Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Book Launch

Exbury Junkers

Outdoor Talk - Part I
By: John Stanley

Here we are, to the east side of Exbury House, which was commissioned as the Combined Operations base HMS Mastodon and closely involved in the planning and preparations for D-Day.

You may remember I referred to servicemen being quartered in Nissen huts. They were erected in this area, in amongst the trees.

The perimeter to HMS Mastodon was marked by the hedge over there, and a line of barbed wire. The field beyond, still part of the Exbury estate, was known as "The Park".

I'm now going to describe the final few moments as the Junkers came down.

The time was just after 7.30 am. It was bright spring morning.

Sam Mundy, a despatch rider with the Transport Section, was just returning to his hut after having a wash. He was astonished to see a low-flying German bomber appear from behind the house. It was flying in a north-easterly direction, and just cleared the water tower as it flew over Exbury village. Sam had difficulty in persuading his colleagues in the hut that he had just seen a German bomber.

The bomber looped round in a clockwise circuit to Calshot, just a few miles to the east, at the entrance to Southampton Water. It had by now been spotted by a section of RAF Typhoons which were just returning to their base at Needs Oar Point, across the Beaulieu river from here. The section leader had noticed bursts of anti-aircraft fire. Two of the Typhoons peeled off to investigate.

The Junkers turned over Calshot and started to head back westwards towards Exbury. The two Typhoons, having positively identified the plane as a Ju 188, now started to attack the bomber with cannon-fire. The German bomber had been seen to fire red Very lights as the Typhoons began their assault. F/Lt Sanders, the pilot of the leading Typhoon, later reported that he had experienced slight return fire from the Ju 188, but there is no evidence that the bomber did return fire.

By the time the Junkers reached Exbury again it was flying only just above tree-top height.

Sam Mundy was still trying to convince his colleagues in one of the Nissen huts that he had seen a German bomber, when it suddenly re-appeared from the direction of the water tower. The two Typhoons were on its tail in a V-formation.

Some 80 men from Assault Group 1, Force J, were assembled on the parade-ground on the other side of Exbury House as the Junkers made its appearance.

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