Hans: A German Soldiers Tale; 1941 - 1945

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But the same day, Marseille borrowed the Macchi C. But the one-off flight ended in a wheels-up landing, when the German ace accidentally switched the engine off, as the throttle control in Italian aircraft was opposite to that of the German aircraft.

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Marseille had nearly surpassed his friend Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt's score of 59 victories in just five weeks. However, the massive material superiority of the Allies meant the strain placed on the outnumbered German pilots was now severe.


At this time, the strength of German fighter units was 65 serviceable aircraft against the British muster of some machines. After his last combat on 26 September, Marseille was reportedly on the verge of collapse after a minute battle with a formation of Spitfires, during which he scored his seventh victory of that day. Of particular note was Marseille's th claim. After landing in the afternoon of the 26 September , he was physically exhausted.

Several accounts allude to his Squadron members being visibly shocked at Marseille's physical state. Marseille, according to his own post-battle accounts, had been engaged by a Spitfire pilot in an intense dogfight that began at high altitude and descended to low-level. Marseille recounted how both he and his opponent strove to get onto the tail of the other. Both succeeded and fired but each time the pursued managed to turn the table on his attacker. Finally, with only 15 minutes of fuel remaining, he climbed into the sun. The RAF fighter followed and was caught in the glare.

Marseille executed a tight turn and roll, fired from metres range. The Spitfire caught fire and shed a wing. It crashed into the ground with the pilot still inside. Marseille wrote, "That was the toughest adversary I have ever had. His turns were fabulous I thought it would be my last fight".

Unfortunately the pilot and his unit remain unidentified. The first six of these machines were to replace the Gruppe' s Bf Fs. All had been allocated to Marseille's 3 Staffel. Marseille had previously ignored orders to use these new aircraft because of its high engine failure rate, but on the orders of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring , Marseille reluctantly obeyed.

One of these machines, WK-Nr. Over the next three days Marseille's Staffel was rested and taken off flying duties. On 28 September Marseille received a telephone call from Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel asking to return with him to Berlin. Hitler was to make a speech at the Berlin Sportpalast on 30 September and Rommel and Marseille were to attend. Marseille rejected this offer, citing that he was needed at the front and had already taken three months' vacation that year.

On 30 September , Hauptmann Marseille was leading his Staffel on a Stuka escort mission covering the withdrawal of the group and relieving the outward escort, III. Marseille's flight was vectored onto Allied aircraft in the vicinity but the opponent withdrew and did not take up combat. Marseille vectored the heading and height of the formation to Neumann who directed III.

Marseille heard 8. Upon reaching friendly lines, "Yellow 14" had lost power and was drifting lower and lower. At this point, Marseille deemed his aircraft no longer flyable and decided to bail out, his last words to his comrades being "I've got to get out now, I can't stand it any longer". I was at the command post and listening to the radio communication between the pilots. I realised immediately something serious had happened; I knew they were still in flight and that they were trying to bring Marseille over the lines into our territory and that his aircraft was emitting a lot of smoke.

His Staffel , which had been flying a tight formation around him, peeled away to give him the necessary room to manoeuvre.

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He worked his way out of the cockpit and into the rushing air only to be carried backwards by the slipstream, the left side of his chest striking the vertical stabiliser of his fighter, either killing him instantly or rendering him unconscious to the point that he could not deploy his parachute. He fell almost vertically, hitting the desert floor 7 kilometres 4. The doctor had been the first to reach the crash site, having been stationed just to the rear of the forward mine defences, he had also witnessed Marseille's fatal fall.

His arms were hidden beneath his body. As I came closer, I saw a pool of blood that had issued from the side of his crushed skull; brain matter was exposed. I turned the dead pilot over onto his back and opened the zipper of his flight jacket, saw the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords Marseille never actually received the Diamonds personally and I knew immediately who this was. The paybook also told me. Oberleutnant Ludwig Franzisket collected the body from the desert.

Marseille lay in state in the Staffel sick bay, his comrades coming to pay their respects throughout the day. An enquiry into the crash was hastily set up. The commission's report concluded that the crash was caused by damage to the differential gear , which caused an oil leak. Then a number of teeth broke off the spur wheel and ignited the oil. Sabotage or human error was ruled out.

