Sergeant Patrick Cameron

Sergeant Patrick Cameron RAF (573311) was an air gunner aboard Consolidated B-24 Liberator VI EW277. His squadron was part of the RAF 205 group consisting of US (daytime) and British (primarily night-time) long-range heavy bomber units under the command of Major General James H Doolittle. On 14 June 1944, age 22, he was reported as missing in action over Germany. 

On the night of 13 June 1944, some 90 planes of 205 group took off from Foggia airfields (24) in Italy to bomb the railway yards at Munich: 

32 Wellingtons of 231 Wing
13 Wellingtons of 236 Wing
22 Wellingtons of 330 Wing
10 Pathfinder Halifax’s of 614 Squadron
13 Liberators of 178 Squadron from the airfield at Foggia No 1, Celone, Italy (including number EW277) 

Number 178 RAF Squadron spent the entire Second World War operating in the Mediterranean Command area. It was formed at Shandur, Egypt on 15 January 1943. They moved with the advancing allied armies through Hosc Raui airbase, Terria, El Adem in Libya, and then onto Celone and Amendola in Italy.

Apart from normal bombing missions, the squadron was also used to drop supplies to partisans as far as Poland on occasion. Number 178 was actively involved in dropping supplies to the besieged Polish Home Army in Warsaw in 1944. 

The RAF crew of EW277 were as follows: 

Sergeant Stephen Thomas Geraint Gill, RAFVR (1452957) pilot, age unknown 

Sergeant Patrick Cameron, RAF (573311) air gunner, age 22 

Sergeant Robert McLean RAFVR (1671314) air bomber, age 20 

Sergeant Malcolm Charlish, flight engineer RAFVR (2202796), age 19 

Sergeant Frank Cooney, wireless operator/air gunner, (1684744) RAFVR, age 21 

Two members of the crew it is believed were captured and interred in the POW Camp Stalag Luft 7, (Bankau, Nr. Kreulberg) Upper Silesia, Poland): 

Camp L7 POW No. 146 A W Billing 1355714 

Camp L7 POW No. 155 P H Craig 1578239

The five crew members who lost their lives were buried as US airmen by the Germans in Friedhof Fürstenfeldbruck to the west of Munich. This confusion arose due to the fact they were flying a (normally flown by) US-built Liberator aircraft. When the occupying force of the American Army found their graves, they transferred the bodies to the US Military Cemetery in St Avoid in France. When this mistake was finally realised, the bodies were again recovered and they were buried in Commonwealth Graves at Choloy War Cemetery, East of Nancy, France.  

Cameron was the son of Dr Patrick Cameron, MB, CH B, and Jenny Cameron, Perth. 

One of the other airfields at Foggia was Ramitelli, it was the home of the legendary 99th Pursuit Squadron and the 332nd Fighter Group of the United States Army Air Force. The 99th and 332nd deployed to Italy in early 1944 and were equipped with what they became more commonly associated with, North American P-51 Mustangs. When they painted the tails of their aircraft crimson red, the first African-American aviators became famously known as the ‘Red Tails’ or ‘Red Tail Angels’.  They were also known, after the training airfield in the United States, as the ‘Tuskegee Airmen’. The ‘Red Tails’ combat record was distinguished, and they became some of the best pilots in the US Army Air Forces, despite being subject to restrictive pilot training requirements, negative predictions, harassment, and racial segregation and discrimination.  

A mixed service and civilian crew of No. 45 Group RAF leave their Consolidated Liberator B Mark VI on arriving at Celone, Italy, after a ferry flight from Canada. The aircraft were flown directly to the Italian theatre to equip the newly-formed No. 31 Squadron SAAF. © IWM

Tuskegee Airmen recruiting poster