View Full Version : German aircrew shot down over UK

29th September 2008, 18:09
Hi guys

Perhaps not normally openly discussed, but what do we know about German aircrew shot down over Britain being 'abused' by British civilians during the Battle of Britain, and possibly even later?


Chris Goss
29th September 2008, 19:08
Quite a bit, including being 'abused' by military personnel. However, some tended to be local myths whilst it is a subject that many would rather forget

Brian Bines
29th September 2008, 19:09
A few years ago I was in touch with a pilot of JG3 taken POW on 31-8-40 and he said Oblt. Johann Loidolt was badly beaten when he bailed out the same day. More recently in a book it said Loidolt was fired on while on his parachute as he neared the ground being hit by shotgun pellets. As he landed at Hornchurch Sewerage Works he was beaten up by members of the LDV.

29th September 2008, 19:18

Perhaps those interested may want to read this link: http://www.fortunecity.com/campus/dixie/921/PoWs/pows.htm

Not about possible abuse as such, but general info about life of German PoWs in England.
Perhaps a starting point to explore your question?



Andy Saunders
29th September 2008, 20:02
There are some cases recorded at NA Kew. Press clipping refers.

There are many other stories (not always substantiated!) of such treatment and I have had a few cases reported to me by ex Luftwaffe POW's. No doubt Chris Goss has, too. I don't have any particular reason to doubt the accounts some of these ex Luftwaffe men have given me.

Unfortunately, and however wrong it may be, instances of ill-treatment of POW's is a recurrent theme in every war.

Peter Cornwell
30th September 2008, 09:17
As mentioned, of course there were several cases of abuse (and worse) in Britain during 1940. The British are not immune from such irrational behaviour and when passions are running high you can forget about their 'stiff upper lip' and 'playing the game with a straight bat'. Sang-froid is French.

One of the better-known incidents took place at Kennington Oval on September 15, 1940, when a frenzied crowd of civilians (mainly women) attacked Oberlt Robert Zehbe of 1./KG76 a fact conveniently glossed-over, or deliberately ignored, during the making of a recent TV programme that preferred to perpetuate errors and repeat myths ad nauseam. One only has to track the fates of 'missing' German aircrew from aircraft that crashed in this country to find cases that defy rational explanation other than foul play but, understandably, these tend to be not too well documented officially. Conversely, there are also cases where the local hear-say suggests gruesome tales of the violent maltreatment of prisoners that does not stand up to any proper investigation. Witness the fate of the crew of the He111 down on East Wittering beach on August 26, 1940, who were supposedly shot dead as they emerged from the aircraft - an urban legend laid to rest in After The Battle magazine No.23.

So yes, these things happen in any so-called civilized country in war-time. The fact that they remain unpublicised so long after the event is largely due to the fact that documented history tends to be the preserve of the victors.

30th September 2008, 10:39
Thanks guys, most interesting.

I am aware that those who have responded are all well-respected air historians/authors, whose opinions may differ from my own - but I do believe that any such incidents that can be substantiated should be made known. Not from the sensationist angle but as facts of history. As Peter says, we know such 'abuse' occurred, so I hope more incidents will be reported here.



Brian Bines
30th September 2008, 10:53
A lot of the abuse cases appear to be by servicemen rather than civilians, and as Peter says a lot of tales turn out to be Urban myth. One story was that a Ju88 crew shot down over Portsmouth on 12-8-40 were excecuted by French Sailors and the bodies deposed of in their ships boilers. However three of the crew of one Ju88 shot down over Portsmouth were taken POW, and the body of one of the crew of Ltn Seidel's aircraft, which was reported as hit by AA over Portsmouth was washed ashore in France.
There is a darker version of the report that troops shot dead a 109 pilot as a mercy killing because he was trapped in his blazing cockpit after crash-landing.
Uffz Perez of II/JG26 shot down 30-9-40 claimed to have been shot/beaten up by troops after he belly-landed I do not know how true his claim is.
Fw Koslowski of 7/JG51 baled out badly burned on 25-10-40 and was treated by an off duty nurse who resisted the hostile attitude of other onlookers who wanted to leave the German to die. A case of both sides of human nature.
The surviving crew of the He177 shot down near Saffron Walden on 18/19-4-44 claimed to have been roughly handled bu US servicemen when taken to a US airfield.
The book Eagle Day by Richard Collier mentions a couple of 1940 incidents in Chapter 7 but these include the East Wittering incident dealt by Peter.
The victims of air-attack are not always likely to see enemy aircrew as 'Knights of the Air'.

