Author Topic: A Sobering Thought.  (Read 28 times)

grandarog

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A Sobering Thought.
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2019, 02:42:37 PM »
                             

         As we approach the Remembrance Sunday our thoughts and prayers should also embrace some of the tragedies and futilities of war that have occurred Many involving friend and foe in far off places and in this instance so very close to home.
         It was the calm late Spring evening of 10th May 1941at the Vitry-en-Artois, Luftwaffe Airfield in France
        Standing menacingly in the dusk was a Heinkel 111Bomber of KG53 “Condor” Squadron Luftwaffe. The aircraft fully loaded with Fuel, Ammunition and Bombs.         
        Meanwhile a young man of the German aristocracy, Luftwaffe Pilot Officer, “Baron” Walter Von Siber ,the Captain and Pilot was at the Mission Briefing.
        Aged 25, he was already a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and the proud holder of the Iron Cross  1st class and Medals for the Sudeton and Austrian campaigns. Listening carefully he learnt that tonight he and his crew were to run the gauntlet of RAF Fighter’s over Kent and drop the Bombs and Incendiaries on Victoria Docks, London.
       At 22.00 hours, Walter led his crew of fellow young men , Radio Operator/Navigator, Corporal Adolf Shurff…..Flight Engineer, Flight Sergeant Helmut Meister….. Gunner, Sergeant Edmund Wylezol…and… Observer/Bomb aimer, Sergeant Josef Fischer, out across the field to where the aircraft awaited them.
        As they climbed into their Heinkel the fearful thought they may never return to their homes and loved ones in Germany must have played on their minds.
        At 22.30 the Heinkel roared into the night sky, the crew intent on the mission for their Fatherland. Climbing steadily to 15,000 feet they crossed the Channel uneventfully.Walter the Pilot began following the brightly shining moonlit Railway lines across Kent towards London in the distance.
       His crew were fully occupied; keeping a constant lookout for the RAF Night Fighters they knew would be laying in wait to attack them. Just past Midnight Adolf the Radio operator spotted an RAF Defiant Night Fighter, approaching from the rear below them.  Being in there weak spot ,Edmund the Gunner was unable to direct defensive fire. As Sgt Copeland of 151 Squadron, the Defiant Pilot passed beneath them, his Gunner opened fire hitting the Heinkel’s port engine, which burst into flames. Taking evasive action, Walter jettisoned the bomb load and put his aircraft into a steep dive to try to extinguish the fire but was unsuccessful. Realising he could no longer control his aircraft ,at 1500 feet he gave the order to Bale out to the crew, then jumped himself. An eye witness from the Village said the plane looked like a Comet with a fiery tail streaming behind as it plummeted down.
        All Five left the aircraft safely. Probable due to the speed and low height, Helmut ,Adolf and Edmund were killed. There bodies were found in fields around the Village. Walter and Josef survived the Parachute drop.       
       At 22 minutes past midnight on the 11th May their Heinkel hit the ground at very high speed on Gore Farm land at Upchurch. When the Aircraft disintegrated on impact, the engines were buried in the ground.     
        Walter landed in the water by a local Brick field or Cement works,(Wartime Censorship) He couldn’t swim, but ditched his parachute and pistol before struggling onto a mud bank . Night shift workers who had seen him land, rowed out and captured him. He was very arrogant and uncooperative, even refusing the offer of dry clothes.
       Josef landed on the brickfield and was captured and taken into his hut by the Night Watchman. Josef offered no resistance and said he was 23 and due to be married in three weeks time. (He told the Watch man his name was Joe Schmidt.)
         They were both handed over to the Police and later to the Military. A report later stated “The two survivors were deemed to have low morale and were rather tired of the war.”
        Not surprising having been shot down and lost three of their fellow crew member friends.
        Helmut, Edmund and Adolf were duly laid to rest at a Military Funeral with Royal Air Force Honours in St Mary’s Churchyard. A host of villagers attending the funeral.
       Their bodies were exhumed over 20 years later, to be reinterred at the German War Cemetery at Cannock Chase, where they now lay in peace.
        Please spare a thought,  far from their families and homes.
        They died serving their Country with Honour, as did our young men.