Heinkel Crash at Hales Lane
by E R Wilson
I was very pleased to meet you and talk with you during your book signing session at Brandhall Library. During our conversation I agreed I would put down on paper information, which might be of interest to you. The enclosed notes cover the relevant parts of our talk plus some other items. I subsequently found that the father of a friend of mine had been on fire-watch duty in Hales Lane and that his relatives had been killed in the crash.
HEINKEL CRASH AT HALES LANE
At the time of this incident I was on duty at the Auxiliary Fire Station at Castle Road East School near Warley Woods. I was told the plane had rolled upside down and had flown low over the rooftops of houses in Perry Hill Road opposite my house. One of the crew had bailed out and had landed in Barston Road. An appliance from our station had been dispatched to the crash site in Hales Lane. When they returned they said four houses had been destroyed and that they found the severed head of a crewmember in the gutter. He had been killed when the plane was attacked.
At this time the Home Guard H.Q. for the Quinton / Oldbury area was at 'High Tor', a large detached house with extensive drive, 59 Perry Hill Road (opposite Forest Road). This had been a private Commercial College pre-war but had been taken over by Colonel Fillery of the Toffee firm to serve as his base. There was a full time Military staff with motor transport.
I believe that it is possible Feldwebel Muller was taken to an ARP Wardens' base and that Home Guards from their H.O. came to collect him. John Nicholas, aged 16, and an ex-classmate of mine, was one of Herr Muller's rescuers. We had both been taught German at Holly Lodge Grammar School and he was able to communicate a little.
Mr. Owen, who lived a few yards from where Werner Strecke, the other crew member landed, was a fire watcher on duty near the Two Brewers public house at the time of the crash. The plane fell on to a house, which was the home of his sister and brother in law. He had to be restrained from trying to rescue them. His sister and two children were victims but her husband was on duty elsewhere. This information from Mr. Owen's son, a friend of mine.
PLANE CRASH AT HAGLEY ROAD
The plane, which crashed on the central reservation opposite Birch Road, was a Bristol Blenheim twin-engine light bomber. I passed the site soon after the incident and collected a few souvenirs. The aircraft had been flying from the Wolverhampton direction when it hit the cable of a Barrage Balloon based in the Brandhall area. Kenneth Horne who later became a well-known broadcaster with his programmes 'Much Binding in the Marsh 'and' Round the Horne commanded this R.A.F. site.
WHITLEY CRASH - WARPLE ROAD
Being aware of a low flying aircraft, which had been circling for some time, I stood outside my home in Perry Hill Road with my neighbour Frank Taylor. He was a fighter pilot in the First World War and at this time was a commissioned consultant to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. We both recognised the sound to be that of a twin Merlin engine machine and not a hostile one. It was obviously lost and eventually crashed on open land now Warple Road. As Mr. Taylor was in uniform he was allowed to collect documents from the wreck, which we had hurried to investigate. The plane had a Polish crew and was on a training flight from Abingdon.
PARK ROAD CRASH - WARLEY
Yet another Blenheim bomber crashed into the back of a row of houses in Park Road, Warley. Again this had been flying form the Wolverhampton direction and is thought to have hit the cable of the Brandhall Balloon.
Of four planes, which came to grief in this area, three were British!
I hope a few 'gaps' have been filled for your records. I would be obliged if you could let me know the Cannock grave number of Herr Muller's crew and perhaps their names?
© QLHS 2005