30th September 2008, 18:42
Many thanks Brian - just what I'm looking for.


Andy Saunders
30th September 2008, 20:58
Along with others on this forum, I have looked at cases of numerous "missing" Luftwaffe aircrew during 1940 (and later) who we KNOW were killed in various crashes. In some cases it seems that the Germans were notified that death was confirmed, and yet there are absolutely no graves to be found for them - not even as "Unknown". In many of those cases we also know that grisly remains of crew were found, but certainly never afforded the dignity of formal burial. There is little doubt that in some cases the hostile feelings of locals and nearby troops may have contributed to this attitude and resulted in remains being thrown back into the wreckage, buried under a nearby hedge - or worse. There are oft repeated tales of hostility and resistance towards the burial of Germans in local cemeteries and churchyards although I have never come across any actual evidence to substantiate this. Maybe others have? I have certainly come across cases where the remains were allegedly treated with disrespect. Really just an extension of the feelings that gave rise to the treatment meted out to some Luftwaffe POW's. As Peter pointed out, it was a shame that Zehbe's unfortunate end was glossed over - nay, silenced - in the "Fighter Dig Live" programme.

Franek Grabowski
1st October 2008, 12:22
I believe that we should add to the picture any hostilities shown to Allied pilots, as well as actions of Allied pilots against German airmen. This picture will be incomplete, however, without mentioning attacks of German airmen on civilian targets and bailing out airmen.

1st October 2008, 15:43
Hi Franek

Good to hear from you. However, my main interest in this subject relates to the Battle of Britain period and associated 'abuse' handed out by British, military or civilian, to German aircrew.

I believe a number of Polish airmen were mistaken for Germans and were victims of such assault. I think we discussed briefly the possible death of a Polish pilot in this manner during the Battle of Britain. Perhaps you can add more.


I assume and hope that you have stopped jumping out of aeroplanes!!

Brian Bines
1st October 2008, 16:10
Brian and Franek,

One of the older books on the BofB referred to a Polish pilot (Franek Surma) who wore a ''Flashy Luftwaffe Jacket'', apparantly he baled out and landed in a tree near some Free Frech soldiers. They were going to finish him off with makeshift hanging before he convinced them he was Polish. This was in 'Fly For Your Life, the Stanford Tuck book, whether a myth or a line-shoot I have no idea.

Franek Grabowski
1st October 2008, 18:51
Brian #1
Well, shooting up an airman on a parachute seems an abuse, is not it? Any hostilities toward Allied airmen should fit as well, they were friendly fires, were not they? Nonetheless I do not recall any story of a Polish airman being killed on the ground in Britain. I recall a story of a man roughly treated, but this changed when they realised their mistake. Another story was of an airman hysterically inquired if he is a German. He told them to f... off, this causing immediate relief.

Brian #2
Never heard of the story. I have heard of some problems with uniforms brought from France - they were dark blue - that is all.

1st October 2008, 20:42
There is of course the case of Fl/Lt Nicolson VC who was shot at by the Home Guard whilst descending by parachute.

Andy Saunders
2nd October 2008, 00:28
Nicolson was not the only RAF pilot shot at whilst descending and there quite a good many others who were others who were "roughed-up" or abused when mistaken for Germans. (One was even locked up by the Police until his unit could vouch for who he was) One such case of mistaken nationality was John Ellacombe, shot down over Essex on 31 August 1940. As he descended a Home Guardsman, George Emberson, fired two rounds at him but thankfully missed. In Ellacombe's own words: "I informed him in very fruity language that I was English. When he discovered I was RAF he was kindness itself but when two Police officers arrived they were very hostile and aggresive and Mr Emberson had to restrain them". The point is, of course, that since we have known instances of such occurrences involving RAF/allied airmen over the UK who were mistaken for Germans then it is, in a sense, merely confirmation that this was certainly the kind of treatment sometimes handed out to Luftwaffe aircrew. In fact, I believe that such events could well have been rather more frequent than one might suppose. The concept of who the "Good Guys" and the "Bad Guys" were might have been surprisingly skewed at times. That said, for every distasteful deed there was surely an equal number of chivalrous, compassionate and humane acts from both sides.

