German pilots buried in Cudham

Furneral of German pilots - Cudham Church 1940

This story appeared in the Bromley & District Times newspaper in July 1940, recording the funeral of two German airmen who were shot down by Hurricanes of 32 squadron from RAF Biggin Hill (flown by Pilot Officer Peter Gardner, Sergeant William Burley Higgins and Sergeant Edward Alan Bayley).

The plane crashed at Baybrooks, Horsmonden after attacking Kenley aerodrome The two pilots were Erich Hoffman (a Flight Engineer) aged 26 years old (grave number NN30) and Waldema Theilig (a Wireless Operator) aged 25 years (grave number NN31) and both were buried on 8th July 1940.

The church in the picture is Cudham. The airmen are no longer there. Their bodies have been removed and they have been re-buried at the Staffordshire Arboretum – Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery

Furneral of German pilots - Cudham Church 1940

Funeral of German Airmen

Two members of the crew of a Dornier “Flying Pencil,” which was shot down recently ‘somewhere in Kent,’ were buried at a Kentish churchyard on Monday. The funeral cortege left the local aerodrome early in the afternoon, preceded by the civil police and two closed motor lorries, the coffins being carried on an open tender. Each military and Air Force post stood to attention as the procession passed. Both coffins were draped with the Nazi flag and bore wreathes. Staff and Service cars followed, and a tender containing the firing party brought up the rear.

On reaching the churchyard the party were met by the R.A.F. Chaplain and the Vicar. Only a graveside service was held, the Vicar reading the prayers and the chaplain performing the committal rites.

Three rounds were fired over the grave by the firing squad. The ceremony was witnessed by a few villagers.

[Source: Bromley & District Times, 12th July 1940, page 8]

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