ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 53211
Last updated: 12 January 2021
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Time:01:44 LT
Type:Handley Page Hampden Mk I
Owner/operator:50 Squadron Royal Air Force (50 Sqn RAF)
Registration: AE185
C/n / msn: VN-E
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:east bank of the Paterswoldsemeer lake, Haren, Groningen province -   Netherlands
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:RAF Swinderby, Lincolnshire
Destination airport:RAF Swinderby, Lincolnshire
17/18 August 1941
Mission: BREMEN

Eleven aircraft were tasked to bomb BREMEN, with Hampden AE185 Failing To Return, with the loss of three of the four crew members:

923093 Sgt. George Albert Cowell,RAFVT (WOp/Air Gunner, aged 21)
61297 Pilot Officer Henry Law, Observer RAFVR (Navigator/Bomb Aimer. aged 26)
551839 Sgt. Peter Francis Barclay Orwin (WOp/Air Gunner, aged 19)

AE185 took off on its mission from RAF Swinderby at 22:55. The fourth crew member Pilot Officer Eric Cyril Maskell (pilot) survived, was captured, and became a POW. According to the following eyewitness report:

"In the early morning on the 18 August, (Sunday) witnesses heard gunfire above them and saw an explosion in the sky which turned out to be AE185 being shot down by a Night Fighter (piloted by Obtlt. Becker of 4/NJG.1 in Dornier Do 215B-5 G9+OM) over Groningen, with the aircraft finally crashing on the Eastern Shore of Lake Paterswoldsemeer, Holland. The aircraft apparently fragmented and engines were seen to fall in the lake, while the fuselage and one wing were found on land by the shore, on fire. The weapons were seen to fall and explode in fields after the explosion in the air (confirming the loss was before reaching the target). Exploding ammunition was heard and seen peppering the lake.

The body of Pilot Officer Henry Law was found on the shore of the lake and was identified by his name written on his belt. Pilot Officer Law was buried with full military honours at 3 pm on August 19 1941 in Haren Cemetery. The body of Sgt. Cowell was found in the lake on Monday 19 August and was buried at 3 pm on the 26 August, again in Haren Cemetery. A third body was recovered from the water at an undisclosed date and was also buried in Haren Cemetery, that of Sgt. Orwin. The cemetery is on the Southern outskirts of Haren village, 6 Kilometres SSE of Groningen, Netherlands.

A local farmer, Mr. Gardener was approached while leaving his house by the pilot, Pilot Officer Maskell, who had parachuted to safety, at around 5 am that morning. Not knowing what to do he agonised but then sought help from a local policeman. The policeman apparently was sympathetic, but not knowing of any resistance group that could help to hide him, and aware that the Germans were already on the scene of the wreckage, could only suggest handing Pilot Officer Maskell over to the Germans.This they duly did the same day and Pilot Officer Maskell was taken POW.

The aircraft wreckage was soon put under guard and removed a few days later.It is believed that later in the war, ‘allotments’ in the Paterswoldesmeer area were specially‘constructed’ to help hide downed airmen evade capture"


4. 50 squadron RAF ORB (Air Ministry Form 540) for 1941:

Revision history:

17-Dec-2008 11:45 ASN archive Added
21-Oct-2015 18:07 Anon. Updated [Total fatalities, Total occupants, Departure airport]
06-May-2016 06:27 Red Dragon Updated [Cn, Operator, Phase, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
31-Jul-2018 19:34 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
31-Jul-2018 19:35 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
12-Nov-2018 20:38 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
13-Mar-2020 18:35 TigerTimon Updated [Time, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Source]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description