Messerschmitt Bf 109 C/D in the Polish Campaign 1939

As I broke off, I realized that we had strayed over Warsaw. I saw a single PZL 24 nearby and set upon him. He was in range only for a split second, and then he was gone. By then I had become more concerned about the anti-aircraft barrage from the multiple guns that ringed the city. At first, Flak bursts could be seen below, but then the sooty puffs began to pop up all around us, dangerously close. I could see our fighters, Zerstörern and bombers thundering over Warsaw. Here and there, single enemy fighters tangled with them. For the third time that day I caught a glimpse of a PZL fighter in my gunsight. I returned fire and my adversary ducked into the clouds.
Then I found myself all alone. Luckily, I spotted a formation of He 111s below and tagged along. I accompanied them to a point some 10 km north of Warsaw, where they turned west, and I continued north. I didn’t see any of our fighters on my way back. I waited in vain until 17:25 hrs over the confluence of the Narew and Bug rivers, then picked up the heading home. I flew along the Narew river as far as Ostrołęka. There, I changed the course to 20 degrees and at Gnesen I crossed the border. From there I didn’t know where to go, hence I dropped down to have a look at the nearest railway station, but then I couldn’t find it on my map. Following a narrow gauge railway track, I reached Johannisburg, and flew on to Arys. I missed the airfield the first time, and turned back to Johannisburg. Finally, I spotted the airfield, where I landed at 18:00 hrs. The fuel warning lamp had been glowing for 28 minutes”.8
During the scrap over Warsaw pilots of I./JG 21 claimed five Polish PZL fighters, of which four were later confirmed. Victories were credited to Lt. Fritz Gutezeit of 3./JG 21 (at 16:55, in the Warsaw area); Lt. Gustav Rödel of 2./JG 21 (at 17:08 hrs, in the Warsaw area); Oblt. Georg Schneider of 3./JG 21 (at 17:10 hrs over Marki); and Uffz. Heinz Dettmer of 3./JG 21 (at 17:19 hrs, north of Warsaw). The claim submitted by Oblt. Albrecht Dresz of 2./JG 21 was disallowed.
When researching this account, Marius Emmerling came to the conclusion that it was Oblt. Georg Schneider of 3./JG 21 who had shot down the PZL P.11 flown by kapt. Gustaw Sidorowicz of the 113th Fighter Squadron.9 The Polish pilot had vivid memories of the fight:
“Suddenly, flying at an altitude of 2,000 metres, I spotted two Messerschmitts over Praga (an historical borough of Warsaw, located on the east bank of the Vistula river – translator’s note). I had the advantage of altitude and decided to have a go at them. I darted out of a cumulus cloud, and when at close range, I loosed off a burst at one of the ‘109s. Unfortunately, my two wingmen lagged behind, which enabled the other ‘109 to turn inside me and snap out a well-aimed burst.
The fighter I had fired at belched smoke and went down at a steep angle. I couldn’t follow his descent, for at the same instant the ammunition under my feet, hit by the other German, began to go off. I wanted to fight on, but my guns were inoperable – the ammunition belts had been ripped apart. I realized that my machine was on fire. I was still under attack. Most fortunately, there was a bank of clouds nearby. I curled off to the right and dropped into a thin cloud. I felt a momentary relief. I dived, hoping against hope to shake off the assailants and quench the flames, which were streaming out from some spot under the fuselage. The flames indeed seemed to die down, but when I dropped out of the cloud, I was instantly attacked. This time the ‘109 hit my starboard wing. I dived straight down, seeking the protection of our anti-aircraft artillery. My machine was ablaze. It was already too low to bail out. I crossed the Vistula, heading for Gocław. The engine cut dead, and I approached straight on for a dead-stick landing. First I clipped an iron fence and sheared off the fixed landing gear - then I bellied-in. Some locals ran up to me and helped me climb out of the cockpit. I was badly battered and had some burns. I was rushed to hospital”.10


Thanks to research carried out by Krzysztof Janowicz it is now known that the PZL P.11c which fell prey to Lt. Fritz Gutezeit of 3./JG 21 was flown by ppor. Anatol Piotrowski of the 152nd Fighter Squadron. Another pilot of the same Escadrille, kpr. Stanisław Brzeski related:
“Ppor. Anatol Korwin-Piotrowski failed to return; he was shot down near Warsaw. It was he who had designed our squadron badge – the Fighting Condor. Anatol used to say jokingly that he wouldn’t let himself get killed before he had knocked down at least one Jerry. This he managed to achieve – he had shot down a Heinkel. However, he must have been injured by return fire, or perhaps the engine of his machine had taken a hit. Either way, he broke off the attack and dived away. It looked as if he was going to crash-land in a field. He levelled off and visibly had the aircraft under control, when some Messerschmitts suddenly turned up. They bounced our hapless friend. Piotrowski was low on the deck by then. He was hit squarely and his P.11 caught fire. That is how we lost the first pilot of our Escadrille”.11
Janowicz explains further: