In the early hours of the morning of 18th April 1944 RAF Bradwell Bay things were routine, not too busy. However, this was the final night of Goering’s ‘Little Blitz’ and there was a lot of enemy aircraft returning to their bases on the continent, a lot of them were JU88’s, following the east coast trying to find their way home. 488 squadron (NZ) was scrambled to catch the enemy aircraft. This was to be a good night, 2 JU88’s was bought down. One by F/Lt J.A.S. Hall, this was to be Halls 4th victory. The other aircraft was downed by W/O Bourke, this was the first ‘Hun’ bought down by a New Zealand NCO.
The weather at Bradwell was cloudy becoming fair and later fine. Moderate to good visibility. Moderate to N.E. winds, calm after 22.00 hours. However, Manston, as the crow-flies, only about 33 miles away, was closed in. 5 aircraft of 605 squadron had diverted from Manston to Bradwell, following operation Flower. F/Lt Allison had destroyed a FW 190, during the operation. (Operation Flower was a British programme of low-level night intruder missions by de Havilland Mosquito warplanes over German airfields (26 March 1944/8 May 1945). Long Range Mustangs of 19 and 95 squadrons flew in for refuelling before taking off to provide fighter escorts for some fortresses. At about 02.30 flying control received a message that there was a Lancaster, which was thought to be in trouble. Flying control was to guide the aircraft in.
The aircraft passed over flying control at about 600 feet. Both Group and Sector controls confirmed the aircraft was friendly and so green flares were fired to give permission to land. Mosquitos waiting to land were told to orbit the base to allow the aircraft in distress to land.The aircraft made a belly landing with the port engine on fire. The fire and ambulance crews had a surprise on their arrival. Rather than the expected Lancaster Bomber the aircraft was in fact a German JU 88!
The four-man German crew got out of the aircraft, which was not too badly damaged.The crew were U.F.F.Z Heinz Brandt (Pilot), U.F.F.Z Maximillian Oppel (Observer), O/G. F.R. Walter Kobusch (Radio Operator) and G.F.R. Heinz Oberwinter (Gunner). They were immediately arrested and taken to the main guardroom, the Commanding Officer and Intelligence Officer came and took charge of the prisoners and documents they had with them. The crew had been on an air raid over London and were hit by anti-aircraft fire. The only person of the crew who was injured was Heinz Oberwinter, who had a minor injury to his foot. The landing of an enemy aircraft, especially if intact, was a major event for either side as there was so much potential, the aircraft and radar equipment could be examined.
The following day many visits were paid to Bradwell to see the JU 88. General Strickland, Commanding IX U.S.A.A.F., A.D.C. Col. Schofield. F/Lt Ellen came to carry out a technical examination of the aircraft and F/Lt Keen came to interrogate the prisoners. The prisoners were later in the evening were taken to a prisoner of war camp, except for Heinz Oberwinter who was taken to a prisoner of war hospital, due to having a splinter of shrapnel in his foot. The prisoners were taken under guard by the RAF Regiment 2840 Squadron.
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