website statistics
Mission: Night sortie over England.

Date: 5th October 1940

Time: 0.55 a.m.

Unit: 4 Staffel./Kampfgeschwader 30

Type: Junkers Ju 88A-5


Coded: 4D + HM

Location: Near Netherstead Farm, Colmworth, Bedfordshire, England.

Pilot: Feldwebel. Georg Koschella (Mob.Hptl.Nr.62748/26) – Killed. Born 13.11.1915 in Glasen.

Observer: Oberfeldwebel. Gerhard Wilkening (Mob.Hptl.Nr.I.KG30 Nr.48) – Killed. Born 17.07.1913 in Neustadt.

Radio/Op: Unteroffizier. Alexander Bednarek (Mob.Hptl.Nr.62748/22) – Killed. Born 04.10.1916 in Bernburg.

Gunner: Unteroffizier. Heinz Thal (Mob.Hptl.Nr.62748/39) – Killed. Born 13.07.1911.


The exact cause of this loss is unknown but eye witnesses state that the aircraft was on fire in the air before it dived steeply into the ground. Eye witness reported that the aircraft was on fire in the air, although no AA or fighter action was observed. Aircraft dived into the ground vertically and was totally destroyed, with engines buried. Aircraft manufactured by Norddeutsche, Dornier Werke. Licence Junkers acceptance date 11/39. Armament: traces of external bomb racks for 250 kg bombs found and internal racks for 50 kg bombs.

This crash site has been excavated twice, on the last attempt in September 1986 some interesting small finds were found by Brian Saddler and his team. Relics included Parachute D ring & clips, oil bottle from gunners tool kit, eye piece from bomb sight and various makers labels.

During my research into this loss I made contact with Mr John Hughes of Colmworth who witnessed the crash of the Junkers 88. He still remembers vividly the events of that night and the aftermath the following day. John has kindly given us permission to publish his account on the ARS website.

Personal account of Mr John Hughes, Colmworth, Bedfordshire.

John Hughes 1
John Hughes pictured near the crash site October 2008 (Brownless)

If I recall correctly it was about 8.30pm and I was in bed at ‘Three Horse Shoes’ Farm, Colmworth when I heard an awful screeching sound which made me jump out of bed and rush to the window. The sight I saw was a plane falling out of the sky! A mass of flames and sparks and the dreadful sound as it spiralled down to crash at the old Netherstead Farm on the eastern edge of Colmworth, which does not exist anymore.

It was obvious the screeching sound was the engines of an aeroplane on full power and out of control. This was a Junkers 88, a twin engined light bomber of the Luftwaffe which had been shot down by our fighter planes. The next morning my friend and I went down Honeydon Road and across the fields to where the plane had crashed. The site was roped off and a couple of RAF personnel were on guard, but as we neared the site we could smell the acrid smoke of burnt flesh and parts of the plane that was still smouldering.

Also there were small parts of debris lying outside the roped area and something I shall never forget, a partly gloved hand - someone’s son or brother. The plane was normally crewed by three or four airmen, depending on the armaments carried and to my knowledge there were no survivors.

Ju 88 Colmworth 06.10.1940 x2

These few fragments were found at the crash site lying on the surface after ploughing. October 2008

Ju 88 Colmworth 06.10.1940 x3

Grave Koschella & crew
The collective grave of the crew at Cannock Chase, Staffs. (Croft)

Burial details:

This crew are laid to rest in a collective grave at the Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. Block 9. Row 2. Grave 6.

Researched & compiled by Melvin Brownless with special thanks to John Hughes and Mike Croft, October 2008. Updated August 2013