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Oberleutnant Wilhelm Schmitter
ca. late 1942
18 December 1913 in Rheydt, Rheinland
00.00.00-30.11.34 1./II. Marine Artillerie Abteilung Kiel
01.12.34-15.01.35 Fliegergruppe A.F.S. Warnemünde
15.07.35-15.09.35 Fliegerschule I Warnemünde
16.09.35-31.01.36 Fliegerstaffel List auf Sylt
01.02.36-14.04.36 Fliegerstaffel Schleswig
15.04.36-30.09.36 Fliegerschule (See) Stettin
01.10.36-01.02.37 2./Fliegerschule Warnemünde
02.02.37-20.03.37 1./Fliegerschule (See) Neumünster
21.03.37-30.04.37 2./Fliegerschule Warnemünde
01.05.37-01.10.37 Fliegerwaffenschule Bug am Rügen
02.10.37-31.03.39 Küstenflieger Staffel 1/206, Nest
01.04.39-30.06.39 Flugzeugführerschule (See) Pütnitz
01.07.39-30.10.39 Küstenflieger Staffel 1/706, Nest
01.11.39-14.02.40 Küstenflieger Staffel 1/906, Pillau
15.02.40-27.04.40 Luftkriegsschule 3 (Lehrgang für Kriegsoffizier-nachwuchs)
27.04.40-10.02.41 Küstenflieger Staffel 1/906, Pillau
11.02.41-15.07.41 I. /Kampfgeschwader 40
16.07.41-19.06.43 II. /Kampfgeschwader 40
20.06.43-08.11.43 V. /Kampfgeschwader 2, 15 Staffel
Pages 12/13 from Schmitter's Wehrpas.
22.04.40 Ernennung zum Kreigsoffizeranwärter
01.11.40 Leutnant (Kr. O) - RDA vom 01.07.39
01.09.42 Oberleutnant (Kr. O) - RDA vom 01.07.40 (158)
01.12.42 Überfuhrt als Truppenoffizer m. RDA vom 01.07.40 (158)
01.03.43 Hauptmann (126)
01.11.43 Major (117)
00.00.33 Reichssportabzeichen in Bronze (Reich Sports Badge in Bronze)
00.00.36 Flugzeugführerabzeichen (Pilots Badge)
01.07.38 Dienstauszeichnung IV. Klasse (Long Service Award 4th Class)
00.11.39 Medaille Zur Erinnerung an Die Heimkehr Des Memellandes (Commemorative medal for the return of the Memel District)
12.11.39 Medaille Zur Erinnerung An Den 1. Oktober 1938 (Commemorative Medal of 1.10.38)
16.05.40 Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse (Iron Cross 2nd Class)
03.01.41 Eiserne Kreuz 1. Klasse (Iron Cross 1st Class)
05.01.42 Ehrenpokal fur besondere Leistung im Luftkreig (Honor Goblet)
16.02.42 Frontflug-Spange für Kampfflieger in Gold (Operational flying clasp in Gold for fighters)
18.05.42 Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold)
16.07.42 Verwundeten-Abzeichen in Schwartz (Wound Badge in Black)
19.09.42 Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross)
24.03.44 Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz Mit Eichenlaub (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, No. 432)*
* Posthumous awarding
Pages 22 and 23 from Schmitter's Wehrpas.
1 July 33
Matrose Wilhelm Schmitter enters the Reichsmarine and is posted to the 1./II. Marine Artillerie Abteilung Kiel.
Matrose Schmitter is awarded the Reichssportabzeichen in Bronze (Reich Sports Badge in Bronze).
29 September 33
Schmitter serves as a motor mechanic (his civilain trade) aboard the World War 1 era battleship Schleswig Holstein which at that time was serving as the flagship of the German Navy. He would serve aboard this vessel until 15 May 1934.
SMS Schleswig-Holstein ca. 1930'3
19 March 34
Schmitter becomes an Unteroffiziersanwärter (non-commissioned officer candidate).
15 May 34
Unteroffiziersanwärter Schmitter leaves the SMS Schleswig Holstein.
1 October 34
Schmitter is promoted to the rank of Oberheizer.
1 December 34
Schmitter leaves the Kriegsmarine and is transferred to the Deutscher Luftsportverband the forerunner of the soon to be unveiled Luftwaffe. His inital posting is to Fliegergruppe A.F.S. Warnemünde where he will begin his training to become a Bordmeckaniker.
A youthful Oberflieger Wilhelm Schmitter. ca. 1935
1 February 35
Schmitter is promoted to the rank of Unterwart..
9 March 35
Hermann Göring officially announced the existence of a Luftwaffe and the D.L.V. (Deutscher Luftsportverband) was not needed any longer. At this time Schmitter is transferred to the fledgling Luftwaffe.
15 July 35
Schmitter continues on his service with the renamed Fliegerschule I Warnemünde.
16 September 35
Schmitter is posted to Fliegerstaffel List auf Sylt on the Isle of Sylt.
1 October 35
Schmitter is promoted to the rank of Obergefreiter
1 February 36
Schmitter is posted to Fliegerstaffel Schleswig
15 April 36
Schmitter is posted to Fliegerschule (See) Stettin
1 October 36
Obergefrieter Schmitter continues his training and is posted to 2./Fliegerschule Warnemünde
2 February 37 - 1 October 37
During this timeframe Schmitter undergoes additional training serving with 1./Fliegerschule (See) Neumünster, 2./Fliegerschule Warnemünde and Fliegerwaffenschule Bug am Rügen.
2 October 37
Obergefreiter Schmitter is posted to Küstenflieger Staffel 1/206, Nest
A He.60C of Küstenflieger Staffel 1/206. ca. 1938-39 1
1 November 37
Schmitter is promoted to the rank of Unteroffizier.
In recognition of his four (4) years of service in the German Armed Forces Unteroffizier Wilhelm Schmitter receives the Dienstauszeichnung IV. Klasse (Long Service Award 4th Class).
1 October 38
Küstenflieger Staffel 1/206 participates in the return of the Sudetenland to Germany and the ensuing annexation of the balance of Czechoslovakia.
1 December 38
Schmitter is promoted to the rank of Feldwebel.
22 March 39
Germany annexes the District of Memel from Lithuania in the final bloodless action before World War 2. On March 23rd a peaceful occupation of the city and district was carried out by German troops who debarked by ship. It is presumed that Küstenflieger Staffel 1/206 is part of the "show of force" assembled by the Germans to pacify any thoughts of resisting the annexation of Memel.
1 April 39
Feldwebel Schmitter is transferred to Flugzeugführerschule (See) Pütnitz where he will begin his training to become a pilot. Within three months Schmitter completed his flight training and was again posted to an operational unit.
30 June 39 - 1 July 39
Schmitter completes his pilot training with Flugzeugführerschule (See) Pütnitz and the following day is posted to his operational unit Küstenflieger Staffel 1/706, Nest.
Feldwebel Schmitter completes his pilot training and is awarded the Flugzeugführerabzeichen (Pilots Badge).
1 September 39
Invasion of Poland, Küstenflieger Staffel 1/706 starts the war based in Nest flying He.60's.
