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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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467 Squadron Crest
01/02.01.1944 467 Squadron Lancaster III LM372 PO:K Flt Lt. Leo B. Patkin

Operation: Berlin, Germany

Date: 1st/2nd January 1944 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit No: 467 Squadron

Type: Lancaster III

Serial No: LM372

Coded: PO:K

Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire

Location: Altmerdingsen, Germany

Pilot: Flt Lt. Leo Braham Patkin 401146 RAAF Age 30. KiA

Pilot 2nd: Flt Sgt James Mudie 29886 RAAF Age 21. KiA

Flt Eng: Sgt. Ralph Chambers 1482755 RAFVR Age 37. MiA

Nav: Fg Off. Raymond Joseph Alfred Maidstone 132722 RAFVR Age 20. KiA

Bomb Aimer: Sgt. George Andrew Litchfield 1579416 RAFVR Age 21.KiA

WOp/Air Gnr: Flt Sgt. Henry Douglas Scott 410611 RAAF Age 30. KiA

Air Gnr (Mid Upp): Flt Sgt. Willam Donald Blackwell 415497 RAAF Age 28. KiA

Air Gnr (Rear): Flt Sgt. Arthur Harold Boettcher 414305 RAAF Age 26. KiA

REASON FOR LOSS:

Took off at 23:24 hrs from RAF Waddington on a bombing operation to Berlin LM372 was lost when it crashed near the village of Altmerdingsen, which is in Landkreis Hannover, Neidedsachsen, Germany. (see map)

Thought to be the crew of LM372.

Standing L to R: Flt Lt. Patkin, Sgt. Maidstone, Sgt. Chambers, Flt Sgt. Scott. Kneeling L to R: Sgt. Litchfield, , Unknown, Unknown. (courtesy Brigadier Andrew Paviour, Bernice Cox via Linda Ibrom - thanks also to Vince Holyoake for identification of others. Also thanks to David Patkin for the correction to the identification Flt Lt. Patkin)

Crew of LM372

Front L to R: Sgt. Litchfield, Flt Lt. Patkin; Standing L to R: Flt Sgt. Scott, unknown, Sgt. Chambers, unknown; Back, Unknown. (courtesy Brigadier Andrew Paviour thanks also to Vince Holyoake for identification of others)

Crew of LM372.

From L to R: Flt Sgt. Scott, Sgt. Maidstone , Flt Lt. Patkin, Sgt. Litchfield (Front), Unknown, Unknown. (courtesy Brigadier Andrew Paviour thanks also to Vince Holyoake for identification of others. Also thanks to David Patkin for the correction to the identification Flt Lt. Patkin)

Fl/Lt Patkin - from L to R; Sgt pilot; centre of the three (Commissioned); right of the three as Plt Off. (courtesy David Patkin)

Claimed shot down by Hptm. Heinrich Prinz Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein at 02.20 hrs. on approach to Berlin. He was later killed when his Ju88 was hit by an air gunner in a Lancaster (some reports state that it was a Mosquito flown by Fl/Sgt Desmon B. Snape from 141 Squadron) - his radio operator escaped but it is thought that Wittgebstein hit his head during the bail out - he was found near to the wreckage - parachute unopened. (83 kills to his credit - one of the highest scoring nightfighter aces). See Kracker Archive on this site.

Above: Hptm. Heinrich Prinz Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (courtesy Tom Kracker)

In January 1947, a RAF Investigation Unit commanded by Flying Officer, Lee, of No. 4. MREU acting on information from the Air Ministry carried out a thorough investigation as to why LM372 was lost in January 1944.

The Investigation Report is recorded below: "Acting on information obtained as a result of Field Activity, I proceeded to the village of Altmerdingsen for the purpose of establishing the fate and burial particulars of the eight missing members of Lancaster LM372."

Aircraft - Statements were obtained from Herr Harmann the present Burgermeister of Altmerdingsen, and Herr Warmbold, the local grave digger who was present at the time of the incident. Herr Harmann stated that in early January 1944 (he was not certain of the exact date) a four engined bomber approached the village of Kraetze ( Map Ref. 53 x 6431) from the direction of Berlin and crashed in a field 400 yards west of Atmerdingsen. The aircraft exploded on impact, and so violent was this that roofs and windows of nearby houses were shattered. Herr Warmbold confirmed the above information, and was able to supply the exact date of the incident. He added, that one of the house had been set on fire by an incendiary bomb thrown from the aircraft by the force of the explosion. An investigation carried out by the local forces the following day revealed that the aircraft had lost a wing 2 Km’s east of the village of Kraetze and it was this which had apparently caused it to spin in. The crater caused by the impact was approximately 25 yards in diameter. A detachment of the Luftwaffe from Celle ( Map Ref. L. 53 x 5950) was responsible for the ultimate removal of the wreckage, and disposal of the bodies.

