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I recently discovered a german airplane was shot down over my village in Sussex on 15th Aug 1940 after raiding Croydon airfield. I’m going to explore the area when the weather improves to see if I can identify the exact spot. I am aware that a dig was carried out there some years ago so hopefully the nearby farm will know more about it. I don’t suppose you ever visited that part of the country?
Hi Simon, not been to Sussex alas, at least not looking for air crash sites.
Bf110C S9+TH at Smallbridge? Have a copy of Luftwaffe crash archive vol 2 if you need more. Hope you find the site.
HI Ian, no its the Bf-110 from Erpro210 flown by Walter Rubensdorffer (something of a bomber celebrity and CO of the specialist unit. It came down at Bletchinglye Farm, Rotherfield, East Sussex after the controversial raid on Croydon (attacked in error thinking it was Kenley and against Hitlers orders of hitting civilian targets) To make matters worse the RAF had scrambled Sqns waiting for them so in their efforts to hit and run most bombs and damage was inflicted on outlying civilian factories causing many deaths for the loss of 6no. 110’s and a 109 as well. John Vasco’s books of which I own none of! have some information and I’ve tried getting in touch with him but I’m trying all bases at the moment.
Ok, got it. God almighty, there was a lot of German aircraft lost that day (32) and in that raid alone as you say! Wish I was down south, so much history on the south coast.
Parker has a little on Bf 110D S9+AB and a bit about ErprGr210 inc a colour photo of the emblem of the British Isles in a gun sight. No identification of the spot though he notes debris was scattered over a wide area, which means a better chance of finding the right field sweeping with a metal detector though the farmer may be able to point you in the right direction. Also has portraits of both crew. Happy to get them to you if you need. Let me know how you get on?
Hi Ian, yes it was a black day for the Luftwaffe and the civilian population. But it was also the catalyst to the Germans switching priorities to London from the airfields which probably led to them eventually giving up on Sealion. Quite a few bits and pieces of chewed up metal were sold on a few auction sites a few years ago claiming to be relics from this crash. Before I knew anything about it sadly. Having read what I could from the books I have I am pretty sure I know the trajectory as the 110 had to pull up over the church before flying over the high street in front of my house (which incidentally was the Home Guard HQ/Office during the war) and the pub before hitting the ground. Apparently it already on fire and on impact it cartwheeled so a real mess and not much left after the fire was put out. There is a strange symmetry with some of this story as I also lived in Croydon before moving here.
What’s just as strangely coincidental looking at your website is that I was born in Bury and have also been to Berlin before the Wall came down where I took lots of photo’s of Die Mauer, Checkpoint Charlie and had a great time with my Dad goon baiting the East Germans in their towers. A couple of years ago I went back for a flying visit and couldn’t recognise any of it. But I have a keen interest in both places! I also am hoping to see the Sound Mirrors on the Sussex coast at some time which I thought were unique until I came across your photo’s. Great website.
Thanks Simon, I had a look at your site, stared at the word KEEPITURYENS for a few seconds before realising it was Excalibur! And then I saw a reference to Bury FC; I used to follow Bury home and away. Still watch the scores on tv, still hear myself saying, “We could make the play-offs” every time we win a game… But got fed up with travelling all the way to Leyton Orient on a Tuesday night in Deecember for an LDV vans trophy game only to get beat 4 nil but that’s football.
I didn’t know the attack on Croydon was that particular event which turned the RAF to civilian targets and in turn took the Luftwaffe away from the air bases. Very interesting stuff. Main thing I know of Croydon was the KLM air disaster.
Re; sound mirrors, I first saw them on the coast path around Dover and Folkestone, there’s loads of stuff there too. When I last walked that stretch of path I had little knowledge of them or even their age. Would love to spend some time in Kent and Sussex again, so much if interest down there for middle-aged anoraks like me.
Let me know if there’s anything you need from Parker’s book, I will have a look at another couple of resources but it does sound like you have the story of S9+AB sewn up apart from the location? Most farmers are very helpful, I find knocking on doors particularly useful, people often have photos or the odd chunk of debris and are more than willing to talk about it, even if they don’t recall it themselves, the story is often passed down.
Sucking eggs comment here, but have you been to the local library? Given the exact date, you could look at the local newspaper on microfilm for the days after 15/08/40. While it probably won’t specify the farm, there may well be a photo of the crash site which will help you find the spot. We used old photos from newspapers to help pinpoint the location of a Luftwaffe crash site on the east coast of Yorkshire last year. But if you know it came in over your house, I suspect you have already looked.
Do please let me know how you get on, be good to add a photo here or a link to your site if you add it there for anyone else searching for it.
