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Bexley remembers Battle of Britain anniversary

PUBLISHED: 17:30 08 October 2013

The crashed ME109 in Bexley. Courtesy of Bexley Local Studies and Archives Centre

The crashed ME109 in Bexley. Courtesy of Bexley Local Studies and Archives Centre

Archant

In October 1940, the Battle of Britain was raging in the skies over southern England, and our region was in the forefront of this fierce battle.

Bexley’s Local Studies and Archives Centre has unique resources for anyone wanting to find out more about life during wartime.

Here is a newspaper article of the day from a reporter at the Bexley Heath Observer on October 25, 1940:

Inhabitants of East Wickham and Welling flocked in thousands to see a German plane which was brought down on Sunday afternoon in the front garden of a cottage on the verge of the roadway in Wickham Street.

The raider was a yellow-nosed ME 109. It had crashed while a dog fight was raging overhead. Bullet holes in its fuselage and wings bespoke the reasons, but whether it had been shot down by a British fighter or AA gunfire was not determined at the time I visited the wreck.

The pilot, according to eye witnesses, attempted to bale out but fell into a field some little distance away from his plane. He was dead when police officers and men of the Home Guard found him.

As the blazing machine passed over a council housing estate there was general alarm among the residents lest it should crash among the houses.

Many people were in their back gardens at the time, waiting to be called to their Sunday dinner, and there was an immediate scurrying to the shelters. Later, people on bicycles, in motorcars and afoot began to flock to the neighbourhood in large numbers to witness the scene, but they were kept well away by police and the Home Guards, the majority contenting themselves with a brief view of the fallen enemy, and then passing on.

The faces of most of the sightseers reflected a mood of quiet elation.

n To find out more, visit the centre in Bexleyheath Library or email archives@bexley.gov.uk.

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