12.03.1945 No.21 Sqdn R.A.F. Mosquito VI SZ963 W/C Oats

Recovery of Mosquito SZ963

1985 - 1994


"Air War Ederbergland", Germany With Research assisted by Dirk Sohl and the Aircrew Remembrance Society

See here for the loss article: Oats RAF 1945


Mosquito VI Serial No. SZ963 No. 21 Squadron R.A.F. Pilot; W/C V. R. Oats - Navigator, F/S F. C. Gubbings

Hans Joachim Adler from the Working Group "Air War Ederbergland" Germany Investigates!

On one Sunday during May 1985, Hans Joachim Adler of the Working Group "Air War Ederbergland" and his wife went to Bottendorf on the Linnerberg. In January of that year big maneuvers called by the military "Central Guardian", took place in the area surrounding Frankenberg. No fewer than 60,000 soldiers and more than 6,000 vehicles took part. At that time there still existed frantic arms competition between the east and western powers, but the rapprochement of the two super powers had already started. Now in May 1985 the severe damage which heavily armoured tanks had inflicted on farm tracks and fields, was still very much in evidence.

Somehow we were reminded of the air crash during the second world war that happened in this region. The pilot of that Mosquito was Wing Commander Victor Rundle Oats who with his navigator lost his life in the crash. But where exactly did the machine crash and how did it happen? Of all what we found, nothing at all for the area of the Linnerberg! Statements of relevant recent witnesses of those happenings differed greatly. And nobody could give an exact description of the crash site - all of it was too long ago and time had spread the cloak of forgetting over the old events.

During the potato harvest of 1963 a small watch was found, this watch bore on the back plate the engraved initials V. R. Oats RAF 15.4.36. This watch had stopped at 10 minutes past 12. Did the watch continue going until it needed rewinding or did it stop with impact of the crash? The people who found the watch were the Doels family, they contacted the then priest of the village Dr. Gustav Hammann who was a keen and well known local history researcher. He had contacted the family of the two members of crew. In 1969, the brother of the late Wing Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Oats, travelled to Germany to receive the watch of his fallen brother. Lt Col Oats was himself severely war disabled and it must have been an ordeal for him. physically and mentally - as newspapers reported at that time.

After his departure it became quiet again and nothing was heard of the events of the 12th March 1945. But in those May days in 1985 Hans Joachim Adler walked the fields of the crash to look once again for scrap or anything else of the crashed plane - but in vain. However, another crash site became for several years the aim of his searches and claimed all of his interest. Here in the woods of the Hessenstein was the crash site of a four engined bomber. There too, the scrap pieces had left a trail of amost one kilometer. During 1994 Adler's colleagues Dirk Sohl and Mirko Mank brought to remind him of the Mosquito of Oats. A search on the hill this time with metal detectors was only successful in so far as they unearthed numerous bits of scrap iron, which were later identified as having belonged to an old damaged tractor. The metal pieces remained hidden in high grass where later tractor wheels pushed them in the soil. Weeks passed, some information turned up from surrounding villages, until suddenly some hot trail showed itself. A very small mound on the hill was supposed to have been the exact crash point of the plane. At the end of September, a great surprise, parts of the cooling system and ragged aluminium bits lay on the ploughed field. But not here was the crash point, as we had first thought, but the meadow next to it, the property of Herr Willi Plett from Bottendorf contained the remnants of the Mosquito. Herr Plett had inherited this meadow and new nothing of what happened on it. He was very much surprised to be told about it.

The first engine was recovered on an overcast day in November, almost one year later the second. Almost three tons of material had been dug up altogether. But what has to be noted in particular is that a large quantity of ammunition was found on the surrounding fields. These were recovered by the Hessian "Weaponry Clearing Service". All parts and the two engines have meanwhile been cleaned. One of them is looking quite presentable and mounted on a moveable base! Both have been shown at public events during recent years and created great interest amongst visitors. Very regrettable in people's opinion was the fact that no local museum existed prepared to accept, preserve and display these war requisites.

In 1998 the working group "Air War Ederbergland" came into being. Ten people belong to it today. Internet and then contact to other similar groups opened up the possibility to extend the search for the crews also to the countries of their origin. Last year an attempt was made to make contact with the family of Oats and Gubbings through the good offices of the English Journal "Mossie", which appears once annually. Only a few weeks ago did Dirk Sohl with the support of his friend Melvin Brownless achieve contact with the daughter of Victor Rundle Oats. The daughter sent, long searched for, written material with pictures of his immediate environment to the "Air War Ederbergland" Group.

oats recovery newspaper
Local newspaper report of Hans Joachim Adler recovering parts from Mosquito

oats recovery crash site
The crash site!

oats recovery RR Merlin engine
RR Merlin engine part after cleaning

oats recovery cockpit instruments
Cockpit instruments

oats recovery cockpit dials
Cockpit dials

oats recovery instruction labels
Mosquito part instructional labels

oats recovery parachute release
Poignant find this parachute release box

oats recoveryA

Stacks Image 5