Sergeant Kenneth Clifton Pattison (742457) of the Royal Air Force

Kenneth Clifton Pattison was born on 9th April 1913. His grandfather came from Barnard Castle but had moved to Chestnut Grove, West Bridgford, Nottingham. Kenneth grew up at 7 Carnarvon Road, West Bridgford and attended school around the corner on Exchange Road (now West Bridgford Junior School). He made a couple of appearances in the Nottingham Evening Post. As an eighteen-year-old in 1931 he and his friends, another boy and two girls, were fined 10s for damaging hay and growing barley in Landmere Road, Ruddington. In 1937 he had the misfortune to knock someone over in his car on a very icy Arkwright Street near St Saviour’s.[1] After leaving school he worked as a cigarette maker at No.2 Factory, John Player & Sons.

Kenneth Pattison

On practice laps at Donington Park circuit, one morning in 1936 prior to a motorcycle race, an accident ‘befell K.C. Pattison, of West Bridgford, who riding a Norton machine, skidded on the wet surface at the hairpin bend and was picked up unconscious, and with a broken shoulder.’[2]

Given his passion for speed, there is no surprise that he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) on 11th November 1938 as Airman under/training Pilot.

In July 1939 he married Irene Joan (or Joan Irene) Reddish (born 8th November 1920, aged 19), daughter of Arthur and Letitia Alice (or Alice Letitia) Reddish of 162 Allington Avenue, Lenton, Nottingham. The newlyweds were living with his parents, Clifton and Ellen (nee Ellis) Pattison, 85 Radcliffe Road, West Bridgford.[3]

Mobilised into the RAF on 1st September 1939, Pattison completed his training at No. 8 Flying Training School at Montrose in August 1940. It may be then that he managed his honeymoon.

Pattison (left); strolling past the Imperial Cafe, Skegness (right)[4]

He converted to Spitfires at No. 7 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at RAF Hawarden, near Chester. On 23rd September 1940 he was posted to 266 Squadron at RAF Wittering, but on 26th September 1940 pilot Sergeant Pattison (742457) was sent to 611 Squadron and joined them the next day at RAF Digby.

As part of 12 Group in the Digby Sector they operated not just at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire but also across the country at RAF Tern Hill (sometimes Ternhill) in Shropshire. On the 29th September he flew to RAF Tern Hill, went back to Digby the following day and then to Tern Hill again on 5th October, these flights taking 35-40 minutes and possibly overflying Nottingham.[5] The squadron continued to train its new arrivals or ‘weakies’, and Pattison was passed as ‘day operational’ on 6th October. On 8th October he investigated a raid over Coventry and Leicester and was airborne 14:10-14:55.

611 Squadron (unit designation FY) in 1940. Note the three Spitfires flying line astern.[6]

On the evening of 11th October 1940 Pattison flew his first and only combat sortie. 611 Squadron’s A Flight conducted a sweep of Anglesey whilst B Flight (including Pattison) furnished Blue Section to undertake a patrol at the Point of Ayr, the northernmost point of mainland Wales.

A couple of hours earlier, six Dornier 17s from Küstenfliegergruppe 606, Kampfgruppe 606 (Coastal Aviation Group 606, Combat Group 606) had left Lannion, Brittany. They were tasked with an unusual Dämmerungsangriff (twilight attack). Of the six Dorniers, three each from 1 and 2 Staffeln, five were heading for aircraft factories at Crewe and Speke, each carrying six 50kg bombs and 300 incendiaries; the sixth was to attack Birkenhead.[7]

611 Squadron were warned as the Dorniers passed the Scilly Isles as they were expected over Holyhead at 14,000 ft about 18:30.[7]

Dornier 17 with six MG15 machine guns (note two in the nose)[8]

The Do17 was known as the ‘flying pencil’ but the enlarged cockpit areas of the wartime models were not at all pencil like. Küstenfliegergruppe 606 employed the Z-5 variant fitted with flotation aids and life-saving equipment. The bomber carried a crew of four.

