Battle of Britain - SIGNED FDC - Friedrich-Wilhelm KOCH - KG4

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Oberleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Koch was a veteran of the Spanish Civil war having flown with the 'Condor Legion' and subsequently taking part in the campaigns in Poland and Norway.

Koch flew the Heinkel He111 bomber with the 3rd Staffel KG4 'General Wever' and on the evening of the 1st July 1940 was on a mission to attack the chemical works in Middlesbrough, with a secondary target in Hull.

Koch's Heinkel had been picked up on radar and Spitfires of 616 Squadron were scrambled to look for the intruder. As Koch approached Hull, the Spitfires began their attack, the He111 suffering a 'jammed' gun after the first pass by the RAF Fighters. As the Spitfires continued to attack, one engine was put out of action, the control panel shot to pieces, the landing gear dropped down and the flaps were shot away!

After the second engine was also hit, the Spitfires broke off and returned to base - the pilots concerned, Flight Lt Robert Miller, Pilot Officer John Bell and Pilot Officer John Brewster - had NOT seen their victim crash as all of the Spitfires were covered in oil from the damaged Heinkel's engines!

The totally crippled He111 hit the water and flipped over because of the dangling undercarriage leg! The Crew and Koch escaped the sinking aircraft with difficulty but managed to inflate their dinghy. Koch and his crew - Oberfeldwebel Rudolf Ernst and Feldwebel Alfred Weber were eventually picked up by HMS Black Swan and taken prisoner.

The 'official' beginning of the Battle of Britain is from the 10th July 1940 onwards but Luftwaffe aircraft were being engaged before this date, as this incident testifies!


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