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Mission: Reconnaissance – Dieppe (Canadian landing attempt), France.

Date: 19th August 1942

Unit: 1 Staffel./Fernaufklärungsgruppe 123

Type: Junkers Ju 88D-1

Werke Nr.1594

Coded: 4U + CH

Location: Quadrant 101/05 East. Near Dieppe, France.

Pilot: Leutnant. Fritz Schlichting 69004/? - Uninjured.

Observer: Hauptmann. Gottfried Berndt 69004/5 - Uninjured.

Radio/Op: Unteroffizier. Richard Scheurer 69004/256 - Wounded.

Gunner: Unteroffizier. Ludwig Rohlfs 69004/253 - Wounded.


This aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters in the invasion zone and made a heavy crash landing near Dieppe. Aircraft was 95% damaged. Uffz Richard Scheurer was taken to hospital at St. Romain and Uffz Ludwig Rohlfs to Clichy.

Former Oberleutnant Fritz Schlichting relates the story to Melvin Brownless at his home in Detmold.

Leutnant Fritz Schlichting reveals the events that he and his crew witnessed from the air during “Operation Jubilee” – the assault by Canadian troops on the French coast at Dieppe.

Fritz Schlichting takes a call at command post (Brownless)

The ringing of the phone shakes me out of the beautiful dreams of my leave I had just returned from. Only yesterday morning did I come back to the Staffel my thoughts are still of the wonderful Baltic seaside. I am finding it very difficult to get back to reality! Our most reliable and experienced Observer, is at this present time taking the place of our absent Staffelkapitaen. He is now on the telephone speaking with our Gruppenkommandeuer, through the half-opened door I can understand almost every word. Jawohl Herr Oberstleutnant – one machine for the time being… . to start as soon as possible…..reconnaissance duty, - to report on the engagement in the Dieppe area…Jawohl,…,……no more questions Herr Oberstleutnant! As my usual Observer is still on leave Hauptmann Gottfried Berndt and I had arranged during the previous evening that we should fly future missions together. A light mist lies above our airfield as we prepare to start. We have loaned two crew members from a “back-up” crew namely, Uffz Richard Scheurer (R/Op) and Uffz Ludwig Rohlfs (Gunner). Our aircraft, Junkers Ju 88D-1 Wnr.1594, coded 4U + CH had been warmed up by our ground crew and everything is in order for our mission. To save time we are not flying the usual circle of honor but move off with full power ahead. At a fairly low altitude our machine flies over the peacefully sleeping Frenchcountryside, the morning sun glitters and reflects with strange beauty on the valley mists. Shortly after crossing the bow of the Seine, we can see two big black smoke columns on the horizon. Gottfried looks at me with a sceptical smile, could it be true that the Tommie’s are trying to land? To be safe from surprises we fly very low, at a height of only 10 to 20m. I’m using every strip of woodland and valley for concealment. Very soon we are approaching the port of Dieppe. Our clock says 9.00 hrs, our eyes sweep across the rows of houses, we notice two large fires in the centre of the town and we continue out to sea. There, what is that? Approximately, 1,000 to 2,000m away there is a large fleet of ships, at least 200 units of all sizes, to our left M.T.B.’s are heading for the coast. “Achtung” we must take care now! Before Gottfried can give me the signal, I am already circumnavigating a Flak-position, which lies exactly ahead of us, we have to show the gunners our Balkankreuz (National insignia) on the underside of our plane.

Then, in an easterly direction only a few metres high we cross over the tall cliffs and down to the mirror bright waters of the English Channel. We intend to fly along the side of the convoy to check how far it extends to the north! It’s not long before we turn towards the coast again, suddenly we notice a number of English fighter aircraft engaged in combat with our Focke Wulf 190’s. A circus, one rarely gets the chance to watch is taking place up there! We think there must be at least 60 Spitfires at a height of 1,500m trying to push our fighters to one side. Condensation stripes higher up give notice of further air fights, I can view this drama for a few moments only, Hptm Berndt reports a fighter approaching at our level……Luckily he turns out to be a Messerschmitt 109 with an external reserve fuel tank! Aha, that means that one machine from the (Rueck Geschwader) is already underway! In a wide semi-circle we navigate around the town, here and there wrecks and burning metal lie scattered in the fields, this tells us of more dogfights up there or else the Flak have been very lucky. One Focke Wulf had to make an emergency landing and looks wonderfully strange amongst willow bushes and brushwood.

