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View Full Version : Looking for Photos & Eye-Witness accounts of wipe out of Fairey Battle Recon Formation over Western Front on 30.09.39


Larry Hickey
24th August 2012, 22:47
Hello,

In the late afternoon of 30 Sept. 1939, six Battle bombers from no.150 Sqn/AASF had taken off from Ecury sur Coole under lead of S/L MacDonald to fly high-altitude photo reconnaissance mission over the area of Saarbrücken-Merzig. During the approach flight one crew experienced engine failure and turned back to base. Five remaining crews continued the mission and they were picked up by 7./Lg.Nachr.Rgt.12. The raid was reported to I./JG53. Two four-element sections from 2./JG53 were scrambled and about 12.00 hrs the English formation was sighted on an altitude of 7000 m W of Saarbrücken. Of the five remaining Battles four were shot down and one crash-landed back at base and burned out. S/L Macdonald nursed back his crippled Battle K9283 to the own territory and then he crash-landed. The aircraft caught fire and was burned out. The crew was wounded. The other Battles were: K9387 with crew of F/O Corelli, N2028 with crew of P/O Poulton, N2093 with crew of F/L Hyde-Parker and K9484 with crew of P/O Saunders.

I am not aware of any photos of these Batttle crashes, and am seeking same. I suspect some of these may have been documented by offerings on eBay over the years, but I'm not coded anything from that source that would allow me to hook them to these losses. I'm also seeking any published accounts from any British survivors from these a/c.

Who can help?

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator

Martin Gleeson
25th August 2012, 16:10
Larry,

I have not seen any photos either of these wrecks. In the 150 Squadron Appendices there is statement from one of the surviving observers, Sgt. Bates. I will forward it to you later today.

One somewhat puzzling point are the individual code letters for the five Battles. I cannot find any trace of them in the ORB, Appendices, etc. Could anyone please help with these ?

Regards,

Martin.

Larry Hickey
26th August 2012, 00:02
Martin,

Received your two documents--excellent debriefing accounts from some of the survivors of this mission. This was part of what I was hoping to find. Unfortunately, I have no info on the a/c codes. I'm still hoping to locate some photos of these crashes. I'd think that the burned out wreck of S/L MacDonald's a/c would certainly have been well-photographed back at base. Must be some shots out there somewhere.

Hoping for further info/photos.

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator

paulmcmillan
18th July 2013, 14:34
Martin

Was "Sgt Bates" - Actually Sgt T A Bates who may be Thomas Arthur Bates #580419 killed 21/11/1941 as Flight Sgt

I believe he was in N2028 with AC1 H E A Rose who I cannot identify

Larry as far as eye witness accounts "AC1 D E Jones in N2093" who may be "Dewi Edmund Jones #987879" - Though I have my doubts was interviewed by a journalist about the action while he was in hospital, recovering from burns; the article appeared in the Daily Sketch of the 7th of October 1939 and also appeared in Flight:


Flight OCTOBER 12, 1939
An "Eye-witness" reports, in rather sensational language, a story which he got from an R.A.F. air gunner in hospital. We doubt if the airman really said " diving up ": " We were a handful of British 'planes out on a reconnaissance flight over the Siegfried Line. The Germans spotted us almost at once, and their A.A. batteries opened fire, but we went up well above 20,000ft. and continued our work. We were three in the 'plane, the pilot, the observer and myself as gunner. It was a wonderfully clear day and we could see for miles. There were no clouds anywhere and all Germany stretched beneath us. Suddenly we saw enemy 'planes swirl up towards us from far down below. They were Messerschmitts—three formations of six each. We were outnumbered by more than three to one, but we prepared to give battle. The enemy began with their favourite tactics of diving up at us from underneath, machine-gunning as they came Then one of the 'planes attached itself to the tail of my machine and a terrific duel began. I could hear the bullets ripping through the fabric beside me. I looked round and saw the observer in a crumpled heap in his seat. He had been shot through the head. The enemy were using incendiary bullets, and suddenly I realised that it was only a question of seconds before the flames reached me. Then, just as my clothing began to smoulder, the 'plane behind us swooped up and offered me a lovely target. I gave him all I had got, and as the flames blazed up into my face I just had time to see him go into a spin and disappear down beneath me.
If I hadn't been on fire I could have easily shot down two more. It was real bad luck. But my pals accounted for three besides the one I hit.
'' Half unconscious I started to struggle out of my cockpit. I must have pulled the string of my parachute, for I suddenly saw it open and felt myself dragged out of
the plane. I got a nasty blow on the leg from the tail of the machine and then for a moment I suppose I fainted. Next I remember floating down while the battle
continued above me. I knew it was Germany below me, and I began to calculate whether there was any hope of the wind carrying me over to the French lines. It
seemed very doubtful. I saw a German aerodrome below me, but I couldn't identify it. Then, when I had got quite low, I heard firing, and realised that bullets were whistling near me. I was above the German lines and they were shooting at me. It was a terrible situation, but I saw that there was just a hope that I might get right past the German lines before I landed. They went on firing at me almost until I was on the ground. I released my parachute and started to crawl desperately to a little thicket in the hope of hiding there. There was a wood on one side and flat country on the other where the Germans had their lines. I saw the Germans leave their trenches and come running towards me. I thought I was done for. Then suddenly I saw that men were running from the wood as well. I recognised them as French Algerian soldiers. Both sides were racing for me. Most of the French began to fire at the advancing Germans, but one man came running straight towards me as hard as he could go. He picked me up, slung me over his shoulders, and staggered with me into the woods. I was safe but it was a very near thing. The pilot of my plane did not have to jump out until a little later and he came down in French territory safely, though very badly burned. The observer must have died at once. He was shot right through the head."

Finally can anyone confirm Sergeant G J Springett #561387 only survivor of K9484 baled out to become POW?

Newspaper reports of the action state '8 Parachutes' seen - But I cannot only ID 7

P/O Michael Arnold Poulton
AC1 H E A Rose
Sgt T A Bates
Flt/Lt Anthony Edington Hyde-Parker
AC1 D E Jones
Sgt L B Webber
Sgt G J Springett

paulmcmillan
18th July 2013, 14:49
Sgt Leslie B Webber

Eye Witness Account

Ellesmere Guardian, Volume LX, Issue 96, 5 December 1939, Page 2


PLANE ABLAZE
OBSERVER'S THRILLING ESCAPE FIGHT WITH GERMAN MACHINES (From The Guardian's London Correspondent) LONDON, November 11. A thrilling story of an escape from a blazing aeroplane flying five miles up was told this week by Sergeant-Observer Leslie Webber, who came home on leave to marry Miss Phyllis Popperwell, of Devonport. We were on a reconnaissance flight over an important point in the German lines," he said. Our plane, in which there was a pilot, gunner and myiself, was flying at 28 000 ft when we encountered Messerchmitt fighters. There was intense firing, but although outnumbered we managed to shoot down several of their machines. "My job was to take photographs and, acting to orders I continued my work as the fight went on. Then, to my horror, I felt the plane lurch as though out of control. I leaned out and realised that the worst had happened. Both the pilot and the gunner had been shot, and the machine was on fire. I tried to get to the pilot, it was impossible. Suddenly the machine fell into a dive. "There was only one thing I could do—to risk disconnecting my oxygen apparatus and jump for it. I worked my way to the rear and disconnecting my oxygen mask, jumped out. It was my first jump. "As I fell a German fighter dived towards me. I knew I was supposed to pull the rip cord at 7,000 ft. but with the plane still circling round me I was afraid that I might be shot down. By my reckoning I had dropped about 5,000 ft when I eventually pulled the ring. Fortunately there was a good wind and it carried me over the French lines. After drifting for about seven miles I landed in a field. As I did so, my parachute began to spill wind. I hit the ground hard, was knocked unconscious. When I came round, a group of French Army officers surrounded me. They thought I was a German airman, and each had his revolver drawn. Although dazed I managed to shout 'Anglais.' They examined my uniform under my flying kit and satisfied that I was not an enemy, began to shower congratulations on me,"

Martin Gleeson
20th July 2013, 04:18
Hallo Paul,

From the 150 Squadron Appendices (Air 27 / 1015) listing the crew of N2028 and their details;

Sgt. (Obs.) T.A. Bates 580419

Air 78-11, Part 1 confirms his name as Thomas Arthur. His service number on his card is somewhat faint but can just be made out as 580419.

AC.2 (WOp/AG) H.E.A. Rose 543870

Air 78-137, Part 1 gives his name as Henry Ernest Albert.

An eye-witness statement on the 30 September 1939 air engagement from Sgt. Bates makes it clear both he and Rose parachuted from their burning Fairey Battle. Confirmation that Rose parachuted also appears to have come earlier from a second unstated source.

Hope this helps,

Martin.

Larry Hickey
21st July 2013, 08:53
Hello,

Although it took almost a year, I've now got an excellent account of this action, including the detailed experiences of almost all the British survivors, and a solid account of events from the German side from the Heinrich Weiss manuscript and Jochen Prien's JG53 history. I've also got good photography from the German side, and an excellent 5-view color profile of Oblt. Rolf Pingel's a/c. He led the German formation.

What I still need to round out the EoE research on this one is:

1) Any account from the only British PoW from the action, Sgt. G.J. Springett, the observer aboard Battle K9484. Perhaps his story has been published somewhere or it is in his returning PoW info sheet?

2) Specific crash locations of these a/c:

Battle N2093 (abandoned over Merzig, Germany)

Battle K9387 (abandoned over Morhange, France)

Battle N2028 (abandoned over Morhange, France)

Battle K9484 (crashed SW of Saarbrucken, Germany)

3) Photos of any of the five Fairey Battles that crashed during this action, taken either of the wreckage at the crash site or while with 150 SQ in France, prior to being shot down. Any other general views of 150 SQ a/c or activities during Sept., 1939 would also be most welcome. I want to do a color profile of at least one of these a/c, preferably the Battle of Sq Ldr MacDonald, but any other would also be okay if photos of that one can't be located.

In addition, I need a photo of the Battle (K9283) that SqLdr MacDonald crashed back of Ecury-sur-Coole at the end of this mission, which was burned out after it crash-landed back at its base.

4) Photos of any of the crews, or even individual crewmen that participated in this mission on the British side. We have good photos of all pilots on the German side who claimed victories that day (five).

This material would enable the EoE Team to absolutely nail this important early-war story.

My thanx to Martin Gleeson and Paul McMillan for providing key reports and accounts of the British survivors, and Dr. Jochen Prien, and the ECPA for photos relating to the German side of this story.

Who can now help fill in the missing info?

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator

Larry Hickey
21st July 2013, 18:30
Hello,

Left an important aspect off my last post. We still need the a/c codes for any of the 150 SQ Battles lost during this air battle. Also, I should acknowledge the work of Peter Cornwell in sorting out the crews aboard each a/c and providing an account of each loss, including the two 109s damaged on the German side.

Although we have accounts now of survivors that bailed out from three of the crews, we also have no details of exactly where each man landed. This many not be findable, but there must be a French report on that provides a summary of the recovery of these crewmen from their landing sites. I want to map this action, and need as many of these details as possible.

Also, one of the accounts refers to the "Herrot" French Military Hospital at Morhange. The spelling of "Herrot" is not clear to me in the text; could anyone confirm the correct spelling for that French Military hospital?

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator

paulmcmillan
22nd July 2013, 10:54
Martin

Thanks for the confirming names of Rose and Bates, all I need now is D E Jones, Leslie B Webber and G J Springett

Paul

paulmcmillan
22nd July 2013, 11:21
Well found 1!

Sgt George John Springett DFM #561387

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/34465/pages/8001


Found another

Leslie Bartle WEBBER 564495

Martin Gleeson
22nd July 2013, 20:28
Hallo Paul,

And the last one is indeed AC1 Dewi Edmund Jones 987879.

He appears in the 150 Squadron Appendices in reports concerning the 30 September 1939 engagement as AC1 D.E. Jones 987879.

Checking this number in Air 78-87 ( part 5 of 9, page 62 ) we find Dewi Edmund Jones.

Regards,

Martin.

paulmcmillan
22nd July 2013, 23:14
Martin

Great ! Last one identified! BTW if you google "Dewi Edmund jones " you can find. Photo of him on ancestry.various News reports of the incident vary in detail but confirm he was a Welshman ! He was killed later in the war

Larry Hickey
23rd July 2013, 08:52
Paul,

Do any of the "news reports" add any detail to what we already know?

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator

paulmcmillan
25th July 2013, 20:46
Larry

Jones story is basically the same on all accounts (though he is never identified) it is just some say a bit different than others

such as he is identified as Welsh in one or so but not all

Paul

hanshauprich
26th July 2013, 11:44
There is an picture from the funeral from Saunders & Springett at Dudweiler.
Photo was sent via Red Cross Swiss to their familiy.

