On 23rd August 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union surprised world public opinion by signing a non-aggression treaty. From that point on, a war against Poland, squeezed between its two powerful neighbours, was only a matter of time. Initially, Hitler planned to commence his invasion on 26th August 1939.
However, on 25th August 1939 the Polish-British Common Defence Pact was signed. Faced with an entirely different balance of power in Europe (or so it seemed at that time), Hitler hesitated. He postponed the start of the war to give his diplomatic service more time to dissuade Great Britain and France from becoming involved in the imminent conflict with Poland. But it was already too late for diplomacy. On 31st August 1939 Hitler issued the order (Weisung Nr. 1 für die Kriegsführung) to attack Poland in the early hours of 1st September 1939.
On the eve of the war
The German Air Force used two Air Fleets for the war on Poland – Luftflotte 1 Ost in the north, under Gen. Albert Kesselring, and in the south Luftflotte 4 Südost under Gen. Alexander Löhr. Overall, the Luftwaffe fielded 342 Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, of which 320 were serviceable.1 Two units were equipped with Messerschmitt Bf 109 Ds – I./JG 21, commanded by Hptm. Martin Mettig, subordinated to Luftgaukommando I (Ostpreußen) in the north, and I./ZG 2 led by Hptm. Johannes Gentzen, part of Fliegerführer z.b.V., in the south.
Shortly before the outbreak of war I./JG 21 was transferred to an airfield at Gutenfeld in East Prussia. As of 26th August 1939, the Gruppe had 39 Bf 109 D-1s on strength, distributed between three Staffeln; they were commanded by: Oblt. Günther Scholz, Oblt. Leo Eggers and Oblt. Georg Schneider. The same day found I./ZG 2 stationed at Groß-Stein with 45 Bf 109 Cs and Ds.2 The Gruppe’s three component Staffeln were commanded by Oblt. Waldermar von Roon, Oblt. Erich Groth, and Oblt. Josef Kellner-Steinmetz, respectively.
Karl Georg von Stackelberg, who reported on the daily life of I./ZG 2 during the campaign in Poland, recorded the following description of the last days of peace:
“Jagdfliegergruppe G. took up residence at a new forward landing ground located in the most remote corner of Upper Silesia.3 The personnel were billeted at the manor house of Graf S. at Groß-Stein. In a matter of days they had made themselves comfortable in their new ‘home away from home’. The airfield was some distance away from the manor house, which was set in an old park filled with tall trees. The hosts outdid themselves with their hospitality. Now all we could do was wait. It was the calm before the storm, and deep inside everyone felt anxious, although few would admit it openly.
The telephone kept on ringing. Men would crowd around a radio set, listening attentively to the news. A stocky Oberleutnant, a native of Salzburg (Oblt. Josef Kellner-Steinmetz – author’s note), led the 3rd Staffel. This youthful, dark-haired commander attracted immediate attention with his brown, sparkling eyes, which cast bold, appraising looks. With great flair he recounted his times in Vienna as a newly promoted Lieutenant.
‘If you want to be a really good horse rider’, he stated firmly, ‘you have to ride by the seat of your pants. And a fighter aircraft is just like a thoroughbred racer. It has a temper which you have to learn to dominate’.
The Oberleutnant is a great storyteller. His counterpart, the commander of the 1st Staffel (Oblt. Waldermar von Roon – author’s note) is more composed. After all, he is somewhat older. However, his suave, easy-going manners disguise a man of great energy. The Gruppenkommandeur (Hptm. Johannes Gentzen – author’s note) is truly a man of few words. One only has to look at his simple face and hear him talk in order to guess that he comes from the coastal regions. He was a merchant sailor until he was 31 years old. Only then did he choose a military career. He joined the Luftwaffe, and at the age of 32 he graduated from an officer academy. Two years later, having attained the rank of Hauptmann, he was promoted to be a Gruppenkommandeur. His subordinates knew him for his unfaltering will and his determination to achieve the goals he had set for himself. Here was a commander they could depend on, a born fighter, strict and unrelenting - just as much with himself as with his men. When there was business to be done, he was all business. Climbing into the cockpit of his fighter, he radiated calm confidence. As an old sailor, he sensed the weather well and navigated with awe-inspiring ease and skill. Even when faced with a solid cloud deck, he always seemed to know his way around. That was the ‘Old Man’! His tranquil self-assurance was most welcome now, when anxious men needed someone like him to look up to.”4
First day of the war
Operational orders for the following day arrived at I./JG 21’s base in Gutenfeld at about 18:00 hrs on 31st August 1939. The fighters were to take off at 04:30 hrs and head for Warsaw to provide an escort for some German bombers. But the weather would not cooperate. Throughout the night banks of dense fog veiled everything, grounding the Luftwaffe in the morning; the mission to Warsaw was duly scrapped. It was not until 08:02 hrs that the Messerschmitts of the 1st Staffel were scrambled and vectored towards Insterburg, where the observation posts had reported hearing the engine sounds of unidentified aircraft. No contact was made with the enemy however, and after 20 minutes the German fighters returned to base.5
After dinner the Gruppe moved from Gutenfeld down to a small forward landing strip at Arys-Rostken, some 130 kilometres to the south, close to the border with Poland. The Bf 109s took off from Gutenfeld at 14:20 hrs, and half an hour later landed at their new base, followed by the unit’s mechanics and armourers, who arrived aboard a Ju 52/3m transport. On landing, Gefr. Johannes Rauhut of the 1st Staffel experienced undercarriage failure and bellied-in. The damage to his Bf 109 D-1 was estimated at 30%.