Thanks Ian, yep Keep it Uryens catches a few people out. Its what sparked my interest in medieval history. Great film especially Helen Mirren’s armour……ahem. I also used to watch Bury mostly away games. The travelling fans were a great group and a lot of real ale drinkers so were the Camra pubs as well at places like Stockport that to be honest were never high on my must visit list. Living in Croydon I also regularly saw Palace (even play Bury which I vowed never to do again because of split loyalties) but I haven’t been to see them either since moving to Rotherfield, ironic since they are currently enjoying their most successful season ever. Getting a ticket is almost impossible unless you are a season ticket holder now.
I’m only just discovering the history of the area in more detail now as I don’t have to commute to London any more. The history of the area is quite rich with Hastings and the Norman stuff but my main interest is Wars of The Roses naturally and where I live there’s lots of evil Yorkist Neville references. At the moment though I’m focussed on more recent events. On my train to London I once counted about 20 pillboxes dotting the countryside and that started it off. We also did a few coast walks along Beachy Head (one of the RDF Chain Home stns) and more recently at a place called Cuckmere Haven (near Beachy Head) which is the estuary. A very flat meandering plain with the requisite pillboxes and dragons teeth it was a potential landing site for a German Invasion as armour would be able to move inland.
The Sound Mirrors at Greatstone on Sea have always fascinated me but access is restricted. I’m still planning on getting there sometime (I have a wonderful set of aerial photo’s my Dad took when doing his National Service as part of a weather recce for the Queens Coronation) and we’re planning a mini tour at some point to all the places photographed. Quite a bit of post WWII evidence now long gone.
I don’t know about Parkers Book so if you do have anything of interest I’d still be keen to see it. I also discovered that one of the first V2’s fired in anger exploded over Rotherfield killing 6 rabbits! and again I would love to find out more although as it blew up mid flight the debris landed all over the place with no discernible crater I suspect. We were also under the flight path of Doodle Bug alley. My main research at the moment is Battle of Britain stuff though as you can imagine there’s lots of stories about the time, loads of records of jettisoned bombs especially. On the local library point I am seeing the Verger tomorrow who knows the history of the village well and she also hopefully will be able to put me intouch with the local historian. Then if its not already been done I’ll probably try to do a local article for the parish magazine and then a proper on-line one too. The farm I think is a private residence now no longer working and looks very affluent with tennis courts and such so I’ll probably post a letter first before turning up and doffing my cap. Anyway if there is anything in that book that you think would help then please let me know or email me.
Hi Simon, I will take this conversation onto e-mail you, will drop you a line tonight or tomorrow with what I have. Will also look at those other resources, might be something else in one or two other books I have.
“so Iâ€™ll probably post a letter first before turning up and doffing my cap” made me laugh. Before now have pitched up at posh looking farms in Cheshire and have received no reply when I knocked on, even though there were two Range Rovers in the driveway and a TV on in the kitchen. Must’ve thought I was trying to sell something. Usually have my camera slung about my neck and wear a fairly smart jacket to appear presentable but yes, a letter would go a long way!
Will be in touch with more soon.
On August 30th 1940 a Heinkel 111 Group Markings A1_CL Crashed in Lifstan Way Southend On Sea,Essex 3 Crew Died and a Lady Died while Tripping over and Passed Away Going to hER Anderson Shelter , Iam Trying to Find Out What Happened To The Pilot Helmut Gall(uterofizier)? He Survived.One Crew Member May have Be mis identified.
Will take a look at what I have in my books, get back to you if I find anything. Maybe someone might see this and get in touch if they have any info. Have you tried on the forums?
Hello Ian Thank you for the Reply Iam Looking at going to take a Metal Detector over to the site though I may not find anything.
Also iam Curious about a Plane a Junkers 88A-5840 Which Came Down 13th August 1942 Shot Down By BS squadron Pilots Sullivan And Skeel, Freidrich was a Junkers crew Member I cant find nothing on the internet but I Have Bid on a Part from the Junkers On ebay
if You want to with a Metal Detector I would like to Do a Few bomb Sites in Essex if you Wish to Take Part One at Runwell Hospital Wickford and A few at Southend.as I Can do with Someone More exp With me.
Hi Paul, couldn’t anything re; your first enquiry. Good luck with the search on the ground, be interested to see if you locate any signal patterns with a metal detector sweep. You are at the opposite end of the country to me, am Manchester way. But where you are is an area rich in WWII history of course.
Hi Paul Marshall,
I can provide you with many details of Pilot HELMUT GALL!
My father was a POW in Canada with Helmut Gall.
My mother knew Helmut’s future wife Crystal.
I was introduced to the Gall family as a teenager.
I knew Helmut’s daughter and corresponded with her.
Helmut’s daughter later married.