Map 1 with approximate route – Dornier 17s from Lannion passed near the Isles of Scilly and crossed Cardigan Bay intending to bomb Speke, Crewe and Birkenhead. 611 squadron responded from RAF Tern Hill.

Map 2 with approximate routes – Three aircraft from 1 Staffel intercepted by A Flight, 611 Squadron. One Dornier ditched in the Irish sea, the other two turned inland and escaped

611 Squadron A Flight comprised six aircraft of Red and Yellow Sections. They took off from RAF Tern Hill at 17:35, and at 18:30 encountered three Do 17s at 14,000 ft above the Menai Straits heading NE toward Bangor. The bomber on the right dived away from his leader and was fired on by Red Section who lost it in clouds but reported it as crashed about 10 miles south of Caernarfon, however it seems this aircraft escaped. Red Section then attacked the leading Dornier that had also turned east and reported that they had set both engines on fire. Two of the four crew bailed out, Willi Staas became a Prisoner Of War. Heinz Johannsen hit the tail of his aircraft, his body was found seven miles east of Caernarfon with an with unopened parachute. A Flight lost the bomber in cloud but reported it as crashed near Capel Curig. It seems that this aeroplane too, despite the damage it suffered, managed to escape. The pilot and observer nursed it back to Brest.

The left-hand Dornier had turned out to sea. Yellow Section were trailing Red by about 1½ miles. Yellow Leader Douglas Watkins and Yellow 3 Tommy Williams put in two attacks each against this bomber as it lost altitude, ditched its bombs and crashed into the sea about 50 miles west of Holyhead. Watkins spotted a yellow dinghy with ‘one or two’ people in it. A trawler later picked up three of the four crew and made them POWs. Josef Vetterl, the pilot, was missing. A Flight returned to Tern Hill at 18:55, except Williams who had been hit by enemy fire, he landed at Sealand at 19:05 using his emergency undercarriage control.

Blue Leader was Flying Officer Barrie Heath, Blue 2 was Sergeant Kenneth Pattison and Blue 3 Sergeant Robert Angus. Pattison flew Supermarine Spitfire IIa number P7323.

Map 3 with approximate routes – B Flight, 611 Squadron (blue) intercepted two Dorniers (red)

They took off from Tern Hill at 17:45. Heath’s combat report states:

‘After patrolling at 20,000’ over point of Air for 30 mins with Blue section in line astern we were flying S.W. over Prestatyn when I sighted 2 Dornier 17 approaching from the SW about 500’ below and ¼ M. to port [at 18:30]. I ordered the section to attack and turned straight out of the sun behind the enemy who by this time had gone into a shallow dive aiming for Speke. They opened fire at extreme range (1 mile) and as I fired my first burst (2 sec) at the starboard enemy who immediately broke away right and the other to the left over Hoylake. I ordered Blue 2 & 3 to deal with the left hand enemy and I broke away after the right hand Dornier.’[9]

Heath put all his ammunition into the bomber as it re-crossed the Dee descending to 10,000 ft. The enemy aircraft jettisoned its bombs on farmland near Flint and found cloud near Denbigh, allowing it to escape to the north.

Meanwhile, Robert Angus as Blue 3: ‘My leader attacked one & I went in after the other. The enemy turned left & we were meeting head on. Before he came within range he turned right & opened fire with a gun beneath the fuselage. I turned toward & gave him a short burst causing bits to come off from underneath. He went into a dive towards the sea, I followed him down closing to about 150 yds & gave him another burst.’

Angus finishes by saying ‘I last saw him going down toward the sea in Liverpool Bay.’ Pattison was last seen turning late into combat.[10] Heath and Angus returned to Tern Hill at 18:55. The squadron reported that the section scored ‘1 Do 17 probable. 1 Do 17 damaged.’ and Pattison and Angus were each subsequently credited a half share in bringing down an enemy aircraft.

All four of the bomber crew were lost. The body of Oberleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Richter washed up at Bull Bay, Anglesey on 7th November 1940, and the bodies of observer Horst Felber and wireless operator Walter Hoppmann came ashore in Ireland. The body of Eugen Weber has not been recovered.