3 September 39
In a combination of 35 sorties, KüFlGr. 506 and 706 had succeeded in sinking several Polish naval vessels and severely damaging the coastal installations at Hela, a task the Ju87 equipped 4./Trägergruppe 186 had failed to accomplish.
1 September 39 - 19 September
During this period Schmitter flew a total of 11 Feindfüge in either He.59 or He.60 aircraft.
20 September 39 - 31 January 40
During this period Schmitter flew a total of 16 Feindfüge in either He. 60 or HE.114 aircraft.
September 39 - April 40
During this timeframe Feldwebel Schmitter takes part in 26 front flights while serving with Küstenflieger Staffel 1/206, Nest,Küstenflieger Staffel 1/706, Nest and Küstenflieger Staffel 1/906, Pillau respectively. Between 1 April 39 through 30 June 39 Schmitter undergoes additional flight training with Flugzeugführerschule (See) Pütnitz.
The missions during this period consisted of submarine hunting, reconnaissance against Polish detroyers, coastal reconnaissance near the Hela peninsula and commerce warefare against Allied shipping including setting afire the Steamer Vera. The aircraft flown by the units during this period consisted of a mix of single engined He.59, He.60 and He.114's. (feindflug no.1-26)3
Feldwebel Schmitter is one of 31,322 recipients of the Medaille Zur Erinnerung an Die Heimkehr Des Memellandes (Commemorative medal for the return of the Memel District) for his part in the action to annex the city/district of Memel.
12 November 39
For his units involvement in the return of the Sudetenland to Germany Feldwebel Schmitter is awarded the Medaille Zur Erinnerung An Den 1. Oktober 1938 (Commemerative Medal of 1.10.38).
A He.115C-1 of Küstenflieger Staffel 906. ca.1940 2
15 February 40
Schmitter is temporarily attached to Luftkriegsschule 3 (Wildpark/Werder) to participate in a three (3) week training course for officers
25 April 40
Feldwebel Schmitter receives a character evaluation (see below) from Luftkriegsschule 3 (Wildpark/Werder) while participating in a three (3) week training course for officers. His evaluation is as follows:
1. Personal disposition:
2. Character evaluation: outstanding character, however otherwise injects his opinions
3. Mental assessment:: participates in discussions and has an honest and genuine effect
4. Military assessment:: good, very capable soldier, strong and correct, participates in discussions
5. Physical assessment:: average build, good posture and physical stature, athletic build, good mix
6. Suitability flying: suitable
7. Occupational assignment:: pilot, flight instructor or flight training official
8. Flying training: overland/oversea
9. Suitability: wartime officer
27 April 40
Schmitter is reassigned to Küstenflieger Staffel 1/906, Pillau the flying He. 115's from bases in Aalborg-See.
May 40 - September 40
During this timeframe Schmitter and his crew flying primarily He.115's logged 60 front flights (feindefliege). Their missions consisted of taking part in a variety of activities including submarine hunting, convoy air cover in Skagarak (Geleitzugsicherung), reconnaissance over the North Sea as well as transport flights to Norway. In addition this period saw Schmitter's crew attacked three times by Bristol Bleinheims and three times by Lockheed Hudson's. (feindflug no.27-87)3
16 May 40
Likely in recognition of his more than 27 operational sorties Schmitter is awarded the Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse (Iron Cross 2nd Class)
15 June - 15 July 40
Schmitter is undergoes a series of instrument training courses.10
1 August 40
Schmitter is promoted to the rank of Oberfeldwebel.
Oberfeldwebel Wilhelm Schmitter. Fall 1940
15 August 40
From a status report it indicates that on this day Oberfeldwebel Schmitter was engaged in an air battle with a Lockheed Hudson. The engagement must have been inconclusive as no losses or damaged Hudson's appear in RAF loss listings.10
5 September 40 - 5 October 40
Schmitter is engaged in a series of reconnaissance flights.10
16 September 40
Schmitter and his crew perform a night mission over England's southern coast and bomb an airfield.10
20 September 40
Schmitter is engaged in an armed reconnaissance flight.10
15 October 40
Schmitter then based in Brest flies a reconnaissance flight into the Atlantic.10
18 October 40
Oberfeldwebel Schmitter undertakes bombing and machine gun attacks against an English picket boat off of the south coast of Ireland, boat is left burning.10
October 40 - February 41
Flying twin engined He.111 and He.115 seaplanes for reconnaissance and security defence over the Channel and Atlantic. The Leistungsbuch entry indicates Schmitters crew lighting a light fire on the south coast of England and attacks on shipping targets. Also during this time Schmitter and his crew were involved in flying armed reconnaissance and weather spotting. (feindflug no.88-109)3
1 November 40
Oberfeldwebel Schmitter receives his commission and is promoted to the rank of Leutnant (Kriegsoffizier).
Testimony of Schmitters fellow officers endorsing his ability to obtain the rank of officer. 15 Nov. 1940
11 November 40
The recently promoted Leutnant Schmitter attacks an English picket boat off of of Ireland .10
Standing orders for staffeln operating in the West stipulated that attackes along the enemy coastline were forbidden if complete surprise could not be acheived, while a dwindling number of aircraft and qualified aircrew, and the difficulties with fuel supplies in the Arctic , meant operations were continually scaled back in favor of air operations by other branches of the Luftwaffe.
3 January 41
Following approximately 100 front flights Schmitter is awarded the Eiserne Kreuz 1. Klasse (Iron Cross 1st Class).
Schmitter (standing back to camera) taking a motor launch
out to his He.115C-1 of Küstenflieger Staffel 906
8 February 41
Leutnant Schmitter receives an evaluation or status report (see below):
Entered Service with Staffel: 1 Oct. 1937
Served on the Front since: 1 Sept. 1939
Occupation in the Staffel: Pilot
Award of the Iron Cross 1st Class: 3 Jan. 1941
Award of the Iron Cross 2nd Class: 24 May 1940
Other Decorations: Sudeten and Memel Commoration Medals
As of 15 December 1940
Number of Enemy Flights 99
Armed Reconnaissance 2
Total Flight hours 412
Total Points for War Supply 68
Air Battles 2
U-Boat Attacks 1
Ship Attacks 6
Submarine Hunts 17
England Penetrations 32
Norway Transport Flights 5
Night & Instrument Flight Hours 44
Lost Directions 1
Emergency Landings 1
Overview of War Experiences up to 15 December 1940
From the beginning of the war until 1 November 1939, reconnaissance, submarine hunting and supply missions including the destructionof the heavy freighter "Vera". From 1 November 1939 to 15 January 1940 training, instrument and officer school. 15 June 1940 - 15 July 1940 instrument training. June 1940 transport flights to Norway. 15 August 1940 air battle with a Lockheed Hudson. 5 September 1940 - 5 October 1940 reconnaissance . 16 September 1940 night mission over England's south coast as well as bombing attacks on airfields. 20 September 1940 armed reconnaissance over England, 15 October 1940 based in Brest undertaking Atlantic reconnaissance. 18 October 1940 bomb and machine gun attack against English picket boat off of the south coast of Ireland, boat left burning. 11 November 1940 attacked picket boats off Ireland.
