Text contributed by Doug Wanstall (firstname.lastname@example.org) Twitter
The picture is of my grandfather, John Wanstall who witnessed the dogfight and the plane belly landing. the reaction on Twitter and facebook has been amazing and shows just how much people care about our history, heritage and the brave souls that protected us.
The wreckage of the Messerschmitt Bf 109E4 (‘White 6’) piloted by Leutnant Heinz Schnabel
Schnabel was captured after his Messerschmitt Bf 109E4 (‘White 6’) was shot down and crash landed in Kent on 5 September 1940 during the Battle of Britain. Schnabel was a member of Jagdgeschwader 3 (1 Staffel (squadron)) and was an ace with six confirmed 'kills' to his name at the time.
"5 September 1940: 1./JG3 Messerschmitt Bf109E-4 (nr.1985). Engine damaged in combat with fighters during escort sortie for Do17s to Croydon and belly-landed on Handen Farm, Chaphill, near Aldington, 10.10 a.m. Possibly one of those attacked by F/L J.T. Webster of No.41 Squadron. FF Lt Heinz Schnabel captured slightly wounded. Aircraft White 6 + 100% write-off."
"Leutnant Heinz Schnabel and Oberleutnant Harry Wappler were two German prisoners of war (PoW) who made a daring, but unsuccessful attempt, to fly from captivity in England to the Netherlands during the Second World War. They managed to hijack a training aircraft and then attempt to fly to the continent, only to turn back due to lack of fuel. They were subsequently caught and later transferred to Canada for the rest of the war." - (info via wikipedia)
(Colorised by Paul Kerestes from Romania)
This article originally appeared on the BBC's World War Two People's War website.
The events leading to Squadron Leader HRL Hood DFC being officially listed as Missing are complex; contemporary records are now incomplete, contradictory and vague. By assembling the facts available, supplemented by eye-witness accounts and tangible relics, a clearer picture emerges which could possibly explain Squadron Leader Hoods true fate.At 1500 hrs on Thursday, 5 September 1940, Squadron Leader Hood led 12 Spitfires of 41 Squadron from Hornchurch with orders to patrol Maidstone at 15,000ft. Hood flew as Blue 1 of 'B' Flight, rearguard cover being provided by 'A' Flight, led by Flight Lieutenant Norman Ryder. The scramble was a hurried affair and, as the squadron climbed away from Hornchurch, a large enemy formation was encountered flying up the Thames Estuary towards London: He111s, Do17s and Ju88s escorted by Me109s. Other Fighter Command squadrons had been vectored to intercept this raid; the Hurricanes of North Weald's 249 Squadron, Debden's 17 and 73 Squadrons, Northolt's 303 Squadron and Stapleford's 46 Squadron.
41 Squadron Pilot Officer Wally Wallens recalls:
"As usual I was flying Number 2 on 'Robin' Hood leading 'B' Flight and, being unable to gain height advantage and position in time, 'Robin' put us in line-astern and open echelon port and attacked head-on, a desperate manoeuvre that could age one very prematurely. Within seconds all hell broke loose and, as the action developed, 'B' Flight was overwhelmingly attacked by the 109s.
"Only four Spitfires from 41 Squadron failed to return this engagement. Pilot Officer Tony Lovell had parachuted out of his burning aircraft over South Benfleet and returned to Hornchurch. Pilot Officer Wallens had force-landed, near Orsett, with a cannon shell through his leg and had been taken to hospital. One pilot was confirmed killed in action. His body was identified as that of Flight Lieutenant Webster DFC. Squadron Leader Hood was officially recorded as 'Missing'."
