MAORI SPORTS GROUND & A GERMAN BOMBER
WORCESTER PARK, SURREY, ENGLAND
9 SEPTEMBER 1940
While some details of this crash have been known to E&ELFHC for many years, the site is just outside of our 'catchment area' and it has never been fully researched. We are therefore obliged to Arthur Arculus, aka 'Digger', for giving us access to some collaborative research on this wartime event, of which the following is a synopsis.
Mr. Arthur Arculus, lived in the area at the time and recalls visiting his Grandparents in Brixton South London, on this date, noting a great deal of enemy air activity in the direction of 'home' and thinking he would see some devastation when he returned home. He recalls the time being about 5.30 p.m.
On his return, he found that part of the Kingston By-Pass (A3) had been destroyed by what was believed to be an aerial torpedo which impeded the bus routes. However, he did not recall hearing of an enemy plane brought down.
Enemy briefing documents consulted by him after the war indicate that on 9 September 1940 a number of targets in the South London area were designated: Weybridge, Kingston, Croydon and Rochester are mentioned and it would appear that aircraft factories were the intended prey. [Parnall Aircraft, Nash and Thompson (gun turrets) at Tolworth and other Shadow factories]
Three aircraft of KG2 (Kampfverbaende Gruppe 2) penetrated to Kingston and Surbiton where, instead of attempting to identify specific targets, their pilots flew straight along the railway line, dropping their loads at low level. The biggest single raid of the afternoon was said to have been briefed to attack RAE ( Royal Aircraft Establishment ) Farnborough, which meant this raid was routed south of London on a westerly course and therefore had to run the gauntlet of fighter squadrons from Biggin Hill, Kenley and Croydon.
A group of Messerschmitt Bf 110's.
Although the registration is not clear in this reproduction
Pfaffelhuber's plane L1+DL is closest to the camera
Image courtesy of Arthur Arculus
After searching a number of publications, the following information was found:
The Unit, (Lehr Geschwadern 1 otherwise called LG1) which included Uffz. A. Pfaffelhuber and Uffz. O.Kramp's aircraft (Note - Uffz. is the abbreviation for Unteroffizier and in WW2 was the equivalent to sergeant), was made up of former instructors and personnel of the pre-war Technical Development Flying unit. It flew an assortment of aircraft including JU88 Bombers, JU87 Stuka's and Bf 110 Zerstoerer. Their Bf 110 was based at Caen and was 15/LG1. Bf 110C-4 Werk No-3296 (Aircraft Call Sign/Code L1+DL).
(l to r) Unteroffizier Alois Pfaffelhuber (pilot) and Unteroffizier Otto Kramp (radio Officer)
Images courtesy of Arthur Arculus
One of the aircraft was shot down by Pilot Officer H. N. Tamblyn of No.242 Squadron based at Coltishall, during escort sortie over London. It is believed that it was also attacked by Flying Officer S.Fejfar and Pilot Officer V.Bergman of No 310 Squadron based at Duxford. The aircraft crashed and exploded at the Maori Sports Club, Old Malden Lane, Worcester Park, Surrey at 1800 hours. Uffz A Pfaffelhuber and Uffz, O.Krarnp were both killed.
Pilot Officer Hugh Norman Tamblyn
Image courtesy of Arthur Arculus
The following quote is from the combat report form compiled by Pilot Officer Hugh Tamblyn, whose Hurricane took part in the air battle over South London in the late afternoon of 9th September 1940.
"As we approached e/a [enemy aircraft] from the east I saw 5 Me110's detach themselves from the formation and turn in a right-hand circle towards rear of formation at 22,000 ft. I turned into a stern attack and noticed that a Hurricane was on the tail of a 110 which it had set on fire. On the tail of the Hurricane was a 110 which fired a long burst at the Hurricane. I opened fire on the 110, whereupon it straightened out and after another burst both engines caught fire. I noticed one Hurricane with its port wing folding up and another machine which I took to be a Hurricane also with its port wing folding up. (Presumably these aircraft are 242 Sqdn's other losses that day; P/O K.M.Sclanders who was killed and whose aircraft crashed at Caterham, and Sgt R.V.H.Lonsdale who baled out and landed at Caterham unhurt. Ref. Battle of Britain Then and Now, page 439. E&ELFHC)
I went to the far side of the formation and climbed again. I saw a 110 making across me in a steep turn. I gave a short burst and went into dead astern where after a burst of about 7 seconds the port engine caught fire. The machine went into a fairly steep dive and I followed him down and watched him crash in front of a cricket club house, within a hundred yards of another crash near a burning house (see below*). There were many star like spots on the ground which were perhaps incendiary bombs. I climbed to 18,000 ft. but as I could see no aircraft and heard some squadrons being ordered to land I landed at (BLANK) hours."
This combat was south of the Thames, over London, at 1745. Pilot Officer Tamblyn claimed two Bf110's destroyed.
* Someone has added to this report at the reference to the burning house - ' that was almost certainly the Maori Club's changing room block burning (Incendiary bombs), also wreckage of two wooden army-style huts used as temporary offices hit by two HE bombs alongside broken branches of trees etc'.
