Wing Commander Patric Bernard ’Paddy’ Coote, RAF No. 26155
Patric Coote was born in 1910 and was the son of Commander B. T. Coote OBE, RN.
He was married to Muriel Coote and lived in Chobham, Surrey.
In February 1941 he served in 211 Squadron during the Greek campaign.
On 19 February Coote arrived at Parammythia to set up an Advanced Operations Wing at the base.
On 28 February HQ 'W' Wing ordered that all available aircraft should patrol between Tepelene and the coast between 15:30 and 16:30, since Intelligence sources indicated the operation of large numbers of Italian aircraft in that area at that time. Hence during the morning all available Gladiators of 80 and 112 Squadrons were flown up to Paramythia in preparation for this action. Patrols were flown during the morning by flights of Hurricanes but nothing was seen.
At about 15:00 Squadron Leader H. L. I. Brown and Squadron Leader Edward 'Tap' Jones led of eleven Gladiators of 112 Squadron and seven of 80 Squadron to patrol over the designated area; they were accompanied by the 'W' Wing leader, Wing Commander Coote, flying an 80 Squadron Gladiator. Fifteen minutes later Flight Lieutenant 'Pat' Pattle in Hurricane V7589 led Flying Officer Nigel Cullen (V7138), Flying Officer Wanklyn Flower (V6749) and Flying Officer Richard Acworth (V7288) to the same area, while Flight Lieutenant Young led four 33 Squadron Hurricanes to patrol near the coast. Here some S.79s were seen and chased over Corfu, two being claimed damaged, one of them by Pilot Officer D. S. F. Winsland (Winsland was later during the war shot down by Bernardino Serafini). These were probably 105o Gruppo B.T. aircraft, which reported being attacked by Spitfires, one Savoia landing at Tirana with one member of the crew dead.
Meanwhile Pattle’s section spotted BR.20s of 37o Stormo B.T. flying south from Valona; they identified the ten-strong formation as comprising 15 aircraft, while the bomber crews reported being attacked by 18 ‘Spitfires'! Pattle selected one on the starboard flank of the formation, and after three short bursts it broke into flames and went down; a second bomber likewise burst into flames following a further attack by Pattle, and his windscreen was covered in oil from this doomed aircraft. Reducing speed, Pattle attempted to clean the screen with his scarf, but he was then attacked by five G.50bis which dived on him. After a brief skirmish he managed to get away and returned to Paramythia. Both Flower and Acworth also claimed BR.20s. although the latter thought his victim may have been a Z.1007bis. Flying Officer Cullen reported considerable success in the run of claims which was to bring him the award of an immediate DFC. He later recalled:
“The battle extended right across Albania. First I found four Breda 20s (sic). I got one, which went down in flames Then we found three formations of S.79s. I took on one and aimed at the starboard engine. It caught fire, and crashed in flames. I climbed and dived on the next - and he too crashed in flames. Then we attacked ten CR.42s, climbing to get above them. I got behind one, and he caught fire and went down in flames. Up again immediately, dived, fired into the cockpit, and another took fire, rolled over and crashed. I had to come home then - no more ammo.”Three BR.20s were in fact shot down during this combat and a fourth force-landed near Otranto; others returned with wounded crewmembers aboard, plus one dead.
“The old Glad suddenly went all soft. Nothing would work. I sat there and then decided I had better get out. I couldn't, so I sat there with my hands on my lap, the aircraft spinning like mad. Then, eventually, I did manage to get out. It was so pleasant sitting there in the air than I damn nearly forgot to pull the ripcord. I reckon I did the record delayed drop for all Albania and Greece. I landed, and no sooner had I fallen sprawling on the ground than I was picked up by Greek soldiers who cheered and patted me on the back. I thought I was a hell of a hero until one soldier asked me. "Milano, Roma?" and I realized that they thought I was an Iti. They didn't realize it was possible for an Englishman to be shot down. So I said "Inglese", and then the party began. I was hoisted on their shoulders, and the "here the conquering hero comes" procession started. We wined and had fun. Jolly good chaps.”Following his initial combats, Pattle had returned to Paramythia, landed, and taken off again ten minutes later in another Hurricane (V7724). Returning to the battle area, he spotted three CR.42s in formation, heading back towards Valona:
“I got behind them and put a long burst into all three. One went down vertically at once, but in case it was a trick I followed him. He was in difficulties, that was most obvious, and when it looked as if he was going straight into the sea I decided to go and see what the other two were up to. As I climbed again I was most surprised to see tow parachutes float down past me.”On his return, Pattle claimed two destroyed, those from which he had seen the pilots come down by parachute, and one probable for that which he had followed down. Just before he got back to Paramythia for the second time at 17.40, Flying Officer Flower, who had returned an hour earlier, also took off for a second patrol over the area after his Hurricane had been refuelled and rearmed. There was nothing to be seen - the battle was over.