Reg Lovett of 73 Squadron
Another casualty of this interception and relevant to our investigation was Flight Lieutenant Reg Lovett DFC of 73 Squadron. That unit's Intelligence Report states that:
"A and B flights took off from Castle Camps at 14.55 hrs with orders to orbit North of Gravesend. At 1510 approx. enemy formation sighted about 1 mile to south being engaged by A/A at 19,000ft. E/A flying westwards in 3 vics, in line astern. A Flight led by F/Lt Lovett DFC attacked the rearmost formation. Leader commenced quarter attack, but as E/A travelling very fast it developed into astern attack at 350 yards. Leader experienced considerable cross fire and was hit by MG fire on the port side. Closed to 300 yards, but hit on starboard leading edge by cannon shell, and in breaking away a Spitfire came upwards almost vertically and they collided. Leader baled out and landed near Rochford, uninjured after a delayed drop."
Throughout this engagement, numerous aircraft fell to the earth below, observed by many military, police and ARP personnel, in addition to the general public. The majority of aircraft fell in the Nevendon area of Essex, adjacent to the A127, the main arterial road between London and Southend-on-Sea.
The ARP telephone messages recorded:
"At 15.30 approx. at Nevendon 0.25 mile SE Nevendon Hall. Machine Wrecked. Spitfire. Pilot baled out unhurt.
"At 15.30 approx. Wickford. Fuselage, part body and one wing fell Cranfield Park Road 400 yards SW Tye Corner. Wing bears marking K, believed British."
Further details were recorded in the War Diaries of local military units. The aircraft losses noted in the ARP records were also present in these diaries, but the following additional information was noted:
"312 Searchlight Battery RA: A wing apparently belonging to a British fighter was recovered at M177010. One British pilot picked up dead on the Arterial Road at M1710.
"37th AA Brigade RA: Spitfire crashed in Nevendon M180101. The pilots parachute became entangled with the plane and he was killed."
An eyewitness describes the eventsJohn Watson was working at The Old Cricketers garage in Nevendon:
"I could see and hear aircraft very high. Something fell into the centre of the junction and Mr Ryder, the proprietor of the shop on the corner, ran out and picked up what turned out to be a 303 bullet. As I looked up I saw an aircraft coming down. Part of the wing of this aircraft was missing and it was accompanied by a Spitfire wing. I was certain that I saw a complete Spitfire with its wing cut off, both tumbling down together. The wing came down in the direction of Wickford; the aircraft I believe may be the one which came down about 75 yards North of the present junction of Courtaulds Road and Archers Fields, on land now belonging to Essex Water and part of the treatment works. I could see a parachute coming down in the direction of North Benfleet.
"As all this was going on, my attention was drawn to a Messerschmitt 109 which was also coming down in a perfect tail spin and on fire. I looked back just in time to see the British aircraft crash down nearby. As soon as I finished work, I was able to visit the crash site of the aircraft. The Hurricane had been badly damaged on hitting the ground and I was not able to get too close."
For many years, various publications suggested that Terry Webster and Robin Hood had collided, but it appears more likely, given the evidence from the 73 Squadron report, that Webster actually collided with Flight Lieutenant Lovett's Hurricane. Therefore, it seems reasonable to suggest that the Hurricane which crashed a quarter of a mile South East of Nevendon Hall/Archers Fields was the aircraft vacated by the latter. This is corroborated by items recovered by Roland Wilson, on whose land the aircraft crashed. A Hurricane radio mast and Merlin II engine limitations plate were removed from the wreckage before the area was cordoned off by the authorities.
The fragmentary remains of the aircraft reported on the Northern side of the arterial road were found by numerous local people. Walter Smith found the seat of the Spitfire, used by the family as a makeshift chair for many years. Roland Wilson encountered the entire tail section of the Spitfire and, daunted by the size of his souvenir, satisfied himself by removing the rudder mass balance weight and stub aerial for his collection. More importantly, some weeks later, Roland discovered an unopened parachute pack in open fields North of where he had found the Spitfire tail section. The parachute was marked 'WEBSTER'. Roland handed over the parachute to Nevendon Police, who congratulated him for his honesty. This event was recorded briefly within the Brentwood and Southend-on-Sea Police diary:
"17.35 30.9.40. Nevendon. Parachute and engine of a Spitfire which crashed 5.9.40 found in a field at Nevendon."
