The Unknown Nose Artist Named – “Jaxon” – by Clarence Simonsen

Hello Pierre,

I wish to start off the New Year with a real, honest, Canadian WWII hero, and survivor. This is the man who painted the Lancaster Mk. II nose art later flown by “Relic” of CBC Beachcombers.

Clarence

 

LAC Laverne Thomas Adam Shearer was posted to No. 408 [Goose] Squadron in March 1943, as a class “A” air engine mechanic. Laverne was born in Kitchener, Ontario, 7 July 1923, and had been employed as a auto mechanic before he enlisted in the RCAF. He passed away in a veterans hospital on 24 April 1969, leaving his WWII photo collection to his sister Mrs. Henrietta Mitchell. 

LAC Laverne Thomas Adam Shearer

LAC Laverne Thomas Adam Shearer

In almost every RCAF squadron there was an airmen who possesses some form of talent with a paint brush and he became the one who painted the emblems, mascots, and nude ladies on the bombers.

nose artist erks

LAC Shearer was assigned to a five man ground crew with names – Bob Gale, Howley, Jaxon, [nose artist] and Ledger. They worked on Handley-Page Halifax Mk. II bomber code letter “N” until August  1943, when 408 squadron began to converted over to the Lancaster Mk. II. They were assigned to work on a new Lancaster Mk. II serial LL722, “N”.  This was the aircraft of F/L Norm Sutherland, DFC, who received the new bomber on 14 January 1944, and flew her on 22 operations. The squadron nose artist was LAC “Jaxon”, who painted very impressive pin-up ladies on most of the squadron aircraft.

 EQ-B

This is the impressive nude art work of LAC Jaxon painted on Lancaster Mk. II, serial LL642, code EQ-B, which completed 60 Operations from January 1944 to 15 August 1944. [note – you will find rare color and sound footage of this aircraft on line today, most enjoyable]

Left to right – F/O R.L. Black, Brussels, Ontario, Navigator – F/O C. Harder, Lethbridge, Alberta, and F/L A.M. Herring, Long Beach, Ontario.

Pilot Harold Kearl collection 

Pilot Harold Kearl collection

Almost all of the Lancaster aircraft built in WWII were powered by the four Rolls Royce Merlin in-line, liquid cooled engines. The exception was the Lancaster Mk. II [above] which was fitted with four Bristol Hercules radial air-cooled engines. With the exception of the built in Canada Lancaster Mk. X aircraft, three RCAF squadrons were closely identified with the obscure Lancaster Mk. II, and many Canadians lost their lives in this bomber. Of the 301 Mk. II’s that were constructed, 120 would serve with three RCAF squadrons, No. 408, 426 and 432, with 82 shot down. These statistics do not show any major problem in the Lancaster Mk. II, but simply show the heavy cost of Canadian lives during the 1943-44 allied bombing offensive called the “Battle of Berlin.” The Battle of Berlin began in the last week of October 1943, although it included a wide range of targets such as Leipzig, Stuttgart, Brunswick, Magdeburg, Schweinfurt, and Augsburg, its main target was Berlin.

The above Lancaster Mk. II, serial DS692, EQ-S, came to 408 squadron on 7 October 1943, and flew 49 operations, half by Pilot/Officer John Douglas Harvey, DFC. P/O Harvey was truly a survivor, making eleven trips to bomb the German capital city. His Lancaster carried nose art of a Jolly Green Giant holding a 500 lb. bomb, while a flask of liquor hangs around his neck.  

EQ-S

author collection

EQ-S drawing

author drawing

RCAF nose art played a part in the Battle of Berlin, as all crews understood they were bombing the heavy defended city of Berlin and many would not return. F/O Ronald William Butcher – “Outpaced, out-maneuvered and outgunned by the German fighters, we were highly inflammable, explosive, and these black monsters presented an ideal target. It’s no wonder aircrew personnel in Bomber Command at that time really did not expect to reach their next birthday.”  

Between November 1943 and March 1944, Bomber Command launched 16 massive attacks on Berlin. Today it is generally accepted by aviation historians the Battle of Berlin was a failure by the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, with the loss of 1,047 bombers, 1,682 damaged and over 7,000 aircrew lost. 

No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron was the first RCAF unit to received the Lancaster Mk. II. The Thunderbirds had been operating with Wellington bombers at Dishforth, Yorkshire, then moved to No. 62 [Beaver Base] Linton-on-Ouse, on 18 June 1943. On 16 July 43, seven new Lancaster Mk. II aircraft had arrived on charge and training could begin. On 17 August, No. 426 flew its first four-engine bomber operation. The last operation in Lancaster Mk. II’s came on 1 May 1944, and by the middle of the month the last five Lancaster aircraft had been transferred to No. 408 Squadron. The squadron flew a total of 58 operations in the Lancaster Mk. II during the Battle of Berlin. No. 426 had now converted to the Halifax Mk. III’s with eight flying their first operation on 2 May 1944.

