07/08.03.1945 195 Squadron Lancaster I NG186 Flt Lt. Peter Scott
Operation: Dessau, Germany
Date: 7th/8th March 1945 (Wednesday/Thursday)
Unit No: 195 Squadron, 3 Group, Bomber Command
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Wratting Common, Suffolk
Location: Großneuhausen, Germany
Pilot: Flt Lt. Peter Scott 169005 RAFVR Age 25. Murdered (1)
Flt Eng: Sgt. Alan Kenneth Robinson 2006328 RAFVR Age 19. Murdered (1)
Nav: Plt Off. Robert Appleyard DFM 182177 RAFVR Age 23. Murdered (2)
Bomb Aimer: Fg Off. Thomas Maynard Draper J27155 RCAF Age 24. Murdered (3)
WOp/Air Gnr: WO. Ralph Sidney Howe 1034631 RAFVR Age 30. Killed (4)
Air Gnr (MU): Sgt. Donald Howard Sheppard 3025425 RAFVR Age 19. KiA
Air Gnr (Rear): Sgt. Kenneth Woodburn 2208205 RAFVR Age 19. KiA
From L to R: Flt Lt. Scott, Sgt. Robinson, Fg Off. Draper (Credit: David Scott and Fg Off. Draper’s service record)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Lancaster NG186 took off from RAF Wratting Common at 17:06 hrs on the evening of 7th March 1945 on a mission to Dessau, Germany. Fourteen Lancasters of 195 Sqn were sent, two of which returned early. NG186 was one of nineteen Lancasters lost on this raid, the only one of 195 Sqn.
Flak was reported to be light to moderate. One crew reported an aircraft falling in flames which exploded on contact with the ground. No parachutes were seen to come from this aircraft. This report could have witnessed any one of the nineteen losses.
Along the homeward route, night fighters continued to hunt the bomber stream and at least six RAF bombers were shot down, including two near Sömmerda, one near Meiningen, one south of Stuttgart and one east of Lunéville.
Note: Farmer Arno Rahaus wrote a letter to Flt Lt. Scott’s widow, telling her details which he could only have heard from Scott or Robinson during that night, including that the aircraft was chased by a German night-fighter, was shot at, and the tail went up in flames, altitude 4,000 feet.
Two German night-fighter pilots claimed either 103 Squadron Lancaster JA857 or 195 Squadron Lancaster NG186 at around 22:30 hrs near Sömmerda.
The first was Hauptmann Ernst-Georg Drünkler from 1./NJG5, his 32nd Abschuss, claimed a Lancaster at 22:30 hrs in square MC, altitude 2,400 metres. (Square MC is roughly the area of Erfurt-Weimar-Kölleda, altitude 7,900 feet);
The second was Oberleutnant Peter Spoden from 6./NJG6, his 24th Abschuss, at 22:29 hrs, abt. 50-60 km SSW of Dessau, altitude 3,500 metres. (Area of Eisleben/ Sangerhausen/ Querfurt, altitude 11,500 feet).
Ju88G-6 (2Z+DP) flown by Oberleutnant Spoden, with his crew of Unteroffizier (Cpl) Bernhard Iwert, Bordfunker (Radio/Radar Operator), Unteroffizier Friedrich Pelzer, Bordschütze (Air Gunner) and Unteroffizier Wilhelm Koy, Beobachter (Observer), was damaged in an exchange of gunfire with the Lancaster that he had engaged, which knocked out an engine on the Junkers. Subsequently, he and his crew were forced to bale out south of Schwäbisch Hall.
(Nachtjagd War Diaries Volume 2 (April 1944 - May 1945) - (Dr Theo E.W. Boiten & Roderick J. Mackenzie))
Sgts. Sheppard and Woodburn went down with the aircraft which crashed in the fields belonging to Großneuhausen. The remaining five crew members managed to bail out and land safely.
(1) Flt Lt. Scott and Sgt. Robinson gave themselves up to the Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Großbrembach. Local farmer Arno Rahaus offered to keep watch over them in his house during the night, which was granted. Three more farmers joined them, and they spent the night over coffee and cake, card games and talk. The next morning, Scott and Robinson took leave from their host and were taken by Volkssturm (Home guard) man Helmut Schröter to the police station at Buttstädt.
The circumstances leading to the deaths of Flt Lt. Scott and Sgt. Robinson were tried by a British Military Court from 7th to 12th July 1948 at Hamburg.
Two German nationals were charged on two counts.
On the first count, Bernhard August Kalkofe and Hermann Heinrich Jacob were charged with committing a war crime in that they at Buttstädt, Germany, on 8 March 1945, in violation of the laws and usages of war were concerned in the killing of Flight Lieutenant P. Scott and Flight Serjeant [sic] A. K. Robinson, both of the Royal Air Force, prisoners of war.
