23 January 1944

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-6 (WNr. 550525)
Telhouët Paimpont "Les Fosses"

(contributors : Daniel Dahiot, J.B. Frappé, Erik Mombeeck, Francois Cadic, Claude Hélias, Frédéric Hénoff, Claude Archambault)

Unteroffizier Friedrich STEMMER - 12./JG 2 
born 16.04.1921 in Durmersheim/Rastatt. 
Buried in the German military cemetery of Mont-de-Huisnes - Gruft 10 - Grab 165.

Photo ABSA 39-45 collection Benoit Paquet


On 23 January 1944, six Hawker Typhoons Mk IBs of No. 266 Squadron of the R.A.F. fly over the Gaël airfield (operation Ramrod n°124). At the same time, the Uffz. Friedrich STEMMER takes off from the field to carry out a test flight of his Focke-Wulf FW 190 A-6. Taken by surprise, STEMMER crashed at 3:30 p.m. at a place called “Les Fosses” in Telhouët Paimpont, approximately 3.5 km south of his base. He was initially buried in the Rennes cemetery.

Uffz. Friedrich STEMMER in front of his a FW 190 A. We do not know whether this plane is the one he flew on January 23, 1944.
This photo would have been taken on January 4, 1944, 19 days before his death.
Photo ABSA 39-45 collection Benoit Paquet

The Typhoons formation was composed among others of Squadron Leader Peter William LEFEVRE, Flight Lieutenant John Howard DEALL, Flight Lieutenant A.V. SANDERS and Pilot Officer George Merriel Rubidge EASTWOOD. These four pilots attacked the FW 190 and shared the victory.

Flight Lieutenant John Howard Deall (first from left) with his comrades in front of a Hawker Typhoon.
Photo ABSA 39-45

The grave of the Uffz. Friedrich STEMMER at the Rennes cemetery shortly after his death.
Photo ABSA 39-45 collection Benoit Paquet

The obituary of Uffz. Friedrich STEMMER. The text says :
"In memory of our beloved son and brother Sergeant Fritz* Stemmer, pilot in a fighter squadron, born April 16, 1921 in Dumersheim,
fallen on January 23, 1944 in France. Resting place : Rennes Heroes’ Cemetery. In an intense aerial fight,
alone against eight American fighters, he sacrificed his young and courageous life for his homeland. May he rest in eternal peace!

Note that it is said that STEMMER fell against 8 American fighters when it was 4 English fighters out of a formation of 6.

* Fritz is the diminutive of Friedrich


♦ Operational Record Book of no 266 SQN of the RAF for the 23 January, 1944
(source the National Archives)

Sqn 266 01 1944 air 27 1559 25
A la date du 23 janvier, il est noté que 9 Typhoon Mk IB ont décollé à 14h30 pour la mission de "Fighter Sweep Ramrod 124"
(une mission de bombardement léger et d'attaque de la chasse sur une cible précise).
Les codes des 9 avions et leurs pilotes étaient :
On January 23, it is noted that 9 Typhoon Mk IB took off at 2:30 p.m. for the “Fighter Sweep Ramrod 124” mission.
(a light bombing and fighter attack mission on a specific target).
The codes of the 9 aircrafts and their pilots were :
                   JP 846 - Squadron Leader P.W. Lefevre
                   JP 934 - Pilot Officer G.M.R.  Eastwood
                JR 289 - Flight Lieutenant J.D. Wright
            JP 906 - Flying Officer W. V. Mollett
JP 964 - Sergeant E. Palte
                                        JR 301 - Wing Commander Baker (du no 193 SQN)
           JP 135 - Pilot Officer D. Erasmus
        JP 856 - Flight Lieutenant J.H. Deall
                      JP 962 - Flight Lieutenant A.V. Sanders 

Mission comment : flew with 193 SQN as far as Brehant (probably Bréhat), then above to Saint-Brieuc and on to Gaël
at 1,000 feet. When flying East due South of Gaël, 1 FW 190 seen North of airfield. Sqdn turned 180° to port
and closed on enemy aircraft. Enemy aircraft turned to meet the attacks but in all 6 of our aircrafts got in bursts
and finally the enemy aircraft starboard wing broke off and the enemy aircraft crashed in flames 2 miles
outh-East of Gaël airfield. The Commanding Officer ordered the Squadron immediately to form
a defensive circle and then reformed and returned to base. 

Sqn 266 01 1944 air 27 1559 26
In this 2nd part, we read for January 23 : violent storms but visibility fair and improving.
8 aircrafts (and not 9 as mentionned in the 1st part) did a fighter sweep St-Brieuc - Gaël - Rennes etc... as part of a Ramrod 124.
When flying East, 2/3 miles South of Gaël airfield, 1 enemy aircraft seen at 3,000 feet just North of the airfield,
presumably coming into the circuit. Sqdn turned 180° to port and attacked. In all, 6 pilots had squirts at the
enemy aircraft, a FW 190, which kept turning in to our attacks. From the cannon camera, it had been
decided to share this between S/Ldr LEFEVRE, F/Lt DEALL, F/Lt SANDERS and P/O. EASTWOOD. F/Lt WRIGHT
and F/O. MOLLETT also had squirts but had awkward angles and do not think they hit the enemy aircraft.
F/Lt SANDERS had a good burst at rather long range, then the C.O. then EASTWOOD had a really long burst and
finally DEALL shot its wing off while SANDERS took a cine film of it. Three enemy aircrafts destroyed by
this station in 3 days. Very lucky encounters.
New pilots experience on Typhoons. An abortive shooting match v home guard.

Sources :
- "Dans le ciel de France - Histoire de la JG 2 "Richtofen" - Volume 5 : 1944" - Erik Mombeeck
- "La Luftwaffe face au débarquement allié." Jean-Bernard Frappé - Editions Heimdal
Gräbernachweis des Volksbundes Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V.


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