London Irish Rifles Association

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Home Review of Recent Events.

The Battle of Graveney Marsh.

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THE BATTLE OF GRAVENEY MARSH, 27th SEPTEMBER 1940.

The last flight of Junkers 88 No. 8099

It turned out that it wasn’t going to be ‘just another day in the office’ for the crew of the Junkers 88 bomber 8099 of Kampfgeschwader 77. The previous month Goering had switched the savage attacks on the RAF’s Kent Airfields, vital for Britain’s survival, to London. The Junkers was one of fifty-five aircraft sent to bomb South London. The pilot, Unteroffizier Fritz Ruhlandt, and the Wireless Operator, Unteroffizier Erwin Richter, were veterans blooded in the Blitzkriegs of France and Poland. A wedding photograph of Richter shows him wearing the Iron Cross. The third member of the crew was Gefreiter Reiner who manned the two rear facing 7.92 machine guns.

At the start of the mission the atmosphere in the cramped cockpit had been pleasant, almost cosy. It was only a few weeks since Ju88 no. 899 had rolled out of Albatros Flugzeugwerke GmbH, the cockpit still smelt of leather and fresh paint. The atmosphere was less pleasant now, reeking of high explosive fumes and smoke from the flak that had knocked out one of the engines. Ruhlandt swung his crippled aircraft out of formation and headed back towards the Channel. He was soon overtaken by the surviving aircraft of his squadron who were high-tailing it home. Near Whitstable the ‘lame duck’ attracted the attention of a standing patrol of two Spitfires over the estuary. To escape the Spitfires Ruhlandt dived towards the marshes, but the effort was in vain, bursts from the Spitfires’ .303 Brownings knocked out his remaining engine and injured the radio operator in both eyes. It was too low for the crew to bale out so the pilot’s only option was to make a ‘wheels up’ landing on the marsh. He made a very good landing, possibly too good as the aircraft was only superficially damaged.

Luftwaffe orders made it clear that downed aircraft must not be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy. So after landing the aircrew quickly set about placing and arming the demolition charges that would ensure the destruction of aircraft No. 8099; but they were soon to be interrupted.

A You Tube clip of the 70th Anniversary parade can be found here.

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LIR in New York, 2011.

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A party from The London Irish Rifles visited the 69th Fighting Irish in New York.

Presentation to the 69th Fighting Irish

 

Pilgrimage to Italy, May 2011.

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In May 2011, we joined the annual Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Regimental Association Pilgrimage to Italy along with The Royal Sussex Association and The London Scottish/ACF.

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