After refuelling, at 16:16 hrs some 30 Bf 109 D-1s took off from the Arys-Rostken airstrip to cover a bomber formation which was made up of He 111s of KG 27 and LG 1, and Ju 87s of I./St.G 1. Their targets were the military facilities in and around the city of Warsaw. It was a tough assignment, for the Polish capital was only just within the range of the escorts. Lt. Hans-Ekkehard Bob, then the technical officer of the 3rd Staffel, reminisced:
“In the early afternoon all three Staffeln of our Gruppe took off from Arys-Rostken and headed for Warsaw. Our task was to provide cover for the Heinkel He 111s of KG 27. When we arrived at the rendezvous point, their gunners opened a heavy but chaotic fire at us. Our comrades took us for the Poles! Apparently they were unaware that our enemy had no modern, low-wing monoplane fighters with retractable landing gear. Since we had no radio contact with the bombers our commander, Maj. Martin Mettig, resolved to fire a pre-agreed recognition signal – a white flare - which on bursting released three additional red ‘stars’. The flare pistol was mounted in a fixed position on the starboard side of the cockpit sidewall, directly below the canopy. The barrel protruded through to the outside. It must have been clogged with something, for – as our commander later told us – when he pulled the trigger, the flare exploded in the breech and fired back into the cockpit! The commander suffered severe burns to his right hand. The flare furiously buzzed inside the cockpit, bouncing off the sidewalls and canopy, and after a while it seemed to burn out. At that moment, however, it ignited again, exploding into three fiery red balls! The commander, choking with smoke, jettisoned the canopy to let the red flares out. Badly burned, he turned towards base, accompanied by his wingman, Oblt. Schelcher and the other Rotte of his Stabsschwarm.
The remaining aircraft of our Gruppe continued on the heading towards Warsaw, maintaining a healthy distance from our charges, which still considered us hostiles and obstinately took pot shots at us. At the outskirts of Warsaw we spotted some Polish PZL 24 fighters approaching. They were getting set to have a crack at our bombers.6 A fierce dogfight ensued, which quickly broke up into a series of individual duels. Our formation scattered all over the sky. We tied up the Polish fighters, giving the Heinkels a free passage to their target. However, the air battle took us over Warsaw, dangerously overstretching our range. With no time to reassemble, everyone headed back to Arys-Rostken by himself. Our young tyros, who were on their very first combat mission, quickly became disoriented. As for myself, after a few circles I pinpointed my location and turned for home. I was the first pilot of the 3rd Staffel to turn up at Arys-Rostken, where I landed ‘on fumes’ shortly before 18:00 hrs. Our Staffelkapitän, Oblt. Schneider, landed elsewhere to refuel and returned in the evening.
All in all, of the eight machines of the 3rd Staffel that had taken off, only two made it back. The remaining six made emergency landings on their way home. I remember that the Poles captured two pilots, and one was interned in Lithuania. Fortunately, they were all returned to service after the end of the campaign in Poland.”7
Gefr. Walter Nuhn of the 2nd Staffel was also amongst the pilots who tasted combat over Warsaw on the afternoon of 1st September 1939:
“The Gruppe scrambled in the following sequence: Stab, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Staffel. My 2nd Staffel went up with ten machines – two Schwärme and one extra Rotte, formed by Lt. Schön and myself. Weather conditions were decidedly unfavourable for the task at hand, due especially to the poor visibility. The trip to Warsaw was uneventful, until we ran into enemy fighters some 20 km north of the city. As soon as we saw them, the Staffel swooped down to attack. A wild melee developed. I did my best to stick to Lt. Schön. We singled out two fighters and engaged them. They both veered around to meet us head-on. Suddenly, one of them loomed large right in front of me. We opened up at the same instant.
