The Bf 109 E3 (WNr 1162) White 4 of 4./JG51 flown by 18 year old Lt. Johann Böhm which crash lands in a sheep field on Hillhouse Farm at Bladbean.
A Schwarm of Josef Fözö's 4. Staffel is headed off and chased by Spitfires of 74 Sqn. (Probably took off from Desvres, near Boulogne.) In a formation of four aircraft, flying in line astern chasing a Spitfire, this aircraft is caught from below by another Spitfire which shot into the engine. The pilot puts the aircraft into a dive to escape but is hit in the non self-sealing fuel tank and crash lands with undercarriage retracted.
The form 'F' combat report (AIR/50/32/91) from Sgt E A Mould of 74 Sqn (Hornchurch) reads:
|Sector Serial No||(A)||D.|
|Serial No. of order detailing patrol||(B)||159|
|Flight, Squadron||(D)||Red Section 'A' Flt. No. 74 Squadron|
|No. of Enemy Aircraft||(E)||FOUR.|
|Type of Enemy Aircraft||(F)||Me. 109.|
|Time Attack was delivered||(G)||1600 hrs. approx|
|Place attack was delivered||(H)||Dover and District|
|Height of Enemy||(J)||5,000 ft.|
|Enemy Casualties||(K)||Confirmed. ONE
|Our Casualties Aircraft||(L)||Nil.|
|A.A. Guns Assistance||(ii) Nil.|
|Fire for Fighters
(Measured or Estimated)
|(P)||Range opened. 300 yds.
Length of Burst. 5 x 3 secs.
Rage Closed. 100 yds.
No. of rounds per gun
|General Report||(R)||See Report appended.|
Sgt. Red Leader "A" Flt.
|I was Red Leader of "A" Flight No 74 Sqn, with No 2. of Blue Section also in company. The four of us were on interception patrol over Dover when I sighted four Me 109s flying in line astern on my starboard beam. I gave the order 'Line Astern' and turned to starboard climbing up under the tail of the rear Me 109. I gave him a short 30° deflection shot and he immediately half-rolled and dived to ground level followed by Red 2. In trying to follow him I blacked myself out and lost sight of him, but I saw another Me 109 also flying at low level so I dived on him from about 3,000 ft. He immediately dived to ground level and used evasive tactics by flying along the valleys behind Dover and Folkestone, which only allowed me to fire short deflection bursts at him.After two of these bursts smoke or vapour came from the radiator beneath his port wing and other bursts appeared to enter the fuselage.
He eventually landed with his wheels up as I fired my last burst at him in a field near Elham. The pilot was apparently uninjured and I circled round him until he was taken prisoner.
In the evening 81-year-old local farmer George Palmer was taken to see the aircraft, ignoring the guard and the cordons he went up to it and prodded his stick. With his curiosity satisfied he helped Walter Keeler, who farmed the land and had lost ten ewes to the plane as it skidded across the field, round up the rest of his sheep that were still wandering around.
Johan Böhm is taken to Broome Park.
Air Intelligence Report (9/8/1940)
The aircraft carried a 4 - in white with a Red border.
It had a Staffel sign of a Raven with Spectacles, and an Umbrella under its arm.
The aircraft was Works No. 1162 built by ERLA Maschinenwerke, fitted with a D.B.601 engine. The armament consisted of two synchronised 7.92mm M.G.s, firing through the airscrew disc, and two 20mm wing cannons.
On primary interrogation, the pilot would give away no information, but a paper in his possession shows he was at Desvres (near Boulogne) on July 5th. There was a permit, dated 29/6/40 from Luftgau Kommando VI, which also referred to II/JG51.
AI(K) Report (10/8/1940)
This aircraft was one of a formation of four, flying in line astern, chasing a Spitfire. Other Spitfires were climbing towards them from below, and as they approached the pilot turned off, and was hit by one of the Spitfires in the engine.
He went into a dive and reached a speed of of 700 kilometers per hour (435mph) but the Spitfire followed him in a dive, firing continually. He pilled out when withing 1,500 feet of the ground.
Böhm had been two years in the German Air Force.
On the outbreak of war, he was at the Jagdfliegerschule, Schiesheim, and was posted to his present Staffel (4/JG51) on December 6h. Since that time he has done some 95 War Flights, many of which, however, were ordinary patrols along the frontier.
Johan Böhm's awards: EK 2, Wound Badge, Fighter Operational Clasp
The aircraft had a complete circle of armour plate built to the shape of the fuselage just behind the pilot's seat.
ID: 65176, AW: pink, Menningen, 27/2/20. FP: L04579
Under interrogation the pilot would not give away any information. A piece of paper found on him showed he was in Desveres on 5th July 1940, also he had a permit dated 29th June 1940 from Luftgau Kommando VI which referred to II/JG51. The pilot had been in the German Air Force for two years and had carried out ninety-five War Flights. At the outbreak of war he was at the Jagdfligerschule Schliesheim and was posted to his present Staffel on 6th December 1939.
Depending on the account, this is either the first Messerchmitt, the first Bf 109 or the first fighter shot down over England or Britain. Aircraft Salvage in the Battle of Britain and the Blitz has another aircraft on the same day as this as the first Bf 109 to be shot down onto British soil but that seems to have been shot down several hours after this aircraft.
As the official start of the Battle of Britain is two days after this, references to this in the sources are limited.
In August 2018 I took a trip to Bladbean and, by referencing the photos of the crash site, found the field.
Viewed from the valley road the field is on the relatively flat crest of the west side of the Elham Valley and there's a scarp slope dropping into the valley itself.
Viewed from the south of the field there's a reasonable space to put down a fighter but with a hedged road on the left and the scarp on the right there wasn't much room for error.