Friday, 14 September 2018

2./JG 2 Schwarm Focke Wulf Fw 190 victory stick - ebay photo find #265 - EDIT (new 'Dans le ciel de France' Erik Mombeeck)

courtesy Oliver Rogge is this nice JG 2 grouping - these pilots are enjoying the spring sunshine in front of their (presumably) new Fw 190 A fighters while admiring their Abschuß-Stöcke or 'victory sticks'. Note too a (red? or US ?) star is clearly visible at the top of the victory stick in the lower image. One of the pipe-smoking pilots is wearing a French-style beret! This appears to be Fw. Karl Schweikart of 2./JG 2 who can be seen smoking and wearing a beret in a number of pictures in Erik Mombeeck's JG 2 history (1942). During April/May 1942 2./JG 2 was based on the Channel coast at Le Havre (Octeville). All the pilots are wearing life jackets.

below;  ".. a little souvenir of my aerial victory, loyally yours, on the Channel front, 21 May 1941,

 So 'Günther' in the image below - serving on the Channel front- would appear to be the pilot leaning on the victory stick above and admiring his victories (including the 'star') in the photo at bottom.

I can find no ID for an Unteroffizier pilot fitting the description named Günther; (either Vorname or Nachname) returning a victory in May 1941 with JG 2 .  One possible candidate I suppose;

Günther Behrendt, 4./JG 2, Spitfire, 16h35, 1st    (but this victory is dated 24 June 1941)

Of course the Fw 190 did not enter service with JG 2 until much later on. The first loss was September 1941 with JG 26.  However thanks to suggestions from several correspondents I did find this in Erik Mombeeck's history of JG 2 (Vol 2 - 1941) 

A letter from Uffz. Günther Keil addressed to his family in late July 1941;

"..I have some surprising news for you. I am being sent back to the Channel  - either to Galland or to the 'Richthofen'. The transfer is going ahead at any time. According to orders from the higher-ups, each Gruppe must designate a pilot with at least three victories and who has previously taken part in engagements over England. Of course, no one was willing to go, but it looks like I am fated to do so. I am obviously very moved at having to leave my comrades with whom I have shared so many joys and sorrows for almost a year during the battles over England and Russia..."

'Günther' is therefore presumably Fw Günther Keil. Keil had claimed a number of victories flying in combat over England and then Russia with 8./JG 3 - hence the 'red star' at the top of his victory stick.. Keil returned his 5th victory on 14 April 1942 with 2./JG 2.  2./JG 2 were in Le Bourget during the last week of May 1942 converting onto their new Fw 190 As before returning to Triqueville. Stk. was Hptm. Siegfried Bethke.

Keil was KIA on 20 June 1942 in heavy fighting with large numbers of Spitfires over the Channel, only a short while therefore after these photos were taken. There are two accounts of the combats that took place that day in Erik Mombeeck's 'Dans le Ciel de France' Vol II (1942). In a letter to the family his Staffel comrade Karl Schweikart wrote;

Günther must have told you that since he has been with us he has returned four victories and so had seven Abschüsse  - but he was not the sort of pilot who was 'Abschußgeil' - desperate to return victories - as we say...on the morning of the 20th he was happy and good-humoured, but he did say to me, 'Karl, if the Tommies come over today then I'm going to get one..' Well they did come...we sighted a large formation of Spitfires over the Channel and set out after them..Günther was leading.."

more pictures of Keil on offer from Oliver here

While on the subject of Erik Mombeeck's history of JG 2 'Dans le ciel de France' it would appear that Volume 5 covering the year 1944 will be available some time towards the end of the year. Cover image below..more info and pre-orders at