Remembering the Junkers 88 Crash
I remember as a schoolboy at Chalford Hill School hearing about the German plane which crashed over at France Lynch, a Junkers 88. Two of us went over (we should have been on our way home from school), and eventually we found the wreckage and I came home with an aluminium panel with six switches on and that was a trophy that hung in the shed for donkey's years; it must have been there for twenty or thirty years! I remember standing on the recreation ground and seeing the puffs and shell-bursts of a German plane flying across at the height of five or six thousand feet; it was excitement in those days.
George Gleed (Brownshill)
One day in 1940 we were in the playground at school when an air battle took place, not directly overhead, but within sight. For once, the headmaster lost control of us because, although he tried to order us inside the school, we refused to go even though he resorted to hitting out at us. The result of the action was that a British Hurricane Fighter crashed at Oakridge and a German Junkers 88 crashed in the Strawberry Banks between Oakridge and France Lynch. As soon as school was over, we nearly all raced over to see the German plane and get pieces of it for souvenirs. I remember getting into deep trouble for being late home from school.
Mike Mills (Chalford)
We had a Junkers 88 crash in July 1940 over in the Strawberry Banks or Bidcombe's as it's properly called. They had armed officers and some airmen there from Aston Down guarding it. Why they were guarding it, I don't know. Anyway, George Juggins arrived up there with his bowler hat and his silverheaded cane on the Saturday morning and said to the officer, 'Good morning, my man', and the officer thought it was the local squire and proceeded to show George round! Of course, everybody was standing round laughing their heads off! George had a nerve for anything.
That was a seven-day wonder, that plane. It crashed on 25 July 1940. They ran buses from Stroud to bring people up to see it. I can remember seeing it come down, because we were all at school. It was rammed by a Hurricane. The Hurricane crashed at Oakridge, and all they found was bits of the pilot. One of the Junkers' engines fell out by Pontings Farm and the plane crashed down by Bidcombe's: you can still see the patch of ground where it landed as it's a lot greener than the rest. The crew jumped out, but one man's parachute didn't open. He was buried with full military honours at Brimscombe Cemetery. He was in the top of a tree. My dad led the search party round the wood to find him. They moved his body after the war to the German Cemetery at Cannock Chase. Round here in the war, there were crashes almost every week.
Pam Turner (France Lynch)
I remember the German plane coming down in the fields by Oakridge. I remember, at the time, we had an airman's wife staying here and the airman was here too. We saw it coming down and he took me to the Oakridge fields; and I remember the German up in the trees in the parachute. It was very sad, but it wasn't frightening, because he couldn't have done anything, could he?
For more on Oakridge and much besides, please buy :
Voices of Chalford, Bisley and Bussage by Tasmin Treverton Jones, Published by Tempus
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