Sunday 22 January 2023

Hptm. Herbert Treppe 13.(Zerstörer)/JG 5


Born in Sprottau (now a town in western Poland) on January 30, 1914, Herbert Treppe studied at Breslau university, joining the Marineschule Mürvik in April 1935 where he learned to fly. He studied at the Luftkriegsschule Gatow 1935-36 (note two 's') and received his A/B licences at Celle in September 1936. His 'Lehrlingszeit' concluded with five months blind-flying at the Blindflugschule Wesendorf and subsequently he became an instructor in Brandis. Determined to join a front unit he was posted to KG 26 late in 1940 and according to one source flew in the 'Luftschlacht um England' (Battle of Britain). He flew both day-and-night sorties against land and shipping targets in England and Scotland. On one occasion he succesfully belly-landed his badly shot-up Heinkel He 111 with four wounded crew members in Beauvais after surviving a night-fighter attack.  On February 21, 1941 he was forced to ditch in the North Sea/Skagerrack and spent five hours in a dinghy in temperatures well below freezing before being found. He did not return to flying duties until October that year. After a spell as Ic to the Fliegerführer Nord he flew combat against England, Murmansk and in support of the German army in the Far North. He was appointed Staffelkapitän of 13.(Zerstörer)/JG 5 on June 1, 1943. He wrote an account of one of his first sorties leading the Staffel that summer, claiming two Bostons downed for a 'Doublette' -  as he put it, ".. not bad for a new boy". There are apparently no corresponding Boston losses in Soviet records.

13.(Z)/JG 5 re-equipped with the Bf 110 G early in 1943. Treppe flew Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-2  "1B+AX" (W. Nr. 120 037) out of Kirkenes during autumn 1943 as illustrated here by Kjetil Åkra in Eduard-Info 2015. 

The Zerstörer Staffel was re-named 10./ZG 26 in July 1944. Later in the year Treppe was named as Gruppenkommandeur of IV./ZG 26 (formed during the summer of 1944) and claimed an RAF Coastal Command Liberator on 28 September 1944 timed at 1245 hrs at only 5 metres altitude (over the sea). 

IV./ZG 26 became the new II./JG 5 in February 1945 with Treppe as Kommandeur. As related by Jan Bobek in Eduard-Info 2015-10 the newly reformed II. Gruppe was built up from elements of 9., 12., and 16./JG 5, and partly from the Stab IV./ZG 26 and 10./ZG 26. Interestingly the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Gs from the defunct Zerstörerstaffel were divided amongst the three Gruppen of JG 5 with single-engined fighters and were flown up to the end of the war. 

While the 'Luftwaffe Officer career summaries' page indicates that Treppe passed away in 1984, Jägerblatt published a 75th birthday profile in the December 1989 issue. At this time Treppe was 'Vorsitzender' of the 'Traditionsverband JG 5'.