A short story from Rob Bowater about a contact that he had from France during the preparation of his book.
I received the enclosed from Gildas Saouzanet during the research for my book. Not strictly of use for the build, but gives some background.
Please find the following :
A long time ago, there was an exchange of information about P/O David Stein. I’d like now to share with you the following.
Here’s the translation I tried to make from a French book
October 30, 1941
Kermebel, around 11:30 am, clear weather; suddenly, I hear the Flak. Some aircraft are attacking Ploujean airfield. Looking at the sky toward this direction, we suddenly see flames from one of them. I still remember Mrs Prigent crying (in Breton language)« O va Doué, an tan zo ebarzh » what means « Oh my god, it’s in fire » In flames, it tries to go toward the channel, while the Flak fires more and more. it’s close to its end and is going to crash.
For a few seconds, it disappears to our sight, and a dark column of fume arises in the sky.
It seems not to be so far away. Two of us take our bicycles and ride toward this fume. It’s at Kerdiny, on the left when going to Mesgouez between Kerhervé and the Guernevez., in a beetroot field, that the crash happened. The flaming wreck of the aircraft is here sunk into the Breton ground. A few people from the neighbouring are here, but we can do nothing for the pilot, whose a part of his body we can see, awfully burnt in the destroyed cockpit.
Suddenly, sound of engines, the Germans arrive ; Immediately they are hollering « Raus und schnell… schwein (Get out and hurry, …pigs), and under their arms threaten. We have to, la mort dans l’âme (french expression I’m unable to translate), leave the field under the Jerries’ smiles and jokes : « Tommy kapout ».
What a requiem…Not even any respect for a dead enemy.
I must say that the first to arrive where from the Whermacht. Later on will come a group from the « Landeuscchützen Kompanie der Luftwaffe » that will take the dead body with more respect.
He was for a time buried with honours at Plougean Cemetery.
The wreck didn’t stay long. Flowers were rapidly laid in the field, that the irritated Jerries’ crushed under their boots. Then, a wood cross was discreetly erected, and at its base, new flowers were laid, moreover on November first.
It was the twin engine fighter « Whirlwind n° P7015 from 263 RAF Fighter Squadron , whose pilot was Flying Officer David Stein, aged 26, who took off this morning from Ibsley, near Bournemouth in the Dorsetshire for a « Rhubarb » mission. These low altitude attacks, with such fast aircraft fitted with four 20 mm cannons, were very deadly.
From the book: « Plougasnou, de l’occupation à la Libération », Jean Le Gros Collection Section Patrimoine du foyer rural de Plougasnou. (18 juin 2001) ISBN : 2-9508369-3-3
Unfortunately, the author has already passed away. I don’t know how he was able to say it was D. Stein aircraft, but it seems he made some research to complete what he witnessed.
Rob continues the story
A bit about David Stein
He scored the Whirlwinds first kill, a Ju.88 on 12 January 1941 but it was not confirmed until after P/O Grahams victory on 8 Feb was celebrated as the first.
Rhubarb 35 on the 30th October 1941 by F/O Stein P7015 and Sgt Ridley P6994 failed to locate the aerodrome and were forced to make two circuits over the town of Morlaix before they identified it. Sgt Ridley saw no aircraft on the aerodrome, but described the area as ‘so well camouflaged, that it would have been easy to miss them!’ He did see one unidentified aircraft in a Bessoneau type hanger which he attacked, but while firing he heard and felt a ‘woof’ and something struck his starboard main plane. He pulled up sharply and saw F/O Stein nearby with one engine on fire and climbing as if preparing to bail out. He then lost him in cloud as he headed for the coast with oil and glycol streaming from his own starboard engine. As he crossed the Channel he was able to climb to 400 feet before the glycol temperature reached 150°, the oil pressure reached zero, and he was forced to shut it down. He transmitted a ‘Maidez’ but managed to reach Predannack where he overshot his landing and stopped in the barbed wire perimeter fence. Unfortunately, F/O David Stein did not return and was listed as missing. The ORB noted that, ‘His loss to the Squadron was inestimably great, as a pilot, humourist or friend.’ He had in fact crashed in flames at Kerdiny near the aerodrome and although his body was seen in the wreckage he has no known grave.
These are the pictures of parts found of what is believed to be P7015’s crash site in Brittany.
Mr. Saouzanet asked, if we can, to identify (as the most knowledgeable group of Whirlwind experts) one or many of the parts they have found. It is clear between him and I that we would do our best to assist with the parts ID but that we cannot offer guarantees.
Gunnar was able to quickly identify the above part as being from a Whirlwind thus confirming that the parts found were from P7015.
Matt Bearman said that it’s a very distinctive shape, for a purpose pretty much unique to the Whirlwind – a diagonal cross member providing part of a ‘Warren Girder’ mainspar with a streamlined cross section as it sits in front of the radiator. Not a form you’d find on anything else operational. Possibly the most distinctively Whirlwind small item it’s possible to find.