Of the three airmen that claim to have shot down Uffz A.Pfaffelhuber and Uffz O.Kramp, P/O Hugh Norman Tamblyn (40662) a Canadian of 242 Squadron, was later shot down and killed 3 April 1941 two days after receiving the DFC from the King, George VI. He was shot down into the sea by a Dol7 whilst on convoy duty and is buried at Ipswich Cemetery, Suffolk. F/O.Stanislav Fejfar (82545) a Czech of 310 Squadron, was later shot down and killed in a close escort operation to Boulogne 17 May 1942. He is buried at Pihen-les-Guinnas Communal Cemetery, France. P/O.Vaclav Bergman (81884) also a Czech of 310 Squadron, survived the war having been awarded the DFC and retired from the RAF in 1969 as a Squadron Leader.
(l to r) Flying Officer Stanislav Fejfar, Pilot Officer Vaclav Bergman and Pilot Officer Hugh Norman Tamblyn
Images courtesy of Arthur Arculus
On the Ground
Maori Sports Club may seem a strange name for somewhere in Surrey, however in 1923 the New Zealand Shipping Co acquired a Worcester Park property, then a private house and garden with adjacent rough grazing, to be turned into a sports club. The New Zealand Shipping Co named this The Maori Sports Ground. During the war it belonged to the NZS Co. who modified the accommodation and moved some of their staff from London to work there. In 1972 the P & 0 Shipping Line took over the New Zealand Shipping Co. and kept it as the Maori Sports Ground.
A map shows the crash site to be at the Maori Sports Club, midway down Worcester Park Road / Old Malden Lane and over the other side of the Hogsmill River which runs the length of the road. Worcester Park Road /Old Malden Lane is off the A24 Kingston Road on the left travelling from Tolworth towards Ewell.
Extract from the 1933 OS map showing the approximate location of the crash site
Click image to enlarge
The London Air Museum was permitted to carry out an archaeological dig at the cricket ground and made a major recovery from under a cricket pitch: remains of both Daimler-Benz DB601 engines were excavated together with both undercarriage legs, oxygen bottles, remains of a rubber dinghy, first aid kit, a parachute and masses of compressed airframe including one tail fin still bearing traces of painted Swastika - now In the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, Sussex. (Details and pictures can be found on page 634 & 635 of 'The Battle of Britain Then and Now' edited by Winston G. Ramsey)
An interesting account of the raid has also been given by the late Mr Anthony Cornell:
"ln 1940 I was a boy of eleven years old and living at the Maori Club, which was owned and run by the New Zealand Shipping Co. They had their main offices at Leadenhall St. London, and the Club provided very pleasant sports facilities for the staff in what were then, very rural surroundings. I think it was soon after the evacuation of Dunkirk (Operation Dynamo. May 1940) that a number of the office staff were brought down to live and work at the Club. Hastily improvised offices and sleeping accommodation were set up, even the two small cricket pavilions had their balconies boarded-in and were pressed into service as extra office space. Luckily the powers-that-be had the foresight to have sturdy, brick- built air-raid shelters constructed, and on September the 9th, this must have saved many casualties.
The air raid on that day was a particularly harrowing experience, and certainly for me, it has left an indelible print on my memory. A number of HE [high explosive] bombs fell close-by, and the whole area received a generous sprinkling of incendiary bombs, one of which went through the roof of the Club's large timber changing-room building and burnt it to the ground. Just as the dust from the bombing was settling and flames roaring up from the fire, an enemy aircraft, which we now believe to be a Messerschmitt Bf 110, came screaming out of the blue early autumn sky hotly pursued by Pilot Officer Hugh Tamblyn (Photo pages 2D & 2E) in his Hurricane. The Bf 110 dived into the first eleven cricket field at full throttle and exploded violently. The Hurricane pilot zoomed low over the Club and some say, executed the exuberant 'victory roll', obviously delighted with his second Bf 110 of the afternoon. (At least one other Bf 110c was shot down that day, and crashed in Woodcote Park Avenue, Woodmansterne. E&ELFHC)
Although I had my head well down in our rather inadequate Anderson shelter in the garden during the last few minutes of this drama, after doing a small amount of fire-fighting I was an early visitor to the crash-site up on the cricket field while the wreckage was still emitting a thick column of black smoke, and below ground in the ragged crater, machine-gun ammunition and cannon shells were still going off with muffled explosions.
Rather naively I suppose, I hadn't given a thought to the fact that the German crew might still be on board the stricken plane; and I still recall the sense of nausea and horror upon discovering pieces of the dreadfully mutilated bodies of the two men scattered together with hundreds of pieces of wreckage over the whole area of the two cricket pitches. The plane crashed only about thirty yards or so in front of one of the cricket pavilions, which, as I mentioned earlier, was being used by the office staff. Fortunately, minutes before the impact, they had taken refuge in the small air raid shelter alongside the building and apart from the shock, I can't remember any casualties being reported.
