website statistics
Mission: Bombing sortie to attack Great West aerodrome (Heathrow airport), England.

Date: 16th August 1940

Time: 17.05 hours.

Unit: 7 Staffel./Kampfgeschwader 55

Type: Heinkel He 111P


Coded: G1+FR

Location: Honeysuckle Lane, High Salvington, Worthing, West Sussex, England.

Pilot: Leutnant. Rudolf Theopold 58246/199 - Captured POW.

Observer: Unteroffizier. Rudolf Hornbostel 58246/403 - Captured POW.

Radio/Op: Gefreiter. Helmut Glaser 58246/128 - Captured POW.

Flt/Eng: Unteroffizier. Albert Weber 58246/123 - Killed.

Gunner: Gefreiter. Johannes Moorfeld 58246/411 - Killed.


Intercepted and attacked by RAF fighters over the Brighton area. Intelligence & witness reports / local narrative :

On the return leg of the sortie, this bomber was intercepted at 4:55pm over Brighton at 2,500 ft by three Spitfires MK1’s. These British fighters, which were being flown by 602 Squadron, City of Glasgow, Blue Section, were based at RAF Westhampnett near Chichester. Apparently,the Heinkel turned and flew in a westerly direction along the coast for approximately ten miles towards Worthing, probably trying to out manoeuvre the Spitfires, and trying to avoid the machine gun fire.

Eyewitness reports describe how the Heinkel turned north upon reaching the outskirts of Worthing. At this point, subsequent reports deduce a lone Spitfire remained in pursuit of Flight Lieutenant Robert Findlay Boyd Spitfire N3227. This continued northwards towards the Oval in Findon where resident Brian Chappell saw the two planes from his home.

“Sighted E/A (Enemy Aircraft) approx 1,000 ft above and coming towards us. Blue 1 did climbing turn and delivered beam attack, followed by Blue 2 who stopped one motor. Successive attacks were delivered by section until E/A crashed in waste ground approx 4 miles north of Worthing. Landed at 17:45 hours”.

At this point the Heinkel turned southwest, flew over Rogers Farm and crash-landed at High Salvington in the field between Honeysuckle Lane and Cote Street. It had landed completely intact with its wheels still retracted and pointing south towards Highdown Hill. Although the plane had landed completely intact, Johannes Moorfeld and Albert Weber had died. German records state that Johannes Moorfeld died on the way to Worthing Hospital, although all other records state he died in the crash landing. Two other airmen were badly injured but the fifth airman escaped with only minor cuts and bruises. Soon after, the Home Guard, policemen and many others had arrived on the scene including a woman doctor who was called to attend the incident. Derek Round was unable to convince the soldiers that he was a local man, so they locked him in the ambulance with the five German airmen and took them to Worthing Hospital. Derek Round was then taken to the police station where he was interrogated and finally driven home. Shortly after the airmen had been taken away and although soldiers and the police were at the scene, it appears that they did nothing to stop souvenir hunters pulling the plane to pieces.

A RAF Intelligence Officer also visited the site to evaluate the plane, just in case there was anything new onboard that they needed to know about. The oil, fuel, machine guns, ammunition and other items of interest were retrieved from the plane, although it is not clear whether this happened before or after the crowd pulled the plane to pieces.

The three surviving crew members comprising Rudolf Theopold, Rudolf Hornbostel and Helmut Glaser were later sent to a Prisoner of War camp in Canada, although before this they were probably sent to Camp 11 at Trent Park in London for interrogation. The three airmen remained in captivity until 1946, and were then repatriated back to Germany. The two airmen who were killed, Albert Weber and Johannes Moorfeld, were presumably kept at Worthing Hospital until they were buried at Durrington Cemetery five days later on Wednesday 21st August 1940.

Reference : “A German Bomber on Worthing Soil” by Graham Lelliott. ISBN 978-0-9553893-0-6

Scan573, December 21, 2005
The wreck of Lt. Theopold's He 111 rests in the field bullet ridden (Ellis/Hall).

16.08.40 He 111 Wnr.1582 Lt Theopold Pt 2
The bullet ridden tail with soldiers standing with yet another victim of war (Hall/Brownless)

TheopoldSalvHe111cccCopy of TheopoldSalvHe111
The pilot. Lt. Theopold (Internet)

Uffz. Albert WebercccGefr. Johannes Moorfeld
The graves of the fallen German aircrew pictured at Cannock Chase, German Military Cemetery (Ellis).

Burial detail: Both fallen airmen now rest in the Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof Cannock Chase. Block 4 Graves 220 & 240.

Researched by Clive Ellis & compiled by Melvin Brownless A R Society, with thanks to Steven Hall, June 2012.