No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron was destined to be the last to received the Lancaster Mk. II’s and the first to relinquish them to No. 408 Squadron. Leaside squadron had been flying Wellington aircraft at Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, then moved to a satellite of the main Beaver Base, located at East Moor. Their first Lancaster Mk. II’s arrived at East Moor in October and the first operation to Berlin was flown on 26 November 1943. After only two months of operations in the Lancaster Mk. II’s, No. 432 converted to Halifax Mk. II’s on 3 February 1944, with the last Lancaster II’s transferred to No. 408 Squadron by mid-February 1944. They flew a total of 15 operations in the Lancaster Mk. II’s in Battle of Berlin.

The last RCAF Squadron to fly the Lancaster Mk. II [and second to receive them] became No. 408 [Goose] Squadron. Unlike No. 426 and 432 Squadrons they had been flying the four-engine Halifax Mk. II’s at Leeming, Yorkshire, before their move to Linton-on-Ouse, 27 August 1943. Due to this factor, they had qualified over 70% of their pilots in the Lancaster Mk. II by the first week of September. They flew their first operation in Battle of Berlin on 7 October 1943, to Stuttgart, Germany. They would complete 46 operations in the Lancaster Mk. II during the Battle of Berlin.

EQ-N

This painting was received from Wing Commander Ronald W. Butcher, DFC, CD, painted for his book titled “Been There Done That; Through Treacherous Skies” published by Trafford Publishing. The painting contains one error, in that it shows a mid-under gun turret with two 303 cal. guns. This in fact was one single 50 cal. machine gun, fired by 19 year old Mid-Under gunner Sgt. A. “Dusty” Claus, an aboriginal from the reserve near Oshawa, Ontario. He was one of only 29 aboriginals commissioned by the RCAF during WWII. The lack of education eliminated most Aboriginal hopefuls for the Air Force and most served in the Army infantry. 

Lancaster Mk. II, serial LL722 was received by pilot F/L Norm Sutherland, DFC, on 14 January 1944, and the crew ask nose artist LAC Jaxon to paint a nude lady with name “Lady Be Good.” The pose came from a Varga calendar that was hanging in the dispersal crew shack, featuring a nude laying across a bed on her back with her legs crossed, feet on the floor.  This nose art remained until June 1944, when word was received the Royal family were coming for a tour. The Commanding Officer, Wing Commander A.R. McLernon, DFC, approached F/O Ronald Butcher the aircraft navigator and ordered – “Put her clothes on.” Due to the fact the crew chief was on leave, navigator Butcher painted over the complete nude and then painted the large letters “Lady Be Good.”

 

Ronald William Butcher

F/O Ronald William Butcher J20961 had become a WWII Lancaster nose artist.

 

Ronald William Butcher notes

The Royal family tour at Linton-on-Ouse was cancelled until August and the crew of F/L Norman Sutherland finished their operational tour on 10 June 1944.

 Ronald William Butcher Lady Be Good

The new nose art name by navigator F/O Butcher and the over-painted original nude lady area can be seen.

On 10 June 1944, the Sutherland crew completed their tour and the Lancaster was turned over to F/L Robert [Bob] Clothier, DFC, [Relic in the CBC Beachcombers TV series].

Ronald William Butcher crew

From W/C Butcher collection.

Clothier flew her on the 3,000th squadron sortie, which was her 46th trip over enemy territory,  On 8 August, she completed her 55 and last trip over Germany. On 11 August 44, the Royal family came to Linton-on-Ouse, and the King presented medals in front of Lancaster LL722, “Lady Be Good”, which Shearer recorded in one photo. [P/O Webb received D.S.O.]

Pilo Officer Webb

new crew Lady Be Good

The new crew of Lancaster LL722, “Lady be good” F/L Robert Allan Clothier J15680, DFC.

In mid-July 1944, No. 408 Squadron began to convert from the Lancaster Mk. II to the Halifax Mk. VII. In August the squadron flew operations using both aircraft, the last Lancaster operations were on 15 August, when seven Lancaster II’s attacked Brussels.

On 11 August 1944, a new Halifax Mk. VII, serial NP747 [“N”] was assigned to the ground crew of Gale, Howley, Shearer, Jaxon and Ledger. The Halifax is flown by the Squadron C.O. Wing Commander A.R. McLernon, DFC, on her first two operations and two more were completed later.

Notorious Man

 

This [Shearer] photo shows the ground crew with the fresh painted nose art of “Notorious Nan” which may have been painted for the C.O. The top man is Bob Gale, Howley, Shearer, Jaxon [the artist] and Ledger.

