Do you remember the ‘hedgehoppers’?

An author is appealing to Herald & Gazette readers for more information about German planes flying over the coastal areas during the Second World War.

A Junkers 88 plane at the Goodwood Revival in 2008 PICTURE: MALCOLM WELLS
A Junkers 88 plane at the Goodwood Revival in 2008 PICTURE: MALCOLM WELLS

Stella Rutter hopes to form a book of people’s memories of the Junkers 88 planes, which were performing reconnaissance missions.

Stella said: “The events would have occurred between the outbreak of war in September, 1939, until September 15, 1941.

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“Only people living along the south coast shoreline, and about five miles inland, between Portsmouth and Bognor, would have experienced these incidents, which involved German Junkers 88 planes appearing unexpectedly and flying at low level over the coastal area.

“They were on reconnaissance work and would shoot at any movement on the ground as they carried out their missions. We nicknamed the planes ‘hedgehoppers’.

“As there were no sirens to warn people of their approach, everyone had to be very alert, with both eyes and ears, to see these planes coming over, and be prepared to dive for cover.”

Stella is hoping that there may be some Herald & Gazette readers who lived in Portsmouth/Bognor area during the Second World War, and will be able to add to the memories she has already collected.

Stella explained that the reconnaissance work being carried out because Hitler was planning to invade Britain.

She added: “The scheme was to invade on the flat area between Selsey Bill and Bognor – the only unpopulated stretch of coastline along the south coast – then to go inland and approach the South Downs from the north, catching our troops by surprise.

“However, the gun emplacements in the forts on the South Downs actually face inland, to counter such an attack.

“On September 15, 1941, Hitler decided to abandon any attempt to invade Britain and turned his attention to attack Russia – a decision which probably cost the Germans the war, and meant that Britain was saved from invasion.”

If you can offer Stella any more information about the ‘hedgehopper’ incidents, please contact her by telephone on 01243 372746, or write to her at: Stella Rutter, 31 Furlonge House, Emsworth House Close, Emsworth, Hants, PO10 7JR.