Military Aviation Heritage Network

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We have a few spaces left for our wonderful   Lunch on 14th December. Why not treat yourself this year? Dine on some gre...
05/11/2023

We have a few spaces left for our wonderful Lunch on 14th December. Why not treat yourself this year? Dine on some great food, exactly where the chaps did in WW1. Contact [email protected] to make a booking.
Image: D Stretton

Check https://fb.me/e/38OQh5ApJ

On Tuesday 31st October 2023 we were pleased to welcome amongst the many visitors, Paul Woolf, all the way from Newcastl...
04/11/2023

On Tuesday 31st October 2023 we were pleased to welcome amongst the many visitors, Paul Woolf, all the way from Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, and on his second visit to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust (www.kbobm.org) at Hawkinge this year.

Following his earlier visit this year, he contacted Dave and mentioned that he was friends of a nephew of Pilot Officer John Dallas Crossman who flew with No. 32 and No. 46 Squadron during the Battle of Britain. P/O Crossman was sadly shot down and killed on 30th September 1940 and a few fragments from his Hurricane Mk. I, Serial No. V6748, are already on display in the Operation Block. Paul mentioned that the nephew had a few personal effects and that he would be interested in presenting these to the Museum, to enhance the display commemorating his life.

Well Tuesday was the day that Paul visited, and Dave picked him up from the train station in Folkestone at just after 10.30am. Paul spent the rest of his day wandering around the Museum and very kindly, on behalf of Peter and David Bowden, presented Dave in front of the display commemorating P/O John D. Crossman’s, John’s RAF Side Cap, RAF Peak Cap Badge and Cap Band, and a photograph of his Course taken at Flying Training School, RAF College, Cranwell. Amazingly there are two photographs of P/O Crossman wearing the very Side Cap and the Peak Cap and these items will be added to the display giving P/O Crossman a bigger and fair better memorial within the Museum.

The Volunteers at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust would like to sincerely thank Peter Bowden, David Bowden and of course Paul Woolf, for their very kind donation and in doing so helping us provide a bigger and better Memorial to another member of ‘The Few.’

Here is the story of John Crossman’s short life: -

John Dallas Crossman was born on 20th March 1919 at Mossman, Queensland, Australia, the son of George E. and Gladys A. Crossman. He was educated at Cook’s Hill Primary School and Newcastle Boys’ High School in New South Wales. On his second attempt, he was accepted for a Short Service Commission in the RAF and sailed for Great Britain on 12th August 1939. His initial training commenced at No. 9 EFTS on 30th October 1939, followed by FTS at Cranwell on 10th April 1940. At the end of this course, he was posted directly to No.32 squadron on 15th July 1940, having never flown a monoplane fighter. On 25th July he flies his first Hurricane, leaving No. 32 Squadron on 2nd August for training on monoplane fighters at No. 5 Operational Training Unit, Ashton Down. He rejoined No.32 Squadron on 26th August, going north with them on 12th September to Acklington and was posted to No.46 Squadron on 12th September, at Stapleford Tawney.

He had his first dogfight on 14th September after which he wrote, ‘In action for the first time today – was scared stiff and panicky’. The following day, 15th September, he claimed a Dornier Do 17 probably destroyed and wrote: ‘Ordered off just before lunch today. Rain into hundreds of Jerry kites at about 19,000 feet. Three of us were going round to do head on attacks on some Do 215’s. I lost speed spun down 6,000 feet, came out near twenty more Do 215s escorted by about 60 Me 109s. Three of the 109s came after us. I evaded them, came round, did a stern attack on the 215s. put all my shots into one of them, set his port engine on fire and saw him go down. Cleared off them to re-arm. Wasn’t going to stay round on my own with 60 Me 109s around. Coming back to re-arm saw a bomb make a direct hit on a gasometer just north of Thames. It went up with a woof and the flames must have been 500 feet high.’

On Monday 30th September 1940 his luck ran out when he was shot down by Messerschmitt Bf 109E’s. His Hurricane Mk. I, Serial No. V6748 of No.46 squadron crashed in flames at 1.30pm at Tablehurst Farm, Forest Row, Sussex, carry P/O John D. Crossman to his death. He was 22 years old and is buried in Chalfont St. Giles Churchyard, Buckinghamshire, close to where his English aunts lived. He was the 11th Australian airmen, to be killed in the Battle.

