War wreck secrets - the role of intelligence services

War was not just about combat; the intelligence services fought a most secret conflict too. Barry Wheeler uncovers the story

Mid-way through the Battle of Britain, Feldwebel Herbert Bischoff of the 1st Staffel Jagdgeshwader 52 was on an early afternoon sortie supporting Luftwaffe bombers over the Thames Estuary. Operating from the French airfield of Coquelles, Bischoff was flying Messerschmitt Bf 109E ‘White 9’ when his aircraft suddenly lost power, though not from the enemy! Spiralling down, he desperately looked for a suitable place to land the now-silent machine and chose a recently harvested field alongside the Minster Road at Westgate-on-Sea. Holding off to ‘belly-in’, he clipped the port wing on an anti-glider concrete post and bent all three propeller blades as he ploughed his way to a stop. It was August 24, 1940, and for Bischoff his life as a prisoner of war stretched ahead.


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