Leutnant Schmitter's status report (front/reverse):
Schmitter's linen instrument flying license. ca. Early 41
11 February 41
Schmitter is transferred to I./Kampfgeschwader 40 then flying from bases in Bordeaux-Merignac and subordinated to the 9. Flieger-Division. At the time of his transfer I. Gruppe was flying armed reconnaissance over the Atlantic and had been credited with the sinking of 363,000 tons of Allied shipping.
Early April 41
The I./Kampfgeschwader 40 becomes part of Fliegerführer Atlantik.
3 May 41
Flying a He.111 (F8+HM) from Brest, France Schmitter and his crew take off at 6:35 and undertake a ten (10) hour armed reconnaissance and weather collecting mission to the North-west of Ireland. (feindflug no.110) 3 Total flight time 9 hours 40 minutes.3
6 May 41
Same type of mission as 3 May 41 (feindflug no.111) Total flight time 11 hours 40 minutes.3
13 May 41
Another armed reconnaissance mission this time originating in Oslo, Norway (feindflug no.112) Flight time 12 hours 3 minutes.3 It appears that during mid May to mid/late June Schmitter and portions of 4 Staffel were temporarily transferred to Norway to counter Allied convoy routing.
20 May 41
Another armed reconnaissance mission originating from Oslo, Norway (feindflug no.113) Flight time 13 hours 32 minutes.3
22 May 41
A sea reconnaissance mission originating from Oslo, Norway (feindflug no.114). At this time the German Battleship Bismark had sortied through the North Sea and it is likely that some of these flights were over Scapa Flow in support of intelligence gathering for this operation. Flight time 7 hours 52 minutes.3
28/29 May 41
Another armed reconnaissance mission originating from Oslo, Norway (feindflug no.115) Flight time 12 hours 28 minutes.3
1 June 41
Another armed reconnaissance mission over Scotland originating from Oslo, Norway (feindflug no.116) Total flight time 12 hours 12 minutes.3
5 June 41
Another armed reconnaissance mission over the North Atlantic originating from Oslo, Norway (feindflug no.117) Total flight time 13 hours 2 minutes.3
9 June 41
At 01:02 hours Leutnant Schmitter and crew take off from there base in Oslo, Norway flying a He.111H. There mission is to fly an armed reconnaissance mission (feindflug no.118) into the North Atlantic. During their mission Schmitter and his crew attack and sink the 1852 BRT Finnish Steamer "Fenix". The Finnish steamer is sunk in the area of 61-56N, 12-14W. One crewman was lost on the steamer.Total flight time 12 hours 3 minutes.3,6 Note: this sinking is indicated in Schmitter's Leistungsbuch as occuring on 20 June 41 but listed in shipping losses as occuring on this day.
Mid June 41
The departure of the majority of German bomber units for the East in June 1941meant that nearly all the Gruppen then remaining in the West were engaged in anti-shipping sorties. These were I./KG 26, I., II. and III./KG 30, I./KG 40, KGr 106, KGr 506 and KGr 606.
20 June 41
At 00:00 hours Leutnant Schmitter and crew take off from there base in Vannes, France flying a He.111H. They again fly an armed reconnaissance mission (feindflug no.119) into the North Atlantic. Total flight time 13 hours 23 minutes.3 (see also 9 June 41 entry)
26 June 41
Again flying a He.111from Vannes, Schmitter undertakes an armed reconnaissance and weather reporting mission (feindflug no.120). Total flight time 12 hours 10 minutes hours.3
1 July 41
Leutnant Schmitter and his crew flying a He.111 take off at 04:14 hours from their base in Bordeaux-Merignac to undertake a long range reconnaissance and weather collecting mission into the North Atlantic. Their mission takes them into the area of the Altantic just west of Ireland before returning to their base. On their return trip Schmitter and his crew encounter a Lockheed Hudson IV of RAF Coastal Command in the vicinity of the Brest Peninsular.
A Lockheed Hudson of 206 Squadron.
RAF Pilot Officer John Bendix RAF w/o Sergeant Douglas Smith
The Hudson, flown by pilot officer John Bendix of 206 Squadron was flying a cross over patrol from their base in St. Eval. It would appear that Schmitter came across the Hudson and took P/O Bendix and his crew by surprise. This is reflected in the letter written to Bendix family by 206 Squadron Wing Commander who wrote "..I regret to inform you that no further news has been received of your son, nor in fact of any member of his crew, neither is there any record of any unusual wireless messages having been received from his aircraft during his last patrol. We believe that the aircraft, of which your son was captain was shot down by enemy fighters while carrying out a patrol in the vicinity of the Brest Peninsular, this would account for the lack of wireless messages since the Wireless operator would be manning a gun station at the time.." This presupposes that Bendix wireless operator/air gunner (Sgt. Smith) needed to man his weapon immediately versus relay a message of incoming hostile aircraft.. Schmitter did record this victory in his Leistungsbuch (1st victory) which would be his first of four aerial victories.(feindflug no.121)3,4
206 Squadronn Hudson IV AE609 VX-U
P/O John Bendix
P/O Ian Maxwell Strachan (aged 23)
Sgt Douglas Harry Smith (aged 20)
Sgt John Fulford Smith
16 July 41
Schmitter is transferred to II./Kampfgeschwader 40 which was operating from bases in Cognac and serving under Fliegerführer Atlantik.
A Do. 217 E-1 of II. KG 40 with the pale grey paint scheme as flown by Leutnant Schmitter. Autumn 1941(profile art by Thomas Tullis) 5
7 September 41
Following a two (2) month training period in Germany for instruction on the flying characterisitcs of the newly operational Do. 217, Schmitter is again posted to Kampfgeschwader 40. At the time of his reposting Schmitter serves with the II. Gruppe then based in Soesterberg, Holland. The units primary role at the time was flying missions over Southern England.(feindflug no.122) Total flight time 3 hours 38 minutes.3
25 September 41
Schmitter suffers a concussion and broken pelvis as the result of an automobile accident.
As if combat was not hazardous enough.
5 January 42
After 122 front flights and numerous meritorious feats Schmitter receives the coveted Ehrenpokal fur besondere Leistung im Luftkreig (Honor Goblet).
14 February 42
Following a five (5) month recovery due to injuries sustained in a 25 September 41 automobile accident Schmitter is again back in action flying a Do.217 from bases in Soesterberg, Holland. The sorties consists of operations over the Thames Estuary. (feindflug no.123) Total flight time 1 hours 49 minutes.3
16 February 42
In recognition of his 123rd frontline flights Leutnant Schmitter is awarded the Frontflug-Spange für Kampfflieger in Gold (Operational flying clasp in Gold for fighters)
17 February 42
Flying a Do.217 Schmitter and his crew take off at 21:48 hours for a three hour mission attacking convoy escorts off the East coast of England (feindflug no.124) Total flight time 2 hours 59 minutes 3
28 February 42
Schmitter undertakes operations against the Humber Estuary. From this point forward almost all of Schmitter's remaining missions would be performed at night. (feindflug no.125) Total flight time 3 hours 5 minutes 3
9 March 42
Operations against the Thames Estuary (feindflug no.126) Total flight time 2 hours 7 minutes3
Leutnant Schmitter wearing his recently awarded Kampfflieger Spange in Gold.