On the second count, Hermann Heinrich Jacob was charged with committing a war crime in that he at Buttstädt, Germany, on a day between 1st November 1944 and 31st January 1945 in violation of the laws and usages of war was concerned in the issuing of an order whereby members of Allied Air Forces, when prisoners of war, were to be killed.
Jacob was the former Bürgermeister of Buttstädt, a small town north of Weimar/Thuringia, and also the former Ortsgruppenleiter (Local party leader). Kalkofe was a locksmith and a member of the Volkssturm.
In a written statement by Otto Lührs, former Nazi party member at Buttstädt, he stated that he had been present when during a meeting of the Buttstädt party members in a local café, some time in December 1944 or January 1945, Jacob passed on an order originating with Dr. Goebbels and having come to him via Landrat (County Administrator) Franz Georg Karl Hofmann that Allied airmen who landed on German soil should be killed. This was issued as an order by Dr. Goebbels and Jacob and was directed to the general public.
Jacob, in his pre-trial statements, said he never received nor transmitted such an order. He said the only time he ever received an order from Hofmann concerning airmen was in the spring of 1944, and it said that they should be handed over to the Gendarmerie.
The court heard from a written statement by a French PoW named Raoul Ouvry that another French PoW named Yves Gaveaux had told him that he had witnessed, from a distance of 30 metres (100 feet), how Kalkofe and a policeman named Wenzel shot and killed two British airmen on the road leading from Buttstädt in direction of Weimar. Kalkofe was alleged to have shot first, aiming his rifle at the sergeant who immediately collapsed. Wenzel, the statement went on, shot at the other prisoner who fell but raised himself again, begging for his life as a prisoner of war. Wenzel ordered him to lie down and fired about five shots into his body, the last into the back of his head.
Fritz Wenzel was a former Gendarmerie Oberwachtmeister (S/Sgt).
The court also heard from written statements by Kalkofe, to the effect that he had been called from his workplace to the police station at Buttstädt where he was given a rifle and ammunition and was told to go with Wenzel, escorting two prisoners to Weimar. On the road, the two prisoners had tried to escape and had been shot at by Wenzel. Kalkofe said Wenzel had fired five or six shots from his service pistol, and had yelled at him to shoot also. But due to a faulty safety catch he could not fire a shot until the prisoners were already lying lifeless on the road. He then fired one shot in their general direction, but without aiming.
The court acquitted both accused. Wenzel was never brought before a court.
The investigators were sure that the man Wenzel whom they wanted was a resident of Tannroda, but he could not be found.
Current research by local historian Bernd Schmidt found that the name of “Wenzel, Fritz” is engraved at Tannroda on a local memorial stone of World War Two victims, under the heading “post 1945 – Buchenwald”, meaning that this policeman had been imprisoned by the Soviet authorities in the former concentration camp Buchenwald (then a Soviet “Special Camp” of the NKVD), and died there. However the inclusion of his name on the memorial is based on hearsay only, without any documentary evidence that he actually was (or died) there.
(2) Plt Off. Appleyard came down near Vippachedelhausen and was captured by a soldier on furlough who found him sitting in the weighing hut of the local railway, counting the money from his escape bag. He led him up to the main road. In that moment, Hofmann drove by in his car, and seeing the airman, alighted and shot him dead without a moment’s hesitation.
(3) Fg Off. Draper came down at Schlossvippach. He tried to hide from the search parties under a trestle for drying clover but was detected, captured and led to the local police station for a first interrogation. It was decided that the local policeman should escort him to Weimar. At around 13.00 hrs, just outside Schlossvippach on the road to Dielsdorf, Hofmann drove by in his car and shot Draper dead with three shots from his pistol. The murder was witnessed by some children who out of curiosity had followed the policeman and his prisoner in some distance.
Franz Hofmann, who was also involved in other war crimes reported here and here was never brought before a court. He died on the 30th March 1945 in a Weimar hospital after being shot at by a German sentry for failing to stop at a road block.
(4) WO. Howe landed near Kleinbrembach. He spent two nights in the snow-covered fields until he was found by a French PoW working as a farm hand. He alerted his employer, and both of them took Howe to another farmer, Kurt Stiebritz, who took him in and told his farm hand to care for him. Some days later Hofmann appeared on the scene, threatening Stiebritz for not having reported the matter right away. Shortly after that, a doctor appeared, allegedly from the SS detachment at camp Buchenwald, diagnosed pneumonia, gave Howe an injection and ordered him to be taken to Buttstädt hospital. Stiebritz and the French PoW laid Howe on a horse cart and drove him to Buttstädt. He was found dead on arrival.
WO Howe’s death was surrounded by suspicious circumstances especially given the interrogation by the French authorities of a Pierre Macabies. No one was apprehended for Howe’s death which remains unresolved.
