at Tempsford Airfield.
- Winston S. Churchill.
At two minutes before midnight on 20 April 1942, Hitler’s birthday, German aerial reconnaissance detected
an unknown bomber just about to enter the territory of the German Reich, south of Strasbourg. The German
listening posts detected an allied four-engine bomber and tracked it as it passed over Ravensburg and Kempten
towards Lake Starnberg. They decided not to scramble the Luftwaffe to intercept it for the time being. Suddenly
the enemy aircraft veered off to the south at an angle of almost 90 degrees and near to the Bavarian village of
Kreuth, it disappeared from the "Geräuschmeldung" of the German air defence. The aeroplane had crashed at an
altitude of about 1,800 metres into the Blue Mountains, only a few metres below the summit ridge.|
This was the tragic end of Operation "Whiskey" but it was only the start of the huge mystery surrounding it.
The impact of the aircraft caused a huge explosion that lit up the small village of Kreuth in the valley below.
An official rescue team was organised. But Kreuth huntsman Carl Vögele was faster than the Luftwaffe search party
(who subsequently identified the aircraft as an RAF Halifax), and reached the wreck first. Amongst the smouldering
wreckage he discovered some papers. We can only speculate about the contents of the papers he retrieved, but they
must have been of such tremendous importance that they were even brought to the attention of Hitler himself. Carl
Vögele was given Hitler's Präsidialkanzlei des Führers und Reichskanzlers, with 500 Reichsmarks and the 2nd class
war service cross with swords. |
What destination did the ill-fated aircraft have? One possible answer: If we extend the flight path beyond the site of the crash, we come to Jenbach in Tyrol, at that time headquarters of Heinkel, one of Germany’s high-tech armaments centres. The galleries of an old mine had been turned into a secret aircraft factory in which V2 components were later built.
This account of the last flight of Halifax V9976 has been donated to this website by Dr. Michael Heim whose assistance is gratefully acknowledged.
Also, following his recent death, we are grateful to the widow and family of Gregor Ruf in giving us special permission display some of the images on this page.
|In numerous secret missions the British provided only their logistics to the Russian side. This support was part of the secret operation “Pickaxe”, a cooperative agreement between the two countries. The wire-pullers in Moscow were better informed about the true objective than the British pilots at the controls. Under this agreement the NKWD was not obliged to provide the British with any explanations about the content and objective of the missions. The true purpose of the mission may remain a mystery until the Russian authorities make their records public and true mission of the last flight of Halifax V9976 would only be finally revealed in Moscow with the aid of old NKWD files.|
|To this day, high up near the peak of a mountain in Bavaria are parts of a Tempsford Halifax (here is part of one of the crankshafts). The mountain looks down on the valley where the Commonwealth War Grave is situated at Dürnbach where the 138 Squadron crew and their "passengers" now lie.||
W.R.FARLEY. Wing Commander (RAF)|
PULTON J.A. Flying Officer (RAF)
KARBOWSKI Bronislaw, Sergeant (PAF)
MADRACKI Czeslaw, Sergeant (PAF)
VOELLNAGEL Antoni, Captain (PAF)
WILMANSKI Leon , Sergeant (PAF)
WOJCIECHOWSKI Mieczyslaw, Sergeant (PAF)
ZYGMUNTOWICZ Ryszard, Captain (PAF)
Memorials to Franz Löschl and
Lorenz Mraz (the passengers) were added in 2001
|After considerable correspondence with Dr. Michael Heim in Germany and with the approval of Wing Commander Farley's family, it was agreed that (as an act of reconciliation during the year of the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War 2) a small token part of the V9976 Halifax should be specially brought down from the Blauberg mountain in late June 2005, to be returned to Tempsford (with the kind permission of the current owners of the Tempsford airfield), 63 years after it last left on that moonlit night of 20 April 1942. To formally receive the part of her husband's aircraft from Dr Heim (present on behalf of the German people), the widow of Wing Commander Farley (aged 90) was present along with their daughter at a special small private ceremony held at the airfield in July 2005. CLICK HERE or on the small copy on the right, to see the article about this event that appeared in the Biggleswade Chronicle on 19th August 2005.|