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Mission: Reconnaissance – (Markthalle) Southampton, Hampshire, England.

Date: 24
th April 1942

Unit: 1 Staffel./Fernaufklärungsgruppe 123

Type: Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4


Coded: (not known).

Location: In the English Channel, off the Isle of Wight.

Pilot: Unteroffizier. Rolf Grassberger. 69004/243 – Killed. Born 21.08.1920 in Salzburg.


Extract from the War diary of Willi Quante, 4./(F)123

We never would have believed that we would lose our second Bf109 today. Misplaced ambition never leads to one’s objective!

Schaefer and Grassberger flew a mission today. Shortly after take off from Buc, Schaefer was forced to land due to an equipment malfunction. Grassberger flew on alone to the front. In Theville he had nothing more important to do then accompany a comrade of the 3rd fighter squadron on a combat mission. Grassberger was so eager to start that he did not report the flight to mission operations. The controlling headquarters was also unaware of the flight. According to the testimony of Grassberger’s partner, both attempted to fly lower. Grassberger then stood his “Crate” on its head. During this manoever both lost contact with one another.

The other pilot completed two circuits and then did the smart thing and returned to base. Nothing further was heard from Grassberger. He is our second loss since the Me-109 reconnaissance missions began. We hope that Grassberger performed an emergency landing in England. A search mission by the fighters that same evening was unsuccessful.

This aircraft crashed and sank in the sea in unknown circumstances. The body of Uffz.
Grassberger was washed ashore at Alum Bay, Isle of Wight on the 30.05.42 Rolf Grassberger was the replacement Bf 109 pilot of Uffz. Kurt Thuene who failed to return after mission on the 07.01.1942.

A.I.1.(k) Report No. 131/1942 states the following;

It is evident from documents that this man was a fighter pilot and that he was a member of 1./(F)123 - presumably engaged on photo reconnaissance. The finding of his body is thought to establish a further loss of this unit, which, from the condition of the body, must have taken place about three weeks previously. The following details of this pilot's career were obtained from documents.

17.01.40 - Pay book issued by 1/Fl. A.R.13, Neubiberg

30.03.40 - Reservelazarett Pilsen (appendicitus)

17.05.40 - 3/Fl.A.R. 13.

20.06.40 - Flugzeugfuehrerschule (A/B) 4. Prag/Gbell

01.12.40 - Promoted to Gefreiter.

05.05.41 - A/B pilot's certificate issued by Flugzeugfuehrerschule Prag/Gbell.

21.06.41 - Flugzeugfuehrerschule (A/B) 4, Schwechat.

17.07.41 - Jagdfliegerschule 2

16.08.41 - F.P.N. L.07101a Paris.

10.11.41 - Appointed Offizieranswaerter by 1/Jagdfliegerschule 5

01.12.41 - Promoted to Unteroffizier by 1/Jagdfliegerschule 5

25.01.42 - F.P.N. L.37984 Paris (Unknown).

12.02.42 - Aufklaerungsgruppe 123, 1st Staffel.

(1) Rolf Grassbergercc(2) Rolf's grave
Unteroffizier Rolf Grassberger (Brownless)
cccccccc cccccccccc Rolf now rests at Cannock Chase.

Burial detail: Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof Cannock Chase, Staffs, England. Block 7, Grave Nr. 251.

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless with special thanks to Armin Goebel and Fritz Schlichting for their help in constructing this page, August 2013.
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