Note – the nose art has not been completed as the full moon, palm tree and waves have not been painted on at this date.

On 14 October 1944, “Nan” is part of 40 Lancaster and 217 Halifax aircraft to attack Duisburg, Germany, in the day. A total of 225 hit the primary target with one shot down. “Nan” is hit by flak and damaged, her starboard engine burst into flames.  On landing with three engines the aircraft over shot the runway and is designated for disposal. She has completed nineteen operations.

Notorious Nan after the war

The morning of 15 October 1944, LAC Shearer in front of “Nan” crash site.

On 23 October, the bomber is flown to Rawcliffe, England,  for disposal. F/L Lindsay RCAF picks this nose art panel for return to Canada and it is cut from the nose in May 1945. Today it is in the War Museum collection in Ottawa, with no information.

Harold Lindsay

F/L Harold Lindsay, the forgotten hero who saved the Ottawa War Museum Halifax original nose art collection.

This photo was taken at CFB Edmonton in 1996, when the nose art hung in the museum of No. 408 Helicopter Squadron, [author]

 

Notorious Nan by Clarence Simonsen

 

The name “Jaxon” remains on his nose art painting but sadly the artist has never been found.

The Linton Lion

In early May 1945, No. 408 Squadron converted to new Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X aircraft and began training for “Tiger Force” and the invasion of Japan. LAC Jaxon began to paint his new Canadian nose art which was next flown to Canada, arriving at Greenwood, Nova Scotia, on 18 June 1945. This is KB979, EQ-L, “The Linton Lion.” [Mrs. Henrietta Mitchell]

EQ-O

KB995, “The Oomph Gal” code EQ-O, named after American actress Ann Sheridan, also featured small images of Varga pin-up girls in crew positions.

 

Note:

A comment  from  a reader…

Update Oomph Gal was KB929 not KB995. Check it out

EQ-J

 

KB919, EQ-J, “7 Jacks and Jill” most impressive nude work of LAC Jaxon

 

Today the War Museum in Ottawa have the only original WWII nose art painting by LAC Jaxon, but it contains no educational history.

The Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton, Alberta, contains the memorial photo image of F/L Robert Clothier and crew in front of a Lancaster Mk. II aircraft, and that is about it for educational value. It is mostly directed at the fact this is the famous “Relic” from the Beachcombers CBC series.

Dave O’Malley of Vintage Wings of Canada has featured a wonderful history of Relic and his postwar career plus his Beachcombers CBC success.

For some unknown reason the original nose artist [LAC Jaxon] has remained the forgotten and unknown man. This is my simple attempt to bring the true history for all to read. Unless the Air Force Association of Canada realize we need to display and record our WWII nose art panels history and properly teach to future new generations of Canadians, it will never matter.

Ronald W. Butcher DFC

 

Ex-Wing Commander Ronald W. Butcher, DFC, CD, survivor of the Battle of Berlin and a man who made nine trips to Berlin, is very healthy and enjoying life in British Columbia. As a past General Manager of the Air Force Association he understands the meaning of WW II nose art. He is the man who painted the nose art “Lady Be Good” on the Lancaster taken over by F/L Robert Clothier.

Thanks for your help Ron.

 

Written by Clarence Simonsen

 

“Wings of Freedom Tour”

I wish I was there also…

Pacific Paratrooper

P-51 Mustang "Betty Jane" P-51 Mustang “Betty Jane”

On 12 February 2014, I had the utmost pleasure to travel a short route south to the Boca Raton Airport to witness the “Wings of Freedom Tour” sponsored by the Collings Foundation.  At the Signature Flight Support area there were 3 WWII aircraft waiting for us to explore.

The Mustang, the world’s only full dual control P-51C fighter, with the pilot sitting on its wing was an outstanding sight to say the least.  You can almost envision the plane on its daily route in the skies above Europe.

B-24 Liberator B-24 Liberator

The B-24 Liberator begins to tower over you as you near her.  It puts you in awe knowing they flew their gallant missions over 70 years ago.  And today they continue to fly on a mission to educate and pay tribute.  The aircraft that sat before me was the very last flying Liberator in the world…

View original post 700 more words

For the B-17 lovers

Click here.

Excerpt

The US Eighth Air Force could now put up a force of over 1000 heavy bombers when called upon. Tens of thousands of young men in the air crews were now living a surprisingly regular existence on their bases in England. For a raid on Germany they would be off after 7 in the morning and back around 5 in the afternoon. Death was never far away, there would be few missions when they did not see some of their comrades lost.

The diary of Harley Tuck, a radio operator/gunner on a B-17 tells a story that would be familiar to many at the time:

Lost P-40

Not a breaking news, but still a mystery.