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The mission that ended in its destruction was its first mission. JG 27 was moved out of Africa for about a month because of the impact Marseille's death had on morale. One biographer suggests these consequences were instigated by a failure in the command style of Marseille, although it was not entirely within his control. The more success Marseille had, the more his staffel relied on him to carry the greater share of aerial victories claimed by the unit.

So his death, when it came, was something which JG 27 had seemingly not prepared for. Historians Hans Ring and Christopher Shores also point to the fact that Marseille's promotions were based on personal success rates more than any other reason, and other pilots did not get to score air victories, let alone become Experten themselves. They flew support as the "maestro showed them how it was done", and often "held back from attacking enemy aircraft to build his score still higher".

Eduard Neumann explained:. In fact most of the pilots in Marseille's staffel acted in secondary role as escort to the "master". Marseille's impact on Allied fighter pilots and their morale is unclear. It was a helpless feeling to be continually bounced, and to do so little about it. Apparently not so well. Although there is little indication that some Allied pilots may have heard of Marseille, this information did not readily make its way down to Allied Squadrons. Fanciful stories abound of how pilots knew of one another and hoped to duel with each other in the skies.

This was more than likely not the case.

Marseille appeared four times in the Deutsche Wochenschau , the German propaganda newsreel. The first time on Wednesday 17 February when Oberst Galland, the General der Jagdflieger , visited an airport in the desert. The third time on Wednesday 9 September announcing Marseille's 17 aerial victories from 1 September and that he had been awarded the Diamonds to his Knight's Cross.

His last appearance was on 30 September showing Marseille visiting Erwin Rommel. The movie was a fictionalised account of Marseille's wartime service. The German Military History Research Office MGFA published a brief evaluation of Marseille in early , stating that "occasional attempts in the popular literature to suggest Marseille's unsoldierly bravado and honest character points to an ideological distance to National Socialism are misleading".

MGFA concluded that, since there is no academic biography of Marseille, "it is not known that Hans-Joachim Marseille has, through his overall actions or through a single outstanding deed, earned praise in the service for freedom and justice [as defined in the current guidelines for military tradition]". Marseille was transferred to his first combat assignment with the I. Two days later he arrived at this unit on 12 August He was assigned to the 1.

Staffel of this Gruppe. Marseille flew his first combat mission on the next day, Wednesday 13 August and claimed his first aerial victory on 24 August In over little more than two years he amassed another aerial victories. This indicates that the aerial combat report is missing from the German Federal Archives. Marseille's Bf was hit in this engagement.

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His likely opponent was James Francis Edwards. The German Federal Archives still hold records for of Marseille aerial victories.

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Some serious discrepancies between Allied squadron records and German claims have caused some historians and Allied veterans to question the accuracy of Marseille's official victories, in addition to those of JG 27 as a whole. Careful review of records however do show that the British [and South Africans] did lose more than 17 aircraft that day, and in the area that Marseille operated. Tate also compares Marseilles rate of corroboration with the top six P pilots.

However, the claims for 15 September are in serious doubt, following the first detailed scrutiny of the records of individual Allied squadrons by Australian historian Russell Brown. Moreover, Brown lists three occasions on which Marseille could not have downed as many aircraft as claimed. Stephan Bungay has pointed out the low military value of shooting down DAF fighters, rather than the bombers that, by mid, were having a highly damaging effect on Axis ground units and convoy routes. The British [sic] lost no bombers at all Sometime in the early s, one of Marseille's biographers, Robert Tate, visited the former Marseille-Kaserne base and Museum to see and photograph Marseille's medals.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Hans-Joachim Marseille. His achievements had previously been regarded as impossible and they were never excelled by anyone after his death. He sometimes acted like one too. Crash site. Berliner Strasse Sources conflict over the aircraft type citing it as a Hawker Hurricane or Supermarine Spitfire. Morley said "his greatest deeds, only revealed by the patient work of scholars and the accident of my own involvement as an eye-witness, were almost private and purely compassionate.

