Pat Hogan's account of being shot down and baling out



Pat Hogan's account of being shot down and baling out


Pat Hogan's account of being shot down and baling out when his aircraft was attacked by an intruder while back in United Kingdom. Aircraft was diverted due to intruder and was nearly out of fuel. After order to bale out Hogan had to go back to get his parachute. The rear and mid-upper gunners had left the aircraft. The engineer left the aircraft but his parachute did not open. Gives account of events after reaching the ground on bale out. Writes of the effect that the accident had on him and about his crew mates and friends. Relates story of another squadron aircraft that crashed in United Kingdom killing two people in a farm house. Writes about his first five operations.


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[underlined] PAT HOGAN [/underlined]

As we crossed the coast at Orfordness, Norfolk I suppose you’d call it, the gunners reported heavy ack-ack and we immediately deduced that there must be intruders because whenever we crossed the English coast going in or out the pilot had to immediately switch on a radar device called IFF, Identification Friend or Foe. With all the ack-ack activity which the gunners reported we deduced that there were intruders with us, and according to the planning we had to fly well in West and then come back North East to Driffield to dodge other airfields. And the pilot, Alan Shelton, and myself decided that we’d head straight for home, and we skirted Leconfield, the nearest ‘drome to us, and we were the first aircraft back, Joe Moss, an engine caught fire as he landed and he went into a fire drill and didn’t call “Runway clear”, and we were directed to overshoot. And then, having done that, a lot of other aircraft had arrived back and been put into the circuit, so we had to go up to the top and work our way down. And the next time we worked our way down, once again we were coming to the perimeter fence when the lights went out and the intruders were there and we were just told to go wherever we could.

For any landing the three crew members in the nose, the Wireless Operator, the Bombaimer, and the Navigator, had to come out of the nose and sit on a bench in the centre of the aircraft which they called the Rest Position in case the oleolegs collapsed on landing. We went back there for the two aborted landings, and when we were told to overshoot a second time, and the lights had gone out, the pilot said, “Get down to your table quickly and give us a course to somewhere.” And I rushed down and made the so-called error of leaving my parachute back on the Rest Position, which probably saved my life in the end.

We went to about four ‘dromes – the one I went first to was slightly south of west called Burn, and then we went to Pocklington, but with the wind a headwind and not as predicted, and with the two aborted landings and increased power for take-offs where the pilot had to open the throttles to full to get off we obviously used up a fair lot of juice, and the Engineer gave us a warning that we had only a few minutes flying time left. So Alan decided to climb to 4,000 feet. We were down at deck level sort of going from ‘drome to ‘drome to try and keep away from the Junkers. We couldn’t find a ‘drome with lights on. Strangely enough all the ones who went north were able to get down. As we got to 4,000 feet the idea was to head it east so it wouldn’t land on any houses or towns. As we turned east unfortunately we ran straight into a Junkers who was down below us. We didn’t see him until the Bombaimer reported him as he fired and shot out the two port engines, and we went into a spiral [inserted one indecipherable word] port. The pilot, Alan, tried to hang on to it, to get us out as he ordered us to bale out. Then I suddenly realized that I

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hadn’t got my parachute, and I told the bombaimer that he’d have to open the door that was under my chair, the front escape hatch, and then I had to get up the steps, over one bulkhead, to get my papachute, and then over the second bulkhead. The mid-upper gunner had gone out the rear hatch on the port side and it was still open. It was all in flames and the Engineer was sort of standing there and looking at the flames. I shoved him out; the rear gunner had gone out through the rear turret – he was a big fellow for a gunner, ex-infantry, size ten boots, he got his foot caught under the chair – they could swing their turret around 180 degrees and get out; and going down with flames all round him, he decided to pull his parachute and his foot pulled out of the boot. He sprained his ankle, but the two gunners were able to talk to one another on the way down. They each made the bank of a little creek – they called it a river – the mid-upper gunner eventually found a tree with a branch about 20 feet up which went acroos[sic] and he jumped from there and sprained [underlined] his [/underlined] ankle.

It was hard to identify the Fight[sic] Engineer the next day. His parachute had opened but not broken his fall. He was 18 or 19 years-old; I had just pushed him out of the rear hatch. He obviously had no realization of the height, whereas I had an altimter[sic] in front of me. I knew that we were getting pretty low. I think he must have counted before he went out to make sure that he was clear of the tail fins. I went out last.

As my parachute broke my fall – it was pitch dark – I was looking up, counting the bods out, I counted six coming out of an aircraft above me when I hit the deck, which was a fallow paddock. I was coming down at normal speed probably only during the last 50 feet.

The next day I could only identify the Engineer by his ring and his white curly hair; his limbs had come away from his body and so on. I’m a bit vague on all the now.

From where I landed I walked towards where I heard a dog barking and got to a little farm cottage. I kept throwing pebbles up to a top window, and a Yorkie, very dumb farmer’s labourer, put his head out. I could make no sense out of him at all, so I walked up the road and I heard some voices – two blokes in a ditch on the side of the road, and they kept yakking about rockets that they’d read about in the papers, and I said, “It’s not rockets, it’s some intruders”, I said, “Do you live around here?”, and they said, “Yes, off the road, just back there, in a house”. I said, “Have you got families?”. And they said, “Yes”. And I said, “Well, where are they?”. And they said, “Oh, back in the house.” I said, “What are you doing down here?”. They said, “We’re not going to stay up there while there are rockets around.” I said, “You don’t have to worry about them. Take me back there”.

