Walter Lang entered Luftwaffe service on 8 October 1941 and began radio training at Langendibach. In June 1942 he went to an Anwärter (candidate) Battalion and over the next six months was located at Bordeaux, Saint Prieux, Lannion and Dinard. On 1 January 1943 he went to pilot school, FFFS A/B 2 at Luxeuil. In October of that year he went to the Fighter School at Pau, where he stayed for five months before joining Jagdgruppe Süd at Orange on 1 March. On 6 June 1944 he was among those pilots activated as JGr. 200, becoming a member of the 1. Staffel.
After he was shot down on 16 August 1944, Lang was captured by French Resistance fighters. By the 21st he was in the hands of a MAAF Field Intelligence Unit and two days later described his experiences to an Oberfeldwebel and Unteroffizier of 51. Luftnachrichten Regiment. He seems to have been prone to exaggerating his knowledge of and contributions to the German war effort.
I spent more than a week [actually five days] with the Partisans, until the Americans took me over. These Partisans are a miserable crew, composed of every possible type. There was a group of thirty men, and among them Jews, Silesians, Alsatians, Italians and few American parachutists who were in hiding. Those gangs are well organised. They get a lot of assistance from the French, and they’re supplied from the air.
At first they treated me badly, but they got more friendly later on, especially the Americans. They felt the same sort of comradeship towards me that a flying man always feels toward another, that has had the luck to be captured. They gave me everything I wanted. They lived in their own huts apart from the Partisans, who were too dirty for them.
Then there were fifteen Russians in German uniform, who deserted with all their equipment. You can’t trust those swine! I’ve always said it was a waste of time putting them in uniform. They are real criminal types. The Cossacks are better; they made very good guards.
We were on good terms with the officers, we used to get plastered with them every day. There were several lance-corporals, four corporals, one officer candidate, two sergeant-majors, three officers and the Staffelkapitän. One fellow who had just escaped from the Partisans and come back to the Staffel crashed the following day in the “red 9” [apparently a reference to Uffz. Walter Cöster]. We used to say: “Flyers get more from life, but those who don’t fly live longer.”
Every day one of our men was killed. We went down there with 22 men and there were only five of us left at the end. We used to drink ourselves silly every day, out of sheer joy that we were still alive.
The others are sure to be back in Germany by now [24 August 1944].
But nowadays they only count it as a war flight if you actually come into contact with the enemy, not as it used to be when merely to go up at the time of an alert counted as a war flight. [Lang told his interrogators he made 15].
It’s becoming more and more difficult. Moreover the British are superior to us, not only in numbers — where we have 10 machines, they have 100 — but also in the fact that their aircraft today are every bit as good as ours, if not better. It’s suicide to fly alone in a German aircraft, for you can never see what’s coming behind you. There must be at least two of you. The Spitfire has a mirror. We often mentioned this, in fact some of our machines did have a mirror, but it was apt to cut down speed.
I once had a Spitfire behind me; why he didn’t bring me down I’ve never understood [A Spitfire did bring him down, on 16 August]. If I’d been in his place I’d have been 100% sure of success. I tell you, they didn’t capture me easily. I’ve given the British plenty of trouble. I’ve shot down four aircraft [no such victory credits are known], and I was to have been given the EK II.
continued on next page …
All the quotations here are drawn from the transcripts of covertly recorded conversations between Lang and other prisoners. These took place on 23, 24, 25 and 26 August 1944. Information on Lang’s service career is derived from interrogation reports dated 21 and 30 August 1944.
(Words on a white background are my comments and additions)