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Mission: Reconnaissance flight to the Seine-Bay, France.

Date: 24th June 1944

Unit: 4th Staffel./Fernaufklaerungsgruppe 123

Type: Messerschmitt Bf 109G-5

Werke/Nr.27107 (Lw loss report gives Wnr. 27106)

Code: Blue 1 +

Location: Ecretteville-les-Baons, France.

Pilot: Unteroffizier. Herbert Blochberger. 58225/66 Missing. (Born 07.05.1915 in Radefeld. Recovered on 23.11.1996).


Failed to return from reconnaissance mission, presumed shot down by allied fighters, possibly a P-38 Lightning. Witness states that the air combat took place at a very high altitude and that one aircraft had twin tails. Uffz. Blochberger, holder of the Deutsche Kreuz in Gold was flying as wing-man for Oblt. Werner Kohla.

1 Uffz Herbert Blochbergercc2 Herbert Blochberger - Copy (2)
Uffz. Herbert Blochberger (Strauss nee Blochberger)

3 Herbert & fellow pilots
Herbert Blochberger 1
st from left with fellow pilots of the 4th Staffel (Strauss)

4 Feilmeyercc5 Oblt Kohla
Staffelkapitaen. Heinz Feilmeyer (Strauss)
cccccccccccccccccccccccc Oberleutnant. Werner Kohla (Strauss)

6 Uffz Blochberger in Me 109G
The Final Flight

Two pilots Oberleutnant. Wener Kohla and Unteroffizier. Herbert Blochberger, (a veteran of over 170 missions) are both briefed by their Staffelkapitaen, Hauptmann. Heinz Feilmayer at St.Andre airfield. The mission for today was reconnaissance of the Seine Bay area, especially noting the positions of allied troop movements and equipment such as tanks etc. Both pilots knew that this would be a difficult mission, due to the fact of overwhelming allied air superiority in the region.

Oblt. Kohla and Uffz. Blochberger clambered into the cockpits of their fast Messerschmitt Bf 109 reconnaissance aircraft, and with the help of the ground crew, strapped themselves in and waited for permission to start! Suddenly, the air was filled with the roar of two powerful Daimler-Benz 605 engines. The order was given and the two machines accelerated, within seconds, they were airborne. The "Men in Black" Ground crew) quietly gazed into the blue sky, wondering if their comrades would return!

On reaching a height of 8,000 metres they were flying over the Seine Maritime (Le Havre) area. Suddenly, without warning Oblt. Kohla was contacted by radio from his wingman Uffz. Blochberger, who only had enough time to say, that they were being attacked by enemy fighters from the port side. Immediately both pilots separated, with Uffz. Blochberger, being pursued in a steep dive by the attacking fighters. During this mayhem, Oblt. Kohla lost sight of the enemy and his “Rottenflieger“ (wingman) so he decided to fly back to base at very low level, the mission aborted! He hoped that his young friend and comrade had managed to shake off the enemy aircraft, perhaps he has already landed? After successfully landing back at St.Andre Oblt. Kohla waited for news of Uffz. Blochberger, other aircraft were sent out to search, but sadly this was fruitless no further news came. Herbert Blochberger must have been killed in the initial attack of the fighters.

7 Herbert Blochbergercc8 Ursula, Herbert & Horst 1944
Herbert pictured on his last home leave with his younger brother & sister Horst & Ursula (Strauss)

9 Herbert with his mother, Hedwigcc10
Mother Hedwig with her first son Herbert (Strauss)
ccccccccccccccccccccccHorst & Ursula at mother’s grave in Radefeld

Letter written by Hauptmann. Heinz Feilmayer Staffelkapitaen 4./(F)123 to the bereaved mother of Herbert Blochberger, Hedwig, dated 26.06.1944.

Dear Mrs Blochberger,

Again there is yet another sacrifice. And I have the responsibility to give you the sad news that your son Herbert on the 24.06.44 failed to return from his mission. I know that this news must be very hard for you. I offer my condolences on behalf of myself, and the whole of the Staffel in your tragic loss. Since your son has been with the Staffel, with his youthful ways he proved himself as a talented pilot. It was not long before he reached a very good position in the Staffel. He was well respected by all of his comrades, and sadly now he has to given his country the greatest sacrifice. About the incident, I can tell you the following; your son, together with Oblt Kohla were flying a reconnaissance mission in the invasion area. At a great height they were intercepted by four enemy fighters which attacked them. Herbert dived straight away to try and shake off his attackers but they followed him down. Oblt Kohla then pursued the enemy fighters in the attempt to help his comrade. Eventually after a very steep dive his cockpit cabin iced-up, at this point he lost sight of your son and the enemy. After the attack we had no further radio contact with Herbert. At this time we have no further news. When Oblt Kohla landed. I immediately notified all the relevant authorities and asked that they should start investigations, until now we have had no positive results. It is painful that you are completely in the dark regarding the fate of your son. I am sorry that I cannot offer you any more possibilities to bring to light the facts of this tragedy. I can only presume that your son did not recover from his steep dive and hit the ground. Or he could have been shot down by the enemy fighters. In both instances, you can be sure that his death was quick and painless. If I get any further new information on the tragedy of your son, I will of course pass it on to you straight away.

