TUESDAY APRIL 19 1944
THE last attack of the Baby Blitz, a renewed offensive against London in the spring of 1944, occurred on this particular night. Taking part was twenty four year old Oberleutnant Richard Pahl in a Messerschmitt 410A-1 (no.420293) of 1 Staffel Kampfgeschwader 51 based at Evreux in France. Pahl’s wireless operator was Feldwebel Wilhelm Schuberth.
The Messerschmitt, damaged by flak over London, was first seen north of Brighton that night heading for home across the Channel. It was spotted by the crew of a Mosquito of 96 Squadron, from West Mailing in Kent, crewed by Wing Commander ED Crew and Warrant Officer Croysdill. The time was 12.48am. The Mosquito opened fire and there was a large flash from the raider, followed by sheets of flame. The Messerschmitt turned towards Brighton, losing height. Schuberth baled out and was drowned in the sea. His body was washed up the next day near Friston and he was buried in the local churchyard (and later moved to the military cemetery at Cannock Chase).
The Messerschmitt crashed on to the lower part of Dyke Road, striking a lamp standard and ploughing into the flint wall of St Nicholas’s churchyard. It was blazing fiercely, fuelled by igniting flares, and there was great danger of ammunition and bombs still in the aircraft exploding.
The tail and parts of the fuselage fell among tombstones and many of the graves were disturbed and had their headstones broken or knocked down. Eventually the plane burnt itself out. The pilot was found dead, hanging by his parachute cords from a tree on the opposite side of the road.He had a shrapnel wound on his head.
Eileen Donoghue, then living at 5 Dyke Road, had gone out on the town with her brother and sister in law for the first time since the start of the war. She returned late and had just gone to bed when she felt something heavy crash on to the bed beside her. She could see there was a fire outside close by. She got up and rushed outside where she saw a German airman hanging in a tree; he appeared to be on fire. Later she found that the object that landed on her bed was part of the churchyard wall.
Pahl was a much decorated officer, who had been wounded three times. He had been awarded the Iron Cross which he was wearing when he died. He was buried in the Bear Road cemetery
Extract reproduced with consent from
The Brighton Blitz by David Rowland