At page 103 of the book someone could read ‘’… on 29th May 1941 … Another one Me-109 fighter belonging to III./JG 52 was totally destroyed after crash-landing near Molaoi due to lack of fuel. The pilot was unhurt….’’
That was all I knew before I found the memoirs of a german pilot. That was the first , crucial finding which transformed the short sentence above to a whole story. Below I share with you the information I found , in chronological order , along with the course of my thoughts. Any additional help is welcome.
1) Adolf Dickfeld’s memoirs (‘’Footsteps of the hunter’’). He was then serving as pilot of III./JG 52 which was stationed at Molaoi during the late stages of Battle of Crete. That is the story with his own words:’’…It was just five o’clock on my alarm clock when the tent flap was opened from the outside.The “old man” peered inside and said, “glad to see you’re awake, you’re to fly the early patrol with Rickmer. Take Zobel’s machine. Take off at 0530.” Even before I could jump to my feet and adopt the mandatory stance he had disappeared again. …We lifted off in a tremendous cloud of dust and were soon over the Mediterranean….. In less than ten minutes we were over Malemes, that fateful airfield on the northwest corner of the island. Visibility was unrestricted, I guessed more than 50 kilometres. …the first black flak bursts began flaming up in front of us. They were far to the right, so there was no danger at first. I sideslipped quickly, with Rickmer behind me, lost several hundred metres of altitude and then continued south over the snow-covered flank of the 2,450-metre-high Idhi Oros….The flak had ceased firing, apparently the Tommies’ expectations of success hadn’t been high. After a left turn we flew east along the coast. … There were a good dozen fishing boats and in their midst several English motor torpedo boats, all loaded with soldiers, munitions, and equipment.
“Low-level attack!” I called over to Rickmer. I flipped up the safety catch and opened fire. … One of the torpedo boats began to glow bright red like a street light and seconds later blew apart. It was time to get away, fuel was running low, we had to get home and lick our wounds. I climbed toward the mountains. ….Then, suddenly, tracer flashed past my cockpit and at the same time Rickmer screamed: “Hurricanes, four of them behind you!”… Rickmer had dived away. Below us was Antikythera, in front of me the Tommies. They turned toward me. … A press on the triggers and tracer poured into the Hurricane. It began to smoke and peeled away. I was still at 1,000 metres. Suddenly bullets struck my cockpit. The instrument panel caught the full force of the burst and was riddled like swiss cheese. What was worse, glycol vapour was streaming into my face, that meant that the radiators had been hit. I dove away steeply. The other Hurricanes had disappeared, thank God! I searched for a place to land. At 300 metres I spotted a machine lying on its belly on the beach, its British roundels stood out clearly. I lowered the flaps, left the landing gear up, and set my machine
down on the sand next to the Tommy. The underwing radiators were ripped off, the ailerons flew away. I opened the canopy, jumped out, and ran away from my smoking Messerschmitt. Taking cover behind a large rock I waited for the aircraft to explode. But nothing happened and the smoke slowly died out. I left cover and began thinking about the Tommy I had brought down, who must be hiding in the botany somewhere nearby. As a precaution I pulled my 7.65mm pistol from my fur-lined boot and looked all around me. But there was no sign of life, no one for me to take prisoner. Where could the fellow be hiding? Not ten minutes had passed since his forced landing. I looked inside his machine; the parachute was still in the cockpit. His instrument panel had been shot up just like mine, and there were several holes in the fuselage as well. But there was no sign of blood. It appeared that he had escaped unhurt, I didn’t grudge him that.
Map of the territory
In view of the difficult terrain there didn’t seem to be much sense in searching further. So I took my parachute out of my Messerschmitt, which was riddled with bullet holes, threw it over my shoulder and began walking in the direction of the interior. After several hours of walking I came to a small fishing village, whose name I have forgotten. In an instant I was surrounded. They all spoke to me but my schoolboy Greek seemed not to be understood there. Then, finally, an old man came up to me and spoke to me in English. I explained that I needed a car to get back to my airfield, which lay not ten kilometres from there, and soon a donkey-drawn cart appeared. The old man drove me through the area at a leisurely pace and we began to talk. He told me quite openly that we Germans weren’t welcome there, after all we had invaded his country. …
Finally, late in the afternoon, I arrived back at my airfield, dirty and disappointed, but otherwise none the worse for wear. I reported my return to the “old man.” “My dear fellow,” he began, “where did you come from, we gave you up for lost a long time ago. Rickmer has been back for some time. He got away with a few bullet holes. Make your report after you’ve eaten.” I was unable to have my kill confirmed. No witness, no confirmation, that was it! That’s how it was in that part of the world.’’
2) On location :
The whole incident got clearer when I went at Demonia village , about 20 km southeast of Molaoi. Me , my friend Kostas and about 12 elderly locals sat around a table at the café of the village. Soon , after a flood of memoires and scattered information , I realised that among them there was an eye-witness of Me-109’s crash-landing. According to him , the german aircraft was one-seated and it was crash-landed near the beach Charachias during the Battle of Crete. He told me that the german pilot survived and later he was transferred to the airfield on a donkey belonging to the local rural guard named Nikolaos Misthos. The small fishing village mentioned by Adolf Dickfeld is probably Plytra , lying about 5 km northwest of Charachias.The locals also mentioned that the same period (in the summer of 1941) another aircraft , probably two-seated , crash-landed in the greater area. The place is called Korogonas and it is a slope near Charachias beach (see the map). One of the pilots used his parachute. Later on the aircraft was destroyed by the Germans. No records for any destroyed Hurricane at the same beach. 3) Loss records
The ”white 12” at Molaoi airfield
In the loss records of the III./JG 52 I found the loss of a Me-109 , (“white 12”) on 29/5/1941 due to lack of fuel. The aircraft of the 7th Staffel (7./JG 52) reported crash-landed near Molaoi airfield. Total loss of the aircraft , pilot unknown. (B.Barbas : Die Geschichte der III. Gruppe des JG 52 , p.298). In that period Dickfeld’s Me-109 was the “black 1’’ so can one assume that the lost ‘’white 12’’ was Zobel’s plane.After bringing all the information together the mystery seems to be solved.The Me-109 which was crash-landed at the 29th May 1941 near Molaoi airfield was the badly-damaged ‘’white 12” of the 7./JG 52 with Adolf Dickfeld in the cockpit. I almost imagine it crash-landing in a cloud of dust and sand at the beautiful beach of Charachias…