- Contributed by
- People in story:
- D Chapman, Herbert Samuel Chapman, German pilot Lt Henize E Meake
- Location of story:
- Harleston, Gawdy Hall, Pulham, Flixton & Starston in Norfolk, Metfield in Suffolk
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 18 August 2005
I can recall seeing the RAF fighter aircraft when they shot down a German aircraft over the Harleston District in Norfolk. The German aircrew bailed out of the aircraft, the German pilot remained in the aircraft which I saw pass over very low over the houses and crashed into a wooded area at Gawdy Hall just on the edge of Harleston market town. The German pilot was interred in a grave at Starston village churchyard, near Harleston town. Many years after the end of the 39-45 war the German pilot’s body remains were exhumed from the Starston church grave and returned to Germany. The German aircrew who bailed out were captured as POW in the village on the outskirts of Harleston. The Germans made several raids by aircraft to attack and bomb Pulham airfield, and they did bomb and hit the big airship hangar at Pulham on one occasion.
I was born in Harleston, Norfolk on 1/8/1927. On leaving school in 1941, I was employed by Alfa Electrical Company installing the electricity fitting in the building and aircraft hangars at Metfield, Suffolk, airfield which was built for the use of the American aircraft. On wiring the hangars, we used to have to climb along the girders of the hangar roofs to fit the metal pipes for the electric wires no worry about health and safety in the war years.
The American Air force took over the airfield and Thunder Bolt fighter-bomber aircraft were stationed there. Sadly, many aircraft did not return back off their raids. I can recall seeing many aircraft return damaged and had been shot at.
I can recall one late evening in the summer time, which was double summer time during the war, when the USA Liberator bombers were returning from the bomb air raids over Germany, to land their aircraft at Flixton airfield which was a few miles from Harleston in Norfolk. The German aircraft followed the USA Liberator aircraft home and they shot down several of the Liberator aircraft which crashed in the surrounding area of Harleston, sadly with the loss of aircrew and aircraft.
I worked at Metfield airfield in Suffolk up to 1945 when I was 18 years old then I was called up for Army service from 1945 to 1948.
Sadly, I lost one of my brothers, Herbert Samuel Chapman who served in the Army infantry during the 39-45 war, he served in Africa, and was killed in action in Italy, with no known grave, his name is on the war memorial in Italy and my home town of Harleston Norfolk. I have his medals, The Africa Star, The Italy Star, The 1939-1945 Star and a Silver Medal 1939-1945. Army Service L/CPL H S Chapman served with The Royal Ulster Regiment.
Living near Pulham RAF Airfield which had the old airship hangar it was a target for the German air force, so we experienced several bombing attempts to hit Pulham air station. But I'm still here to tell my story!
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Rosemary Hamilton of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of D. Chapman and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
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