See also: Marseilles (homonymy)
Hans-Joachim " Jochen" Marseilles (* December 13rd 1919 with Berlin; † September 30th 1942 in the south of Sidi-Abd-el-Rahman, Egypt) was a German fighter pilot with the rank of Hauptmann and have aviation during the Second world war. The Propagande had called it called “ Der Stern von Afrika ” (“the star of Africa”). Holder of 158 air victories gained with the top of the English Channel and, especially, with the top of North Africa, it is regarded as being the principal German ace of the Afrika Korps.
Descendant of French immigrants installed in Germany, Hans-Joachim Marseilles was the son of a Generalmajor of the Luftwaffe. After having finished its schooling at the 17 years age to the college " Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium" to Berlin, it entered in 1938 the air force, the Luftwaffe. As of its formation, its talent for piloting was an obviousness, but it had problems with the military discipline, the respect which it owed with its superiors and with the Prussian rigor then into force within the Wehrmacht. It did not respect for example not minimal altitudes of vol. One day, it had even landed on a road to satisfy a nature's need.
Moreover, one certain silent side to him been worth a certain mistrust on behalf of its fellow-members.
After its training of pilot, Marseilles was transferred in August 1940 in the squadron of N°2 drive (“Lehrgeschwader 2”) stationed on the coast of the Manche, after having briefly been useful in the Staffel 4 of the JG-52 (Jagdgeschwader 52), where it had his first contacts with the enemy. During the Bataille of England it obtained its first victory the August 24th 1940 at the time of its first day of combat. At the time of its second day of combat it cut down its second apparatus what been worth to him to be decorated with the Croix with iron of 2nd class. Only three days later, it obtained already the Croix of iron of 1st class after its fifth victory. It should be noted that all these victories will be it against Spitfire, the mythical British hunter of the second world war. At the time of its stay at the edge of the Handle, it had still been punished twice (once it even purged five days of stop) for reasons of discipline.
In spite of this fulgurating beginning, Marseilles is an adventurous pilot and individualist in aerial combat which is worried little tactics of combat of Luftwaffe. This absence of tactic of combat will make that it itself will be cut down three times during the battle of England.
In March 1941 Marseilles was finally transferred to the JG-27 (Jagdgeschwader 27), ordered by Oberleutnant Gerhard Homuth, officer of great tradition which appreciated little the ease of its subordinate.
It is with this flotilla that Marseilles was sent in Africa north in April and quickly committed in the area of Tobrouk, in Libya. It obtained its first victory as of its first mission above the Libya, over a British Hawker Hurricane, and, in the weeks which followed, it still added other victories with its score over Curtiss P-40 and Hawker Hurricane. It attracted itself nevertheless the disapproval of its direct hierarchically superior, the lieutenant Gerhard Homuth, because Marseilles had the annoying practice to leave its formation as soon as it seen an enemy plane to attack this one without to have received the order of it. This was in total contradiction with the rules of the aerial combat. That also displeased with its team leader, the “Gruppenkommandeur” Hauptmann Neumann, but this one also recognized the great talent of Marseilles.
It was promoted with the rank of Leutnant (second lieutenant) in June 1941, after its thirteenth victory. Little time after, whereas its plane had been severely reached by enemy projectiles, it due landing in “No man' S Land” and it managed to join unscathed the German lines only after one long walk in the desert. In the months which followed, Marseilles took more and more conscience of its duties of soldier and aviator. During the aerial combats there remained closer to his comrades and he accepted the elementary military rules. The September 24th, twenty-four Messerschmitt Bf 109 of its unit came into contact with two squadrons of British hunters. Without having to regret of losses, German cut down six planes, of which four were carried in the active of Marseilles. It was appointed Rottenführer (team leader) and, during its many missions its shooting became increasingly precise. In December of the same year it obtained the " Cross allemande" out of gold ( Deutsches Kreuz in Gold ).