If I can make contact with you perhaps I can share paragraphs of details with you.
Hi thankyou a very brave man by the sound of it glad was treated ok.couldn’t find nothing on records regarding the gentleman.I think he was Essen based nice to hear he got to see his family
Has Been a long time since reading any posts have you any photography of Mr Gall ? not a lot of info on the crew on Lufftwafe sites ,Hope your well.
Ju 88 shot down by two Hurricanes, resulting in its crash near Winchester, Hants, in Battle of Britain. Any photos and details, of the Ju 88squadron and of the Hurricanes etc.? (Hurricanes possibly from MIddle Wallop?). Ju crew survived a good belly landing a few miles to the east, south-east of Winchester.
I am an aviation artist (davidmarshallaviation art.com) and want to paint the scene, which I witnessed.
Hi David, do you know the date it happened?
Thanks for your reply D B. Unfortunately I have no idea about the date though I fancy it could have been early September.
Good luck and thanks again ( If I can get more info I want to do a painting of it).
I’m struggling. Do you have the year? Wasn’t near the village of Twyford by any chance?
Twyford is not far, so it could be the the location of the the crash site. I am trying to get in touch with local newspapers to see what they have in their archives.
I will keep you posted.
It could be Ju88 L1 + BM which was shot down at Hazeley Down at Twyford at 1800 on 15 August 1940 by a fighter of 601 squadron (at the time they were flying Hurricanes though one forum entry on line mentions the Ju88 being shot down by a Spitfire).
It would be good if this is your aircraft as there are a lot of photos of it on the ground, even some cine footage in existence. I could copy across some photos if you think this is the one? The details here are from Luftwaffe Crash Archive Volume 2 by Nigel Parker, published by Red Kite Books, 2013.
I’m new to these sites but wonder if anyone can help me. On March 2nd 1944 at 0315hrs a Heinkel He 177 bomber was shot down and crashed in or around Hammerwood in West Sussex. I have gleaned a lot of information but what is missing is the exact crash site location. Apparently the aircraft disintegrated so the debris will have been spread out over a wide area but I suspect the majority of the debris landed in one compact place.
A second request concerns a crash site perhaps 1Â½ miles away at Old Surrey Hall quite close to East Grinstead where a Lancaster crashed. I don’t have date or squadron or outbound mission and station of departure. I believe all crew bailed out but if anyone has information I’d be grateful to receive it. Thanks
I suspect you know more than most people. The only information I have on the crash is from After the Battle The Blitz Vol 3 giving Hammer Wood as the crash site and a photograph of 2 bobbies with the tailplane wreckage but its impossible to tell where the crash site is from the image. Have you tried Pat Burgess’s Bombers over Sussex?
Thank you for that info. I’ll cut and paste your reply into a cuttings file for further research later. In fact I think I’ve also seen the pic you mention with the two bobbies holding parts of the debris. For 12 years or so I lived right next door to the little hamlet of Hammerwood and never knew of the crash! Likewise, I used to bicycle to friends in Hammerwood along a long disused driveway to Hammerwood Park (large mansion) and believe I probably rode over the runway of an advanced landing airstrip, with out any knowledge until 45 years later!! Anthony
Similar story here. Researching a German crash from the Battle of Britain (the one at the top of this thread) I only just discovered last week that a man remembered on the war dead in the parish church is a Battle of Britain pilot. I’ve been to countless remembrance services and never knew!
Sorry I forgot to mention, I assume you have the information on the mosquito and both crews He177 and Mossie from the action. That is the only other part detailed in After the Battle book
Thanks for your two messages. It’s amazing what’s on our doorstep without us realising it! Yes thanks, I’ve found out a lot of information on both aircraft from the web but it’s the crash location site which is causing me frustration!
Does anyone have any information on a German plane that supposedly crashed at Little England Farm near Withernsea, Yorkshire on the night of 17 March 1945?
Sounds like you have got the right Ju 88. I would love to see some pics of it. I thought of getting in touch with the Southern Daily Echo newspaper to see if they covered fit. The local Hampshire Chronicle rarely if ever published photos but no doubt carried a story.
Fascinating stuff, this! I have only recently started going back through those amazing years. Aeroplanes everywhere. Lots of “Queen Marys” (long low-loaders) with bits and pieces aircraft on them ( I once saw a very flash, brand new Spitfire of a very late mark, on one. It must have belly-anded somewhere south of Winchester and was probably a prototype that flew from Supermarines at Eastleigh airport near Southampton.
I also saw a Do 217e drop eight bombs, in two tight drops, on Winchester. I was on my way to school when it emerged right above me at about 800ft from a low nimbus that clagged everything in. Of the four bombs that landed in the city itself, all rolled around the streets and never exploded except one: it killed my wife’s schoolfriend. The bombs just missed the railway station and I had a wonderful top 3/4 view of the aircraft as it turned after off-loading its bombs and flew south beneath the cloud layer.