13 March 42
Operations against the Humber Estuary (feindflug no.127) Total flight time 2 hours 26 minutes 3
22 March 42
Schmitter and crew perform operations over the Thames Estuary. During this and the following evening the British reported bombs being dropped at Southend, Newhaven, Dover, Guston, Weymouth and Portland with no substantial damage occuring. (feindflug no.128) Total flight time 2 hours 15 minutes 3
Two images showing Schmitters pale grey Do. 217 E-1 of II. KG 40. Schmitter is seen leaving his aircraft in the image at right.
23 March 42
Schmiiter and his crew perform a night raid over Dover. (feindflug no.129) Total flight time 2 hours 45 minutes3
24 March 42
Night raid on Portland during which time a total of 23 tonnes of HE were dropped. (feindflug no.130) Total flight time 2 hours 15 minutes 3
25 March 42
Night attack over Dover.(feindflug no.131) Total flight time 1 hours 41 minutes 3
Early April 42
Following a period of relative clam since the beginning of 1942, actions by the Luftwaffe are increased following a destructive RAF attack on the city of Lübeck. The resentment generated in Germany by these attacks resulted in Hitler sanctioning the use of what he called "terror attacks of a retaliatory nature" against British cities. In an order dated April 14, 1942, approval was given for attacks "where the greatest possible effect on the civilsin population was to be expected".
2 April 42
Schmitter attacks Dover on a night mission with the British reporting eight fatalities. (feindflug no.132) Total flight time 1 hours 52 minutes3
3 April 42
Night operations over the Thames Estuary.(feindflug no.133) Total flight time 2 hours 8 minutes 3
6 April 42
Night operations over the Thames Estuary. (feindflug no.134) Total flight time 2 hours 46 minutes 3
17 April 42
Mission purpose not noted (feindflug no.135) Total flight time 4 hours 1 minutes 3
18 April 42
Night mission over Grinsby. (feindflug no.136) Total flight time 2 hours 59 minutes3
23 April 42
The first attack in the new series of raids took place on the night of 23/24 April when some 40 aircraft, Do. 217's of KG 2 (KG 40), Ju 88's of Kampfgruppe 106 and a few He 111's of I./KG 100 raid Exeter. Schmitter and his crew take part in this action and begin their mission at 22:28 hours. At the time of the raid the sky was overcast, and as a resultthe bombs fell over a wide area. Only one aircraft hits the target during the raid which kills five people, injures eight and causes varying degrees of damage to more than one hundred houses. According to German records, in addition to incendiary bombs a total of 175 tonnes of HE were dropped. British estimates indicate that only one tonne actually fell on the Devonshire city on the first night and 27 tonnes on the second. At 01:16 hours on the 24th Schmitter and his crew return from their mission. (feindflug no.137.) Total flight time 2 hours 48 minutes3
24 April 42
Night mission over Exeter - see description above. Schmitter and his crew were one of 60 aircraft used in a two-wave assault, with many crews flying double sorties. Eighty eight people were killed and 55 injured, but the damage could have been a lot much more serious with good moonlight, little cloud and no barrage balloons to hamper them, the Luftwaffe bombers were unrestricted in height, but most crews bombed from between 5,000 - 15,000 feet. (feindflug no.138) Total flight time 2 hours 59 minutes3
25 April 42
Night mission over Bath. Using almost every bomber available in the West, Schmitter and the other bomber crews drop 210 tonnes of bombs over this beautiful Georgian city. British analysis however concluded that many bombs went astray with 150 tonnes falling on or within 50 miles of bath and only 92 tonnes actually landing on the city. Nevertheless this did amount to a "major attack" as defined by the Luftwaffe resulting in heavy casualties and extensive damage in the old part in the city. Twenty six significant fires were reported, including tow at the LMS railway goods yard and the gasworks. The Civil Defense control room was also hit as were the main station and other railway installations. (feindflug no.139) Total flight time 2 hours 11 minutes3
26 April 42
This day and the 27th of April saw the Germans concentrating their efforts on Bath, England once again and the Luftwaffe mustered almost every twin-engined bomber available in the West,even using aircraft and instructors from training units. With almost all aircraft flying double sorties, the attackers put in two concentrated raids each lasting about half an hour. A total of 151 bomber sorties were flown and four bombers failed to return. The following night the raiders returned to bath and delivered another heavy attack. The two attacks caused severe damage to the city and resulted in the death of some 380 people and injuries to a similar number. Schmitter and his crew would fly two missions on this day an early morning and night mission. (feindflug no.140/141) Total flight time(s) 2 hours 24 minutes (AM) and 2 hours 15 minutes (Night) 3
In a speech to the German people on this same day Hitler threatened to eradicate British cities one by one as a reprisal for RAF attacks on Germany.The German press reffered to the Baedeker tourist guide and spoke of the intention to mark off, as they were destroyed, each British city listed therein. As a result, both in Britain and Germany the operations on which the Luftwaffe were now engaged became known as the Baedeker Raids.
29 April 42
Night mission over Norwich. Between this raid and the raids on 27-28 April something like 100 tonnes of bombs were loaded, but widely varying tonnages actually fell on or within 50 miles of the target cities. The successive waves of raids on Norwich which became known as the Norwich Blitz claimed the lives of 226 people killed and 847 injured. (feindflug no.142) Total flight time 2 hours 15 minutes3
9 May 42
Night mission over Norwich. This was the third raid in two weeks on Norwich and Schmitter claims destruction of a barrage balloon. (feindflug no.143) Total flight time 2 hours 32 minutes3
18 May 42
After 143 front flights Leutnant Schmitter is awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold).
