Saturday, October 10, 2015

Messerschmitt Bf 109 of Werner Schroer in the North African Coast

Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4/Trop "Schwarze 8" of Oberfeldwebel Werner Schroer (8.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27) above the North African coast of Ain el Gazala/Libya, April 1941. The aircraft is wearing  a short-lived leopard camo scheme. Werner Schroer was born on 12 December 1918 at Mülheim in Ruhr. His Luftwaffe career began in 1937 as a member of the ground staff. In May 1940 he completed his flying training. On 27 August 1940 he joined 2./JG 27 based on the Channel front. He flew his first combat missions during the Battle of Britain but did not claim any confirmed victories. In March 1941, I./JG 27 was deployed to North Africa in order to support the Afrika Korps under the command of Erwin Rommel. Schroer claimed his first victory, a RAF Hurricane, on 19 April 1941, however, his Bf 109 E (WNr 3790) was hit and he had to make a forced-landing near his airfield with 48 bullet holes in his aircraft. On 21 April, in an engagement with RAF Hurricanes, an aircraft collided with his Bf 109 E (WNr 4170) slightly injuring him and requiring him to make another forced-landing. By the end of 1941 his score stood at seven. In March 1942, he was appointed Adjutant of I./JG 27. He was appointed Staffelkapitän of 8./JG 27 on 22 June. In July he recorded 16 victories. On 9 September, he was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold. He shot down 13 enemy aircraft in September, including six on 15 September to record his 35th through 40th victories. In October, Schroer claimed 15 victories. Leutnant Schroer was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 21 October for 49 victories. On 4 November, Schroer, with Alfred Stückler (10 victories), shot down two four-engined B-24s. On 11 February 1943, Schroer reportedly shot down two RAF Beauforts, although he claimed them as B-26s. When Major Gustav Rödel (98 victories, including 13 four-engined bombers, RK-EL) was appointed Kommodore of JG 27, Hauptmann Schroer took his place as Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 27 on 22 April 1943. Operating over Sicily and southern Italy, between 29 April and 23 July, Schroer was to claim 22 Allied aircraft shot down, including 12 four-engined bombers. On 2 August, he became the 268th recipient of the Eichenlaub, awarded for his 84 victories. In August 1943, II./JG 27 was redeployed to Wiesbaden-Erbenheim in Germany for Reichsverteidigung duties. On 6 September, Schroer led the Gruppe on an interception of a formation of 262 B-17s. In all 45 American bombers were lost including four shot down by II./JG 27, three of which were claimed by Schroer as his victories 86 through 88. On 3 March 1944, Major Schroer scored his 99th victory and was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 54, relieving Major Rudolf Sinner (39 victories, DK) who had been badly wounded on 6 March attacking a formation of four-engined bombers. III./JG 54 was based at Lüneberg and flew the Bf 109 G-6. On 24 May, Schroer shot down a P-51 and two P-47s for his 100th to 102nd victories. On 21 July 1944, Schroer relinquished command of III./JG 54 to Hauptmann Robert “Bazi” Weiss (121 victories, RK-EL, killed in action 29 December 1944). Schroer was transferred to a fighter pilot school as an instructor. On 4 August, he had to make a forced-landing when his engine malfunctioned. From November 1944 to February 1945 Schroer was retained in a training role. On 14 February 1945, Schroer was appointed Kommodore of JG 3. With this unit he quickly claimed 12 Russian aircraft destroyed. On 19 April 1945 he became the 144th recipient of the Schwertern. Werner Schroer survived the war. He died on 10 February 1985 in Munich, aged 67. Werner Schroer was credited with 114 victories flying 197 missions. 102 of his victories were scored on the Western front, including 61 claimed over North Africa, and 26 four-engined bombers.

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