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:
“Ppor. Anatol Piotrowski flew the P.11c marked ‘3’. He was most probably injured during the air engagement, or perhaps his fighter was damaged, for it seems he was looking for a place to make an emergency landing. It was then that he was jumped from above by Lt. Fritz Gutezeit of 3./JG 21, who claimed a P.24 at 16:55 hrs. A burst of gunfire tore into the P.11’s unarmoured fuselage. It’s very likely that this was the fatal burst, which pierced the Polish pilot’s chest. Despite his injuries, ppor. Piotrowski switched off the magneto, jettisoned the fuel tank, veered around a village and attempted to touch down. Unfortunately, the starboard wheel of his fixed main landing gear hit an earth embankment - the starboard wingtip then ploughed into the ground, and the machine cartwheeled. He was found dead in the cockpit”.12
The German unit’s own losses were devastating. Lt. Friedrich Behrens and Uffz. Otto Wolz of 1./JG 21 both force-landed due to combat damage sustained in the scrap with Polish fighters over Warsaw and were captured. Lt. Behrens returned to Germany after the cessation of hostilities, on 6th October 1939. The injured Uffz. Wolz left hospital and returned to service on 12th November 1939. Lt. Rudolf Heimann of 2./JG 21 ran out of fuel and had to belly-land in Polish territory. He was promptly taken prisoner, but was released from captivity after the end of the campaign, on 6th October. The same fate was shared by two other pilots of 3./JG 21. Lt. Fritz Gutezeit was forced down in the vicinity of Suwałki by a shortage of fuel, as was Uffz. Heinz Dettmer near Augustów. The two pilots were also returned to Germany on the same date. Gefr. Werner Ahrendt of 3./JG 21 strayed as far as Lithuania, where he was interned until 6th October. Overall, five German pilots were forced to land behind the lines to become PoWs, whilst another was interned in Lithuania. Therefore, the Gruppe’s losses may have been as high as 11 aircraft, due both to deficiencies in its pilots’ navigational skills and an over-ambitious extension of the Bf 109 D-1’s operational radius.13
Meanwhile in the south, I./ZG 2 was tasked with several assignments for the early morning of 1st September 1939. The Stabsschwarm and 1st Staffel were to escort the Stukas of I./St.G 77; the 2nd Staffel was to accompany the Henschel Hs 123 ground-attack aircraft of II.(Sch)/LG 2 to their target; the 3rd Staffel was to cover the Ju 87s of I./St.G 76. A morning fog delayed the unit’s takeoff for some 30 minutes. Karl Georg von Stackelberg recorded the Gruppe’s debut action as follows:
“The moment has come, it has started! The officers approaching from their billets turn up the collars of their coats. It’s chillingly cold outside. Everybody’s shuffling their feet around in the darkened park, lost in their thoughts. They are visibly tense; their pulses are racing, for they’re going into real combat for the first time. At last!
At 04:45 hrs German troops will cross the border and start the offensive. We’re about to strike at our enemy. This thought alone puts more spring in our step; our eyes subconsciously pierce the surrounding darkness as if already searching for a hidden foe - for we are the hunters, fighter pilots, the tip of the sword.
The engines purr at low revs as they warm up for takeoff. The groundcrews busy themselves around the machines. Flashes of light glint along the highly polished fuselages, making them look like arrowheads. The fighters seem to be trembling expectantly, waiting to be let loose to climb up into the air. Dawn breaks in the east. The distant, muffled sound of rolling thunder rises above the din of the idling engines. It must be the opening artillery barrage. The pilots don their flight suits, button up, tighten their parachute harnesses and put on their helmets.
The commander is a Major der Reserve - only the day before he had held the post of an NSFK Gruppenführer in Leipzig14. His strong voice rings out clearly; he is reminded of the year 1917, when he took off for the first combat sortie of his career.15
‘All set?’ he asks his crew chief.
‘Jawohl, Herr Major!’
