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Thread: Wehrpaß KIA squadron leader

  1. #1
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    Default Wehrpaß KIA squadron leader

    Recently I aquired the Wehrpaß of a squadron leader that was killed in a crash close to where I live; this is the story of Friedrich Sawada and his HE111-H6.

    Friedrich Sawada (°1913+1940) from Züllichau, joined the German army in July 1933, as a member of Infantry Regiment 8.
    He was first trained as a NCO and later as an officer, he got commissioned in April 1935, his function was that of an observer for close air support.
    The German army in the 1930's had a huge shortage of artillery pieces, to compensate the lack of artillery firepower they had their disposal they start to experiment with new techniques such as close air support from bombers for the infantry, Friedrich Sawada, who had learned to fly before he joined the army, most likely with the aid of one of the NSDAP glider clubs, was one of the officers that was part of this program.
    In October 1935 he is transferred to the Luftwaffe and after some basic training for aircrews he is assigned as an observer to I/KG154.
    On November 6 1936 he is one of the men of RLM zbv (Reichluftfahrtministerium zum besondern verwendung), a code name for those that would be sent to Spain to aid Franco the Spanish civil war, the men of the so called Condor Legion.
    After serving eight months in Spain, perhaps he participated in infamous bombardment of Guernica, he returns to the Luftwaffe bomber units, were his experience in actual war is used to train the bomber crews.
    When the war breaks out he participates in the Polish campaign with I/KG1, before the fall of Warsaw he is transferred back to the West and at the end of the year he is awarded an EKII.
    In February 1940, having obtained the rank of Oberleutnant already in 1938, he becomes the squadron leader of 3/KGr126, a bomber Staffel equipped with HE111-H6 bombers.
    When operation yellow starts his squadron is engaged against targets in Holland, in the early evening (+/- 18.00) of May 12 1940 his squadron gets the task to attack French troops on the Beveland peninsula.
    Despite the popular myth that the Luftwaffe had full control of the skies and could bomb the allies without serious opposition, this wasn't the case in the sector of the French 7th Army in Holland, this French Army had fighter support of some of the best French fighter squadrons.
    The squadron of Friedrich Sawade was intercepted by French Morane 406 fighters of GC III/3, they managed to shoot down three HE111 bombers, which all crashed relatively close to each other in the Woensdrecht region.
    The HE111-H6 of Friedrich Sawade was one of the casualties and it crashed in the hamlet Calfen, three crewmen crashed and died in the airplane: Olt Friedrich Sawade (CO), Ofw Klabunde Herbert (radio operator) & Uffz Jakob Dethlefsen (mechanic), the pilot Ofw Herbert Widmayer managed to bail out and was taken POW and transported to England.
    They crashed in marsh land, the remains of Herbert Klabunde could be recovered shortly after the crash but the remains of Friedrich Sawade and Jakob Dethlefsen remained in the wreck and were only recovered in 1966; all have now a known grave in the German war cemetery in Ysselsteyn.
    The French fighters of GC III/3 had some serious casualties too on May 12 1940, perhaps they can be linked to the fight with HE111's of 3/KGr126?
    The French losses of that day:
    - Lt Jindrich Beran (Czech), 5th squadron, KIA in aerial combat.
    - Adj Bessaguet, 5th squadron, WIA.
    - Slt Francois Calmel, 5th squadron, WIA.
    - Slt Camille Isola, 6th squadron, KIA in aerial combat.
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    Last edited by Peter U; 11-03-2018 at 08:16 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    In my collection I have a photoalbum of a baker of the 225ID, he was in the region where his HE111 crashed a week later and he took a picture of the crash site/field grave.



    The place where he crashed has changed in recent years thus making an exact comparison wasn't possible but I think the picture was pretty close to the actual crash site on the Maardeberg in Calfen.
    I have also included a picture of his grave in Ysselsteyn war cemetery.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3
    Moderator Peter U's Avatar
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    I guess all members here are familiar with the HE111 bomber but the French Morane 406 fighter is perhaps a bit more of an obscure aircraft of WW2.
    And although it had a difficult time in dog fights with the Me109 it was no match for a HE111, it proved that on May 12 1940, when they shot down three in a short time.
    A Wikipage about it:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morane-Saulnier_M.S.406

    And a nice YouTube clip I found online of one in flight on an airshow:


  4. #4
    Senior Member BerlinerLuebecker's Avatar
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    Thanks as always for sharing! It's unfortunate that the most complete Wehrpässe tend to be reserved for KIAs... They can provide a ton of research leads in those cases, though - as you demonstrate.
    Life, Liberty, Property

    Always looking for any information on the 97th Light Infantry (Jäger) Division, 1940-1945.

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    Senior Member ebeeby's Avatar
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    Thanks again Peter. Captivating as always!

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