This website was originally created back in 1993 and dedicated to a Uncle whom we have never met, but always remembered. Lest we Forget.
|In Memory of Robert James Atkins" Age 27||Hanover Cemetery Germany 6.D.17.|
Details of Mission Are Outlined by Navigator (John Ross Mason) in a Letter to the Parents
PETROLLIA, May 17,1945--(Special). Details as to how Pilot Officer Bob Atkins, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Atkins of the twelfth concession of Enniskillen township, made the supreme sacrifice while on a bombing mission over Germany on March 31,1944, were contained in a letter to the parents written by Jack Mason, the crew's navigator who is visiting Toronto. PO. Atkins was a nephew of Frank Tithecott, 183 1/2 Lochiel street, Sarnia.
In Conversion Unit:
The navigator wrote that he first met PO. Atkins when they went to a conversion unit where they trained on four-engine craft. "It was a pleasure having him as our mid-upper gunner". Mason wrote. "He was as keen as mustard and was constantly training for his job." The navigator continued the letter as follows: "As Bob probably told you we had quite a lot of trouble with pilots. The first washed out, the second disappeared over Berlin, and it was Bob's third pilot with us on our last trip. However, during all these setbacks , Bob was always ready to carry on. "No doubt by this time, you know what a terrible night that was when we went down. We learned afterwards, information had leaked out and the enemy was lying in wait for us. Before they knocked us down they attacked us eight times and on one of those attacks, Bob's diligence and alertness proved itself. On the seventh fighter attack, the enemy machine missed us and went over the top. With that Bob sprayed him with everything he had. The fighter flew over and exploded ahead of us. Had we returned to England, Bob would very likely have had a Distinguished Flying Medal. "However, the next attack set us on fire and while the pilot and engineer were fighting it, the wireless operator, the bomb-aimer and I clipped on our chutes. I presume those in the back were doing the same thing. The next thing I remember was dropping in an unopened chute. I regained consciousness in time to pull the rip cord and pass out again. When I came to once more, I was hanging in the trees. I finally let myself down from there and when I couldn't walk I became a prisoner. The German carried me into a police station and also brought in a parachute. I don't want to give you false hopes, but here is the uncertain part of it. The chute was not mine. Whether it belonged to someone else in our crew who escaped, I do not know, I just keep hoping. "You can realize very readily that no information about the crew or aircraft was given away but I had had no idea of any of the boys since they may have got away or have been in some other camp. At last, about two weeks before I was repatriated, the International Red Cross sent around a questionnaire and I realized that I was the only one they knew of. "There were two other Canadians in the crew besides Bob and I. Now I must contact their parents. Believe me, it is not a pleasant job. How I would have enjoyed writing some really good news. By my miraculous escape, I know Providence was watching over us that night.
Wherever the boys are now, I know He is still watching".