Luftwaffe Bomber Crash

World War II May 9, 2022
A German bomber recently emerged from a low layer of cloud above a group of ground defence crews of the R.A.F. Army Co-operation Command. For long these gunners had been waiting to test their skill against an enemy raider, and they were ready.
The German airman swept the ground with a hail of machine-gun bullets. Disregarding this vicious attack, the R.A.F. ground crews held their fire and then took a steady aim. The raider, still firing, circled around them. But the gunners continued firing too - and fired so accurately that the Nazi aircraft crashed a few miles away and its crew were killed.
Only one R.A.F. man felt disappointed. His gun jammed as the Germans approached him. Though he tried hard to make the necessary repairs he was too late to have a shot at the enemy. Nevertheless, he shares in the official congratulations sent to the gunners by their commanding officer.

That short piece, printed in the Bicester Advertiser on 18th April 1941, briefly describes the final moments of the Junkers Ju 88A-5 4203 V4+FV that was shot down close to Arncott at about 11pm on 10th April 1941. She was on her way back from a raid on Birmingham and may already have been damaged by a Hawker Hurricane from No.151 Squadron. She is believed to have cartwheeled across a field, ending up at the edge of the hedge line, where she burnt out. All four crew members were killed in the crash.

Josef Berger
Josef Berger

The Pilot was 28 year old Walter John, from Marklissa. The Observer was 27 year old Josef Berger, from Freising. The Radio Operator was 23 year old Erich Sadegor, from Angersdorf. The Gunner was 22 year old Heinrich Schmid, from Baden.

The bodies of the four crewmen were recovered from the wreckage and buried together in one plot in the churchyard of St Lawrence’s Church, Caversfield. At the time only two of the bodies, Berger and Sadegor, were identifiable so the other two are listed in the burials register as unknown.

The four airmen comprising the crew of a German bomber, which was shot down near here on the evening of Thursday last week, were buried at the little church of St Lawrence, at Caversfield, on Easter Monday afternoon. Full military honours were accorded, 24 RAF sergeants acting as bearers, with a similar number as bearer party, and two officers in charge.
The four coffins, covered with the Nazi flag, and placed in line, filled the chancel and half of the nave. The RAF Chaplain (Rev M.T. Haggerty) conducted the funeral service, which included the 23rd Psalm, a lesson, and a prayer for "Those who mourn will mourn for these, Thy sons".
The coffins were then laid side by side in an open grave, three volleys being fired by the firing party, who also presented arms. Afterwards a number of people were allowed to file past the grave.
The war graves section in Caversfield churchyard.
The war graves section in Caversfield churchyard.

In 1959 the German Government began the process of gathering all the individual German war burials in the country together in one place. With the help of the British Government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (who had been caring for the graves up until then) they found a suitable site at Cannock Chase, just north of Birmingham, and in 1961 they started moving all the burials.

In November 1961 the faculty was granted allowing the bodies in Caversfield to be exhumed. Shortly after that they were moved to Cannock Chase and reburied. The four men still share one grave, but at least now they are all named on the headstone.