Excerpt

Some time in 1942, a lone Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk bearing the 260 Squadron “HS” squadron code and the aircraft letter “B” settled down over a wide and remote expanse of North African sand desert called Al Wadi al Jadid. Perhaps low on fuel, perhaps lost, or with mechanical problems, the RAF pilot chose to land in the vast North African Sahara. With his landing gear locked down, he flared low over the sand and settled onto it. The gear snapped off, the desert camouflaged P-40 collapsed onto its belly and slid for a hundred meters or more shedding its radiators and propeller hub.

After coming to a stop, the pilot exited the aircraft, closed the canopy and disappeared into the sands of history. The aircraft itself would remain undiscovered for seven decades, perhaps for much of it covered by the sands of time, or perhaps just so far out of the way that it was not seen or at least reported until March of 2012, when an oil exploration team came across the wreck in Egypt.

Was the pilot injured?

Click here.

 

 

Just an incredible war story… Mission over Kassel in 1943

Sometimes you stumble upon a story that has never been told because veterans didn’t talk much about the war.

They keep their war memories buried deep inside. Then when they die, someone finds all about their war memories…

This is not related to the last posts about POWs. But it could have been…

25 times!

Lt. Wooldridge in B-17

Click here.

Kermit David Wooldridge, born in 1917 in Lawton Oklahoma to deaf-mute parents, was incorrigible as a youth  (his own words). A constant run-away, he had no use for school and would rather ride cross-country on trains. He enlisted in the Army in 1934. The United States Army would soon whip him into shape.

When WWII broke out the need for pilots was critical and the young Wooldridge, uneducated but smart, volunteered to learn to fly. My dad, a man with very little future when he got out of  high school would soon find himself in the midst of the most important war America would ever fight.  In just over 100 hours of training in the B-17 Flying Fortress he would begin his first mission.My father did make it back from 25 missions as the  pilot of the B-17 over Nazi-occupied Europe. The cost was extremely high. His entire squadron was wiped out four times in eight months. He was the only pilot in his squadron to survive those eight months of combat. 

As unlikely as it seemed in 1934, my father would go on to distinguish himself in the war and have a 24-year military career, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1958. He died in 1994. Regrettably, during my life we never talked much about the war. The reasons become clear as you read his diary. How do you talk about seeing five planes in your squadron blown out of the sky by enemy aircraft ? (See Raid 18, Schweinfurt, below).  

Many veterans never discuss those experiences, but my dad documented each of his 25 missions over Europe. I hope that by sharing some of what he wrote I can honor his memory better in his death than I did in his life. When you click on each raid below you will be reading the actual diary pages typed after each raid upon return to the base in England.  These words are those of a 26 year old pilot who was facing the very real possibility of death. This website is dedicated to those Veterans who fought and survived and to the enormous courage of those who did not make it back.

Frances Wooldridge Bekafigo

The 5th mission over Kassel is here.

There were 24 other missions.

Hans-Jürgen Ehrig

I hope I am not overdoing this research on this souvenir left by Feldwebel Kramer when he returned to Germany after the war in 1945 …

Luftwaffe Feldwebel shoulder strap

It was a piece of cake to find more information on the second pilot on this list I found on a Website which I think has some errors.

Eckehardt Priebe 1916 Oblt. 3 31.08.40 Gefangenschaft
Hans-Jürgen Ehrig 1912 Oblt. 3 31.08.40 Gefangenschaft
Hans Petrenko 1917 Lt. 0 31.08.40 Gefangenschaft
Walter Evers 1912 Fw. 0 31.08.40 gefallen, Luftkampf (Themsemündung)
Günther Kramer 1918 Fw. 0 31.08.40 gefallen, Luftkampf (Themsemündung)
Xaver Keck 1917 Uffz. 0 31.08.40 Gefangenschaft

I don’t think these pilots flew with JG51 “Molders” as the Website implies. In fact, it’s only on November 21, 1940, that I. Gruppe/JG77 was renamed IV. Gruppe/JG51:

  • Stab I./JG77 became Stab IV./JG51
  • 1./JG77 became 10./JG51
  • 2./JG77 became 11./JG51
  • 3./JG77 became 12./JG51

This is Oblt. Hans-Jürgen Ehrig’s Bf 109E that crash-landed at Tenterden on August 31st, 1940.    (Source)

Bf-109E-1.JG77-(W13+o)-Hans-Jurgen-Ehrig-crash-landed-Kent-1940-01Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4 of 1./JG77 (W13+) Oblt. Hans-Jurgen Ehrig crash-landed at Tenterden, Kent, POW 31st August 1940

The Bf 109 E-4, ‘White 13′ of Oblt. Hans-Jurgen Ehrig, the Staffelkapitan of 1./JG77, lies crumpled in a field at Gates Farm near Tenterden, Kent on the afternoon of 31st August 1940. Damaged by fighters while over Hornchurch on an escort mission, Ehrig attempted to return to France but, harried by F/Lt. M.L. Robinson of 601 Sqn, he was forced to put his damaged aircraft down and was subsequently taken prisoner. 31st August 1940 was disastrous for JG77 which, newly introduced to the Battle of Britain, lost five aircraft from 1. Staffel and one from 2. Staffel.

