Dornier 17 crash in Widehurst Woods, Kent

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by harri109, Sep 3, 2012.

  1. harri109

    harri109 Member

    Hello all

    I am trying to conduct some research on a Dornier 17 which was shot down on the 15th of september 1940. It crashed into Widehurst Woods near Marden in Kent. I have a small component data plate from the site and would like to compile some info for display. I believe the Wnr was 4200, but thats about all i know. Any info would be great.. Many thanks
  2. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    5/KG 3. Do 17Z-2 (4200)
    Attacked by 605 Sqd Hurricanes during sortie to bomb London. Crashed at Widehurst Woods, Marden, Kent following collision with P/O Cooper-Slipper 2.30pm. Oberfw Rilling killed. Oberfw Howind, Oberfw Hoebel and Fw Zimmermann baled out and captured unhurt. Aircraft 5K+JN a write off.
    Site investigated by Lashenden Air Warfare Museum which collected a Lufwaffe pay book. Iron Cross and many small parts. Also represented in the Vizard collection.

    Taken from ATB Battle of Britain
  3. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    605 Sqd, Croydon
    Hurricane L2012.
    Hit by return fire during attack on Do 17 of 5/KG3 at 2.30pm. Lost control and collided amidships with enemy aircraft over Marden losing port wing. Crashed at 'The Leas' Yalding. P/O T.P.M Cooper-Slipper baled out slightly hurt landing at Church Farm, Marden. Aircraft a write off.
  4. harri109

    harri109 Member

    Thank you very much for the information, much appriciated
  5. Andy Saunders

    Andy Saunders Senior Member

    The information published in "Battle of Britain Then & Now" ATB is, in fact, incorrect.

    I will look out the details and post tomorrow. All the crew of the Widehurst Woods Do17 were killed, and are not the crew listed.
  6. harri109

    harri109 Member

    Thanks for that, I look forward to the revised info. By the way just ordered "Finding the Foe", looking forward to losing myself in it.. Keep up the good work...
  7. Andy Saunders

    Andy Saunders Senior Member

    Thank you.

    I will come back with the revised information, but after a 3.30am start today I am just off to bed....!!!
  8. Peter Cornwell

    Peter Cornwell Junior Member

    Andy is right. The information as published in my works for ATB is incorrect research having moved forward in the years since original publication. I currently have the aircraft down in Widehurst Woods on 15 September 1940 documented as follows:

    8./KG2 Dornier Do17Z-2 (2549). Engaged by fighters during sortie to bomb installations along the Thames and believed that collided with Hurricane of P/O P.J.T. Stephenson of No.607 Squadron during head-on attack and crashed in Widehurst Woods, south of Marden, 2.45 p.m. BM Fw Friedrich Simon, HB Fw Adolf Hirsch, FF Uffz Günter Flämig and BF Gefr Clemens Sandmann all missing. Aircraft U5+FS 100% write-off.
    This aircraft later exploded injuring eight spectators. What little was found of the crew defied identification and was buried as three ‘Unknown German Airmen’ in All Saints Churchyard at Staplehurst. Site investigated by Lashenden Air Warfare Museum and remnants of Luftwaffe Ausweis, Iron Cross, and many small parts recovered. Belgian and German money, recovered from one of the bodies in 1940 by a local resident, now in the After the Battle collection.
  9. harri109

    harri109 Member

    Thanks again for the information, very interesting. A sad and tragic end for the crew though.
  10. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek

    So Alfred Price is nearly right in his book Battle of Britain day?

    Is ATBs BofB in serious need of an update, Peter?
  11. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    BM Fw Friedrich Simon, HB Fw Adolf Hirsch, FF Uffz Günter Flämig and BF Gefr Clemens Sandmann all missing......

    ...... What little was found of the crew defied identification and was buried as three ‘Unknown German Airmen’ in All Saints Churchyard at Staplehurst.

    Should that not have been FOUR German airmen?
  12. Peter Cornwell

    Peter Cornwell Junior Member


    Alfred Price relied on me to provide details of losses to both sides for his book so this was entirely my error and, although now somewhat dated, the bulk of his work remains totally valid - as one has learned to expect from such a well-respected author.


