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Newport's War Dead

formerly Newport, Monmouthshire, UK

 

Heinkel 111P2 bomber crash

Additional information below from the Commonwealth War graves Commission website

and also

The Armed Forces Memorial Web site

 

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Click on all images to enlarge

German photographs - Hugh Trivett

 

 

Crash of a Heinkel 111P2 bomber on 32 Stow Park Avenue

 

 

  On the 13th September 1940, Oberleutnant Harry Wappler and his crew of three boarded their Heinkel 111P2 bomber for a raid over the UK. The other crew members were.....

Unteroffizier Fritz Berndt, Navigator

Fritz Bernt

Oberfeldwebal Johannes Elster, Wireless Operator

Johannes Elster

Unteroffizier Herbert Okuneck, Bomb Aimer

For photographs of the graves of these airmen.....    CLICK HERE

 

Harry Wappler

Oberleutnant Harry Wappler

Their primary target for the night was to be Ellesmere Port and they took off in a Heinkel 111P2 with the identification number 1G+DS from their airbase in Paris, France at 22.30 hours. Within hours they had completed their operation without observing the results of their bombing and were heading back to base. It was during their return trip back to Paris that they unfortunately met up with 966 Barrage Balloon Squadron RAF who were set up in the grounds, just slightly north of Tredegar House, Newport. 

In the darkness of the night, all those on board were unaware that they were heading for disaster in the shape of a large oval barrage balloon hovering in the sky, many thousands of feet above the ground. This was the balloon of 966 Squadron RAF who had only been formed about three weeks previously and had set up their mobile equipment in the grounds of Tredegar House to protect area's of Newport from aerial attack.

At 3.15am, the Heinkel struck the No. 10 site balloon cable at about 6500ft with such force that it pulled the cable off the storage drum which was on a mobile lorry unit and lifted the lorry off the ground. Even though its wing was damaged as it spun around the cable, it managed to carry on flying. It continued flying towards the Maesglas area of Newport, crossing towards the Gaer area near the Ebbw Bridge before finally turning towards Stow Park Avenue. It hit at some time a second cable at No.8 site, probably situated in Belle Vue Park  and crashed on house No. 32 the home of a Newport businessman and his family killing Malcolm and Myrtle Phillips aged 17 and 14 years old. The pilot Oberleutnant Harry Wappler managed to parachute to safety with minor injuries, landing in a tree near the British Legion Club in Queens Street off Cardiff Road. The other three crew members died in the subsequent crash.

 

1G+ DS

This is the Heinkel 111P2 bomber that crashed onto 32 Stow Park Avenue killing three of the crew and the two Phillips children. The photo was taken in 1939 and the person on the far left looks very much like Oberfeldwebal Johannes Elster, Wireless Operator of the aircraft.

 

The British Legion Club, Queens Street, Newport

The British Legion Club

 

Phillips tobacconist's shop in Dock Street, Newport

The tobacconist shop belonging to the Phillips family, Photo: Jacky Jackson-Cox

 

In an act of extreme heroism, Malcolm Phillips who had survived the initial impact and after making certain his parents were safe and well, immediately went back to rescue his sister Myrtle and died along with her. They are buried together in Newport's Jewish cemetery.

Malcolm Phillips                    Malcolm and Myrtle's grave                    Myrtle Phillips

 

The bringing down of this German aircraft was the first recorded and verified destruction of an enemy aircraft by a barrage balloon in the UK during wartime. 

 

Oberleutnant Harry Wappler became a PoW at the German PoW camp  No.  13 Shap Wells, Cumbria.

To read the story of his almost escape and getaway from the UK, click the link below....

The One or Two that almost got away!

 

I am indebted to these two web sites for the above information and some documents below

The Barrage Balloon club...                         CLICK HERE

The Aircrew Remembrance Society....          CLICK HERE

 

 

Fields where barrage balloon was located

Barrage balloon fields

 

Photographs from Google Earth of the main locations

Photo showing the three main locations in the story

The pins on the photo above show the locations of the balloon site, 32 Stow Park Avenue where the Heinkel crashed and the place where Harry Wappler landed in a tree.

 

Distance between the balloon site and where the Heinkel crashed                              Distance between the crash site and where Harry Wappler landed

The pins on the photo's above show (1) the distance between the balloon site where the Heinkel first impacted with a cable and where it eventually crashed on 32 Stow Park Avenue and (2) the distance between where the Heinkel crashed and where Harry Wappler landed on his parachute outside the British Legion club in Queens Street, Newport.

 

 

Some PoW interrogation documents supplied by the Aircrew Remembrance Society

Document marked "Secret"                              Second document                              Third Document

 

 

 

How the South Wales Argus reported it

 

 

story - part 1                                        Story - part 2

 

Shaun McGuire 2008