We went back to their house and I asked if I could ring the

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Squadron. And they asked, have you got any money on you? You might think that strange, but the way the British government abused the farmers, took all their produce from for practically nothing, and these two families are trying to struggle … I had my hands burned, so I said, “Well, I’m not supposed to carry anything but look through my pockets, and they found a shilling, and I said, I’ll reverse the phone call, and I reversed the phone call and got Alan Wharton who was trying to shut up the noise all around him, all the excitement going around. I said, I’m fairly certain the gunners got out, and I pushed the Engineer out, and he put a notice on the board apparently, “Gunners and Navigator O.K.; query the rest.” And he said, “Where are you?”, and I said, ”Buggered if I know”, and he said, “Well, how can I come and get you?” I said, “Forget about it, I’ll look after myself”. Then I asked for a drink at this place, and they got me some milk and said, “Have you got any money?”. I got them to go through my pockets and they found a shilling. It was an eerie feeling. The two women were in heavy nightdresses, and all down the stairs of the two families were kids with their heads through the rails of the banisters. So then I took off down the road, and I heard a car coming, no lights, and I blew my air-sea-rescue whistle as the bloke went past and he pulled up, and he was the fire officer of the district. All around the horizon there were aircraft burning, and the rat-tat-tat of the ammunition belts was making this noise of gunfire. We drove to the first aircraft, and there was a French mob there that had just emptied their foam onto it, and another fire truck wa[sic] arriving, and this District Fire Officer said, “Oh, I’ll be here all night. You’d better go back with them, meaning the Frenchmen. I went with these Frenchmen in the fire cart and they’re going like buggery, they’re going over narrow bridges, scraping both sides, with a right-hand turn at the end of the bridge, scraping the houses. And I ended up at this French ‘drome, and the girl who interviewd[sic] me, a Flight Officer with two rings, she kept saying, “You’re very calm, Aussie.” And she was in a hell of a state because her faince,[sic] who was on the last trip of his third tour, was probably the sixth one in the aircraft from which I’d counted the parachutes. She knew he was dead. The doctor then dug me in the ribs and said, “Drink this”. He handed me a big NAAFI cup and I took a big swig and it was neat rum, nearly ripped the top of my head off. He ended up making me drink three of these, then he took me away, dressed my hands, and put me in the hospital. I’d burned them opening the hatch, and pushing Wally there.

The shock hit me after a couple of days, but it wasn’t too bad. I went on with 466 for another three months when it was nade[sic] a transport unit. All this happened on our tenth op. The pilot, bombaimer, and wireless operator were all my closest mates – we did everything together but none of them got out – two were from Melbourne, one Sydney. They were in the nose, the frame would have been twisted and it would have been impossible to get out that way. Another got shot down from 466 – they all got out but their aircraft lobbed on a

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farmhouse and killed two people. Al Schrank was the pilot. One person was saved from the farmhouse, but Al then had to survive the trauma of going to the Coroner’s Court and found found[sic] that the third one had died. Greg Dixon, from Chstswood,[sic] Sydney, killed… I caught up with his sister the last re-union, Sydnay, for the first time since I went there just after the War, Bill Bullen[?], the rear gunner, he was from Bendigo, killed in a sawmill acident[sic], approximately 1953 I would think. Roger … Roger rang me last night, from Katherine. He reckons Alice Springs is too cold for him at the moment. He’s had pneumonia twice. Adelaide he came from. Wally Welsh, I went to his village, Piddlehampton, found a couple of his cousins still there. (VOICE BREAKING). He was the Engineer. Roger Johnson’s mother was a big shareholder in Holeproof, he was doing medicine too (like Alan Shelton), he’d done two years engineering, then one year medicine, he was the Bombaimer.

I think the first five trips we did on operations were the shakiest, mainly because the aircraft they gave us for the first four trips couldn’t keep up, which meant you got there late and you got the fighter attacks. Then I made a blue on my first trip; we had a bomb hung up and I took them 60 miles north to drop it, when the obvious thing is you drop it on the way home, you drop it in the sea – they keep the shipping away. On our fifth trip the oil presure[sic] in one engine wouldn’t come up to the expectations – they switched us over to the C.O.’s aircraft, which was the standby aircraft, a brand new one, and the boffins had made an error. The main stream were on the Dortmund/Ems Canal, we went out before them and flew over their target, then went along and 60 miles past ours and then came back, but we were silhouetted against the moon, four of us wingtip to wingtip approachong[sic] the target, and when the ME109s got on to us, the one on our portside took evasive action to starboard, and the one on our starboard side to port, and both came underneath use, and we had to sit there and take it. We got a lot of shells; it was the only time I saw out, I think, when there was a strip off down the side. A shell had just missed the rear gunner by about half an inch of his head, but it had hit the Elsan cans and spread shit from one of the aircraft to the other and stank like hall; one engine went out then, and coming across France another engine went out, and over the North Sea another engine cut out, and we had a 1,000 pound bomb hung up that night too, and the hydraulics weren’t working, we couldn’t get the bomb doors open so the Bombaimer couldn’t free it, then we had to belly land with a thousand pound bomb alongside the runway on the grass, but we were told to fly around. And the Engineer’s working like hell, pumping petrol from one tank to another to keep this engine going. They told us to keep circling while a lot of fire carts and ambulances lined up, and then lying and waiting with your feet braced against these bulkheads, your imagination running wild that the bomb might go off and, if you want, catching fire, and seeing the sparks as the belly hit the deck. We got out of that very quickly. February 20th 1945 was the date of the fatal trip.

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P J Hogan, “Pat Hogan's account of being shot down and baling out ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 23, 2024,

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