hucks216

Transport Pilot Wehrpass - DKiG

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I thought that I would share images of this Wehrpass which is the final item to join my collection in 2016.

It belongs to a long term member of the Luftwaffe who joined the Wehrmacht in 1935 and flew many transport missions as a pilot during WW-2 until his death in a flying accident in 1944. Transport related items seem to be an often ignored area for collectors, at least in the world of paper but when you consider that they often flew in hostile airspace in slow aircraft and laden with cargo or troops it is a wonder that more didn't win high honours. Without these transport crews many battles and campaigns would of floundered much sooner than they did so from a strategic point of view they were vital. The invasions of Holland in 1940 and Crete in 1941 and the resupply of Demyansk, Africa and Stalingrad all relied on the unwieldy Ju-52 transport aircraft and their crews.

From February 1940 he served in 10/KG z.b.V-1 and as the campaign entry pages show he took part in the invasion of Norway flying reinforcements to Oslo & Stavanger in 4 sorties.

With the invasion of France & the Low Countries looming he was one of many who were used to fly elements of Inf.Rgt 16 and Stab/ 7.Flieger-Division into Holland for the air-lift operation to help capture that country. In just one day the air-lift operation to the Rotterdam-Waalhaven area cost III/KG z.b.V-1 14 Ju-52's destroyed and 2 damaged. The excellent Battle Of France Then & Now shows many photos of the downed aircraft and has details on the losses but as this pilot is not mentioned I can only assume he came through unscathed. By the end of the Western Campaign he had flown 36 sorties to support the Wehrmacht's push west.

In early December 1940, III/KG z.b.V-1 departed Wesendorf and flew to Foggia in Italy. The Gruppe established an air-bridge to Tirana in Albania to support the Italian campaign in the Balkans and with their 53 Ju-52's the Gruppe flew over 4,000 sorties in 50 days. In those 50 days they transported 30,000 Italian troops and over 4,500 tons of supplies in to the operational area and returned with 10,000 wounded and sick troops. At the top of page 26 this operation can be seen entered in to the Wehrpass.

From early 1941 until the end of the African Campaign in May 1943 the pilot flew many re-supply sorties across the Mediterranean Sea from Catania in Sicily and Maleme in Crete, as well as sometimes being stationed at Benghazi, and including flights in to the Tunisian Bridgehead. During these operations he received the DKiG on 31st January 1942, having received the Transport Clasp in Gold in July 1941 which is a good indicator of the number of sorties flown in a relatively short span of time.

Every sortie carried a huge element of danger with Allied aircraft roaming over the sea looking for the easy prey that the transport aircraft represented. No-where else was this danger better illustrated than on the 18th April 1943 when a massed formation of 65 Ju-52's from various transport units were intercepted over the Gulf of Tunis by 60 Allied fighters. Of the 65 transport aircraft, the Allied fighter pilots claimed a total of 61 shot down as well as 15 escorting Me-109's. The German's themselves confirmed the loss of 59 transport aircraft which represented a huge loss. III/KG z.b.V 1 lost 7 aircraft and 4 damaged in this slaughter, which became known as the Palm Sunday Massacre. Again it is not known if this pilot was part of that operation but considering the loss rate it would appear not, either that or he was one of the very lucky few to get through. But in the early hours of 30th April 1943 Flt-Sgt Alwyn Downing & Sgt John Lyons (from 600 Squadron but on attachment to 153 Squadron) took off on a patrol in their Beaufighter. At 0455 when they were 30 miles south of Sardinia they were vectored on to a target which they eventually saw was a Ju-52 flying at very low level. Attacking the transport they sent it blazing in to the sea. They then saw a number of other Ju-52's trying to slip through and in the course of just 10 minutes Downing shot down no less than 5 Ju-52's. One of these was flown by this German pilot, Ju-52/3m Werk Nr 7272. Of his crew he was the only one wounded with the others coming through unscathed. For his injuries he received the Wound Badge in Black in early May 1943.

He is listed as being assigned away from 10./KG z.b.V-1 in November 1943 and on 18th January 1944 he was sent to a flying school, no doubt to take advantage of his experience in training new pilots. Having flown on so many sorties that were fraught with danger from prowling allied fighters it was while he was on training duties with Flugzeugführerschule B-11 at Zeltweg that he was killed on 27th May 1944 in what appears to be a flying accident.

 

GROTHE 003.jpgGROTHE 007.jpgGROTHE 012.jpgGROTHE 011.jpgGROTHE 014.jpgGROTHE 013.jpg

 

 

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Hello Kevin.

I agree with your statement above. I happen to have documents incl. flight logs to flying personnel of bomber units also used for supply missions. One contains entry of the last supply flights to Stalingrad, reading  of which is difficult ( posted elsewhere here on this forum). Hit by A.A. and attacking fighters. Another was involved in support of the Cholm encirclement.

Yes, under-rated element compared with fighter pilots, Stuka and even bomber but deserving our attention.

Thank you for showing this.

Bernhard H. Holst 

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I have a handful of transport aircrew items and one has all of his operational flight logs and you just have to see a handful of entries to see that they were subjected to all manner of hazards. The one I have notes an emergency landing and then the aircraft being destroyed by enemy artillery, being attacked by lL-2 aircraft, shot at during a relief flight to Budapest, emergency landing due to damage from a fighter aircraft attack and so on. At least fighter pilots could try and give as good as they got or try and out maneuver against enemy fighters and flak. Transport crews didn't really have that option in their slow aircraft.

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Hello Kevin.

Thanks for your latest post. Budapest flights must have been hair raising. Breslau also comes to mind.

A fellow I worked with flew Italian three engine planes ( ...-Marchetti ) similar to Ju-52. His usual route was Italy to Wiener Neustadt. Wather also a factor with flying across the Alps...

Bernhard H. Holst

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