Sunday, August 24, 2014

This Afternoon in Westgate 1940

If you were out for a walk in 1940, you might have seen Herbert Bischoff's Me109 of 1/JG 52 (note wild boar motif) make a forced landing on the edge of Minster Road, after his engine failed during a dogfight above the town on the afternoon of 24th August

This photo, snapped by a local air raid warden, caused lots of trouble and he was bought before the court on Margate charged with "Photographing the wreckage of a German aeroplane without a permit." Apparently the police and the military, keen on denying intelligence to the enemy were very disturbed by the number of people running around taking souvenir "snaps" but the culprit was "let-off" with a warning.

Pursued by RAF Flight-lieutenant George Gribble. Pilot Bischoff (see his account) hit a concrete anti-glider post before running across the stubble and bending his propeller. For him the war was over but his unit, JG52, went on to score more victories against allied aircraft than any other in the Luftwaffe, mostly on the Russian Front, so Bischoff was probably quite glad to end the war in one piece.

Herbert Bischoff. survived the war as a POW and became a prominent doctor, corresponding with local historian Dick Hambidge and the full story is here.

If you know the area, you can just about work out the position of the aircraft if it were still there today.

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