Edmund Wimperis was painting a water-colour scene at Tablehurst Farm when Crossman’s Hurricane crashed directly in front of him. He finished the painting, including the burnt out remains of the aircraft and after finding out who the pilot was, sent the painting to Crossman’s parents and girlfriend in Newcastle, New South Wales.

John Crossman kept a diary and his last entry, on 29th September 1940, read: - ‘Went to a dance in Romford six miles away last night. Left there at 11.30 and coming back took wrong turn and must have done a round tour of Essex. Finally got back here at 0245 this morning. Very quiet day – went up once – saw nothing. I have contracted a lousy cold – damn nuisance.’ He was killed the following afternoon.

Of Interest: when we unveiled the ‘Spirit of The Few’ Monument on 29th July 2022, we were very fortunate to have four Hurricanes displaying overhead. One of these is painted in the colour of P/O John Crossman’s Hurricane Serial No. V6748!

If you are a family member of one of ‘The Few’ and have anything you would consider donating, it will not only help to commemorate your forefather but help us educate younger generations for many years to come.

Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome is a key part of the   of Essex, England and Europe. It's an accredited museum, an award...
04/11/2023

Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome is a key part of the of Essex, England and Europe. It's an accredited museum, an award-winning volunteering project and a bustling local spot for grabbing a and a bite to eat. We open at 10am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
See you there.

Can you help our friends at the National Memorial to The Few at Capel-le-Ferne? They need someone locally with a rough t...
03/11/2023

Can you help our friends at the National Memorial to The Few at Capel-le-Ferne? They need someone locally with a rough terrain forklift, some strops, and driver, for about around one to two hours, to lift their Spitfire replica onto some pallets (they also need to borrow around 20 pallets) so the damaged undercarriage can be reattached.

Sadly, the winds took its toll on the Spitfire yesterday, Thursday 2nd November 2023, during Storm Cairan and she has ended up on her belly once again. This sadly happened previously in January 2021 after Capel-le-Ferne was battered by another storm.

Dave at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust (www.kbobm.org) at Hawkinge had a message yesterday from Jules Gomez, the Site Manager at the Memorial, breaking the sad news.

This morning and before the Museum opened for the day, Dave nipped up to Capel and had a look at the Spitfire and is confident the damage isn’t as bad as it looks and can be easily repaired with the help of the local community, maybe a local farmer with a rough terrain forklift. With additional help from Eric Cook of Cook Fabrications, who is kindly attending site this afternoon and will be supporting the Memorial with the welding requirements for the required repairs.

The collapsed has been caused by the Spitfire being choked on her main wheels, but not sadly on her tail wheel, which has caused the aircraft to rock back and forth until it caused the weakest point to give way, causing the aircraft to land on her belly.

So do you know anyone with a rough terrain forklift and some pallets that would consider donating a few hours to help the National Memorial to The Few at Capel-le-Ferne?

If you do, can you drop Dave a note here or pm him through the page or email him via: [email protected]. Dave can then arrange to meet the person on site to have a look at the work required and then arrange a suitable day to undertake the work.

Many Thanks...

Have you begun to stock up on   gifts yet? Why not pop down to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome? You can roam around the ...
03/11/2023

Have you begun to stock up on gifts yet? Why not pop down to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome? You can roam around the shop and enjoy our famous Airmen's Mess Cafe without visiting the exhibitions if you are in a rush. No fee for that, or car parking either. We open at 10am.

Just to let you all know that Storm Ciaran passed with out any damage to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust (www.kb...
02/11/2023

Just to let you all know that Storm Ciaran passed with out any damage to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust (www.kbobm.org) at Hawkinge.

Dave was up from midnight, regularly checking the tie downs on the Heinkel He 111H-16, Junkers Ju 52/3M (CASA 352L), Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV (Bolingbroke) and our three Gate Guardian Hurricanes. On occasions when they worked themselves loose, he was on hand to retie the ropes or to re wind the tie down buckles. A very wet and windy night but meant all our aircraft survived intact and without any damage.

