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Who Shot 'J-Johnnie' Down ?

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Martin Bull, Mar 2, 2003.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Yes please !! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    If you can let me have such a thing I will pass it on to the Wickenby Museum - for my own interest, I may be going along to the PRO to look through the 97 Squadron ORB to find out some more about J-For-Johnnie's short but dramatic career.

    Thanks in advance, Erich ! :cool:
     
  2. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    I would be more than happy to assist the next days. Will post a bio of him here and his victory list.

    Martin if you go to pro let me know please I have a favour to ask about finding some captured NF vet reports. will have to find the proper numbers and let you know if possible ?

    E
     
  3. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Heinz Vinke, final rank as Oberfeldwebel. RK on 19 September 1943 as Feldwebel. EL as nr. 465 on 25 April 1944 as Oberfeldwebel. Born 22 May 1920 at Barbyon the Elbe, Provinz Sachsen. Killed or missing ? on 26 February 1944 northwest of Dunkirk on a ocean recon mission and shot down by an RAF fighter. His crew Uffz. Dunger and Uffz. Walter missing in Bf 110G-4, wrk. nummer 740136, coded G9+KY.

    In the spring of 1941 he was an Unteroffizier in 4./NJG 1 and on July 24/25, 1941 he flew his first mission. On November 1, 1941 he was in 5./NJG 1, later 11./NJG 1. On the night of February 27/28, 1942 he scored his first victory and by years end 1942 had 8 kills. April 9/10 1943 he scored 3 RAF bombers. On the night of August 17/18, 1943 he was shot down by a British night fighter and his crew was reported missing. After 27 night kills he was awarded the Ritterkreuz. by the end of 1943 he had 37 victories. January 20/21,1944 he scored his 40th. January 28/29, 1944 he shot down his 44-46th. On February 19/20, 1944 his 50-54th victories.

    Around 150 missions and 54 night victories.

    martin I will dig into my night fighter victory lists and see if I can obtain all 54 kills and record them here for you.

    E
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Thanks, Erich, this is very good information. Also, any way of telling which aircraft Vinke was flying on 30th January, 1944, and would it have been the same crew as died with him the next month ? [​IMG]

    Let me know on the PRO. I've never been there yet and am in process of registering via their website. One problem is that they will only let you 'book out' three files per visit :( ( unless you have a PhD or something....)

    What I hope to do is to use a visit very soon to check out some J-For-Johnnie stuff and generally see what the 'form' is down there....
     
  5. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    sorry Martin ! I think I rushed through the bio too quickly. the first crew missing while they were flying a Bf 110G-4 werke nummer 4874, coded G9+BY. The two crew members missing were :
    Feldwebel Schödl and Unteroffizier Gaa.

    I will look for the files numeration for you tonight......for PRO. do not sell yourself short so if you need to visit again that is fine with me.

    E
     
  6. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Spent some fascinating hours at the PRO today following the operational history of this aircraft through 97 Squadron's Operational Record Books.

    Very interesting, especially to discover that JB659 flew on thirteen , not nine operations.

    The 'nine' figure comes from Francis K Mason's book which only gives a 'selection' of raids for each airframe. So in fact, J-For-Johnnie flew to Berlin ( 8 times, including one aborted and the final op ), Leipzig, Frankfurt, Stettin, Brunswick and Magdeburg. It was also due to fly another Berlin op on the night before it was lost, but failed to take off.

    The crew who were lost with the Lancaster were flying in it for the first time ; most of them had only joined 97 Squadron on January 14th.

    So this machine was quite a veteran despite having an operational life of almost exactly two months.

    31/1/44 : -
    'Two crews, F/LT. CLARKE and P/O HART failed to return. No news has since been heard'
    ( Signed : Sqn. Ldr. C.M. Dunnicliffe, Officer Commanding ).
     
  7. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Interesting Martin ! did you have to pay a charge to view these docs ?

    E
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Drifting off topic here, but I have to say that the PRO is very impressive indeed.

