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Luftwaffe Soldbuch - with a difference.

Article about: From looking at the front cover it would appear to be just like many other Luftwaffe Soldbucher. But it contains a nice surprise which is revealed when opened to page 1 - it has been issued

  1. #1

    Default Luftwaffe Soldbuch - with a difference.

    From looking at the front cover it would appear to be just like many other Luftwaffe Soldbucher. But it contains a nice surprise which is revealed when opened to page 1 - it has been issued to a Naval officer, a certain Kapitänleutnant Günther Kern who was assigned to the position of a Kriegsmarine Liaison Officer at Reichsluftministerium (RLM) located on the Wilhelmstraße in Berlin.
    While serving within RLM he was awarded the EK II & KvK I Kl mit Schwertern. The EK II citation is signed by Hans Jeschonnek who would commit suicide in August 1943. An interesting aspect of the KvK I Kl award is that there is no mention of a KvK II Kl mt Schwertern having been awarded.
    He served in this position from 1938 to 1943 after which he served within Marinegruppenkommando Nord and then OKM before he was assigned as IO (First Officer) on the old battleship Schlesien in October 1944 to War's End. For serving on the old ship he was awarded the High Seas Fleet Badge and the EK I during the very last days of the war. The EK I entry in the Soldbuch is signed by Wilhelm Meendsen-Bohlken who won the Knights Cross. On the day that he was awarded both of these awards the Schlesien struck a mine near Swinemünde and had to be scuttled.

    In February 1940 a sortie of 6 destroyers from the Kriegsmarine 1.Zerstörerflottille sailed on Operation Wikinger to investigate suspicious British naval activity near Dogger Bank. During the sortie the ships were overflown by a He-III the crew of which were unsure as to the ship's identities and so didn't fire a recognition signal. Failing to do this caused the ships to assume the aircraft to be British and so they opened fire. The ships opening fire made up the minds of the aircrew that the ships were hostile and so they flew an attack profile. On the first bombing run a bomb hit the destroyer Leberecht Maass. As the destroyer Friedrich Eckoldt went alongside to assist, the aircraft made a second bomb run and another two bombs hit Leberecht Maass which broke in two and sank. After this the aircraft returned to base completely unaware that they had just attacked friendly forces. The other destroyers set to rescuing survivors but in doing so the destroyer Max Schultz exploded and sunk, probably having hit a mine. All told the loss of life in the sinking of the two destroyers totaled 578.
    The cause of this friendly fire error all came down to a lack of communication with the destroyers being unaware of any Luftwaffe sorties being flown in that area and the aircrew being unaware that the Kriegsmarine were sending out 6 destroyers on a mission although information had been passed to the relevant commands. The inquiry found that there had been inadequate communication between the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine although none of those held responsible were punished.
    Since I obtained this Soldbuch I have wondered if Kern, who finished the war as a Fregattenkapitän, played any role in this incident considering he was acting as a KM liaison officer at RLM at the time.
    After the war Kern was issued a Royal Navy ID card and served as a Port officer.

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    Last edited by hucks216; 12-04-2014 at 06:34 PM.

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  3. #2

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    An image of the Schlesien after hitting the mine on 4th May 1945...
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  4. #3

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    she so nearly survived her 2nd war.

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