Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 3470

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Messerschmitt Bf109, shot down in Kent, on display in the north-west of England.

Earlier this year while trawling through microfilm copies of the Bury Times from the war at the library, I came across this report from November 23 1940 of a Messerschmitt Bf109 being displayed in the town centre to raise money for the Spitfire Fund.

It was a very poor copy but I printed one off in the hope of later identifying the aircraft. There was very little to go off – just the number 2 on the fuselage – and the copy sat for a few months in a file on my computer labelled ‘Mystery 109’

However after scouring endless photos, websites and books, it can now be identified as Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 WNr 3470 of 8/JG54.

It was shot down by a fighter over Dungeness in Kent 02 September 1940. A bullet stopped the engine and the pilot, Uffz. Heinrich Elbers, managed to crash land in a field. His aircraft came to rest in a ditch at Finn Farm, Kingsnorth, Ashford. See below Edit January 2024, photograph of Heinrich Elbers taken 1989. Please note also others have provided further details in the comments section since this post was published.

In a ditch at Finn Farm near Ashford. Photo from Asisbiz


Below; Part of Kent, showing Kingsnorth near Ashford and Dungeness


Link to Google maps showing Finn Farm at Kingsnorth, Ashford, Kent.

Unteroffizier Elbers was injured (he was shot in the foot) but survived and was taken prisoner, while his Bf109 was taken on tour around the country to raise money to buy more Spitfires.

The notice placed by the aircraft in the lead photo with the words “For your information” told the people of Bury that the “Messerschmitt 109 is the pride of Germany’s Luftwaffe and is the type now being used over this country in hit and run bombing raids. It carries 4 machine guns, 2 in each wing and 2 firing from cockpit through propeller blades.”

The Bury Times reported that it became necessary to move the aircraft off the street and inside “the new shopping centre of the Bury District Co-operative Society in Market Street… Most amusing of the many comments was that of a woman who asked “Are t’stores selling them now?”

Below; Bury Co-Operative store on Market Street, Bury, photographed here in the mid 50s. Although the Co-Op has now gone and other shops have come and gone over the years (Wimpey, Argos, Bon Marche) the original building remains. The National Archives says the “new ‘Emporium’ designed in 1936, but occupied by government offices during the war, and opened as a store in 1952” which seems to contradict the contemporary report of the Bury Times of 1940. Possibly the store was taken over later in the war?


The photos and images below are all of the same aircraft as it toured the north west of England to raise funds.

On display in Blackpool


And here in Mossley.

The Manchester Evening News later (incorrectly) wrote of this event “EXCITEMENT surrounded Mossley in 1944 when a German Messerschmitt 109 was brought to the town after it was shot down over Liverpool”.

It was put on show at Seel Park as part of the Spitfire Fund – which was started during the second world war to raise money for the war effort – and Mossley raised £71,966. The crowds flocked to the football ground to view the plane and discovered there were many bullet holes in the blades of the propeller, wings and the fuselage.The Home Guard stood nightly watch over the Messerschmitt, while members of the Women’s Voluntary Services manned the turnstiles during the day.”

Raising funds at Newton-le-Willows (Earlestown to be precise – please see comment below by Peter Williams)


…at Warrington


…and here at Altrincham


Another photo at Springbank Park, Altrincham


Councillor Thomas Mann at Crompton


Black 2 on display at Ashton, November 11 1940. Newspaper copy courtesy of Peter G Nield who also identified the two locations above


On display at Shaw in 1940 again courtesy of Peter G Nield. Note the dummy of Hitler hanging above the aircraft in the image top right.


Below; Images of Bf109E-1 WNr 3470 used with permission from Asisbiz




EDIT 14 May 2023

I was contacted by David R in Germany who had bought a Böker knife made with metal from this Bf109. You can see the shape of the cockpit in the design of the handle. These photos were kindly provided by David and are used here with his permission.



Please see the comment below by Dr Tobias Wolney of Soltau, Germany, who has – via his friend who is the grand-nephew of the pilot – provided this photograph of Heinrich Elbers. The photograph was taken in 1989 and is used here with kind permission. Tobias says Heinrich lived in Soltau until his death in 1994.



The two photos below of the clock from this aircraft have been provided by Mike Harris and are used with his kind permission. In a comment on this page, Mike says, he has had the cockpit clock “… in my possession for 20 years (found in NZ). On the back of the clock is scratched “ ME109 SEPT 1940 KINGSNORTH”



24 comments on “Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 3470
  1. peter williams says:

    Dear Ian
    the photo at Newton le willows is not Newton le Willows, the Messerschmitt was put on display on Earlestown Market, a part of Newton le willows 15th-22nd Dec 1940 at 6d (2.1/2p) a View.It was at Warrington’s Bank Park for a week before Earlestown market for a week and then went to Huyton-Roby.

    Yours Peter Williams

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Peter, good to hear from you.

      With Earlestown being just a mile or so from Newton-le-Willows I wrote Newton-le-Willows to make it easier for people not familiar with the north-west. But you are quite right to pull me up for it!

