Remembering "Pat" PATTLE Killed 20 April 1941.
Fri Apr 20, 2018 09:35

In Memory of Squadron Leader M.J.T.St. J. "Pat" Pattle DFC who was killed today`s date-20 April 1941 over Greece whilst trying to save the life of a fellow pilot. Pattle was the top RAF fighter ace of WW2 with between 41 and up to 50 victories.
On his last combat operation, the second or so that day with a formation of around 12-15 Hawker Hurricanes, (the entire Allied air presence in Greece at the time), he participated in a prestige mission over Athens to bolster morale for the Greeks. The formation was attacked by Axis fighters in what became known as the Battle of Athens. F/L Roald Dahl (The famous post war author of childrens books-in his book:Going Solo) records five Hurricanes were downed, with four pilots dying; one of those was Pattle`s.

Still suffering from combat fatigue and influenza with a fever over 39˚C, he tried to save one of his pilots, F/Lt "Timber" Woods from some Bf 110s before two other Bf 110s of Zerstörergeschwader (ZG) 26 shot him down somewhere near Pisitella, a water treatment plant near Eleusis Bay, some five miles SW of Athens. He was overwhelmed by superior numbers according to witnesses who saw him fall slumped over the controls with two Me110s firing at him still and with flames reaching the cockpit. Lower down the Hurricane exploded and fell into the sea. Surviving records show among the German claimants were Staffelkapitän Hauptmann Theodor Rossiwall and Oberleutnant Sophus Baagoe who were credited with kills against Hurricanes, taking their scores to 12 and 14 respectively. Oblt Baagoe, would be killed in action within a month, on 14 May 1941.
It cannot be known for certain which one shot down Pattle.

F/Lt W.J. "Timber" Woods, an ace in No. 80 Squadron with 6.5 kills, was also killed in this battle. Other accounts state that one of 33 Sqn avenged Pat`s loss with shooting down one of the attacking Me110s from this mass of aircraft before being shot down themselves also. Woods had been a famous ace on Gladiators, one of the Faith, Hope and Charity biplanes pilots as well as an ace over the Desert on Gladiators, then Geece and was now flying Hurricanes. Pattle was the top ace on Hurricanes and also on Gladiators.

Recent research into the Battle of Athens and those engaged in it, indicates the Hurricane of "Pat" Pattle fell off the east coast of the island of Pisitallea, outside the harbour of Piraeus Harbour, not in Eleusis Bay. No. 33 Squadron met the first wave of Bf 110s over Kallithea, a suburb of Athens, and were chased to the south into Faliron Bay from where Woods, low on fuel and ammunition, turned west to try to reach his base at Eleusis. He was reported to have been shot down along this track during the first engagement over Faliron and Piraeus.

Pattle was a gifted flyer and a natural marksman who took infinite pains to improve his talents, doing exercises to improve his distance vision and sharpen his reflexes. His first 15 victories were in the antiquated Gloucester Gladiator, 9 more victories followed in a Hurricane, and then in 33 Squadron over 39 days he shot down no less than 26 enemy aircraft. Even while suffering from high fever, he scored nine air kills in his last four days.Pat Pattle was prevented from flying that day and he was wrapped up in blankets, and had lost a lot of weight;operationally he was all in, exhausted and with a high temperature.

When further patrols and scrambles were called for later, he rushed off to help, knowing he was needed, despite the Intelligence Officer trying to stop him.

I dont think the fever helped but when he went into action, he saw Timber Woods in difficulties as Me 110s were diving on his climbing Hurricane and went straight down through them, firing at one that had set fire to Wood`s machine, before being hit by two others.
Witnesses in the air saw him slumped over the controls and his Hurricane also on fire, falling into the sea, some way away from where Woods died.

The wreckage lies near a sewage plant.

A marvellous website tells his story here.

RIP "Pat" Pattle (Tom to his family and friends)

Paul Davies

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