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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 34066
Last updated: 7 December 2019
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Date:12-MAR-1937
Time:03:41
Type:Heinkel He 111C
Owner/operator:Lufthansa
Registration: D-ALIX
C/n / msn: Werk Nr.715
Fatalities:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Into Sea, 5 miles SE of Government Wharf, Bathurst -   Gambia
Phase: Approach
Nature:International Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Las Palmas, Spain
Destination airport:Jeshwang Airport, Bathurst, Gambia
Narrative:
D-ALIX was the second prototype He111 (V2, Werk Nr.715) which first flew in May 1935: The V2 (W.Nr. 715, D-ALIX) used the bomb bay as a four-seat "smoking compartment", with another six seats behind it in the rear fuselage. D-ALIX entered service with Deutsche Luft Hansa in 1936, along with six other newly built versions known as the He 111C.

Written off 12 March 1937: Aircraft crashed on final approach to Bathurst while performing a flight from Germany to South America with intermediate stops in Las Palmas and Bathurst. All four crew members were killed. The twin engine aircraft was christened 'Rostock'. According to contemporary reports (see links #2 & #3)

"Before embarking on the trans-South Atlantic stage, Lufthansa made use of the airport at Jeshwang, in the Gambia. It was here that a setback occurred in March 1937, when disaster befell the German Heinkel He 111 “Rostock” (D-ALIX) as it was preparing to land at the end of its flight from Las Palmas. The facts, as far as are known, are detailed in a letter from H R Oke, the Acting Governor in Bathurst, to the Right Honourable W.G.A. Ormsby-Gore PC MP, the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London, dated 19 March 1937.

Carrying a large mail cargo for addresses in West Africa and South America, the “Rostock” arrived over Bathurst at about 2:10 a.m. on Friday 12 March. The aircraft circled widely three times round Bathurst, “some 200 or 300 feet about the houses”. It woke many people who saw the navigation lights. Finally it was seen and heard flying SE over the harbour, after which it was lost to sight and sound. The Lufthansa catapult ship “Ostmark” was in radio communication with the aircraft, which was flown by Alfred Viereck, with Richard Rebbentrost, 2nd. pilot, and W/T operator Kurt Bichner. Also on board, returning to his duties after leave, was the “Ostmark’s” Second Officer, Hans Hemmann. The Lufthansa catapult ship “Ostmark” was in contact with the plane from 02:47 until 03:41 and assumed the plane had landed safely. In the early morning it was realized that the plane was lost

Some short while after the non-appearance of the Heinkel at Jeshwang, a Lufthansa ‘plane began searching the river estuary area, and a DLH launch was sent to explore the surface. At about 10.30 the first pieces of wreckage were found in the river some miles SE of Government Wharf. During the course of the day, some 24 mail bags, 30 loose packages of letters and various parts of the machine were picked up. The four occupants were never found. The mail recovered represented some 90% of the original mail cargo. Some dispute arose over the mail as it was recovered by the DLH launch, and apart from that with West African addresses, was taken aboard the catapult ship “Ostmark” to be dried off and despatched to South America with minimum delay. This occurred before the Receiver-General was notified and a complaint was lodged with the Lufthansa Resident Agent, who replied that the forwarding of the South American mail as soon as possible was his first priority. The Acting Governor was anxious to convene a Board of Enquiry, but this presented difficulties as no aeronautical expert was in the Gambia at the time and as far as I can gather no such Board was ever convened."

Sources:

1. [LINK NOT WORKING ANYMORE:http://www.baaa-acro.com/1937/archives/crash-of-a-heinkel-he-111-in-banjul-4-killed/]
2. http://www.stampdomain.com/aero/Gambia1937.htm
3. http://crashmail.dk/air-crashes/1937-03-12/
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_111#Early_civilian_variants
5. http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=21837


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
20-Aug-2014 14:44 gerard57 Updated [Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
20-Aug-2014 14:54 gerard57 Updated [Narrative]
08-Jan-2017 21:09 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Cn, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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