Two Messerschmitt Bf 109s land at Manston, 21st July 1944
In the early hours of the morning of 21st July 1944, two Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 fighters landed at Manston airfield. Both were from the same unit and carrying out a mission against Allied night bombers.
Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6/U-2 Werke/Nr.412951, ‘White 16’ (pictured) piloted by Leutnant. Horst Prenzel of 1./JG 301 made a safe landing at Manston at 0240 hrs after a ‘Wilde Sau’ sortie, thinking he was landing at a German airfield. Pilot uninjured and taken POW. Leutnant Prenzel had twenty-five War Flights to his name. The aircraft was given the British number TP 814 and was initially evaluated at RAE Farnborough before passing to RAF Wittering.
The Messerschmitt was written off after a take-off accident on 23 November 1944, the pilot, F/L Len Thorne was unhurt. He recalled: “Great care had to be taken when taking off and landing due to the Me 109 G Gustav’s inclination to swing and ground-lop at the slightest provocation. When taking off at Wittering on the grass I avoided such trouble, but could do nothing when the port oleo strut fractured as the aircraft was about to unstick. The port wing tip struck the ground and TP814 carried out a complete cartwheel. It came to rest the right way up but was rather badly bent. As other Me 109s were then available it was decided not to undertake repairs.”
Feldwebel Manfred Gromill of 1./JG 301 belly landed his Messerschmitt Bf 109G-6 Werke/Nr. 163 240 “Yellow 8” from 1./JG 301 at Manston at 0245hrs or 0300hrs (unconfirmed), due to lack of fuel. The pilot apparently made a good landing but thought he was going to overshoot the landing strip so raised the undercarriage thus causing considerable damage.
Some time later a Swordfish aircraft of 819 Squadron who were based at Manston at this time came in to land. The pilot, tired after a long patrol, swung off the runway and came to an abrupt halt when he saw the two German fighters. He and his navigator were both convinced that they had landed in enemy territory, and the pilot, swearing at his companion, started to turn the aircraft around for a hasty take off. However before becoming airborne they saw RAF trucks speeding towards them across the grass. They soon learned of the night’s visitors and, somewhat shaken went and had breakfast.