I also saw a Ju88 being shot down right over head at about 900ft. Went to see it straight away of course and it had done a fine belly landing; its engines were till “ticking” from the heat when I got to it. All the crew were ok. but, I believe, wounded.
I am 86 but I still paint aviation pictures and never fail to look up when anything flies near me.
I got my RAF wings at Ternhill in 1950.
I now live in Sydney. And took up soaring for a few years, collecting my silver, gold and diamond badges.
I believe I gave my website before, but just in case here it is again!
Hi Dave, good to hear from you again. Am a bit tied up with work but will see if I can get some more detail and photos to you next week.
No problems. Happy to wait.
I remember visiting the he 111 on Cairnsmore of fleet. One mountain with 8 aircraft crashes on it. Whilst looking through the wreckage of the he 111 we came across an integrated circuit! Quickly realised it was from the USAF phantom that crashed in the 1970s, almost in the same place as the Heinkel, 30 years later. The engine now lies in the museum at Dumfries airfield.
Does anyone have information of a Heinkel which crashed in the north Cumbria area near to Steel road / Blackpoolgate location which is Bewcastle parish
known to have been damaged on a raid to Glasgow
Hello. I have a photograph of a German aircraft which apparently crashed in Sunbury UK WW2. The picture shows part of the fuselage, the fin and the tail-plane. My Grandmother is standing by the aircraft and two children sitting on the tail-plane. My cousin just recently sent me this picture from the UK the original was on some sort of postcard. He seems to think the crash was at Heath-croft Road Sunbury, by the Post office. Is there any way I can send the photograph to you for your perusal and comments. Thanks very much.
You could scan the photo or take a photo of it with a phone and email to Iandb@gmx.com and I will add it here, see if I or anyone can provide more info. Do you have the date or approx date the photo was taken?
Hi Ken, here is your photo about which other people might be able to advise further. As mentioned in email, there is one internet source with a similar photo which states this was probably taken around early November 1940 at Botwell Green and that it is a He-111 (which it clearly is) that had been shot down and put on display. If I find out anything further, I will drop you a line.
I am trying to find any information on a german plane that crashed on Combe Hill, Berkshire. My grand father was in the home guard and was apparently first on the scene with his bucket of sand for the ammo.
Hi Kay, any idea of the date, or even just the year?
Think I have found it Kay, details from page linked below;
1st November 1943
This German bomber was attacked by a Mosquito from 29 Squadron crewed by Flight Lieutenant S. F. Hodsman and Warrant Officer A. F. Monger. The German pilot and at least one other member of his crew had been killed by machine gun fire from the Mosquito. At about 6:30pm, after flying low over cottages in the village of West Woodhay, it struck Walbury Hill about 100 feet from the top. After uprooting two trees it bounced four times along the ground and broke into many pieces, which were spread over an area of about half-a-mile. All four members of the bomber’s crew were killed and at least two of the bodies were taken to Hungerford and placed in the mortuary of the town’s psychiatric hospital.
Obelt. H. Schmid
Oberfw. B. Krupp
St. Fw. E. Zuch
Uffz. J. Koidl
Hi Guys.. I have a German tool pouch taken ( i think) from a crashed JU88 near London, a gentleman named Ray Woodyatt gave it to me some 35 years ago as he was in the RAF ground crew. The number on the pouch is 088 1692, So if anyone has any idea or further info on this item, i would be very interested to hear.
Wonder if anyone can help with this.
There was a German aircraft, 109 (I think) that was in a school playing field in Edmonton, North London. I saw it when I was around 5 years old (around 1945) if memory serves me correct it looked as though it had made a wheels up landing and the propeller was well bent.
Hi, I was at Goudhurst earlier today with my father. He told me of a crashed German plane that came down at Swan farm. He says he remembers it in the fifties when he was young and went hop picking. I just wondered does anyone have any information about the plane and possibly a picture? I would love to see it.
Will take a look Adam. Don’t suppose you know when in the war it came down?
I’m afraid I don’t, my dad said it was a fighter but wasn’t sure, he remembers it sat in boggy ground, that looked like a small copse or wood between two fields today.
I shall take a look Adam, might be a week or so before am able to though, not at home at present.
