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Mission: Attack on London, England.

Date: 2nd December 1943

Unit: 1 Staffel./Kampfgeschwader 6

Type: Junkers Ju 188A

Werke Nr.260168

Coded: 3E + EH

Location: Believed crashed in English Channel.

Pilot: Unteroffizier. Alfred Popp 55510/202 - Killed.
Born 24.02.1920 in Konradsreuth.

Observer: Obergefreiter. Ewald Scherff 55510/203 - Killed.
Born 16.06.1920 in Sandbochum.

Radio/Op: Obergefreiter. Manfred Forst 55510/204 – Killed.
Born 04.04.1921 in Schoeneberg.

Gunner: Obergefreiter. Helmut Kunze 55510/205 - Killed.
Born 29.04.1920 in Mutschau.


This aircraft is believed to have been shot down by F/Sgt. Kenneth Hanna in a Typhoon of No.181 Squadron.

Below is an extract from Kenneth Hanna's combat report dated 02.12.1943.

"I took off at 10.26 hours from 124 Airfield, Merston, and landed back there at 11.07 hours. I was flying No.2 to F/Sgt. Grey in Red Section, having been scrambled on a defensive patrol. I became seperated from my No.1 in cloud, but after climbing through cloud 4,000 feet thick on various vectors I broke cloud at 8,000 feet flying on a vector of 120 degrees. About seven or eight minutes after taking off, I saw a Do 217 camouflaged black, 2,000/1,500 yards dead ahead crossing at 60 degrees, and as I closed in the e/a started to take evasive action. I opened fire at 5/700 yards with a 2 second burst from 90 to 60 degress, using 80 rounds of 20mm ammunition. The e/a turned to port, and thick black smoke was seen pouring from the starboard engine as it disappeared into cloud and was not seen again. No return fire was experienced from e/a" The aircraft was recorded as "damaged"....

Manfred Forst,Ewald Scherff,Alfred Popp,Helmut Kunze Summer 1943
The crew pictured during the summer of 1943.

L to R: Manfred Forst,Ewald Scherff,Alfred Popp,Helmut Kunze.(via Scherff)

First Letter of Staffelkapitän to parents: Dated 13th December 1943.

Dear Mr. Scherff;

I have the heavy duty of informing you that your son,Private First Class Ewald Scherff failed to return from a daylight mission (attack) against London. He flew as an observer in the crew of Uffz.Popp.This aircrew took off on this mission on 2 December and have been missing since. All my efforts to date, to determine their fate have been futile.

To this heavy loss, which reaches you several days before Christmas, I can only offer you my heartfelt hope that the crew is safely in captivity. In faithful and exemplary fulfillment of duty, your son performed his duty for the German people, Fuhrer (Hitler) and the Fatherland. With him, I lost an exemplary soldier and an outstanding comrade. He was destined to have become an officer. My entire hope is that the aircrew is safely in captivity.

Most honorable Mr. Scherff, in your pain may you be filled with pride that in battle, your son remained “Over There” with our enemies. Please consider (Feel) yourself connected with his (son’s) comrades and a member of his squadron, because we will continue to fly.

Your son’s belongings will be sent to you, however I ask for your patience should delays occur, as the railways are overloaded at this time.


Von Manowarda

Second Letter of Staffelkapitän to parents: Dated 28th December 1943

Dear Mr. Scherff;

I have not yet been able ascertain anything concerning your Son’s and his crew members status. Perhaps you have already received a message a message from the Red Cross. It is the only way to learn about the events Hopefully you were able to pass the Christmas holidays well, in the hope that your son did perhaps pass into capitivity.
On the 24th of December our Commander promoted your son to the rank of Sergeant in front of the squadron. Even though he was not physically present, we all recognized his achievements! I beg of you then to do the same and be proud of Ewald. All are awaiting (?) a message confirming their (Ewald and missing aircrew) captivity.

Best new Years wishes from me and the Squadron.

Yours, Von Manowarda (CO)

Uffz. Popp
Pilot, Uffz. Alfred Popp – missing (Michalski )

First letter of Alfred Popp’s wife to Ewald’s parents dated 19th January 1944.

Dear Family Scherff!

You will surely be very surprised to receive a letter from a strange address. Your worthy son Ewald was my husband’s combat observer, my husband was the pilot. I requested (and obtained) the letters/correspondence of the other members of his aircrew from his squadron commander.

While on vacation my husband told me much about his capable crew of which your son was an observer. I have several photos of the aircrew that my husband sent to me from France; perhaps you have the same ones. You can imagine how deeply disturbed I was when the sad message arrived on 2 December that my husband failed to return from a daylight attack on London.

