Aerial warfare over Quinton
Most QLHS members will be aware by now of the aerial battle in the skies over Quinton, early on the 10th April 1941. Flight Lt. E C Deansley in his Boulton Paul Defiant intercepted a German raid on Birmingham and a Heinkel III bomber was shot down. It careered away to the south, snagged a barrage balloon wire over Wythall and finally crashed near the "Two Brewers" public house in Smethwick, killing several civilians and two of the four crew.
Peter Kennedy (once of the Smethwick History Society) and I have spent many years trying to trace the surviving combatants. Peter, who did most of the groundwork, eventually found Deansley, retired and living in Edgbaston. Before Deansley died, in February 1998, Peter was able to record an interview with him. His gunner, a man named Scott, has yet to be traced. Just as elusive were the surviving members of the Luftwaffe crew. Earlier this year, we tried one last throw of the dice and recruited Gisela Stuart, MP to the cause. In turn, the German Embassy got involved and the Air Attaché, Colonel Hasso Kortge traced the pilot, Feldwebel Rudolf Muller, now in his eighties and asked if he would accept a letter from us. He responded warmly to the suggestion and we received his reply, written in German, on 8th June 2001.
Needless to say, we were extremely elated to receive this letter (the first of several we hope) and its fascinating contents. As it includes nuggets of information as yet unpublished, here is a passage from the letter for you to read:
Thank you for your letter dated 24-6-2001. Your details about my crash in Birmingham are true.
The manoeuvre and the bombardment from Birmingham were on 10-4-2001 in the early morning hours. The British fighter, which came as real surprise, and the machine gunfire, damaged our plane so much that both engines failed. In addition, we also hit the cable of a balloon and had to abandon the plane.
My observer, Werner Straecker, was wounded through a gunshot in his leg, but he got out. Egon Grolig and Helmut Haecke were hit in the plane and did not survive.
After many different stages of interrogation, I got into the prison camp in Manchester. End of 1941 all prisoners were transported to Canada. Werner Straecker and I were together there.
Due to circumstances at the end of the war, the separation of Germany and the abolishment of the "Streitkraefte" (German Army) made it quite impossible to go on with the soldier's friendship.
Waerner Straeker lived in Ohlau/Schlesien, which is now in Poland. No one could so far find him.
I hope you can use my descriptions in anyway and will be happy to stay in contact. I would also like you to get in contact with the Local History Society and to thank them in my name for their letter and photos of 17-7-2001.
If you have any further questions would be very happy to help you.
© QLHS 2005