Divers discover wreckage of German bomber

Divers believe they have found the likely resting place of a Luftwaffe bomber from the Second World War in the North Sea near Lerwick.

Orkney divers on an expedition to the isles discovered one of the engines from the Junkers 88 D-1, which was hit by anti-aircraft gunners while on a long-range reconnaissance mission over the Northern Isles on 5th March 1944.

Historical accounts say the bomber was badly damaged and had to ditch close to the North end of Bressay.

Radio operator Unteroffizier Anton Reisch, observer OberLeutenant Alfred Cardaun and the pilot Feldwebel Marggraf managed to escape the sinking aircraft and swam, unwounded, to shore on the Holm of Beosetter.

However, the gunner, Unteroffizier Bruno Lindner was either killed in the crash or did not escape the bomber in time and died.

The three survivors were recovered by an air/sea rescue launch from Lerwick and were questioned by RAF intelligence before being interred as prisoners of war.

Now, divers aboard the Orkney-based dive boat Valkyrie believe they have uncovered parts of the plane’s wreckage. Their discovery of an engine in July was followed by the finding of further parts in subsequent dives.

They say the engine, a V12 Jumo aero power-plant, was found in about 12 metres of water. Sections of the aluminium skin and some parts of the aircraft frame are said to lie deeper in almost 30 metres.

The aircraft is presumed to have broken up on impact and this, combined with the action of the waves in the shallow waters and dredging operations, could have further dispersed the wreckage over a wide area. Further dives are planned over the next year and more parts of the aircraft including the second engine and undercarriage are expected to be found.

Orkney-based aircraft crash researchers Kevin Heath and Dave Earl undertook the work to identify the crashed aircraft and its crew.

Many parts of his research are undertaken through “ARGOS” (Aircraft Research Group Orkney and Shetland) of which Mr Earl is also a member and researcher.

The exact position of the JU88 has not been disclosed. However, it is understood the approximate location will be released to provide some information to any living relatives of the lost airman.


Add Your Comment
  • Robert Baird

    • September 7th, 2014 19:02

    I couldn’t help noticing in your article……”The three survivors were recovered by an air/sea rescue launch from Lerwick and were questioned by RAF intelligence before being interred as prisoners of war.”

    It must have been a particularly harsh interrogation if the prisoners had to be interred afterwards! LOL!

    • Peg Young

      • September 9th, 2014 2:46

      Good catch, Robert! (No pun internded!) Made me laugh!

  • Andy Carter

    • September 8th, 2014 21:59

    Interested to hear about this as I have dived north of Bressay to look for this plane before but without success. Local lore recounts this plane as a regular visitor to Lerwick who used to fly up Bressay sound at low level. The anti aircraft battery at the Knab had a bead on him but were forbidden to fire in case they hit the houses in Bressay. The story goes that the gunner who shot him down was court marshalled for his pains! A further embellishment is that the one captured airman gave the nazi salute when he came ashore and was spat at by those on the pier who had come down to watch.

  • Colin Webster

    • September 9th, 2014 5:19

    ARGOS stands for Aviation Research Group Orkney and Shetland. I wonder if I am its only Canadian member.

  • Peg Young

    • September 9th, 2014 10:14

    Good call, Robert! (No pun internded!) Made me laugh.

  • Peg Young

    • September 9th, 2014 10:15

    Sorry about the duplication. Thought the first one had been lost somehow.

  • Andy Carter

    • September 13th, 2014 10:04

    Ref. Douglas’s letter in this week’s Times. I suspect his account of the shooting down of the Junkers 88 is the more accurate. He was, after all, around at the time whereas mine is very much second hand from family.


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