Sunday 23 August 2020

SG 2 pilot Feldwebel Eugen Lörcher's last flight, 8 May 1945

With the end in sight a number of Luftwaffe pilots fighting on the Eastern Front elected to flee westwards and travel home in their own machines - the highly decorated Oberst  Hans Ulrich Rudel who set off for Kitzingen in his Ju 87 is a prime example. Other pilots also took advantage of the opportunity to travel home with their machines. One of them was Feldwebel Eugen Lörcher from Altenstadt, who brought his bride with him in the 'luggage compartment' in the rear fuselage of his 5./SG 2 Fw 190 F-8 "black 3" (note - the radio compartment emptied of the kit).  Eugen Lörcher's headstone in the Altenstädter cemetery - he passed away on 1 June 2014 - is adorned with an aircraft motif and recalls the adventure that the pilot himself staged on May 8, 1945.

 "When he was still alive, we celebrated this date every year," according to his son, the Geislingen dentist Dr. Klaus-Michael Lörcher, who related the dramatic story to the local Geislingen newspaper. According to his own account, his father took off from the Kummer am See airfield near Böhmisch Leipa in the Czech Republic on 8 May 1945 at the controls of his FW 190 heading west. Rudel had issued the order to the pilots of Schlachtgeschwader 2 Immelmann to fly their machines to Kitzingen and to belly land them on the airfield. But Lörcher and his comrade Paul from Ulm wanted to get closer to home. Their brides, who were also at the Czech airfield at that time, were quickly packed into the 'luggage compartments'. The planes were full. Shortly after 5 p.m., the low level flight went along the Sudeten towards Nuremberg. There the two pilots came under anti-aircraft fire. While buddy Paul turned towards Nuremberg along the Danube, in order to arrive at Ulm, Eugen Lörcher oriented himself by the double-track railway line Nuremberg-Stuttgart. Even at no more than tree-top height he was always afraid of being much too high. "I thought I was already frustrated," he wrote in his post-war account. But then he saw the Hohenstaufen in front of him, flew along the Albtrauf in a left turn and pulled up the plane over the Helfenstein to look for a landing ground.

"At that moment my buddy Paul was rushing through under me," he recalled. He briefly waggled his wings in farewell, then headed for Aufhausen via the Schildwacht. On a large field between Türkheim and Aufhausen Eugen Lörcher set up for a gear-up landing, putting the machine down near the radar station. Pilot and bride scrambled out of the machine and made their way on foot to Eugen Lörcher's parents' house in Kantstraße 32 in Geislingen. This finally brought the war to an end for the pilot.

 Feldwebel Eugen Lörcher in front of his FW 190 F-8 "Schwarze 3" 1944 in the East (an der Ostfront). Mit dieser Maschine flog er am 8. Mai 1945 in die Heimat nach Aufhausen.

Adapted from Rahnefeld, M. (2015) ‘SO GESEHEN: Kriegsende mit Bauchlandung’,