Luftwaffe pilot says sorry for bombing York

Willi Schludecker outside the Nestl factory in York, which he believes he bombed during a raid in 1942

Willi Schludecker in his German uniform

The wreckage of one of the aircraft flown by Willi Schludecker

The aftermath of the bombing of York railway station in 1942

First published in News by

A GERMAN airman who bombed York during the Second World War has returned to the city 65 years later "to say sorry".

Willi Schludecker was a 21-year-old pilot with the Luftwaffe during the 1942 attack on York that killed 92 people and injured hundreds more.

Yesterday, the 86-year-old visited the city to see the site where his bombs fell and meet the people whose lives he changed forever.

Mr Schludecker - who was eventually shot over East Anglia before crash-landing in Holland, where he escaped to a German hospital - said he was overwhelmed by the welcome he had received in York.

He said: "When I arrived I was very scared because I didn't know how I would be received, but the people here are very forgiving and they have made me feel very welcome.

"I wanted to come to York because I wanted to say sorry. When we were dropping bombs we did not think of the people we might hit. Our targets were the railway and industry.

"On that night my target was the gasometer and until recently I thought I had hit it because we saw a massive explosion.

"But now I've been told that the gasometer was never hit and the explosion came from the Nestlé factory, where lots of explosives were stored."

During his three-day visit to England, Mr Schludecker, who worked as an electrical engineer in Cologne after the war, will also visit Goodwood, the home of the pilot who shot him down over East Anglia.

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