On 6 April Germany declared war on Yugoslavia and Greece and immediately attacked.
On 13 April 211 Squadron undertook two raids during the morning on vehicles and troop concentrations in the Florina region under Hurricane escort (no opposition was encountered).
At 15:00 the unit was briefed to send six more bombers to the area (at this time only seven Blenheims could be mustered but one of them was sent on a photo-reconnaissance sortie). No Hurricanes were available for escort during this sortie. Wing Commander Coote, O/C Western Wing, decided to go along with the raid as an observer to assess the progress of the German advance, while his deputy, Squadron Leader L. E. Cryer DFC, would accompany another crew. The formation would be led by Squadron Leader Irvine, the commanding officer.
As the bombers approached Lake Prespa, some 40 miles short of the target zone, three Bf 109Es from 6./JG 27 were seen closing rapidly on the rear ‘vic’ of three Blenheims, the gunners at once opening fire. Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Gerlach, leading the German formation attacked L8449 (Flight Lieutenant A. C. Godfrey), which caught fire almost at once. Only Godfrey managed to bale out, and he later recalled:
“We were ordered to dive. Next thing the cockpit was a mass of flames. As they blazed up in my face I tore the hatch back and jumped. I noticed that there were three aircraft in the air – all in flames. My crew was dead.”His aircraft crashed near the village of Karia (observer Sergeant J. O’Neill and wireless operator/air gunner Sergeant J. Wainhouse killed), where it was joined almost immediately by a second Blenheim. This was L8664 (L8604?), shot down by Unteroffizier Fritz Gromotka; Flying Officer C. E. V. Thompson DFC and his crew (Pilot Officer P. Hogarth and Flight Sergeant W. Arscott) did not survive. Less than a minute later L1539 was falling in flames, hit by Feldwebel Herbert Krenz, and again only the pilot, Flight Sergeant A. G. James, was able to bale out, breaking his ankle on landing near the village of Mikrolimni; his aircraft crashed near the south-west shore of the lake (observer Sergeant A. Bryce and wireless operator/air gunner Sergeant A. Waring killed).
At the time of his death Coote was credited with 1 biplane victory.
He is buried at the Phaleron War Cemetry, Greece
|Kill no.||Date||Number||Type||Result||Plane type||Serial no.||Locality||Unit|
|1||28/02/41||1||CR.42 (a)||Destroyed||Gladiator||Tepelene-coast||112 Squadron|
Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) During this engagements RAF made claims for 5 and 2 damaged BR.20s, 3 and 2 damaged S.79s, 13 destroyed, 3 probable and 1 damaged CR.42s and 6 and 3 probable G.50bis. In fact 4 BR.20s of 37o Stormo B.T. were lost with several damaged, 1 S.79 of 104o Gruppo was damaged, 1 CR.42 of 160o Gruppo and 2 G.50bis of 24o Gruppo were lost. Regia Aeronautica claimed 6 and 2 probable Gladiators and 1 ‘Spitfire’ while in fact only 1 Gladiator of 112 Squadron was lost.
Ace of Aces: M T StJ Pattle - E C R Baker, 1992 Crécy Books, Somerton, ISBN 0-947554-36-X
Air war for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete - Christopher Shores, Brian Cull and Nicola Malizia, 1987 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-07-0
Luftwaffe Claims Lists - Tony Wood
Shark Squadron - The history of 112 Squadron 1917-1975 - Robin Brown, 1994 Crécy Books, ISBN 0-947554-33-5
The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history – Graham Warner, 2002 Crécy Publishing Limited, Manchester, ISBN 0-947554-92-0
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission