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Leeuwarden

Texel & Den Helder

 

 

D

Leeuwarden Airfield

Schiermonikoog

Harlingen & Harderwijk

Occupied Harlingen

German Radar

Ameland

Vlieland

Terschelling

St. Jacobparochie

Rottum Island

 

 

 

 

Overview history "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden, Luftwaffe - Units operating via Leeuwarden., etc.  

 

 

Part 1 (1940-1941) by Willem

 

10 May 1940 / in the morning - neighbouring farmers were ploughing the (civilian) airfield of Leeuwarden (destroying the KLM grass runway) and obstacles were placed on strategic points of the field, by municipal workers and volunteers (agricultural implements, motorcars, etc.); and the supply tank for air fuel was sabotaged by the "luchthavenmeester" (master of the airfield).

 

11 May 1940 - first Germans arriving the airfield by car, making an inspection tour at the airfield / in the buildings and asking for information about supplies etc.

 

End of June 1940 - arriving of the 1st fighter combat Gruppe on the new "Fliegerhorst" under construction, the I./JG.51 (this Jagdgeschwader 51, later on named "Werner Mölders", had 4 Gruppen !) - flying Messerschmitt Bf-109E fighters; they were making patrol flights over Friesland / the Dutch coast line (against intruders of RAF Coastal Command); but they were mostly training / preparing for the Battle of Britain (!)

 

12 July 1940 - leaving of I./JG.51 (for Saint-Inglevert / Frence) - Me.Bf.-109E planes; they were starting into the Battle of Britain.

Arriving of II./JG.27, most of the Gruppe (Jagdgeschwader 27 was named later on "Afrika"; one of the pilots was Adolf Galland) - flying Me.Bf-109E’s too; they were also making patrol flights, like I./JG. 51, but most of the time training / preparing for the Battle of Britain of course (!)

28 July 1940 - RAF attack on the airfield, but not the first "Fliegeralarm" (no great damage); as far as known, 8 people were killed, most Dutchies / construction workers etc. (the day before already 1 man was killed, Mr. Theunis Stroop, of Berlicum / Friesland, during a "hit and run action" of a single Beaufighter)

 

Beginning of  Aug. 1940 - leaving of II./JG.27 (for Cherbourg / Frence) - Me.Bf-109 planes; this was the 2nd "fighter wave" to French, starting in the Battle of Britain, into the 1e phase of "Operation Seelöwe" (invasion to Britain, planned for July / August)

 

27 Aug. 1940 - In the early morning, after a nightly air raid on Merseburg / Germany, H.P. Hampden Mk.I,  P4324, QR-"P" (for Peter), of No. 61 Sqdn., was force landed on the Vliehorst (beach) of Vlieland isle, because the a/c. was running out of fuel (after a long flight under bad weather conditions). 

The bomber was captured intact by the Germans soon after the pilot had launched a "red light" (flare) as a sign to destroy the plane to the 2 "guarding crew members" nearby (he and another of the crew, an Irishman, were trying to find out "where in England" they were landed, but had discovered in the meanwhile they were in Holland ! ).

All of the crew became POW (captured by Germans of the West-Battery of Vlieland): F/O. P.D. Tunstall (pilot), Sgt. A.E. Murdock, Sgt. M.J. Joyce (an Irish National, who "escaped" in 1942 to the U.K.) and Sgt. W.J. Brock .

The  next day (28-08-1940) the captured Hampden was flown to "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden, under escort of Luftwaffe fighters. 

On the airfield the RAF roundels were painted away soon and the plane was "unarmed" in the same time; and most of the Luftwaffe personel of the airbase came looking at this "trophy"...... 

One or two days later the aircraft was flown to Berlin / Rechlin, the testing ground of the Luftwaffe, for "total inspection" !!!

Sergeant  Mick Joyce (an Irish National) was held in Dulag Luft, where he collaborated with the enemy. He  'Escaped' to the UK in 1942. Died in Ireland 1976.   

See  the crew's story       

 

 

- 1941 -

 

Half Jan. 1941 - forming (again) of III./KG.4 - flying Heinkel He-111’s; training / preparing for Britain first (planned air raids on cities / habours etc. in the U.K., after the lost air battles over Britain in Aug. / Sept. 1940)

 

Half February 1941 - first "Bombenangriff" (= air raid) on Great Britain directly from Leeuwarden airfield by these renewed III./KG.4 - flying He-111H version bombers; people living around the airfield were terrified for these "hard to start greenhouses",  loaded to the maximum limits with explosives and air fuel (!)

 

03 March 1941 - "overloaded" He-111H-4, Wn.3270, of III./KG.4, crashed nearby "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden (nothing known about the crew)

 

10 March 1941 - Messerschmitt Bf-109E-4, Wn.1415, of 1./JG.54, crashed nearby Leeuwarden city (nothing known about the pilot)

 

19 March 1941 - Heinkel He-111H-4, Wn.5711, of 7.Staffel/KG.4, Uffz. K. Bernhard+crew, crashed nearby Leeuwarden 

( not the first one / nor the last ! )

 

01 April 1941 - Messerschmitt Bf-110D-3, Wn.4211, of 4.Staffel/NJG.1, Lt. H. Weiszert +crew, crashed near Beetgum / "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden.

 

09 April 1941 - Heinkel He-111H-5, Wn.3513, of 8.Staffel/KG.4, Uffz. W. Böttrich + crew, crashed in Leeuwarden city, a/d. Poppeweg (airborne did not succeed!)

 

End May 1941 - arriving of I.Gruppe/JG.52 (this Jagdgeschwader had only 2 Gruppen !) - Messerschmitt Bf-109 planes (they were ever fighting in the Battle of Britain too) training / preparing now for the Russia-campaign, named "Barbarossa")

 

27 June 1941 - Messerschmitt Bf-109, of Stab/JG.52, piloted by ? Gossen, crashed near Leeuwarden city.

 

1 July 1941 - Helmut Lent was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./NJG. 1

 

Begining of  July 1941 - leaving of Gruppe I./JG.52 (for Russia) - Me.Bf-109 fighters.

 

End of July 1941 - leaving of Gruppe III./KG.4 (for Russia) - Heinkel He-111H bombers.

 

20 July 1941 - Messerschmitt Bf-110D, Wn. 4273, of 4./ZG.76 (Uffz. P. Wencke) crashed on "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden.

 

Aug. 1941 - arriving of Gruppe II./ZG.76, named "Haifisch-Gruppe" - flying Messerschmitt Bf-110 (twin engined) fighters / "zerstörer" - see the "Jaws-photo" on page 7 -

 

7 Sept. 1941 - Messerschmitt Bf-110E-4, Wn. 2191, of 4./NJG.1, Uffz. H. Grimm + flying mate, crashed East of Leeuwarden city, about 02.00 hrs. (near Ryptsjerk?).

 

Oct. 1941 - arriving of II./JG.53 (Jagdgeschwader 53 was named "Pik As" / = "Ace of Spades") - flying Messerschmitt Bf-109 (transfer from the E-version to the F-version, after the front) - most planes / gruppen of JG.53 were in Russia.

 

25 Oct. 1941 - Messerschmitt Bf-109F-4, Wn.7184, of 5./JG.53, piloted by ? , crashed on "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden

1 Nov. 1941 - Hauptman Helmut Lent was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of II./NJG.2; later on they named him sometimes "Kaper der Nacht" / "Raider of the night".

 

Nov. 1941 - leaving of (Gruppe) II./JG.53 ("Pik As") - flying Me.Bf-109F fighters.

 

15 Dec. 1941 - Junkers Ju-88, Wn.1279, of (Staffel) 1./506, Fw. E. Stürzel + crew, was crashing nearby Leeuwarden.

 

27 Dec. 1941 - Messerschmitt Bf-110E-1, Wn.3815, of (Staffel) 5./NJG.2, pilot etc. unknown, crashed on "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden.

 

 

 

 

FW-58  and FW-44

 

 

On Thursday May 10, 1940, The Netherlands was invaded by Germany. After the capitulation of The Netherlands, Leeuwarden airfield was taken over by the German Luftwaffe. The Germans extended the original area of 800 by 800 meters and constructed paved runways. Salient detail is that the Luftwaffe used debris from the curious 1940 bombardment of Rotterdam, which destroyed the heart of that city. 

The Luftwaffe operated various day and night fighters (amongst which were the Messerschmidt 109 and 110) as well as bombers (in 1941 and 1942) which were mainly used to attack targets in the United Kingdom. As a result, the British Royal Air Force attacked Leeuwarden airfield several times. The first Allied attack on the airfield occurred on July 28th, 1940 during the Battle over Britain. Other bombing raids took place on January 25, 1944 when 46 P-47 Thunderbolts dropped 44 500 lbs bombs, and on February 24, 1944, when 46 Martin B-26 Marauders scored 700 hits and caused severe damage to the runways.

On the night of September 16th-17th 1944, during 'Operation Market Garden', Leeuwarden airfield was attacked by 48 Lancaster bombers, dropping a total of 214.3 tons of bombs. 

This is now considered the end of its use as an operational Luftwaffe base.

 

"Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden May 1940- 15th April 1945

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

German air-aces who flew from Leeuwarden.

On 1 July 1941, Helmut Lent was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./NJG 1 based at Leeuwarden in Holland. He had 12 victories to his credit: five by night and seven by day. On 30 August, Oberleutnant Lent was awarded the Ritterkreuz for seven victories recorded by day and a further 14 at night. He began a three-week period of leave from 9 September during which time he was married. Lent returned to operations on 7 October. By the end of the year his score had reached 20 night victories, including two of the new RAF Stirling four-engine bombers. Lent was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of II./NJG 2 on 1 November.

Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer was transferred to IV./NJG 1, based at Leeuwarden in Holland, where he was appointed Staffelkapitän 12./NJG 1, on 13 August 1943. He recorded his 30th victory on the night of 8/9 October. Oberleutnant Schnaufer was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 42 victories on 31 December. He recorded his 50th victory, and IV./NJG 1’s 500th victory, on the night of 24/25 February 1944.

 

Günther "Fips" Radusch shot down three RAF Lancaster four-engine bombers on the night of 30/31 January 1944 (48-50). On 1 February 1944, he was appointed Kommodore of NJG 2. He is credited with the shooting down of 12 Squadron's Lancaster ND410 on the 19th/20th of February. Oberstleutnant Radusch was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 444) on 6 April for 53 victories. On the night of 21/22 May, he claimed three RAF four-engine bombers shot down (56-58). Radusch claimed his 65th, and last, victory on the night of 7/8 July, when he shot down another Lancaster. On 1 November 1944, Radusch was appointed Kommodore of NJG 3, a position he was to hold until the end of the war.

 

Most of the German night fighter aces flew the Bf 110 at some point during their combat careers, and the top night fighter ace of all times, Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, flew it exclusively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Luftwaffe Base at Leeuwarden in Holland  - added by Willem de Jong - 28th of October 2011

1943 German Night-fighter propaganda film showing Leeuwarden

1944 Night-fighter propaganda film

 

 

 

A historical photo of some "Mannschaft" of the Luftwaffe airbase Leeuwarden - Anno 1942 ? - all of them more or less successful night-fighter pilots, such as Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld (middle-row, 2nd man from the right); he was even family "on a distant" of our own Prins / Prince Bernhard von Lippe-Biesterfeld (married with our own Koningin / Queen Juliana van Oranje - Nassau).  

 

1st  row (sitting) from left to right:

Hauptmann Heinrich Ruppel - “Nacht Jagd Raum Führer” (NJRF) of Leeuwarden (=controller)

During World War I he was a pilot, making reconnaissance flights by order of the German artillery (over French + Belgium) Hauptmann     ?       Siebeneicher - “Kommandant Stabskompagnie”

Hauptmann Helmut Lent - Pilot + “Gruppenkommandeur” of Leeuwarden (MIA 07-10-1944)

Hauptmann     ?       Schürbel (inspector of the Division)

 

2nd row (standing) from left to right:

Oberleutnant Paul Gildner - Pilot (KIA 24-02-1943)

Leutnant Karl-Heinz Völlkopf - Pilot (   ?    )

Oberleutnant Leopold Fellerer - Pilot (   ?    )

Oberleutnant Rudolf Sigmund - Pilot (KIA 03-10-1943)

Oberinspektor   ?      Rhinow - “Schreibstube” (=administration)

Leutnant Johannes (?) Richter - “Tele-Offizier” (radio + telephone + telex + couriers)

Oberleutnant Egmont zur Lippe-Weissenfeld - Pilot (KIA 12-03-1944)

Dr.   ?   Schreiber - “Dienstartz” (=medical service)

 

3rd row (standing behind) from left to right:

Leutnant Robert Denzel - Pilot (shot down (26-06-1943) by a RAF long-range fighter, over Vollehoven village, Northern Overijssel, Holland) 

Leutnant Wolfgang Kuthe - Pilot (KIA 14-04-1943)

Oberleutnant Eberhard Gardiewski - Pilot (   ?   )

Oberleutnant J…..(?)…. Schauberger - Pilot (MIA 03-04-1943)

Oberleutnant Herman Greiner - Pilot (survived the war. Later was Hauptmann, and flying from the Luftwaffe-base near St. Truiden, Belgium)

Oberleutnant Ludwig Becker - Pilot (KIA 26-02-1943)

Leutnant Oskar Köstler - Pilot ( KIA - 9 April 1943, while his aircraft was crashing on the Fliegerhorst (Leeuwarden)  )

Night-fighters etc of “Fliegerhorst” Leeuwarden in broad daylight; this photo is probably taken in Bergen, nearby Alkmaar (province of Noord-Holland), the Netherlands, in the garden of “Huize Westerwolde” (a confiscated villa). 

Luftwaffe airfield Leeuwarden had 2 satellite-bases, 2 “emergency-bases” if you like; one in the west, Bergen, behind the dunes of Holland’s westcaost, and one in NW-Germany, in Niedersachsen / Ost-Friesland, nearby Aurich, called Wittmundhafen. In case of “Fliegerhorst” Leeuwarden was “knocked-out”, by RAF attacks, by bad weather or by fuel problems etc., they could safely fly aside and make a landing over there.     

Of these pilots, at least 3 men were “experte” (aces): Helmut Lent, Paul Gildner and Ludwig Becker.

The above  photo of course, was taken by the Germans themselves, let’s say as a “family-portrait”, for home and for later. Therefore many copies were in the running, in Germany, but also in Holland, even by members of the Dutch resistance later on in the war (!). And via that way, via a son of photographer Van Kampen in Leeuwarden (Foto VAKA, St. Jacobsstraat) I’ve got a duplication, round about 1980. 

That same photo can be found in the “Nachtjagdarchiv” of Horst Diener (Germany) and in books like “Wespennest Leeuwarden”, part 2, author Ab A. Jansen.   Willem.

 

 

 

 

 

Schnaufer -Drewes -Jabs - Forster - von Bonin

 

 

 

 

 

 

From this 2nd photo it is only known that these men, some of them even Dutchies! , were technicians etc. (ground-crew) also of war airfield Leeuwarden.

This  photo of ground-crew etc was also known via Foto VAKA, like some other photo’s too, taken in the Torenstraat in Leeuwarden - more photo’s of ground-crew etc., also from “Dutch assistants”, working for the Germans….. “they had later on, after the war, a little chat with people of the former resistance ! ”.    Willem

 

 

 

 

 

Photo 1 : Living-barracks (for Luftwaffe-Helferinnen etc.) in "Stellung Löwe", under camouflage-nets.  

 

Photo 2 : Leutnant Maier, controller (mid) and Ofw. H. Lübke (right) in "Stellung Löwe" (Marum-Trimunt); in the background a guard and "Kurier" with his motorcycle / sidecar (when an aircraft was crashed, they were driving in high speed to the crash-site !) In that period, begining 1941, Lt. Maier was "the teacher" and Heinz Lübke was "the student".

 

 

Later on, from June 1941, Leutnant Lübke became one of the most successful controllers of the Luftwaffe in  occupied Holland, and he was operating in Sondel ("Eisbär"), on Terschelling island ("Tiger"), and on S'-oog island ("Schlei") too and he was teaching other controllers, like as in "Stellung Gazelle" (Veendam, Gr., 1944).

Together with Major / Pilot Helmut Lent ("Fliegerhorst" L'-warden) they formed a "deadly couple" against RAF-bombers (1942-43). 

 

 

 

This photograph shows Martin Drewes (left) at Leeuwarden in July 1944. He finished the war with a grand total of 52 victories, consisting of a Spitfire, a Gladiator,7 day bombers (B-17 and B-24), and 43 British night bombers, most of them Lancasters.  

Drewes was one of a few to receive the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves in the German armed forces. As time passed, his night victories increased, and he was transferred to NJG 1 where he would stay till the end of the war.  During 1944 he was appointed Kommandeur (Commander) of III./NJG 1 (third group of the first nightfighter wing).

 

 

 

 

And suddenly he was there, at Fliegerhorst Leeuwarden, Gen. Major Adolf Galland. A big surprise for the Luftwaffe airmen in Friesland, his inspection tour in 1942 (?). This "hero of the Battle of Britain", the youngest General of Germany (about 30 years), and the 2nd Luftwaffe boss, after Hermann Göring. He always wanted the best for his fighter pilots: French cognac, Dutch cigars and.... British Spitfires! 

Later on, in 1943, he was lobbying  Albert Speer and even Adolf Hitler himself for "düsenjäger", Messerschmitt Me 262 - jets, named Schwalbes, against the U.S.-daylight bomber formations over Germany. 

His visit to Fliegerhorst Leeuwarden was only for a couple of hours.

That airplane Adolf Galland was flying to Leeuwarden was not the "Mickey Mouse with the 2 pistols" (that was his Messerschmitt Bf-109). This plane was a "Reisemachine" (a plane for flying longer distances in comfort), the Siebel Fh 104, coded DT + CL.   Willem

 

 

 

 

214 Squadron's Short Stirling Mk. I, BF313 BU-T

214 Squadron's Short Stirling Mk. I, BF313 coded BU-T took off from Stradishall on the night of 2nd July 1942 probably between 11.00pm and midnight.

The crew were Sgt Richard Fairhurst,  Sgt Peter Frederick Inman,Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, Wing/Cdr Kenneth Duke Knocker, 28043, Pilot, P/O Daniel Malofie RCAF, Sgt Tristam E L Palmer, F/Sgt Robert H Ritchie, Sgt John W C Underwood, and F/Sgt Ernest G Wilson RCAF.

It was shot down by a night fighter piloted by Ofw Karl-Heinz Scherfling of II./NJG2 and crashed at 0150hrs 3rd July 1942 onto mudflats 22km NNW of Groningen, Holland. All the crew were killed.

An eyewitness in Ten Boer, NE of the city of Groningen, claims that the Stirling was attacked over his hometown. He states: "It was a very busy night were planes are concerned. All of a sudden we heard two bursts of machinegun fire, shortly after each other. Just after that bombs fell just east of St Annen."

A police report states that 29 bombs (27 incendiary) were dropped, of which only three ignited. The fire that was caused could be extinguished quickly. One person was lightly wounded.

The eyewitness continues: "Up in the sky a fire became visible that moved in a northerly direction. A few days later we heard a plane crashed near the dyke at Westernieland."

People in several north Groningen towns heard the loud roar of engines overhead. Those who went outside to look saw a bomber flying North with what appeared to be a light inside. Once over the mudflats the plane caught fire, exploded and crashed.