According to Hans Ring a vivid account is given in this book. He may have been from South Africa, as his parents resided there. Note: Narrated by Brian Matthews. Retrieved 25 September Retrieved 30 January Bekker, Cajus New York: Da Capo Press. Berger, Florian Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. Oxford: Casemate. Brown, Russell Maryborough, Queensland, Australia: Banner Books. Bungay, Stephan London, UK: Aurum Press. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Retrieved 13 January Dettmann, Fritz; Kurowski, Franz Berlin, Germany: Verlag 27 Publishing House. Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer []. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. Foreman, John Red Kite. Franks, Norman Volume 1: Operational losses: Aircraft and crews, — Leicester, UK: Midland Publishing. Galland, Adolf The First and The Last. Cutchogue, New York: Buccaneer Books. Heaton, Colin; Lewis, Anne-Marie London, UK: Zenith Press.

Holmes, Tony Hurricane Aces — Aircraft of the Aces. Kaplan, Philip Kurowski, Franz Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military History. Lucas, Laddie London, UK: Hutchinson. Massimello, Giovanni; Apostolo, Giorgio Italian Aces of World War 2. Mason, Francis Battle Over Britain. Obermaier, Ernst Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. Patzwall, Klaus D. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Prien, Jochen Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. Messerschmidt Bf im Einsatz bei Stab und I. Ring, Hans; Girbig, Werner Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. Scherzer, Veit Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag.

Scutts, Jerry Bf Aces of North Africa and the Mediterranean. London, UK: Osprey Publishing. Shores, Christopher; Ring, Hans Fighters over the Desert. London: Neville Spearman Limited. Shores, Christopher F. London, UK: Grub Street. Sims, Edward H. Stuttgart, UK: Motorbuch Verlag. Spick, Mike Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. Tate, Robert Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing. Thomas, Franz Thomas, Andrew Hurricane Aces — Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing.

Weal, John Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika'. Schnellbach, Germany: Verlag Siegfried Bublies. Zabecki, David T. Germany at War: Years of Military History. London: ABC-Clio. Articles and topics related to Hans-Joachim Marseille. Erich Hartmann Gerhard Barkhorn Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Stern von Afrika Star of Africa to the Germans. Nazi Germany. The 1. Staffel claimed three aerial victories out of ten victories claimed by I. Fighter Command lost 14 fighters to enemy fighter action that day.

Claim: Spitfire over Detling , Kent. Only one Spitfire was lost in the Detling area— Maidstone —at around Sergeant J. Stokes, No. The identity of his attackers is unknown. Seven Spitfires were destroyed and four damaged in combat on this day. Marseille's aircraft was severely hit so that he had to crash land near Calais - Marck. Bf E-7 W. Marseille flew as wingman to promoted Hauptfeldwebel Helmut Goedert.

Marseille's aircraft was severely damaged by a Hurricane pilot forcing him to crash-land at the French coast near Wissant. Only two Hurricane Squadrons filed claims for Bf s on that date— and No. One source asserts no RAF fighters were reported lost in or around , or between — on this date. Pilot Officer R. B Roach bailed out and P was destroyed. Given the one hour time difference, two other Spitfires may fit the time-frame—one from No. Douthwaite and another from No.

R Asseheton—were damaged and force-landed at and respectively. Given the large aerial battles that were fought on this date, the German opponents of these Squadrons at the time of these losses remain unknown. Claim: Hurricane over the River Thames , England. Only two Hurricanes were lost over the Thames on this date. Both pilots survived. Oberleutnant Buhl was shot down and killed in action when his aircraft crashed into the sea, victims of No. The time of Marseille's claims are unknown. Nine Hurricanes were destroyed and seven damaged on this day.

Six of the destroyed and three of the damaged machines suffered the damage on combat with Bf s. Claim: Spitfire over southern England. Fighter Command lost four Spitfires in action with Bf s on this date. All were shot down near Three were from No. J MacDonald of Squadron was killed as was J. Boyle of No. Pilots H. H Chalder and E. S Aldous suffered serious and minor wounds respectively. Claim: Hurricane over Tobruk. The adversaries could have been Hurricanes from No. This unit lost three aircraft in aerial combat with Bf around noon.

At least one further Hurricane was lost in combat by No. Marseille's Bf E-7 W. The Blenheim was T , from No. The crew and passengers were killed in the crash. His adversaries were No.

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Pilot Officer Stanley Godden, an ace with seven victories, was killed in action. Germans pilots claimed 13 Hurricanes in numerous engagements, the German authorities confirmed 11 claims, of which seven were credited to I. The Allies lost at least 10 aircraft. Around noon, seven Hurricanes of No. In the afternoon No.