Dave kept an eye on the weather forecast and as all agreed that the winds would subside by 10am and there was no damage on site, he took the decision to open today as normal and thankfully the forecasts proved to be correct. We also appreciate that many of our visitors travel from around the world, so we feel duty bound to open if the site is safe and secure.

Sadly around 12.30pm we had an unexpected power cut, which last for around two hours. This meant that we could only allow visitors into the two hangars and in the grounds, as the Operation Block, Armoury and V1 and V2 Display Nissen Huts do not have any windows. Thankfully all the emergency lighting worked, and with massive thanks to Bryan Sutton, who checks these monthly and including the November check yesterday.

With no electricity, we obviously had no lights, no means to take electronic payments, and Jenny and Tony could not operate the No. 25 Squadron Mess and Tea Rooms, so we had to make the difficult decision to close for any further entry and apologise to those already visiting. Thankfully power was restored at around 2.30pm and those within the Museum were able to complete their visits.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day, and we are very pleased to report that we will be back and fully open to anyone who would like to visit the largest and most comprehensive collection of Battle of Britain memorabilia on show anywhere in the world.

For everything you need to know about the Museum, the Museum Shop, the No. 25 Squadron Mess and Tea Rooms, please have a look at and browse through our excellent and informative website: www.kbobm.org

The Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm, with last entry by 3pm. Closed on Mondays. Please remember we close for the winter on Sunday 12th November for the 2023 Season. Back open from Good Friday 29th March for the 2024 Season.

We are down to the last few tickets for our fantastic   event, presented by  . A torchlight tour, an animated epic, a ca...
02/11/2023

We are down to the last few tickets for our fantastic event, presented by . A torchlight tour, an animated epic, a cafe, a local brewer with some great beer - all wrapped up in an iconic venue. Why would you miss out?
Tickets advance only -

A unique chance for music fans! We invite you to a special screening of The War to End all Wars - an animated film by Metal band Sabaton!

Latest update from the Battle of Britain Memorial in Capel-le-Ferne. This is your chance to book a free space for a scre...
01/11/2023

Latest update from the Battle of Britain Memorial in Capel-le-Ferne.

This is your chance to book a free space for a screening of ‘The King’s Machine’, which will be shown at 2pm on Sunday 19 November at the Battle of Britain Memorial ✈️

This is your chance to book a free space for a screening of ‘The King’s Machine’, which will be shown at 2pm on Sunday 19 November at the Battle of Britain Memorial ✈️

This is the first of an occasional series of iconic films being screened at this iconic venue. Filmmaker Phillip Day has said the film “traces the fascinating story of two young men from Yorkshire who went to the same school before the war and who signed up into the RAF Volunteer Reserve, one in a Spitfire, the other in a Hurricane”.

'The King’s Machine' is the most recent of four private, non-commercial presentations put together by Phillip, using archive footage, to tell some spectacular and inspiring wartime tales of events that happened in the sky over Kent in 1940. Read more here ➡️: https://ow.ly/TUjl50Q0Zm7

Free admission, although donations would be most welcome.

✉️ There are limited seats available for this event, so you must book in advance by calling 01303 249292 or emailing [email protected]

🕖 Sunday 19 November at 2pm

📍 Battle of Britain Memorial, Capel-le-Ferne, Folkestone

It's the first of November - so it's time to book the Christmas Lunch!!! We have a few places left, but you'll have to h...
01/11/2023

It's the first of November - so it's time to book the Christmas Lunch!!! We have a few places left, but you'll have to hurry. Where else can you have such an atmospheric festive lunch like this? Only £35 pp.
Thursday 11th December - contact [email protected] to make a booking.
https://fb.me/e/38OQh5ApJ

Amongst the visitors yesterday, Tuesday 31st October 2023, to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge was An...
01/11/2023

Amongst the visitors yesterday, Tuesday 31st October 2023, to the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge was Andrew Clements, the third cousin of Acting Squadron Leader 'Archie' McKellar. For the first time in the last ten years, he was unable to get a day off work on the actual anniversary of his cousins’ death, so surprised Dave by arriving one day early for a change.