The Major climbs aboard. To his left and right, mechanics check the control surfaces of his fighter. Those who will remain on the ground to await his return wish him good luck. The commander’s machine starts to roll off the dispersal pen. Together with the Adjutant, Technical Officer and Intelligence Officer they form the Stabsschwarm, which leads the formation. The rest follow them in quick succession, aircraft after aircraft getting off the ground. Gruppe G. is forming up. Their first combat mission, the first strike at the enemy!
The Major looked at his watch. It was 04:50 hrs. The objective was Wieluń. They were to provide cover for some Stukas. The skies brightened up, revealing a clear, sunny day. Early morning mists rose from the ground and drifted away. The Gruppe climbed up to 2,000 metres. The sky was teeming with aircraft that had taken off from neighbouring airfields, all heading north, towards Poland. Bombers, Stukas, fighters…
Propellers whirling, engines rumbling, the powerful air fleet droned on to challenge the enemy. There were so many aircraft all around that care had to be taken to avoid mid-air collisions. The fighter pilots, comfortable in their close-fit cockpits, steered their slim mounts with well-rehearsed movements. Men and machines merged into one. They all looked ahead, for there, somewhere beyond, lay the frontier with Poland. Swift and elegant like a flock of swallows, the fighters weaved in smooth curves above the stately Stukas.
‘How different it all looked in 1914’, thought the Major, ‘What a huge advance in technology we have achieved!’
It was only his fourth flight at the controls of the Bf 109 he was piloting, but he already felt at home in its cockpit, secure in the knowledge that he had the temperamental beast well under control.
The first signs of life could be seen far below. Our artillery pounded the enemy frontline incessantly. Troop columns moved along the roads, infantrymen marched, tanks and horse-drawn carts rolled on, everything pushed forward, towards Poland. The thudding sounds of the ground war grew louder... the frontier! Zigzagging trenches, manoeuvring tanks, fires, muzzle-flashes… Our troops pressed on relentlessly.
The Major strained his eyes scanning the horizon ahead, looking for enemy fighters. The Stukas got to work. They pulled up their noses, rolled over and plummeted straight down like birds of prey. Their pilots calmly watched their targets grow in their bombsights, then released their deadly load and rocketed back up. Pelted with bombs, the ground erupted into plumes of dark, billowing smoke, dust, and swirling debris. The heavy shroud lingered for a few moments, then drifted aside. (...)
The Gruppe reversed course, turning for home. Sunrays played along the glossy wing surfaces of the German aircraft, but the treacherous fog again started to cloak the distant ground. The airmen looked apprehensively for breaks in those opaque, intermittent cloud layers in order to check their whereabouts. Finally, the fighters arrived at Groß-Stein and dropped into the swelling bank of fog. They were immediately enveloped by a white fluff, which drastically reduced visibility. Droplets of moisture began to form up on the inside of the canopy… watch out, treetops! Pull up! Then, the airfield loomed directly ahead - thank God!
The ground rushes up, a slight pull on the control column checks the descent, and the first machine alights. As it rolls on, more fighters emerge from the fog and touch down, one after another. The Gruppe’s first operational mission is over”.16
However, I./ZG 2’s debut did not end in a welcome manner. Lt. Hans Nieswandt, who was piloting Bf 109 D-1 WNr. 2704, lost his bearings on approaching the airfield and crashed to his death. The pilot’s body, along with the wreck of his machine, were not found until two days later, near Namslau. Furthermore, two machines of 3./ZG 2 crash-landed at Groß-Stein: Bf 109 D-1 ‘Yellow 7’ flown by Maj. der Reserve Otto Zimmermann, and Bf 109 C-3, WNr. 1722 ‘Yellow 11’ flown by Ofw. Kurt Müller. Both pilots emerged from their mishaps only slightly bruised. Another Bf 109 D-1 was written off in the vicinity of the airfield (the pilot was unharmed).
Between 08:24 hrs – 09:12 hrs the Stab, 1st and 2nd Staffeln - 27 Bf 109s in all - carried out another mission, escorting the Stukas of II./St.G 77 to the area of Radomsko. Assignments continued in the same vein. From 13:24 hrs to 14:16 hrs the Gruppe provided cover for the Ju 87s of I./St.G 76 as they headed for Radomsko and Kłobuck. On landing at Groß-Stein Lt. Hans Röderer of 2./ZG 2 forgot to lower his undercarriage and effectively brought his aircraft down for a belly landing. His Bf 109 D-1, marked ‘Red 15’, suffered 20% damage.
