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Mission: Mine-laying, near Harwich, Essex, England.

Date: 30
th April 1940

Time: 23.50 hours.

Unit: 3 Staffel./Kampfgruppe 126

Type: Heinkel He 111H-4

Werke/Nr. (Not stated)

Coded: 1T + EL (E in yellow)

Location: Victoria Road, Clacton on Sea, Essex, England.

Pilot: Oberleutnant. Hermann Vagts.
62729/. Killed.

Observer: Leutnant. Hermann Sodtmann.
72729 NR.7. Killed.

Radio/Op: Unteroffizier. Hans Guenther Koch.
62729/NR. 34. Killed.

Flt/Eng: Unteroffizier. Karl-Heinz Fresen.
62729/NR.47. Killed.


Brought down by A.A. fire whilst engaged on a mine-laying operation near Harwich. Aircraft crashed into houses in Victoria Road and exploded, killing two and injuring 156 civilians.



Scene of devastation after the Heinkel crashed and exploded. (Net)

This incident marked the first civilian casualties on the mainland of Great Britain in which Mr. Frederick Gill and his wife Dorothy were killed in Orchard House, Victoria Road.
On Monday May 11
th were buried in the local cemetery, it was attended by a party of local officials and members of various volunteer organisations. Sadly the grave of Mr and Mrs Gill – England’s first air raid victims – is totally unmarked, with not even a small headstone to readily mark the spot...Source; The Blitz Then & Now Vol.1 by Winston Ramsey.

Memorial dedicated to Frederick & Dorothy Gill. (Net)

Air Intelligence reported;

The aircraft was presumed to be flying from Zetel, 8 km from Barge due to a postal order counterfoil stamped on the day of the flight. Although anti-aircraft guns fired at the aircraft, there was no evidence that these were responsible for it crashing.

Armament: The aircraft was carrying at least two types of smaller magnetic mine, one of which exploded four minutes after the aircraft crashed, scattering wreckage over a wide area and setting fire to it. Armament: five machine guns were found in the wreckage and evidence of armour plate, one piece of which was shaped to the pilot’s back.

Three ID discs were recovered all marked 62729. One of the crew had II/KG 254 stencilled inside a glove.

Overall view of the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase.

Burial detail: This crew now rest in the Soldatenfriedhof Cannock Chase, Staffs, England.

Block 5, Graves 5/111, 5/112, 5/113, and 5/114

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless, January 2014