Wellington R1450

Royal Air Force Badge Royal New Zealand Air Force Badge Royal Canadian Air Force Badge

Location: Lubeck, Germany 29th July, 1942

Pilot Officer F. Lowe - Prisoner of War
Pilot Officer (Observer) Arthur Ferdinand Litzow RAFVR - Killed
Sergeant (Observer) William John Atchison RAFVR - killed
Sergeant Trevor Haughton Cray RNZAF, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner - killed
Sergeant W. White - Rear Gunner(?) - Prisoner of War
Ft Lt Patrick Wilson Langford, MiD, RCAF - Pilot Instructor - Prisoner of War

Wellington aircraft.

The crew of this aircraft were "student" under the instruction of a Canadian, Ft Lt Patrick Wilson Langford, MiD, of No. 16 Operational Training Unit RAF Upper Heyford. Three of the crew from R1450 were killed when it was shot down over Lubeck/Schleswig whilst on a bombing raid to Hamburg. Langford and the rear gunner baled out with their parachutes on fire, and were seriously burned, requiring 2 months of hospital treatment. The student pilot of the aircraft was taken prisoner unhurt.

Langford was prisoner number 710 in Stalag Luft 3 Prisoner of War camp - the identification "III" was not used by the Germans and is technically incorrect. The Canadian took charge of one of the three tunnels to be built at the camp, codenamed "Harry". He was able to hide the entrance within 20 seconds of being warned of the approach of a German guard. On the night of 24/25 March, 1944, 76 officers made their escape from the camp through tunnel "Harry". Langford got clear of the camp's surroundings before the escape was discovered by the Germans. He and the group he was with were recaptured on 28th March 1944. Langford was murdered by the Gestapo 3 days later along with 49 other RAF Officers, an incident commemorated in the film: "The Great Escape". He was just 24 years old.

The Memorial to the RAF "Fifty" page contains a likeness of all 50 RAF Officers murdered by the Germans - RIP to them all. The nationalities of those murdered were made up of 21 British, 6 Canadian and 6 Polish, 5 Australian, 3 South African (including the mastermind behind the plan, Squadron Leader Roger Bushell RAF), 2 New Zealanders and 2 Norwegians, and one officer each from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece and Lithuania. Just 3 officers from the 76 to successfully escape from the camp actually made it back to England: Fl/Lt. Peter Bergsland. MC. Norwegian officer. Passed away in 1992 age 74; Fl/Lt. Jens Einar Müller. MC. Norwegian officer. Passed away in 1999 age 81; and Fl/Lt. Bram Van der Stok. MBE. Dutch officer. Passed away in Hawaii in 1993 age 77. The last of the survivors from the 76 escapees was Squadron Leader Dick Churchill RAF, who passed away on 15th February 2019 aged 99 years.