Eichendorffschule Wolfsburg

Crash of a Junkers JU 88 over Dursey Head on 23 July 1943

On Friday 23rd July 1943, a Junkers JU 88 crashed into Ballinacarriga Hill on Dursey Island in the west of County Cork, Ireland. All four crew members died in the crash.

The Junkers JU 88, equipped with two engines, was one of the standard fighter aircraft of the German Air Force. During the Second World War, almost 15,000 aircraft of this type were built. This number could only be achieved because thousands of people were forced to work in the production facilities in Dessau, Potsdam, Leipzig or Halle, Germany. They had been deported to the German Reich from countries that the Wehrmacht had conquered, particularly in Eastern Europe.

The Junkers JU 88 that crashed at Ballinacarriga Hill in 1943 belonged to a weather reconnaissance squadron, a German air force unit that collected weather data. The data was used to collect weather reports, which were essential for the conduct of the war. In the countries conquered by the Wehrmacht, the German air force set up several bases for weather reconnaissance squadrons, one of which was in Nantes (France). There, on the morning of 23rd July 1943, a Junkers JU 88 took off on a weather reconnaissance flight to south-west Ireland.

In the aircraft were Corporal Hans Auschner (pilot, 22 years old), Private Gerhard Dümmler (on-board radio operator, 19 years old), Corporal Johannes Kuschidlo (on-board mechanic/gunner, 22 years old) and Government Councillor Bruno Noth (navigator/meteorologist, 32 years old). The crew had been flying in this composition since 8th July 1943.

At the beginning of the weather reconnaissance flight, visibility was clear, but soon fog rolled in with visibility of between 1000 and 2000 metres below the cloud cover, which itself dropped to an altitude of 200 to 50 metres. The pilots were aware of this weather situation and orientated themselves towards the Irish coast. This was probably also the case for Hans Auschner, who wanted to find the Bull Rock lighthouse as an orientation aid while watching the sea surface and the Irish coast. Meteorologist Bruno Noth had already radioed three weather reports to the squadron’s base in Nantes when a fourth radio message suddenly broke off.

In the fog the aircraft crashed on the crest of Ballinacarriga Hill. The Junkers JU 88 caught fire on impact and was destroyed apart from large parts (wing and fuselage sections) and the two engines. The four crew members were ejected from the aircraft and died. They were buried with military honours in Ballaghboy on Dursey Island. As it was not known which denomination the dead belonged to, a Catholic and a Protestant priest attended the funeral.

Parts of the wreckage of the aircraft could still be seen at the crash site until the 1990s.

The four bodies were reburied in Glencree in 1959, when the war cemetery of the German War Graves Commission was established there. They lie side by side in the graves:

Grave no. 44 – Bruno Noth (32 years)

Bruno Noth was born on 19th December 1910 in Nuremberg, Germany. At the age of 32, he was the oldest crew member of the Junkers JU 88, which crashed on Ballinacarriga Hill on 23rd July 1943 during a weather reconnaissance flight. He accompanied the flight as meteorologist and navigator.

Grave no. 45 – Hans Auschner (22 years)

Hans Auschner was born on 24th November 1920 in Katowice, now Poland. Hans Auschner was the pilot of the Junkers JU 88, which crashed on Ballinacarriga Hill on 23rd July 1943 during a weather reconnaissance flight.

He received his military training at the pilot training schools in Neustadt Glewe and Finsterwalde, Germany. After missions on the eastern front, he completed further training in blind flying and as a long-range reconnaissance pilot. On 24th May 1943, he was ordered to the weather reconnaissance squadron in Nantes (France).

Grave no. 46 – Johannes Kushidlo (22 years)

Johannes Kushidlo was born on 30th April 1921 in Zaborze near Katowice, now Poland. He was one of the crew of the Junkers JU 88, which crashed on Ballinagarrica Hill during a weather reconnaissance flight on 23rd July 1943 and was a gunner and mechanic.

Grave no. 47 – Gerhard Dümmler (19 years)

Gerhard Dümmler was born on 26th August 1923 in Donndorf near Halle, Germany. After graduating from high school in 1939, he began his military career in a pilot training regiment in East Prussia. At the age of 19, Gerhard Dümmler was the youngest crew member of the Junkers JU 88, which crashed on Ballinacarriga Hill on 23rd July 1943 during a weather reconnaissance flight. He was on board as a radio operator with the rank of a private.