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15 October 2014
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One Day in 1940

by airmanLawrie

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Contributed by 
airmanLawrie
People in story: 
Lawrence Cohen
Location of story: 
Bournemouth
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A6385845
Contributed on: 
25 October 2005

The story I would like to offer for your website is of an incident that took place on Wednesday 25th September 1940 When I was 11 years old.

On that morning, I was on the beach at Boscombe with my father when we heard ant-aircraft gunfire coming from the direction of Bournemouth just 2 or 3 miles west. As we waited to see what the gunfire was aimed at, we suddenly saw a Heinkel 111 heading due south and obviously trying to get back to France.

As the plane appeared over the cliffs, the gunfire ceased and 2 or 3 Spitfires suddenly arrived at the scene and tore into the Heinkel which immediately nosed down and crashed at the tops of the cliffs at Branksome.

We witnessed one or two parachutes leave the bomber one of which I believe landed in the sea, near to the shore. We went to find the site at which the Heinkel had crashed, and discovered that it had come down on a corner of a large house called ‘Underwood’ in Pine Road, Branksome, causing considerable damage to the property. I remember seeing the twised remains strewn over the large garden of the house and the public were allowed to take pieces of metal etc. upon payment of a donation to the ‘Spitfire fund’. One of the memories of the sight of the wreckage was a heavily blood stained parachute which had been laid out in the garden.

This memory of an 11 year old boy was revived recently when reading in “Battle of Britain Remembered — issue 4” — an account of the shooting down of the Heinkel 111 G1+LR piloted by Oberleutnant Hans Brocker on September 25th 1940, but the icing on the cake, if you could call it that, was the discovery that one of the Spitfires R6915 involved in the destruction of the enemy bomber now hangs from the ceiling of the Imperial War museum at Lambeth, London.

To say it was a spine chilling moment when I once again saw the plane that I had seen in action 65 years previously would be a considerable under statement. In a recent visit to Bournemouth, I visited the offices of the Bournemouth Daily Echo, where the librarian was happy to provide me with site of the actual edition of the day.

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Message 1 - One Day in 1940

Posted on: 25 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Lawrence

You may be interested in these further details of the incident you witnessed 65 years ago.

Heinkel He 111P 1525:G1+LR of 7/KG 55 was shot down by Spitfires of No.152 Squadron and a Spitfire of No. 609 Squadron six miles north of Frome at 11.20 hrs, following a bomb attack on Bristol, the plane was abandoned at 1208 hrs over Bransome Park, Poole, following engine fire. The crew were Oberleutnant Hans Bröcker, Oberleutnant Heinz-Harry Scholtz, Uffizier Gunther Weider, and Uffizier Josef Hanst, all killed, with Uffizier Scharps rescued wounded after bailing out, from the sea off Branksome Chine.

Spitfire R6915 flew 57 sorties in the Battle of Britain. On 25 September 1940 it was piloted by Pilot Officer Noel le Chevalier Agazarian, the son of an Armenian father and a French mother. He was a brilliant linguist who took an Honours degree at Oxford in Jurisprudence in 1938. He was also a brilliant pilot, his first victory was on 11 August 1940, when he destroyed a Bf 110, then on the next day he shot down two Bf 109s and damaged a Bf 110. On 25 August he shared in the destruction of another Bf 110.

On the 25 September, when he shared in the destruction of the plane you saw, he also shot down a Bf 109. The following day he damaged two Dornier Do 17, and on the 27th he shot down a Bf 110. On the 30th he damaged a He 111 and destroyed another Bf 109 on 15 October. His final victory with No. 609 Squadron was on 2 December 1940, when he shared a Do 17, off Southampton, with Flying Officer Tadeusz Nowierski, also of 609 Squadron.

After the Battle of Britain he volunteered for the Middle East, where he had further victories in No. 274 Squadron. He was killed in action over Tobruk on 16 May 1941. As you say, his Spitfire from 1940 is now in the Imperial War Museum. His permanent Internet memorial is here http://www.cwgc.org/search/certificate.aspx?casualty=2095907About links

Best wishes
Peter Ghiringhelli

 

Message 2 - One Day in 1940

Posted on: 11 December 2005 by photoLawrie

Dear Peter,

Thanks for your reply to my story about HE III G1+LR (September 25th, 1940), I was most interested to learn this extra detail to my memory of all these years ago.

There is, however, one detail that bothers me. Given that G1+LR was first attacked at 11.20am, what was happening to it during the 48 minutes until 12.08pm when it crashed at Branksome? It does seem rather a long time to have been cruising around Southern England - any comments?

Thanks & regards
Lawrence Cohen

If you prefer, please reply to:
conway@dsl.pipex.com

 

Message 3 - One Day in 1940

Posted on: 11 December 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear Lawrence,

Well spotted! I hadn't noticed. I took the data from two published sources, but they clearly clash.

Mason, who identifies the aircraft as 'G1+EP' records that it was shot down at 11.20.

Ramsey in "The Battle of Britain Then and Now", gives the ID letters as 'GI+EP, doesn't record the time it was shot down but says "Shot down by fighters following bombing attack on Bristol and abandoned over Branksome Park, Poole, following engine fire 12.08 p.m. [he then lists the crew, same as Mason] Aircraft G1+LR a write-off".

I would be inclined to go with the second account, Ramsey's, which means, if right, that it was shot down a few minutes before 12.08 p.m.

Regards,
Peter

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