Aircrew - "According to my two informants, seven bodies were recovered from the vicinity of the crash. The force of the explosion had hurled the bodies over a considerable distance and one of them was recovered from a point of 500 yards from the point of impact. The condition when recovered proved that although they had been hurled out of the aircraft only one was partially mutilated. He had lost a leg. The bodies were collected by the Salvage Unit from Celle who placed them in separate coffins, and gave orders for digging of the seven graves in the local cemetery. They were interred two days later, the Luftwaffe carrying out the ceremony. The local Pastor was not present, and it is not known whether Christian Burial or Military Honours were accorded. ‘Rumours’ had been received that before the bodies were recovered, Polish Displaced Personnel had been robbing the bodies of their personal affects. What means of identification remained were removed by the local Police from Uetze ( Map Ref. L.53 x 6832) who were relieved of office at the same time of the occupation. Consequently, no records were available.

Fg Off."Ted" Maidstone with his future fiancee Marion, just before he was killed. (courtesy of his relatives - see credits, via Linda Ibrom)

I visited the local cemetery at Altmerdingsen and found that the seven men had been interred in separate graves along the out perimeter of the North edge of the cemetery. The graves showed signs of recent attention, and each carries it’s own cross which is inscribed: “Unknown British Airmen. January 1944”. The graves have been registered by the 35 GRU.”

Further investigation failed to produce any information regarding the eighth member of the crew, and it is possible that he baled out before the plane reached the village of Kraetze. In view of the fact that the aircraft still carried its bomb load, it is reasonable to presume that the direction of approach given by Herr Harmann, was the heading of the aircraft after the loss of one of its wings during the decent, would have circled this area before eventually crashing.

Exhumation details have not been included but can be provided upon request.

Burial details:


Above: Grave marker for Flt Lt. Leo Braham Patkin

Flt Lt. Leo Braham Patkin. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 1.G.14. Born on the 28th September 1913 in Melbourne, Victoria. Son of Maurice and Marie Estelle Patkin, husband of Claire Patkin, of South Tarra, Victoria, Australia.

Flt Sgt. Jame Mudie. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 1.G.8. Grave Inscription: "REST YOU,MY SON, WITHIN THE UNIVERSAL LOVE, WE ARE STILL ONE". Son of Edward and Jane Mudie, of Claremont, Western Australia. Born on the 20th May1922 in Dundee Scotland.

Sgt. Ralph Chambers. Runnymede Memorial, Panel 226. Son of James Chambers and of Elizabeth Chambers (née Jones), of Barrow in Furness, Lancashire, England.

Fg Off. Raymond Joseph Alfred Maidstone. Hannover War Cemetery. 1.G.11. Grave Inscription: ‘HE GAVE HIS LIFE THAT OTHERS MIGHT BE SAVED. R.I.P.’. Born on the 28th February 1923. Son off William Henry and Olive Maidstone, of Barnwood, Gloucester, England.

He attended the Crypt School in Gloucester before Oxford University, a University in Scotland and then travelled to Canada. In the scouts as a boy and was looking forward to coming home to get engaged to his girlfriend, Marion. He had three sisters, Mrs. Joy Gaze, Mrs. Patricia Nichols (presently living in Phoenix, Arizona, the late Mrs. Gray Griffin and a brother, Kenneth. He was known as “Ted” to family and friends

Sgt. George Andrew Litchfield. Hannover war Cemetery, Germany. Grave 1.G.13. Grave Inscription: ‘THE DEARLY BELOVED SON OF MR. AND MRS.F. LITCHFIELD 56 EDWARD ROAD, BEDFORD. R.I.P.’. Son of Frederick and Margaret Litchfield, of Bedford, England.

Flt Sgt. Henry Douglas Scott. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Joint grave. 1.G. 9-10. Grave Inscription: ‘WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE THAT WE MIGHT LIVE’. Born on the 20th April 1914 in Pascoe Vale, Victoria. Son of Henry Douglas Scott and Rachel Scott, of Reservoir, Victoria, Australia., Australia.

Served in the Australian Army, with the 37/52 Btn, from 1st July 1931 to 6th.July 1934.

Flt Sgt. William Donald Blackwell. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Joint grave 1.G. 9-10. Born on the 3rd November 1915 in Footscray, Victoria. Son of Donald Stanley Blackwell and Bridget Josephine Blackwell, husband of Gladys Muriel Blackwell, of South Guildford, South Australia.

Sgt. Arthur Harold Boettcher. Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. Grave 1.G.12. Grave Inscription: ‘HIS COUNTRY CALLED - HE ANSWERED’. Born on the 29th August 1917 in Gatton, Queensland. Son of Albert and Bridget Boettcher, of South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Civilian occupation is recorded as being a Shop assistant and a Motion picture projectionist.

Researched by Bob Wilton for Aircrew Remembered. Also to researcher and specialist genealogist Linda Ibrom for relatives of this crew for her many further contributions. With thanks to Brigadier Andrew Paviour, cousin of the Bomb Aimer, Sgt. George Andrew Litchfield also to Helen Peart (née Gaze), niece, Nicholas Gaze, nephew; Mrs Joy Gaze, relatives of the navigator Fg Off. Raymond Joseph Alfred Maidstone; Flt Lt. Patkin's grandson, David Patkin, for the new images and correction to the identification of Flt Lt. Patkin in the images. For further details our thanks to the following, Australian National Archives, also to 467 Squadron historian, Vince Holyoke for identification of some of the crew.

Other sources listed below:

RS 25.03.2024 - Reviewed and updated

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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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