Swansea Family History
Swansea Family History 

I received an email from Mrs Margaret Williams, who writes… “I was surprised to learn that a German had been buried in St. Hilary’s Church, Killay, during the wartime years of 1939/45. I am extremely interested in hearing the reasons for this and the whole story relating to this event”

Yes, there was a German, Kurt Brand buried at St. Hilary’s, Killay. We have to turn the hands of time back to 1943, 16th February, which was the last night that Swansea was bombed dur-ing the war. On this night 32 HE and numer-ous incendiary bombs were dropped, and there were 34 civilian deaths. According to German sources, the Luftwaffe dispatched 37 Dornier Do 217 (pictured right), each aircraft had a crew of 4. The squadron took off from Eindhoven, Holland, refuelling at Evreux, France. At the same time, in Swansea, 125 Squadron RAF were based at the newly constructed in June 1941, RAF Fairwood Common.

The squadron received the first warnings of the Luftwaffe attack and scrambled Beaufighter aircrafts (pictured above). One of the Dornier Do 217 was shot down in flames crashing at around 22.25 into the sea off Port Eynon. There were no survivors. The particular aircraft in question was crewed by Pilot Gunther Hubenthal; Wireless Operator Karl Hochmuth; Flight Engineer Hans Krause and Observer Kurt Brand. On 25th April 1943, the badly decomposed body of the German airman was washed ashore at Rhossili, and later being identified as Kurt Brand. A death certificate was issued on the 27th April. The information from the certificate states that the cause of death was “Due to War Operations”. Other information gleaned from the certificate gives his occupation as German Airman and his service number as 58213/184. A copy of his death certificate will be located in the church. Interestingly the information that I have found regarding Second World War German dog tags, indicates that the only information etched is the wearer’s service number. Kurt Brand’s military funeral took place on 28th April at St. Hillary’s Church, Killay. The funeral was conducted by a RAFVR Padre H.S. J. Harries. His name, is found in church’s burial registrar, Page 26, burial No.204. These registrars are to be located in the West Glamorgan Archive Service, Civil Centre. He was buried alongside the church hall, away from the Allied Airmen. Today, there is no indication as to where he was buried for 20 years. St. Hilary’s, the closest graveyard to RAF Fairwood, is the final resting place of RAF service men from many other countries. During March 1963, following an agreement made between the British and German governments, Brand’sremains were exhumed re-interred at the Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery, Staffordshire.

All the other men on board the plane were never found, the sea off Gower remains their final resting place.

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© Charles Wilson-Watkins