On the 13th September 1940, Oberleutnant Harry Wappler and his crew
of three boarded their Heinkel 111P2 bomber for a raid over the UK. The
other crew members were.....
Unteroffizier Fritz Berndt,
Oberfeldwebal Johannes Elster, Wireless Operator
Unteroffizier Herbert Okuneck, Bomb Aimer
For photographs of the graves of these airmen.....
Oberleutnant Harry Wappler
Their primary target for the night was to be Ellesmere Port and
they took off in a Heinkel 111P2 with the identification number 1G+DS from
their airbase in Paris, France at 22.30 hours. Within hours they had
completed their operation without observing the results of their bombing
and were heading back to base. It was during their return trip back to
Paris that they unfortunately met up with 966 Barrage Balloon Squadron RAF who
were set up in the grounds, just slightly north of Tredegar House,
In the darkness of the night, all those on board were unaware
that they were heading for disaster in the shape of a large oval barrage
balloon hovering in the sky, many thousands of feet above the ground. This
was the balloon of 966 Squadron RAF who had only been formed about three
weeks previously and had set up their mobile equipment in the grounds of
Tredegar House to protect area's of Newport from aerial attack.
At 3.15am, the Heinkel struck the No. 10 site balloon cable at
about 6500ft with
such force that it pulled the cable off the storage drum which was on a
mobile lorry unit and lifted the lorry off the ground. Even though
its wing was damaged as it spun around the cable, it managed to carry on
flying. It continued flying
towards the Maesglas area of Newport, crossing towards the Gaer area near
the Ebbw Bridge before finally turning towards Stow Park Avenue. It hit at
some time a second cable at No.8 site, probably situated in Belle Vue Park
and crashed on house No. 32 the home of a Newport
businessman and his family killing Malcolm and Myrtle Phillips aged 17 and
14 years old. The pilot Oberleutnant Harry Wappler managed to parachute to
safety with minor injuries, landing in a tree near the British Legion Club
in Queens Street off Cardiff Road. The other three crew members died in
the subsequent crash.
The British Legion Club
The tobacconist shop belonging
to the Phillips family, Photo: Jacky Jackson-Cox
In an act of extreme heroism, Malcolm Phillips who had survived
the initial impact and after making certain his parents were safe and well,
immediately went back to rescue his sister Myrtle and died along with
her. They are buried together in Newport's Jewish cemetery.
The bringing down of this German aircraft was the first recorded
and verified destruction of an enemy aircraft by a barrage balloon in the UK during
Oberleutnant Harry Wappler
became a PoW at the German PoW camp No. 13 Shap Wells, Cumbria.
To read the story of his almost
escape and getaway from the UK, click the link below....
The One or Two
that almost got away!
I am indebted to these two web sites for the above information
and some documents below
The Barrage Balloon club... CLICK HERE
The Aircrew Remembrance Society.... CLICK HERE
Fields where barrage balloon was located
Photographs from Google Earth of the main
The pins on the photo above show the locations of
the balloon site, 32 Stow Park Avenue where the Heinkel crashed and the
place where Harry Wappler landed in a tree.
The pins on the photo's above show (1) the
distance between the balloon site where the Heinkel first impacted with a
cable and where it eventually crashed on 32 Stow Park Avenue and (2) the
distance between where the Heinkel crashed and where Harry Wappler landed
on his parachute outside the British Legion club in Queens Street,