Thursday 23 March 2023

Oberfähnrich Wolfgang Rose 4./JG 26 - 'Ehrenbuch JG 26'


   The JG 26 'Ehrenbuch' is a large volume containing brief biographical details and portraits of every pilot who flew with JG 26. Read in conjunction with the "Gedenkblätter für die gefallenen Angehörigen des Geschwaders" ('memorial cards' for the fallen members of the Geschwader   - genitive case ending on Geschwader, not a plural!) it is possible to build up a picture of these young Nachwuchs ('new growth') who flew and fought for literally only a handful of sorties before being shot down and killed.
Born on 28 September 1924 in Stollberg (district Erzgebirgskreis, southwest of Chemnitz), Wolfgang Rose arrived at JG 26 on 30 April 1944 aged 19 years old. He had entered the Luftwaffe in November 1942 directly from school and became an Oberfähnrich on 1 March 1944. A tall thin lad, well-liked, he was a keen airman and as might be expected 'einsatzfreudig'  or 'keen to see action'. He was posted from his operational training unit 4./ Jagdgruppe West to 4. Staffel and flew just 7 combat sorties (Feindflüge) before he was shot down and killed on 27 June 1944. The Ehrenbuch gives a very short account of his death - his Staffel was landing after a sortie when they were surprised by Allied fighters.  At the controls of his Fw 190 A-7 'black 15' (WNr. 431159) Rose had already set up to land but 'saw the danger' and attempted to pull up and go around. He failed to detect the P-47 or P-51 that slipped in behind him. He was hit and shot down. He crashed to his death 1 km east of  Ennencourt and was buried at the German cemetery in Beauvais. Rose was credited with a single Abschuss - a so-called  'wirksamer Beschuss'  ('effective fire'). A note in his memorial card attests to his 'strong' ideological and political outlook ('seine weltanschauliche und politische Einstellung war gefestigt '). His rank of Ofhr. has been crossed out and 'Leutnant' added - presumably posthumously along with the award of the EK I in December 1944.

An interesting account from a JG 26 Nachwuchs who survived is Heinz Gomann's " Und über uns der Himmel - Fliegergeschichten vom Jagdgeschwader 26 " - flying stories from JG 26. (Vowinckel Verlag, 1996).  Gomann provides an apt description of the non-existent combat value of an inexperienced fighter pilot during his first missions at this stage of the war;

"..The Staffel takes off to counter incoming Spitfires. I stay close to my Rottenführer. Suddenly everything starts to turn like crazy. I have no idea why. After landing, they tell me that we were caught up in dogfights with the Spitfires. I didn't see any. Apparently that's what happens to everyone at the beginning (...)…"

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