View Full Version : Luftwaffe General visits the RAF in October 1937

26th October 2011, 21:30
During October 1937, Senior Officers of the Luftwaffe arrived at RAF Mildenhall on an official visit to the Royal Air Force. General Milch Headed the party with General Wenniger - German Air Attache, Major Kriepe, Major Nielsen, Oberstleunant Polte. They were met by Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar R. Ludlow- Hewitt AOC in C Bomber Command, Air Vice Marshal Patrick H.L.Playfair and Air Commodore D.C.S. Evill. General Milch was then invited to inspect the RAF Guard-of-honour made up of Handley Page Heyford aircraft of No 99 and No 149 Squadrons, each with their four aircrew standing to attention in full flying kit beside their aircraft as General Milch, in full Luftwaffe dress uniform walked down the ranks. Behind the Heyfords were representative aircraft of the RAF again with crew in full flying kit standing to attention : - Bristol Blenheim medium bomber (280mph); Handley Page Harrow heavy bomber (190mph); Vickers Wellesley medium bomber (202 mph); Armstrong Whitworth Whitley (192mph). After inspecting the guard of honour, General Milch & party were taken to the Officers Mess for luncheon then in the afternoon provided a air display of British fighters and bombers. They later departed for RAF Hendon by motor car , train and motor car. The party were originally going to be flown in the Air Council's new DH 86B but this was cancelled at the last minute due to deteriorating weather conditions.

What was the purpose of the visit and did we pay a similar return visit ?


Tony H
27th October 2011, 22:20
Cannot add any more to the Mildenhall story . . . .

But . . .

I learnt this a few years back, that (possibly?) during the same visit to the UK, Milch also visited Odiham (for a similiar purpose?) So impressed was he with the layout of the (then) brand new station that it was decided that Odiham would be the location of the Luftwaffe Headquarters following the "ahem" successful German invasion of the UK post Seelowe!

Apparantly, Luftwaffe aircraft were also given specific instructions not to attack the airfield for fear of damaging it ahead of their "moving in" . . . .


Tony H

28th October 2011, 20:06
Did you know there are a couple of short Pathe newsreel clips about this visit.


German flying officers arrive at Croydon Aerodrome. L/S of passenger aeroplane landing. Various shots of German officers getting out of plane. The officers are guests of the Air Council and are led by Air Secretary General Milch. We see RAF (Royal Air Force) Air Marshal Pierce welcoming the officers. Among the German party is "famous war ace" Major General Udet.

According to narrator this is second part of German-British exchange: earlier in the year a party of British Air Force officers was entertained in Germany



German flying officers at Royal Air Force (RAF) base. Various shots of party of RAF officers giving German guests tour of air field. We see the officers and guests inspecting latest RAF bombers. According to narrator both parties of officers share information about aviation and new types of aeroplane. The narrator goes on to say: "Apart from the official formality of the occasion there's an atmosphere of intimacy which we hope will make this day a memorable to our visitors".




28th October 2011, 20:19
Thanks Tony. Thanks Pete. Most interesting.

I know Goring had his eyes on a large country house near Stamford. So Odiham was going to be HQ Luftwaffe. My ex RAF neighbour told me that during the 1937 visit, the RAF crews standing alongside their aircraft were instructed to give misleading answers to inquisitive Luftwaffe questions without overdoing it. Also, most of the aircraft on parade were obsolete and about to be withdrawn. That at least pleased me to hear. I'll now Google for the Pathe News.


28th October 2011, 21:39

No need to google the links were in my post, sorry if I didn't make it clear.




29th October 2011, 00:55

Erhard Milch was an assiduous diarist.

You must read:

The Rise and Fall of the Luftwaffe:The Life of Luftwaffe Marshal Erhard Milch.
London:Weidenfeld & Nicolson,1973.

The reason for the Luftwaffe visit is explained and the exchanges at Fighter Command Headquarters and a later meeting with Churchill, are memorable.

Various editions of the above book exist. Shouldn't be too hard to find.

See also:

The Fall of an Eagle:The Life of Fighter Ace Ernst Udet.
Van Ishhoven,Armand (ed. Chaz Bowyer)
London:William Kimber,1979

Udet piloted Erhard Milch's personal aircraft, Heinkel He111 V-16 D-ASAR, conveying Milch, Stumpff, and their staffs to Croydon on 17 October, 1937.

Norman, Peter Townsend's, Duel of Eagles (pp.129-38), can also be read with profit.


29th October 2011, 10:55
Thank you Pete,
I've now found the clips through your url's.

Thank you Col for the latest information.
Amazing thing is, I've been on Earth for a few years now but have only just heard of the visit through a 'chat over the garden fence'

There is also coverage in the 'Flight magazine'


David Duxbury
5th November 2011, 22:15
Thought that Board members might appreciate this extract from Larry Forrester's "Fly for your Life" (1956).

Visit of the Germans to RAF, 1937.

(From “Fly for Your Life”, the biography of Robert Stanford Tuck, by Larry Forrester, 1956, pages 25 - 26.)

‘He (Tuck) was alarmed by the number of foreign military missions courteously received by the RAF and shown ‘the works’. A party of Germans, led by German generals Ehard Milch and Ernst Udet, Great War aces – both of whom later became field marshals – had visited Hornchurch soon after 65 (Squadron) was equipped with Gladiators. The pilots had been warned by the station commander, Group Captain ‘Bunty’ Frew: “You can answer any questions they ask you, except about defensive tactics, operational control and the new reflector gunsight. If they get on to the gunsight, tell them it’s so new that you haven’t learned how to use it yet.’
(Then follows a paragraph as to the operation of this new piece of optic technology for the general reader.)
‘The aircraft were lined up on the field with the pilots standing beside them, and the Germans came round to inspect accompanied by an interpreter and an Air Vice Marshal. When they reached Tuck’s aircraft, sure enough Milch got up on to the wing, stuck his head into the cockpit and inquired in passable English how the gunsight was operated. Bob stammered out the prescribed answer and the German, smiling faintly, started to turn away. But at once the Air Vice Marshal said: “Allow me, General!” – and jumped up beside him.’
‘For the next few minutes Tuck stood by, appalled, while the brasshat proudly and lucidly explained the principles and advantages of the new instrument, and even demonstrated the various settings. He was sorely tempted to suggest: “Sir – why don’t we give General Milch one to take home as a souvenir …..”

I am not entirely convinced however that the Germans were totally ignorant of developments in reflector gunsights (after all, the Germans were right up there in the optics field at the time), but it does all make a good story and you can see why Tuck would not have been very impressed by the "friendliness" of his older AVM, who was no doubt a contemporary of the visiting Germans, perhaps an old fighter pilot like them, and thus forgetting all about that recent upstart, Hitler. I think the RAF Narratives on the development of air weapons has some interesting things to say about international developments with regard to the refelctor gunsight.
David D