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Messerschmitt Bf 109E 1190
Display at IWM Duxford recreating the scene in the photo below. This is how wrecked aircraft should be displayed in museums.
30th September 1940. Messerschmitt Bf109 1190, flown by Unteroffizier Horst Perez, was shot down by a Sptifire over Beachy Head. He was supposed to be escorting a bombing raid on London but failed to meet up with the bombers.
There are a few details regarding this German fighter and its pilot on a plaque by the display. But a spot of digging around reveals how, possibly, this Bf 109 came to be recovered in such good shape.
Uffz Perez crash landed his aircraft in the late afternoon of what turned out ot be the last day of the Luftwaffe’s big daylight air raids on London. There were two such attacks on London that day but the growing confidence of the RAF – and the drop in morale of the Luftwaffe airmen – resulted in both raids turning back before they could reach London. It marked a turning point in the battle.
Whether Uffz Perez genuinely couldn’t find the attacking bomber stream, I don’t know. But his Bf109 wasn’t shot down – according to the Air Ministry report at the time, there were no bullets found in the wreck. Air ace Sgt Donald Kingaby of 92 Squadron was credited with ‘damaging’ the plane and that there was an engine failure during the dogfight. It is possible though, that Uffz Perez, an inexperienced pilot up against the flying elite, lost his nerve and landed when he could have fought on. The report noted Uffz Perez “was not sure of himself” and was asking questions about his friends whom he had recently lost.
Whatever the cause of his crash landing, he met with a hostile reception. Upon climbing from the cockpit he was shot in the hand and jaw by an over enthusiastic member of the Home Guard. Uffz Perez surrendered to a P.C. Walter Hyde and was taken prisoner.
Such a reaction by those on the ground was perhaps understandable; just a few days before in Kent, what remains the last fight against foreign intruders on British soil took place at the ‘The Battle of Graveney Marsh’, a grand name for an exchange between some British soldiers and the machine gun armed crew of a downed Junkers 88 which resulted in one German airman being shot in the foot… and then they all went for a pint in the pub.
For photos and more about the Battle of Graveny Marsh, please see this news story.