Christopher Witton Panton was a 19-year-old Lincolnshire flight engineer who was killed on the Nuremburg raid on 30/31 March 1944. It was Chris’s sacrifice that motivated his younger brothers, Harold and Fred Panton, to establish the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. in his memory.
Many thanks to Andrew Panton for allowing us to share the story of his great uncle.
An account of the incident from the German side can be seen here.
P/O Christopher Witton Panton
Chris was one of eight children of a gamekeeper and his wife, who lived in Scofton, Notts. He joined the RAF in 1942 and trained as a flight engineer, joining 433 (Porcupine) Squadron of 6 Group RCAF at Skipton-on-Swale. He was part of the crew of American-born PO Christian Nielsen* and by the end of March they had completed 27 operations and were looking forward to completing their tour.
*Their aircraft was named “Mad Dane” in recognition of the skipper’s Danish roots.
On the disastrous Nuremburg raid their Halifax III, HX272 BM-N, was shot down by a night fighter fitted with upward-firing cannon and crashed in flames at Friesen, near Bamburg, not far from their target.
The pilot survived to become a prisoner along with the wireless operator WO H Cooper RCAF and rear gunner WO J G McLaughlin. Chris was buried in Durnbach War Cemetery along with the a navigator PO D M Awrey DFC RCAF, bomb-aimer PO L V Milward RCAF and mid-upper gunner Sgt J S Thompson. Alongside them is PO W F Rost RCAF a rookie pilot who flew with the experienced crew on that fateful night to gain experience before joining his own crew.