19 May 42
Night mission over Hull. A largely unsuccessful attack in which 168 tonnes are dropped on the city with approximately 108 tonnes landing on or within 50 miles of Hull. (feindflug no.144) Total flight time 3 hours 13 minutes3
24 May 42
Night mission over Poole. Again a largely unsuccessful attack in which 166 tonnes are dropped on the city with approximately 49 tonnes landing on or within 50 miles of Poole. (feindflug no.145) Total flight time 2 hours 7 minutes3
25 May 42
An early evening attack , Zerstörereinsatz, against the Brisitish armaments factroy at Leamington. (feindflug no.146) Total flight time 3 hours 7 minutes3
27 May 42
Night mission over the Humber Estuary. (feindflug no.147) Total flight time 3 hours 37 minutes3
29 May 42
Night mission over the Kings Gate. (feindflug no.148) Total flight time 3 hours 24 minutes3
30 May 42
Night operations over the Thames Estuary. (feindflug no.149) Total flight time 1 hours 39 minutes3
31 May 42
Night operations over the Canterbury during which time the city was attacked for more than two hours causing many large fires and and a death toll that was expected to reach 100. (feindflug no.150) Total flight time 2 hours 5 minutes3
2 June 42
Again Schmitter performs a night operations over the Canterbury. This and the mission over Canterbury on 31 May were again part of the Luftwaffe's terror bombing campaign and continued the now well established pattern of the Baedeker offensive - short, sharp attacks on small, ill-defended towns and cities better known for their cathedrals and other historic buildings than for any military or war industry connection. (feindflug no.151) Total flight time 2 hours 3
4 June 42
Night mission on Poole. (feindflug no.152) Total flight time 3 hours 41 minutes3
4 June 42
This would be the second mission for Schmitter and his crew in 24 hours and would take them over the city of Sunderland. (feindflug no.153) Total flight time 4 hours 2 minutes3
6 June 42
Night mission over Canterbury. (feindflug no.154) Total flight time 1 hours 58 minutes3
9 June 42
Night attack on New Cronuds in the Isle of Wight. (feindflug no.155) Total flight time 3 hours 54 minutes3
9 June 42
Night attack on New Cronuds in the Isle of Wight. (feindflug no.156) Total flight time 2 hours 1 minutes3
10 June 42
Night attack on New Cronuds in the Isle of Wight. (feindflug no.157) Total flight time 2 hours 36 minutes3
13 June 42
After an intensive period of night/evening missions Schmitter and his crew are directed to attack the armaments factory at Leamington. Schmitter drops 4x500 KG bombs on the factory and records visual hits on the armament works. This action was mentioned in the Wehrmacht communique on the following day. (feindflug no.158) Total flight time 2 hours 57 minutes3 One death was reported from this raid that being 59 year old Walter Herbert Williams who lived at 14 Ashgrove Place on the Althorpe Street estate. He was injured at the Lockheed Works and taken to Warneford Hospital suffering from shock and severe injuries to his legs. He died at 01.15am on 14th June. He is buried at Brunswick Street cemetery.
Night attack on New Cronuds in the Isle of Wight. (feindflug no.159) Total flight time 3 hours 17 minutes3
15 June 42
Night attack on New Cronuds in the Isle of Wight. (feindflug no.160) Total flight time 3 hours 22 minutes3
Schmitter (left) in front of his Do.217 with his veteran crew, Unteroffizier Wagner (BO),
Feldwebel Krohn (BM) and Feldwebel Gräber (BF) seen far right.
The Luftwaffe resumes its pattern of targets more familiar from the 1940-41 Blitz period with Schmitter attacking the city of Southampton. Extensive damage was done to houses, 14 people were killed and utilities affected. (feindflug no.161) Total flight time 3 hours 17 minutes3
24 June 42
Night attack on Birmingham however Nuneaton is bombed in error killing 18 people and injuring 10. (feindflug no.162) Total flight time 3 hours 17 minutes3
27 June 42
Night attack on Norwich. The city was bombed for about an hour, causing damage and killing nine (9) people. (feindflug no.163) Total flight time 2 hours 2 minutes3
27 June 42
Night attack on Weston. This raid claimed 36 lives and heavy damage (feindflug no.164) Total flight time 3 hours 35 minutes3
29 June 42
Night attack on Weston accounting for some 70 fires started and 55 fatalities. (feindflug no.165) Total flight time 3 hours 28 minutes3
30 June 42
Night attack on Bedford. (feindflug no.166) Total flight time 4 hours 29 minutes3
2 July 42
Night attack on Bristol. (feindflug no.167) Total flight time 4 hours 58 minutes3
7 July 42
Night attack on Middlesbrough. (feindflug no.168) Total flight time 3 hours 24 minutes3
7 July 42
Night attack on Kiddlesbrough. (feindflug no.169) Total flight time 3 hours 27 minutes3
12 July 42
Operations over the Thames Estuary. (feindflug no.170) Total flight time 3 hours 7 minutes3
16 July 42
Taking off at 04:45 hours Schmitter and his crew are directed to attack the armaments factory at Leamington in an early morning "Zerotörereinsatz". His target is hit during the raid but Schmitter's aircraft is also hit by return fire from the anti-aricraft batteries protecting the factory. Schmitter is wounded by shell splinters and as a result of his wounds receives the Verwundeten-Abzeichen in Schwartz (Wound Badge in Black). In addition the Home Office Key Points report stated "Early in the morning of the 16th a single enemy plane raided the works of Automotive Products Ltd., at Lemington Spa, causing extensive blast and minor structural damage". Schmitter and crew return from their sortie at 07:32 hours (feindflug no.171.)
Mid July-mid August 42
Schmitter is given leave to recuperate from his wounds and a well deserved rest from his front line flights. Between 14 February 42 and 16 July 42 Schmitter flew over 45 missions against Great Britain.
19 August 42
The Allies attack the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France.The assault began at 5:00 AM in the morning and by 9:00 AM the Allied commanders had been forced to call a retreat. Over 6,000 infantrymen, predominantly Canadian, were supported by large British naval and Allied air force contingents with the objective of seizing and holding a major port for a short period, both to prove it was possible and to gather intelligence from prisoners and captured materials while assessing the German responses. The Allies also wanted to destroy coastal defences, port structures and all strategic buildings.
Leutnant Schmitter flying a Do.217, and elements of II Gruppe Kampfgeschwader 40 were over the beachhead late in the afternoon when the Dieppe beach was already littered with destroyed and damaged equipment left beind by the recently evacuated Allied troops. Although the main battle on the beaches had been concluded air activity was still quite heavy and Schmiiter noted "heavy fighter defense" still present.. At 21:34 hours Schmitter and his crew return from their mission. (feindflug no.172.) Total flight time of 3 hours 36 minutes.3
1 September 42
Following his mission on the 19thof August Schmitter receives a break from combat duties and likely in light of his duty to the Fatherland, Leutnant Wilhelm Schmiiter is promoted in rank to Oberleutnant (158).
Oberleutnant Wilhelm Schmiiter
Oberleutnant Schmitter being interviewed by a Kriegsberichter
during a rare lull in his operational duties.
19 September 42
After 172 front line sorties and to recognize his courage during the increasingly hazourdous flight duties over Great Britain Oberleutnant Wilhelm Schmiiter is awarded the Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross). At the time of his award Schmitter was serving with the II Gruppe of Kampfgeschwader 40 .
Post sortie photo showing Oberleutnant Schmitter with his
Bordfunker Feldwebel Heinz Gräber.
21 September 42
Schmitter receives his preliminary document for the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross (see below).
Oberleutnant Wilhelm Schmitter's preliminary document (Vorläufiges Besitzzeugnis)
for the Knights Cross.
Two images (Der Adler magazine clipping at left) of Schmitter's Do.217 victory tally. At the time of the photgraph
Schmitter was credited with the severe damage or destruction of two factories, three barrage balloons
and two aircraft. ca. early 1942
Newspaper clipping from the timeframe
of Schmitter's Knights Cross awarding.
22 September 42
Generalfeldmarschall Hugo Sperrle, commander of Luftflotte 3, sends a telegram to Hauptmann Wilhelm Schmitter congratulating him on his award of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.
Schmitter (center) greeted by Major Kestner and an
unknown female Luftwaffe Oberhelferin.