Youngsters find Spitfire wreckage a day or so after 5 September, thirteen year old Sam Armfield and his younger sister, Brenda, were on their way through scrubland, known locally as 'The Police Bushes' on account of being opposite the A127 Police Houses. The youngsters were en-route to fish at a pond. In the wasteland they were astonished to encounter the virtually intact wreckage of a Spitfire which was lying on the surface and hidden by the tall bushes. The entire fuselage forward of the control panel was missing, but there was no other indication of battle damage.
"The Spitfire obviously couldn't be seen from the main road, otherwise soldiers or Home Guard would have been guarding the aircraft. I don't recall any signs of bullet or cannon holes and no blood or anything in the cockpit - we would have looked for that sort of thing. The tail wheel was clear of the ground and we all commented on what a good wheelbarrow wheel it would make. None of us could remove it. We all took turns to climb in the cockpit and pretend to fly it, but we were all reluctant to press the gun firing button on the control column. We were able to remove the gun inspection covers and discovered that all the ammunition had been exhausted and the webbing belts were slightly frayed from passing through the guns."
Brenda Armfield recalls that she discovered the severed port wing on the other side of the bushes, some eight feet away from the main wreckage. The wing had separated at the last inboard gun position and the Browning machine gun was exposed. Brenda used the small screwdriver from her sewing kit to take off the ammunition feed chute, which was already loose. The boys were jealous of her prize and made unsuccessful attempts to remove the gun itself.
Every evening after school the youngsters would rush home to play on the aircraft and make further attempts to remove various souvenirs. Although they told no adults about 'their' Spitfire, after about a week they arrived to find that the wreck had been removed. The engine of this aircraft appears to have fallen further West of the main crash location, near Great Wasketts Farm. Apparently, the Merlin was shattered and many fragments lay scattered about the impact spot. The engine was guarded by a member of the LDV, although Sam Armfield managed to obtain some souvenirs which have since been identified as being of Rolls-Royce Merlin origin.
Although the eye-witnesses have identified this aircraft as a Spitfire, the lack of battle damage confirms the fact that it could not have been Lovett's Hurricane, which had been badly damaged by the enemy - 73 Squadron Intelligence Report refers. Only one Spitfire remains unaccounted for: Squadron Leader Hood's P9428 EB - R. This may well have been his aircraft.
It is quite possible that the Spitfire discovered by Sam Armfield was that referred to in the War Diary of the 37th AA Brigade RA, although it is unclear why the wreckage was not discovered by the authorities earlier. The report states that the pilot's parachute became entangled with the plane prior to his death. However, there appears to be no firm evidence to confirm the recovery of the body of the pilot from this particular aircraft, or its subsequent burial. It is understood from the Pitsea undertaker, Mr Green (who was responsible that day for the recovery of a German Casualty, Hauptmann Fritz Ultsch) that the bodies of all airmen were initially taken to local mortuaries before being collected en-masse by Frank Rivett and Sons of Hornchurch. The bodies were then transferred to RAF Hornchurch for distribution and burial. The records of Frank Rivett and Sons were apparently destroyed during the Blitz.
The Luftwaffe cemetery
The absence of any records relating to local undertakers makes positive identification of the final resting place of this pilot difficult to establish. Allied airmen were generally buried in the graveyard at St Andrews Church, Hornchurch, unless it was requested otherwise by the family of the deceased.
Luftwaffe casualties were interred at Becontree Cemetery and it is here that an interesting anomaly has been noted. Within the Barking and Dagenham Burial Register, Entry No. 5176 records the burial of a Walter Heatz/Heatry (Register no. 5/09/11) on 12 September 1940 in grave B1:684 - the day after the burial of Hauptmann Fritz Ultsch. The GWGC have confirmed that they have no record of any relevant casualty and, consequently, the body has never been transferred to Cannock Chase. Interestingly, the original entry 5176 in the Burial Register has been altered at some time in the past and the name of Walter Heatz has been crossed out and the name Walter Klotz added in pencil. The name Walter Heatz then reappears lower down in the register under Entry No. 5206, on 26 October 1940, where the name unknown has been crossed out and W. Heatz added, also being buried in Grave B1:684. Given that some major errors were obviously made at this time, further research is currently being undertaken to examine the possibility that this grave may actually be the final resting place of Squadron Leader Hilary Richard Lionel 'Robin' Hood DFC.
