600 meters altitude due to heavy Flak over Brunsbüttel . Victory confirmed later. (2nd victory) Heavy return fire, the crash of the enemy aircraft was observed. Landed smoothly at 01:42 at Schleswig , although both motors had been put out of action by enemy fire". (Nachtjagd Combat Archive (30 May - 31 December 1942) The Early Years Part 3 - Theo Boiten).

Oblt. Köberich was reported to have been killed on the 8th April 1944 during an American raid on Quackenbrück airfield. He had 7 confirmed and 1 unconfirmed victories. (Luftwaffe ACES - Biographies and Victory Claims (Mathews and Foreman) - Volume 2).

The aircraft crashed near Brunsbüttel. Three of the crew survived and became PoWs.

(1) 742478 Sgt. Lowe was awarded the DFM whilst with 49 Squadron, London Gazette 23rd September 1941.

On the 9th March 1942 WO. Lowe was appointed to a commissioned and promoted to 118019 Plt Off.

After baling out Plt Off. Lowe was captured at Jübek about 11 km (7 mls) to the east of Schleswig on the same day. He was then transferred to Dulag Luft Oberursel arriving there on the 2nd August 1942 and spent 10 days in solitary confinement.

On the 13th August he was transferred to Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia in Germany arriving there on the 15th August. On the 30th October he was transferred Oflag XXIb at Szubin a few miles SW of Bydgoszcz in Poland arriving there the next day and where he would remain until the 15th April 1943 when he was then transferred back to Stalag Luft 3.

Just before midnight on the 27th January 1945, because of advancing Russian forces, the PoW’s were marched out of the camp to Spremberg. From here he was part of the column that were force-marched to Milan-Marlag Nord PoW camp arriving there on the 5th February 1945.

Milan = Marinelager (naval prisoner of war camp) and Milag = Marine-Internierten-Lager (naval internment camp), Nord (North). Located at a former Luftwaffe (German Air Force) barracks near Westertimke NE of Bremen in Germany.

The camp guards fled the camp on 9th April 1945 and were replaced by elderly civilian guards. When it was announced that the Allied officers in Marlag were going to be moved to Lübeck, many of them fled into the nearby woods or concealed themselves in the camp. The camp was liberated by units of the British 11th Armoured Division on the 28th April 1945. Plt Off. Lowe was interviewed on the 3rd May 1945.

He enlisted in the RAFVR on the 10th November 1938.

(2) Sgt. White suffered a broken leg after baling out and was captured near Schleswig-Holstein the same day.

He was admitted to Reserve Lazaret II at Schleswig for treatment. He remained there until the 20th September after which he was transferred to Dulag Luft Oberursel arriving there two days later. On the 28th September he was transferred to Stalag 8B, Lamsdorf arriving there on the 30th September. He remain at this camp until 22nd January 1945.

Note: in 1943 Stalag 8B was renamed Stalag 344.

In January 1945 the camp was evacuated due to the Soviet armies resuming their offensive and advanced into Germany. On the 22nd January he joined the forced-marches of PoWs westward many of whom died from exhaustion and the bitter cold. He arrived at Stalag 3A on the 8th February 1945. Finally, as the Russians approached the guards fled the camp leaving the prisoners to be liberated by the Red Army on the 22nd April 1945.

WO. White, he was promoted to Warrant Officer (WO) whilst a PoW, remained at the camp until the 8th May 1945 and was interviewed on the 13th May 1945.

He was employed as a Railway Fireman in London before enlisting in the RAFVR on the 6th June 1940.

(3) Flt Lt. Langford was eventually sent to Stalag Luft 3. In September 1944 he was on the Working Committee who was responsible for the trap door of ‘Harry’. (Ref 1. p.115).

On the night of the 24th/25th March 1944, 76 officers escaped from the north compound of Stalag Luft 3 which, at that time, held between 1000 and 1500 RAF PoWs. The escape was made by the means of a tunnel. At about 05:00 hrs on the 25th March the 77th PoW was spotted by guards as he emerged from the tunnel.

