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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 209781
Last updated: 29 November 2021
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Time:14:55 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic ju88 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Junkers Ju.88A-1
Owner/operator:1./KG 30 Luftwaffe
Registration: 4D+AK
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Firth of Forth, off Crail, East Neuk of Fife, Scotland -   United Kingdom
Phase: Combat
Departure airport:Westland-Sylt, Germany
Destination airport:
Junkers Ju 88A-1 4D+AK, 1/KG.30, Westerland-Sylt: Written off (destroyed) 16/10/39 when shot down by Spitfires and ditched into the Firth of Forth, off Crail, East Neuk of Fife, Scotland. The encounter was called "The Battle of the River Forth". Three of the four crew were killed:

Uffz Kurt Seydel (age 26) killed
Uffz Kurt Naake died next day (17/10/39) of injuries sustained
Gefr August Schleicher (aged 22) killed
Hptm Helmut Pohle (Gr Kdr) bailed out, survived, captured/taken PoW

The Battle of the River Forth was an air battle on 16/10/39 between Supermarine Spitfires from No. 602 and No. 603 Squadrons of the Royal Air Force and Junkers Ju 88 bombers of 1. Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 30. It resulted when twelve Ju 88s attacked Rosyth naval base at the Firth of Forth. The raid was the first German air raid on Britain during World War II.

During the raid, Hptm Helmut Pohle, still orbiting over Inverkeithing, turned eastwards, making for the North Sea. He was intercepted by 602 Squadron's Blue Section (F/L Pinkerton and Flying Officers McKellar and Paul Webb). Pinkerton spotted the enemy about 3 miles (4.8 km) ahead, above some cloud. Before he could attack, his attention was distracted by a group of three other aircraft, Sea Skuas on a training flight from RNAS Donibristle, one of a number of Fleet Air Arm airfields in the area. By the time Pinkerton's attention refocused on the enemy, they had disappeared into cloud and Webb had lost contact with his section mates.

Pinkerton spotted the fleeing Ju 88s through a patch of cloud and he and McKellar pursued it into clear skies further east. Two of his crewmen were killed in the attack, with the third badly injured. The attacks also rendered the engines useless and Pohle had no option but to ditch his aircraft off Crail. There was a boat nearby which picked up the injured pilot and his gunner, who died the following day, leaving Pohle the sole survivor of his crew.

The exact time Pohle's aircraft ditched is unclear, but the Observer Corps logged the sound of firing at 14:43 in the general area of Elie, another small fishing village to the west of Crail. In his log book, Pinkerton noted the attack was carried out at 14:45/55 and they landed at 15:00.

The German airmen who were captured were treated with courtesy and respect and their injuries attended to. Helmut Pohle was taken to the hospital at Edinburgh Castle. He saw out the war at Grizedale Hall in the Lake District, at No 1 POW Camp. He later helped Franz von Werra to escape. Those who had been killed and whose bodies were recovered were buried with full military honours.

Gifford and Pinkerton both received Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements.


1. Price, Alfred (2012-11-20). Spitfire Mark I/II Aces 1939-41. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 9781782006749.
Spiers, Edward M. (2012-01-01). A Military History of Scotland. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748633357.
2. Ross, David; Blanche, Bruce; Simpson, William (2003). The Greatest Squadron of Them All: Formation to 1941: The Definitive History of 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron. I (1st ed.). Grub Street. p. 58. ISBN 1904010490.
3. Air attack in the Firth of Forth - World War II (1939-45) - Scotland's History". Retrieved 2016-01-09.
4. Bowman, Martin (2015-08-31). RAF Fighter Pilots in WWII. Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473865716.

Revision history:

23-Apr-2018 19:35 Dr. John Smith Added
23-Apr-2018 19:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type]
09-Dec-2019 15:12 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

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