4 Hptm. Berndt (centre)
Observer of this flight was Hptm. Berndt, seen here centre of photograph (Brownless).

Flying back at the lowest possible level we reach water, this time via the west side of the port along an inlet through the tall cliffs. We thundered that quickly across the beach that we almost overlooked a couple of landing sites of the English. With gunfire hitting the water and tracer bullets frequently getting close to our brave Ju, indicated, that we were being attended to by M.T.B.’s and Destroyers. In a wide turn, we are climbing over 100m and get an absolutely marvellous oversight over the whole of the battle events. The great mass of ships has condensed to a solid body and looks like a “Firing fort”. Right in the middle of this floating fort is one large vessel with lots of black smoke rising above. Some of the M.T.B.’s are beginning to envelop the convoy in a smoke screen another accompanies the strange looking flat landing craft as protection. Destroyers secure the flanks some are already lying close to the coast, replying to the fire of our coastal batteries. A few of the landing craft are lying, burning on their sides in the water. Above us are numerous fighters – friend or foe, hard to decide who is who! We now decide to fly towards Cherbourg to search for any more possible invasion sites of the English forces Uffz. Scheurer sends the first reports about the present course of the invasion to our ground personnel. When we reach the Cherbourg peninsula, we turn and climb to 800m to get a better view. The visibility is very much improved. On our left in blue light we can see the cliffs of the English Island. East of the Isle of Wight, just about visible to us, lay 15 to 20 large vessels. Surely, they must be there as supply ships should the attempted invasion be successful! Near Brighton we can see 3 tow barges, making full steam ahead for the English coast. They are pulling a cruiser which is laying on its side it makes a sad picture. Again, we are approaching the town of Dieppe from the north. A quick glance at the clock, it is now 10.30. The picture is almost unchanged. On flying past the harbour, at a very low height, we begin to receive from the sea a few volleys of well-aimed gunfire. The number of wrecks and stranded landing craft has obviously increased a lot. Suddenly six Spitfires pass our plane and head straight for a Flak site, they can’t have noticed us! Hardly is this spook over when a shot down Spitfire is meandering right in front of our noses, heading towards the sea. The pilot is lucky, a parachute is seen slowly descending, like a pendulum of a clock, towards the water. A Dornier Do 217 above us is avoiding the attacks of a number of fighter planes by slowly pressing away from them. After completion of our orders, we take one last look at the battleground and away we are, flying low, homebound. The pleasure of having been an eye witness to this major event in the air, on the ground and out to sea, is still in everybody’s eyes, when, with a sudden shout of “Fighters behind”, the first volleys of fire are hitting our Ju They must have stalked us in the shallow valley! But we are not giving up the fight! With throttles fully open I am pushing the machine down. Fountains of earth on the ploughed land in front of me show me how well the Tommie’s are shooting. Suddenly the plane veers to the right and I am barely able to hold her straight. Aha, left motor to pieces! Hptm. Berndt pulls my arm and points to the right, what now? The right motor appears to be hit as well. The radiator is also losing water the jet of water is as thick as an arm which evaporates away behind us. No more hesitations! “Belly-landing!” Almost mechanically, my left hand moves to the landing flap handle (Landeklappenhebel), and shut the “fire cock” against the fiercely burning left motor. Exactly to rule, our plane is slithering along a stubble field, shaking madly, jumps across a hollow path before coming to a halt. A few seconds later we are standing at a safe distance from the plane exchanging with each other our experiences and observations of the last moments before the crash landing. Five Spitfires had been attacking us one had been severely hit and damaged from the first volley of M.G. fire from our gunner Uffz. Scheurer. After exchanging gunfire our Radio Operator had also been hit, we were easy game for the fighters.
A French farm worker ran to our assistance and helps to carry the radio operator with his wounded left upper arm to the nearest farm. A French doctor soon arrives on the scene and gives him and the gunner First Aid. Later, Richard Scheurer was taken to the hospital at St. Romain and Ludwig Rohlfs to Clichy. I stand guard by my slowly burning machine and discuss with the nosy, but helpful population in broken French various related problems. Hptm Berndt is cycling to the nearest German military office to pass on information to our Squadron commander who must be impatiently waiting by now. Towards 3 p.m., a car takes us to the nearest airfield.

A Junkers Ju 88D-1 of 1./(F)123 seen here in a crash landing scenario during the making of the film (Besatzung Dora) August 1942.The scene depicted is very similar to that experienced by Fritz Schlicting and his crewafter their crash landing.

“Charly” Rüeck & Fritz Schlichting with comrades celebrating at Chateau Buc (Brownless)

During the evening of the 19th August, we are sitting again in our beautiful Chateau with a good bottle of Champagne and listened with interest to the special report from the Fuehrer’s HQ. An attempt at landing by English, American, Canadian and De-Gaulle troops were repelled by the German units of the Coastal Defence Forces with great bloody losses for the enemy!

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless with special thanks to my German friend Fritz Schlichting (now departed). This page is dedicated to him and his fellow comrades of 1./(F)123.