I can you are going through the same excitement as I am concerning stories of the Battle of Britain … My story is to be found somewhere below similar to yours but on a different kentish Hop farm …. I am about to ask Ian D B if he can find the time to cross reference my story with the plane that shot the bf 109 down and who was flying the R A F plane that day and if it was subsequently shot down and if it’s engine is the one on display at The battle of Britain Museum at “Hawkinge” I am getting right into this now and enjoying the intrigue as much as you are… but I am a dead loss at computer skills and do not posses the know how as to how to cross reference these crashes,,, Ian D B doesn’t know it yet but I am about to ask him to see if he can conclude the full picture for me… ‘ my story is further down the pages…. take care and happy hunting Ray Hill Theydon bois Essex Ps if you haven’t yet visited the Battle of Britain Museum please do so it is truly inspiring and fascinating… ….. email@example.com
hi Adam.. I have replied to your enquiry on the wrong page i have inadvertently sent it to Ian D B by mistake… I cannot help you with your specific enquiry but you might like to read my story of a very similar experience to yours ( somewhere below )
Finally pinned down KG76 Dornier Do17 F1+AT (15 Sep 1940) crash location and snaps taken. This has taken nearly 18 months and was a challenge to say the least compared to the other German crash in the Parish.
Next up 2 RAF fighters from the same campaign 1940
Great stuff. Feel free to add your photos etc here if you wish or add a link to your page?
Thank you . Do you know where I could view pictures of the plane?
This little story May interest someone who knows about the Mesersmitt BF 109 that crashed in a field at Hurst Farm near Mountain St Chilham Kent on 1 st September 1940 after being engaged by RAF fighters over Thanet during an air battle … My mother was walking back to the hop fields on Hurst Farm when the BF 109 crashed a few hundred yards away. She was first on the scene but nothing could be done… She sat on a nearby gate and sobbed for half an hour – even though it was a German plane.. I am trying to seek more info abut this particular crash. I have read the story in the ” Battle of Britain then and now ” book. But I am sure there is more info available. Has anyone read up on this particular crash and maybe provide extra info to me …. I often gravitate to the crash sight when I visit Chilham to reminisce about the hop picking days. I was there on that fateful day. But in my mothers tummy. I was born 2 months later at burton on trent as my mother was evacuated there fromEast London I am still fascinated all these years later …. A little white wooden cross was placed at the crash site by the hop pickers… It as there for many years …. Ray Hill. Essex…
PS..Re story by me above 109 crash at chilham Kent on 1st Sept 1940. Anyone interested in this story can find the pictures and info on pages 614 616 and 617 of the (Battle of Britain then and now book) Also a photo of the wreckage and photo of pilot. On page 617 there is a written passage to be found on the pages next to the pictures on previous page page 614 shows the funeral that took place after the pilot was brought up and buried … In 1977…
I have purchased an aircraft panel piece on ebay. This proports to be from a ME109E shot down on Dunkirk Kent on Monday 23rd Sept 1940. The panel has ME109 Dunkirk Kent 23rd Sept 1940 painted on it. The seller advised that his friends father had been a boy in 1940 & had probably scrounged the part after the crash. Might anyone have further data. I believe on 23rd Sept 1940 the Luftwaffe sent over 200 ME109’s in the morning, that were intercepted by various Hurricanes & Spitfires. Much concentrated air fighting with 10 ME109 shot down, plus 6 probables, with further 4 damaged. That’s all that I have. Sorry. I am looking to find the data for the ME109, pilot name, staffel etc. Thank you.
Half a dozen 109’s shot down in the area on this day
Could be one of these
4/JG2 2+- off Folkestone Pier piloted by Uff Frederich Dilthey
JG3 in the English Channel pilot Hptm Willi Hopp
7/JG3 3+1 Kingsdown Sth of Deal pilot Uff Karl Elbing
8/JG26 4+1 Isle of Grain pilot Uff Arnold Kupper
8/JG26 9+1 Biddenden pilot Fw Gerhard Grsymalla
3/JG54 5+ bBroome Farm Barham Pilot Ofw Helmut Knippscher
I have just been to the battle Of Britain museum and found it very ‘eerie ,but extremely informative and a must ‘do’ for any people wishing to seek information on the Battle of Britain..
knowing that my mother on the 1st of september 1940 was within 100 yards of the Mersersmitt bf 109 as it crashed to the ground at Mountain st Chilham kent taking Ekkehard Schelcher to his death.. It was eerie to think that I was standing beside the engine of that plane 75 years later !! both me and my mother had been as close to the engine of the doomed 109 but 75 years apart and under different circumstances… my family told me that my mother had been walking along Mountain St as the plane come hurtling down and buried itself in the muddy ground of the farmers field.. she had rushed over and on realising that there was nothing she could do she sat on a nearby farm gate and cried for half an hour at the sight of someones death thee fact that it was ‘ enemy ‘ made no difference at that moment it was tragic that someone had died in front of her.. It affected her for many years we would often return to Chilham to see the hop fields and she always reminisced about that fateful day and would go to the crash site and just stare at the ground… Her brother teddy made a small cross out of some broken fencing and painted it white Thy had taken it to the very spot where the plane come down and it was there for many years i am sorry if this letter repeats some of my earlier info in above post (above ) But I have always been interested in what took place because it ‘ involved ‘ my family as much as it involved someones young son…
It is always a pleasure to hear accounts such as yours Ray, thank you for adding your mother’s story.
