Personnel Index - Detail

Name
LOWE
First Names
Francis
Rank
Sgt
Service
RAF
Service Number
742478
Crew Position
Pilot
Posting Details
Posted in 11/40 and out 9/41

 

Awarded the DFM.

Completed a tour of 30 operations all on Hampdens between  6th Dec 1940 and 25 June 1941..
 

49Sqn Association

Sgt F Lowe (Pilot), Sgt Little (Under Gunner), P/Off Wilson (Navigator), Sgt R Horlock WOp/Air Gunner.

(Information from Peter Lowe)

On the completion of his tour, Sgt Lowe went to instruct with 16 OTU but was shot down and made a PoW.



Extract is from Bill Chorley's Bomber Command Losses

Additional details concerning this raid taken from the eulogy read by Frank’s son:


At the end of July 1942 he was recalled from a short spell of leave to pilot a Wellington IC with a pupil crew on a ‘1000 bomber raid’ to Hamburg. The date was 28th July.  Strangely on the afternoon flight test the emergency escape hatch in the roof of the cockpit suddenly flew open and a good luck charm was mislaid.......one of many bullets from the fuel tank of a Hampden that Frank had nursed back from an earlier trip to Hamburg having survived what he called, ‘a spirited attack’.

A few moments after crossing the coast and turning to starboard to fly parallel to the River Elbe a burst of tracer from below shot up in front of him hitting the fuselage between the cockpit and the front turret. A second burst hit the port engine. There was immediate fire, both in the front fuselage and the engine. Frank gave the order to abandon the aircraft. By this time the flames were licking around the cockpit so he opened the top hatch, which had given a free demonstration that afternoon, released the harness, unplugged the intercom and struggled out with immense difficulty because of the slipstream. He then got caught on the radio mast with his head and arms one side and his legs the other. The aircraft was now well alight and he was convinced that even if he did wriggle free of the mast he would hit the tail and break his back. Fortunately he managed to struggle free and missed the tail. He pulled the ripcord and the chute opened obligingly. The landing was heavy and resulted in a badly sprained ankle.

Having hidden the parachute in a ditch he started walking but quickly realised that he would have to rest and took shelter in a small barn but was found by a policeman soon after daylight. He was taken to the crash site where he saw the pitiful remains of three of his crew and met the pilot of the Me110 that had shot him down. He was then put in a truck where he found his rear gunner who had also bailed out but had broken his leg on landing. The third survivor of the crew of six, the second pilot, had been taken to hospital with burns. He reached Sagan about a month after Frank but sadly he was one of the fifty shot on Hitler’s orders after ‘The Great Escape’ from Stalag Luft 3.

The rear gunner was taken to hospital and Frank to the local aerodrome from where he went to Dulag Luft near Frankfurt for a fortnight, the first week in solitary confinement before transfer with others to Sagan. Whilst Frank was held in Sagan unbeknown to him his brother Julian took photographs of his place of interment from a high flying Spitfire.

In 1945, still a PoW, Frank together with thousands of others were forced on the amazing ‘Long March’ of 500 miles in deep snow and temperatures well below freezing to avoid the advancing Allies.