Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Werner Petermann, ace of JG 77

The latest issue of 'Avions' magazine (No. 237) features a lengthy bio of JG 77 ace Werner Petermann written by Bernard Roland.

Below; Petermann in his 5./JG 77  Emil 'black 11' during summer 1940 in Norway. Note the II. Gruppe emblem - a stylised Sea-eagle looking out over the German Bight...

"... I was born in Thurm (between Zwickau and Chemnitz) in Saxony on October 21, 1917. Many years prior to this my father had lived and worked in the USA, only to return to Europe and Germany in 1908. I had three brothers and three sisters. One of my brothers joined the Kriegsmarine like me, was killed as a sailor in the English Channel. The second, an infantryman during the war, was seriously wounded on two occasions and subsequently died of his injuries. My youngest brother was not old enough to serve...." 

There were a number of accidents. For example, on June 22, a Schwarm from 5./JG 77 flew an escort sortie and ran into fog. Lt. Edgar Struckmann (5 victories) flew into a cliff in the Flekkefjord in the poor visibility. Schwarmführer Berthold Jung had just enough time to warn his comrades, who had to pull up sharply to avoid the obstacle. Petermann recalled one incident in particular; 

" ..One day, while I was Duty Officer, I saw a Bf 109 flying a landing approach. But it was far too high. I fired off a red flare to warn the pilot. Then a second, then a third. He nevertheless proceeded to touch down and in the process wiped off his landing gear. I drove out to the scene in the Kübelwagen. While the pilot, a Major, was climbing out of the machine I told him in no uncertain terms " Wasn't that a stupid thing to do - landing when red flares are being fired off ? " At that point my boss Staka Jung arrived; "Thank you, Petermann..." he said, before taking charge. In the evenings when we ate , I often sat next to Jung. But later on that evening, the Major was sitting next to him. I subsequently found out that this was SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. After our first encounter I became his regular card-playing partner.." 

Petermann was injured in an accident at Guipavas, Brest 19 Dec 40 in Bf  109 E-4 W.Nr. 5273 which sustained damage assessed at 80%. Robert Menge had departed for Galland's JG 26 on October 16 and Petermann according to his own account had been slated to move to the Schlageter and join his former 5. Staffel comrade.  This accident which sidelined him for many weeks put paid to this move.

Below; seen in 1940 in Oslo-Fornebu, from the left, Ofw. Robert Menge (killed on the 14th June 1941 in 3./JG 26, 15 victories confirmed + 4 in Spain), Ogfr. Franz Schulte (killed on 12 August 1942, 41 v., posthumous Ritterkreuz) Gefr. Rudolf Schmidt (killed on 6 April 1942, 38 v., RK), Gefr. Hans Esser (killed on 3 September 1941, 12 v.), Oblt. Berthold Jung (Staka, taken captive on 20 May 1941, 6 v.), Oblt. Anton Hackl (180+ v., RK with oak leaves and swords), Oblt. Erich Friedrich (17 v.), Uffz. Helmut Fröse (killed on 26 March 1942, 3 v.), Fw. Werner Petermann, POW, May 20, 1941, 9 v.) and Gefr. Heinrich Brunsmann. (click on the image to view large)

Petermann had 9 kills when he was taken captive on May 20, 1941: 

 Hampden, south-west of Stavanger 24 Apr 40 (as Uffz)
 Blenheim, west of Stavanger 25 Jun 40 (as Fw) 
Blenheim, north-west of Stavanger 9 Jul 40
2 x Blenheim, in the vicinity of Aalborg 13 Aug 40  -raid by No 82 Sqd, 5./JG 77 credited with 11 bombers, including four for Menge and vs 1 and 2 for Oblt. Erich Friedrich and Uffz. Helmut Fröse.
Blenheim, west of Stavanger 20 Oct 40
2 x Bf 109 Belgrade 6 Apr 41 
Blenheim 18 Apr 41

"Avions" is available from the Lela Presse website