Telegram from Generalfeldmarschall Sperrle.
28 September 42
A series of photo showing Oberleutant Schmitter with fellow Knights Cross recipients Oblt. Fritz Sengschmidt, Oblt. Walter Bornschein
and the Gruppenkommodore of II./Kampfgeschwader 40 Major Kestner. ca. 28 Sept. 42
1 October 42
General der Flieger Coeler, commander of IX Fliegerkorp writes to Schmitter congratulating him on his award of the Knights Cross.
"It is my great joy that the Führer has awarded you the Knight Cross of the Iron Cross for your outstanding bravery in the fight against England .
I express to you my heartfelt congratulations for this high honor."
Hail the Führer
General der Flieger
Congratulation letter from General d. Flieger Coeler. ca. 1 Oct. 42
November saw Luftwaffe activity confined to small scale reconnaissance and minelaying activity with even fewer inland penetrations than of late.
14 November 42
Early evening operations over the Thames Estuary. (feindflug no.173) Total flight time 2 hours 46 minutes3
16 November 42
Early evening operations over the Humber Estuary. (feindflug no.174) Total flight time 2 hours 17 minutes3
Oblt. Schmitter with crew member in front of their
pale grey Do.217 ca. late 42
16 December 42
After a well deserved one month break in action Schmitter and his crew return to action with a daytime attack against Eastbourne. (feindflug no.175) Total flight time 2 hours 45 minutes3
As a new year arrived, Schmitter, with almost four continuous years of war under his belt, numerous missions with narrow escape and the prospect of an endless series of sorties to come, must have been questioning his longevity as a pilot. Early intruder missions over the English mainland had proved to be very successful for the Germans however the lack of strength in the west and increasing night fighter operations by the Allies must have made Schmitter aware of his impending fate.
4 January 43
Early evening operations over the Thames Estuary. (feindflug no.176) Total flight time 1 hours 46 minutes3
13 January 43
Early evening operations over the Sunderland. (feindflug no.177) Total flight time 3 hours 35 minutes3
17 January 43
Early evening operations over the London. Luftflotte 3 was stronger than for some considerable time and on this evening carried out its heaviest attack on London since July 1941. The attack was made in two waves, with about 40 aircraft in the first phase (Schmitters mission) and 50 in the second, an effort made possible by some crews making double sorties. Conditions over London were cloudy for much of the night and in all probability this further explains why so many bombs went astray. Nevertheless 60 fires were started and while none were of major proportions a power station was seriously damaged at Greenwich. Altogether 118 bomber sorties were flown. (feindflug no.178) Total flight time 2 hours 57 minutes3
18 January 43
Schmitter's second mission against London in as many nights - see previous evenings events.(feindflug no.179) Total flight time 3 hours 11 minutes3
1 March 43
Oberleutnant Schmitter is promoted in rank to Hauptmann (126).
25 March 43 - 18 April 43
Schmitter is temporarily attached to IV./Kampfgeschwader 101 to undergo further training.
15 May 43
After almost four (4) months off from front line flying Schmitter and crew perform a night attack on Sunderland which results in 39 fires and 68 deaths. (feindflug no.180) Total flight time 4 hours 45 minutes3
18 May 43
Night mission over Cardiff. (feindflug no.181) Total flight time 3 hours 39 minutes3
1 June 43
Schmitter is appointed Staffelführer of 5./Kampfgeschwader 40.
16 June 43 - 9 August 43
As II./ Kampfgeschwader 40 begins to switch over to faster two seat night fighters, Hauptmann Schmitter undergoes training on the newly adopted Me. 410.
20 June 43
The II./ Kampfgeschwader 40, then based in Lechfeld, is redesignated as the V./ Kampfgeschwader 2 "Holzhammer" with the 15th Staffel of the Kampfgeschwader 2 formed from the 5th Staffel of Kampfgeschwader 40. Schmitter is appointed Staffelkapitän of 5./Kampfgeschwader 40 and likewise appointed as 15 staffel Kampfgeschwader 2's Staffelkapitän at the time of the redesignation. At this time the unit was based in Gilze Rijen under IX. Fliegerkorps utilizing Me 410A's and Do 217K's.
In addition to their bombing role, some elements of V./KG2 began to intercept Allied bombers over England and from late August to October 1943, intruders once again presented a threat to bomber command.
In Schmitter's first mission piloting an Me. 410 he engages in night fighter attacks on English airfields at Cambridge. Two aircraft are listed as destroyed on the ground as well as other installations (searchlight battery).
(feindflug no.182) Total flight time 2 hours 18 minutes flying U5+AJ3
Following Schmitter's raid the following description was written. "Intruder actions of August 10/11, 1943 . High Command of the Luftwaffe reports that: after the recent offensive actions, two (2) enemy aircraft were destroyed and many were damaged. This observation is confirmed. After further review Bomber Command states that these attacks combined with the inclement autumn weather will especially disrupt their operations.
I speak of my appreciation for the efforts behind these missions. (Geschwaderkommodore KG 2)
12/13 August 43
In an night attack Schmitter and his radioman take part in a combined operation of Colchester as pathfinders for a bomber strike. (feindflug no.183) Total flight time 1 hours 17 minutes flying U5+AI3
15/16 August 43
A combined operation against British port of Portsmouth with Schmitter dropping two (2) 250 KG bombs. The resulting attack from approximately 15 aircraft results in 33 people killed. (feindflug no.184) Total flight time 2 hours 21 minutes flying U5+CF3
17/18 August 43
Schmitter and his radio operator, Oberfeldwebel Heinz Gräber, take off at 00:12 from their base in Epinoy. Their mission consists of combined operations over Colchester and Schmitter is directed to provide pathfinder activities in preparation for bomber operations. During the course of their mission Schmitter encounters a British Beaufighter which he claims as shot down (3rd victory). (feindflug no.185) Total flight time 2 hours 38 minutes flying U5+CF 3.9
22/23 August 43
A night fighter operation against Cambridge with bomb strikes noted against an airfield. (feindflug no.186) Total flight time 1 hours 32 minutes flying U5+CF3
23/24 August 43
On the evening of the 23rd, 21 aircraft and one reserve of RAF 97 Squadron were detailed to operate against Berlin. Early briefing and take off was at 8.15 hours. 21 aircraft took off, 2 aircraft abandoned their sorties, in one case the rear turret was u/s and in the other the mid upper gunner was very sick. All the remaining aircraft attacked the target at Berlin. Large area of fires seen in the target area after bombing and were well concentrated. Moon was just rising - no cloud and visibility good. W/Cmdr Burns DFC was selected and acted as Master of Ceremonies over the target. Bundles of windows were dropped.