When Dave woke this morning, his thoughts, as always, were on our heroes ‘The Few’ and particularly those lost eighty-three years ago, the day after the official end of the Battle of Britain.
Amongst them being Acting Squadron Leader ‘Archie’ McKellar.

Here’s ‘Archie’s’ story: -

Eighty-three years ago, this morning, Friday 1st November 1940, Acting Squadron Leader 'Archie' McKellar was shot down and killed at around 8.20am following combat with Messerschmitt Bf 109E's. An eyewitness saw his Hurricane circling Woodlands Manor, Adisham, Nr. Canterbury. After several circuits the aircraft suddenly flicked onto its back and ploughed, inverted, through some trees, finally coming to rest against the wall of the manor house, after striking a garden wall. 'Archie' McKellar was found dead. He was buried in New Eastwood Cemetery, Glasgow five days later.

As it was just over eight hours after the 'official' end of the Battle of Britain 'Archie' McKellar is not recorded as a casualty of the Battle. McKellar was awarded the DSO (16.11.40) and received a Mentioned in Despatches (1.01.41). His father collected his decorations from the King at Buckingham Palace in early 1941. He was also one of the top scoring RAF pilots of the Battle of Britain.

Eight years ago today, the seventy-fifth anniversary of 'Archie's' death, Andrew Clement donated some of Acting Squadron Leader 'Archie' McKellar's personal effects. He made the presentation in front of the display in the Operation Block that commemorates his cousin, including artefacts recovered from the crash-site of his Hurricane, Serial No. V6879, by the Museum Volunteers in the mid 1970's.

Yesterday (one day before the anniversary) was the tenth year that Andrew has visited the Museum on the Anniversary of his cousin’s loss, the first visit being in 2014. Andrew will be returning to the Museum in a couple of weeks, from his home near Cambridge, to spend some spare time volunteering and helping us with our many winter projects, as he has done several times over the last ten years.

Please remember that you have less two weeks left to visit before we close for the 2023 Season on Sunday 12th November. We are open Tuesdays to Sundays 10am to 4pm, with last entry by 3pm. Please allow at least two hours for your visit though and extra time if you would like to stop in and enjoy the delicious food and refreshments available from our lovely No. 25 Squadron Mess and Tea Rooms.

Happy Halloween from all the Volunteers at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge! Or more importantly the ...
31/10/2023

Happy Halloween from all the Volunteers at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge! Or more importantly the 83rd Anniversary of the Official End of the Battle of Britain.

Please spare a thought for the 2938 Airmen that became known as 'The Few', of which 544 were killed or died of wounds sustained during the Battle, and a further 795 who were killed by the end of the Second World War.

If you would like to visit the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge this year, please remember you only have two weeks until we close for the season, on Sunday 12th November 2022.

The Museum and the lovely No.25 Squadron Mess and Tea Rooms are open 10am to 4pm, with last entry by 3pm up until and including Sunday 12th November 2022. Closed on Mondays. Please allow at least two hours for your visit and if you wish to stop off in the No. 25 Squadron Mess and Tea Rooms to taste the excellent and yummy food and drinks on offer, please allow extra time.

For everything you need to know about the Museum and the No. 25 Squadron Mess and Tea Rooms, please have a look at and browse through our excellent and informative website: www.kbobm.org

Always a poignant and sensitive event, the Remembrance parade and service at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome will be hel...
30/10/2023

Always a poignant and sensitive event, the Remembrance parade and service at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome will be held on Sunday, 12th November, in the afternoon. We will welcome our lead patron, HM Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst to lead the event. Spaces are without charge but limited.
Advance tickets only.
https://www.stowmaries.org.uk/events

Just a reminder that the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge closes at 4.00 pm on Sunday 12th November at th...
30/10/2023

Just a reminder that the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge closes at 4.00 pm on Sunday 12th November at the end of our 2023 Season and the most successful in the fifty-eight-year history of the Museum.

If you would like to visit the Museum this year, you only have two weeks to do so.

