27 January 1944: A unique photo of four downed Luftwaffe aircraft in Mykonos, Greece

Aircraft wrecks, Contact, Interviews, Then and Now, WW2, WW2 in Greece, WW2 Wrecks

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photo by Manolis Bardanis

Research by Manolis Bardanis and George Karelas

The serene beaches of Rinia, close to Mykonos island, have a tragic past, which was unveiled thanks to the combined efforts of Greek researchers Kostas Koukovinis and Thanos Antonelos 

This serene landscape
This serene landscape was the setting of a fierce dogfight in 1944, claiming the lives of over 40 persons and 7 aircraft.

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 is the photo unearthed by respected researcher Manolis Bardanis, showing the 4 burning aircraft wrecks
This is the photo unearthed by respected researcher Manolis Bardanis, showing the 3 burning aircraft wrecks and the one ditched close to the beach.

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.

According to the research by Manolis Bardanis, George Karelas and Thanos Antonelos the downed aircraft were the following:

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


The Air Battle over Mykonos island: 27 January 1944, hell over the Aegean