thank you Ian DB for achnowledging my story… I know it cannot be achieved at this late time (75 years on) But I would have loved to have been able to let his German parents know that he was not alone in those faateful last moments and that a british Mother was close by and sobbed for the loss of that dear son of theirs…
German bf 109 Pilot Ekkehard Schelcher was over Thanet Kent on that fateful day having flown from his base near Calase (He belonged to the ‘Green heart ‘ squadron) He was engaged by R A F planes over thanet and ( presumably ) had been trying to get home across Kent to his airbase in calase ( just thirty miles away) when his plane come down on Hurst Farm I often wonder if it was his plane that had been dammaged or wether he had also been injured and unable to control his plane… !! We will never know … perhaps just a detail of a bygone historical Battle of Britain incident.. There were so many terrible tragedies during those months… I could not believe my eyes at some of the ‘acounts’ of the battle that I saw at the Museum… at ” Hawkinge ” Lastly my Friend who accompanied me Think’s that he saw the Engine on display of the plane that had shot the bf109 down which had itself been attacked four days later over kent and come down taking a young British Pilot to his death … How sad that – if so – Both Engins of both planes sit close to each other at the Battle of Britain Museum todaay 75 years on.. Kind regards Ray Hill
………firstname.lastname@example.org……… Theydon Bois Essex any aditional info would be gretely received ….
Very comprehensive and well researched, good read and some excellent images as well bring it all to life. I found site looking for information on a downed German bomber somewhere in Neath marshes during Swansea blitz and talked about by local people at the time but i have failed to back up the story told to me a few years ago. Anyone know details or more precise location? Just interested in local history and filling gaps. RR
Thanks Rob, will take a look in the books I have. Any idea as to the date it came down?
I thought I’d ask here as apparently the crash is mentioned in Vol 2 Luftwaffe Crash Archives as well as Andy Saunders “Finding the Foe” (Chapter 8)
60024/67 FF Obergefr Gerhard FREUDE 14.10.18 Koslitz, Luben
60024/4 BO Oberlt Max-Dankwart BIRKENSTOCK 16.12.15 Neustettin, Stettin
60024/64 BF Uffz Rudolf SCHULZE 29.9.19 Liegnitz
60024/79 BS Gefr Franz BECKER 18.1.19 Hurth, Koln
Max-Dankwart Birkenstock was the Bomb aimer, Freude was the pilot, Schulze was the radio operator/upper gunner and Becker was the rear gunner (usually in the under fuselage gondola, facing aft) are reported killed.
Serial number of the plane and individual code (B3+?H) is not known, but if parts of it can be found, there is always chance serial might be found on a component or a part plate. Time and place of crash is given “Kings Somborne 14:15 hrs”.
21 August 1940: 1./KG54 Junkers Ju 88 A-1. Shot down by 2 Spitfires (flown by Sqdn Ldr J.S. Oâ€™Brien and Pilot Officer R.F.T. “Bob” Doe) of No.234 Squadron, during an armed reconnaissance over southern England. Jettisoned its bombs but crashed in flames and burned out at Kingâ€™s Somborne at about 2.15 p.m.
Oberleutnant Max-Dankwart Birkenstock,
Obergefreiter Gerhard Freude,
Unteroffizier Rudolf Schulze, and
Gefreiter Franz Becker all missing. Aircraft 100% write-off.
On 22 August 4 unidentified Germans were buried in Chartham cemetery, near Manston, Kent.
234 Sqdn was in 10 Group and based at Middle Wallop. There is a photograph of some RAF pilots making their way back across a mustard field after looking at the smouldering wreckage. Bob Doe is reported as saying the crash site was strewn with blood stained bandages.
Manston was 11 Group, so were the known crew and perhaps documents etc taken away for scrutiny by 11 Group (perhaps Luftwaffe maps/routes or other “useful” information, cameras and films?) by Army truck on 21st and after these were removed, 11 Group was left with the task of burying the (now unknown) airmen, which they did on 22nd August 1940 in Grave O74. At least one other Luftwaffe pilot, Alfred Hoffman was also buried here in September.
When Cannock Chase was set up, Alfred was removed, as were these 4, now buried in Block 9 Grave 48 as Unknown Germans killed 22nd August (actually the date of burial in Chartham) and NOT 21st August.
