Remembering an air-crash on the Eston Hills

77 Years Ago, March 30, 1941, was Palm Sunday. Cheese rationing was announced at just one ounce per week for the general population but manual labourers could receive eight times that, half a pound. In Stavanger, Norway, a German Junkers Ju 88A took off on a reconnaissance sortie over Manchester. It should have been a routine mission of about five hours but the flight was picked up by the RAF’s Chain Home radar system and two Spitfires from RAF Catterick were instructed to intercept. At 15:15, at an altitude of about 24,000 feet above the Eston Hills, the Junkers was engaged and fired upon by one of the Spitfires piloted by F/Lt. Tony Lovell, sustaining critical damage. All of the four-man crew of the Junkers died. The Gunner, Unteroffizier Hans Steigerwald, 27, managed to bail out but his parachute failed to open. He is buried in the cemetery at Thornaby. The bodies of the other three crew, Leutnant. Wolfgang Schlott, 22, Leutnant. Otto Meingold, 26, and Feldwebel. Wilhelm Schmigale, 26, have never been found. The plane crashed in a boggy area of Barnaby Moor. With the force of impact, a substantial amount of the wreckage was instantly buried in the mire. The site was excavated in 1977 when the engine and other wreckage were recovered. The moorland where the plane hit the ground is now an enclosed field. Rumour has it that in fact another of the crew managed to bail out but his parachute also failed. This parachute was salvaged by the local populace and the silk quickly converted into ladies clothing. Anthony Lovell went on to be promoted to Wing Commander and be awarded the DSO and DFC. He was killed in a flying accident on the 17 August 1945, aged 26.

Seen from Roseberry Common, Barnaby Moor is on the horizon, left of centre and directly above the farm with the silo, Barnaby Side Farm.
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2 Replies to “Remembering an air-crash on the Eston Hills”

  1. In 1976 during the drout I was walking with my mam and nana past the stables at the bottom of Eston Hills, a man and his son carrying a metal detector and three large carrier bags full of metal objects engaged us in conversation. They told us that they had been detecting in and around the old sheep dip as it had dried out during the hot weather, they showed us some of the items mainly fragments of metal with numerals and writing in German.

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