Memorial to a German Pilot near Didling


Memorial to a WWII German Pilot on The South Downs Way

I came across a small memorial next to The South Downs Way near Didling today – dedicated to a 25 year-old German Pilot called Hauptmann Joseph Oestermann who was shot down and killed over The South Downs on the 13th August 1940. 

Oestermann was flying a Ju88 bomber as part of Luftwaffe KG 54 Bomber Group on the first day of Germany’s offensive against the RAF ahead of their planned invasion of Britain. The German bomber was downed by a British Hurricane, piloted by Pilot Officer Mayers of 601 Squadron flying out of nearby Tangmere Airfield just a few miles east of Chichester.

Two other airmen from the German plane parachuted to safety and were captured. Ironically, the British Hurricane pilot was shot down later that same day over the English Channel. Mayers suffered leg injuries but survived.

One thing that struck me about the memorial is that it is still well tended by local people and passers-by using The South Downs Way. Seeing a British Remembrance Day poppy on a German war memorial is a poignant reminder of all the lives lost during the Second World War – regardless of their nationalities or beliefs.

Ich stieß auf ein kleines Denkmal neben der South Downs Way in der Nähe diddling heute – steht für eine 25-jährige deutsche Pilot namens Hauptmann Joseph Oestermann, die nach unten und wurde erschossen in der South Downs am 13. August 1940.

Oestermann flog eine Ju88 Bomber als Teil der Luftwaffe KG 54 (Bomber-Gruppe 54) am ersten Tag der Deutschland den Angriff gegen die RAF vor ihrer geplanten Invasion Englands. Die deutschen Bomber wurde von einem britischen Hurricane, Pilot Officer von Mayers von 601 Squadron fliegt aus der nahe gelegenen Flugplatz Tangmere nur ein paar Meilen östlich von Chichester pilotiert abgeschossen.

Zwei weitere Flieger aus dem deutschen Flugzeug mit dem Fallschirm in Sicherheit und wurden gefangen genommen – während die britischen Piloten auch Mayers wurde nach unten gedreht später am selben Tag über den Ärmelkanal. Mayers erlitten Beinverletzungen, aber überlebt.

Eine Sache, die mir von der Gedenkstätte getroffen ist, dass es immer noch gut von der lokalen Bevölkerung und Passanten mit dem South Downs Way neigten. Seeing ein Gedenktag Mohn auf einer deutschen Gedenkstätte ist eine rührende Erinnerung an all die Opfer des Zweiten Weltkrieges verloren – unabhängig von ihrer Nationalität oder ihres Glaubens.

3 thoughts on “Memorial to a German Pilot near Didling

  1. Wonderful! Wonder that there are memorials for individual germans. Very awesome gesture.

  2. I first found this some years ago whilst walking the South Downs way. I visit at least once a year.This memorial is still being looked after as per my visit on 27th August (yesterday) albeit the headstone is now very faded. I wonder who still goes there and puts poppies etc. on the marker? Are any of his crew or their families doing this. I researched the event and it appears he kept the aircraft going so his crew could get out. It was to late for him though and his aircraft crashed and exploded. A brave man. My father was an RAF Officer.
    Mike Harnetty.

  3. I remember seeing this memorial many years ago. Between 1978-80 Pre Parachute Selection used to march across part of the South Downs finishing at the Pub at the bottom of the Hill close to Telegraph House. The memorial was well tended then and it was only by chance that I saw this web site. Well done to all those who look after this memorial, he was only a Lad.

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