      I didn’t know the details about the dates though, or the admission charge or that it was at Warrington before. I wonder how much it made on its tour – and where else in the country it was displayed?

      Many thanks for commenting.


  2. Tony thorp says:

    Just caught site of the Spitfirefund comment in the Mcr Evening News/Bury Times. It mentions Mossley and a Messerschmitt put on show in the town. The original comment mentions that the plane was shot down over Liverpool.
    My father who lived in Mossley won the first prize of a replica Spitfire on a plinth which was built out of the remains of the German plane. I am looking for any mention in the local press and/or a photo showing my father whose name was Fred. Any info you might know of would be greatly appreciated so that I can keep it with the trophy!

    • Ian D B says:

      Hi Tony,

      Only a handful of German aircraft were shot down in the north-west though the debris used to make your Dad’s model could have come from any wreck anywhere in the country. Certainly the detail that the Bf109 was shot down over Liverpool is inaccurate, these fighters didn’t have the range to get that far (maybe they could get as far as Liverpool, but they wouldn’t be able to get back).
      However it would be great if you could find a photo in the local press.

      I’d say your best bet is to book some time on one of the microfilm readers at Ashton Library and go through old copies of the Ashton Reporter. Do you know the date the prize was awarded? If you do then you won’t need to look far, otherwise a trawl through them all may be necessary. It might take some time, and you will be distracted by other interesting stories and old adverts, but it is quite easy to scroll through old newspapers looking for a particular story, each only had a few of pages of news, the rest was adverts.


    • Matt Lacey says:

      Hi there. I read the article with interest as I live at Finn Farm (the crash site). Do you happen to have any links to the best possible image of the crash as I would love to display this at my home! Thank you for such a wonderful article!

      • Ian D B says:

        Hi Matt, sorry this is about the best image I have, don’t know if anyone has anything better?
        Thank you for your comment.
        Do you know where on your farm the crash site is?

        • Matt Lacey says:

          Hi Ian.

          Yes, I have found some shrapnel I would associate with the plane, and the tree line and ditch would match. I also found a Silbergroschen – a coin (with a hole in it) often used as a good luck charm by German pilots!

  3. Adam w says:

    What became of the plane after all this!?

  4. Neil Barker says:

    I am trying to ascertain data on a ME109E shot down around Dunkirk Kent in the morning of Monday 23rd Sept 1940. Might you please be able to supply any data you might have to support this incident. Thank you.

  5. Mike says:

    I’ve just found this site by shear luck.
    I have been researching a German aircraft clock I’ve had in my possession for 20 years (found in NZ). On the back of the clock is scratched “ ME109 SEPT 1940 KINGSNORTH”. I have a copy of THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN then & now, which details RAF & Luftwaffe that were shot down & destroyed during the battle. Flick through to page 617 and find 8/JG54 shot down on the 2nd September 1940 Finns Farm, Kingsnorth near Ashford, Uffz Elbers captured. Next step was to do a goggle search on Finn Farm and I find this amazing website with incredible photos of the very aircraft that my clock was souvenired from. Outstanding,

  6. Mike Harris says:

    Hi Matt
    Not sure how to upload images to this site and the reply box won’t allow me to paste images.
    Would be quite nice to have the photos of the clock on the site considering its relevance.
    Maybe Ian could contact me and I can email the pics to him so he can add them to the site if he wishes.

  7. Matt Lacey says:

    Hi all, did we get any photos of the clock? Would be great if so!


    I just bought a part with a plaque that says it’s a part from the BF-109 that crashed in Ashford.

  9. Thomas Hudson says:

    I bought a Boker ME 109 knife, that was made in part with steel from Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 No.3470. So I looked into it. A few added details. Bf 109E-1 was shot down by Flight Lieutenant H.B.L. Hillcoat flying Hurricane I No. P3044 of 1 Squadron during combat over Dungeness at 16:45 on Sept. 2, 1940. F/Lt. H B L Hillcoat flying Hurricane I No. P3044 of 1 Squadron was lost in action on Sept. 3, 1940, he was 26 yrs old.
    There an after action report available at the National Archives.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thank you for your visit Thomas, have you a photo of the knife? Be good to add a photo of it to this page.

  10. DAVID says:

    Hi MATT

  11. Tobias Wollny says:

    A friend of mine is the grand nephew of Heinrich Elbers. We both live in Soltau in Northern Germany. Heinrich Elbers lived in Soltau till he died on January, 1st 1993. My friend found a family picture of his grand uncle dated to 1989, four years before Heinrich Elbers passed away. I unfortunatly dont´t know how to upload the picture with this post. Until a few years ago you even could buy a small scale model of exactly his plane from Revell (?) that you could clue together and paint yourself. If anybody knows who to post picture, please post it as a comment. I will also send the picture to Ian D B.

    • Ian D B says:

      Thank you very much Tobias, and for your email. I have added the photo to the main text above (see under Edit 18 January 2024).

  12. Ian D B says:

    Page updated with photos of the cockpit clock from this aircraft, kindly provided by Mike Harris. I have put the photos in the main narrative above.

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