Pattison became lost on return from the sortie, he crash-landed at Cooksey Green Farm at 19:45. After a two-hour flight, including combat, he had probably run out of fuel. It is not known to what extent he was wounded by enemy fire and/or injured in the crash. He was admitted to Barnsley Hall Hospital, Bromsgrove in a critical condition and died two days later, aged 27, recorded as ‘died of injuries received in action.’

Forty-one pilots served with 611 Squadron during the Battle of Britain, seven were killed, a further fourteen were killed later in the war.

Barnsley Hall Hospital [11]
1939-45 Star with Battle of Britain clasp, Air Crew Europe Star, War Medal 1939-45[12]

Pattison is buried at Nottingham Southern Cemetery, West Bridgford. The service was given by his uncle, Rev. Edward Ellis of St. Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham (RC).

Memorials include a plaque at West Bridgford Junior School, the John Player War Memorial, the roll of honour at St Giles church, West Bridgford War Memorial and the Battle of Britain Monument.[13]

Pattison never knew his daughter, she was born in 1941.

RAF [14]

The RAF pilots involved in this action were:

  • Heath, Barrie nicknamed ‘PSmith’ or ‘Efficiency’, Flying Officer, B Flight Blue Leader L.1, Point of Ayr
  • Pattison, Kenneth Clifton, Sgt, B Flight Blue No.2 – died of wounds 13th October 1940
  • Angus, Robert Alexander, Sgt, B Flight Blue No.3 L.2 – KIA 20th February 1941, aged 21 (Angus was shot down by Werner Molders over Dover in February 1941, he bailed out but was never found. He was flying the same aircraft that Heath had flown 11th October 1940.)
  • Leather, Jack ‘Farquhar’ (William Johnson Leather), Flight Lieutenant, A Flight Red Leader L.3, Anglesey Sweep
  • Pollard, Phil ‘Polly’ (Phillip Selwyn Covey Pollard), Pilot Officer, A Flight Red No. 2 L.4 – KIA 22nd June 1941, aged 21, buried Dunkirk
  • Sutton, Jimmy nicknamed ‘Jiminy Cricket’ (James Ronald Gabert Sutton), Pilot Officer, Red No. 3 – KIA 23rd July 1941, buried St Pol
  • Watkins, Douglas ‘Dirty’ (Douglas Herbert Watkins), Flying Officer, A Flight Yellow L.6, Yellow behind Red, Anglesey Sweep
  • Hay, Ian ‘Haybag’ (Ian Bruce David Enroll Hay) 72483, Flying Officer, A Flight Yellow No.2, South African – engine trouble prevented him making an attack on 7T+EH
  • Williams, Tommy (Thomas Draper Williams), Pilot Officer, A Flight Yellow No.3 L.7, emergency landing at RAF Sealand

 Robert A. Angus [15] and Barrie Heath [16]

The Luftwaffe [17]

In this combat, five Dorniers were fired upon. It seems likely the three aircraft for Crewe were a Kette from 1 Staffel, and the two for Speke (plus one for Birkenhead, perhaps unobserved to the west) were from 2 Staffel.