One eyewitness remembers: "The pieces of the plane were strewn out over a large area, several kilometres across. This was about 1 to 2 kilometeres out into the mudflats from Westernieland."

Three days later, about eight Dutchmen, under command of a German NCO went out to recover the bodies. All they found was pieces of wreckage, no large parts of the plane were found. Most of the crew were found between and under the pieces. They were brought to the dike where they were put into coffins after which they spent two days in a stable of a farmer in Pieterburen. Then they were buried in Westernieland.

A different account of the recovery of the bodies: Mr van Hoorn was one of the Dutch men that were tasked by the Germans to recover the bodies the next day. He says that the tail was shot off and that they found the crew in their positions in the wreckage. Apparently the pilot had tried to crash-land the plane at high tide. The next day Mr van Hoorn checked the wreck and the day after that they recovered the bodies and put them in coffins which they brought to the farm of Mr Boerma. The coffins were put in a corner of the farm, with black curtains around them. The local population came to the farm to bring flowers.

Two or three days later the Germans buried the crew with military honours at Westernieland. In attendance were the Mayor and the German commander. That same day an unknown soldier was buried that had washed on the shore.

 

 

 

The Bombing of Leeuwarden February 24th 1944

 

 

 

 

Only 4 days after "the night of the falling stars", (19/20 February 1944) "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden was in the front-line.

At about 12.00 hrs, 75 bombers of the 9th U.S. - Air force, twin-engined Marauders, dropped over 5000 bombs on the airfield. The runways were damaged, some buildings too, and the whole city of Leeuwarden was shaking !

And in some neighbouring villages, like Engelum and Beetgum, roof-tops were blown of the houses and many window-panes were splintered. After only 10 minutes, "peace" was coming back over the country side..... a fat plume of smoke was hanging over the base for the rest of the day, and that plume could be seen in Harlingen and the Frisian islands.    Willem

 

 

 

 

Photo 1 - taken "in secret" by a Dutchie, from a rooftop in the heart of the old city of Leeuwarden (in the wartime, photography and filmshooting was "Strengstens ferboten" (= forbidden) by the Germans, of course; and taking pictures of military objects etc., it could cost your life !). On the left you see the Roman Catholic St. Dominicus church (a/d. Harlingerstraatweg) and besides the famous and old "Oldehove", the sagged "Pissa-tower" of Leeuwarden (ever the tower of the St. Vitus church). In the last months of the war, there wasn't always electrical power, and therefore, during air-raid alarms, the great old bell in the Oldehove was in use as an alarm bell. For us the right side of the photo is important : that's the beginning of a fat smoke plume over the airfield - about 5 kilometre from the city - after the bombardment by Marauders.

Photo 2 - burning hangars etc. on the Fliegerhorst this photo was taken certainly "in secret", or by the Germans? 

Photo 3 - This nightfighter was never flying again, and the building was "trying to fly by itself" (fully damaged thus).  

 

 

 

 

Photo 4 - The remains of another Messerschmitt Bf-110, and a second hangar destroyed.

Photo 5 - More buildings on the Fliegerhorst Leeuwarden were "Ganz kaputt" !

Photo 6 - Civilian buildings outside the airfield were also damaged, in Marssum and Engelum; and 6 people were killed, others wounded (by "friendly fire"...).

 

 

 

 

Wellington HE410  from 466 Squadron still remembered by the people of Wirdum

 

466 Squadron's Wellington HE410 took off from RAF Leconfield at 1640 hours on the night of the 21st of January 1943 to carry out mining operations off Terschelling Island near the northern coast of Holland. 

Nothing was heard after take off and it failed to return to base. Six aircraft from the Squadron took part in the mission and of these only HE410 did not return.

 

Crew: 

RNZAF Flt Sgt G Emerson  (Pilot)

RAF Sgt William Robert Fisher aged 26 (2nd Pilot and member of 196 Sqn)

RNZAF Flt Sgt G Whitla, (Navigator)

RAF Sgt R G Prior, (Bomb Aimer)

RAF Sgt W D D Watts, (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

RNZAF Sgt H Hughes, (Air Gunner)

 

It was later established that the aircraft was hit by flak in the starboard wing which effected the performance of the engine. The aircraft strayed from track and flying at low level clipped a telegraph pole near Mantgum before finally crashing at 1820 hours north of Wirdum (Friesland) and 5kms SSE from the centre of Leeuwarden, Holland.

Five of the crew became POW’s but Sgt Fisher was killed. He is buried in the Leeuwarden (Wirdum) Protestant Churchyard in Holland.

Enfield resident William Fisher was just 26 when he lost control of his Wellington in fog near the island of Terschelling, one of the Frisian islands off the north coast of Holland. 

He has been immortalized after a street was named in his honour in the village of Wirdum on the mainland in 2002, which is near the crash site . 

Now, a Dutch organization set up to honour airmen killed in action, the Foundation of

Missing Airman Memorial Foundation (SMAMF) would like to invite his relatives to take a stroll down Fisherstrjitte in Wirdum, a small village where Mr. Fisher was buried. 

He is thought to have lived at 62 Inverness Avenue on the Willow Estate near Enfield Town with his father, William James Fisher, and mother, Esther Fisher. He was also the brother of Joan Silvia Fisher, believed to have been born in 1919. 

William Fisher’s Squadron - 196- was reformed at RAF Driffield, Yorkshire on 7 November 1942 as a night bomber unit in No. 4 Group, part of Bomber Command. It was initially equipped with Mk.III and Mk.X Vickers Wellingtons. The Squadron was stationed at RAF Leconfield, situated in the East Riding of Yorkshire, between the 22nd of December 1942 and July 1943.      It carried out many raids on enemy ports and industrial centres in Europe in 1943; it also flew numerous 'gardening' (mine-laying) sorties. On 19 July 1943, the squadron moved south to RAF Witchford, Cambridgeshire, as part of No. 3 Group and was re-equipped with Mk.III Stirling bombers. 

It was the custom in Bomber Command at that time to send a recently arrived pilot on his first mission with that squadron as 2nd pilot with an experienced crew.* (see Willem's note in his narrative below)

On approaching Holland, the aircraft's starboard engine stopped dead after being hit by flak. As the plane started to lose height the pilot saw open country and decided to make a forced landing outside Wirdum near Leeuwarden. 

Five of the crew members did survive that crash, on January 21, 1943, and were taken prisoner by the Germans. 

I do know that Will (Fisher) was one of two children and had a younger sister. He was born in 1916 and joined the peacetime RAF in 1934 from the Territorials... I'd have to have a look through his log book but I believe his elementary flying training began in 1941 from Sealand in North Wales.

