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The Fernhurst Society

The Fernhurst Dornier: The Crash 1943

 

Introduction | The Crash 1943 | The First Dig 1989 | The Second Dig 2005

 


7/8 MARCH 1943: Combat and intelligence reports on the shooting down over Fernhurst of Dornier 217e U5 +Eh of 1 Staffel  Kampfgeschwader 2 based at Gilze-Rijen Holland.

 

1 Staffel / Kampfgeschwader 2 “Holzhammer”

 

MISSION:  England: Southampton    
Date: 8th March 1943    
Type: Dornier Do 217E-4    
Werke/Nr 5526    
Coded: U5 + EH    
Location: Reeks Wood, Van Common, Fernhurst, Sussex.    
       

CREW:

RANK & NAME

Identity disc

Fate

Flugzeugfuhrer
(Pilot)

Feldwebel. Gunter Vestewig
Born: 08.01.1921 in Itzehoe

Erk.58207/144

POW

Beobachter
(Observer)  

Unteroffizier. Gerhard Polzin
Born: 30.04.22 in Ellstrin

Erk.57358/225

POW

Bordfunker
(Radio/Op)

Obergefreiter. Hans Witkopp
Born: 08.06.23 in Jakpbsberg

Erk.58207/146

KILLED

Bnordschutze
(Gunner)

Obergefreiter. Franz Huske 
Born: 10.06.21 in Ammendorf - Halle

Erk.57358/105

MISSING

 

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REASON FOR LOSS

This aircraft was shot down in flames by S/L Goodman and F/O Thomas in a Bristol Beaufighter of No 29 Squadron.  Dornier Do 217 U5 + EH dived into the ground at great speed, disintegrated and burned out in Reeks Wood, Van Common, Fernhurst near Midhurst  Sussex.  Two of the crew namely the pilot, Gunter Vestewig and his observer, Gerhard Polzin managed to bale out successfully.  Sadly the radio/op managed to bale out of the stricken bomber at the last moment but tragically left his parachute behind.  He fell to his death quite near to the crash site.

The gunner, Franz Huske is believed to have been killed during the attack of the RAF nightfighter.  He seems to have made no attempt to bale out.  Franz is still listed in the records as MISSING IN ACTION.

RELATIVE/SURVIVOR:

Pilot:  Herrn. Gunter Friedrich Vestewig, Joringelweg 20, Mohringen, 70567 Stuttgart

Brother.  Herrn. Heinz Witkopp, Hochstifstr 35, 33100 Paderborn

NOTE: 

The last resting place of Radio/Op Hans Witkopp can be found in Chichester Cemetery, Square 42.  Grave No. 43

 

Beaufighter VIF plane

Beaufighter VIF night fighter circa March 1943

 

Essentially a Mk1 the VIF was fitted with two Bristol Hercules VI radial engines rated at 1670 hp.  Later models of this version were fitted with the slightly more powerful Hercules XVI rated at 1675 hp.  The latter powerplants had a fully automatic mixture carburettor.  This aircraft was a night fighter development fitted with the A1 Mk VII radar, later even the A1 Mk VIII.  Its armament consisted of 4 x 20 mm cannons and six wing mounted 0.303 inch machine guns.

As the German attacks slowly decreased the Mk VIF was more and more used in a night fighter/attacking role until relieved by the De Havilland Mosquito and the Northrop Black Widow.

Total number built - 1079

 

Crash report

View an image of the official crash report (274KB; note: the calibre of the Oerlikon machine gun should read 20 mm, not 200 mm)

 

POW report

SECRET                                                                                                               A.I. (K) Report No. 118/1943

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION HAS BEEN OBTAINED FROM P/W.  AS THE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT AS YET BEEN VERIFIED, NO MENTION OF THEM SHOULD BE MADE IN INTELLIGENCE SUMMARIES OF COMMANDS OR LOWER FORMATIONS, NOR SHOULD THEY BE ACCEPTED AS FACTS UNTIL COMMENTED ON IN AIR MINISTRY INTELLIGENCE SUMMARIES OR SPECIAL COMMUNICATIONS.

PLACE, DATE & TIME.                 Vann Common, near Midhurst, Sussex
                                                                                (Q 3349). 8th March 1943.  0155 hours

TYPE & MARKS               Do 217 E4            U5 + EH  (Staffel colour white)

UNIT                                     1/K. G. 2.

IDENTITY DISC                Pilot & W/T – 58207  (- 1/K. G. 2.)
                                                Observer – 57358  ( - 11/K.G.2.)

START & MISSION          Probably started from Gilze – Rijen.

- - - - - - - - - - -

  1. This aircraft appears to have become thoroughly lost over the Channel on its way to the target and when the crew crossed the Sussex coast they thought they were well west of Selsey Bill 
  2. The pilot was flying at about 11,000 ft making no attempt to evade night fighters by change of height or course.  A warning was suddenly received that a night fighter was in the neighbourhood but before evasive action could be taken an attack developed.
  3. Hits were scored in the starboard fuel tanks and in the starboard engine and when the latter burst into flames orders were given to bale out.  The pilot and observer were both injured in doing so and are now in hospital.  The W/T operator left his parachute behind and was killed. 
  4. No trace has been found of the fourth member of the crew but the aircraft crashed in flames and burned fiercely on the ground and it seems probable that his body is in the wreckage.

MORALE:           This crew had made eight or nine war flights.  The two survivors were typical Nazis.  They showed high morale and were very security conscious.

CREW:                 Pilot                       Feldwebel Gunther VESTEWIG – 8 Jan 1921 – injured
                                Observer              Obergefreiter Gerhard POLZIN – 30 April 1922 – injured
                                W/T                       Obergefreiter Hans WITKOPP – 8 June 1923 – dead
                                Gunner                  Obergefreiter Franz HUSKE – Fate unknown

 

March 1943                         USUAL DISTRIBUTION                 D Felkin
                                                                                                          Wing Commander

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Combat Report

No. 29 Squadron Combat Report: 8th March 1943 (411 KB pdf file)

 

Bristol Beaufighter

Bristol Beaufighter Night fighter

 

Other documents

(note: these are large pdf files which will open a new browser window and may take a minute to download over slow internet connections)

 

The Fernhurst Dornier

Introduction | The Crash 1943 | The First Dig 1989 | The Second Dig 2005

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