Larry Hickey
26th July 2013, 23:15
Hans,

Do you have a copy of this photo that you could supply? Springett is supposed to have been captured. Did he die soon afterwards in captivity? Do you know anything further about this. Are any photos known in Germany of the crash site for the Battle that was shot down on German territory, and where is specifically crashed? I would have expected that photos of this might have appeared in the German press at the time, and certainly there was likely some information published about the crash and the capture (?) of one of the British airmen.

Thanx for helping.

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE project Coordinator

paulmcmillan
4th August 2013, 01:39
Springett was not killed he was definately POW he is mentioned in Footprints on the Sands of Time: RAF Bomber Command Prisoners of War in Germany 1939-45

Paul

Larry Hickey
4th August 2013, 05:48
Hello,

Hans and Paul, here is what we carry on this one in the EoE Luft Loss DB:

"30 Sept 1939: Battle K9484. Shot down by Bf109s of 2./JG53 south-west of Saarbrucken during photo-reconnaissance sortie. (Pilot) Pilot Officer John Richard Saunders and (AG) AC1 Donald Leighton Thomas both killed, (Obs) Sergeant G. J. Springett baled out and captured. Aircraft a write-off."

Since Paul confirms that Springett was a POW, the photo of the funeral that Hans Halprich refers to must be that of Saunders, the pilot, and Donald Thomas.

Hans, do you have a copy of the photo to which you refer, showing the funeral of these airman, or have any other information that would help us document and illustrate this incident?

Does anyone else know of a source for Springett's experiences in this incident have been recorded? Perhaps someone has interviewed him, or something was published in some local newspaper after his release?

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator

Horst Weber
4th August 2013, 12:45
Hans,

... Are any photos known in Germany of the crash site for the Battle that was shot down on German territory, and where is specifically crashed? I would have expected that photos of this might have appeared in the German press at the time, and certainly there was likely some information published about the crash and the capture (?) of one of the British airmen.

Thanx for helping.

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE project Coordinator

Good morning Larry !

You can find this Dudweiler funeral photo along with more details on the website: http://www.flugzeugabstuerze.saarland.de/html/saarbrucken.html

For further information, please contact me by PN.

Best wishes !

Horst Weber

Larry Hickey
5th August 2013, 02:51
Horst,

Thanx for contacting me. I can't get this website to load.

I have sent you a PM with my personal email address, so looking further to contact with you.

Regards,

Larry

paulmcmillan
5th August 2013, 11:54
Larry


Try
http://www.flugzeugabstuerze-saarland.de/html/body_saarbrucken.html#Dudweiler



Paul

Larry Hickey
5th August 2013, 19:19
Paul,

That worked. Thanx. So now we know more details of the Battle and its crew that crashed in Germany on 30 Sept 1939, and the photo of the funeral. Don't know if it will be reproducible.

Now if we can find some similar material on the crashes that happened in France, with detailed locations, and hopefully some photos of the crash sites. Still no reference material for 150 SQ Battles from this period for creating a Color Profile. However, important progress. Persistence pays off.

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator

ClausL
5th August 2013, 22:01
Larry,

Found this http://www.hambo.org/lancing/view_man.php?id=69 on F/O Hyde Parker.

There is a picture of him and an extract from an interview with AC1 Jones.

Hope this can help you

Regards

Luc

Larry Hickey
6th August 2013, 00:38
clausL,

Thanx for the website reference. We had part of that material, but some of it gives additional information on the care of two of these men at the French convent, and their return to England to recuperate from their burns and injuries. We still don't know exact locations where some of the Battle crewmen landed, including these two, and exactly where their planes crashed. I would also like to know the name and location of the convent where these men were cared for before their repatriation to Britain, as well as more precisely where their parachutes landed them, and the place where their planes crashed.

Can anyone else help? The bits and pieces of this action continue to come together. The holy grail would be to find photos at the crash sites of all five Battles, and photos of the men either immediately before, or shortly after the mission, even if in a hospital bed somewhere. If all of this continues to come together I'd like to have color profiles of one of the German Bf109s and one of the Battles that were shot down or crashed, a small map of the action, including where the planes crashed and the parachutists landed, and all the supportive photography possible of the people involved. We've got good photos of the German pilots who scored that day, and a color profile of one of their aircraft, but not yet comprehensive coverage on the British side, although the accounts from the airmen are shaping up rather well.

Regards,

Larry Hickey
EoE Project Coordinator