Flight Lieutenant Patrick Dorehill – obituary


Flight Lieutenant Patrick Dorehill, who has died aged 94, was the second pilot of a Lancaster which carried out a daring daylight assault in opposition to a manufacturing unit in southern Germany, incomes him an instantaneous DFC and his captain the Victoria Cross.

After per week of low-flying apply, 12 Lancasters, six every from Nos 44 and 97 Squadrons, took off in the course of the afternoon of April 17 1942 to assault the MAN diesel-engine manufacturing manufacturing unit at Augsburg. Main the primary formation was 25-year-old Squadron Chief John Nettleton from South Africa.

The Rhodesian Dorehill, aged 20, was sitting alongside him; it was his sixteenth operation. The audacious raid, the primary of its kind flown by the RAF, concerned a spherical journey of some 1,250 miles, principally over enemy territory.

The Lancasters flew over France at extraordinarily low stage whereas an RAF diversion pressure tried to attract away enemy fighters. Nettleton’s formation strayed close to a Luftwaffe airfield; the returning German fighters engaged the six Lancasters, 4 of which had been shot down. Nettleton and Dorehill’s plane was broken, however Nettleton determined to press on with the one surviving plane of his formation.

Over the goal, flying at roof-top top, Nettleton and Dorehill met withering fireplace and the final member of their formation was shot down because it flew alongside them. Nettleton’s bombs hit the manufacturing unit and so they turned for residence within the failing mild. The second formation of six misplaced two plane over the goal. Solely 5 of the 12 Lancasters returned.

In later years, Dorehill admitted that witnessing his colleagues crashing round him affected him, however his sense of obligation took over and after three days’ go away he returned to coach as a captain. Nettleton was awarded the Victoria Cross and all his crew had been adorned; Dorehill acquired an instantaneous DFC. A yr later, Nettleton was posted as lacking in motion on a raid to Italy.

Dorehill (second left) together with his BEA crew and their Viking plane

Patrick Arthur Dorehill was born on July 4 1921 at Fort Victoria, Southern Rhodesia, and educated at Michaelhouse College, Natal. At Rand College he studied Mining Engineering and briefly labored within the coalmines earlier than becoming a member of the RAF in July 1940 and coaching as a pilot.

After becoming a member of No 44 Squadron, Dorehill flew his first operation on August 31 1941. Over the following few weeks he attacked the German capital ships in Brest and dropped mines within the entrances of German-held ports.

On the finish of the yr the squadron grew to become the primary to be geared up with the four-engine Lancaster, and Dorehill flew that plane for the primary time on January 6 1942. On the night time of March 3, flying with Nettleton, he flew on the Lancaster’s first operation of the conflict, dropping mines within the seas round Heligoland.

After the Augsburg raid, Dorehill was given his personal Lancaster and crew and so they attacked Bremen on the third “Thousand Bomber” raid. Additionally they attacked industrial cities within the Ruhr. After greater than 30 operations he was rested and spent the following 18 months as an teacher at a heavy-bomber coaching unit.

Dorehill returned to No 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron in December 1943 simply as the principle section of the Battle of Berlin commenced. This was on the top of Bomber Command’s strategic bombing offensive and when losses had been at their biggest. Dorehill attacked Berlin seven occasions.

On one event he was approaching the “Massive Metropolis” when a fighter attacked his plane. Dorehill succeeded in evading his pursuer however his Lancaster had been repeatedly hit by cannon fireplace, which broken the fuselage and the tail airplane, and put the hydraulic system out of motion. Regardless of this, he pressed on and dropped his bombs efficiently. On return he made a “masterly” crash touchdown. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC.

Patrick Dorehill

Dorehill attacked a number of the most closely defended targets in Germany and on April 9 flew his sixtieth and remaining operation, a raid on Danzig. In recognition of his excellent service he was awarded the DSO.

After a interval as a bombing teacher, he educated on transport plane and in November 1944 was seconded to BOAC, working from Whitchurch, close to Bristol. On February 23 1945 he flew his first route, taking a Dakota to Castel Benito in Libya and on to Egypt.

He relinquished his RAF fee in November 1945 on becoming a member of British European Airways (BEA), the start of a 31-year profession with the airline and its successor British Airways. He flew the Viking and the Viscount earlier than transferring to jets, the Comet and the Trident. After a interval as a coaching captain, he returned to route flying as a senior captain and retired in 1976.

A eager golfer, Patrick Dorehill was a member of the Crowborough Beacon Membership, the place he twice achieved a hole-in-one, the second time aged 91.

Dorehill married Pauline Gamble in 1944 and he or she died in 1978. His second spouse Dora additionally predeceased him. He’s survived by his third spouse Hazel and two sons and two daughters from his first marriage.

Flight Lieutenant Patrick Dorehill, born July 4 1921, died June 7 2016


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