Is there anything in Vol 2 Luftwaffe crash Archives or elsewhere in your records that ties in with anything of this?
Thanks for looking
Hi Kevin will take a look and get back to you in a couple of days if no-one else does.
Parker has it that the aircraft took off from St Andre, the target being Brize Norton. Brought down by a Spitfire after having dropped 6 delayed action bombs. Says the aircraft crashed on fire and was completely smashed. There is a photo of Gefr Becker and the photo you mention? A scene with about 20 men in it, the smouldering wreckage which appears strewn across the field. Parker says the unit was identified from an ID disc and that the “remains of the airmen are reported to have been removed from the site of the crash immediately after the event, but their subsequent fate is an enduring mystery.” Also mentions the monument erected in 1951.
Nothing in my other books. I noticed a recent comment and replies on pprune, take it that is you?
good luck in identifying their final resting places.
Thanks, yes, that’s me on PPRuNe (and a few other sites) trying to see if anyone can provide a reason for them to have been taken from King’s Somborne (where the vicar had offered to have them buried) and then “lost”.
I refuse to accept they would not have been buried without due regard, and the 4 unidentified ones were buried in Chartham the next day. But 234 were in 10 Group, so why buried in 11 Groups area?
There doesn’t seem to ba any other 4 man crew unaccounted for on 21/22 August on land, so where did the 4 in Chartham come from, if not King’s Somborne – but obviously I need a definite link for authorities to accept these men are the Ju 88 crew.
When you say “other books” does that include Luftwaffe Crash Archives Vol 2?
Chartham cemetery also contained the grave of A Hoffman, Luftwaffe, killed 15 September, so it was used for Luftwaffe burials, but there was an Alfred Hoffman and also an Andreas Hoffman both killed on 15 September and I don’t know which one was in Chartham before Cannock.
Any clues as to where both men came down, hopefully not on Manstons doorstep!
If he also came from a crash many miles away, that might show Chartham accepted burials from some distance away, thus reinforcing (but not proving beyond doubt) the 4 COULD be from Hampshire.
Appreciate your help.
Pls does anyone know of a German pilot called Helwick Keplian (or similar as the K & H might not be correct) who might have crashed in Kent during WW2 ???
Is there a list of such names somewhere ???
Do you know what sort of aircraft he was flying? The Nachtjagd diary books list pilots and what happened to them. I only have volume 2 and I can find no one of that name, including phonetic variations.
Cannot see anything in Volume 1 either. If you have an idea of the date of the crash Mick that would help.
Does anyone have information about a German plane that crashed at Saddlescombe, just north of Brighton, Sussex? I went there on my bicycle with a friend a couple of days afterwards. There was almost nothing left apart from burned bushes just below the roadside. I got a piece of metal with a few screws. The thing I remember clearly was the smell of rotting flesh and the little grey strips
hanging from the bushes. We did not stay there very long.
Hi Gerald, there was a German bomber which crashed at Poynings Spring, Saddlescombe on the night of 1 June 1941. I have a couple of photos from a book which I can share with you, plus some details of the crew and their mission and the crash if it sounds like the right one?
The photos show quite a bit of debris remaining, though if the crash was close to a road as you say, then it is likely the remains were cleared. In the photos you can see bits of debris hanging from the trees.
Please let me know if you’d like more info? If this does not sound right, do you have an idea as to the date? Or if can you be more precise with regards the location as there were a good few air crashes in the area. For example, an RAF Hurricane crashed close by on 9 September 1940, though Polish pilot survived that one. Though there are others, e.g. a Luftwaffe air crash at Bramber. Do let me know.
I do not know if the site I visited was called Poynings Spring. Unfortunately I am not sure of the date. I do remember that when I went there, it was a warm summer’s day. I used to keep a diary, but am not sure if I sill have any from the War years.
I clearly recall that the crash site was close to the road at Saddlescombe, facing the deep Devils Dyke valley and the hill beyond.
I would like to see the book you mention. Is it available?
There was also a He111 that came down at Ewes Bottom, Patcham near to Saddlescombe on 8 May 42.
This one was shot down by a Beaufighter setting the countryside on fire with a spectacular light display when the high tension cables were hit. The aircraft was spread over a wide area as were the crew who were subsequently buried in Bear’s rd cemetery. There is a photo of the tailplane the only recognisable part in The Blitz T&N#3
It looks as if you have found the one I saw as a boy, two days after the event. By the time I got there, most of the bits of the aircraft had been removed. The thing that I remember very clearly was the smell of rotting flesh – the little grey strips hanging from the bushes round the site.
