BATTLE OF BRITAIN SEPT / OCT 1940.
On Sunday the 31st of August a British plane came down in a field at Wolsey Farm, Laddingford. Plane was undamaged and pilot was brought a pint from the Engineers public house.
On the 4th September a British plane came down and burnt out, beyond Haviker Street, adjacent to the river Teise. Ambulance and AFS arrived from Marden, but pilot died on the way to hospital.
At twelve minutes past seven on the evening of the 15th of September, during what we now call the Battle of Britain, a hurricane aircraft fell in a hop-field of Woodfalls Farm, along the Beltring road. Later in 1986 an initial witness to the crash was able to identify the exact spot, where at a depth of 16 feet, (five metres,) the aircraft complete with its Rolls Royce Merlin was recovered. This aircraft of Sergeant John Lansdell of 607 Squadron, who baled out when it caught fire, had been in combat with a Messerschmitt 109E, flown by Hauptmann Neumann of I/JG27 Squadron.
Earlier that day a Dornier plane had come down also near Beltring crossing. The 29 year old German airman, Erik (Josif) Rilling was buried in our cemetery on the 18th, the same day that another enemy bomber fell near the River Teise, just beyond Den Farm. One of this crew had died. He was taken to the Bull Hotel mortuary, and two days later Helmus Schutz aged 24 was also buried here.
In 1962 both these bodies were removed and taken to the German War Graves Commission Cemetery at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire.
On the 17th of October a Hurricane that had caught fire landed near Gain Hill. The fire was extinguished by Marden Fire Brigade, and the Home Guard kept watch until the RAF arrived to remove the guns and ammunition.
At one thirty in the afternoon of the 25th of October 1940, the sky over Yalding resounded to the noise of a Messerschmitt coming down at Congelow Farm. The pilot Feldwebel Josef Gartner, whose parachute landed him near Brenchley, had been providing top cover for a bomber formation, when attacked by Spitfires of 92 Squadron. When Josef of 8/JG26 Squadron was later traced in Germany, he said:- “I saw a shadow behind me to the left and suffered 6 to 8 hits in my right wing. Immediately, a white streak formed and I knew that my cooling system had been hit. I tried to weave about, hoping to turn the cards on the Spitfire, but my engine got warmer and warmer due to the loss of the coolant. The plane became slower and almost un-manoeuvrable. Then my opponent got me full on. Flames shot out of my engine and I had to jump.”
From the 24th of August to the end of October 1940 there were 26 incidents recorded in the village.
(Part reference – Shoreham Kent, Aircraft Museum)