I found more information about Oblt. Hans Jürgen Ehrig.

Hans Jürgen Ehrig

Units: Legion Condor, Stfkpt 1./JG-77 (Channel)

Awards: Spanish Cross, EK 2 (Eisernes Kreuz 2 Klasse), Fighter Operational Clasp

Known Aircraft: Bf 109E-4 WNr 5105 ‘White 13’ (lost 8/31/40)

Remarks: POW 31st August 1940, shot down during aerial combar by F/O Robinson of RAF No. 601 Sq, and belly landed at Gates Farm, High Halden while on an escort mission over Kent and Essex. One victory in Spain. One known victory, his 1st, a Morane 406 north of Valenciennes, 18th May 1940.

Hans-Jürgen Ehrig, born in 1912, had 3 victories and he was shot down on 31 August, 1940. He was taken gefangenschaft (prisoner). It is clear that he was with JG77 on August 31, 1940, and not with JG51 when he was shot down.

Bf-109E-1.JG77-(W13+o)-Hans-Jurgen-Ehrig-crash-landed-Kent-1940-01

Footnote

To better undertand what you have just read, here are some notes on the structure of a Geschwader that were taken from the Internet.

Geschwader
Initially the Geschwader comprised of three Gruppen and a Stab, later in the war a fourth Gruppe was added. The Geschwader was the largest German flying unit to have a fixed nominal strength. Originally it had been intended that the component Gruppen of each Geschwader should operate together from adjacent airfields, but under the stress of war this soon broke down.

The Geschwader commander held the title of Kommodore (Kdore), and was usually a Major, Oberstleutnant or Oberst. His Staff included and adjudant, an operations officer, an intelligence officer, a navigation officer, technical officers, a signal officer and such other specialist officers as the nature of the unit and task might dictate.

Number of Aircraft in a Jagdgeschwader

Stab (±4 a/c)
3-4 Gruppen (each Gruppe also a Stab flight of 4 a/c)
3-4 Staffeln in each Gruppe
12-16 aircraft in each Staffel

Staffel
Nominal strength of 12 aircraft. A Staffel formation comprised of three Schwärme stepped up in line astern. The staffel was the lowest grade of formation within the organisation. Commanded by a Staffelkapitän usually an Oberleutnant or Hauptmann, members of its flying personnel would supervise the technical and signals branches as secondary duties. Late in the war some Staffeln had their numbers raised to 16 aircraft on strength nominally.

Gruppe
Initially in the Gruppe comprised three Staffeln and a Stab (Headquarters flight), later in the war a fourth Staffel was added. The Stab flight consisted of 3-4 a/c. The Gruppe was the basic flying unit for operational and administrative purposes. When orders were given for moves of flying units, the recipients were usually Gruppen. Normally one complete Gruppe occupied a single airfield, occasionally individual Staffeln might be detached from their parent Gruppe for operational reasons or to re-equip.

The Gruppe commander carried the title of Kommandeur (Kdr.) and was usually a Hauptmann or a major, under his command he had an adjudant, specialist technical officers and a medical officer.

More information about IV. Gruppe/JG51

I was formed 21 November 1940 in Marquise from I./JG77 with:

Stab IV./JG51 from Stab I./JG77
10./JG51 from 1./JG77
11./JG51 from 2./JG77
12./JG51 from 3./JG77

Gruppenkommandeure:

Hptm Johannes Janke, 21 Nov 1940 – 18 Feb 1941

Hannes-Trautloft-Further-Fate-2Hptm Johannes Janke somewhere in France,
circa August-September 1940

Footnote to the footnote

Is it possible that the photo above with all the others were taken in Marquise when Haupmann Johannes Janke was in command of I. Gruppe/JG77 before he took command of IV. Gruppe/JG51 on November 21, 1940?

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I guess we will never know for sure.