The crash is mentioned in Blitz over Sussex by Burgess & Saunders from Middleton Press. It was published in 1994 and states that parts of the aircraft are/were still being discovered in the fields and hedgerows where the bomber crashed even then. The book is part of a 3 volume set and not too expensive that briefly details all the known wartime crashes in the county as well as some of the V weapon incidents. Lots of photographs, a couple from this crash, the one I mentioned in the other book of the tailplane guarded by a bobby and observed by a few onlookers and another of a memorial card printed for the family of one of the crew, Uff. Wilhelm Markl. The rest of the crew were Lt R Oepen, Uff. J. Luksch, Uff F Kuttner and Uff Driessen. The bomber was an He111H-6 serial 6N+HR which crashed at 2.55am.
For interest Andy Saunders is doing a talk on oddities of the Battle of Britain this month with the Lewes Military History Soc. that I hope to go along to. I assume it will cover Sussex in a bit more detail.
The Beaufighter that claimed the Heinkel was from 219 Sqn piloted by Sqn ldr John Groves with Fg Off Horace Walter William Berridge the air gunner. They ere veterans of the Battle of Britain when flying Blenheim IF’s and by all accounts a deadly night fighting ace team who claimed over a dozen enemy aircraft. Both survived the war and were decorated.
I am sure Ian might have a bit more detail of the crash if he owns the relevant volume of the Luftwaffe Crash Archive series which I do not (yet). The authors of this series might also have some more information if you try them directly (combat reports, constabulary reports etc). Simon Parry has been of invaluable assistance to me regarding my own research of aircraft downed in my parish and might be able to shed some more light on the crash although as it did not happen during The Battle of Britain I don’t know whether he has as much information to hand.
May 42; explains why I didn’t see it, I only have Volumes 1 – 8 at present, need to update my library. Good stuff Simon, thank you for adding this.
Thanks for your encouraging response. I have a copy of “Blitz over Sussex 1941-42” but cannot find any reference to a German aircraft crashing at Saddlescombe. As a boy I visited the site two days after the event with a schoolfriend and found a small piece of metal with a screw. The hawthorn bushes around the site were burned with little grey strips hanging from the branches. The smell of rotting human flesh drove us away pretty quickly.
My problem is that I do not remember which year that was. I do recall that the weather was warm and sunny on the day of my visit. No crash at Saddlescombe is shown on the maps in either of the first two books by Burgess and Saunders.
Many thanks for your helpful reply. I have ordered a copy of the book through Amazon and am also awaiting a chat with the Saddlescombe National Trust people who may have some more information. I will let you know what transpires.
Hello again Gerald. The detail is from page 30 bottom left hand side paragraph “On the night of the 8th May” etc, the photographs are on page 32. Ewe(s) Bottom near Patcham I believe is less than a mile east-south-east of Saddlescombe, the rural area bordered by the A23 & A27, accessible from Braypool Lane. As the wreckage was spread over a wide area it is possible that parts were discovered at Saddlescombe.
I have looked at the maps again Gerald. If that He111 is not the one you were thinking of then maybe Ian’s original suggestion of the Ju88 that was shot down at Poynings Spring Saddlescombe is the one after all. I note you said you went there on you bicycle and found a few bits of twisted metal. Page 47 of Blitz over Sussex details the incident. It also says “the Ju88 attracted its usual horde of sightseers and souvenir hunters causing the police some embarrassment when 2 machine guns were taken…….Five youths were seen CYCLING from the scene, one with a heavy sack and another with a machine gun strapped to his back. If they avoided discovery one wonders where those souvenirs are today!” Now I’m wondering………
The crash spot is identified as B13 on Map B on Page 9. Near to Devils Dyke where a Spit also crashed, the pilot successfully baling out.
Your comments are appreciated. I think the aircraft was the one mentioned at page 47 of “Blitz over Sussex 1941-42”. The site was definitely at the dip in the Saddlescombe Road opposite to the track up to the farm, where the hillside drops away towards the Devils Dyke. Yes, there must have been a crowd of souvenir hunters on the first day. Unfortunately I only managed to get there two days later, by which time the site had been cleared of most bits of the ‘plane. I did not see anything like a machine gun!
Now I am trying to find where the two members of the aircrew were buried. Does anyone out there know?
Hats off to Ian for making the initial suggestion. The 2 crew who died are both buried at the German Soldatenfriedhof, Cannock Chase. I have visited here as many Battle of Britain German airmen are buried there alongside hundreds of others. It’s well worth a trip. Cannock Chase was selected as the German Military Cemetary as the terrain most features German “splinter” countryside (also why their aircraft are camouflaged in such a way as oppose the RAF’s more wavy British lines.
Here is a link to more detail of the action and the men’s resting place. Again Simon Parry has helped this website, he might have scans of contemporary reports if you contact him.
Not a good copy, but this is a photo of the Ju88 site.
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