Yours, Heinz Feilmayer.

Letter from Oberleutnant. Werner Kohla to Frau Blochberger dated 11th August 1944

Dear Mrs Blochberger,

Thank you very much for your letter that I received today. Of course I will answer you straight away. I wanted your son as my comrade because I did like him personally very much. We have flown a few heavy missions together during the first few days of the invasion, but we did know each other before this time. On our last day together we were flying at a height of 8,000m, as we approached the area of Le Havre, we were suddenly attacked by four enemy fighters. Your son immediately contacted me on the radio 'Achtung! Enemy fighters from the left', at the same moment he turned his aircraft on its side and went into a steep dive almost vertically, to escape the attacking fighters. I saw the enemy fighters and dived after them, I followed the enemy machines to try and help my comrade, unfortunately flying so fast and steep my cabin began to ice-up. I had great difficulty in pulling out of my dive, it was not until I reached a height of 2,000m did I manage to pull out. I lost sight of the enemy and your son. I then flew back to our airfield (St. Andre) in the hope that my comrade had already landed before me, sadly this was not the case. I can only presume that he did not survive the enemy attack or he could not recover his aircraft from his dive and suffered a flier's death! Your son, as far as I can see, has crashed approximately 20 km N.E of Le Havre. His aircraft should be found by German soldiers in the area, maybe he has been buried as an unknown soldier! All enquires made on behalf of the Staffel are without any result, I don't think that your son could be a P.O.W. in England because we were flying over our own lines. As soon as I receive any information about your missing son I will pass it on to you straight away. Please allow me a few words of comfort. Dear Mrs Blochberger, only time can heal your pain and sadness, maybe a relief for you is to know that he after endless missions against the enemy gave his young life for us all and Germany.

Dear regards, Werner Kohla.

NOTE: This aircraft and pilot were recovered during November 1996 by members of our society and French historian Laurent d’ Hondt. Engine and other major parts are on public display in memory of Herbert Blochberger in the Wings Remembrance Museum, Redhill, Surrey.



13 Herberts death notice 1944

Burial detail:

Deutsche Soldatenfriedhof Champigny St.Andre. Grave. 285 Row. 5 Block. 13

14 (2)cc15
New headstone for the recently interred Herbert Blochberger


17 Blochberger Cemetery (24)
David King, Melvin Brownless and Udo van den Brock with the Blochberger family at St. Andre, France.

18 Family
L to R: Local Frenchman, Moni Blochberger, Frau Beckers, Priest Taufer, Ursula Strauss, Melvin Brownless, Werner Strauss,
David King and Udo van den Brock (Brownless)

Address at the graveside

Written by Ursula Strauss (Blochberger) 6th June 1998

It seems hardly possible to grasp with our understanding that we are standing today, here in France, in a German war cemetery by the grave of our dear brother Herbert Blochberger. One and a half years ago nobody would have even remotely guessed at this possibility. During this ensuing period so much has happened which has touched us deeply. Painful but also happy memories emerged, happy that you dear Herbert existed, and that, despite the great difference in age we were allowed to share in part of your journey through life. We are remembering good events and time spent with you. Very sad though is the memory of all your pointless battles in France - the despair and sorrow when Mutti received the news that you were missing. The great sorrow and uncertainty as to what should have befallen you, dear Herbert.

We are standing today, your brother Horst - his dear wife Moni, I your sister Ursula, and my dear husband Werner to say goodbye to you. This only became possible due to our English and French friends Melvin with his group. So many memories tumble through our heads, in the month of June 54 years ago - when Mutti received what must have been your last letter, we could feel between the lines the hopeless, serious situation in which you found yourselves. This madness of war demanded from you to the last, and from us the best. Mutti was full of worry and anxiety - in her thoughts always with you. She once said to me, that she was begging with all her heart that the Lord may take you away from all the horrors. She had not meant it to happen this way. At the end of June 1944 we received from Hauptmann Feilmayer the message that you were missing, that you, dear Herbert, did not return on the 24.06.1944 from an enemy mission - 3 years after fathers death. For Mutti, the world collapsed.

You were in every way her great support, we All were missing you so much. After all, you were not only our big brother to us but also a father! The post war days were a bad time for us. How should Mutti pay the rent on our large apartment. We were always hungry, with very little to eat. Therefore we moved to Radefeld, to grandmas, where you were born and where you always felt at home. Many a childhood memory of you is still alive in my heart. We were always looking forward to your parcels from the Front - your soiled laundry, and from your flyer's "special ration" always a tin of chocolate. For us always a reason to celebrate. When Mutti's parcels did not reach you because you had been moved, the dried out crumbly cake I still remember with relish, it always tasted wonderfully good. I also remember with pleasure, how you, when on leave, used to play the piano, even during the night, for your own enjoyment and relaxation.

