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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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92 Squadron Crest
23.05.1940 92 Squadron, Spitfire I N3194, Sqn Ldr. Roger J. Bushell MiD,

Operation: Patrol near Calais France

Date: 23rd May 1940 (Thursday)

Unit: 92 Squadron

Type: Spitfire I

Serial: N3194

Code: GR:Z

Base: RAF Northholt, West London

Location: East of Boulogne, France

Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Roger Joyce Bushell MiD. 90120 RAuxAF Age 29. PoW No. 621 PoW */Murdered

* Stalag Luft 3, Sagan-Silesia, Germany, now Żagań in Poland. (Moved to Nuremberg-Langwasser, Bavaria).

Above: Sqn Ldr. Bushell


N3194 was the 435th Spitfire built and was powered by the famous Rolls Royce Merlin III engine. Constructed at Eastleigh N3194 was first flown on the 25th November 1939 before passing through 27 Maintenance Unit (MU) on the 2nd December. On the 30th March 1940 N3194 joined 92 Squadron (Sqn) at Biggin Hill. The Sqn was one of the first to receive the new Spitfire I having previously been equipped with Blenheims in 1939.

Bearing the early war 92 Sqn code of ‘GR’ N3194 was painted with a black and white underside to aid in identification of friendly aircraft possibly as a reaction to the famous Battle of Barking Creek incident when a flight of 74 Sqn Spitfires mistakenly attacked Hurricanes from 56 Sqn.

This was the Sqn's first engagement with the enemy. 12 Spitfires took off at 17:20 hrs from their forward operating base at RAF Hornchurch on a patrol over Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk. The Sqn claimed 17 Bf110s shot down during the mission. Sqn Ldr. Bushell was one of three pilots shot down from the Sqn and the remaining Spitfires were badly shot up ending with 7 aircraft deemed unserviceable.

Sqn Ldr. Bushell was credited with damaging 2 Bf110s before being shot down by a Bf109. N3194 had flown a total of only 46½ flying hours. He crash landed in German occupied territory and was taken prisoner before he had the chance to hide. He was sent to Dulag Luft, Oberursel near Frankfurt.

It is probable that Oberleutnant Gunther Specht from 3./ZG26 shot down N3194 and was one of three Abschüsse by him this day in the Calais area. He himself was shot down and was badly wounded and lost an eye but fought back to operational status. He became Kommodore of JG11 and on the 1st January 1945 he was reported to have been shot down and killed by flak. His Fw190 disappeared in the area of Ash, Belgium. He was credited with 31 Abschüsse.

The Sqn lost two other aircraft and pilots in the engagements:

Spitfire Vb P9375 flown by Sgt. Paul Henry Klipsch 566457 RAF Age 24. He was killed. He is buried in the Wierre-Effroy Churchyard in France;

Spitfire Vb N3290 flown by Fg Off. John Arthur Gillies 90900 RAuxAF. PoW No. 626, Stalag Luft 3. He was promoted to Flt Lt. with effect 3rd September 1940. Flt Lt. Gillies was a member of the coding staff specifically one of a number of code letter writers that were received by IS9. He was also responsible for records of the code messages in numerical form held by the compound finance officer in the East and North compounds. Flt Lt. Gillies took over this role in the East compound. He was also involved in devising a new code which was sent to IS9 and which came into operation at the end of July 1943. (Ref 1)

Intelligence School 9 (IS9) was a small unit that was responsible for setting up escape lines, collecting intelligence and developing and delivering hidden aids to help evaders and escapers to get back home.

On arrival at Dulag Luft Sqn Ldr. Bushell became part of the permanent British staff under the Senior British Officer (SBO) Wg Cdr. Day.

Wg Cdr. Harry Melville Arbuthnot Day 5175 RAF PoW No. 37. Shot down by German fighters whilst on a reconnaissance mission in 57 Sqn Blenheim I L1138 on the 13th October 1939. He was the only survivor of the crew.

His first escape attempt was in May 1941 via a tunnel but he was recaptured only yards from the Swiss border. He was returned to Dulag Luft with all of the other captured escapees. He and his fellow escapees were then transferred to Stalag Luft I and then to Oflag 10c.