Others had a lucky escape when two 250 kg HE bombs landed next to two large portable army-style huts which had been erected in the former car-park. They also had time to reach a shelter just a few yards from the bomb craters and were safe. Two more bombs exploded near our house which was at the entrance to the Club in Old Malden Lane, but fortunately broke only a few windows."
Another man, Mr Fred Waterfield, who reported his experiences of that day was a boy of fourteen at the time, and who was actually pulled from yet another bomb crater about a hundred yards along the road. The story was that moments before the bombs tell, he had been delivering some rather late pints of milk to the Maori Club on behalf of a mate of his, who was the groundsman for Jobs dairy at Plough Green. On that day, 9 September 1940, apparently only minutes before the crash, he had left the Maori club, so he had a particularly lucky escape on several counts. He was in hospital for several weeks, having had a silver plate inserted into his cranium to tidy up the damage from his fractured skull, but he too has survived to the present day.
One local Tolworth resident killed during this attack was Elizabeth Leverage of 66 Elmbridge Avenue who was trapped in a bombed house. This lady died at 2000 hours.
WHO WAS THE MYSTERY PERSON?
A page from the 'Deaths due to War Operations' records from Surbiton Mortuary subsequently came to light containing six names, three being ladies killed around the local area plus the two German airmen who at the time were understandably marked 'Unidentified' - ages estimated as 19 and 20. The date of reception of these two bodies at the mortuary was given as 11 September 1940, two days after the crash, and the 'Place of Death' was given as Maori Sports Ground, Worcester Park Lane. The controversial piece of information appears to be an entry listing a third person killed in that aircraft - even though the standard crew was two - his body being received six days after the crash. The age is given as 23 and surprisingly, there was even a name of D.R.K. GELFERIN and more surprisingly his home address in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
In investigating the identity of the apparent third German airman, enquiries were made with the German War Graves Cemetery at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire and the Civil Registry Office in Frankfurt. The first reply was from Cannock Chase in which they gave the grave numbers of both A.PfaffeIhuber (329) and O.Kramp (326). Uffz. A. Pfaffelhuber's first name was Alois and a number given of 53603/23. Alois was born 3 January 1915 at Munich. Uffz. O.Kramp's first name was Otto and his number 53603/12. He was born 29 July 1915 at Insterburg.
It appeared that D.R.K.Gelferin has no grave in any military cemetery in Britain. Kingston Cemetery Office provided part of their Register (Page 4C) containing the names of three from the aircraft and the grave number 5786 which would be a collective grave. After the two crew members had been buried as 'unknown' the then Imperial War Graves Commission informed the Kingston Cemetery on the 30 July 1941 that the two names were A.Pfaffelhuber and O.Kramp, and this was amended on the register in longhand accordingly. Gelferin's name remained on the register. When the Surbiton grave was opened for re-interring there were only two bodies found in it but there was information suggesting that three bodies were transported to a German Cemetery on 23 October 1962 but there was no mention of which cemetery. It subsequently transpired that two went to Cannock Chase, but Gelferin's resting place was unknown.
The question remaining as to whom the third airman received at Surbiton Mortuary actually was, has aroused considerable interest and had a number of suggested solutions. One was that D.R.K. Gelferin had been mis-read and should have been interpreted as Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross) Helferin (helper). However, this would imply a female and the Mortuary received three males.
A more plausible suggestion is that, since 'Gelferin' was received 4 days later than Pfaffelhuber and Kramp, he could well have been an airman whose plane was brought down at nearby Woodmansterne (6 miles air distance) on the same day at about the same time, of whom there is no record in that area. Bearing in mind that recovering any of these bodies was not easy since they were not intact, it is possible that those involved just confused their information accidentally. The two airmen from Maori cricket ground were taken to Surbiton on 11 September, two days after the crash. The third body did not arrive until 15 September and was possibly incorrectly listed as also coming from Maori since the Mortuary records were apparently completed retrospectively.
The machine downed at Woodmansterne on that day was a 9/ZG76 aircraft 2N+EP 3207 was flown by Fw Eduard Ostermunchner & Gffr Wemer Zimmerman. According to Bandon Hill Cemetery records, the body of Gefreiter Zimmermann was recovered from 'Kennicot' in Woodcote Park Avenue, Purley and taken to Bandon Hill for burial on 17 September 1940, provisionally identified as an 'Unknown Enemy airman' until his I/D number, 53585/32, was correctly identified through the International Red Cross channels. However, there is no record of Ostermunchner's body ever being identified and buried anywhere in the locality.
Considering that at their final resting-place in the German Cemetery at Cannock Chase, Pfaffelhuber, Kramp and Eduard Ostermunchner are all adjacent to one another, it seems highly likely that the third airman, initially called Gelferin, was in fact Lt. Ostermunchner whose body came from the Woodmansterne crash rather than the Maori Sports Ground crash.
(In the fog of war these things happen. E&ELFHC)
This article was summarized by Bert Barnhurst
(Epsom and Ewell Local and Family History Centre)
from the research carried out by Mr Davenport, Mr Slater,
Arthur Arculus, Tony Cornell