An overview of the German response to the escape and the subsequent British prosecution of those responsible for the murder of fifty of the escapees is summarised in the report entitled “The Fifty - The Great Escape”.

It is not known where and when Flt Lt. Langford was captured but he and a number of other recaptured officers were gathered together in Görlitz prison in Germany which was under the control of the Gestapo. Gradually the numbers of recaptured officers grew until thirty-five were held there.

On the 31st March two of the surviving officers witnessed a number of Gestapo agents collected the following ten officers and take them away; Flt Lt. C.P. Hall, Ft Lt. Birkland, Flt Lt. B. Evans, Flt Lt. G.E. McGill, Flt Lt. E.S. Humphreys, Flt Lt. P.W. Langford, Flt Lt. C.D. Swain, Fg Off. R.C. Stewart, Flt Lt. E. Valenta and Fg Off. A.D. Kolanowski. None of these men were seen alive again.

It was alleged that a Gestapo agent by the name of Lux selected and commanded the death-squad that carried out the order to execute selected prisoners.

Believed to be Kriminalobersekretär (Chief Detective) Walter Lux who was reported to have been killed in the Siege of Breslau in 1945.

No one was formally charged with the actual murder of Flt Lt. Langford or for the other fifteen officers killed by Lux and his death-squad. The bodies of this group were cremated at Liegnitz (Legnica) in Poland and their urns returned to Stalag Luft 3.

Burial Details

Memorial to “The Fifty” near to Żagań (Courtesy: CSvBibra - Own work, Public Domain)

Above left: Flt Lt. Langford (Courtesy Canadian Virtual War Memorial) and right grave marker (Courtesy: TWGPP)

Flt Lt. Patrick Wilson Langford MiD. Poznań Old Garrison Cemetery 7.C.7. Grave inscription: "REST IN PEACE". Born on the 4th November 1919 in Edmonton, Alberta. Son of Capt. Richard Wilson and Olive Mary (née Stevens) Langford of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

His father was a Capt. in the 19th Company Canadian Forestry Corps. He was formerly in the Canadian Army overseas but returned to Canada.

Flt Lt. Langford was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) recognizing his conspicuous bravery as a PoW because none of the other relevant decorations then available could be awarded posthumously. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 8th June 1944.

Above: Grave marker for Plt Off. Litzow (Courtesy: TWGPP)

Plt Off. Arthur Ferdinand Litzow. Kiel War Cemetery 2.H.20. Born on the 13th October 1908 in Tooting. Son of Hans Georg (deceased) and Eleanor ’Nelly’ (née Hine) Litzow. Husband to Philomena Mary (née O’Reilly) Litzow of Streatham, London, England.

Above: Grave marker for Sgt. Atchison (Courtesy: TWGPP)

Sgt. William John Atchison. Kiel War Cemetery 2.H.21. Grave inscription: "HIS NAME LIVETH FOR EVER MORE". Born on the 6th July 1911 in Hoxton, London. Son of William James and Charlotte Alice (née Alexander) Atchison; husband of Helen Brown Atchison (née Lyall), of Chelsea, London, England.

Above: Grave marker for Sgt. Cray (Courtesy: TWGPP)

Sgt. Trevor Haughton Cray. Kiel War Cemetery 2.H.19. Born on the 23rd October 1920. Son of Frederick Alfred and Eileen Mildred (née Haughton) Cray of Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

His brother Plt Off. Geoffrey Haughton Cray MiD, RNZAF was KiA on the 17th April 1944 in operations over the South Pacific as the Pilot of SBD-5 Dauntless NZ5050, 25 Sqn RNZAF.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the VitzArchive. Update to narrative and links. (Aug 2022). Update to include PoW narratives (Sept 2023).

Thanks to ‘The War Graves Photographic Project (TWGPP) for their great work.

Other sources below:


1. The Great Escape - Anton Gill - ISBN: 978-1-7201-5488-4.

RS & TV 13.09.2023 - PoW information added

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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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