View Full Version : Patrick McManus, DFC - No.502 Squadron

2nd July 2011, 17:18
You will have to read down quite a bit to get to his story in what is otherwise a "Royal Visit" article but it is worth a look - http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/royal-visit/hero+greeting+William+Kate/5034222/story.html

Somewhat earlier I had revised his data base entry (more changes to follow in light of the above); at the moment it reads:

McMANUS, F/L Patrick Joseph (J14558) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.502 Squadron - Award effective 19 July 1945 as per London Gazette dated 27 July 1945 and AFRO 1672/45 dated 2 November 1945. Born 15 March 1920 in Perth, Ontario; home there; enlisted in Ottawa, 10 March 1941. To No.1 Manning Depot, 1 September 1941. To No.4 WS, 25 October 1941. To No.1 ITS, 31 January 1942; graduated and promoted LAC, 27 March 1942; to No.1 EFTS, 28 March 1942; graduated 6 June 1942 and posted that date to No.5 SFTS; graduated and commissioned 25 September 1942. To No.31 GRS, 22 October 1942; to Western Air Command, 8 January 1943; promoted Flying Officer, 25 March 1943; to “Y” Depot, 15 April 1943; to RAF overseas, 26 May 1943. Missing (POW), 4 October 1944. Safe in United Kingdom, 13 May 1945. Repatriated to Canada, 6 July 1945. To AFHQ, 20 July 1945. To Release Centre, 27 September 1945. Retired 19 October 1945. Medal presented 21 May 1949. Cited with F/O Alexander L. Lyttle (RCAF, awarded DFC); see above for citation. Newsclipping in DHist biographical file says he was born in Smith Falls although his home is given as Perth. Clipping dated 16 June 1945 states that he was captain of a Halifax attacking shipping off Norwegian coast. Account goes on to say:

"The Halifax crew spotted an enemy convoy sneaking around the Norwegian coast and picking out one vessel, they done to the attack. Just as the final run-in began the ship turned on all its lights.

"Thinking it must be a neutral Swedish ship, McManus pulled the aircraft up. As they passed over, the crafty German captain opened fire at point-blank range and the next thing the pilot knew he was swimming in the water.

"The aircraft dinghy burnt in the crash and both pilots found their Mae West jackets leaking. Luckily, the German ship stopped, picked them out of the water and took them back to Norway.

"McManus was soon sent to Germany for questioning and although shot down in October 1944, he was still in solitary confinement at Christmas.

"Penned up in a six by ten foot cell with no air, no light and no bed, the prisoners were brought out for questioning at irregular intervals and if no information was given they were thrown back into their lonely cells.

"McManus told of the hot and cold treatment. The Germans heated the room but cut off the heat at night. "We got used to that." McManus said. For nearly two months the Coastal Command pilot lived on a daily ration that wouldn't make the beginnings of one good meal - two slices of bread, a bowl of soup and if he was lucky a greasy lump of margarine. McManus admitted he looked pretty haggard when he came out after the Germans gave up questioning.

"For 57 days the Perth flier had no blankets and at first had no clothing. For all his discomfort, food seemed to be all he thought about."

When shot down his crew included the Squadron Commander, who was Wing Commander Charles Aubrey Maton. He was unusual for being an Air Gunner, yet in command of a squadron. His son, C.M. Maton, subsequently wrote an account of Wing Commander Maton (published in the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society (Spring 1992) which read, in part:

"On the night before he was due to relinquish command of the squadron and, to his dismay, was being posted back to a desk at Coastal Command Headquarters, he decided to undertake one last sortie with a mainly Canadian crew.

"Their mission on the night of 3 October 1944 was to patrol the Skaggerak and Kattegat looking for enemy shipping to attack, especially troopships moving German soldiers back to Germany under cover of darkness. Their aircraft that night was a Halifax II (“J”, HR686) piloted by Flying Officer P.J. McManus, a 22-year old Canadian with a crew of eight. After flying out over the north of Scotland and reaching landfall at the southern tip of Norway, they flew a creeping line ahead pattern working their way back and forth until they were 25 miles northwest of Copenhagen. They then planned a zig-zag course back up the Kattegat as far as the mouth of the Oslo Fjord.

"They had just approached the turn to their next course when they picked up a contact on their radar. The aircraft was into heavy rain and had dropped down to 800 feet when they broke out of cloud and suddenly right ahead of them at 1/4 mile was a ship brightly lit up. Thinking it to be neutral they broke off the attack but the ship opened fire and shot them down [the ship turned out to be an armed escort vessel proceeding independently in the Skaggerak].

"After six hours in the icy water during which three members of the crew were drowned. They were picked up by the ship that shot them down. The pilot, F/O McNanum, did a wonderful job in keeping the crew together including holding up my father in the water for some considerable time. For his gallantry during the ditching F/O McManus and the co-pilot, F/O C.A. Lyttle, also a Canadian, were eventually awarded the DFC.

"My father and the remaining members of the crew were taken to Kristiansand in Norway and then entrained and delivered into the hands of the Gestapo in Oslo. Because of my father’s someone exalted rank and his air gunner’s brevet, the Germans insisted that the crew were on a spying mission and repeatedly threatened them with the firing squad. F/O McManus recalled this aspect of their capture when being interrogated by the Sturmbannfuhrer...”Your stupid bosses thought they could disguise a spy as an airman but it didn’t work. Why did they dress him in the uniform of a Wing Commander and an Air Gunner ? Everyone knows that no air gunner ever reached that rank.”

"Eventually the Gestapo released the crew to the Luftwaffe Intelligence and Evaluation Centre at Auswertstelle West, near Frankfurt, for further interrogation, after which they were sent to Stalag Luft III at Sagan."

NOTE: The above accounts differ as to whether the crew was picked up immediately or after some time, but the reference to three members of the crew drowning is confirmed by two RCAF casualties from HR686 - F/O H.T. Conlin (Air Gunner) and F/O J.A.R.L. La Palme (Wireless Air Gunner), the former commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial and the latter buried in Norway.

The official report of the aircraft going missing identifies it as Halifax HR686, airborne 3 October 1944 at 2308 hours for an anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrol. The full crew consisted of J14558 F/O P.J. McManus (pilot, POW), J28573 F/O A.L. Lyttle (second pilot, POW), 142463 F/O I.S. Osbourne (navigator/bomb aimer), J10019 F/L S.A. Winchester (WOP/Air, POW), J86034 F/O H.T. Conlin (WOP/Air, killed), J18647 F/O J.A.R.L. LaPalme (WOP/Air, killed), 643195 Flight Sergeant G. McLaughin (WOP/Air, believed drowned), 1397157 Sergeant R.G. Allen (flight engineer, believed drowned) and 76222 W/C C.A. Maton (Navigator/R).

2nd July 2011, 20:18
What a great story!
Many thanks Hugh