More notes…

I. Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 77

Hptm Johannes Janke, 1.5.39 – 21.11.40
Hptm Walter Grommes, 2.41 – 6.41
Maj Joachim Seegert, 6.41 – 1.42
Hptm Herbert Ihlefeld, 6.1.42 – 11.5.42
Maj Heinz Bär, 11.5.42 – 6.8.43
ObLt Armin Köhler (acting), 31.7.43 – 19.8.43
Hptm Lutz-Wilhelm Burkhardt, 19.8.43 – 30.11.43
Hptm Theo Lindemann, 30.11.43 – 28.8.44
Hptm Armin Köhler (acting), 5.44 – 13.6.44
Hptm Lothar Baumann, 1.8.44 – 24.12.44
Maj Münnichow, 24.12.44 – 10.1.45
Hptm Joachim Deicke, 10.1.45 – 17.4.45
Hptm Heinz Grosser, 17.4.45 – 8.5.45

IV. Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 51

Hptm Johannes Janke, 21.11.40 – 18.2.41
Maj Friedrich Beckh, 1.3.41 – 19.7.41
Hptm Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, 20.7.41 – 9.4.42
Hptm Hans Knauth, 10.4.42 – 28.2.43
Maj Rudolf Resch, 1.3.43 – 11.7.43
Maj Hans Ekkehard Bob, 1.8.43 – 8.5.44
Maj Heinz Lange, 9.5.44 – 11.4.45
Olt Günther Josten, 12.4.45 – 28.4.45
Maj Heinz Lange, 29.4.45 – 8.5.45

I hope I am not overdoing this research on this souvenir left by Feldwebel Kramer when he returned to Germany after the war…

Luftwaffe Feldwebel shoulder strap

Final footnote

The pilot who shot down Oblt. Hans Jürgen Ehrig.

I found this information.

Squadron Leader Michael Lister Robinson, then of 601 Squadron Tangmere, sitting on the wing of his Hurricane in 1941. In 1942, after having been “rested” but having insisted on being put back on ops, Robinson was lost while leading the Tangmere Wing at the head of 340 Squadron. His remains were never found. Robinson’s personal papers, accessed after his death, contained some rich anecdotes, including this account of the downing of an Me 109 on August 16th 1940 which differed somewhat from the official log entry:

“He [the German pilot] never rose above 100 feet until well south of Maidstone and then throttled back. I overtook him and formated on him, pointing downwards for him to land. He turned away so I carried out a dummy quarter attack, breaking very close to him. After this he landed his Me in a field. I threw him a packet of twenty Players and returned to base.”

robins10I believe the August 16 date to be wrong.

Click here.

Excerpt (be sure to read the complete article)

Michael Lister Robinson was born in Chelsea, London in May 1917, the son of Sir Roy, later Lord, Robinson. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in September 1935. On the 28th he was posted to 3 FTS, Grantham and, with training completed, he joined 111 Squadron at Northolt on August 3rd 1936. Robinson went to 11 Group Pool, St Athan on January 30th 1939, as an instructor and was appointed ‘B’ Flight Commander on July 10th.

He was posted to France on March 16th 1940 and joined 87 Squadron there. On May 9th he badly injured a hand in a crash in a Master and was sent back to England.

Fit again, Robinson was posted to 601 Squadron at Tangmere on August 16th as a Flight Commander. On the 31st he claimed a Me 109 destroyed, another probably destroyed and a third one damaged, on September 4th he shared a probable Me 110, on the 6th he destroyed a Me 109 and on the 25th he got a probable Me 110.

Marquise-Ost

I have found from what airfield Feldwebel Günther Kramer took off on August 31st, 1940. He took off from Marquise-Ost in the Pas-de-Calais.

This is where I got information about this simple grass airstrip in France.

Near the French city of Marquise the Germans established two airfields to fight the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 . The first of these, Marquise-Ost, was situated close to the village of Hydrequent, while the second, called Marquise-West by the Germans, was constructed near Ledquent. The location of the 2 airfields can be found on the GoogleEarth map below:

1. MARQUISE-OST

The airfield Marquise-Ost was established just to the north of the village of Hydrequent, as a simple grass airstrip. Today, nothing remains of the airfield.

The first Luftwaffe unit to arrive at the airfield was the II Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 26which arrived on 21 July 1940 and stayed until 7 December of the same year. From 20 August 1940 it was joined by the I Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 77. When this unit left the airfield on 21 November 1940, it was replaced from that date by the IV Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 51, which remained until in December.

2. MARQUISE-WEST

The airfield Marquise-West was situated between the villages of Ledquent and Marquise, straddling both sides of the current motorway A16. Here too, the airstrip was grass only. However, some sources claim remains of concrete Rollstrasse or taxiways and emplacements for hangars can still be found today.

In 1940 the airfield was used systematically only by the Jagdgeschwader 51. As early as June 1940 the II Gruppe arrived and stayed until September 1940. The airfield was also used in 1941, notably from 16 April until 7 June 1941, by the IV Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 51, which had stayed at Marquise-Ost the year before.

