The Last of the Luftwaffe

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Ju-88 620028 D5+AX near York

On the night of 3/4th March 1945, German night-fighters followed RAF bombers returning from an air raid on the Ruhr. At around midnight 100 Junkers 88s crossed the English coast from the Thames to Yorkshire and infiltrated the returning bomber streams. 24 RAF bombers were shot down and another 20 badly damaged.

Having shot down two Halifax bombers of 158 Squadron returning to RAF Lissett near Bridlington, Hauptman Johann Dreher in his Junkers 88 turned to attack the Halifax of Capitaine Notelle of the French Air Force who was on approach to land at Elvington.

The runway lights were switched off and all aircraft ordered to divert to other airfields. Capitaine Notelle’s Halifax pulled sharply up and headed north towards RAF Croft. He was stalked by another German night fighter and was hit 3 times before crash landing near Darlington. The rear gunner was injured but all the crew survived.

Meanwhile, Dreher’s Junkers 88 continued to attack RAF Elvington. Circling round for another attack and mistaking a car’s headlights on the road for the runway, it was hit by AA fire and crashed into Dunnington Lodge farmhouse, killing the occupants.

Ju-88 620028 D5+AX was the last Luftwaffe aircraft to crash in Britain during the war.

Crew
Hauptman Johann Dreher Pilot
Oberfeldwebel Hugo Boker Radar Op.
Feldwebel Gustav Schmitz Wireless Op.
Feldwebel Martin Bechter Flt. Engineer

Civilians
Mr Richard Moll
Mrs Ellen Moll
Mrs Violet Moll

31 comments on “The Last of the Luftwaffe
  1. andyholmfirth says:

    An epic and tragic night for the victims.

  2. mickb6265 says:

    great shot and story,ian….next time up,gotta see this….off to brighton soon,family comes from there..my dad told me story of the first dead man he saw was a german pilot of a me410 that was shot down by a mosquito..as he passed a church,on his way to school,he spotted the wreckage spread over the church perimeter walls..and oblt richard pahl was hanging from his chute,dead,in a tree…st nicholas church..he is buried in brighton cemetery,where he crashed and died..gonna go see that…

  3. Neal. says:

    My Mum discovered a dead airman washed up near what is now Torness nuclear power station. She and her brothers and sisters ran to the nearest cottage. After a bit of research I think he must have been German shot down attacking the Forth. A sad story here but then war is a sad story.

  4. Highy says:

    A tragic outcome indeed. These intruder raids must have been costly for both sides – 2 German crews are buried at Scampton as a result.

    Thanks for posting the link, looks strange in RAF markings!

  5. nondesigner59 says:

    Excellent information to go with a great set of photos.. Great work.

  6. SolarScot. says:

    really interesting stuff Ian

  7. cgullz says:

    powerful and thought provoking description and image to match. incredibly brave [and/or desparate given it was ’45] actions on the Germans part – stooging round low level, at night, over enemy territory.
    And incredibly tragic that the RAF boys succeed in their mission only to be shot up at home or close to it. Didn’t the French fella do well: they say never let your guard down until after you have landed, but all the same: after getting shot at in your own circuit, at night [can’t see the attacker], after flying for what was likely some 12+ hours – and he still got down safely; amazing.
    Great work Ian, as always.

  8. gastephen says:

    Interesting story, Ian.

  9. PeaceLoveScoobie says:

    Excellent Ian! An important part of history.

  10. pasujoba says:

    Gonna have to check the clip out when I get home the Hotel internet is snaillike in quality Ian.
    Looks great stufv so far and I like the angle of the memorial shot !

  11. Stezzer says:

    What a chilling story and documentary. God bless all those who fought for our freedom.

  12. Tech Owl says:

    Wonderful detail Ian – a nice presentation of the memorial too

  13. amyrey says:

    Fascinating information Ian. Great bit of research.

  14. P_H_I_L_L says:

    Very well done as always Ian. If it wasn’t for the English civilian casualties, I wonder if the memorial would be there just for a German crew, probably not. Nice of the British Legion to pay their respects. The small cross is yours I assume.

