Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 16:05 UK

Luftwaffe pilot sorry for bombing

Willi Schludecker (l) and Chris Kilminster at Haycombe Cemetery
Mr Schludecker paid his respects at a memorial to the Bath dead

A former German Luftwaffe pilot has arrived in Bath to apologise for bombing the city during World War II.

Willi Schludecker, 87, flew more than 120 sorties - the average for a pilot was seven - including the raids in the so-called Baedeker Blitz of April 1942.

He will make the apology during Bath's annual remembrance service on Friday.

After being flown in by his interpreter-pilot at Colerne Airfield, the ex-pilot paid his respects at the graves of locals killed in the raids.

He also visited bomb damage in the city, at the Old Labour Exchange.

The Baedeker raids were in revenge for the bombing of Rostock by the Allies, and possibly because Hitler thought Churchill was in Bath at the time.

The Nazi leader is thought to have picked cultural centres deliberately - including York and Canterbury - from the popular Baedeker guide books of the day.

I never expected such a reception... I am coming to say sorry
Willi Schludecker

Chris Kilminster, 61, who lost his grandparents during the attacks on the city, said: "This has taken honour and courage on Willi's part.

"I hope he goes back remembering that we are friends now and I thank him for coming."

Mr Schludecker, who flew a Dornier 217E-4, was twice awarded the Iron Cross. He will issue his apology through an interpreter.

Speaking through the interpreter he told BBC News: "I did not realise fully what we had done.

Willi Schludecker and Chris Kilminster
The tour included bomb damage at the Old Labour Exchange

"I never expected such a reception. I am coming to say sorry. Thanks for the welcome."

His speech will follow a minute's silence for the victims and a roll call of the names of all the children who perished.

The raids claimed more than 400 lives in Bath and 19,000 buildings were partly destroyed. The city had a population of 68,000 at the time.

John Cameron, who was 11 at the time of the raids, said: "There are no hard feelings at all. He is a very brave guy. I think he will be received well."


SEE ALSO
WWII pilot to apologise to city
28 Mar 08 |  Somerset

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