Luftwaffe a/cCrewRAF a/cRAF Claim
2787 7T+HH
1 Staffel Started to burn, two bail out, a/c lands Brest
Wilhelm Hagen – pilot home.
Karl-Franz Heine – observer home.
Heinz Johannsen – bailed out KIA.
Willi Stass – bailed out POW.
Red Section against Menai No.1 (centre of three) 611 record ‘Destroyed’ Both engines on fire, two crew bailed out. Leather: ‘crashed near Capel Curig’ Pollard: ‘crashed at Capel Curig’
? Probably 1 Staffel So 7T+?H Red Section against Menai No.2 (right of three) 611 record ‘Destroyed’ Leather: ‘disappeared into clouds. He crashed about 10 miles south of Caernarfon’ (i.e. on land) Pollard: ‘fell below the clouds towards the foot of the hills’
2772 7T+EH
1 Staffel Ditched Irish Sea Three crew in dinghy rescued by trawler, POW
Josef Vetterl – pilot MIA. Jürgen von Krause – observer POW. Helmut Sundermann – R/O POW. Heinrich Arpert – flt eng POW.Yellow Section against Menai No. 3 (left of three) 611 record ‘Destroyed’ Watkins: ‘enemy a/c then crashed into sea at 18.35’
? Probably 2 Staffel So 7T+?K   Heath (Blue 1) against Hoylake No.1 (right of two) 611 record ‘Damaged’ Escaped into cloud Heath: ‘I lost sight of him in the dusk’
3475 7T+EK
2 Staffel Crashed Liverpool Bay, all crew KIA
Friedrich-Wilhelm Richter – pilot KIA.
Horst Felber – observer KIA.
Walter Hoppmann – R/O KIA.
Eugen Weber – flt eng MIA
Blue Section against Hoylake No.2 (left of two) Probably shot down by Pattison (Blue 2) and/or Angus (Blue 3)611 record ‘Probable’ Angus: ‘I last saw him going down toward the sea in Liverpool Bay.’

7T being the unit designation, the + denotes the Balkenkreuz. The last letter here is either ‘H’ for 1 Staffel (1st Squadron) in I Gruppe or ‘K’ for 2 Staffel in I Gruppe. The penultimate letter is for the aircraft, in white for 1 Staffel and in red for 2 Staffel.

The crew of four comprised: Flugzeugführer (pilot), Beobachter (observer, typically a naval officer in this unit), Bordfunker (wireless operator), Bordmechaniker

  • Hagen, Wilhelm ‘Willi’, survived sortie, MIA 19th April 1942 over Malta. Oberfeldwebel
  • Heine, Karl-Franz, survived sortie, aged 27. Oberleutnant zur See
  • Johannsen, Heinz, born 10th January 1914, bailed out and hit port tail, KIA 11th October 1940, aged 26. Body found with unopened parachute seven miles east of Caernarfon. Buried CWGC Cannock Chase. Unteroffizier
  • Staas, Willi (also references to Hans Starf), bailed out, POW. Feldwebel
  • Vetterl, Josef, MIA at sea 11th October 1940. Feldwebel
  • Krause, Jürgen von, POW. Leutnant zur See
  • Sundermann, Helmut, POW. Obergefreiter
  • Arpert, Heinrich ‘Heinz’, POW
  • Richter, Friedrich-Wilhelm, born 6th October 1910, KIA 11th October 1940 aged 30, washed ashore at Bull Bay, Anglesey on 7th November 1940, buried CWGC Cannock Chase. Oberleutnant promoted Hauptmann posthumously
  • Felber, Horst, born Thorn (now Torun) 8th May 1917, died 11th October 1940, aged 23. Found ashore Mosney, County Meath, Ireland. Buried Glencree, Ireland. Beobachter (observer) Leutnant zur See
  • Hoppmann, Walter, born Sillberg 1st January 1920, died 11th October 1940, aged 20. Found on a beach near Clogherhead, County Louth, Ireland, 26th October 1940. Death recorded as ‘Exposure in the Sea’, buried Glencree, Ireland. Bordfunker (wireless operator) Gefreiter
  • Weber, Jürgen/Eugen, MIA 11th October 1940 at sea. Unteroffizier

 Felber [18] and Hoppmann [19]

After the 11th October raid, the Gruppe abandoned twilight attacks and sought the protection of the dark.

It seems they sometimes crossed Devon or Cornwall en route as an aircraft from this unit crashed into Peek Hill, Dartmoor in May 1941


Liverpool was a primary target through the blitz. On the preceding night eight were killed in Liverpool. On 11th October ten were killed, all in South John Street (and nine of them at no. 44).