  15. het broertje van.. says:

    What a story Ian…………….really impressive man.

    @…………i will give it a try Ian!!

    Can a have a bucket please………….I don’t have sea legs…………

    This was a picture in Rotterdam habour, I was sitting in a very fast watertaxi…………I was a hell of a trip…………and I almost trough up…………that why I needed the teiltje!!

    This is a Dutch phrase.

    Janwillem

  16. Ian D B says:

    Thanks everyone. Will try catch up soon.

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/31878512@N06] [http://www.flickr.com/photos/16575476@N03]
    Found a body washed up… Saw body hanging from a tree… Christ, we’ve a lot to be grateful for.

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/29551624@N03]
    Yeah, they were all brave, no-one had much of a choice back then. Good point about the French crew, must’ve been a long bloody night for em.

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/30342361@N05]
    Thanks Janwillem. Yeah, we might refer to having sea legs, meaning we are less likely to get sea-sick. It works well in English, makes sense to me now. "Pass the bucket, I’m gonna throw up!"

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/47353940@N04]
    Thanks Phill, I think the memorial would be there, to be honest. Being near a road made it more likely to be remembered. The cross was put there by me, yeah. This time of year I usually buy a job lot from the bloke at Tesco. Not as romantic as a pretty nurse in Penny Lane, but there we are.

  17. stopherjones says:

    Fascinating story and detail, thanks for sharing

  18. Kingsdude/Dave says:

    Excellent background story as ever Ian – tragic story for everyone involved

  19. Reflective Kiwi %-) says:

    Another great read and SUCH a beautiful shot.
    I love the camera angle and they way you have composed this Ian! %-)

  20. Mark McKie says:

    Another great story Ian.

  21. cgullz says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/maycontaintracesofnuts] you’re right about choice of course. must have been helluva scary ‘doing your duty’, i guess that is where alot of stoic resolve kicks in and accepting ones fate became a daily reality. my gosh it must have been hard times.

  22. Gizzardtreedude says:

    Very very interesting story. Many thanks for your visit 🙂

  23. Hotpix [LRPS] Hanx for 1.5M Views says:

    Great story & tribute Ian.
    Enjoy your weekend.

    Seen in my contacts photostream……

    Tone
    Hotpix http://www.hotpix.org.uk

    Billy & Suzy

    Walk a year in my shoes, see whats up my street or see my world in selective Colour.

  24. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    A Moving Tribute.

  25. C J Paul (chris) says:

    Great job my friend.

  26. Billy Currie says:

    great story, great to see a wee memorial there

  27. Birdman of El Paso says:

    Sad but interesting

  28. Gary Shield says:

    Fantastic work as ever Ian

  29. Tamburlain1 says:

    Just to correct a point – they were French Air Force, not "Free French" – quite important to them. The French Squadron Leader had already landed before the runway lights were extinguished but put his Halifax back in action, turned it around and raced back up the runway with all guns blazing at the German attackers. The German Junkers 88 which crashed attacked a passing taxi on the road when he clipped the trees which brought him down into the farmhouse. Lucien Malia who was the rear gunner of Notelle’s crew, and is often back at the Museum, witnessed his best friend burning to death in his rear turret a few weeks earlier, having forgotten to turn it at right angles before the power failed. He remembered this as he was crashing and got out just before it caught fire – he thanks his best friend to this day.

  30. Ian D B says:

    [http://www.flickr.com/photos/71049207@N07] Tamburlain1

    Thanks for your heads-up. Point taken re; "Free French Air Force". I misunderstood you initially but have now amended the information.

    The detail that the Ju88 was shot down by Corporal George Wetherill, rather than clipping trees and crashing, is from this recent research;
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/northyorkshire/purplepatch/articles/shiela_...

    The details presented are mostly from the Yorkshire Air Museum’s website.
    http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.org/about-2/raf-elvington-a-brief-...

    and also from here;
    http://www.clickpress.com/releases/Detailed/266005cp.shtml

    Sad detail about Capitaine Notelle’s rear gunner. Can’t imagine the horrors that generation witnessed.

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