    Firstly, it's all free [​IMG] ( except for copying documents, at 25 pence each ). As this was my 'first time' I was given an induction course and issued with a Readers Card ( valid for 3 years :cool: ).

    Luckily I'd checked out their online catalogue for the 97 Sqn ORBs which saved time, and due to their popularity these are on microfilm. Its unbelievably tiring and time-consuming to go through these ( there's almost too much info ! :eek: ) and I was only looking at two months !

    I wanted to go on to see the Station ORB for Bourn airfield ( the original book ) and maybe other things but simply ran out of time.

    But I must say it was really exciting to spot 'my' aircraft and follow each operation, with different crews and operation narratives, times, details of bomb loads, etc. It was like entering another world and I can see how people can become 'lost' in research....

    Anyhow I shall put together a little 'operational history of JB-659' ( a humble effort I know, but give me a break... ;) ) a copy of which will go up to the Wickenby Museum ( it'll at least show them that somebody cares ! ).
     
  9. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Good for you Martin !

    that is quite a noble undertaking and I am sure it will pay off for you in the time ahead, and as for the museum, they will surely appreciate everything you are doing with your efforts.

    As for PRO, I have heard horror stories about time delays and simply just being able not to find anything. Do find it strange as the web-site for the firm seems like it is in good order.

    Any expectations of a return visit, say in the next three months ? Still looking for the captured docs file #

    E
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Yep, as Arnie said - 'I'll be back !' :D

    I think your horror-tales are from the 'old' PRO.

    It is now housed in an ultra-modern facility, and along with many other British institutions ( eg museums, etc ) has to present a 'user-friendly' face to the general public to qualify for funding.

    The staff were all extremely helpful, the place wasn't too crowded - but I guess it helps to know as far as possible exactly what you're looking for. Documents take half-an-hour to deliver ( 50 minutes on Saturdays ), but as I said, time ran out on me before I could try that service.

    Just for a little while today I could kid myself that I was a real historian ! :rolleyes: Don't worry, I won't give up the day job.... [​IMG]
     
  11. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Whew ! well this seems to be some relief if I ever get the chance to come over. you have done well and researching well in advance pays off.
    Have done this through internet services provided by the BA/MA in Freiburg, Germany with excellent results. each page runs approx .34c US to copy, but having the info such as title and document RL number(s) is a definate plus although ordering on-line or through letter which is un-wise is just plain time consuming. Hiring one to do the foot work is the way to go unless you are blessed with a bit of cash to make the trip and then stay a week in a cheap hotel.

    Martin let me know in advance when your next trip would be please as I have two items of multi-pages I would like to acquire. but would first like to know the amount for page copying so funds are in your hands in advance of payment.....

    E
     
  12. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    From the ORB of 97 (PFF) Squadron, Bourn : -

    30th - 31st January 1944

    BERLIN

    JB-659 OF-J

    P/O A R Hart
    Sgt L Clifton
    Sgt H J Boal
    Sgt G I Williams
    Sgt W J Jones
    Sgt D F Hicks
    Sgt C M Price

    t/o 17:10

    5 x 2000lb MC

    MISSING

    -------

    The 'Bomber War' is so vast that it has been interesting for me to focus on one very typical aircraft, its crews and operations, researching as much as I can find.

    But on this very cold day here, I'm thinking that 60 years ago today this aircraft and its crew 'failed to return'.

    I shall raise a glass at ten past five.
     
  13. Stevin

    Stevin Ace

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    Martin, do you have Alan Cooper's Bombers Over Berlin? Several crashes I research(ed) were/are about a/c downed during the (air)Battle of Berlin.

    The 30/31 Jan 1945 raid is described in some detail, though nothing on this Sqn or this crew. This crew is listed as MIA in the book, though.
     
  14. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Stevin - yes, I've been gradually collecting all the books I can find about the 'Bomber Battle of Berlin' ; Cooper, Middlebrook, Searby, Jennie Gray, etc etc.

