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Presentation Plate to Oberleutnant Otto Godemann

DOB: 4th September 1907

Staff Officer Fl.H.Kdtr. Westerland, Sylit. KG 30

Oberleutnant. 29th March 1943

Transferred to Fl.H.Kdtr. A 201/XVII (Agram, Croatia) KG 53

Hauptmann. 1st April 1943

So, we have a presentation plate to a Luftwaffe Officer. The interesting thing, for me at least, is not so much the man, but the history surrounding the Luftwaffe base of Westerland on the Island of Sylt , and the events that took place in 1939 which basically started the Battle of Britain.

The Luftwaffe base at Westerland, Sylt was Germanys northernmost airfield, and it was from there that the first attacks on British soil originated.

On Monday 16th October 1939 at 1100 hours, 15 Junkers JU-88 of 1/KG 30 led by Hauptman Helmuth Pohle takes off from Westerland. Their orders are to hunt down and destroy the British battle cruiser HMS Hood based at Rosyth Naval Yard; Reich Marshal Goering had summoned Hauptman Pohle to Berlin to relay Hitlers orders that the Hood must be attacked in open water to avoid civilian casualties. This short lived restriction was not a sign of the Fuhrers humanity: he still believed he could come to an agreement with the British people.

As Pohle leads his group to Rosyth Naval Yard, using the unmistakable Forth Rail Bridge as a guide, confident of a mission success due to the incorrect German intelligence reports that there were no Spitfires based in Scotland, luck takes a hand when, at 12.25 pm, a power cut had disables Drone Hill Radar station, stopping all chance of a warning of the impending attack.

An earlier German intelligence report, by two reconnaissance Heinkels has, however, mistaken HMS Resolve for the Hood. On arrival at the naval yard, 1/KG 30s luck is about to vaporise; HMS Repulse is docked so, mindful of Hitlers orders, they attack the light cruisers HMS Edinburgh and HMS Southampton together with the destroyer HMS Mohawk. At 400 miles per hour, the stress of the 17 ton dive on the ju88 causes Pohles cockpit canopy to fly off. At 2.35pm he releases his 500kg bombs on HMS Edinburgh, then circles above to observe the second wave of bombers. At 2.38pm Storps plane drops a bomb which hits the Southampton but travels through the decks of the ship and exits sinking the admirals barge and a pinnace lying alongside.

In the meantime, squadrons 602 and 603 have been scrambled and head toward the elite German force. The first conflict with Germany in British airspace of World War Two is about to begin.

Funaral parade (Edinburgh) for two members of 1/KG 30: Kurt Seydel and Observer August Schleicher

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