Personnel Index - Detail
Image of Norman Panter courtesy of his son, Gerry Panter
3/4 November, 1943; DÜSSELDORF:
It wasn't until 3rd November that Bomber Command was able to send a large force out again, when almost 600 bombers were sent against the German city of Düsseldorf. The 'rest' period had enabled most squadrons to replenish their establishment of aircraft and 49 was no exception. Now re-settled back at Fiskerton (from Dunholme Lodge), the unit was able to provide 18 aircraft for the evening’s operation. The raid was successful with many fires reported but Command did lose 18 aircraft and crews.
For the second raid in succession 49 Squadron lost two aircraft. The experienced crew skippered by F/Lt Cecil Thomas were on their 20th op, and carrying a 'second dickie' pilot, P/O Teager. A night fighter got them, with only three crew members able to escape before the aircraft exploded near Cologne.
Lancaster ED438 (EA-R)
F/L C.G. Thomas Pilot (Killed)
P/O J.E. Teager 2ndPilot (P.o.W.)
Sgt N.D. Panter F/E (P.o.W.)
F/S W.G. Clutterbuck NAV (Killed)
Sgt W.A. Payne W/AG (P.o.W.)
Sgt H. Minns A/G (Killed)
F/O C.P. Ross B/A (Killed)
Sgt G.E. Boxer A/G (Killed)
Crew on their 20th operation
Additional information from Gerry Panter:
My dad was one of three that got out of the plane when it blew up. He did not remember getting out of the plane and could only assume that he was blown out through the canopy. He came to, falling through the air with the parachute rip cord missing.
He managed to manually pull the parachute out of the shredded bag and it extended but it was also ripped and only slowed his decent.
He was very lucky to land in a tree and hung there for a while. Germans were in the area but did not find him and he got to the ground later and escaped.
He had a bad gash on his leg from the explosion. He was on the run for three days.
He got to a border and tried to blend in with a group of Polish labourers but was picked out by the guards as he possibly was the only one not wearing a hat.
He was taken to Stalag 4B and here he was involved in the camp magazine and found guilty of taking photos of the starving Russian prisoners. He was then sent to another prison (Fort Zinna) for the remainder of the war and was in constant danger of being executed.
One morning the prisoners found the gates were unlocked and all of the guards had gone. The Americans then entered the town and they were then offficially released.
For details of Fort Zinna, click this link (website opens in a new window).
The F/L Thomas crew - Sgt Panter is marked with an arrow
Sgt Panter's membership card of the Caterpillar Club
Both images courtesy of Gerry Panter