He did have a go at becoming an instructor but was deemed unsuitable for the job. Regarded as an Average pilot....obviously not too average as the relevant authorities were gracious enough to allow him to die for his country.....average....nonsense...

Joined 196 Squadron in late 1942...November-December.

The Mining escapade was his first and last trip. I've read some commentaries   on his ill-fated flight...and they mention Will wrestling with the controls   before it crashed....not sure that is correct...as he was a Second Pilot....or Second Dickie, to use the language of the day...

Second Pilots went along for the experience and as far as I know did not assist in the flying of a sortie...so not sure where that idea came from.

More than likely, Will was killed in the crash landing...broken neck, I'd surmise...as there was not much left of the front end....and I'm not sure if the Wellington had dual controls.....or two seats for that matter....

At any rate, I'd lay odds on that Sergeant Emerson was flying the machine the night it crashed.....sadly straight into a railway embankment....hence the aircraft breaking into three pieces...amazing the rest of the crew survived....          Andrew MacDonald

Sgt William Fisher's grave at Wirdum

Douwe Tracker, a curator with the Frisian Resistance Museum in Leeuwarden, said: "Alas, the village community has not succeeded in tracing the relatives of Mr. Fisher." 

They contacted the Museum with a request for help. The Museum closely cooperates with the SMAMF, a foundation which does its utmost to commemorate the airmen who were killed or reported missing in Holland during the Second World War.

Two streets are named after men of that crew: "Emersonstrjitte" (Emerson Street) and "Fisherstrjitte" (Fisher Street). And that part of the village, with new build houses, is named "Wellington - buurt" or "Wellington Buorren" (last name in Frisian).  Willem  

 

466 RAAF Squadron, the Bornrif lighthouse, the Hollum Lifeboat and more stories in connection to Ameland, Wirdum etc. 

part 2 - The Loss of  Wellington HE410     (for Part 1 see page 14)

After a small “regular bombing intermezzo” on Friday 15/01/1943 - with 4 planes to the U-boat ports of the Kriegsmarine on the Atlantic coast in Lorient (occupied France) - the No. 466 “Aussie” Squadron was continuing their Gardening (mine-laying) - tour to Friesland’s isles. One week after that intense Ameland-trip (see page 14), also the 1st loss of a dedicated crew of their own unit (!) - for some of them even good friends - the island of Terschelling was on the roll again. 6 Wellingtons were leaving “Leconfield Camp” round about 16.30 hrs., on that Thursday afternoon (21/01/1943). One in this flying force was Wellington (Mk.X) HE410, HD-“T” (for Tommy), flown by Sgt. George Emerson of New Zealand. For him and his young crew it was their first war flight in this new squadron - and for some of them even their “baptism of fire”, and……. it would be their last flight too ! (George Emerson was an experienced pilot already, had flown 30 war actions in other units; and the rear gunner, Sgt. Hughes, was a Boulton Paul Defiant defender before). 

 The weather conditions during this “vegetable-flight” were similar to a week before: max.temperature  ±10° C. and falling in the evening (4 - 5° C.) after some sunshine at noon - wind speed & direction 10.8 mtr./sec. (6 Beaufort) from SSW and slowing to 6.7 mtr./sec. (4 Beau-fort) - air pressure  ± 1006 hPa. and sinking - some light rain spread in the evening (1.8 mm.) and, most important of all, minimum visibility - clouds down to 400 meters and mist over the coast waters ! (atmospheric humidity 90 % ).  

Arriving at the drop zone - in the meanwhile climbing up for some better orientation - troubles were starting immediately. There was a sudden explosion on starboard side, shaking craft and crew in a horrible way ! 

“Jesus Christ....Harold, Gordon, Dick… is everyone alright? Answer me now!”. Soon it was clear that no one was hurt - so far so good - but their flying war machine was badly damaged by a detonating Flak-grenade, fired from a VP-boat probably, one they never had seen in the fog. “Report damage!”. Half of the planes’ power was gone, because the starboard side plant, a 14 cylinder Bristol Hercules radial engine (1675 hp.), was knocked out; oil stripes were running over the side screens. And the fuel tanks on that side of the aircraft were leaking.

In such a way, the skipper ordered the rear gunner, “Sarge” Hughes, to leave his post for a period; explosive fuel vapour was coming into the turret! At the same time they were losing all contact with the other Wellingtons in the flight.

The crippled plane was struggling southwards, in the direction of the mainland (into the region of Harlingen city etc.) although this was not the intended route of the pilot! He simply didn’t have the normal control over the ailerons and the rudders, and in a dramatic way the Wellington was losing height too. Therefore it was necessary to get rid of these sea mines - the heavy load of those 2 risky cylinders aboard was manipulating the options left - besides, as long as  they were flying over the waters, they could drop them in the usual way, if all the technique for launching was still working (?!). 

Alas, it did not work as it should be….. damn!!! And therefore, the enemy could find the new type of magnetic mine now*, in their plane, after a safe landing - with God’s help - or…. in the wreckage of their plane, if they didn’t explode in such a situation…..(?!). “ Don’t think about to much! ”. 

* The recovery group later on, under German authority, was simply blowing up those mines, to eliminate every further dangerous situation, not realizing perhaps which type it was (?).

In fact the aircraft was flying in a wide circle, more and more into the East, and crossing the coastline of the IJsselmeer, South of Harlingen. And coming now over the mainland, the fog was gone; they could see the dark landscape, as flat as flat! This was really not bad at all for a wheels-up-landing. Thus, there was new hope for them? But then, suddenly great alarm to all: “Fighter-fighter!!”. Harold Hughes, back on his rear position, saw the dangerous shadow behind. This is it, this is the end of all….. Skipper George Emerson could not make any manoeuvre, they were simply a “sitting duck”. And what could Harold do, al the while with his finger on the trigger? If he opened fire, the Luftwaffe should react immediately and beat them easily everywhere! Maybe a direct hit in the fighter’s cockpit, on the head of that observing enemy pilot? For minutes and minutes, very long minutes(!), nothing was happening on both sides.The Messerschmitt was following, his “Flugzeugführer” was overlooking the situation and that was all. Maybe he saw the Wellington’s damage and came to the conclusion “these guys won’t make it very long”? Or he felt simply sorry for them? Or…. he could not bring his machine in the right position, good and safe enough for himself to open fire? (the Wellington was flying very low, in the “birds zone” over the Frisian grasslands North of Sneek). Then, as suddenly as he came, he fighter was gone !!!! Absolutely nuts, unbelievable…. Those airmen were very lucky for a moment, of course, although they realized this was not a guarantee for a happy end at all.Some minutes later - there it was already! - panic was coming back. Near the villages of Wieuwerd (Wiuwert in Frisian) and Mantgum they struck a telegraph pole. And great luck again for them, the wires of that line snapped off. But it was very clear now, the end of this crazy tour was coming soon.

