Tuesday 19 November 2013

The North Berwick Heinkel

On February 9th 1940 North Berwick had some unexpected visitors.
It was WW2 and Germany had started attacking shipping in the Firth of Forth at Rosyth Navy base in late 1939.
A German Heinkel 111 H-1 of  5/KG 26 was forced down by RAF Spitfire pilot Squadron Leader Douglas Farquhar of 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, based at Drem Airfield.
Farquhar`s Spitfire fired 625 rounds at the Heinkel over Fife, damaging it`s port engine. The Bomber lowered it`s undercarriage to signal it`s surrender and made for land, crash landing in a field SE of North Berwick town, just behind today's Tesco supermarket, to the west of Rhodes holdings...

The Heinkel managed to land in the field and came to a halt tipped on it`s nose right here...

The German planes rear gunner Uffz F, Wieners was injured from gun fire from the Spitfire and was taken to RAF Drem, where he died of his injuries. He was not buried locally as i previously thought and wrote, but is buried at Deutsche Solddatesfriedhof, Cannock Chase England, Block 8 Grave 4,

With the outer wings removed and engines loaded onto a lorry, the RAF then towed the Heinkel to Turnhouse Airbase at Edinburgh.
This is one of my favourite East Lothian WW2 pictures, the Heinkel being towed along Dirleton Avenue in North Berwick...

Here again in Musselburgh, The public turned out to see the aircraft towed through the town on it`s journey into Edinburgh

At RAF Turnhouse work was done to restore the aircraft to flying condition..

Some film was recently uploaded on YouTube of the plane passing through Musselburgh, nice find!...

Sqn Ldr Farquhar was awarded the DFC at Drem Airfield by King George VI on 28th February when his Royal train arrived at Aberlady Station a month later...

An important day in East Lothian...

The man to the left is Sir Hugh Dowding, head of RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940...

At Edinburgh  the Heinkel was brought back to running and flight condition and joined the RAF Squadron of captured aircraft, nicknamed the Rafwaffe!


You can read here about No. 1426 Flight RAF
The captured planes were used to learn how best to attack them and to train young pilots, the plane was painted green with RAF Roundel markings...

There is actual film of this Heinkel being flown by the RAF in a mock attack, which can be seen just for a few seconds in the film i made of RAF Drem at  6min 10secs in the film...

Sadly the Heinkel`s days of causing death were not over.
On November 10th 1941 the plane crashed at RAF Polebrook with a number of 1426 Flight ground crew on board. The pilot F/O Barr and six others were killed, and four injured.

The North Berwick Heinkel was the second enemy aircraft shot down on British soil of WW2, The first was also shot down on East Lothian soil, another Heinkel crash landed at Humbie  on October 28th 1939 having been shot down by Spitfires of 602 Squadron...

What is even better than pictures is there is some Pathe film of this incident here in East Lothian. I cannot embed the film so you will have to follow this link to watch the film; http://www.britishpathe.com/video/air-raider-shot-down-in-scotland


  1. Hi Bruce, great blog once again :) great to learn more history that's all but forgotten by most, great old photos too, where do you find them all?
    Look forward to the next east lothian history lesson, makes exploring all the more interesting :)
    Cheers Saul

  2. Does anyone know the names of the flight crew that survived the crash landing

  3. I will try and find out the survivours names

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  5. can anyone confirm there were Lancaster bombers at tuwnhouse. my father remembers them there after 1940 with the lads bombing them up before take off. he lived in Kirkliston.

  6. Absolutely fascinating. Am helping my son do a school project on Raf Drem airfield. Was aware of the first shooting down the Humbie one, but was unaware of the North Berwick event.

    Am looking forward to exploring the airfield as you have done on the bikes!

  7. I have just found this blog, the interesting part was the German bomber crash at North Berwick.
    The bomber came down on the Heugh poultry farm lands which at that time my father was the Manager.
    I have a letter written by Mary Watson the mother of Samuel Watson my father dated Thursday 22 February 1940 which gives a good first hand account of the crash as well as the airman who was injured. All the information in the letter has never been published.
    I hope to be able to get it onto the web at some point.
    If anyone would like more information I can be reached at ronwatson@blueyonder.co.uk

    1. very Interested to no more I think my grand mother may have pulled the pilot out of that plane with a neighbor granny white stayed and worked at redside a row of farm cottages east of north Berwick with her young family they received a letter of some sort for there bravery do you have any info as there is no one really to ask now thanks Kevin white

    2. Hi Kevin, I have not heard of this and would be good to try find out about their story, something to chase up this winter,
      Thanks for the heads up!,

  8. Astonishing pictures! Are there pictures of Farquhars crashed Spitfire?

    1. Hi, have not come across pictures yet of Farquhars Spitfire as yet,

  9. HE 111 lk 2345l
    Think this is the one