Wings Museum launches search to find the final resting place of a German Pilot tragically killed in action on 6th September 1940.

The Wings Museum has recently launched an appeal for information that might solve a 70 year old wartime mystery. The Wings Museum is keen to pinpoint 24 year old Gerhard Rüger's final resting place with a view of erecting a memorial close to the spot in remembrance of this young German pilot.
Combat - 6th September 1940.

On the 6th September 1940 Messerschmitt Me110 Fighter Bombers of the elite Luftwaffe unit Erprobungsgruppe 210 crossed the English coast on their way to attack the Brooklands aircraft factory at Weybridge in Surrey. Having completed it’s attack one of the Me110’s S9+BH set course for France, at the controls was 24 year old Unteroffizier Gerhard Rüger the pilot and his 20 year old gunner Gefreiter Edmund Ernst. It is believed this aircraft was intercepted and shot down by Pilot Officer Dibnah of No. 1 Squadron RAF. Much of the combat took place over Redhill and Godstone. Pilot Officer Dibnah made a beam attack on the 110. Rüger was seen to perform a stall turn when Pilot Officer Dibnah made a second frontal attack. As Dibnah passed Rüger’s aircraft it was seen to enter a spiral dive where it crashed near Crowhurst in Surrey.

After the war the gunner Edmund Ernst recounted what had happened. After receiving hits from a British aircraft Rüger instructed Ernst to bale out who was subsequently captured and taken POW. Rüger’s Me110 had received fatal hits to his controls and whilst Rüger struggled to maintain control while his gunner baled out, Rüger was not so lucky, he was unable to exit his aircraft in time and is believed to have been found sometime later close to his wrecked Me110.

Although the wreckage was cleared away at the time for some unknown reason, the remains of Rüger (the pilot) are rumoured to have been buried in an unmarked grave close to the crash site. The historical records clearly list Rüger as “Missing in Action”.

70 year old mystery
Local rumour states that Rüger was buried in 1940 by Canadian soldiers close to his crashed Me110 in an unmarked grave, some believe that his remains may have been taken later to Crowhurst Church Yard and reburied in an unmarked grave within the confines of the Church. Prior to the wreckage being cleared away it is also believed that many local school boys took souvineers from the crash site, perhaps you know of someone who may still have a part from this aircraft that could be displayed at the museum? If so we would very much like to hear from you.
The Wings Museum is dedicated to remembering such young aircrews as Gerhard Rüger and would like to identify his final resting place so that it can be recorded for future generations. The museum would also like to have his final resting place marked so that this young pilot is not forgotten.
Unteroffizier Gerhard Rüger
The Wings Museum is also keen to trace any members of Gerhard Rügers family that may still be alive in Germany. The museum would also be keen to hear from anyone who may have any parts from Rügers Me110 that would allow the museum to create a display in remembrance of this young pilot that could be shared with visitors to the Wings Museum.
With thanks to the Kevin Black - County Border News, Mark Davidson Surrey Mirror, Brian Seddon & to anyone not mentioned in this article.

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