The Airmen's Stories - P/O K Schadtler-Law
Kennith Schadtler-Law was born on 12th December 1916 in Johannesburg, South Africa and joined the RAF on a short service commission in April 1939.
He commenced training on 1st May 1939 at 15 E&RFTS Redhill. He moved on to 10 FTS Ternhill for No. 12 Course, which ran from 10th July to 9th December 1939.
After completing his training he arrived at 11 Group Pool, St. Athan on 28th December 1939.
After converting to Hurricanes he was posted to 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron at Tangmere on 25th January 1940.
Above: this aircraft still has the squadron code HE which was supposed to have been changed to UP in September 1939. The fin bears the 'bear with ragged staff' emblem of Warwick.
On 28th March Schadtler-Law was flying in Yellow Section when a He111 was sighted entering cloud at 6000 feet. The section-leader fired two short bursts, setting the enemy aircraft on fire. The bomber was attacked and finished off by 43 Squadron at 1000 feet and the victory was shared. It was 605's first encounter with the Luftwaffe.
On 15th August Schadtler-Law made a forced-landing on Hartlepool Golf Course after combat near Newcastle, in Hurricane P2717. He was badly injured and admitted to West Hartlepool Hospital.
A formation of He111s escorted by Me110s had headed from Norway to attach RAF Driffield but were 70 miles off course.
The Squadron ORB recorded:
By now the Germans were spilt into two loose formations and were approaching Easington Colliery from the south-west. P/O E Jones and P/O K Schadtler-Law attacked the last enemy aircraft in the first formation, sending it spiralling into a dive. Schadtler-Law continued to pursue his foe over the colliery and sent it crashing into the sea three miles east of the pit-head.
During his final attack Schadtler-Law's Hurricane was hit by return fire and he quickly decided that it was damaged enough to prevent him reaching a suitable airfield. He chose his landing spot, Hartlepool Golf Course, and made for an area near to the sand dunes. He lowered his landing gear and made a low approach. Invisible from the air was a wire fence which separated the golf course from a wheat field and this acted as an arrester wire catching his wheels as he passed overhead.
The aircraft yawed several time and finally tipped onto its nose. It teetered for a moment then fell over onto its back.
A local man Edwin Stephenson who had witnessed the crash landing ran towards the aircraft together with some soldiers who were on coastal defence duties nearby. Edwin helped lift the wing while Schadtler-Law was released from his harness by two of the soldiers. Schadtler-Law had sustained a badly gashed head and a nearby doctor called Hall diagnosed he was suffering from concussion and arranged for him to be taken to hospital in Hartlepool.
His subsequent service is currently undocumented but he stayed in the RAF postwar and retired on 1st July 1968 as a Wing Commander. He later changed his name to Law.
Law died on 7th May 1986 in Purley, Surrey.
All images courtesy of Robin Law (son) via Keith Gardner.
Below: the anniversary of his 15th August 1940 engagement was marked in Hartlepool: