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Thread: Flt Lt Fred W. Rushmer & Franz von Werra

  1. #1
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    Flt Lt Fred W. Rushmer & Franz von Werra

    Can any one throw any light on who shot down Flt Lt F.W. Rushmer of 603 Squadron on the 5th September 1940? Andy Saunders details his death in his excellant book 'Finding the Few' but he doesn't suggest who shot him down but implies that it happened mid-afternoon. However, it is possible, though unlikely, that he was shot down in the morning's action over the Thames estuary at about 10.00hrs. If this latter timing is correct he could have been shot down by Werra before he was attacked and shot down. Any comments would be welcomed.

    Hugh-down in deepest Wales.

  2. #2
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    Hi Hugh,

    The detail's of Rusty's demise (and the story behind the identification of his then unmarked grave), is given in the excellent book 'The Greatest Squadron of them All' (by David Ross, Bruce Blanche and William Simpson). Page 236 in Vol 1 states that the Squadron records give his loss as between 09.34 and 10.34 hours. It unfortunately does not give any details regarding the exact foe other than 'combat with II/JG26 over Biggin Hill at 10.00 in Spitfire X4261. Given that Von Werra was from II/JG3 it may seem unlikely it was he who shot down Rusty.

    However, Von Werra's unit was initially attacked by 41 Sqn and 'Stap-me' Stapleton caught up with a single 109 (Von Werra's) forcing it down at Love's Farm, Marden at 10.10 hrs. Again the Squadron's F540 recording Stap-me's combat report at the same time as the report of Rusty's loss, between 09.34 and 10.34.

    Still no clearer I suppose?

    Regards,

    Martyn

  3. #3
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    Hugh

    Your letter arrived here whilst I was away last week.

    I will try to get out my Rushmer file tomorrow to see what I can glean for you, but as I recall I was not able to put any name to the possible victor.

    We certainly resolved the timings of his loss and that of Webster of 41 Squadron. From memory, and I forget which was which, but there were only two Spitfire losses with "missing" pilots that day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon - Webster and Rushmer.

    I will dig out the file and get back to you.

    Andy

  4. #4
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    Hugh

    I don't think there is any doubt at all about the timing of 'Rusty' Rushmer's loss. Also, not sure why you suppose that I implied it was mid-afternoon? I think I state quite clearly in the book that it happened around 10.00am and, in my mind, that is accurate. This was borne out by the time 'Rusty' Rushmer's watch had stopped, too. (10.10 to be precise) Have another read of Chapter 14 in "Finding The Few".

    I think you are getting a bit muddled, Hugh. Not sure why you think it "unlikely" that he was shot down at this time? Your comments in the post above rather fly in the face of the contents of your letter to me of 18 August 2011.

    As to who shot him down, that was something I never really looked into apart from a cursory look at possible claimants - of which there are several.

    Without going further into my research I see that I noted claims by Beyer and Stange of 8/JG.3, by Lessman of 2/JG.52 and Ihlefeld of LG.2 were made over Spitfires at around the right time, but I rather fear you won't be able to tie a particular claim to his loss. However, these are timed at around 11.10, which 'fits' the time frame given that this was Central European Time, one hour ahead of UK time. Thus, it is likely it was one of these but there are probably other contenders, too, although there were also other RAF fighters being lost around this time as well.

    I always tend to shy away from who shot down who unless it is absolutely clear and unequivicoal - which it usually isn't!

    I think tying his loss, even tenuously, to a possible "claim" by von Werra would have no sound basis unless some much clearer evidence emerged. Any reliance upon such a claim seems to be based upon press interviews von Werra gave in the USA after his escape and each of those, that I have seen, vary in content and 'factual' (I use the word loosely) detail.

    In your letter to me you spoke of von Werra's unpublished manuscript. I think the book was to have been published by either Steirische Verlagsanstalt Graz or Verlag Scherl (Berlin) although I suspect the latter publisher was due to publish his book, as they were a book on Walter Oesau. I doubt that either publisher exists today.....but....!!!

    My involvement, really, was in establishing that the "unknown" grave at Staplehurst was Rushmer's which ultimately was achieved and I didn't go any further into who shot him down, especially as there seemed to be no clear evidence linking a specific pilot to his demise.
    Last edited by Tangmere1940; 31st August 2011 at 11:09.

  5. #5
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    Rushmer & Werra

    Andy
    Thanks for getting back to me but when I didn't have a response to my letter I thought you must have been tied up answering the mountains of orrespondence you must receive. My appeal on the forum was just to see if anyone else was working on a similar project and a reply from Martyn did point me in a different direction but on checking my JG26 notes there does not appear to be record of them engaging the RAF on the 5th Sept and they filed no victory claim for this day. But thanks Martyn for your response.
    I never thought there was any doubt that Rushmer was shot down during the morning until I noticed on the National Archive web site that they hold a combat report for Rushmer for the 5th September. I have not yet down loaded this report,as I suspect there has been a mix up somewhere, but if there is a report filed on this day it must have been as a result of a combat in the morning which implies he was killed in the afternoon.
    I know Werra was a self-publicist but I believe there was always some truth in his boasts. Even though his victory claims for the 28th August were probably the result of going along with an over eager reporter he probably can be given credit for a couple of Hurricane and it's possible he shot up an airfied. Detling or Eastchuch? I'm still working on this possiblity.
    Which goes back to whether he did shoot down an aeroplane on the 5th Sept before he was shot down. During one of his New York interviews hedid mention that he had been shot down by a Spitfire but that he had shot it down before he was forced to land. A couple of Spitfires were lost but I'll not hazard a guess-Ijust thought that Rushmer's invovement would have made a good story.
    Thanks again for your informative response.

    Hugh - down in deepest Wales.

  6. #6
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    Hugh

    In haste, but I have never seen a Combat Report for Rushmer dated 5 September! Will be keen to know what that avenue of research uncovers.

    Just had a look at Jack Foreman's "RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims" for 5 September and I note that he only shows CR's for Stapleton and Morton of 603 Sqn on that day. Nothing for Rushmer.

    I am wondering if the Kew report is in fact for Rushmer's combat on 2 September 1940?
    Last edited by Tangmere1940; 1st September 2011 at 19:58.

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