Our Century

Spitfire versus Messerschmitt

Derek Barlow
Born 1935

Derek Barlow

"I have fond and vivid memories of Wolverhampton near which, in Wednesfield, I grew up during the war. My father worked at Boulton Paul's.

"There was a particular day during this time when a Messerschmitt fighter flew so low over our house, pursued by one of our Spitfires, that I could see every detail of the planes, from the rivets to the oilstreaks from their engines.

"Perhaps towards the end of the war, what I believe was a Lancaster bomber also flew over our house, with smoke pouring from one of its engines.

"Not long after it had disappeared over the rooftops opposite there was a huge explosion and the spot was marked by a significant column of smoke.

"Most of the boys in our neighbourhood ran the two or three miles to the scene, somewhere in open country near old Wednesfield, and discovered that the bomber had hit power cables then impacted on the middle of a country road where it had blown up.

"Severed cables were writhing around and hissing like snakes, firemen were spraying foam on what was left of the fuselage, and in the fields around, the wreckage and human remains (I have never forgotten coming across a severed foot) were scattered for miles whilst grim-faced men collected such pathetic remnants in sacks.

"And midst all this carnage the navigator was found alive in the middle of the wreckage but, or so we heard, died later in hospital. I do not recall seeing any report of this crash, but over half-a-century later I wonder if anyone has knowledge of when and where exactly this event occurred?"