Biplane fighter aces

The Commonwealth

Flying Officer Herman Francis Grant Ede DFC, RAF no. 33307

1917 – 8 June 1940

Grant Ede was born in 1917 and his parents lived in Pembroke, Bermuda.

He attended the RAF College at Cranwell as a Flight Cadet, being awarded a Permanent Commission in December 1937.

Promoted to Flying Officer in June 1939, he joined 111 Squadron in August.

On 7 May 1940 he was posted to 263 Squadron while this unit was preparing their return to Norway after their first attempt.

He was one of the two pilots who arrived in Norway aboard the carrier HMS Furious, which was transferring the units Gladiators.

On 21 May the Squadron's Gladiators took off from HMS Furious and flew to Bardufoss.

Around midday on 24 May five Ju 52/3ms of KGrzbV 108 carrying 55 members of 2./GJR 137 arrived over Bjørnfjell from Trondheim. Five escorting Bf 110s of I/ZG 76 broke away to undertake a 'Frei Jagd' against ground targets. Approaching Bardufoss, they were fired on by anti-aircraft guns and broke away, circling nearby. Grant Ede was scrambled in one of the Gladiators, and attacked one, but this broke off and dived away. He then attacked the second, but his wing guns failed, and he dived for base as the other three Bf 110s also broke off and departed.
Grant Ede was given credit for a damaged Bf 110, but Leutnant Loobes of 3./ZG 76 must have thought he had shot the Gladiator down when it dived away for safety since he claimed the British fighter destroyed at 13:10. It is possible that Grant Ede's fire had indeed been effective, for one Bf 110 of 1./ZG 76 force-landed on Upmasjaure Lake in Sweden shortly after 13:00. This was Bf 110 C-1 ‘M8+NK’ (WNr. 3920??) flown by Feldwebel Neureuter. The crew was picked up by an air-sea rescue He 59 (D-ALYO) and flown to Trondheim. This aircraft is now preserved at Sinsheim, Germany.

During the afternoon on the same day, a He 111 of Stabsstaffel/KG 26 strayed over Bardufoss while it was operating with four other He 111s from I Gruppe over Narvik. Here it was intercepted at an altitude of 150 meters by Flying Officer Grant Ede and Flight Lieutenant William Riley. Flying Officer Grant Ede attacked first from the beam, then half-rolled into a stern attack and silenced the upper gunner. Flight Lieutenant Riley followed with a stern quarter attack, which put the starboard engine out of action. At that moment Flight Lieutenant Caesar Hull arrived, at the end of his own patrol, and got in a burst, which stopped the other engine.
This was He 111 H-3 1H+KA (WNr. 2411) of Stabsstaffel/KG 26, which had taken off from Vaernes and was shot down at Fjordbotneidet, Gratangen. The pilot Oberleutnant Hartmut Paul and air gunner Unteroffizier Hans were both wounded and taken POW together with flight engineer Unteroffizier Günter Eichmann Blunk while observer Oberfeldwebel Eduard Strüber and wireless operator Feldwebel Alfred Stock both were killed.
Grant Ede’s Gladiator was slightly damaged by return fire during this combat.

While Grant Ede was returning from an early patrol in Gladiator N5705 at 09:00 on 25 May he became separated from his wingman. He spotted a four-engined aircraft, which he identified as a Ju 90 flying at 4,600 meters 16km to the north of Harstad. This was in fact FW 200 C-1 (V2) F8+GH (WNr2484) (ex D-AETA, ”Westfalen”) of 1./KG 40 returning from a supply-dropping mission to Narvik (it had taken off from Aalborg-West). Grant Ede attacked the totally unarmed ex-Lufthansa airliner, which (to Grant Ede's surprise) went down at once and crash-landed in the sea near Dyrøy Island.
The German crew consisted of pilot Oberleutnant Hellmuth Schöpke (born 06/06/10), co-pilot Oberfeldwebel Fritz Messer (born 11/09/12), flight engineer Feldwebel Walter Börjesson (born 22/09/12) and wireless operator Obergefreiter Kurt Hartleben (born 07/06/16). Norwegians picked them up, but Hartleben died of his wounds. Schöpke subsequently became a POW but Messer and Börjesson managed to get away and returned to their unit where they reported that four Gladiators had attacked them!