    As we discovered with Erich's input, JB-659 almost certainly fell to the Schrage Musik cannon of Heinz Vinke's Me110 from Leeuwarden.

    Peter Spoden also flew during this campaign which is one reason it has been such a privilege to correspond with him.....
     
  15. Paul Errass

    Paul Errass Member

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    Hi Erich,

    Sorry to butt in on this one !!

    Did you manage to find anything on who might have shot down my Uncle's Stirling from 7 Sqn (Pathfinders) ?

    Paul
     
  16. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    A brief recap for newer members ( and me ! ;) ).

    Paul's Uncle ( who has no known grave ) was a Pathfinder crewmember of Stirling III EF932 'MG-N', presumed lost off the Dutch coast on the night of 24/25 June, 1943, target Wuppertal.

    No answer to your question, but interesting anyway, is the following quote from Gordon Musgrove's 'Pathfinder Force ' ( 1976 ) :

    'The marking and backing-up ( at Wuppertal, June 24-25 ) were of a high order...From the beginning of the year, 7 and 35 Squadrons had done all the H2S marking and illuminating. The courage of the crews was outstanding. In outdated aircraft, they faced the defences of the largest cities where there were four or five times as many flak batteries as planes in the target area. They pressed on in the face of heavy losses....for example, 7 Squadron lost its three flight commanders during one week in June.' ( p.52/53 ).

    [ 01. February 2004, 06:22 AM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
  17. Paul Errass

    Paul Errass Member

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    Thanks Martin,more great info,

    Paul [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  18. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Research, they say, never ends.

    The reason for my question about Nachtjagd Grid References was to try to resolve the original mystery of - Who Shot J-Johnnie Down ? :confused:

    Chorley lists JB-659 as being lost at around 22:10 on 30/1/44. Hinchliffe's biography of Schnaufer lists his only victory that night as being an 'unidentified Lancaster' at 22:15 in Grid GK5, the aircraft 'crashing into the sea'.

    The wreckage of JB-659 fell to earth at Haarlemerleide, exactly halfway between Heemskerk and Heemstede, Casticum and Lisse, which thanks to Erich and Stevin Oudshoorn we know to be the upper and lower limits of GK. GK did not extend to to the North Sea coast. JB-659 broke in two just below the cockpit, and so came straight down.

    It seems unlikely that Heinz Vinke and Schnaufer would have been active in the same Grid Square at the same time. This being so, it really does begin to look as though this inexperienced Pathfinder crew were indeed the 44th victim of the most successful nightfighter ace ever, Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer.Also, at this time,he was based at Leeuwarden, Holland before transferring to St Trond, Belgium in March 1944.

    ( Unless anyone else has other theories.....? ;) )

    [ 08. March 2004, 12:30 PM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
  19. Stevin

    Stevin Ace

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    Well, Hold on! Credit where credit is due. I only said that Erich's describtion could not be matched.

    I checked my volumes on Fliegerhorst Leeuwarden, but no reference to 30 Jan. 1944. However, Johan Schuurman writes in his book about airfield Bergen that Heinz Vinke also claimed two Lancasters this night. One (lancaster JB535 from 97 Sqn) at 22.12 (!) near Kolhorn, which is North of Haarlemmerliede and would be grid ref. EK. And the second one....well, no information is known...

    I'll write a research contact who has this particular (roughly) area as his expertise and has been doing research for over 30 years. Maybe he can come up with something!

    Martin, Do you know anything about the crash itself? Maybe a strange question but do you know if it hit a farmhouse and unfortunately killed several members of the family living there?? That happened, afaik also in Haarlemerliede....Very vaguely I remember something about that being in the news a couple of years ago when they dug up the Lanc. It might have been another a/c though.

    [ 08. March 2004, 03:47 PM: Message edited by: Stevin Oudshoorn ]
     
  20. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Stevin, yes - it is the same aircraft...

    It would be really interesting to get to the bottom of the story ! ;)
     

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