Remember before we had to go to bed, you carried us on your shoulders with speed in "blindflight" flew along our long corridor with crash landings on our beds. Horst and I always made sure that neither was able to enjoy one go more than the other. Mutti often talked about the long cycle tours that you went on - from Berlin to Radefeld. In those days, unusually long distances for such tours. When we talk to people in Radefeld on how you were found, many of them still remember you. Some even are able to recall how you, when flying across Radefeld flew very low 3 times and made it obvious that you were paying us a visit. Your flying skills certainly impressed the Radefelders, this is what many recall. Dear Herbert, our Mutti has tried all her life to find out about your fate. At first she hoped that you were taken prisoner, German engineers were always sought after. Searches by the German Red Cross were without result. She very much regretted, that by father's strict upbringing and your own dedication to fulfil what was expected of you, you missed out on the more enjoyable pursuits in your young life.

19 Family Christmas, mother & father & brother & sister
Herbert at the piano with his family at Christmas (Strauss)

Music played a great part in enhancing your life - you loved it so. During difficult missions, your trust in God gave you the strength which you needed, we felt this in your letters. Dear Herbert, what you could not experience any more, we have been given in our lives. Horst and I have wonderful families, we have healthy children, who are happily married and we are both proud grandparents. Our children know of you, they know you, your pictures hang on our walls in our houses. They are interested in your fate, and supported us during the last months in our correspondance with the authorities and our friends in England and France. They gave us moral support and their thoughts are with us all today.

Our dear Mutti had hoped right to the end of her life by a miracle to hear news of your fate.

Our father’s death hit her hard, but she needed years to be able to live with the uncertainty of you. Werner nursed her during her last years of her life. She died peacefully in April 1995 in her 97th year.

Dear Herbert, that your fate was cleared up, that we are standing here by your last resting place to say goodbye to you is only possible by the young people of the Aircrew Remembrance Society, who endeavour responsibly to determine the unknown fate of war casualties. With all our hearts we thank these young people; Melvin Brownless, Steven Hall, David King, Laurent d'Hondt, Mike Croft and Udo van den Brock.

During the excavations on the 23rd November 1996 near Ecretteville-les-Baons they found your Messerschmitt 109 and were able to recover your remains with dignity and respect. It was meant to be, even after the many years you wanted to be found. Things happened during the recovery, which one can't explain.There are things between Heaven and Earth which our understanding can not explain. Through great personal and self-financed dedication at the recovery, and consequent tireless meticulous work could ther group clear up your fate. In February 1997, they found our address and we were overwhelmed and deeply touched by your recovery. We followed the tiring work of our friends with great interest. These wonderful young people deserve our greatest respect. We are feeling so very grateful for what they have done for us, a deep friendship has formed between us.

20 bootcc21 memorial flowers

In June 1997 Melvin, Udo and Steven were in Radefeld. It was such a joy for us, anything which concerned you, dear Herbert, was for us of great interest. They looked at your birth house at grandmas and all your favourite spots in the beautiful garden. They also visited Mutti's grave, we all wished so very much to be able to take you home and lay you to rest in Mutti's grave. Despite all our efforts it was not possible, it simply could not be done.

Our hearts grieve, that you dear Herbert had been resting with your plane in foreign soil for 52 years. We are so grateful - with all our hearts - that you now have a worthy place amongst 1,000's of German soldiers in Champigny/St.Andre. Here, quite near lies your Staffel-Commander Hauptmann Heinz Feilmayer, our English and French friends are present to say "Good Bye" to you. We know that you are now together with Mutti. We your siblings and marriage partners as well as your English and French friends bow to you.

22 Herbert Pariscc23 Paris 1998
Herbert pictured in Paris, possibly 1942
ccccccccccccccccccccccccc The same bridge June 1998 (Strauss)

Rest in peace with your comrades. A token from grandma’s garden, where you loved to be. Some homeland earth in a foreign country. This will keep you as you rest here. Too thank you to say our families with overflowing hearts, "that we were given the chance to be here". "Thank you to Melvin Brownless and his friends. A thank you to the Cemetery Warden Herr. Beckers, and thank you to German priest Herr Taufer.

24 Horst Blochbergercc25 Family decoration
Horst Blochberger, Melvin & Priest Taufer Herbert’s grave after family decoration

26 Awards

27 Herbert Blochberger 123 1944 (81)


Further details of the excavation carried out by the Aircrew Remembrance Society in 1996 can be found HERE

The Funeral of Herbert Blochberger can be found HERE

Researched and compiled in memory of Herbert Blochberger by Melvin Brownless for the family Blochberger/Strauss 1996-2007.
The British Library is preserving this site for the future in the UK Web Archive at All Aircrew Remembered on our Remembrance pages, are therefor not just remembered here, but also subsequently remembered and recorded as part of our nation’s history
and heritage at The British Library.