Junkers 88 B3+EC

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Junkers 88 B3+EC, Cheshire

3 May 1941. After dropping their bombs on Liverpool, the crew of Luftwaffe Junkers 88 B3+EC prepared to return to base at Brétigny-sur-Orge, south of Paris but were hit by bullets from a Boulton-Paul Defiant night fighter at about ten minutes to midnight.

The port engine of the Ju-88 stopped and pilot Leutnant Hans Glänzinger ordered the other 3 crew members to bail out.

Leutnant Glänzinger’s parachute failed to open while wireless operator Unteroffizier Gerhard Harmgart had failed to secure his parachute harness properly and both men fell to their deaths. The bomber crashed here at Lostock Gralem in Cheshire.

Flight engineer Feldwebel Helmut Richter and co-pilot Unteroffizier Hans Stettwieser both survived and were taken prisoner.

Hans Stettwieser, in a letter written in 1977, said he badly hurt his knee leaving the burning Ju-88 and “dropped into a river (it must have been the Mersey or Weaven), swam with my heavy airman-outfit to the river-bank, where a lot of (not very friendly) people were waiting. That was on 3rd of May 1941 about midnight.”

According to Smith (2003) and other sources, credit for shooting down the Junkers went to New Zealander, Flying Officer Verity and Sergeant Wake in Defiant N1803 of 96 Squadron based at RAF Cranage which is just a few miles south of the crash site.

However in a more detailed (if confusing) account, Bamford & Collier (2005) say that the claim for the kill was disputed between the men of 96 Squadron at Cranage and their rivals at 256 Squadron at Squire’s Gate near Blackpool. According to them, credit was given on 6 May 1941 to men of the latter, Flight Lieutenant Deanesly and Sergeant Scott in Defiant N3450.
A contemporary photo of this air crash graces the cover of the English Heritage document Military Aircraft Crash Sites

Luftwaffe over Manchester, Peter J C Smith, 2003
Eyes of the Night, Joe Bamford & Ron Collier, 2005
RAF Cranage 1939-1957 (http://www.rafcranage.org.uk)

Publicity photo of a Boulton-Paul Defiant, source wikipedia

14 comments on “Junkers 88 B3+EC
  1. Ang Wickham says:

    A great tale here, the controversial nature of the ‘kill’ typical of the time: and when it comes to Night Fighting who ever could tell. A difficult and pretty much impossible task expected of those men, and in a Dauntless – not my kind of fun in a defensive role. Great post this Ian. Still, have to say: LOVE how your presentation comes up here.

  2. Danny Fray says:

    hi just looking at the picture of the crash site the picture on the English heritage document appears to be taken from the other side of what I think is wade brook hard to tell because the a556 now runs through the site.do you know if there is any evidence left at the site or was all trace removed.

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Danny, I found nothing but then wasn’t particularly looking as the crash site was in the middle of a potato field. I got the location from Luftwaffe over Manchester by Peter J C Smith, but it’s not precise. I imagine the farmer has found scraps over the years and a metal detector might reveal something under the surface. Crash sites of German bombers rarely have debris left, have always been a prize for souvenir hunters.

  3. Dave Firth says:

    Hi can anybody help me with pointers towards stats on German aircraft numbers brought down over Merseyside during 1940-41 period? Locations of sites would be an added bonus. Thanks in advance!

  4. Paul Smitham says:

    I live locally and was told the crash site was Lostock Green not Lostock Gralam .

  5. Andrew Cliffe says:

    My mum biked to a crashed plane and believes it was lost ok green. She said two young pilots were killed

  6. Norman Edwards says:

    I use to live in Lostock Green in one of the four cottages just before the A556 and have a recollection of a German airman knocking on the window and my mother telling him to go away.This didn’t happen in 1941 but sometime in 1944 and it was daylight at the time so either the date 1941 is wrong or there were two plane crashes.I was told that the plane came down at the back of the cottages with the river Dane at the bottom of the field.The river wasn’t very deep so I would think the airman must have drifted into the weaver or the canal.

  7. NORMAN Edwards says:

    I lived in the end cottage now next to the A556 during the war and was told the plane came down in the field at the back of the cottages.I also have a recollection of a airman knocking on the window and my mother telling him to go away I presume he was retained by the ARP Mr Storey who lived next door but one.The year this happened was sometime 1944 so is it possible there as been two crashes and the 1941 crash was in Lostock Grahlam.

  8. Susan Batters says:

    I live on Birches Lane Lostock Green opposite the scene of the crash, yesterday 24/5/2020 whilst digging in a flower bed my husband located what appears to be the nose of a shell, we are now wondering was it from that crash and if so if there is anymore of it in the flowerbed , quite interesting .

  9. Dave Plumb says:

    Just for noting before memories fail, I metal detected this site in about 1996 and found damaged cartridges, bits of twisted engine components, just small parts and oil and fuel pipes. I was talking to the farmers son who was on the farm at the time who still lived there, he said that only one was killed at the site, he baled out too low for his parachute to open and rolled into a drainage ditch, when they pulled him out there was a large pocket watch that they removed and placed on the top of the ditch whilst they pulled the body out, by the time they’d pulled him out the there was a few people around and the pocket watch had disappeared! He found out who had the watch about 20 years later, I asked him who it was but he wouldn’t tell me. Somewhere around the Lostock Green area is a German pocket watch that came from the crash, it’d be nice to find it to reunite it with the pilots family. Another thing of interest I found was a British cap badge, presumably from one of the soldiers who were guarding the wreck. I doubt the farmer is still alive as he was quite old at the time I spoke to him.

    • Ian D B says:

      Fascinating to read of your 1996 visit Dave. Did you take any photos? Also do you recall where the crash site was? The above photo is a rough guess based on an old photo of the crash site by Peter J C Smith, but I have never been quite convinced I had the right field.

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