In the period June 1941-1942 the airfield was only used on an irregular basis, for example for emergency landings. However, until September 1942 Luftwaffe troops were stationed in Ledquent, very close to the perimeter, perhaps partly inside the perimeter of Marquise-West.  The names of the units involved clearly indicate their connection to the airfield: Fliegerhorstkompanie, Nachrichtenstelle, Flugleitung, Feuerwehr, Wetterstelle, 7. leichte Flakgruppe, Sanitätsstaffel. These units totalled 153 soldiers and were command by Luftwaffe Hauptmann Schueler, with Oberleutnant Fonfara as second-in-command.

After September 1942 the infrastructure was handed over to the Heer. However, many of the bunkers still remain today and explicitly show the close relationshup with the Luftwaffe through the abundant presence of paintings on walls and ceiling. More information on the bunkers of Stp 188 Schlesien can be found here.

3. FLIEGERHORSTKOMMANDANTUR

In the period June 1940 – September 1943 the airfield installations were governed by the Fliegerhorstkommandantur E 13/VIII. Initially commanded by Hauptmann Karl Hübschle, HauptmannFelix Peltzner took over in May 1943.

Now we know for sure where Feldwebel Günther Kramer took off on August 31st, 1940.

The next pictures were found on the same Website I took this picture from.

Bf-109E3-1.JG77-(W15+o)-side-profile-view-1939-01

We have pictures of Bf 109. The insignia on the cowl probably belongs to I Gruppe, but I can’t be sure.

Hannes Trautloft Bf 109 shoe

The caption is most interesting.

Frankreich, Jagdflugzeuge Me 109 auf Feldflugplatz

Bf-109E3-I.JG77-France-1940-03 captionBundesarchiv, Bild 101I-058-1784A14
Foto: Eckert, Erhart | 1940 August – September (source)

According to the caption, the picture was taken in France in August or September 1940.

Here are two other pictures without captions, but we can tell they were taken by the same photographer.

Bf-109E3-I.JG77-France-1940-01 Bf-109E3-I.JG77-France-1940-02

These three pictures seemed to make more sense when I read this one more time to go back in time on a small grass airstrip in Marquise…

Near the French city of Marquise the Germans established two airfields to fight the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 . The first of these, Marquise-Ost, was situated close to the village of Hydrequent, while the second, called Marquise-West by the Germans, was constructed near Ledquent. The location of the 2 airfields can be found on the GoogleEarth map below:

1. MARQUISE-OST

The airfield Marquise-Ost was established just to the north of the village of Hydrequent, as a simple grass airstrip. Today, nothing remains of the airfield.

The first Luftwaffe unit to arrive at the airfield was the II Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 26, which arrived on 21 July 1940 and stayed until 7 December of the same year. From 20 August 1940 it was joined by the I Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 77. When this unit left the airfield on 21 November 1940, it was replaced from that date by the IV Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 51, which remained until in December.

Feldwebel Günther Kramer probably would have taken off on August 31st, 1940 from Marquise-Ost on a plane similar to this one.

Bf-109E3-I.JG77-France-1940-01

I found More information on Marquise-Ost here.

But are we sure that all this information is true?

Frankreich, Jagdflugzeuge Me 109 auf Feldflugplatz

12 O’Clock High

That’s the forum where I have got most of my information on Günther Kramer.

Click here.

I first became a member of this forum when I found some people were looking at some pictures of German planes I had posted on my blog about 403 Squadron.

This is the first message I wrote…

Hi everyone,

I am the guy with the blog about RCAF No. 403 Squadron. 

http://rcaf403squadron.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/hello-world/

Some members saw the article I wrote with captured German planes in Fassberg in 1945.

http://rcaf403squadron.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/captured-german-bombers/

I have a blog about RAF No. 23 Squadron with stories and pictures.

This is the link with an article that says it all about why I write.

 That’s the only message I posted back in November 2011.

I will follow up on Günther Kramer’s story with more information given to me this week by a member who sent me a private message. The information is mostly on the Bf 109 E seen here.

Bf-109E3-1.JG77-(W15+o)-side-profile-view-1939-01

More on Feldwebel Günther Kramer

Little by little I am finding more and more information on Feldwebel Günther Kramer who gave this memento to a lady in England after the war.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We started our search with this piece of information.

Last year we were given an envelope which held a shoulder strap with the following written on the front.

Sgt Major Günther Kramer was a Messerschmitt pilot shot down over Kent. He was taken as a POW. He was one of five billeted out on Chivers Farm Aldreth near Ely (Cambs).

He gave me his pilots shoulder strap as a souvenir when he returned to Germany, we called him Jack, he had been a school teacher before being called up, he came from Altenburg, he wrote a few letters when he returned home.

I have done some research to try and find any descendants  so that we could return these items but without success and wondered if you might be luckier.