The Italians claimed three aerial victories. However, Marseille's victims most likely belonged to No. Claim: Hurricane northwest of Sidi Barrani over the sea. Marseille's adversaries were 12 Hurricanes of No. Lieutenant V. Williams fighter crashed into the sea. Although injured he was rescued.

A couple of weeks later, two Bf s flew through AA fire and dropped another note, stating that Byers had died of his wounds. Claim: Hurricane southeast of Sofafi. Marseille's opponents were Hurricanes from No. His victim was Sergeant Nourse who bailed out.

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The Italians and Germans combined claims were three Hurricanes in this encounter. Nine Hurricanes were from No. The South Africans lost a total of three Hurricanes. Captain C. MacRobert returned unhurt while Lieutenant B.

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  5. Dold remains missing. This unit was bounced by a Bf , while returning from a shipping escort mission. Claim: Two Ps near Bir Sheferzan. The Australians lost three aircraft, while the South Africans reported one loss plus one severely damaged. Marseille's victims were likely Flying Officer H.

    Scott crash landed his badly damaged aircraft at his base. The adversaries were 20 Hurricanes of No. Both squadrons reported the loss of one aircraft. Claim: Two Hurricanes south of El Adem. The adversaries were 24 Hurricanes from No. These units lost five Hurricanes in combat with Bf in the vicinity of Bir el Gobi. Also involved in this aerial combat were Hurricanes from No. Claim: Hurricane west of Sidi Omar. JG 27 fought Hurricanes from No.

    The Italians and Germans claimed three aerial victories in this engagement. His opponent was Flight Lieutenant Hobbs. Marseille's opponents were misidentified Hurricanes of No. For the next three years, Allied air forces systematically bombed industrial plants and cities all over the Reich, reducing much of urban Germany to rubble by In late and early , the Allied forces achieved a series of significant military triumphs in North Africa. The failure of French armed forces to prevent Allied occupation of Morocco and Algeria triggered a German occupation of collaborationist Vichy France on November 11, Axis military units in Africa, approximately , troops in all, surrendered in May On the eastern front , during the summer of , the Germans and their Axis allies renewed their offensive in the Soviet Union, aiming to capture Stalingrad on the Volga River, as well as the city of Baku and the Caucasian oil fields.

    The German offensive stalled on both fronts in the late summer of The Germans mounted one more offensive at Kursk in July , the biggest tank battle in history, but Soviet troops blunted the attack and assumed a military predominance that they would not again relinquish during the course of the war.

    German troops stationed in Italy seized control of the northern half of the peninsula, and continued to resist. Mussolini, who had been arrested by Italian military authorities, was rescued by German SS commandos in September and established under German supervision a neo-Fascist puppet regime in northern Italy. German troops continued to hold northern Italy until surrendering on May 2, On June 6, D-Day , as part of a massive military operation, over , Allied soldiers landed in France, which was liberated by the end of August.

    On September 11, , the first US troops crossed into Germany, one month after Soviet troops crossed the eastern border. In mid-December the Germans launched an unsuccessful counterattack in Belgium and northern France, known as the Battle of the Bulge. Allied air forces attacked Nazi industrial plants, such as the one at the Auschwitz camp though the gas chambers were never targeted.

    The Soviets began an offensive on January 12, , liberating western Poland and forcing Hungary an Axis ally to surrender. In mid-February , the Allies bombed the German city of Dresden, killing approximately 35, civilians. American troops crossed the Rhine River on March 7, A final Soviet offensive on April 16, , enabled Soviet forces to encircle the German capital, Berlin. As Soviet troops fought their way towards the Reich Chancellery, Hitler committed suicide on April 30, In August, the war in the Pacific ended soon after the US dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing , civilians.

    Japan formally surrendered on September 2. World War II resulted in an estimated 55 million deaths worldwide. It was the largest and most destructive conflict in history. Berthon, Simon, and Joanna Potts. Bess, Michael. New York: A. Knopf, Plowright, John. England: Palgrave Macmillan, Weinberg, Gerhard L. New York: Enigma, We would like to thank The Crown and Goodman Family and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia.

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