In October 1941 while he was being transferred by rail from Oflag 10c to Oflag 6b along with several others he escaped from the train. They made their way to Prague where they were hidden by the underground movement. They were recaptured after a clampdown by the Germans following the assassination of Obergruppenführer (Nazi senior group leader) Reinhard Heydrich in May 1942. After being interrogated by the Gestapo Bushell was sent to Stalag Luft 3.

Stalag Luft 1, Barth-Vogelsang, today situated in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany;
Oflag 10c, Lübeck, Northern Germany;
Oflag 6b, SW of the village of Dössel, today part of Warburg in NW Germany.

Heydrich was high-ranking German SS and police official and a principal architect of the Holocaust. He was critically wounded in Prague on the 27th May 1942 as a result of Operation Anthropoid. He was ambushed by a team of Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been sent by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to kill him. Heydrich died from his injuries a week later.

Sqn Ldr. Bushell's interrogation by the Gestapo had given him an intense hatred for the Nazis and made him determined to strike back however he could.

Sqn Ldr. Bushell’s arrival at Stalag Luft 3 had been preceded by his reputation for his escaping endeavours. His time there was short lived because of his escape attempts he was moved to Oflag 11b in November 1942. In February 1943 he was transferred back to Stalag Luft 3.

Above L-R: Roger Bushell, Lt. Eberhardt (Officer of the German guard) and Paddy Byrne

Upon his arrival the Senior British Officer (SBO), Gp Capt. Massey made him the head of the Escape Committee and he was known as "Big X". His plan was to cause the maximum amount of disruption to the Germans in organising a breakout by 200 PoWs. His plan was to commence digging three tunnels which were named "Tom", "Dick" and "Harry" under the premise that should one of the three be discovered the Germans would unlikely think that another was being dug let alone two.

Some 600 PoWs were involved in the planning, preparation of escape materials and construction of the tunnels. On the 8th September 1943 “Tom” was discover and activity on the other two tunnels was shut down for two months to eliminate the risk of being discovered. When work was to recommence “Dick” was shut down because of the clearance for a new compound made unlikely that this tunnel would ever be completed and all efforts were redirected into completing “Harry”.

On the night of the 24th-25th March 1944, 76 officers escaped from the north compound of Stalag Luft 3 which, at that time, held between 1000 and 1500 RAF PoWs. The escape was made by the means of a tunnel. At about 05:00 hrs on the 25th March the 77th PoW was spotted by guards as he emerged from the tunnel.

An overview of the German response to the escape and the subsequent British prosecution of those responsible for the murder of fifty of the escapees is summarised in the report entitled “The Fifty - The Great Escape”.

Sqn Ldr. Bushell teamed up with Lt. Scheidhauer and were in the first twenty to exit the tunnel. They made their way to Sagan railway station where they purchased tickets for Breslau. Thirty minutes later they and a number of other escapers boarded the express train from Berlin to Breslau. (Ref 1)

Sqn Ldr. Bushell and Lt. Scheidhauer made it to the French border where they were about to leave the train and board a bus into France when a suspicious Gestapo man wished Sqn Ldr. Bushell good luck in English. Sqn Ldr. Bushell, who spoke perfect German, replied in English "Thank You" which sealed his fate. Ironically he had often told others during the escape planning to use German only. They were two of the first of the escapers who were captured.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Sqn Ldr. Bushell were established during the first of two British Military Court’s which was convened at the Curiohaus, Hamburg between the 1st July and 3rd September 1947. This was the trial of Max Wielen and 17 others where they were charged on nine counts.

All of the accused were named on the first two counts. These were charges of conspiracy against the accused together with SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller, Head of the Gestapo (Amt IV of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt) (believed to have been killed or committed suicide), SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe, Head of the Kripo (Amt V of the RSHA) (Executed after the attempt on Hitler’s life) and Max Ernst Gustav Friedrich Wielen, the Kripo and Gestapo police chief of Breslau with the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer, in the participation of the killing of the 50 officers.

In counts three to nine, six groups of accused were each charged with the killing of one or several officers. Every accused with the exception of Max Wielen figures in one of the charges and no accused figures in more than one.

