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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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Meister Letter
Police report / Ludwig Meister letters

Archive Report Lancaster ED627

Below is the report by the Police Lieutenant and Distict Officer in charge of the crash site of Lancaster EM-N (ED627) and its crew. No more needs to be said.

The copy of the original police report was translated to Sean McGuire by teachers at St. Julian's High school, Newport where Arthur was a pupil.

District Rural Council,

Schwaebisch Hall.

Re: Crash landing of an English four-motor bomber on Markung Hohenberg in the administrative district of Wolpertshausen on 28/8/1943.

On Saturday 28th August 1943, an English four-motor bomber crashed and burned out on Markung Hohenberg in the administrative district of Wolpertshausen.

The bodies of seven crew members were found at the crash site after having been thrown from the wreckage.

It is highly probable that the crew comprised only of these seven men since there is no evidence to indicate the presence of additional crew. According to eye witnesses and the facts that can be established, the bomber was shot down by German fighter planes. There can hardly be any question of resultant damage to the area since the harvest had already been gathered in.

The wreckage was scattered over an area of 1 kilometre and was guarded by local police and the civil defence forces of Wolpertshausen.

A number of unexploded incendiary bombs and flares were scattered around the crash site. A large number of incendiary bombs did explode but without causing any damage. There was a large bomb crater present. No duds were found.

The air station at Schwaebisch Hall - Hessental was informed and a number of officers arrived just before noon. They took over the salvaging of the aircraft, the burial of the bodies and the recovery of the undetonated bombs and flares.


Witnesses to the crash, including the police lawyer Maurer in Hohenberg, indicated that the bomber had been flying towards Nurnberg. First they saw flares, then they heard machine gun fire, and finally a loud explosion. Then they saw the aircraft disintergrate and on fire. A number of local residents had run to the crash site but had not dared to approach too closely since the aircraft was burning fiercely and there were bombs lying around. The crash happened at 01.30 hrs.

The aircraft type could not be ascertained, not even by the officers of the air station. On the fuselage to the left and right of the national markings were the letters, E M N.

Police Lieutenant and District Officer I/C

In the map shown is the area where they crashed. It is about 50 miles north east of Stuttgart and on the map between Schwaebish Hall and Wolpertshausen.




Ludwig Meister 04. 04. 02

Mr Shaun McGuire

Dear Mr McGuire,

I have read your letter – with the assistance of my wife`s knowledge of English – with interest. I must confess that the fate of the crew of the Lancaster bomber has moved me deeply. I had not known until now that all seven members of the crew had lost their lives. Young men, whose lives were sacrificed to the madness of that unholy war, while still as young as I myself was at the time.

As a result of an emergency landing in my Me 110 (spinal damage) in March 1944 I must now undergo a risky operation. I am flying to Germany on the 08.04.02 and will probably have to in hospital for five weeks. I hope that the operation will go well and I will contact you gain on my return. I hope you will be able to appreciate my situation.
Until then
L Meister

24/06/02
Mr Shaun McGuire

Dear Mr McGuire,

The operation on my spine which I mentioned in my letter of 04/04/02 was, fortunately, successful and I have now recovered to the point where I can fulfil my promise to you. I will do this in German and am sure that you will know someone who can translate my letter into English.

During my stay in the clinic in Germany my cousin translated your letters of 25/03/02 and 13/04/02 into German for me and I am now in a position to address your questions, as far as I am able. I fully understand your wish to learn as much as possible from me about the fate of Lancaster ED627 and its crew. Your wish is not the first which has come to me during the last 60 years. Below are the detailed entries from my flight log:

Flight Number 1157
Pilot Lieutenant L Meister
Radio Officer H Forke
Mechanic T Werzinski
Aircraft type Bf 110
ID number 3C+MJ
Purpose of flight Night-time fighter attack

Departure point Florennes (Belgium)
Date 28/8/43
Time 00.26hrs
Landing Mainz-Finthen 29/8/43, 03.20hrs
Notes: Shot down a Lancaster at 01.35 over Wolpertshausen/Hohenberg

My radio officer, who died in an accident 40 years ago, left a diary of whose existence I had been aware. Only after his death was I sent a copy, by an autograph hunter.
I offer you the following verbatim transcript from his diary:

“After two quiet days we have a new mission. We fly first towards Mannheim, where we encounter the first anti-aircraft fire. We wait outside the searchlight zone until the anti-aircraft fire reaches its greatest intensity. This is on (justified) assumption that it will be at this point that the greatest number of English bombers will cross the zone. We cross the Rhein and fly towards Nuremberg, the town which according to radio reports, will be the target of the English bombers. Suddenly, Toni, our on-board mechanic, sees an enemy plane to our starboard rear and through a series of orders to Lieutenant Meister adjusts our flight so
that the “Tommy” is above and to the left of us. Our plane has to go flat out to keep up with the “Tommy”.
Then, suddenly, a long burst of fire between the two starboard engines of the bomber. Pieces of the plane fly off, the bomber is on fire, yet the fire seems to go out again. Lieutenant Meister makes a second attack, the “Tommy” stays airborne for a while longer and then crashes with its payload of bombs. We continue on towards our destination, Nuremberg.”

I remember this aerial battle clearly because of a particular event. As I continued our flight towards Nuremberg after shooting down the Lancaster, I suddenly saw in the light of the fire, which was Nuremberg, the silhouette of a four-engine bomber coming towards me, at the same altitude and in the exact opposite direction. Only a lightning-fast reaction with the steering column prevented a head-on collision, which would have killed both the bomber and fighter crews. Even today my heart beats faster when I recall this situation.

Dear Mr. McGuire, more than 60 years have passed. Today, former bomber crews come to Germany for our fighter crew reunions and vice versa. Enemies have become friends. The grim determination with which they fought each other has become a reflective looking back in which hate no longer has a place. Our generation sacrificed its youth to fight for and and against an insane regime. What saddens me that this insanity is now being resurrected worldwide.

In the hope that I have been of service in your researches into the fate of the crew of Lancaster ED627 and with my very best wishes to you and your family, I remain
Yours
L. Meister

Sadly Ludwig died on the 26th November 2011 aged 91.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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