09.11.1940 2./KG1 Heinkel He 111H-3 Wnr.3335 Lt. Probst. Location: 26-28 Johnson Road, Bromley, Kent, England.
Mission: Military objectives in London, England.

Date: 9
th November 1940

Time: 19.45 hours.

Unit: 2 Staffel./Kampfgeschwader 1

Type: Heinkel He 111H

Werke Nr: 3335

Coded: V4 + JK

Location: 26 & 28 Johnston Road, Bromley, Kent, England. (MR:Q.8587).

Pilot: Leutnant. Max Probst. (Baled out and captured).

Observer: Feldwebel. Rudolf Gey. 53544/40 – Killed.

Radio/Op: Unteroffizier. August Krueger. 53578/99 – Killed.

Flt/Eng: Gefreiter. Reinhard Giesinger. 53578/26 – Killed.


While en-route to attack military objectives in London, flying at 13,000 ft., the aircraft was hit by AA fire, broke up in the air and crashed into houses and completely disintegrated. The pilot thought that one wing must have been shot away and as the aircraft turned over on its back, he opened his roof hatch and fell out, landing by parachute. The pilot had a very poor opinion of British AA fire and previously had flown right through it.
Engines: Jumo 211, one numbered 51532.
Sixteen 50 kg bombs were found in the wreckage of the aircraft and houses.

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Johnson Road in the aftermath of the crash, November 1940.

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Rescuers pick through the wreckage. The fuselage of the bomber can be seen in the background.

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The fuselage with gondola.

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Another view of the destruction.

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Inspecting the bombs by the side of the road.

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The graves of the fallen aircrew at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. (Forscher). Left - Rudolf Gey Grave. (Forscher). Right - Grave of Krueger & Giesinger. (Forscher).

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RAF A.I.(k) Intelligence Report No’s: 878 & 913. (NA).

One of Johnson Road’s residents described the experience to a newspaper reporter:

“My husband, myself and our four children were in the living room when we heard the plane swooping, and my husband told us to take cover in the cupboard. Then there was a terrific noise, and a smashing of glass. He told us to keep calm, then rushed across the road without waiting to put his hat and coat on.”

Bromley historian Lewis Blake records:

“The awful truth dawned on everyone at the scene that the whole street faced disaster.
As minds worked on how best to tackle the situation, Sergeant David Grigg, a traffic patrol man of P Division, Metropolitan Police, arrived on the scene and volunteered to remove the missiles one by one to open ground across the A21 Hastings Road. One of the bombs was thought to be ticking ominously, but Sgt Grigg nonetheless gingerly carried them to a safe distance from the street’s terraced dwellings.”

Mrs Alice Monday, 31 years old and a cashier at a local cinema, was dead by the time she was pulled out of the wreckage. Her husband, a motor engineer, was taken to hospital and survived.  The occupants of the other house, Mr and Mrs A.H. Button, both in their 70s, had a remarkable escape. Mrs Button had been stood in the kitchen doorway and pulled to safety by her husband as the house collapsed.

Mr B.W. Darby, who lived next door to the Mondays and was a member of the stretcher party, told the newspapers: “Mr and Mrs Monday usually shared our Anderson shelter with us and were coming in on Saturday evening. My brother was standing at the back door when he heard the aeroplane coming down, and thought it was a bomb. It sounded like a tornado; he shut the door and threw himself down.

“Immediately after he saw what had happened he tore his way through the fence, went through the broken kitchenette window and tried to force his way through, but was unable to and went to the front where h got on top of the debris. Above the wreckage was what looked like a vapour cloud.

“Mr William Wilson and I, who had been on duty, then came to the scene. We climbed on the wreckage and made a hole in the debris in an endeavour to reach Mr and Mrs Monday. My brother and Mr Wilson removed what bombs they could although petrol was running on them all the time. They could hear Mrs Monday groaning. Soon after the rescue squad arrived and one discovered Mr Monday lying on a bomb.”

“A German aeroplane crashed on two dwelling houses demolishing both and burying the residents. Four persons were rescued,slightly injured. Shortly afterwards, four more bombs were dropped nearby, only a few yards from the Police and Rescue Parties, causing them to suspend operations for a few minutes. When the rescue work was resumed, it was discovered that a number of bombs, several of which were still attached to parts of the machine, were amongst the debris. Two more persons were trapped underneath and it was necessary to remove the bombs before they could be extricated.

“Police Sergeant Grigg volunteered to carry the bombs from the wrecked houses and removed three of them from the wreckage. He was about to return for a fourth when it was suspected that one or more were about to explode. Nevertheless, Grigg again entered the wreckage and removed the bomb. The Sergeant then crawled beneath the debris and located one of the trapped victims, who was eventually rescued. Grigg, who had no special knowledge of bombs, showed great courage and devotion to duty.”

Another individual who put his life at risk was Captain Charles Lea of the 2nd Engineers, who seems to have supervised the safe removal of the rest of the bombs through the night and into the morning. Captain Lea, who later died at Salerno, also received the George Medal, in September 1941. His citation recorded the incident in Johnson Road:

“On the 9th November 1940, a German aeroplane, carrying a load of bombs crashed at Bromley demolishing two houses and trapping certain of the occupants in the debris. Capt. Lea gave immediate assistance regardless of the difficulty and danger involved. Nearly 30 bombs required to be disposed of. Some of them were in the debris and others entangled in the wreckage of the aeroplane. Capt. Lea took the matter in hand himself and in the course of the night and the following morning, by skilfull and courageous work, he completed the disposal of all the bombs, so making it possible for the rescue of the trapped persons to proceed in safety. This case is typical of many others in which the gallantry of this Officer has been a safeguard in the whole neighbourhood.”


Lewis Blake, Bromley in the Front Line (1980);
Graham Reeves, Undaunted: The Story of Bromley in the Second World War (1990).

Burial detail:

Those that perished from the German crew now rest at the Deutsche Doldatenfriedhof Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, England. Block 1 Graves, 257, 258 and 259.

Researched and compiled by Melvin Brownless & David King. With special thanks to Nigel Parker, Forscher, National Archive (London) and not forgetting Brinley Hawkins for discovering and sharing the images featured.

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