Account of German witness to crash of John Valentines aircraft



Account of German witness to crash of John Valentines aircraft


Written by one of Philip Floyd's (pilot of John Valentine's aircraft) brother Michael's children based on conversations with parents. Recounts a letter to a German newspaper from a Werner Gerlach who as a young 15 year old boy witnessed the shooting down and crash of a heavy bomber near Mulheim on the Ruhr. Mentions finding piece of tin with Manchester and a piece of leather boot with P/O Floyd. Mentions subsequent correspondence including that Gerlach took photographs of the crash site. Enclosed b/w photograph from a window showing open ground with wreckage.

Temporal Coverage



One page printed document and one b/w photograph


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This is the memories of conversations between myself and my parents Michael & Pat Floyd and from letters and photographs that I now have in my possession since they have both died.
Philiip Floyd, my father’s only brother, was killed in 1942 when he was shot down as a pilot whilst on a bombing raid over Germany.
Near the end of the war my parents met, they were both also in the RAF, he was a pilot and she was in the WAAF. During the 1980’s and 90’s they were both active peace campaigners and specifically as organisers of ex – service CND. As part of these activities Michael Floyd gave press interviews, wrote many articles and he had often spoken of the death of his brother at the age of 21 as a pilot in the war. This information was subsequently published in Germany in Die Welt on the 10th August 1994 (as part of an article by Peter Michalski).
In response to reading this article a German man, Werner Gerlach, wrote to the newspaper and recounted (quote):
‘As a 15 year old boy on the night of 30/31 May I witnessed a heavy bomber attach over Koln. An English plane held for some time in searchlights was shot down behind my parents house in Mulheim on the Rhuhr.
On the next morning I photographed the crash site and still have the photographs.. I found also piece of tin with the word Manchester, also a piece of leather from a belt or boot on it in handwriting was P/O Floyd’
He requested that the newspaper inform my farther of these matters and there followed a long and warm correspondence (through a translator between Werner Gerlach and my father. He subsequently sent my father the photos of the crash site and my father sent him a photo of Phillip. The Gerlach’s also sent over photographs of Phillips grave which they visited on two occasions.
In a letter of 8th October 1994 Gerlach says that he took the photos of the crash site from the window of his parents house. He writes (quote)
‘it is very difficult for me to write the following: On the left of the picture you can see a soldier from the national security who my memory serves me right is lifting the blanket that my father laid over your brother.’
We (myself and my siblings) know that both my parents and Werner Gerlach and his wife (who had lost his only son) were very moved by this course of events. They all took a lot of comfort in spite of the tragedy from this new knowledge, their new relationship and an extraordinary story.



“Account of German witness to crash of John Valentines aircraft,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 21, 2024,

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