We are open Tuesdays to Sundays 10 am to 4 pm, with last entry by 3 pm. Closed on Mondays. Please allow at least two hours for your visit and if you have an interest in the Battle of Britain, you will need a lot, lot, longer.

We hope to see as many of you as possible over the next couple of weeks.

For those of you who are unable to visit, we would just like to thank you for all your continuing support of the Museum and all the Volunteers hard and ongoing work...

There’s lots of good news though! If you would still like to visit the Museum Shop or our lovely No. 25 Squadron Mess and Tea Rooms, they continue to be open during the winter months on Fridays and Saturdays. The Tea Bar only closed between the 17th December 2023 and 1st February 2024, so Jenny can have a well deserved rest. The Museum Shop remains open throughout the winter on Fridays and Saturdays, or by appointment.

From the evening on Sunday 12th November 2023, the volunteers will commence the winter programme of maintenance, improvements, and expansion. This will include lots of new and exciting exhibits, as well as many of the existing exhibits being improved, ready for the 2024 Season, which starts on Good Friday 29th March 2024.

For everything you need to know, please have a look at and browse through our excellent and informative website: www.kbobm.org

Can you help The Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum at Manston?
29/10/2023

Can you help The Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum at Manston?

Dear All, we are looking to raise funds to buy some stacking chairs and the associated trolley for our new conference room. Three KCC councillors have kindly pledged some funding but we need to raise approximately another £1800 to make this purchase. Can anyone help? You can make a donation via this post.

From 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗼𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗸 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗸 𝗔𝘃𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘂𝗺 𝐁𝐋𝐎𝐆 @ https://aviationmuseum.site/𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁'𝘀 𝗜𝗻 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗘𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻This is a shortish...
29/10/2023

From 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗡𝗼𝗿𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗸 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗼𝗹𝗸 𝗔𝘃𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗠𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘂𝗺 𝐁𝐋𝐎𝐆 @ https://aviationmuseum.site/

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁'𝘀 𝗜𝗻 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗘𝗱𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻
This is a shortish edition of the blog, in which we have an update from Barry with details of the Paint Team and their continued work around the Museum. We have details of the rebooking of the “Forever Two Wheels UK” and their ride out to the Museum (now on Sunday the 12th of November), and finally...

𝗢𝗽𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗮𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗪𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗣𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗼𝗱
As we move towards the winter period, when we close the Museum for renovation work, these are the opening dates and times over that period:

• Throughout November, we are open on Sundays only from 1000 until 1600.

• In December, we are open on two days only, Thursday the 28th and Friday the 29th December from 1000 until 1500.

• We are then closed until the February half term, when the Museum will reopen on Saturday, the 17th of February 2024, from 1000 until 1600.

• From Saturday the 17th of February 2024, we revert back to our normal opening times of every Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from 1000 until 1600 until further notice.

For more detailed information, click on the link here to go directly to the blog @ https://aviationmuseum.site/29Oct23

#𝗡𝗔𝗦𝗔𝗠𝗙𝗹𝗶𝘅𝘁𝗼𝗻 #𝗡𝗔𝗦𝗔𝗠𝗕𝗟𝗢𝗚 #𝗳𝗹𝗶𝘅𝘁𝗼𝗻𝗮𝘃𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗺𝘂𝘀𝗲𝘂𝗺

  1917. The Autumn night would bring a German Gotha bomber. One of three that set out, the solitary bomber would attack ...
29/10/2023

1917. The Autumn night would bring a German Gotha bomber. One of three that set out, the solitary bomber would attack Essex: Burnham on Crouch, Rayleigh and Hockley. 37 Sqn, from RFC Stow Maries, would respond without success. Thankfully, there were no casualties from the raid.

To conclude our, The Kent Battle of Britain Museum, three day trilogy of Luftwaffe airmen shot down during the Battle of...
29/10/2023

To conclude our, The Kent Battle of Britain Museum, three day trilogy of Luftwaffe airmen shot down during the Battle of Britain and on the anniversaries of their shooting down, here is the story of Feldwebel Karl Bubenhofer:-

At 16.25 hrs on Tuesday 29th October 1940, 83 years ago today, the third Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 51 took off from their aerodrome twenty-five miles from the French coast, between St. Omer and Calais. For Feldwebel Karl Bubenhofer, it was his first War Flight, having volunteered for Active Service whilst an Instructor at the Fliegerschule 4 at Fürth. Fw. Karl Bubenhofer was flying in a Schwarm, which was part of a formation that was carrying out a free-lance patrol over the Dover area at 17,000 feet.