5th November 2008, 14:55
My mom was Welsh and a nurse during the war. She said folks would spit and kick at the German crews whenever they brought them to the hospital where she worked.

You have to realize, these people were at war and hated each other for what they were doing. She had a 4" scar on her leg from a piece of shrapnel she received during a bombong. She was in Conventry at the time of the infamous bombing there, but I don't know if that's where she got wounded.

Funny thing is, after I was born we moved into a new neighborhood. Our neighbor across the street was of German decent (he was in the 9th AF) and my parents and him became the best of friends!!!

I wish I knew more, but she's gone now, along with my dad and all their brothers and sisters who took part in the war. I don't think I ever heard my mom say the word "Germans" without "Those damned" preceding it, for 50 years when talking about WW2.

5th November 2008, 15:41
You must remember that 1940 was a different era. As a child in the 1930s I was brought up to believe that there was another war coming with the Germans, who were evil personified. We learnt a little phrase "The only good German is a dead one", and no doubt they thought the same way about us.
Tinplate toys made in Germany had the legend "DRGM" stamped on them, which to us stood for "Dirty Rotten German Make". To be honest I was very doubtful about the EU because Germany is perceived as the leading light, so these feelings still run deep.

Joe Potter
5th November 2008, 17:47
A verbatim copy of an entry in Weymouth Crematorium records.

"The body of an unidentified officer of the German Air Force, recovered from the sea near Portland on Sunday 25th August 1940. The body which had apparently been in the sea for several weeks was in an advanced stage of decomposition, and consequently the Town Clerk and the Medical Referee (Dr Gordon Wallace) decided that the body should be cremated for public health reasons, and that no fuss should be paid in connection with the cremation, and no service held, Identity disc found on the body contained the following, BLGR/O, 67010/7.
The carrying out of the usual statuary formalities in connection with this cremation was impracticable in this case. (Note) On 18/4/47 information from Imperial War Graves Commission that the body was that of a A. Trutwin a German A.F. Feld"

His family are not impressed.

5th November 2008, 21:54
Thanks guys for your contributions

A most interesting collection.


Oxby R
5th November 2008, 22:59
Extract from Nightfighter Navigator. Incident on Malta, October 1942.
The RAF officer was F/O Merv Shipard RAAF. German airman's identity unknown.

'During another daylight raid, Ship was at the aircraft pen when a German landed by parachute about 200 meters away. As Merv began to walk across toward him, suddenly a dozen or so Maltese women appeared from the fields nearby having seen the German’s aircraft go down. They came equipped with a variety of tools for the job, including forks, spades, picks and other heavy field implements. Terrified of what might happen next the German pulled a small pistol from his flying boot and waved it around in the general direction of the menacing women. Shipard approached him from behind, and quietly so as not to startle him enquired what he thought he was doing. The German turned, and recognising a serviceman immediately surrendered his pistol, butt first. Ship then proceeded to wave the gun at the women, just as the German had done. He ordered them to go away in his best Anglo Saxon – which to his surprise they did, though probably a little disappointed at not having been allowed to mete out a little rough justice of their own. The German was relieved and thanked Ship - saying the women would most likely have killed him had Ship not intervened on his behalf.'

Apologies Brian, just read your initial post - and now realise you were looking for incidents inv German aircrew shot down in the UK. Reminds me of exams back at school. Never did read the question proper.

atb richard.

14th November 2008, 00:51
According to following website http://www.cieldegloire.com/jg_053.php
on 27/5/1940 Ofw. Artur Trutwin of 5./JG3 shot down a Blenheim east of Calais. Was he an ace? Me 109 Pilot?

Joe Potter
14th November 2008, 11:01
Ofw Trutwin joined the Luftwaffe 01.05.35, drafted to KG27, he transferred to pilots School 12.01.38.