At 10:30 the same day Grant Ede was in the air again, spotting another large aircraft, which he once more identified as a Ju 90, this time to the south-east of Harstadt. He approached initially from astern, and down-sun and his first attack silenced the rear gunner. He then made four more attacks, concentrating on one of the engines on each occasion, and leaving the big aircraft powerless after his fifth attack. It then crashed in flames on Finnöy Island, to the south of Narvik.
In fact, this was another FW 200 from 1./KG 40. One of the crew was killed during Grant Ede’s attack while the remaining four of the crew were taken POWs.

On 30 May Flight Lieutenant Alvin Williams and Flying Officers Grant Ede, H. F.Vickery and Dermott between undertook 22 sorties to attack staff cars, stations, troops and strongpoints, whilst they also found a German HQ at Hundalen. Vickery's aircraft was hit by Flak and returned with an interplane strut, and some flying wires gone, and a large hole in the port upper wing.

Grant Ede took part in the successful evacuation of fighters from Narvik on 8 June 1940 when he and nine other pilots from 263 Squadron landed their Gladiators aboard HMS Glorious. However, this successful evacuation was avail when the carrier was sunk by the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau later in the day with the loss of almost all aboard, Grant Ede being one of them.

He had shortly before his death been decorated with the DFC. The award was gazetted on 6 August 1940.

At the time of his death Grant Ede was credited with 2 biplane victories, these being claimed while flying Gloster Gladiators.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  24/05/40 12:00 1 Bf 110 (a) Damaged Gladiator II   near Bardufoss 263 Squadron
  24/05/40 p.m. 1/3 He 111 (b) Shared destroyed Gladiator II   Fjordbotneidet 263 Squadron
1 25/05/40 09:00- 1 Ju 90 (c) Destroyed Gladiator II N5705 Dyrøy Island 263 Squadron
1 25/05/40 10:30 1 Ju 90 (d) Destroyed Gladiator II   SE Harstadt 263 Squadron

Biplane victories: 2 and 1 shared destroyed, 1 damaged.
TOTAL: 2 and 1 shared destroyed, 1 damaged.
(a) Bf 110C-1 ‘M8+NK’ (WNr. 3920??) of 1./ZG 76, flown by Feldwebel Neureuter, shot down. The crew was rescued.
(b) Heinkel He 111H-3 ‘1H+KA’ (WNr. 2411) of Stab/KG 26 shot down. The pilot Oberleutnant Hartmut Paul was wounded and taken POW, Oberfeldwebel Eduard Strüber (observer) was killed, Unteroffizier Gunther Eichmann (flight engineer) was taken POW, Unteroffizier Hans Blunk (air gunner) was taken POW and Feldwebel Alfred Stock (wireless operator) was killed.
(c) FW 200 C-1 (V2) F8+GH (WNr2484) (ex D-AETA, ”Westfalen”) of 1./KG 40 shot down near Dyrøy Island. The pilot Oberleutnant Hellmuth Schöpke became POW. The co-pilot Oberfeldwebel Fritz Messer and the flight engineer Feldwebel Walter Börjesson returned to unit. The radio operator Obergefreiter Kurt Hartleben DoW.
(d) FW 200 from 1./KG 40. One of the crew was killed in combat while the remaining four were taken POWS.

Deutsche Luftwaffe Losses & Claims -series - Michael Balss
Fledgling Eagles - Christopher Shores with John Foreman, Christian-Jaques Ehrengardt, Heinrich Weiss and Bjørn Olsen, 1991 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-42-9
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Those Other Eagles – Christopher Shores, 2004 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-904010-88-1
Additional information kindly provided by Arne Henning Hansen, Birger Larsen and Günther Ott.

Last modified 11 December 2023