BUCKLEY AT WAR

 Heinkel He 111p2. WNr.1419 IG+CR, 7 Staffel KG27.

The mighty battleship Bismarck was sunk on 27th May 1941, so the German intelligence service concluded that the British fleet might well be heading back, or already have arrived in the port of Liverpool. On the night of the 28th/29th May, aircraft of KG27 took off to bomb the port and any shipping observed. Leutnant Helmut Einicke took off from Orleans in Heinkel IG+CR at 2308hrs, and headed North West for Cherbourg to pick up the Knickebein signal. Here height was increased slowly to 3600 metres, and it was an hour before a constant course could be held because of strong winds. Just over two hours later at 0112hrs, as they were approaching the target area, their world was suddenly shaken by a series of explosions and eight shots in rapid succession.

         

                                                                  Heinkel HE111 

 

 In the meantime, the commanding officer of No.604 Squadron. Wing Commander Charles H. Appleton, was airborne from Middle Wallop, near Salisbury in a Beaufighter with Pilot Officer Peter F. Jackson as his radio operator. They were taken over by Sopley GCI station at 0020 hours and vectored onto an aircraft flying at 15,000 on a course of 010 degrees. A radar contact was obtained immediately, and the enemy aircraft was shadowed for almost an hour during which time several visual sightings were made from the Beaufighter. In the first visual contact, the enemy's exhausts could be seen, and on the second, both exhausts and silhouette were picked out - enabling identification as a Heinkel 111. Each time though, the fighter was held by our searchlight beams, or the area behind the bomber illuminated, dazzling Appleton, and making an attack hazardous. The radar operator realising the danger, directed the pilot to drop back to 3,000 feet behind, until they were well clear of the searchlights. A forth visual contact as made from 1,200 feet, and Appleton closed up to 200 feet where he opened fire from dead astern. Hits were seen all along the fuselage, followed by a large explosion.

            

                                                             Bristol Beaughfighter 

 

      Leutnant Einicke found his starboard wing on fire from fuel spillage. so dived his aircraft a thousand meters to try to put it out, but without success. He levelled the Heinkel out but by now the fire had reached the engine, so he gave the order for the crew to bale out. The observer, Unteroffizier Hans-Georg Hartig put on his chest parachute and was first out, jumping out a window on the right hand side. The wireless operator, Unteroffizier Hans Mülhahn reported that he was ready to jump. This was his fifty-sixth raid. He put the finishing touches to his harness by the light of the flames and, as his perspex dome was missing, climbed out that way to jump with arms outstretched, just avoiding the rudder, into the night. Einicke could receive no reply from the flight engineer, Unteroffizier Konrad Baron, but he had to leave, there was little hight left. He trimmed the aircraft quickly for level flight, opened the roof canopy, stood with his back to the direction of flight and jumped. He let himself fall through two layers of cloud before pulling the ripcord, being concerned about getting down to the place over which he had baled out, without drifting over the sea.

As he landed he fell awkwardly and badly strained his right knee. While he lay there he reviewed the situation; escaping was impossible with the leg injury, and he was determined not to be picked up by civilians. He cut up his parachute to bandage the knee, then cut a short stick from a hedge and set off for an AA Battery which could be seen firing into the sky. On the way he ran into two soldiers of the Home Guard who took him prisoner and escorted him to Mold Police Station.  Mülhahn landed near Nercwys, and since he had a head wound, fired his pistol to attract attention. He as found by Mr. Llewelyn Roberts of Pentrebach farm, who took him to the farm where he was given first aid by District Nurse Thomas, before being taken to Mold. Here all the crew were reunited. Baron told them he had to cut himself off from the intercom to chase after his parachute which had shot to the end of the aircraft in the dive. He had only just clipped it onto the harness when he was thrown out and pulled the ripcord, landed almost immediately near the police station at Mold. All spent around six years as prisoners of War. Mülhahn had married on 22nd February 1941, spending a one night honeymoon with his wife Anna-Marie, and did not see her again until January 1947.

               

      The Heinkel crashed in a field off  Liverpool road at Ewloe Place, Buckley, bringing down telephone lines. Seven bombs fell in the area about the same time. The eighth bomb was never found.

             

                                     

                                   Wreckage remains of the Heinkel and the engine plate.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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