Ask any World War II veteran airman of the American Eighth Air Force about the "Abbeville Kids"; ask any veteran airman of the 453rd Bombardment Group about the "Battling Bastards of Brunswick." All will tell you stories of these fighter units--Jagdgeschwader (JG)--and the attacks they made--head-on or from out of the sun! One of these units was JG3--UDET and in that unit from April to June 1944 there was a German fighter ace, Feldwebel (FW--Sgt.) Horst Petzschler. An enemy then but now a friend, Bradley has asked that his story be told here.
Bradley said, "Horst was a German Me 109 fighter pilot in the war. I met him in December 1997 in Oklahoma City. He was so interesting to talk to that I invited him to our March 1998 Confederate Air Force Wing meeting.(1) He told us of his wartime experiences. He said that after the war he and a friend came to Canada. Horst became an expert aircraft tool and die maker and had no problem finding a job in the U.S. He came here in 1953 and has worked in the aircraft industry since. We became friends and it seems appropriate to close out my own war story with the 'enemies no more' concept." And so, to Horst's story.
Horst wrote to this writer in February 1999, saying, in part,
I worked in aircraft industry all over the U.S.. . . 30 years . . . Lockheed in Atlanta, Boeing in Los Angeles, etc
Of his wartime experience, Horst wrote,
I was mainly in the center of the Soviet Union from Smolensk near Moscow to Danzig/Koenigsberg; from Witebsk, north near Leningrad, to Kiev in the south. We were a steady 'fire brigade' thrown in where tanks broke through. . . .
When the American 1000 bomber raids started in March 1944, we took experienced pilots, wing commanders and other unit leaders away from the Eastern Front to build up new formations to meet the challenge of the 8th and 9th USAAF, adding 70% of new pilots from schools also to strengthen the defense of the Reich. It was called "Reichsverteidigung", (RVT)--the organization responsible for the air defense of Germany.
The city of Burg, about 75 miles west of Berlin and quite close to Magdeburg was my base in JG3, II and III Gruppe--approximately 80 combat aircraft. We had also HE--177 long range 4--engine bombers for night action against England. So we became a main target for P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt strafing. JG3--UDET had bases in Burg, Stendal, Wittstock, Salzwedel and a few more places. We usually assembled all the Gruppe over Magdeburg, Braunschweig or Dessau to go up with 120 to 140 fighters into the bomber stream of approximately 50 bombers in a box. We went after one box after another. A group of Me 210s or 410s attacked first as they blasted the bomber box formation
open! We attacked in all numbers: the Rotte (2), Schwann (4), Staffel (12), Gruppe (30 to 40) and Geschwader in an all--out largest attack with up to 120 aircraft. . . .
The combat box formation gave us a headache, but we coped with the help of 21cm rockets that broke the box up fast! The bombers were called 'Dicke--Autos', also 'Mobelwagen'--furniture carrier. Our fighters were 'Radfahrer', the P-51s, 'Indians'. Our air base was 'Gartenzaun'--garden fence. Radio calls were different for each squadron. Radio silence was a strict order but the USAAF talked all the time and gave us valuable information. Our Intelligence then provided us with news of the 8th USAAF! The Intelligence knew the voices of Group and Squadron leaders and even who flew which ship! . . .
He closed his letter, "HORRIDO!"
Bradley wrote (August 1999) that the Oklahoma Wing of the Confederate Air Force has recently acquired an Me 109 German aircraft. He hopes that Horst will help with its restoration--perhaps in the color and with the markings of a plane Horst flew!
"Enemies No More" is a good concept. May it guide future generations!
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