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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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RAF Crest
29.12.1944 544 (PRU) Squadron Mosquito PR.XVI NS791, Flt Lt. Olaf P. Olson DFC

Operation: Photo Reconnaissance, Germany

Date: 29th December 1944 (Friday)

Unit No: 544 (PR) Squadron, Coastal Command

Type: Mosquito PR.XVI

Serial: NS791

Code: None allocated

Base: RAF Benson, Oxfordshire

Location: 2 km (1¼ mls) west of Gockenholz, Germany

Pilot: Flt Lt. Olaf Patrick ‘Pat’ Olson DFC 411439 RNZAF Age 24. PoW * (2)

Navigator: Flt Lt. Arthur Maurice Crow DSO, DFM 116137 RAFVR Age 23. Murdered (1)

* Stalag 11b Fallingbostel, Schleswig, Lower Saxony, Germany

REASON FOR LOSS:

NS791 took off from RAF Benson on the 29th December 1944 at 10:15 hrs on a reconnaissance sortie on the railway line from Hannover to Stendal in Germany.

About midway between Hannover and Stendal the Mosquito was intercepted and shot down by Ofw. Erich Büttner from III./JG7 flying an Me262-1A at 12:20 hrs.

Ofw. Erich Büttner flying with III./JG7 was WiA on the 20th March 1945 after being shot down by a Mustang and baling out whilst flying Me262a-1A Wk # 500462. He was credited with 24 Abschüsse, 8 of which whilst flying the Me262. (Ref 1, p138, p248, p268, p288)

The Mosquito was set ablaze and crashed 2 km (1¼ mls) west of Gockenholz and some 44 km (27½ mls) NE of Hannover. Both crew members managed to bale out of the burning aircraft.

(1) The circumstances leading to the death of Flt Lt. Crow were determined by a British Military Court convened in Hanover from the 18th to 20th February 1946.

The victim was not identified during the trial. However, the date and the location of the crime coincides with the only known aircraft to have been shot down on this day. Of the two man crew Flt Lt. Olson became a PoW and the second airman was Flt Lt. Arthur Maurice Crow who was missing.

One German national was charged with committing a war crime in that he at Langlingen, Germany on or about the 29th December 1944 in violation of the Laws and Usages of war killed an unknown Flight Lieutenant of the Royal Air Force, a prisoner of war.

The accused was Heinrich Friedrich Uhrig a former SS-Untersturmführer (2nd Lt) and commander of an SS unit in Langlingen.

The court heard that after the pilot had landed between Lachendorf and Ahnsbeck he had surrendered to two German nationals. They had searched him and relieved him of a knife, some small pocket-knives and bandaged a hand injury.

Uhrig was informed that an Allied airplane had crashed in the neighbourhood and that the pilot had baled out. He enlisted a subordinate, an Alwin Krevet who was an SS-Unterscharführer (L/Cpl), and requested a car in order to collect the pilot.

The car driven by a Robert Speil took Uhrig and Krevet to the location where they took charge of the pilot. They then returned to Langlingen taking the road via Ahnsbeck and Helmerkamp towards Neuhaus. On the road to Neuhaus the driver was directed to take a right hand turn onto a track which ran past a wood.

According to Krevet, corroborated by Speil, the car was stopped after a conversation in English between Uhrig and the pilot. Uhrig and the pilot exited the car and Krevet followed. Uhrig claimed that the pilot wanted to relieve himself.

The three walked until out of sight of the car at which time Uhrig told Krevet to return and bring the car nearer. As Krevet turned away a shot rang out and when he turned he saw the pilot lying on the ground. Uhrig appeared to check if the pilot was alive after which he fired a shot at short range with his pistol at the pilot’s head.

The pathologist’s findings will not be detailed; suffice to say that his opinion corroborated Krevet’s evidence insofar as it found that the fatal shot was fired at point blank range and caused immediately deadly injuries.

The body was taken to SS headquarters at Langlingen and then buried in the local cemetery. In February 1945 Uhrig had the airman’s body clandestinely disinterred and buried elsewhere in a wood. It was Speil who led investigators to the grave site.

Uhrig claimed that the airman was attempting to escape and when that was disproved by witnesses he tried the defence of "superior orders". He also denied that he had anything to do with the relocation of the body. The court rejected his claims and found him guilty of the charge and sentenced him to death by hanging.

Uhrig was executed at 15:20 hrs on the 15th May 1946 at Hamelin Prison by Albert Pierrepoint assisted by RSM. Richard Anthony O'Neill.

(2) Flt Lt. Olson was captured near Celle on the same day. He had suffered from burns and received the best available treatment over a period of 7 weeks at Lager Lazarett, Stalag 11B, Fallingbostel from the 29th December 1944 to 29th January 1945.

He was then transferred to Dulag Luft, Oberursel arriving there the next day and remained there until the 3rd March 1945 when he was transferred to Stalag 13D, Nuremberg (also known as Oflag 73), Bavaria arriving there on the 15th March 1945.

On the 12th April 1945 large numbers of PoWs were force-marched to Stalag 7A, Moosburg arriving there on the 20th April 1945. The camp was liberated on the 29th April 1945 by elements of the US 14th Armoured Division.

He was Interviewed on the 11th May 1945.

Prior to enlisting in the RNZAF on the 3rd March 1941 he was a student in Auckland, New Zealand

Flt Lt. Olson was awarded the DFC whilst with 680 Sqn. London Gazette 1st February 1944.

Citation: “This officer has completed very many sorties, involving reconnaissances over ports, harbours and airfields. Two of these missions were undertaken in December, 1943, in very bad weather. In spite of this, Flight Lieutenant Olson displayed great skill and persistence and reconnoitred a variety of targets from a low level. In one area he was subjected to considerable anti-aircraft fire and was driven off but he returned again and completed his task successfully. Flight Lieutenant Olson has set a high standard of skill, courage and devotion to duty”.

After the end of hostilities Flt Lt. Olson returned to New Zealand.

Tragically he was killed in the Tangiwai railway disaster, which claimed the lives of 151 people on the 24th December 1953.

Olaf Patrick Olson: 2nd September 1920 - 24th December 1953.

Burial details:

Above left: Flt Lt. Crow (courtesy of Roger Crow (nephew) - FindAGrave) and right Grave marker (Courtesy of BobB - FindAGrave)

Flt Lt. Arthur Maurice Crow. DSO, DFM, MiD. Hanover War Cemetery, Grave 10.C.16. Born in Dundee.Born during January 1921 in Dundee, Scotland. Son of Robert Borrie Crow (Served in WW1) and Marguerite Anna Maria Mary of Ecaussinnes-D'Enghien, Belgium.

The DFM was awarded to 746736 Flt Sgt. Crow whilst with 235 Sqn. London Gazette 7th July 1942;

As an acting Fg Off. he was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) for actions on Malta. London Gazette 11th June 1942;

His DSO was awarded whilst with 544 Sqn. London Gazette 9th January 1945;

He is also remembered in the Roll of Honour on the Scottish National War Memorial.

Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive. Many thanks to Roger Crow, nephew of Flt Lt. Arthur Maurice Crow, for his NoK details and photograph (Apr 2023). Update to Flt Lt. Olson’s PoW information.(Sept 2023).

References:

1. The Me262 Stormbird – Colin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis.

Other sources listed below:





RS & TV 22.09.2023 - Update to Flt Lt. Olson’s PoW information

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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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