Dick Baron and the German pilot

Dick Baron had a very interesting time during the June 6, 1944, Normandy landings.  That day and the days following, Dick flew many missions supporting the invasion.  (Dick had a very detailed log book that he kept over this time.  Years afterward, Dick would loan out his log book so people could read it.  One day he loaned it out and it never came back.  Dick didn’t remember who the last person he loaned it to so the log book was lost.)

One evening, about a week after D-Day, after the missions for the day had been flown, Dick and several of his squadron mates were preparing to visit the Officers Club.  It was already quite dark when a late returning fighter caught their attention.  The control tower also noticed and turned on the runway lights but something was strange about this plane.  It was not a P-47.  Was it a Mustang or a Spitfire?  Something was odd about the note of the engine.  Could it be a damaged fighter from another base making an emergency landing?  The guys in the tower saw it first and quickly doused the landing lights but it was too late.  The plane was a Messerschmitt 109 German Fighter, possibly on a sneak late evening raid to attack an English base.  But this German fighter was coming in slow with its flaps and landing gear down.  Before anyone could bring guns to bear the plane had landed and pulled off the runway and came to a stop in the grass.  One ground crewman, still thinking this was an American or British plane, jumped up on the wing to see if the pilot needed any assistance and came face to face with a German Officer.  For several tense seconds they eyed each other, then the German pilot turned over his side arm and surrendered.  Dick and his friends were there when the ground crewman and the German came walking off the field.  The German could speak perfect English.  As it turned out, he had attended University in London before the war.  The suggestion was made, “We are on our way to the Officers Club, mind going with?

There was some confusion on base.  The rumor was that a German plane had landed but where was the pilot?  The German walked with Baron and his Squadron mates out the gate.  The unassuming guard at the gate even gave the German pilot a smart salute!

They were able to have several drinks and talked “shop” about this business of being a fighter pilot and the differences between the German and American Air Forces.  Before long the MPs finally tracked down the German pilot and hustled him off for interrogation.

By the next morning the 109 was gone, hurriedly trucked off, no one would say where.  The whole deal was hushed up and there is no mention of it in the Group or Squadron records.