Feldwebel Karl Bubenhofer’s Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1, Werke No.4816 (coded 13+) engine was running rough and he fell behind the rest of the Schwarm where he was attacked by two Spitfires out of the sun. His engine started to give off a ‘queer smell’ and as the Spitfires looked rather threatening Fw. Bubenhofer decided to bale out at 17.00 hrs. His aircraft dived smoking into the ground at Gate Inn, North Elham.

Herbie Palmer had just arrived home when he heard the now familiar sound of two aircraft in combat overhead and rushed out into the garden with his wife and two children and watched the final moments of Fw. Karl Bubenhofer’s Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1. After a second burst of machine gun fire from the Spitfire, Fw. Bubenhofer baled out of his crippled fighter which was now falling quickly in a spiral dive.

The Palmer family stood transfixed watching as the aircraft grew larger and larger and the noise increased until it filled the whole of the valley with sound. For an instance they thought it was going to hit them, but it fell just past where they stood and they had a magnificent view as it exploded, sending up a ball of orange and black fire that silenced the terrible screaming that had filled their heads moments earlier. A single Spitfire came up the valley low and executed a victory roll over the burning wreck.

At approximately 16,000 feet Fw. Karl Bubenhofer baled out of his crippled aircraft and was overjoyed when he felt the jerk as his canopy opened above him. Below him was the Elham Valley and the evening breeze took him in the direction of Rhodes Minnis. Stan and Edwin Woods reached Fw. Karl Bubenhofer as he was climbing out of his parachute harness. Sergeant Stoner and the Lyminge Police arrived, followed by an Army sergeant, who for reasons unknown attempted to hit the airman with his rifle, but was warded off by Stan Woods. More troops arrived and, with one boot missing, Bubenhofer was marched off into captivity along a newly tarred road to the Gate Inn. Later his missing boot was returned to him, and he was taken to Lyminge, where Major Basset entertained him in the officers’ mess.

It is probable that Pilot Officer Richard M. Trousdale, a New Zealander with of No. 266 Squadron, claimed the destruction of Fw. Karl Bubenhofer’s aircraft as he claimed a Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 approximately 10 – 15 miles north of Lympne at 5.00pm.

Richard Trousdale, by then a Squadron Leader, transferred to the RNZAF on 19th January 1945. In May 1947 he returned to the United Kingdom with another pilot to collect two Mosquitos and to ferry them back to New Zealand. On 16th May he was acting as a second pilot, carrying out a dual instrument and flight check in a Mosquito from RAF Penshore, with an RAF officer as an instructor. Whilst going through the exercise involving single-engined flight at low altitude, the aircraft stalled and crashed, killing both men. Sqdn/Ldr. Richard M. Trousdale was twenty-six years old.

The Museum excavated the crash site of Fw. Karl Bubenhofer's Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1 during the mid 1970's and artefacts unearthed are on display in the Operation Block.

A Memorial Post from the Volunteers at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge.Eighty-three years ago today,...
28/10/2023

A Memorial Post from the Volunteers at the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge.

Eighty-three years ago today, 28th October 1940, Leutnant Werner Knittel of II Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 51 was posted missing after a ‘Free Hunt’ over Kent. He would remain missing for thirty-three years.

Oberleutnant Günther Matthes, the Commanding Officer of II Gruppe Jagdgeschwader later wrote:

‘I remember on that day that with the whole Gruppe we were airborne to southern England. Lt. Werner Knittel, from Karlsruhe, was my adjutant. He flew right behind me. Maybe ten or twenty metres higher than me, perhaps. He was in my Rotte. Below glittered the thirty kilometre wide English Channel, like liquid lead in the last rays of sun from the sky. I had ordered: ‘Free hunting as far as your fuel range’ and the group was beginning to break apart. Instead, it was the English hunters who found us and suddenly they came down on us from a great height with the setting sun at our backs. When I saw the tracer bullets going past, I veered away. When I looked back, Werner was gone. A few minutes later and I had landed at Calais-Mardyck to wait in vain for Werner, but I knew that he wasn’t coming back. For me it was clear. My colleague had fallen in the Channel.’