Feldwebel Günther Kramer was a pilot with I. Gruppe of JG77. Feldwebel means his rank was sergeant.

His Gruppenkommandeure was Hptm Johannes Janke who was in charge from 1 May 1939 to 21 November 1940. His name is mentioned here with this other German pilot.

Hannes Trautloft Bf 109Source

From 31 July 1940 to 25 August 1940, this unit was stationed at Aalborg-West and was flying Bf 109 E. From 25 August 1940 to 21 November 1940 this unit was stationed at Marquise-Mimoyecques in the Pas-de-Calais, still flying on Bf 109 E.

This is a picture of a Bf 109 E-3 taken from this Website.

Bf-109E3-1.JG77-(W15+o)-side-profile-view-1939-01Bf 109E3 1.JG77 (W15+o) side profile view 1939-01

Feldwebel Günther Kramer was flying a Bf 109 E-1, no.5, werknummer 6092.

I have modified the image of the plane above. That would probably represent Feldwebel Günther Kramer’s plane.

Bf 109 E1 no. 5This is another picture of a Bf 109 E of 1./JG77 taken on the same Website.

Bf-109E3-1.JG77-(W11+o)-semi-hidden-along-a-small-forest-1940-01Messerschmitt Bf 109 E- of 1./JG77 (White 11+o)
partially hidden in trees France 1940

This next picture is another Bf 109 E from the same unit. This plane was shot down on the exact same date and in the same region as Günther Kramer’s plane.

The source is here.

Bf-109E-1.JG77-(W13+o)-Hans-Jurgen-Ehrig-crash-landed-Kent-1940-01Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4 of 1./JG77 (W13+)
Oblt. Hans-Jurgen Ehrig crash-landed Tenterden,
Kent POW 31st August 1940

The Bf 109 E-4, ‘White 13’ of Oblt. Hans-Jurgen Ehrig, the Staffelkapitan of 1./JG77, lies crumpled in a field at Gates Farm near Tenterden, Kent on the afternoon of POW 31st August 1940. Damaged by fighters while over Hornchurch on an escort mission, Ehrig attempted to return to France but, harried by F/Lt. M.L. Robinson of 601 Sqn, he was forced to put his damaged aircraft down and was subsequently taken prisoner. POW 31st August 1940 was disastrous for JG77 which, newly introduced to the Battle of Britain, lost five aircraft from 1. Staffel and one from 2. Staffel.

Feldwebel Günther Kramer was not the only German pilot shot down on August 31st, 1940.

About the Bf 109 E…

Messerschmitt Bf 109 E Emil

On the ground the Bf 109 was tricky to handle but in the air it was lethal. Allied designers made their aircraft easy for any novice pilot to handle and as a result where able to throw new pilots into combat at a much faster rate and during the ‘Battle of Britain’ this is one of many factors that help win the Battle. As pilot loses mounted the Luftwaffe faced more accidents which also took it’s toll on materials and resources.

The Bf 109’s small rudder was relatively ineffective at controlling the strong swing created by the powerful slipstream of the propeller during the early portion of the takeoff roll, and this sideways drift created disproportionate loads on the wheel opposite to the swing. If the forces imposed were large enough, the pivot point broke and the landing gear leg would collapse outward into its bay. Experienced pilots reported that the swing was easy to control, but some of the less-experienced pilots lost fighters on takeoff.

Because of the large ground angle caused by the long legs, forward visibility while on the ground was very poor, a problem exacerbated by the sideways-opening canopy. This meant that pilots had to taxi in a sinuous fashion which also imposed stresses on the splayed undercarriage legs. Ground accidents were a problem with rookie pilots, especially during the later stages of the war when pilots received less training before being sent to operational units. At least 10% of all Bf 109s were lost in takeoff and landing accidents, 1,500 of which occurred between 1939 and 1941. The installation of a fixed “tall” tailwheel on some of the late G-10s and 14s and the K-series helped alleviate the problem to a large extent.

From the inception of the design, priority was given to easy access to the powerplant, fuselage weapons and other systems while the aircraft was operating from forward airfields. To this end, the entire engine cowling was made up of large, easily removable panels which were secured by large toggle latches. A large panel under the wing centre section could be removed to gain access to the L-shaped main fuel tank, which was sited partly under the cockpit floor and partly behind the rear cockpit bulkhead. Other, smaller panels gave easy access to the cooling system and electrical equipment. The engine was held in two large, forged, magnesium alloy Y-shaped legs which were cantilevered from the firewall. Each of the legs was secured by two quick-release screw fittings on the firewall. All of the main pipe connections were colour-coded and grouped in one place, where possible, and electrical equipment plugged into junction boxes mounted on the firewall. The entire powerplant could be removed or replaced as a unit in a matter of minutes.

This is where I found all this information.