Dornier Do217E-4 1182 / U5+KP of 4/KG2 crashed at Steel Rigg near Haltwhistle on the 25th March 1943


Rudolf Frase Hauptmann Pilot Killed
Alois Ille Unteroffizier   Killed
Willi Schneider Unteroffizier   Killed
Siegfried Harz Obergefreiter   Killed (Missing)


The night of the 24th into the 25th March 1943 saw an attack against Edinburgh by a mixed fleet of Junkers 88 and Dornier 217 medium bombers operating from a number of airfields in France and the Netherlands. The aircraft all followed a similar route from the Netherlands to a point off the Northumberland coast and then towards Edinburgh. At the flights of bombers approached the British coast they were detected by radar and night fighters were despatched to intercept. In the hour either side of midnight seven of the aircraft were either shot down or crashed through other causes.
At about 00:15 on the 25th witnesses on the ground around Haltwhistle heard the sound of cannon fire followed by an aircraft circling before it then crashed. This was one of two confirmed claims by aircraft operating from Ouston near Newcastle and Catterick in North Yorkshire.

Crash site of Dornier Do217 1182 / U5+KP at Steel Rigg, Haltwhistle, Northumberland
The aircraft crashed in the area shown in this photograph, taken on the evening of the 73rd anniversary of the crash. Due to its proximity to Hadrian’s Wall it is not possible to survey the site to determine how much still remains in the area.

The Do217 had exploded when it crashed on pastureland on the north side of Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg and broken up over a wide area. The RAF and local Police were able to account for three of the four crew but the final crew member was not accounted. Such was the level of destruction of the aircraft that very little was found by Air Intelligence Officers, only a single identity disc and two ausweis passes were found along with a 1:2,000,000 map with the route the aircraft was to fly on it. As the route on the map began at Soesterbrg in the Netherlands it was felt that the aircraft most likely departed there.

Crash site of Dornier Do217 1182 / U5+KP at Steel Rigg, Haltwhistle, Northumberland
This photograph taken in 2005 is looking across part of the crash site.
Crash site of Dornier Do217 1182 / U5+KP at Steel Rigg, Haltwhistle, Northumberland
Another view of the crash site taken in 2005.

The three identified members of the crew were buried together at Dalston Road cemetery in Carlisle alongside a large number of other aircrew who died in the North of England. Below are photographs of two of their graves, the third belonging to Willi Schneider had been removed for renovation at the time the cemetery was visited.

Grave of Hauptmann Rudolf Frase at Carlisle Dalston Road Cemetery
Grave of Rudolf Frase
Grave of Unteroffizier Alois Ille at Carlisle Dalston Road Cemetery
Grave of Alois Ille