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Mission: Mine-laying operation over the Humber Estuary, England.

Date: 25/26th July 1943

Time: 12.46 a.m.

Unit: Stab./Kampfgeschwader 2

Type: Dornier Do 217 K-1


Coded: U5 + BA

Location: In the sea 15 miles east of Spurn Head, off the River Humber, Hull, England.

Pilot: Unteroffizier. Max Reuthe. F.A.R.13/3505 – Missing.
Born 28.12.1919 in Stuttgart.

Observer: Unteroffizier. Siegfried Ludwig. Fl.Aus.Rgt.63 Nr.788 – POW.
Born 17.03.1921 in Chemnitz, Zwickau, Altendorf.

Radio/Op: Unteroffizier. Heinrich Boening. Ln.Komp.Nr.507 – Missing.
Born 05.01.1921 in Schreiburg.

Flt/Eng: Unteroffizier. Willi Schuerlein. 58214/168 – POW.
Born 07.09.1918 in Heidenau b.Dresden.


Started from Soesterberg with a number of aircraft from II/KG 2 to attack the Victoria Docks, Hull. The dock gates and wood stacks lying on or near the quays. The first two aircraft were to act as “Pathfinders”, and were to release flares over the target as a guide to the others.
The first aircraft took off from Soesterberg at 2300 hours, and the remainder followed at about 90-second intervals. The U5 + BA was the fourth or fifth aircraft to take off, and carried four 500 kg. H.E. bombs and four 50 kg. incendiaries. The pilot flew direct from Soesterberg to the visual beacon “Katrin” at Kallantsoeg, and thence over the sea at a height of about 50 feet to a turning point some 40 miles E.N.E. of Hull. He then turned on to a direct course for Hull, gaining height to 6000 feet.

The flares released by the leading aircraft were still burning when the U5 + BA released its bombs, but weather over the target was hazy and the results of bombing were unobserved. After the attack the crew took a direct course back to the Netherlands, losing height very gradually. The observer, who was watching the presentation screen of the Lichtenstein Gerät, soon saw that the aircraft was being followed by a night fighter, and warned his pilot to go down to sea level. The latter took no notice, however, and continued on his course.

After about ten minutes flying, at which time the U5 + BA was still at 5000 feet, an attack developed and the night fighters first burst struck the port engine, which immediately burst into flames. The pilot gave the order to bale out, and the flight engineer left the aircraft first, followed by the observer. These two got into their one-man dinghies and after having been sighted about five miles apart by a British aircraft, they were picked up some 40 hours after the crash at a point 64 miles RE.N.E of Spurn Head. The pilot and radio operator presumably perished in the aircraft. This aircraft was shot down by a Beaufighter of No. 604 Squadron flown by F/O B. R. Keele and F/O G. H. Cowles.

1 Spurn Head
A view out to sea off Spurn Head (Internet)

The observer, Siegfried Ludwig joined the G.A.F. in October 1939, and did his preliminary infantry training at the Fl.A.R. at Eger. From January to April 1940 he trained as a ground mechanic at the Fliegertechnische Schule at Nürnberg, where he serviced the Heinkel He 70 and Junkers W34 aircraft used for towing drogues for Flak excercises. Whilst at Nürnberg he applied for aircrew duties, and was ultimately acceped as an observer. In August 1941 he was sent to the observers school at Bug/Rügen, where he remained until April 1942. From May to August 1942 he was at the Grosskampf-Fliegerschule at Hörsching, and during that time underwent a three week air gunners course at Novi-Dver. Whilst at Hörsching he teamed up with his present crew, and in August 1942 they were posted to IV./KG2 at Achmer-Bramsche. A week later they joined II./KG2 at Eindhoven.

2 German Red Cross
Letter to Mrs. Boening from the German Red Cross expressing the news her son is missing.

3 Boning 1cc4 Boning 2

5 Letter from Staffelkapitaen
6 Letter x2

7 Iron Cross 1st Class citatation

8 Boningcc9 Iron Cross 1st Class Boning
Heinrich Böning pictured on home leave shortly after receiving the Iron Cross 1st Class.

Last flight from Heinrich’s Flugbuch, Uffz. Reuthe, Uffz. Böning Do 217 U5 + BA (Hall)


12 German lost at sea memorial

Burial detail:

None; Both Max Reuthe and Heinrich Böning have no known grave, believed still in aircraft in a sea grave.

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless with special thanks to Steven Hall, September 2013.