At 17:42 hrs the Gruppe was informed that a Polish reconnaissance aircraft had been observed over the village of Panki. Four machines of the Stabsschwarm and a further 14 of the 3rd Staffel were scrambled to intercept it. Over Częstochowa, Polish anti-aircraft batteries fired at the German fighters. Karl Georg von Stackelberg noted:
“The Salzburg Oberleutnant (Josef Kellner-Steinmetz – author’s note) was leading the 3rd Staffel. He searched for the prey like a hunting hound. From time to time he passed short orders over the radio to the other pilots of his Staffel. Sometimes the Kommandeur’s voice could be heard in the pilots’ headsets – he flew at the front of the formation. Suddenly, there was a cry of warning:
‘Watch out! Barrage balloons ahead!’
Light-coloured balls seemed to hover in the distance. At first glance one could mistake them for barrage balloons, but after a few seconds they dissipated into fleecy clouds. Flak! The Poles are shooting - but what are they trying to hit? Their aim was really bad. The bursts fell wide and we ignored them. Apart from that, we saw not a trace of the enemy - at least, not in the air”.17
Having failed to locate the ‘recce’ machine, the Messerschmitts turned around, and at 18:45 hrs they returned to base.
1 Figures quoted after: Prien Jochen, Stemmer Gerhard, Rodeike Peter, Bock Winfried: Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945, Teil 1 Vorkriegszeit und Einsatz über Polen – 1934 bis 1939 (Eutin 2000, p. 395). Marius Emmerling in his Luftwaffe nad Polską 1939, cz. I Jagdflieger (Gdynia 2002, p. 222) records 334 Bf 109s.
2 Reportedly there were at least several Bf 109 C-3s, armed with 20 mm wing-mounted MG FF cannons, among them.
3 Since von Stackelberg’s reportage was written during the war, unit and personnel names were censored out. Jagdgruppe G. was obviously Jagdgruppe Gentzen, which carried the name of its commander.
4 Stackelberg Karl Georg von: Jagdgruppe G., Jäger an Polens Himmel, Graz 1940, pp. 25-27.
5 Times of I./JG 21’s operational activity are quoted after Emmerling Marius: Luftwaffe nad Polską 1939, cz. I Jagdflieger (Gdynia 2002), whilst those of I./ZG 2 are based on Emmerling Marius: Luftwaffe nad Polską 1939, cz. I Jagdflieger (Gdynia 2002) and: I./ZG 2 nad Polskem at www.valka.cz/clanek_12310.
6 Luftwaffe pilots who saw action during the Polish Campaign invariably identified all the Pulawski fighters, fitted with the distinctive gull wing, as PZL P.24s. In fact this most advanced type of the P-series fighters was not operated by the Polish Air Force.
7 Bob Hans-Ekkehard, a personal account related to the author on 25th August 2007.
8 Emmerling..., op. cit., pp. 8-9.
9 The corresponding RAF ranks were as follows (abbr. in brackets): szeregowy (szer.) – AC 2; starszy szeregowy (st. szer.) – AC 1; kapral (kpr.) – LAC; plutonowy (plut.) – Cpl; sierżant (sierż) – Sgt; starszy sierżant (st. sierż.) – Sgt Mjr; podchorąży (pchor.) – Officer Candidate (no equivalent); chorąży (chor.) – W/O; podporucznik (ppor.) – Pilot Officer; porucznik (por.) – Flying Officer; (kapt.) – Flight Lieutenant (translator’s note).
10 Kurowski Adam: Bijcie się z nami Messerschmitty!, Warszawa 1967, pp. 90-91.
11 Kędzierski Janusz: Pod niebem własnym i obcym, Warszawa 1989, p. 171.
12 Janowicz Krzysztof: Myśliwiec z Choszczówki, Militaria XX wieku, nr 3(30), maj-czerwiec 2009, str. 8
13 According to Marius Emmerling, I./JG 21 lost only six Bf 109s in this action, whilst Jochen Prien mentions as many as 11 write-offs. It seems that the most probable figure is nine aircraft lost. This calculation is confirmed by Hans-Ekkehard Bob who stated that of eight machines of 3./JG 21 which had taken off, only two made it back. Thus, 1. Staffel lost two Bf 109s, 2. Staffel one more, and 3. Staffel another six.
14 NSFK – the National Socialist Flyers Corps was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party founded in 1937. It conducted military aviation training in gliders and private airplanes during the years when a German Air Force was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.
15 The pilot was Maj. Otto Zimmermann.
16 Stackelberg..., op. cit., pp. 28-35.
17 Ibidem, op. cit., p. 34.
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