In conclusion, it is believed that whilst attacking the bombers head-on, B Flight of 41 Squadron were bounced by JG54. The exact cause of Squadron Leader Hood's loss remains unconfirmed, although there is one combat claim by Timmerman of 1/JG54 which may possibly relate to this casualty. Hood appears to have baled out, but his parachute became entangled with his aircraft with fatal consequences. Spitfire P9428 then tumbled down, engine-less and minus its port wing, landing near the arterial road in Nevendon.
Whatever injuries Squadron Leader Hood sustained whilst baling out will never be know, but it must be presumed that they were such that personal identification was not possible. As it has recently been accepted that Flight Lieutenant Rushmer lies in the 'unknown' grave at Staplehurst, there are no other unidentified RAF casualties with this date of death. Could it be, therefore, that at some point between collection of the body and its eventual burial, a mistake has been made leading to Hood's burial as a non-existent German airman? I doubt we will ever know, but from the evidence available, and fantastic as this theory sounds, it has to be considered a very distinct possibility.
Few partnerships between our business and the Royal Air Force are as enduring as our partnership with 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron.
This squadron is dedicated to ensuring Typhoon remains a world-leading multi-role combat aircraft and sees RAF personnel working alongside our people to deliver its capability.
Today, this partnership sees us working alongside 41 Squadron personnel on Project Centurion, which will ensure Typhoon is equipped to replace the Tornado GR4 when it retires in 2019.
The squadron's connections to both Typhoon and Tornado go back to 2006 when it operated the Tornado F3 and GR4, before becoming a Typhoon squadron in 2013.
The squadron served with distinction in the Second World War, operating the Supermarine Spitfire built by our predecessor companies.
One of its pilots, Flt Lt Eric Lock, was the most successful RAF pilot during the Battle of Britain.
Many of you will know that we requested places on this year’s Annual Remembrance Day marchpast at the Cenotaph. We were allocated a total of 15 places and, to date, we’ve got 7 people requesting places. We will be confirming these places with the Royal British Legion in the next few weeks and instructions for the whole day will then be sent by the Legion directly to your email account.
If you have any ex-41 Squadron colleagues who you think may be interested in the remaining places, then please do not hesitate to make contact with them.
Wing Commander Tom Neil DFC*, AFC, one of the last of the Few and a regular visitor to the Battle of Britain Memorial in recent years, has died.
Wg Cdr Neil, who died on Wednesday evening (11 July), just three days before his 98th birthday, flew Hurricanes with No 249 Squadron throughout the Battle of Britain.
A pre-war member of the RAFVR, he is credited with having destroyed more than 17 enemy aircraft, most of them during the Battle. He went on to see further action in Malta, where he commanded No 41 Squadron.
Wg Cdr Neil returned to the UK to fly Spitfires over the Channel and elsewhere during 1943. Attached to the American 9th Air Force in 1944, he took part in the invasion of Normandy and remained with the USAAF until the Allies reached the German border. He later saw action in Burma.
After the war, Wing Cdr Neil spent four years as a service test pilot. He has flown more than 100 types of aircraft.
Wg Cdr Neil leaves three married sons, Terence, Patrick and Ian. His wife Eileen died in 2014.
A private cremation is expected to be followed by a later memorial service for Wing Cdr Neil and his late wife.
A memorial service remembering the 35th Anniversary of the bus crash, in the Black Forest, that claimed the lives of 6 people . Organised by the Spirit of Coltishall Association and well supported by 41(R) TES, the effort that goes into these services is greatly appreciated by the families and friends. The earlier photos are in Scottow Cemetery with the later ones being in a memorial garden near the school at RAF Coltishall, six new cherry trees have been planted and it is looking very good thanks to the SOCA members.