They had to prepare themselves for the belly landing, because every minute the nose of the Wellington could hit the ground. “ Dear God, look ! Wires again, more telegraph poles, rails, houses…. a complete village!!.” Three men were hanging on the controls now, trying together to force these blocked rudders and pull up with all the power for the last time and to evade the outskirts of Wirdum. And indeed, they jumped over the double railway, over the wire lines beside and were making a perfect “stroke around”, away from the village…. then a rudder cable was breaking! The plane was flying towards the railway again, now from East to West….   

At the same time, about 18.15 hrs., a young Frisian woman was cycling homewards, trying  to arrive at her parents house before the beginning of “Sperrzeit” (the nightly curfew in which it was forbidden for civilians, by German order, to travel via the public roads without special permission; you needed a document, a signed paper what was telling the “controlling occupiers” the reason why etc., called an “Ausweis”). And then, between the villages of Wytgaard and Wirdum, she heard a strange sound for a moment, like the “grums” of an engine “running in trouble”. She stopped. But by doing better listening in the dark…… there was nothing to hear anymore. It was gone. Suddenly she heard other sounds, “strange whistles”, and….. AN  AIRPLANE  WAS  GLIDING  OVER  HER, so low and so large and black !  

There she stood, in the middle of the road, shaking with emotion; that unlucky bird was going down before her eyes, dragging its belly on the grassland, sliding forward, and then crashing with its nose into the slope of the railway Leeuwarden - Zwolle. Was it really true ?

While the plane crashed at the end, the skipper and the 2nd pilot, Emerson and Fisher, were both still pulling the control column in the cockpit, and Bomb Aimer Prior was laying on the floor, holding the broken rudder cable. Navigator Withla was behind them, like Wireless Operator Watts, and Rear Gunner Hughes was in his turret, so no one was in the front turret, the most unpleasant and dangerous position during such a power landing.

Sgt. William Robert Fisher, a fresh new pilot who was learning from this more experienced skipper, a guest from another squadron in fact, died immediately because of his heavy wounds (fractures of the skull). Sgt. George Emerson had lighter wounds and suffered from concussion. Sgt. Harold Hughes had a bloody flesh-wound on his head and suffered from concussion; and was for a short time passed out. And Sgt. Dick Prior was badly wounded, needed first aid.….! He had smashed his body through the plywood panel behind the pilot’s seat. The other members were more lightly wounded….. (most on legs and arms).  

That young woman, Margien Bennink *, daughter of the Chief of the railway station of Wirdum, forgot her bike and was rushing to her father first, because she knew a train was coming soon from Heerenveen, into the direction of Leeuwarden, thus also into the direction of the crash site. Maybe the line was damaged - she couldn’t see in the dark without a lamp or something - anyway, her father must know, to give a red sign to the train, bring a lamp and a stretcher too, and also more people, more hands to assist….. these guys needed help, that was clear!   (* in 1970 she was Mevr. M. La Main - Bennink, living in Assen / Drenthe, married to Dhr. H. La Main, and mother of 2 daughters and a grandmother too)

Skipper Emerson was outside the plane already, trying to get his wounded comrades out as well. This was the situation in which the crew was found, some minutes after the crash, by that young woman first, and lucky for her, soon by more people indeed, living close to the site and working or waiting at the train stop nearby. Her father and other personnel of the railway company, including men from the stopped train, were checking the tracks (Emerson warned them about these sea mines still in the wreck).

But all that time she was nursing Dick Prior as much as she could, till the moment the village doctor of Wirdum was arriving, and with later on more professional help (an ambulance to the hospital in Leeuwarden city).

As a thank-you for helping his crew-mate, from around his neck, George Emerson gave her a Polynesian Amulet, a “Tiki”, when Dick Prior was leaving for the St. Bonifatius Hospital. After a while the first Germans were arriving, arresting him and the other airmen, in the railway house - part of the station - of her parents. She always kept it carefully and in remembrance of that young air force man. Years and years later, after the war, she heard his name for the first time and she learned that he survived, and they came in contact again. A happy moment for both.

Mr. Hughes was the first Air Force veteran of W.W.2 I ever met, together with his wife as far as I remember (or someone else of his family?). He was visiting the Netherlands / Fries-land for a couple of days, in a “Wirdum - Wellington Reunion” (round about 1980?). My colleague history researcher and friend in those days, Douwe Sicco Drijver (“Tracker”), and I were introduced to him, in the new “Oorlogs- en Verzets - Museum” of these days (the Resistance Museum, in the Klanderij-building in Leeuwarden) by Mr. Jan J. van der Veer (historian and author of some airwar books) and by Mr. “Bob” C. Reitsma (also a historian and the founder / first director of the museum). .

But there were many more people in this meeting, so Douwe and I couldn’t speak very long with him, as long as we could for more details, alas.Mr. Jelte J. Mulder, a journalist of the local paper “Leeuwarder Courant” was in the meeting too, and he wrote more than once (long) articles about this story in the paper (thus all these details were coming to us also!). And he was writing about the “Tiki” too, during one of these “Wirdum - Wellington Reunions” (the foreign guests, the veterans, were staying in Restaurant-Hotel-Eetbar Duhoux, in the centre of Wirdum village, in the same time the “headquarters” for the organizers of the reunion etc.).  Willem de Jong  April 2012

The Crash Site

 

I found again the copies of the report of the commandant of `Leeuwarderadeel` to the (Int.) Red Cross about William Fisher; it's in the Dutch language alas, but I can give you some details:

Sgt Fisher´s body was left behind in the wreckage of the plane for 1 or 2 days, because of the danger of those sea mines. (A `sprengcommando` of the Germans was blowing up the mines first, outside the remains of the Wellington of course, before the recovery was starting.  

They didn't find any ID-disk or pass on him (his name was only known via the other crewmembers, who were POWs already, the first day staying at `Fliegerhorst` Leeuwarden').

They found a silver cigarette case in one of his pockets (no name on it) in which was some money too and also a photo of a `girlfriend` (also no name known).

He was buried 5 days after the crash, 26/01/1943 (time not written down), in plot 2, row 16, grave 4, in the local churchyard.  Willem

 

 The crash site today.