In February 1942 Marseilles obtained its 50e victory, which made of it the most effective pilot of its squadron. It was rewarded with the cross for knight for the Croix for iron and a promotion with the rank for Oberleutnant (lieutenant). When Homuth became chief of its group in May, Marseilles was named chief of flotilla. In the months which followed it obtained on average from two to five victories per aerial combat. Marseilles had not only become one celebrity in Germany but also at its enemies. The British pilots would have even received the order to attack it any more or then only in group. The British then took Marseilles drives out some with pilots of elite, of which Clive Caldwell which managed to kill several members of the unit of Marseilles but which never met it itself during a combat.
In June 1942 lieutenant Marseilles killed six enemies in only eleven minutes and the same month, after its 75e victory, it obtained the sheets of oak for its cross of knight of the Croix of iron. He was the 2nd pilot of his unit and the 97e soldier on the whole to see itself giving this decoration. The June 17th the JG-27 announced the 100e victory of Marseilles. He was then the first pilot to reach this score on the face of the west. He then saw himself giving to Berlin the swords for his cross of knight of the Croix of iron with sheets of oak. He was then it twelfth soldier to obtain this high decoration.
When it was of return within its unit, Marseilles found a situation completely different from that which it had known before its voyage to Berlin. Indeed, the Luftwaffe was now on the defensive in Africa. The German pilots faced an enemy six times higher of number, which made increase the losses undergone by its squadron.
As of the first day during which he set out again on mission, he managed to cut down 10 enemy planes and, on September 1st 1942, he obtained 17 victories confirmed in only one day during three missions. The full number of its victories amounted then to 121. And, after having cut down 5 additional planes as of the following day, it received the brilliances for its cross of knight of the Cross of iron with sheets of oak and swords. He was then the fourth soldier only to obtain this decoration. In the days which followed it still added other victories with its prize list, which been worth to him to be mentioned by name for the fifth time in the report/ratio of the Wehrmacht (“Wehrmachtsbericht”). The September 11th it had with its credit 144 shot down enemy planes and four days later, after a hard combat, it asserted seven of more of them. He was then the third German pilot (but only on the face of the west) to reach 150 victories. The September 16th 1942 it obtained at 22 years the rank of Hauptmann (captain) what then made of it the youngest captain of the Luftwaffe. But the supremacy of the enemy and the frequency of the missions which resulted from this also left traces at Marseilles. It often was very tired and tended, which been worth to him to be made propose a permission by the Generalfeldmarschall Rommel itself which required of him to accompany it with Berlin and to be held at its sides at the time of a speech of Hitler. Marseilles refused because he did not want to leave his unit and because it wished to go near its been engaged to Christmas. The September 30th 1942, the very same day of the speech of the “Führer” in the sport hall of Berlin, its flotilla returned of a mission without of having fought when the apparatus of Marseilles, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2, was victim of an escape in an oil duct which started a fire in the engine of the plane. Marseilles was then directed towards the German lines by the comrades who accompanied it, because its windshield was covered with oil. And, when a thick smoke ends up invading the cockpit, Marseilles decided to be extracted from its plane. Unfortunately this one was not in the good position and it ran up against the back empennage with its head while jumping, which been worth to him to lose consciousness (even probably killed on the blow) before to have been able to actuate its Parachute. It was buried a few days later with the military honors with Derna and a small pyramid was set up on the spot of the accident by the 3rd flotilla and the Italian comrades. On the bronze plate which decorated the pyramid was registered: “Here unconquered captain H.J died. Marseilles”. After the war its skin was transferred in the memorial from the Afrikakorps to Tobrouk.
The captain Hans-Joachim Marseilles had obtained until his death 158 victories, including 151 on the face of North Africa, during 388 missions of combat. Marseilles is then the third German pilot to cross the bar of the 150 victories but is the first all to have gained them against the talented pilots of the British Empire. The Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr of post-war period honoured it also this exceptional fighter pilot by giving his name to a barracks.
List of the holders of the cross of knight of the cross of iron with sheets of oak, swords and brilliant
- Christian-Jacques Ehrengardt " the Air War, 1939-1945 " , Tallandier Editions, Paris, 1996
- General Galland " Until the end on our Messerschmitt" , Editions Robert Laffont 1957
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