Since that day I have been regularly corresponding with the Squadron Commander. All my queries as to whether some of their comrades, on the same mission, perhaps observed whether they, (the Popp aircrew) were able to save themselves via parachute or an emergency landing have not been answered.

The crash of the aircraft was not observed by the other comrades as the attack was carried out under the concealment of cloud cover. I would so much like to know if the aircraft was perhaps hit over the water, but no one saw anything. It is simply terrible to live in such uncertainty. Day after day I wait for the good news from the German Red Cross that the aircrew is safe in English captivity. The Squadron Commander is firmly convinced (in the hope) that the aircrew is in captivity, and I share the same belief as he does.

What news has your family received from the military unit? You should also share the firm hope that your son Ewald still lives, whole and healthy in captivity.

Since I received the news that the aircrew is missing, day after day (as it concerns me) all that matters is: “Where are they, are they still alive, were they forced down over water or an emergency landing, etc. No other thoughts until one day an exact confirmation arrives from the Red Cross. Let us hold fast the belief that the aircrew is still alive and will return to us at the end of the war.

If I know for certain that the aircrew has passed into capitivity, then I will be completely happy (from the heart) in the knowledge that for them the war is over and that we at home will again see our loved ones, no matter how long it takes. One hears that prisoners of war are treated well in English captivity.Who knows whether or not they would have been hit one day if they continued to fly against England.

I beg of you, dear Family Scherff that if you hear anything from your son that you notify me. I would be very grateful. With the assurance that I will share anything that I discover with you….

I remain in sincere solidarity,

Yours Mrs. Hildegard Popp

Second letter of Alfred Popp’s wife to Ewald’s parents dated 22nd February 1944

Dear Family Scherff;

I received your lovely letter a few days ago and thank you from the heart.

My happiness was great upon receiving a few lines from the parents of my husband’s observer. I also received two letters from the parents of my husbands radioman; they, like me remain in the firm hope that their loved one is in captivity. One hears everywhere that it takes about 5-6 months, and even longer to receive mail from prisoners of war (captivity). It is also raises doubts when one remains in uncertainty for so long.

My husband once wrote me about an incident involving Emmert from Nurnberg. It was on their second mission against London, England. The aircraft began to burn and the aircrew parachuted. As a result of the aircraft’s speed and the wind, it stopped burning and the pilot was able to successfully return to his home airfield. Had the aircrew known that the aircraft would stop burning, then they certainly would not have jumped. In this instance one can surely assume that the aircrew became prisoners of war. Almost 6 months have passed without any news.

Dear Frau Scherff even we must wait so long, then I do not believe they became prisoners of war. I believe that mail must come in March; hopefully my thoughts do not betray me. That would also be great. Then we would need not fear German combat aircraft over London, as our loved ones would not be there. A good friend of my husband’s wrote me that on 2 December only two aircraft were used; it was a disruption attack (single aircraft attack) against London.

I inquired immediately for the address of the pilot of the second aircraft and wrote to him. It was almost telepathic, as I wrote to him on one day and received a detailed letter concerning the mission from him the next. His name was Uffz. Gerst.

Uffz. Gerst was a good friend of my Alfred, married, and also 23 years old.

On the morning of 2 December at 9 am they took off and immediately afterwards Uffz. Gerst lost visual contact with the aircraft of my husband. The mission order was for each aircraft to attack individually. During the entire flight he did not see even one German aircraft; only English fighters deployed defensively. On the short flight between the channel coast and London there was strong anti-aircraft fire. He wrote also that the fighters followed them through the cloud cover. Shortly before 12 o’clock, Uffz. Gerst returned to his airfield. Both should have returned together; but Fred was not there. They waited until midday, it became evening and the aircraft could not have been in the air any longer as its fuel would not have sufficed. It was assumed that perhaps the aircraft had landed at another airfield and the aircrew would have called but unfortunately that was not so. It means waiting again until the day when one more information arrives. Perhaps Fred had a watch and briefcase with him, as well as his fine camera; they and assorted small personal items also did not return.

As your son was promoted, my husband became a Sergeant First Class. In the hope that (we) receive good news shortly….

I greet you in sincere solidarity……

yours, Hildegard Popp

German lost at sea memorial
German lost at sea memorial dedicated to all those lost at sea.

Sadly this crew never returned home and to this day are still listed as Missing in Action.

Researched by Melvin Brownless in 2011 with special thanks to Frank Scherff, nephew of Ewald for letters & photographs used in this page of remembrance, also thanks to Dave Kirby for translating the families personal letters. Updated August 2013.