On a fine spring morning in 1944, seven weeks before D-Day, a lone German Junkers 188 twin-engined bomber emerged from the clouds over the Isle of Wight, circled low over the northern part of the island and somehow managed to withstand a barrage of anti-aircraft fire before flying across the Solent to the Hampshire coast, where it was promptly attacked by two RAF Typhoons and further anti-aircraft fire.
The stricken German aircraft crashed in a field close to Exbury House which at the time was the home of HMS Mastodon, a naval headquarters closely involved in preparations for the Normandy landings.
None of the men on board the Junkers Ju188 survived.
On examination of the wreckage it was discovered that seven men had been on board a plane design for only three. This, combined with the aircraft's inexplicable manoeuvres before it was summarily dispatched gave rise to a good deal of speculation as to the purpose of its flight and the intentions of the seven young victims on board. Among those intrigued was the author Neville Shute, who included the incident in one of his books.
Since there were no survivors, and with the Solent under the tightest of security lockdowns due to the preparations for D-Day , there seemed no possibility of discovering the true mission of the Exbury Junkers.
Many years later, John Stanley stumbled upon the mystery during a visit to Exbury Gardens, now return to its owners the Rothschild family and open to the public as a popular tourist attraction. John became fascinated by the Exbury Junkers and decided to attempt to solve the mystery once and for all.
This book is the result of his researches, in which he identifies the seven young Germans who died in the crash and sets about trying to ascertain why so many of them were crammed into such a small aircraft and what they intended to achieve by their flight to Southern England.