(Credit: Uwe - FindAGrave)
(Credit: Uwe - FindAGrave)
Flt Lt. Peter Scott. He was initially buried in the Buttstädt Civil Cemetery, Grave no. 4. His remains were later transferred to Berlin 1939-1945 Military Cemetery, Plot 7 Row L Grave 18, on the 19th September 1947. Born on the 2nd February 1920. Husband to Joan Doreen (née Barry) Scott of Shepherd’s Bush, London, UK.
Sgt. Alan Kenneth Robinson. He was initially buried in the Buttstädt Civil Cemetery, Grave No. 5. His remains were later transferred to Berlin 1939-1945 Military Cemetery, Plot 7 Row L Grave 17, on the 19th September 1947. Born on the 22nd July 1925. Son of Tom Robinson of Sale, Cheshire, UK.
Above: The initial grave markers for Flt Lt. Scott and Sgt. Robinson. (Credit: David Scott)
Plt Off. Robert Appleyard DFM. He was initially buried in Vippachedelhausen, Grave No. 187. His remains were transferred to Berlin 1939-1945 Military Cemetery, Plot 6 Row Z Grave 28, on 25th June 1948. Inscription reads: "CHERISHED MEMORIES OF OUR DEAR SON ROBERT. UNTIL WE MEET. MAM, DAD AND BROTHERS". His birth was registered in the 2nd Quarter of 1921. Son of Robert and Charlotte Margaret (née Holroyd) Appleyard of West Hartlepool, Durham, UK.
DFM awarded as 1130413 Flt.Sgt. Appleyard whilst with 106 Sqn, Gazetted 27th June 1944.
Fg Off. Thomas Maynard Draper. He was initially buried in Schlossvippach, in an isolated grave in the northwest corner of the cemetery. His remains were transferred to Berlin 1939-1945 Military Cemetery, Plot 6 Row C Grave 25, on 1st September 1947. Inscription reads: "HE THAT BELIEVETH IN ME, THOUGH HE WERE DEAD, YET SHALL HE LIVE" ST.JOHN XI.25. Born on the 25th October 1920. Son of James George and Adelaide Emily (née Hambleton) Draper of Brantford, Ontario, Canada.
WO Ralph Sidney Howe. He was initially buried in Buttstädt Civil Cemetery. His remains were transferred to Berlin 1939-1945 Military Cemetery, Plot 6 Row G Grave 28, on 4th July 1947. Inscription reads: "EVER REMEMBERED BY WIFE NANCY, CHILDREN ENA, ROBERT, JOAN, MAM, SISTERS & BROTHERS". Born on the 10th March 1916. Son of William Leonard and Dorothy Ellen (née Davison) Howe of Lanchester, Durham, husband of Lily Annie Walton (née Smart) Howe, of Castleside, Durham, UK.
Sgt. Donald Howard Sheppard. He was initially buried in a field grave not far from the crash site. His remains were transferred to Berlin 1939-1945 Military Cemetery, Plot 9 Row A Grave 25, on 11th December 1950. Inscription reads: "GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. FOR EVER IN OUR THOUGHTS". Born on the 17th March 1925. Son of Ernest Harold and Joyce Millicent (née Loe) Sheppard of Ablington, Wiltshire, UK.
Sgt. Kenneth Woodburn. He was initially buried in a field grave not far from the crash site. His remains were transferred to Berlin 1939-1945 Military Cemetery, Plot 9 Row A Grave 24, on 11th December 1950. Inscription reads: "TO THOSE WHO LOVED AND LOST YOU, YOUR MEMORY WILL NEVER GROW OLD". Born on the 11th June 1924. Son of Thomas and Olive (née Makepeace) Woodburn of Ambleside, Westmorland, UK.
Memorials to Fg Off. Thomas Maynard Draper
On the initiative of the son of one of the child witnesses, a memorial was erected on the 9th March 2019 at Schlossvippach near the place of Plt Off. Draper’s murder, the defense attaché of the Canadian Embassy and local politicians attending. (Credit: Bernd Schmidt and Frank Münch)
(Credit: Bernd Schmidt and Frank Münch)
The text of the plaque reads:
an den kanadischen Flieger
Thomas M. Draper.
Er wurde am 08.03.1945
an dieser Stelle vom
of the Canadian airman
Thomas M. Draper.
On 8th March 1945,
he was murdered on this spot
insidiously by the
then County Administrator.
At his home town he is honoured by the naming of Draper Street in West Brant and in an inscription on the Brant County war memorial.
Researched by Traugott Vitz and Ralph Snape for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Traugott for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’. Thanks also to Mr David Scott for providing photographs and information. These authors are indebted to Herr Bernd Schmidt for liberal access to his vast collection of documents, and for his permission to publish his findings on this web page.
Bernd Schmidt and Traugott Vitz have written a brochure on the NG186 murders: "Fliegermorde in und um Buttstädt. 08. & 15.03.1945" (Fliegermorde im 2. Weltkrieg), Weimar 2021, ISBN 978-3-96567-059-4.