By Pierre Kosmidis
Photo by Manolis Bardanis
Research by Manolis Bardanis and George Karelas
Now, thanks to respected researcher Manolis Bardanis, who searched the archives of 603 squadron, RAF, we have a unique photo showing four burning aircraft wrecks slowly swallowed by the sea, while thick smoke shows the exact spot they crashed.
This photo was shot by one of the Beaufighters and shows the direct aftermath of the dogfight, which eventually cost the lives of 40 German aircrew and passengers of the Ju 52 and two aircrew of a RAF Beaufighter which never made it back to base.
It was Thursday, 27 January 1944 when a group of 3 Luftwaffe Ju 52, accompanied by three Ar 196 float planes, was intercepted by Beaufighters of 603 RAF squadron over the Aegean islands of Mykonos, Delos and Rinia.
In the brief dogfight that ensued, the 3 Ju 52 and the 3 Ar 196 were shot down and crashed at sea.
Arado 196 A3, D1+AH, (0154), Gfr. Horst Pfützner and Ltn. Wolfgang Reichel, both KIA.
Arado 196 A3, D1+CH, (0328), Fw. Gustav Zobel and Uffz. Herbert Thurner, both KIA.
Ar 196 A3 D1+FH, (0297) slightly damaged, ditched at sea, both aircrew survived.
Junkers Ju 52 TE+DZ (formerly 8A+GL, werknummer 6987), Uffz. Kurt Werner and Gfr. Willy Nau, KIA. other crew members were Ofw. Heinz Hieke, ο Uffz. Philipp Beisel and Ofw. Erich Burckhardt.
Junkers Ju 52 3m5e DE+TS (formerly 8A+GJ, werknummer 7126) crashed in flames, taking down with her 4 crew members and 11 passengers. Crew were Ofw. Heinrich Sellhorn-Timm and Uffz. Heinz Bunge, Uffz. Erich Weidner, Uffz. Werner Pankoke.
The third Junkers Ju 52 managed to ditch safely at sea and pilot Hans Cremer, along with 3 other crew members and 11 passengers managed to swim ashore, before the aircraft sank.
603 squadron RAF (Beaufighter aircraft)
LZ133/N F/Lt. A. P. Pringle and F/O A. K. Ross,
LZ144/B F/Sgt. Α. Η. Rooks and F/O M. J. R. Thom, both KIA,
LZ242/C W/O P. G. Spooner and F/Sgt. A. C. B. Noble
LZ281/K F/Sgt. J. R. Edgar and F/Sgt. N. W. Wood