website statistics
Mission: “Adler Tag” Attack on Sheerness & Eastchurch airfields.

Date: 13
th August 1940

Time: 7.30 a.m.

Unit: 8 Staffel./ Kampfgeschwader 2

Type: Dornier Do 17Z

Werke/Nr. (Not known)

Coded: U5 + DS

Location: Mudflats at Seasalter, near Whitstable, Kent, England.

Pilot: Oberleutnant. Gerhard Mueller. 69646/4 – Killed. Born; 21.01.1913 in Berlin.

Observer: Oberleutnant. Werner Morich. 69642/3 – Missing. Born; 19.12.1915 in Stederdorf.

Radio/Op: Oberfeldwebel. Karl Langer. 69646/14 – Killed. Born; 17.10.1915 in Buchwald.

Flt/Engineer: Feldwebel. Rudolf Haensgen. 69646/42 – Wounded (POW). Born; 12.03.1915 in Hamburg.


Took off from Douai at 07.00 hrs. with the rest of the Staffel, later being joined by aircraft from I and II./KG 2, forming a formation of about forty aircraft. This aircraft was attacked by Hurricanes of No. 111 and No. 151 Squadron at 6,000 ft., shot down and smashed to pieces. The flight engineer baled out wounded and was captured. Oblt. Werner Morich remains missing in action.

Remains of Gerhard Mueller’s Do 17Z at Seasalter (Courtesy BNPS).

A soldier examines one of the Dorniers machine guns (Unknown source)

Another view of the wreck (Courtesy BNPS)

The covered body of Gerhard Mueller is carried away (Courtesy BNPS).

By Daily Mail Reporter. PUBLISHED: 13
th September 2012

A campaign has been launched to repatriate two Luftwaffe pilots to a German war cemetery after their single, unmarked grave was discovered 72 years on. The airmen were buried in the same grave in a Kent churchyard after their two bombers were shot down during a raid on London in August 1940. Three days later another German bomber crashed in the area, resulting in the remains of four men to be buried in one coffin on top of the other two men.

Original burial spot of Oblt’s Mueller & von der Groeben at Whitstable 1940 (Courtesy BNPS).

More than 20 years later the German War Graves Service had the remains of all its servicemen killed in Britain in World War Two exhumed and interred at the Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery in Staffordshire.

But the two airmen – Oberleutnant. Horst von der Groeben and Oberleutnant. Gerhard Muller - were left behind as it was not realised their coffins lay underneath the top one.

They have remained in the unmarked grave in Whitstable cemetery ever since.

Two local historians have now un-ravelled the macabre mystery and have identified the unknown airmen through their identity disc numbers.

After realising their names were not on the Cannock Chase Memorial, Joe Potter and Andy Saunders researched local records and archives and were able to pinpoint them to 'War Grave Number 1' at Whitstable. Now the family of Oblt von der Groeben, the two historians and the Whitstable Royal British Legion are calling on the authorities to repatriate the bodies to Cannock Chase.

Mr. Potter said: 'It is a rather bizarre and macabre mystery. 'In 1962 the exhumation team did not realise the graves of another two men lay underneath. 'Although the local records, which still exist today, show 11 German airmen were buried at Whitstable in August 1940, only nine were repatriated to Cannock. 'Whitstable council should have informed the Germans about the burials of these two men after the war but didn't.

'As a result the two men have remained forgotten and unidentified in a scruffy grave that is just a patch of grass with no headstone on. Von der Groeben and his fellow airman Gerhard Muller were buried in this plot at a churchyard in Whitstable, but the coffins of other German servicemen were placed on top so when the bodies were interred 20 years later they were left behind

'While there is an argument for letting the men rest in peace where they were originally buried it would be fitting for them to join their fallen comrades at Cannock and be added to the official roll of honour there. 'But it is down to the German War Graves Service to organise and finance.' Historian and author Mr Saunders said: 'I researched this story, with Joe Potter, for my book 'Finding The Foe'. 'I would be happy to kick-start a fund to help get these men properly buried under named headstones at the German Military Cemetery.'

Horst von Weitershausen, the nephew of Oblt von der Groeben, said: 'Myself and my two brothers want to move his grave from Whitstable to Cannock.' The body of Oblt von der Groeben was washed up at Whitstable after his crashed on the shoreline there. From their identity numbers, they were recorded as being buried at Whitstable on August 17 in the deep grave.

The Whitstable branch of the Royal British Legion is in contact with the German embassy in London with a view of getting the process of repatriation started. It is thought a fee of about 3,000 pounds will be required to cover the cost of the exhumation and reburial.

6 Whitstable Cemetery Oblt Gerhard Müller and Oblt Horst von der Groeben via Potter
Whitstable Cemetery today, just an un-marked grave (Potter).

Burial details:

Gerhard Mueller; Whitstable Cemetery, Kent, England. Grave; Unmarked.

Werner Morich; Missing in action, no known grave.

7 Karl Langer
The grave of Karl Langer at the German Military Cemetery at Cannock Chase (Potter).

Karl Langer; Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, England.
Grave Ref. Block 1, Grave 178.

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless, with special thanks to The Daily Mail, BNPS, Joe Potter and Andy Saunders. (June 2014)