Divers discover wreckage of German bomber

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Divers believe they have found the likely resting place of a Luftwaffe bomber from the Second World War in the North Sea near Lerwick.

Orkney divers on an expedition to the isles discovered one of the engines from the Junkers 88 D-1, which was hit by anti-aircraft gunners while on a long-range reconnaissance mission over the Northern Isles on 5th March 1944.

Historical accounts say the bomber was badly damaged and had to ditch close to the North end of Bressay.

Radio operator Unteroffizier Anton Reisch, observer OberLeutenant Alfred Cardaun and the pilot Feldwebel Marggraf managed to escape the sinking aircraft and swam, unwounded, to shore on the Holm of Beosetter.

However, the gunner, Unteroffizier Bruno Lindner was either killed in the crash or did not escape the bomber in time and died.

The three survivors were recovered by an air/sea rescue launch from Lerwick and were questioned by RAF intelligence before being interred as prisoners of war.

Now, divers aboard the Orkney-based dive boat Valkyrie believe they have uncovered parts of the plane’s wreckage. Their discovery of an engine in July was followed by the finding of further parts in subsequent dives.

They say the engine, a V12 Jumo aero power-plant, was found in about 12 metres of water. Sections of the aluminium skin and some parts of the aircraft frame are said to lie deeper in almost 30 metres.

The aircraft is presumed to have broken up on impact and this, combined with the action of the waves in the shallow waters and dredging operations, could have further dispersed the wreckage over a wide area. Further dives are planned over the next year and more parts of the aircraft including the second engine and undercarriage are expected to be found.

Orkney-based aircraft crash researchers Kevin Heath and Dave Earl undertook the work to identify the crashed aircraft and its crew.

Many parts of his research are undertaken through “ARGOS” (Aircraft Research Group Orkney and Shetland) of which Mr Earl is also a member and researcher.

The exact position of the JU88 has not been disclosed. However, it is understood the approximate location will be released to provide some information to any living relatives of the lost airman.

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