One aircraft returning from their mission over Berlin was Sgt Chatten's Lancaster "Q-Queenie" (Lancaster EE105 OF-Q) and his crew. They had reached the area over the Kings Lynn area of Norfolk., Chatten had his navigation lights on, and the aircraft was down to a height of only 2,000 feet when the rear gunner, Sergeant Smith, saw white tracer and cannon fire passing above his rear turret. The attacking intruder was Hauptmann Wilhelm Schmitter of V Gruppe of Kampfgeschwader 2. No fighter was seen by Chatten, but the attack from Schmitter seemed to be coming from the starboard bow below the Lancaster. Schmitter's attack crippled the Lancaster with the aircraft catching fire. Chatten did succeeded in extinguishing the fire in the engine, using the built-in extinguisher. However, as soon as the engine fire had been put out, flames were seen coming from the starboard main plane, and the starboard centre petrol tank was on fire. With the Lancaster becoming enveloped by fire, Chatten gave the order to his crew to abandon the aircraft and then he headed for some airfield lights that he could see in the distance. When the lights were put out suddenly. Chatten baled out himself, managing to get out just in time, before the bomber hit the ground and exploded near Shouldham, Norfolk at 0319 hours. All the crew baled out, two crewmen landed at Ashwicken and one at Wormegay, except for the mid upper F/S Kraemer (RAAF) whose body was found later in the wreckage. Sgt Chatten landed safely, but was wounded from gunshot in the leg and ribs and was taken to Ely Hospital. The remainder of the crew baled out safely and were uninjured beyond minor bruises. Schmitters victory (4th victory) occured at approximately 3:00 hours.
Shortly after claiming the Lancaster, Schmitter and his Bordfunker Oberfeldwebel Heinz Gräber were in turn themselves attacked, presumably by Sqn Ldr P W Arbon and Fg Off A E Ashcroft of 29 Squadron, and at approximately 0337 hours shot down into the sea but baled out before their aircraft (Me 410 A-1, 420214, U5+CF)crashed. There were also claims on this night by Flt Lt G Goodman, 85 Sqn, Capt J Rad 85 Sqn, and Wg Cdr Mack 29 Sqn. V/KG 2 lost 3 aircraft that night..(feindflug no.187)
As a result of the air combat Gräber is severely injured and after a painful stay in the salt water of the channel Schmitter and Gräber are picked up by a Kriegsmarine rescue vessel. While in the hospital Gräber's left leg is amputated, while his right leg was saved being only broken. After his rehabilitation Gräber does rejoin the Luftwaffe and is transferred to Quedlinburg aircrew depot but due to his injuries never flies again. Heinz Gräber, Schmitters longtime Bordfunker would subsequently be awarded the Knights Cross and would survive the war due no doubt to his wounds received in this action.8
Oberfeldwebel Heinz Gräber in hospital recovering from his wounds. This image
was taken after he was awarded the Knights Cross. ca. Oct 43 11
Following Schmitter's raid the following description was written. "Speaking of Hauptmann Schmitter, Staffelkäpitan of 15 Staffel KG2, as well as Oberfeldwebel Gräber that for the action against England on the night of August 23/24 I wish to express my thanks as well as special recognition. To Oberfeldwebel Gräber I wish you a complete recovery.
On behalf of General der Flieger Fröhlich, Commander IX. Fliegerkorps.
25 August 43
On behalf of the Geschwaderkommodore of Kampfgeschwader 2, Schmitter and Gräber's heroic and near fatal mission is recognized:
Oberfeldwebel Heinz Gräber 11
"In recognition of Hauptmann Schmitter, Staffelkapitän of 15./KG 2, and his radio operator Oberfeldwebel Gräber my special appreciation of their outstanding courage and cold blooded, dare devil leadership during the long range night fighter mission on the night of 23 August 1943.
Regarding this penetration into the enemy garrison of northwest Cambridge (England) and at a height of 200 meters encountered and shot up an English four (4) engine bomber setting it on fire and causing it to crash. Further contact in this battle zone brought additional attackes on their airfield from a height of 200 meters. Hits were observed on the airstrip runway and assembly areas. On the return flight to the home field, the aircraft of Hauptmann Schmitter was attacked by enemy night fighters over the north sea. The radio operator Oberfeldwebel Gräber was badly wounded and the aircraft sustained many strikes.
The outstanding flying skills of Hauptmann Schmitter kept the aircraft airborne, despite both engines being on fire, instrument failure and further severe damage. Eight (8) kilometers off the Belgain coast they had to bail out and for 1 1/2 hours floated until rescued by harborcraft and soldiers from Flakgruppe Zeebrügge.
All the soldiers of the Geschwader are unanimous in speaking their admiration. "
Letter of behalf of the Geschwaderkommodore recognizing their mission.
Sample images from a 20 page leather bound hard cover booklet entitled "Gegen England" produced and presented the Schmiiter and his Wireless Operator Heinz Gräber by the commander of Kampfgeschwader 2 to commemorate their mission on 23 August 43 and subsequent rescue.
24 September 43
After a one month absense from flying Schmitter and his new Bordfunker Unteroffizier Felix Hainzinger are back in operation on a nightfighter mission in the area of Cambridge. Schmitter notes in his Leistungsbuch that bombs are dropped on an airfield. The British noted that attempts to drop anti-personnel bombs on RAF airfields proved mainly fruitless. (feindflug no.188) Total flight time 2 hours 52 minutes flying U5+AF3
Schmitter's new Bordfunker
Unteroffizier Felix Hainzinger shown
here in flying kit. ca. 1943
Excerpt from Schmitter's Leistungsbuch showing his final flights.
7 October 43
Combined night attack over London where Schmitter indicates that he dropped 2x250 KG bombs accurately from 5,000 meters. He notes encountering flak and searchlight defences and while his aircraft was "coned" he manages to escape. British reports indicate a slightly larger than usual force over Greater London causing some damage and 35 fatal casulities in the capital, where 13 bouroughs reported incidents. (feindflug no.189) Total flight time 1 hours 38 minutes flying U5+BF3
18 October 43
Combined night attack over London where Schmitter drops bombs similar to the 7th October raid and encounters accurate flak, and an attack by an RAF nightfighter after his bombs were dropped. (feindflug no.190) Total flight time 1 hours 20 minutes flying U5+BF3
22 October 43
Another combined night attack over London in which Schmitter is one of three aircraft reaching the target. Again Schmitter drops 2x250 KG bombs and encounters heavy flak and a single RAF nightfighter. (feindflug no.191) Total flight time 2 hours 7 minutes flying U5+IF3
4 November 43
Schmitter and his Bordfunker Unteroffizier hainzinger set off on what would be thier final complete mission. Once again their mission consists of a combined attack over London. Schmitter again drops 2x250 KG bombs from an altitude of 6,500 meters and observes detonations over the drop zone/target area. Schmitter notes very active defense by RAF nightfighters. (feindflug no.192) Total flight time 1 hours 35 minutes flying U5+BF3
8 November 43
Hauptmann Schmitter and his radioman Unteroffizier Felix Hainzinger take off from their base in Vitry, France at 21:50 on their way to targets in and around London. Schmitter's aircraft is loaded with over 1,000 lbs. of explosives.
Me410 of 15./KG2 a similar aircraft as flown by Hauptmann Schmitter while serving as Staffelkäpitan. ca. late 43
At 21:58 (8 Nov. 43) hours Squadron Leader W.H.Maguire (pilot) and Flying Officer W.D.Jones (radio operator) take off from West Malling in a Mosquito Mk XII of No 85, Squadron VY-E.