 

The 1971 Liberation Day Reunion

A Dutch emigrant, with some roots in Leeuwarden, Mr. H.G.T. Kraak, living in Licoln / Canterbury / New Zealand in those days, came back to Holland for a family visit (1970), and was making an appeal in the name of Mr. Emerson via the local newspaper. (Leeuwarder Courant). 

That's how all things were starting, the contacts were restored, resulting in the first visit to Holland / the first reunion in May 1971 (Emerson, Hughes and Whitla). Later on Prior was back in Holland to, and Emerson again, etc. etc. (I will make an overview later).

On the 5th of May,1971, on our yearly Liberation Day, the 3 veterans were visiting the NATO airfield Leeuwarden (former "Fliegerhorst" L'warden, where they had been prisoners) and they were making a "reconstruction-flight" by Transport-Beaver over Friesland (Leeuwarden-Terschelling-Harlingen-Sneek-Mantgum-Wirdum-Leeuwarden).    Willem

 

 Mevr. M. la Maine-Bennink laying flowers on Sgt Fisher's grave in 1970 and Wellington crew step forward to greet their fallen comrade

In 1974, Mr. Richard Prior and his wife were visiting Wirdum etc. too, in another "Wirdum Wellington-Reunion" (4 years after the first reunion with Whitla, Hughes and Emerson).

He made also a "reconstruction-flight" by Beaver-transporter, apart, Monday 6th of May, 1974 (take off from NATO-airfield Leeuwarden / former "Fliegerhorst"). 

He and pilot Adj. Gerardten Oever were really starting this memorial tour North of Terschelling Island, and were finishing of course over Wirdum (circling several times over the village, the railway etc.) before the landing on Leeuwarden's airbase at the end. 

After that flight he, his wife and some Dutch friends, were very welcome guests in the officers mess of 322 Squadron "Polly Grey", and in a modern flight simulator in one of the stores and in the crewroom of 322 too (the squadrons´ mascot, the `nasty parrot` was there). 

Colonel Harry Arendsen, the commander of KLu - Leeuwarden, was their host and guide that morning.

 

see Willem's photographs from Wirdum's  2012 Remembrance Service

 

 

Hampden Mk.I, P4324, QR-"P" (for Peter), of No. 61 Sqdn.,7 Aug. 1940

Hampden Mk.I, P4324, QR-"P" (for Peter), of No. 61 Sqdn.,7 Aug. 1940 - In the early morning, after a nightly air raid on Merseburg/Germany it was force landed on the Vliehorst (beach) of Vlieland isle, because the aircraft was running out of fuel (due to a long flight under bad weather conditions). 

The bomber was captured intact by the Germans soon after the pilot had launched a "red light" (flare) as a sign to destroy the plane to the two crew members left guarding it. He and another of the crew, an Irishman, were trying to find out "where in England" they had landed, but discovered that they were in fact in Holland!

The crew were captured by Germans of the West-Battery of Vlieland): F/O. P.D. Tunstall (pilot), Sgt. A.E. Murdock, Sgt. M.J. Joyce (an Irish National, who "escaped" in 1942 to the U.K.) and Sgt. W.J. Brock. The crew, including Sgt. Joyce, were made prisoners of war and taken to the neighbouring island of Terschelling for one night, and after that ferried via Harlingen, then transported by lorry via Makkum to Stavoren, and ferried again to Amsterdam (prison). After that they taken to Dulag Luft Oberursel interrogation camp in Germany.

On 28th August 1940 the captured Hampden was flown to "Fliegerhorst" Leeuwarden, under escort by Luftwaffe fighters. On the airfield the RAF roundels were quickly painted out and the plane was "unarmed"

Most of the Luftwaffe personel of the airbase came to look at this curious "trophy"...... 

One or two days later the aircraft was flown to Berlin / Rechlin, the testing ground of the Luftwaffe, for "total inspection"

 

PeterTunstall was captured in August 1940, and when a German officer reminded him that his war was over, he responded: “It damn well is not.” He later observed: “As far as I was concerned, a different type of war had started. My first duty was to escape, my second was to be as big a bloody nuisance as possible to the enemy.”

Tunstall was so successful in his aim to create trouble that, in March 1942, the Germans transferred him to Colditz, where he was to spend the next three years refining his skills in the art of “goon baiting”. Among his most famous exploits was the water-bombing of German officers from a locked room above the courtyard. Below him the Germans were holding a muster of prisoners, and Tunstall succeeded in landing his “bomb” directly on the card table where the papers lay, soaking the officer in charge.

see Daily Telegraph Obituary

 

Sergeant Mick Joyce, the air-gunner on P4324 says he stayed at Dulag Luft Oberursel until early 1942 when he was taken to a hospital at Kloster Haina. His MI9 report says that he subsequently escaped from a farm at Kaisersech but this story has since been amended. It is now believed that the Irish born Joyce, a cousin of the traitor William Joyce, was recruited by the Abwehr and released to try and infiltrate one of the escape lines – in this case presumably the Belgian Comete organisation. Joyce's MI9 report says he was taken to Liege where he met RAF evader F/Sgt Gordon Mellor with whom he travelled to Paris. They were joined by P/O Lorn Kropf and Sgt Alexis Stadnik and the four men were taken across the Pyrenees from St Jean de Luz on 18 October 1942. On his return to England he was awarded the Military Medal in 1943 and promoted to Flying Officer. The truth about his traitorous activities were only revealed after the War.  He died in Ireland in 1976.

Information from http://www.conscript-heroes.com

 

Sergeant Joyce's cousin was American bornWilliam Joyce (1906-1946). He was born in New York City but raised in County Mayo, Ireland. He became a figure of scorn to the Allies when broadcasting Nazi propaganda during World War II. In Britain he had been involved in extreme right wing politics but split with the British Fascist leader Oswald Mosley on the grounds that Mosley was insufficiently anti-Jewish. 
Shortly before World War II he fled to Germany and volunteered his services as an anti-British broadcaster on Radio Hamburg. The name 'Lord Haw Haw'was given to him in October 1939 by columnist Jonah Barrington of the Daily Express because of his sneering upper class English accent. There was even a popular song ridiculing him at the time called 'The Humbug of Hamburg'. 
In 1941 Joyce scornfully described the Allied defenders at the Seige of Tobruk as 'rats'. That nick-name was accepted as a compliment by the Eighth Army who later proudly became known as the Desert Rats. 
He was eventually captured by the Allies and convicted of treason. The charge was that  he had 'adhered to the King's enemies' by broadcasting on their behalf between 18 September 1939 and 2 July 1940 (the date his British passport expired). 
He was executed by hanging on 3 January 1946 at Wandsworth Prison, one of only three people to be convicted of treason by a British court after the war.
Listen to BBC recordings about Lord Haw Haw

 

Two pilots from No.1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit and the 'Great Escape'

Pilot Officer Alistair Thompson McDonald from No.1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit  took off in Spitfire A783 on 13th March 1942 from RAF Benson, S.E. of Oxford,  on a long distance daylight ‘spy operation’ with two vertically mounted photo cameras aboard. 

