Accident Dornier Do 17E 0313,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 177027
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Date:Saturday 27 November 1943
Type:Dornier Do 17E
Owner/operator:Yugoslav Partisan Air Force
Registration: 0313
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 7
Other fatalities:4
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Glamocko Polje Airfield -   Bosnia and Herzegovina
Phase: Standing
Departure airport:Glamocko Polje Airfield
Destination airport:Brindisi
On 13 November 1943, porucnik (Lt) Dzemil Bukovac of the Croatian Air Force defected to the partisans with his Do-17E WNr 0313 and landed at Livno. Aboard the aircraft were six other men, kapetan Krunoslav Kulusic, porucnik Viktor Tabakovic, kaplar (corporal) Petar Ercigonja, kaplar Vinko Putarek, podnarednik (sergent) Jure Grgic and mechanic-air gunner Dzemil Kazinic.

Two weeks later, on 27 November, the Do 17 was ordered to take a delegation of the Supreme Headquarter of Yugoslav Liberation Army to the Allied Command in Italy. The aircraft left Livno to land on the airfield of Glamocko Polje, then firmly in partisan control and judged as the best place to fly out the delegation. It was waiting there for days for an Allied aircraft to come, but the Allied always cancelled the flight due to bad weather and the dangerous surrounding of the airfield. So when the Do 17 joined the partisan air force, the leader of the delegation, Ivo Lola Ribar, a member of the Supreme Command of the Partisans, proposed to use it rather than wait for an Allied plane. The Do 17 could not take off from the waterlogged field of Livno with an heavy load so was flown with only two crew aboard to Glamocko Polje.

The Do 17 landed there at 0830 hrs and the delegation immediately started to board the aircraft, pictures being taken of the delegation members and of the aircraft. Waiting to board the aircraft were the five members of the Yugoslav delegation, two British SOE officers, Major Robin Evelyn Whetherly (who was first-class cricketer before the war) and Capt Donald Ewart Knight, members of the British Military Mission to Yugoslavia, and also someone called Milentija Popovic, who was seriously sick and should be carried to Italy to be saved. The Dornier being too small to carry them, only three members of the delegation, Capt Knight and the sick man could board it.

As the aircraft was preparing to take off, 10-15 minutes after having landed there, a German He 46 recon plane arrived at low altitude from the direction of Banja Luka. When the Dornier landed, partisan came from all around the airfield to see it and cheer, and so nobody saw it before it was too late. It did a first pass on the Do 17 and launched several small bombs. Aboard the Dornier, the pilot Dzemil Bukova, ordered the passengers out but the first bomb fell just near the aircraft, on the side where Ivo Lola Ribar had just gotten out, killing him among others. When the German pilot saw that the Dornier had been missed, he came back to strafe it. The Dornier’s air gunner, kaplar (corporal) Petar Ercigonja, went to his turret to fire back but could not stop the German to set fire to the Dornier. Ercigonja was then killed by a bullet as he was leaving the aircraft.

The Dornier was totally destroyed and seven people were killed:
_ Ivo Lola Ribar
_ Major Robin Evelyn Whetherly
_ Capt Donald Ewart Knight
_ kaplar (corporal) Petar Ercigonja, the air gunner of the Do 17
_ Sava Kerkovic, the political commissar of the Yugoslav Partisan Air Force
_ two guards, Bozo Ursic and Petar Kuzmic.

Another member of the delegation, potpukovnik (colonel) Milojevic, was wounded in the attack, as were several Italian prisoners (so called in the source used, by this date Italy was on the Allied side and many Italian soldiers had joined the partisan in Yugoslavia) that were working on the runway.

After this disaster, it was strongly suspected that only a traitor could explain how the He 46 had attacked in the short time when the Do 17 was on the ground. The bomber being faster would have escaped from the He 46 in the air without difficulty. Another source said that the German aircraft was sent there after the German intercepted radio communications about this flight and its passengers. On the other hand, if the Germans had really been warmed in advance about this flight, they would probably have sent one or several fighters, that would be more efficient to destroy the Dornier or shot it down.

In 1944, a man called Rekvenji, who in 1943 was the meteorologist at Glamocko Polje, was arrested with his brother. An investigation had shown that he worked for years for the Gestapo. As the two brothers were in prison on Vis Island, one killed the other with a knife and then took his own life with it.

Ivan "Ivo Lola" Ribar was born on 23 April 1916 in Dakovo and graduated from the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law. During his studies he joined the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and since 1937 led the Youth Commission, and he traveled around Europe visiting Communist conferences (Brussels 1935, Geneva 1936, Paris 1937).

In 1940 the Royal Yugoslav authorities incarcerated him in Bihar for being a communist, and later in the year he was put in charge of the League of Young Communists of Yugoslavia (SKOJ). When the Second World War started in Yugoslavia, he was a member of the Central Committee of the Party and soon joined the Supreme Command of the Partisans, where he worked with Tito and Edvard Kardelj on the plans for resistance.

In October 1943, Lola Ribar was named as the chief of the first Partisan military mission to the Mediterranean Allied Command. However, just before embarking on an airplane trip to Cairo, he died in Glamoèko polje in southwestern Bosnia. He was posthumously proclaimed a People’s Hero of Yugoslavia. Maclean, the leader of the British Military Mission to Yugoslavia, said that he was an outstanding younger leader who seemed destined to play a great part in building the new Jugoslavia.

Ribar’s father Ivan Ribar held important offices in both the prewar Kingdom of Yugoslavia and the postwar Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The rest of his family was also involved in communist resistance movement. Younger brother Jurica Ribar died during October 1943 near Kolašin. Mother Tonica was killed in the Syrmian village of Kupinovo in July 1944. Additionally, his fiance Sloboda Trajkoviæ was also in the revolutionary movement - she was imprisoned and gassed to death in Banjica concentration camp after refusing to write a letter that would get him to give up his location when his letter to her got intercepted.

A brand of scooters was named after him. The Ivo Lola Ribar Institute in Belgrade is named after him. The Filipoviæ Drive in Zagreb used to be named after him until 1991.


Revision history:

17-Jun-2015 13:27 gerard57 Added
27-Nov-2015 15:52 Laurent Rizzotti Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
22-May-2016 18:40 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Narrative]

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