While airborne Squadron Leader Maguire is informed of an enemy aircraft approaching ahead. The following description was taken from Squardon Leader Maguires after action report:
One Mosquito XII A.I. Mark VIIIA S/L W.H. Maguire (PILOT) and F/O W. D. Jones (OPERATOR) took off West Malling 2158 and landed there 23.50. When under Wartling G.C.I. (Controller Corporal Amos) informed of bandit approaching head on range 15 miles flying north west. Contact was obtained about six miles head on slightly on starboard side and above, time 2030. Turned round to starboard and came in behind at three and a half miles range, bandit showing well above. Held Mosquito down to gain speed and then climbed up in steps I.A.S. 220/240 closing range slowly but steadily. A visual was obtained on moon illuminated a/c 2500 foot range and fifteen degrees above, angels 241/2 slightly port of twelve o'clock, I.A.S. 220. Closed range to 1500 feet where a visual was obtained on fairly bright pale blue twin exhaust flames. At 1000 foot range a/c identified as Me.410 and S/L Maguire opened fire at 200 yards dead astern. Many strikes were observed all over aircraft and burning pieces flew off it.. Opened fire again and flames were observed coming from center section. Broke away to starboard and watched a/c go into a gentle dive on an even keel with no further evidence of fire so pilot attacked again closing to 150 yards, further strikes and large orange glow in fuselage observed. Broke away to starboard to avoid flying wreckage and saw e/a go into a vertical dive trailing sparks and black and white smoke, time of combat approx. 22.43 hours. E/a crashed on land near Eastbourne with bombs on board.
Claim 1 He, 410 destroyed.
Armament report : Rounds fired :
20mm SAPI 88
20mm HEI 80
Stoppages : Nil
Cino Camera exposed : film footage 1 foot 9 inches
Hauptmann Wilhelm Schmitter and his radio operator/airgunner Unteroffizier Felix Hainzinger are shot down by Squadron Leader W.H.Maguire DFC and Flying Officer W.D.Jones and crash at Hampden Park, Eastbourne at 10.43 p.m. Based on the after action report (noted above) it would appear that Schmitter and his air gunner Hainzinger were already badly wounded or possibly killed due to the accurate fire from Maguire's weapons. The bomb load of Schmitter's Me410 exploded upon impact leaving little of the aircraft or crew. Hptmn. W. Schmitter and Uffz. F. Hainzinger are posted missing. Their aircraft U5+BF completely disintegrates upon impact.. At the time of Major Schmitters death he had completed 193 front flights ( feindflug no.193).
Aircraft: Me 410 U5+BF (Wk Nr)
Hptmn. Wilhelm Schmitter FF Staffelkäpitan 15./KG2
Felix Hainzinger BF7
9 November 43
By dawn it was apparent that something fairly cataclysmic had occurred in the middle of Shinewater marsh, on cattle grazing land belonging to Mr. David Vine of Mornings Mill Farm, Willingdon. The scene that met the gaze of the first investigators when daylight finally broke was one of almost unbelievable destruction and carnage. There, in the corner of a field, a vast crater had been blown - approximately one hundred feet across and estimated at about forty feet deep at the center. Thrown up were huge clods of blue clay. The bottom of the huge crater was already filling up rapidly with water.
Strewn about the whole of the marsh were tiny fragments of aluminum alloy and items clearly recognizable as mangled aircraft parts.........7
The day after..............7
4 January 44
The Mayor of Schwabmünchen attempts to contact the DRK (German Red Kruez) to determine if Schmitter has been taken prisoner. He copies Schmitter's mother on the letter.
"Hauptmann Schmitter is missing since 8 November 1943 following a raid to England. To attempt to locate him his last unit was Felddpostnummer L41 886 (KG 2) air mail post office Brussels. There has been no further contact as to his whereabouts and on behalf of the relatives we ask for an investigation."
24 March 44
Hauptmann Wilhelm Schmitter is posthumously awarded the Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz Mit Eichenlaub (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves). At the time of his award he became only the 432nd recipient of the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross and the only Oakleaves recipient from Kampfgeschwader 2 to receive this high honor.
27 March 44
Schmitter's mother receives a letter from Major Meister , the former Gruppenkommodore of V./KG 2, regarding her missing sons award of the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross.
" Madam It is with much admiration that I communicate to you that the Führer has conveyed the honor on your son, Major Wilhelm Schmitter, the award of the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross and sent the following message -
In grateful appreciation for the heroic actions in the fight for the future of the German people I make him the 432 Soldier of the German Armed Forces to be awarded the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross."
The Geschwader is proud that one of our best from our ranks has received this high honor. Your son was, and is a role model and will not be forgotten by our unit.. The future is unfortunately uncertain over the fate of our country however we will remember the large contribution of your son and his name his honored. for all of us and we provide comfort and pride and at the same time sincere admiration.
1 November 43
Hauptmann Schmitter is posthumously promoted to the rank of Major (117) retroactive to 1 November 1943.
The wreckage of Major Wilhelm Schmitter's aircraft is recovered from a pond formed by the explosion in Shinewater Park, Eastbourne Sussex by the Wealden Aviation Group. Amongst the pieces recovered was a werke plate bearing the number 10244 and a piece of wreckage bearing part of a painted red letter 'B' providing a clue to the identity of the aircraft. In addition the WAAG recovered one MG 131 machine gun (No. 50079) together with a mechanism from a MG15. Also found was a piece of engine with the No.2906. One prop blade and several other items, including the drogue chute from one of the missing crews parachutes.
Mr W. D. Jones former (F/O) attended the recovery operation, seen here with Schmitters Me 410 propeller blade.
The final resting place of Schmitter and Hainzinger as it appears today.7
A portion of Schmitter's aircraft excavated from the Shinewater Park crash site in Eastbourne, Sussex (Images graciously supplied by Simon Maguire,
grandson of Sqn. Ldr W.H. Maguire and originally aquired from Pat Burgess one of the team leaders of the 1976 crash site excavation).
A portion of Schmitter's wreckage bearing part of a painted red letter 'B' providing a clue to
the identity of the aircraft. (image courtesy of Andy Saunders)
1. Website "Wings Palette", Artist Luis Fresno Crespo
2. Website "Wings Palette", Artist: Julio López Caeiro
3. Major Wilhelm Schmitter's Leistungsbuch (feindflug no.1-193) 1 Sept. 39-8 Nov. 43
5. Kampfflieger (Vol. two) - Luftwaffe Colours, Richard Smith & Eddie Creek with color profiles by Thomas Tullis
7. "A Far from Ordinary Pond", Author Andy Saunders, article from Britain at War Magazine Jan. 2009
8. Obtained from Heinz Gräber's wartime documents, early 1990's
9. "Fighter Command Losses", Vol 2, 1942/43
10. From Leutnant Schitter's "Status Report" of 8 February 1941
11. From "Die Ritterskreuzträger der Kampfflieger", Jochen Kaiser
Major Wilhelm Schmitter's document group