Specifically on the third count, Emil Schulz and Walter Breithaupt, members of the Kaiserslautern Gestapo, were accused of killing Sqn Ldr. R.J. Bushell and Lt. B.W.M. Scheidhauer between Homburg and Kaiserslautern on or about the 29th March 1944.

Dr. Spann who was the Kriminaldirektor (Detective Director) of the Gestapo regional headquarters at Saarbrücken, received a teleprint from the RSHA on the night of 28th/29th March, 1944, to the effect that two British officers, who were in the local gaol, had to be taken out and shot.

He directed two members of his staff for this purpose, Schulz who was on night duty, and Breithaupt who, as the officer in charge of transport, slept in the room above the garage.

The three men fetched the prisoners, drove them out on the autobahn toward Mannheim and after approximately 40km stopped the car. The two airmen were ordered out of the vehicle, their handcuffs removed and were told to relieve themselves. Spann then shot both airmen in the back, killing Lt. Scheidhauer and wounding Sqn Ldr. Bushell who collapsed. He then ordered Schulz to complete the task. Schulz, as admitted in his own evidence, fired twice, once without aiming in his excitement, and the second time delivering the Coup de grâce to Sqn Ldr. Bushell who was on his knees.

Breithaupt did not fire his weapon. The prosecutor suggested that he had acted as an escort and was informed of the purpose of the journey by Schulz, which was confirmed by Schulz in his sworn deposition. Breithaupt himself gave evidence to the effect that he only acted as a driver and only learned of the purpose of the journey from Dr. Spann when they arrived at the scene of the shooting.

Dr. Leopold Spann was reassigned to head the Gestapo office at Linz in Austria. He was killed in a USAAF air raid on the 25th April 1945 which destroyed the Gestapo office.

The court found Schulz and Breithaupt not guilty on the first two counts but found both guilty of the third count. Breithaupt was sentenced to life imprisonment and he was released on the 24th October 1952.

Schulz was sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed by Albert Pierrepoint, assisted by RSM Richard A. O'Neill, on the 26th February 1948 at Hameln prison in a double execution at 10:23 hrs.

Above: Memorial to Sqn Ldr. R.J. Bushell and Lt. B.W.M. Scheidhauer at Ramstein AFB, Germany. (Credit: Mr B.Knepp)

Memorial at the approximate spot on the remains of the bridge where to Sqn Ldr. R.J. Bushell and Lt. B.W.M. Scheidhauer were shot. Just outside the main gate of Ramstein AFB, Germany. (Credit: Mr B.Knepp)

Memorial at Hermanus, South Africa

Burial Details

Memorial to “The Fifty” near to Żagań (Courtesy: CSvBibra - Own work, Public Domain)

Above: Sqn Ldr. Bushell and Grave marker (Credit: TWGPP)

Sqn Ldr. Roger Joyce Bushell MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery, Coll. Grave 9.A. Born on the 30th August 1910 in Springs, Transvaal, South Africa. Son of Benjamin Daniel and Dorothy Wingate (née White) Bushell, of Mossel River, Cape Province, South Africa. B.A. (Cantab.); Barrister-at-Law, Lincolns Inn.

Roger Bushell was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire before studying at Pembroke College Cambridge where he studied law. Whilst at Cambridge he pursued a passion for athletics and skiing. His skiing led a 'Black run' in Switzerland to be named after him, when, at the time he was Britain's top male skier. He became fluent in French and German which would become useful later in life.

Sqn Ldr. Bushell was Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) recognizing his conspicuous bravery as a PoW because none of the other relevant decorations then available could be awarded posthumously. Promulgated in the London Gazette on the 13th June 1946.

Originally researched by Michel Becker for Aircrew Remembered in March 2015. With thanks to Geoffrey Gillon, Ron Moody, Freddy Philips and John Hatford for the various photographs used. Reviewed, researched and updated by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with additional thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive

Thanks to ‘The War Graves Photographic Project' (TWGPP) for their great work.


1. Stalag Luft III - An official history of the “Great Escape’ PoW Camp - Published by Frontline Books - ISBN: 978-1-47388-305-5

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