He was in service with 1 PRU of RAF Coastal Command from 30 August 1941 (first as a Sergeant). He is said to have had a ‘mixed reputation’, because he was, according to other personnel, a ‘hell of a pilot and a craggy little Scot‘.

While imprisoned in Poland, he was promoted to Flying Officer on 24th December 1942, and to Flight Lieutenant one year later.

After the war he lived in Edinburgh, were he died in 1965.

The weather was fine with clear visibility (more than 10 hours of sunshine were recorded that Friday).

 

A Spitfire from No.1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit

 

The unarmed Spitfire stayed at medium and high altitude, crossing snowy and icy Dutch Friesland, heading into occupied Northern Holland, and on to Northwest Germany and the naval base at Wilhelmshaven, tasked with photographing Kriegsmarine vessels in the harbour.

It  was downed by one of the Luftwaffe fighters ‘alarm-started’ from Leeuwarden airfield.

A victory was claimed by Fw. Ernst Winkler (his 9th ‘kill’), flying in a Messerschmitt Bf.-109F from unit 4. / JG.1. That unit was attached to ‘Fliegerhorst’ Leeuwarden from February 25, 1942, to May 8, 1942.

Although ‘unluckily surprised’, during the sudden interception, and by the local heavy enemy gunfire, the Spitfire pilot bailed out successfully in the last minutes before the aircraft crashed.

Soon after landing he was picked up near a farmhouse on the Stienser village side of the local canal, named ‘Stienser Vaart’ - and made a POW.

It had all happened in broad daylight close to the Luftwaffe air base at Leeuwarden, with all the personnel alerted when the burning Spitfire shot downwards like a comet.

It fortunately missed another farmhouse, between the ‘Aldlânsdyk’ of Britsum village and the frozen canal, and dived into the snow covered ground,. Although the ground was partly frozen, some small pieces of the wings etc. were recovered at the site by local people (mostly children), before the Germans arrived.

 

Our first picture was taken with Luftwaffe pilots at Leeuwarden shortly after his capture

 

Today, that Rolls Royce Merlin engine, and the cameras, are still deep under the surface of the grassland (probably 4-5 meters !), at a position close to the ‘summer harbour’ of the local water sports club ‘De Klompskipper’.

During recovery operations by villagers after the war, they were forced to stop their excavation work due to the high water level in the ground (some coming from the nearby canal).

With modern techniques and ‘heavy’ equipment, one day perhaps there is a possibility of recovering those two cameras, maybe with the ‘Germany photo shoots’ still inside. Pictured on left.

After some intense interrogations Alistair was taken to Stalag Luft 115320 III - Sagan (in todays Poland). While there he took part in the 'Great Escape' via the tunnel ‘Harry’ tunnel on 24th March 1944  being the 73rd man to gain freedom. He was unfortunately recaptured after a few days.  During miserable snowy weather conditions and without food and adequate sleep, he became hungry, very cold and disorientated. Soaked to the skin and extremely weak, he was found by local ‘home guardsmen’, who took him to the nearest police station.

Fortunately however, he was very lucky… at least he survived, while 50 of his fellow escapees were shot!

They were all imprisoned in one cell at Görlitz for a time.

History relates: ‘On April 2 (1944), officers from the Luftwaffe showed up to escort 4 prisoners back to the camp (Sagan). For what ever strange reasoning dictated who would live and who would die, Flight Lieutenants Alfred Keith ‘Skeets’ Ogilvie (Canada), Alistair Thompson McDonald (Scotland), Alfred Burke Thompson (Canada) and Paul Gordon Royle (Australia) were deemed worthy of survival’

One of his mates, another Scottish Spitfire pilot from 1 PRU, 24 year old Flight Lieutenant Alastair D M Gunn, the 24 year old son of a surgeon from Glasgow, also captured and sent to Sagan, was not so lucky.

At 0807 hours on the morning of 5 March 1942, Alistair Gunn had taken off from RAF Wick in Spitfire AA810 on a photo reconnaissance mission over the German naval anchorages around the Norwegian coastline near Trondheim, Norway.

He was shot down by two Messerschmitt Bf 109s from Jagdgruppe Losigkeit, flown by Leutnants Heinz Knoke and Dieter Gerhard.

Gunn bailed out before his Spitfire crashed near Langurda, Surnadal, Norway, and was made a prisoner of war. 

He was initially suspected by the Germans of having flown from a covert RAF base somewhere in northern Norway, and was questioned over a period of three weeks before being processed into the prison camp system.

He was then sent to Stalag Luft III and became a regular member of the tunneling team.

After taking part in the Great Escape on 24th March 1944. He was also recaptured near Gorlitz.

Alistair Gunn, who was last seen on April 6th, was murdered by an unknown Gestapo unit  and cremated at Breslau.

 

  

Willem's Introduction

14

Ameland in war-time

25

Texel  & Den Helder 

1

Friesland War-time Crashes

14b

Ameland,166 & 75 Squadron

26

Hindeloopen

2

Friesland Cemeteries

14c

Ameland Graves

27

Destroy the Scharnhorst!

3

Leeuwarden area

15

Terschelling

28

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 2

3a

Wirdum Remembers

15b

Terschelling 2

28a

Destroy the Scharnhorst! 3

4

Schiermonnikoog

16

Sage War Cemetery

29

12 Squadron in World War 2

4b

Schiermonnikoog  part 2

16b

RAF Topcliffe & 424 Squadron

30

The Runnymede Memorial

5

Harlingen

17

Vlieland Cemetery

31

Vuren at war

6

Kallenkote Cemetery

18

Jacobiparochie

32

Makkum Cemetery

7

Wartime Harlingen

19

Hampden AE 428, & Koudum

33

A fatal collision

8

RCAF 428 Ghost Squadron

20

Willem's War-time photos

34

Hudson & Ventura losses

9

Zwolle's ' De Groene ' group

21

USAF 44th

35

101 Squadron

10

408 Squadron's Leipzig raid

21b

68th Squadron's Casualties

11

Friesland radar

22

Rottum Island

12

Lancasters DS776  & JA921

23

Bergen General Cemetery

  13    Cartoons 24   Lemmer    

 

 

back to 626 Squadron

 

 

 

 

 

 email-address:  w.jong1@upcmail.nl

 

 

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