- At 11.23 pm on 11 May 1943, a searchlight on Lowestoft sea front
illuminated a very low-flying Luftwaffe Do 217 bomber approaching from
the East. It is assumed that either the pilot was blinded by the glare
of the searchlight beam, or was attempting to evade it when the
aircraft crashed into the sea only 300 yds off Ness Point. There were
- Doomed: The Do 217 about to plunge into the
sea off Lowestoft.
- An artist's impression of the incident by John
Reeve of Mettingham.
- One of the four German aircraft lost on operations against Britain
that night was a Do 217E-4, Werk-Nr.6163, U5 + FL from unit 3/KG.2. It
had been despatched on a mine-laying sortie off Cromer, and the pilot,
Leutnant Eberhard Pleiss, was on his first operation.
First and last: Young Eberhard Pleiss's first
operational sortie with the German Luftwaffe proved to be his
On 29 June 1943, the decomposed body of a Luftwaffe NCO was washed up
on the North Beach at Lowestoft. His identity disk bore the
No."57359/227" and the Germans identified the airman as Unteroffizier
Wilhelm Stocker, the Beobachter (Observer) aboard Do 217 U5 + FL. He
was buried in Section 24, Grave No.531 at Lowestoft Cemetery. It was
not until November 1948 however, that the (then) Imperial War Graves
Commission positively identified Stocker through captured German
records, and were able to place a name on his grave marker.
- A month earlier, on 30 May 1943, the body of another unidentified
German airman was washed up at Gunton. No identity disks or papers
were found on the body , but his uniform had the rank insignia of a
Leutnant. He was buried in Section 24, Grave No.522 on 2 June 1943.
- Known unto God:The German soldier (actually
serviceman) buried in Grave 522 is a Luftwaffe airman
- - and may yet be identified
In 1992, one of Eberhard Pleiss's sisters, Erica, was traced in
Australia. She knew of the grave of Wilhelm Stocker from her
brother's crew at Lowestoft, but not the unidentified Leutnant.
On 11 May 1993, on the 50th anniversary of the loss of their
brother, Erica, and her sister Gisela from Germany stood at the
grave of the "unknown German airman" at Lowestoft Cemetery. They
remain convinced the man in Grave 522 is their brother Eberhard.
Reunited: Erica and Gisela, sisters of Lt Eberhard Pleiss, stand
at the grave of the unknown German airman on 11 May 1993 - 50 years
to the day after their brother's last flight.
In August 1997, former Luftwaffe pilot Heinz Mollenbrok visited
Lowestoft Cemetery and laid a wreath on the grave of the "Unknown
German airman". Inscribed on the streamers, in the colours of the
German national flag, were the following words:
- "In memory of all our
fallen and missing comrades 1939-1945"
"Also in memory of all the lost members of the RAF 1939-1945"
Comradeship KG.2, 1993"
- Remembering old comrades:
- Former Battle of Britain Luftwaffe pilot
Heinz Mollenbrok places a German tribute on the grave of the unknown
airman at Lowestoft Cemetery in 1997
- Lowestoft has the largest group
of WW 2 German graves (11) in Suffolk. Many others were exhumed in
the 1960s and transferred to the German Military Cemetery at Cannock
- For further details on German War Graves in the region, please
contact: Bob Collis via the website.