There are good reasons for an air force to keep count of the number of enemy aircraft it destroys: for example, assessing the progress of a campaign; bolstering morale within its own ranks and on the home front; and to impress allied nations, neutrals and enemies. Units and pilots keep score out of both ésprit de corps and rivalry between individuals. The Luftwaffe however took this a step further, awarding medals on the basis of victories claimed and, in Summer 1940, advancing high-scorers to command units. Communications in Göring’s name ordered units to submit lists of pilots’ respective scores and some of this naturally surfaced in deciphered messages.


25 August

V.(Z)/LG 1 pilots made the following claims: Hptm. Horst Lindensberger, one Spitfire; Obltn. Ernst Zobel, one Hurricane; Fw. Fritz Godlof, one Spitfire.


26 August

A unit of V. Fliegerkorps claimed three Spitfires shot down.


2 September

ZG 76 in Dinard was asked about the length of the Kommodore’s service in Spain and how many victories he had claimed there. If possible, the reply should give exact dates of his activities in Spain and the name of his unit; it should be marked as “Urgent” and delivered immediately to the Adjutant, Obltn. Wilfried von Eichborn, personally.


3 September

III./ZG 76 and V.(Z)/LG 1 were ordered to submit returns of all operational flights made against France and England from 10 May to date. The lists should be broken down into escort flights, freelance sweeps and strafing attacks, they should also include details of aircraft shot down and and their own losses. The II./ZG 76 was ordered to submit an additional schedule for the period 29 August–3 September inclusive.

ZG 2 reported that up until 2 September it had shot down 257 aircraft and destroyed 16 on the ground.


9 September

ZG 76 reported that its Kommdore had shot down five aircraft. It gave the same figure in a report a week later.


11 September

ZG 2 was told to compile for the Reichsmarschall as a matter of urgency a list of aircrew of all ranks and the number of aircraft each man had shot down.

V.(Z)/LG 1 reported that during the day’s operations under Jafü 3 Ltn. Adametz and Uffz. Koch had each shot down an aircraft.


12 September

In a message deciphered on this date JG 77 claimed to have shot down 60 machines under Kommandeur Maj. Hentschel, correcting the previously advised total of 70. (Since Karl Hentschel commanded II./JG 77 this total may be for that Gruppe rather than the Geschwader as a whole).


15 September

During the evening, Obltn. Zobel of V.(Z)/LG 1 reported five Spitfires had been shot down, one of them his own fifth victory.


16 September

ZG 76 reported that that Obltn. von Eichborn had shot down two aircraft.


Individuals might be named in deciphered messages for a whole variety of reasons: anything from routine administration to the highest honours. Sometimes the award is mentioned explicitly while in others the context only becomes clear in the light of other sources. There was of course nothing secret about the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross), its recipients were front page news in the German press.

On 28 August, Obltn. Helmut Wick of JG 2 was instructed to report to the CO of the Berlin Aircraft Park. ULTRA did not however reveal he had received his Ritterkreuz the previous day from Göring. On 10 September it was learned that Obltn. Hans-Joachim Jabs of ZG 76 had been recommended for the RK (in the event he did not receive it until 1 October). On the 15th ZG 76 sent congratulations to their newly-decorated Kommodore “from those left behind at Dinard”. On 12 September Ofw. Werner Machold of JG 2 had been due to land at Caen, to be met by a car and driven to report to the commander of V. Fliegerkorps, Genltn. Robert Ritter von Greim. Machold’s journey was likely related to the award of his RK, announced in the Völkischer Beobachter two days later.

As we have already seen, Oberstltn. Walter Grabmann of ZG 76 was ordered to report to Göring’s train on 14 September where, as later became apparent, his Knight’s Cross had been conferred.

JG 51’s Maj. Werner Mölders received the Eichenlaub (Oak Leaves) on 21 September, in recognition of his 40th aerial victory. A message to that effect went out three days later, coincidental with the same distinction being bestowed on Maj. Adolf Galland of JG 26 (which ULTRA did not disclose) and with Helmut Wick being ordered to Mardyck “for a short conference with the Kommodore of JG 2”.

The last day of September saw Seenotgruppe 3 at Boulogne announcing the Eisernes Kreuz (Iron Cross) 1st Class for Feldwebels Karl, Scherer and Berger; Uffz. Rudolf Grünauer and Ltn. Wölke. Göring was to award this in person on 1 October, in recognition of their rescuing Knight’s Cross holder “Hptm. Tingel”—in fact Rolf Pingel of I./JG 26—fished out of the Channel off Dungeness after being shot down on the 28th. This had been Fw. Karl’s 20th rescue. It says something for the place of the hero in Luftwaffe culture that five men should themselves be decorated for rescuing one of them.

NOTES: The following traffic intercepted by the British Y-Service on the 28th probably relates to the efforts to save Pingel: “Channel, 3689 kc/s … At 1333 aircraft SAER was ordered to Square 11473, 2 km SE de Touquet [sic]. This was the only emergency landing reported in plain language”.

The time of 1333 GMT is consistent with Donald Caldwell’s statement that Pingel was shot down at 1500 German Summer Time (GMT+2) but the location is clearly wrong since 2 km SE of Le Touquet is on dry land.

Leutnant Hermann Wölke was Kapitän of Seenotstaffel 3 and had been wounded on 3 August when his He 59 was shot up during a Channel rescue operation. Awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold in 1942, he was shot down between Sicily and Tunis that November and posted missing.









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