Remains of DH Mosquito found

Poignant little story on MoD Oracle.
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Source: Ministry Of Defence

The remains of a crashed De Haviland Mosquito World War II fighter-bomber have been discovered in Milton Keynes.

Among the wreckage was one of the plane's Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, guns and ammunition. The wooden fusilage had long since rotted away.

The wreck came to light during building work on a John Lewis distribution centre. After striking a heavy object hidden in the mud builders contacted the police who in turn brought in the Royal Air Force when they realised it was part of a wreckage.

The RAF team identifited the aircraft as being from No 51 Operational Training Unit which had been based at RAF Cranfield in Bedfordshire. The twin-engined aircraft had been on a routine training misson when mechanical failure forced the pilot to bring it down in a field in what was then Buckinghamshire and is now the outskirts of Milton Keynes.

It took off on its ill-fated cross country night flight at 1735hrs on 14 January 1945. Pilot Warrant Officer Gavin Harvie and navigator Sergeant Martin Sydney Card quickly discovered that some of the Mosquito's equipment was malfunctioning and radioed a distress call just minutes into the flight.

Changing course, they turned back towards RAF Cranfield while talking to the ground controllers. The radio transmission suddenly went dead and a flash was seen from the crash site.

John Munnelly, Senior Project Manager of the distribution centre said that uncovering the wreckage 60 years later was emotional:

"It was a moving experience being shown the crash site of the aircraft, especially given that it is exactly where the entrance to the site will be located."

There are now plans to mark the crash site with a plaque at the distribution centre's entrance while the Mosquito's engine will be displayed in the central estate office of the logistics park on which the John Lewis distribution centre will stand. John said:

"It is fitting that we should commemorate the lives of the two crew members."

This article was written by Heath Reidy and is reproduced with permission of the John Lewis Distribution Chronicle.
I've found yet another obscure RAF story...!
Nottingham Evening Post
21 March 2007

Barely two months before the end of the war in Europe, the Germans mounted a major air offensive over British soil. ANDY SMART reports on a local connection to Operation Gisela

The Luftwaffe called it Operation Gisela, a last desperate attempt to strike a blow against Bomber Command in the final days of the Second World War. Had the German High Command dreamed it up earlier, the strategic bombing campaign against German cities and industry might have ground to a halt, so effective was the tactic.

The operation which became known as the Night of the Intruders, was launched on March 4, 1945. Around 200 Junkers JU88 of the Nachtjagdeschwader Gruppen - nightfighter destroyer group - took off with orders to intercept Allied bombers as they were returning to their home bases ... low on fuel, low on ammunition, at their most vulnerable.

From the Thames Estuary to the North Yorkshire moors, the deadly fighters streamed across the English east coast, undetected by radar stations who, perhaps not expecting the decimated Luftwaffe to mount such a force so late in the war, had become dangerously complacent.

In the dark skies, they waited for their prey.

It was a busy night for the RAF with more than 780 bombers in the air.

Targets included a synthetic oil producing plant at Kamen, the Dortmund Elms canal, mine-laying over the Kattegat and Oslo Fjord, and supply drops to resistance forces.

It was a clear night but the RAF missions were successful, only nine aircraft being lost on the raids.

The huge force turned for home.

Although the resistance of the Luftwaffe was by now minimal, bomber crews had nevertheless been warned to beware of nightfighters.

Yet despite these warnings, as they crossed the coast the lead bombers switched on their navigation lights earlier than normal ... and the aircraft following behind did the same.

They became bright targets.

The Junkers swept in and during the next couple of hours, downed 19 RAF bombers which had taken part in the raids - and picked on any other targets while they were over here.

In the early hours of March 5, a few miles south of Nottingham, a Lancaster III identified by the number LM748 was spotted.

JU 88s swooped down and blasted the Lancaster out of the sky. It plunged to earth around Stapleford. All seven crew members were killed.

They were later identified as Flight Sergeant A E Lutz RAAF, Ft Sgt H F Cox, from Birmingham; Flying Officer J A C Chapman, Sgts F Shaw, A F Wawby, H Frost (Suffolk), and A G Davey. According to official records, Lutz was later buried in Oxford Cemetery, the other bodies being returned to next of kin.

In total the RAF lost five aircraft on training flights that night, bringing the deadly total to 24 lost over England.

But, from the Luftwaffe's point of view, the operation was hardly a success. RAF Mosquitos were scrambled to intercept the raiders and 25 JU 88s were destroyed.

The night of Operation Gisela is also notable for an incident which occurred near Elvington airfield in Yorkshire which came under attack from a JU 88 piloted by German war hero Johann Dreher.

He had already chalked up two victories that night when he went after a French 347 Squadron Halifax. Dreher's luck was out, the French crew escaped, leaving the sulking German to seek other targets in the area.

Flying low, he strafed a nearby road in a bid to take out a passing taxi before making another pass over the airfield. But this time he made a fatal miscalculation, his aircraft clipped a tree and crashed into a farmhouse, killing a farmer, his wife and daughter.

The JU 88 piloted by Hauptmann Johann Dreyer (Iron Cross), thus became the last German aircraft to crash on British soil during the war.

Details of Operation Gisela, and particularly the Lancaster downed over Stapleford, have been provided by Mr F Newbold of Beeston who asks: "I wonder if there is anybody left who can remember the exact location."

If you remember the incident, write to Andy Smart at Bygones, Evening Post, Nottingham NG1 7EU or e-mail .


War Hero
.....and funnily enough RAF Swanton Morley (now Robertson Barracks) was the location of the last bombs dropped on the UK by German aircraft during WW2. All on the same night.
The crew of one (or two, i forget) is buried at Scampton church near RAF Scampton.

From Martin Middlebrook's "The bomber command war diaries"

The Luftwaffe mounted their Operation Gisella on this night, sending approximately 200 night fighters to follow the various bomber forces to England. This move took the British defences partly by surprise and the Germans shot down 20 bombers - 8 Halifaxes of 4 Group, 2 Lancasters of 5 Group, 3 Halifaxes, 1 Fortress and 1 Mosquito of 100 Group and 2 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes from Heavy Conversion Units which had been taking part in the diversionary sweep. 3 of the German fighters crashed, through flying too low."

Clikety click


War Hero
The 2 x Lancs of 5 Group were from 115 Sqn at RAF Witchford near Ely in Cambs. Both were shot down in the circuit with all crew members killed.

Someone still mourns this event as there was a wreath on the Witchford Memorial to a crew member from one of these aircraft last year. Very sad that they died so close to 'home'.

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