Liverpool – South John Street is highlighted. This photograph was taken at 1,800 ft in June 1941 [20]

Liverpool City centre and the North Docks were bombed 11th October 1940. Alexandra and Langton Docks were damaged including the Harbourmaster’s House, as well as South John Street, James Street, Redcross Street, Paradise Street, Hanover Street and South Castle Street.[21]


Nottingham Evening Post 10th June 1947 reported:

‘Sergt. Pattison, who was in the RAFVR, was a Spitfire pilot, and after some engagements over the Channel [sic] returned to his base for a forced landing. A raid warning was on, the flarepath lights went out, and Sergt. Pattison’s aircraft shot over the aerodrome and crashed.

Mrs. Pattison lives at 162 Allington-avenue, Lenton, and Mr and Mrs C. Pattison, his parents, in Cater-lane, Chilwell.’

See also


Pattison was flying Spitfire IIa P7323. P7350 is famous as the oldest flying Spitfire and the only one to take part in the Battle of Britain, it is a IIa that is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Pattison’s birth is registered in Basford district (this included West Bridgford, Nottingham as Clifton K. Pattison, mother’s maiden name Ellis. There is scope for confusion, The Montrose Review 16th May 1947 remembers him as a ‘Montrose man’.

[1] Landmere Lane, Nottingham Evening Post 29th August 1931; Arkwright Street, Nottingham Evening Post 29th January 1937

[2] Nottingham Evening Post 4th August 1936

[3] Clifton Pattison had served as a Colour Sergeant with 6th Battalion Tank Corps in the First World War. They operated Whippet tanks at Amiens in 1918.

[4] Courtesy Sarah O’Mahoney, granddaughter (also the funeral photograph)

[5] For a map showing Digby Sector see

[6] at RAF Digby. See also IWM C411, CH9451, C413

[7] Goss, Chris, ‘Dornier Do 17 Units of World War 2’, 2019 (including colour plate of 7T+HH)

At Speke, aircraft were assembled and the adjacent Rootes factory was making Bristol Blenheims (and later the Handley Page Halifax), this factory later became Dunlops. Photo


An outline drawing is shown on

IWM photographs include and

Production of the Do 17 ceased in October 1940

[9] The No.1 attack called for the three fighters to engage line astern, one after the other. In his advice of 1943 Wing Commander ‘Teddy’ Donaldson warned that this type of attack also allowed the enemy gunners to focus on each attacker in turn, and should not be used. He also warned that ‘if you were to close to any range of under 150 yards to an enemy bomber carrying rear gunners, I maintain that your chances of living to tell about it will be very slender.’ General Notes on Air Gunnery and Air Fighting, quoted in ‘The Spitfire Manual 1940’, edited by Dilip Sarkar, 2010

Heath observed a Hurricane making an attack on the Dornier before turning back toward Liverpool. This may have been F/Lt Harry Comerford, flying with the predominantly Czech No. 312 Squadron at Speke. The other five Hurricanes aloft from this squadron attacked an aircraft that made off south. AIR-27-1691-1 and AIR-27-1691-2

[10] Ferguson, Aldon P., ‘Beware! Beware! The history of 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force’, 2004. The book has a lot of photographs of squadron members.


[12] Example group courtesy Christopher Mellor-Hill, Dix Noonan Webb. This auction house sold Pattison’s medals, logbook and photographs on 4th December 2002

[13] Headstone, Battle of Britain Monument photograph courtesy Edward McManus of BBM


Operations Record Book September 1940 AIR-27-2109-26, October 1940 AIR-27-2109-28

Summary September 1940 AIR-27-2109-25, October 1940 AIR-27-2109-27

Combat Reports: AIR-50-173-7 Angus, AIR-50-173-40 Heath, AIR-50-173-53 Leather, AIR-50-173-70 Pollard, AIR-50-173-89 Watkins, AIR-50-173-90 Williams

Goss (see [7]) places Sutton in Red Section, which puts Hay in Yellow

Ian Hay at

See also




I’ve not found much about wind directions and tides, except an old article in Nature where about half of drift bottles near Liverpool ended up in Ireland following a ‘spell of easterly winds in October’



[20] compare to map


South John Street is shown here

Bomb damage at Wallasey 11th October 1940