    The grisly fact that the authorities were only able to recognise three unidentifiable bodies from amongst the remains recovered gives ample testimony to the difficulties faced in such cases. From evidence of the post-war examination of the site it seems clear that the fourth crewman was never recovered - or at least fully.
  13. Phillip Day

    Phillip Day Member

    Hi Peter - I am a film producer doing a documentary on this incident which occurred at Wilden Wood (part of Widehurst Wood). Can you please give me the source of the information you quote, since Marden's local history group shows the plane as Erich Rillings's Do17Z-2 #4200, claimed by Mike Cooper-Slipper, No 605 Squadron RAF, and so does the Lashenden Museum, which has Zimmermann's (radio operator) parachute. Many thanks.
  14. Phillip Day

    Phillip Day Member

    I should also add that I live in the vicinity of the Wilden Wood crash site and have investigated the crater there with permission from the owner. There is no evidence of a burial of unidentified German airmen in Staplehurst graveyard that I have yet come across, though I have yet to search the burial records. There are two BoB pilots there: Freddie Rushmer and Edgar Wilcox.


    The Marden Fire Brigade report for the Wilden Wood crash reads (attached):

    September 15, 1940
    3:30 pm

    German bomber seen to crash near Marden Thorn. Found same in wood near Plain Tavern and hopper huts and burning fiercely. Bodies of two occupants in burning machine. Attempted to smother flames with shovels when delayed action bombs exploded. H Swaffer, A Cox and Weaver standing by sustained minor shock. Fire extinguished by explosion.

    4:40 pm Returned to station and reported.

    Attached Files:

  15. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Hi Phillip,

    I live in Marden by chance so am very intrigued by this documentary. Can you keep this thread updated with your progress please?

  16. Phillip Day

    Phillip Day Member

    Hi Mark. Sure can. We just completed one on a Luftwaffe ace who crashlanded outside our village. Feel free to email me at if you wish to view.
    BrianHall1963 likes this.
  17. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    If there is no evidence left in the churchyard, the graves were probably among those graves in scattered burial grounds that from 1959 onwards were transfered to the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase.
    Cemetery Details | CWGC
  18. Phillip Day

    Phillip Day Member

    Thanks for that. What I'm after is the source info on Rilling's 4200 Dornier being the one that went down at Beltring (Dowding's Eagles, p.50) not Wilden Wood, or the source info on the other Do17 being the one that ended up in the wood. Parts of Rilling's plane are at Lashenden and cited as having come from Wilden Wood. They even list Rilling and his crew and have a parachute with Zimmermann's name on it. Here's the plaque:

    Attached Files:

  19. Phillip Day

    Phillip Day Member

    And here's the parachute tag:

    Attached Files:

  20. Phillip Day

    Phillip Day Member

    Further research into the identity of the Dornier brought down in Wilden Wood now makes it likely it was not Erich Rilling's Do17 (#4200). This is based on some interesting extra intel that we've come upon. There was apparently a robust NW headwind on 15th September (Price, Alfred (1990). Battle of Britain Day: 15 September 1940. London: Greenhill Books. p.74-75; Goss, Chris (2000). The Luftwaffe Bombers' Battle of Britain. Crecy Publishing, p.153.) hampering the first two waves of German bombers, which were flying on a bearing of approx 313 deg from Dungeness to The Isle of Dogs (red line on map).

    This is clearly evidenced by the drift Mike Cooper-Slipper experienced when he bailed out of his stricken Hurricane at something like 18,000 ft, after which he pulled his cord within a couple of seconds. His personal testimony, provided by his son, describes the interminable 3-mile descent, landing at Church Farm, Marden, a few hundred yards from my house. The Hurricane went in at Yalding Leas, 4.35 miles away to the north west, more than adequately matching the wind direction (see map).

    It seems reasonable to suppose that both Hurricane and Dornier, minus their left wings after the collision, would come down in approximately the same area, after suffering very similar damage and uncontrolled descent; and that any bailed out Luftwaffe airmen from #4200 would experience a similar drift to Mike. As it happens, Zimmermann, Hoebel and Howind came to earth by parachute at Cannon Farm, Marden (see 'German Aircrew Landed' on map), adjacent to my great uncle's land - an almost identical drift to Mike in the same direction.

    It is therefore unreasonable at this point to suppose that the Wilden Wood Dornier was #4200 - the one Mike brought down - since their bailed-out aircrew would have to have drifted against the wind but a short distance. I am keen to learn of the research Peter Cornwell and Andy Saunders have on this subject.

    See attached Map. The red line is the direct route the bomber stream is taking from Dungeness to The Surrey Docks target. The headwind (top left to bottom right) causes the parachutists to drift.

    Attached Files:

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