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A GERMAN PLANE CRASH  IN HARBERTONFORD IN 1941

 

From the Western Times, May 10 1946:

GERMAN BOMBER AT LUSCOMBE CROSS

Letter from mother to Totnes Mayor

The Mayor of Totnes (Mrs L. Ramsden, JP) has received a letter addressed to the " Mayor of Todnes, South England."

It was dated  March 16th and was from the mother of one of the German airmen who lost their lives when an enemy bomber crashed and burst into flames between Totnes and Harbertonford on a Saturday night in February 1941.

The plane came down in open country and for a time there was some doubt as to whether the occupants had perished or were roaming the countryside. The military were called out to search, but the following morning it was established that all the occupants had lost their lives.

 

The victims were given a full military funeral on the following Monday at Totnes Cemetery. The letter, written in English, read:

 

"Being the mother of a dead German soldier, I have a great petition for you. My son, Marius Bunge, born 27 November 1918 in Aachen, Germany, was a flyer in the Geschwader Boelke* (the Luftwaffe's medium bomber wing) and his aeroplane was destroyed by English anti-aircraft guns in the district of Todnes in the night of 14/15 February 1941.

 

The German headquarters told me in a letter it was possible that Marius had been buried in the churchyard of Todnes and they told me the number of his grave is WD1."

 

In reply, the mayor of Totnes wrote:

Dear Madam,

I have received your letter and regret I am  unable to send you better news. Your information with regard to your son is quite correct. The plane was brought down in a field belonging to Higher Luscombe Farm near Luscombe Cross, Harbertonford, Totnes on the night of February 14/15 1941 and he was buried in the Totnes Cemetery  on 19 February 1941. Prebendary J. Heywood-Waddington, Vicar of Totnes, officiated at the funeral.

 

They had full military honours and the coffins were draped with the German flag. The Red Cross see that there are always flowers on the graves and many of our British mothers in Totnes visit your son's grave for you. You will be pleased, no doubt, to know that your son did not suffer - his death was almost instantaneous. As a mother of young children myself, I extend my sympathy to you.

 

After the war, the Mayor, Lilley Ramsden, arranged an opportunity for Frau Bunge to come to Totnes to see, in person, her son's grave . But do not look in the cemetery there. Marius' body was moved to another location when the CWGC completed the German Military Cemetery on Cannock Chase in the West Midlands. His grave number in this cemetery is Block 9 Grave 45.  The ID of his Heinkel plane was He 111 1G+FR of 7/KG 27 and was crewed by four men:

*Ofw Rudolf Streubel

Ofw Max Unseld

Ltn Eberhard Beckman

Ofw Marius Bunge

The bodies of Max and Eberhard were also reburied in Cannock but I have been unable to find the current whereabouts of Rudolf Streubel's grave.

*Ofw = Oberfeldwebel = A Warrant officer ranked as a Sergeant. Marius and the others held army ranks.

 

 
 
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