I would like to extend an invitation from the Spirit of Coltishall Association to those members of our Association who would be interested in attending this year’s Spirit of Coltishall Memorial Service.
There was an overwhelming amount of support amongst the 41 Sqn Association for repairing the 41 Sqn memorial last year and the lasting memorial that has been re-dedicated will again be central to the Memorial Service.
This year, the event will be on Monday 21st May 2018 from 10:45 am - 12:30 pm with the 41 Sqn Standard on parade.
Sir Chris Harper KBE
No 41 Squadron Association
Order of Service to follow.
The following Blog entry was made possible through Graham Limb, who supplied the text and pictures.
This is a tribute to all of the men who served with 6041 Servicing Echelon, who supported 41 Squadron when they moved from England to Belgium in December 1944, moving through Holland into Germany and finally to Denmark after the end of the Second World War in May 1945.
These were the supporting ground crew who endured the very cold winter of 1944/45 and attacks by the Luftwaffe to keep the Spitfires XIVs of 41 Squadron serviceable and ready for action. They were the engine fitters, armourers, air frame fitters etc who had to be mobile and ready to move on to the next airfield with all of their equipment as the Allied advance progressed.
The servicing echelons were set up to support the squadrons of the 2nd Tactical Air Force for their role after D-Day. Initially they were to be set up to be available to be attached to any squadron, but generally they supported their own particular squadron, which was included in their name i.e. 6041 SE supported 41 Squadron.
My father was posted to 6041SE on October 1944 and stayed with this unit until the end of the war. Previously, after being ‘called up’ in 1940 and undergoing training, he served as an Aircraftman engine fitter with 233 and 235 squadrons of Coastal Command working on Avro Ansons, Lockheed Hudsons and Beaufighters.
In early 1944 he was moved to 3043 Servicing Echelon at Hurn and worked on Hawker Typhoons up to and beyond D-Day in June 1944. When the Typhoons were particularly seriously affected by the intake of the abrasive Normandy dust, he was involved in the urgent fitting of emergency dust filters & Sabre engine replacement to keep the Typhoons flying to support the invasion progress.
In August 1944 he was moved to Detling, which was one of the airfields from where the many V1 ‘Doodlebug’ rockets being sent across from the Continent were being challenged by Spitfires and Hawker Tempests. On returning to Hurn in mid October 1944 he was soon transferred again to join 6041SE with 41 Squadron.
Their journey took them to B.56 Evere Belgium; B.64 Diest/Schaffen, Belgium; Y.32 Ophoven, Belgium; B.80 Volkel, Holland; B.78 Eindhoven, Holland; B.106 Twente, Holland; B.118 Celle Germany; B.160 Kastrup, Denmark; B.172 Husum, Germany and B.158 Lubeck, Germany.
Here are some photos of 6041SE from my father’s collection.
If anyone can identify anyone in any of these photos I would be very interested to hear from them.
My father was very proud to have served in the RAF and this remained with him all his life. He was also very proud to have looked after Wing Commander ‘Johnnie’ Johnson’s spitfire for part of his time with 6041SE.
Our sister Association in New Zealand has a rather large artefact undergoing restoration at Aerospace Bristol, Filton.
Reposted from Aerospace Bristol: http://aerospacebristol.org/freighter
Aerospace Bristol has returned one of the last remaining Bristol Type 170 Freighters home to Bristol from New Zealand in January 2018.
Designed and built by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, a total of 214 Freighters, and its passenger variant the Wayfarer, were built and used by airlines and air forces across the world. Sadly, only 11 complete Freighters survive in the world today, and this is the only one to be located in Europe.
Posted on behalf of David Walker.
If you have any quieries please dont hesititate to email me at:
Payments via paypal available by using email address email@example.com and include reference to the Raffle.
David hopes to raise enough money to donate the original oil paining of "100 Years of Seek and Destroy" to 41 Squadron.
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