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World War 2 - Aircraft

28-Sep-1940 13:15 - Spitfire X4322 Crashed - Newbridge Wood, Bivelham Forge Farm

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According to the 66 squadron operations record book (ORB), during an interception patrol at 13:15 on 28th September 1940 'Watkinson and Wright were shot down but landed the planes alright'.

The Police report clearly stated that the pilot, Watty Watkinson, bailed out and 'landed only 10yds from his plane'.

The police possibly wrote this report 'tongue-in-cheek' as the pilot in fact climbed 10yds down a ladder from the tree/s in which the Spitfire (X4322) rested.

He was helped down from the oak tree tree, where he was left hanging in his harness, by a local man who used a ladder to get him down.

Pilot Officer Watkinson flew Spitfires with 66 squadron under Squadron Leader Leigh in 1940 and it was on one such scramble on 28th September (probably out of Gravesend) that he was shot up in a melee involving some 109s over Newbridge Wood, Bivelham Forge Farm, Sussex.

He was injured in the shoulder and leg, probably as a result of his landing in Newbridge Wood, and the (Spitfire Mk 1) damage was Cat C.

Arthur Basil Watkinson (Watty), from South Africa, joined the RAF on a short service commission in August 1939. After initial training on Course 17 at 9 FTS he went to 5 OTU Aston Down to convert to Spitfires, he then joined 66 Squadron at Coltishall on 26th July 1940. He survived the war and was released from the RAF in 1945 as a Flight Lieutenant. He died in South Africa on 18-October-1985.

Watty Watkinson

25-Oct-1940 - Messerschmitt Bf 109 - Bardown / Churchsettle

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Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4, Black 12+- WNr3724, from 5./Jagdeschwader 26 was shot down, at Churchsettle Farm/Bardown Farm on 25th October 1940. The pilot, Oberleutnant Kurt Eichstaedt, was killed when his parachute failed to open.

  • The Blitz credits P/O J.B.Kendall of 66S (killed May 25th 1942)
  • BoB Then & Now credits 501S
  • Mason's Battle over Britain credits Stanford Tuck of 257S

One report says that the ME109 was shot down at 9.50am Friday 25 October 1940 over Hawkhurst. He was flying escort cover when attacked from above, his a/c, 12+-, broke up in the air throwing Eichstaedt clear. His parachute failed to open and he fell to his death through a barn roof near the junction at Shovers Green about a mile N/NW of Ticehurst Rd station (now Stonegate).

The police report prescribes the location as Bardown farm presumably as this farm's land extends down as far as the railway track, which according to one locals account, was where most of the wreckage fell.

Oberlt Kurt Eichstaedt was born on 09-May-1914. Information from the German War Graves record of his headstone in Cannock Chase, Block 1, Grave No.103.

ME109 from JG26