‘We immediately arranged for our air sea rescue service, already in the area as cover to our mission, to go and search for Werner. Earlier, we had also lost another pilot, Feldwebel John, who had been hit in the oil tank, had baled out but had been seen to fall into the sea with an unopened parachute. Anyway, I waited for two days and then when there was no news I wrote to Werner’s wife, Inge. It was a really difficult letter to write because they had only been married just over a year – having got married on 2nd September 1939, the eve of war with Britain. Always, he had been an incorrigible optimist and was a huge man, in every sense. He was very broad shouldered, and with a wide thin mouth and distinctive features. He was the prototype of a daredevil. Three months earlier the younger of his two brothers had been killed as an infantry man in France, but Werner always said ‘Nothing will ever happen to me! We will meet healthy and happy after the war!’ and his pretty wife, Inge, wanted to believe those words. Even his parents thought the same. ‘Our son is an expert flier. He will have controlled the machine safely’, they assured me. But I knew then what the truth was.’

In actual fact his Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4, Werke No.5095, had dived into the ground at Fielding Land, Dymchurch at high speed and was entirely buried. The time was recorded at 5.10pm on Monday 28th October 1940. Leutnant Werner Knittel, a holder of the Iron Cross 2nd Class, was thirty-nine years old.

Fast forward to Saturday 8th September 1973 and the then Brenzett Aeronautical Museum arrived at Fielding Lane, Dymchurch with an excavator and the usual mix of metal detectors, spades, and shovels. At a depth of twenty-five feet and ten inches all the wreckage had been recovered, including the mortal remains of Leutnant Werner Knittel. After a coroner’s inquest, his body was released for burial, and he was finally laid to rest at Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery on 8th October 1973. His widow, Inge, attended his funeral. Having never remarried, she had thrown herself into her studies and became a Doctor of International Law. When the news reached her that her husband’s body had been unearthed, she was working at the Paris headquarters of the Western European Union, an international peace-keeping organisation. At the funeral she was given her husband’s wedding ring, found during the excavation of his aircraft. The wedding ring was engraved on the inside with the names of ‘Inge’ and ‘Werner’.

Some of the items excavated in 1973 from his Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4, including the control column and gun sight are on show in the Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust at Hawkinge and form a lasting memorial to Leutnant Werner Knittel.

For everything you need to know about the Museum please have a look at our excellent and informative website: www.kbobm.org

Looking for a way to sew up the last weekend of  -Term? Get yourself down to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome. We're an a...
28/10/2023

Looking for a way to sew up the last weekend of -Term? Get yourself down to Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome. We're an accredited museum full of award-winning exhibitions, two hangars of aircraft and some great stories to tell. The cafe is a huge hit, too!
No need to book ahead - https://www.stowmaries.org.uk/

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Welcome to MAHN events and news feed

This page shares events, news and activities at military aviation museums and heritage sites in England.

All posts are from members of Military Aviation Heritage Networks - regionally based networks of organisations that bring together those who care about aviation heritage, its conservation, display and sustainability. The networks provide ‘peer to peer’ support, discuss common issues, develop mutually beneficial projects and share best practice. The Heritage Networks are open to staff, volunteers and others involved in the sector, with a focus on those who manage and operate publicly accessible aviation heritage sites, memorials, museums and attractions devoted to military (and occasionally civilian) aviation history.

The Military Aviation Heritage Networks development programme aims to publicise existing networks where they already exist and establish new regional networks in England where needed. It began with the recent establishment of 11 Group Heritage Network in the South East of England, now with members from 18 organisations. A dedicated website with further information is under construction and will be launched in September, 2020. The programme is funded by Historic England.

For more details please contact the MAHN co-ordinator, Dr Toby Butler at [email protected]


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