“Game Over” - Reproduced with kind permission of Chris Goss, from his article in the September 2008 edition of Flypast Magazine.
(Nb. Narrative below contains a description of the encounter between 1st Lt. Don Mercier (343rd FS) and Sepp Schmauz's He-111 on the 28th August 1944. Photos of Sepp Schmauz also reproduced with kind permission of Chris Goss).
A native of Augsburg, Josef ‘Sepp’ Schmauz was 22 when the war
started. Having joined the German army, he did not cherish the thought of
fighting on the ground. So he quickly applied and was accepted for the Luftwaffe
and after training was posted to II Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 53 (II/KG 53) ‘Legion
Condor’ at Lille-Vendeville in northern France in the latter months of 1940.
His function was beobachter (observer) in a five-man He 111 crew.
Once deemed suitable for operational flying, ‘Sepp’s’ crew was assigned to 6 Staffel in April 1941 and in the months that followed, they flew 12 missions over he UK against Belfast (probably April 15, 1941), London (three times), Liverpool, Portsmouth, Sheffield (likely May 8, 1941), Brighton, Southampton, Ipswich, Harwich and the bomber airfield at Stradishall in Suffolk (possibly May 11, 1941).
Sepp Schmauz, with more than 290 bombing missions over Russia, was withdrawn from operational flying to be an instructor, but following the Allied invasion in Normandy in June 1944, returned to 6/KG 53 to fly limited bombing and re-supply missions over northern France.
On August 28, 1944, the Gruppe was recalled to Germany where it was to convert to bombing missions carrying an underslungV-1 ‘doodlebug’. Sepp recalls: “On August 28, 1944, 09:15, our He 111 took off from Rouvres, near Verdun, to fly to Babenhausen. The first contact with fighters, P-51 Mustangs was in the area of Bernkastel at the river Mosel. Our reaction was to fly as low as possible, at about ten metres flying height.
“Three of the fighters immediately launched an attack. During the first, our Heinkel was hit in the fuselage. Our radio operator told the pilot, Lt Fritz Will, and myself that two comrades had been wounded by the gunfire. There were several more attacks which also hit our aircraft.
“To avoid being shot down and crash we tried to carry out an emergency landing on a field near the village of Hahn. While carrying out this manoeuvre a Mustang, coming from the right, fired into our glazed nose. It was obvious that the pilot wanted to hit the cockpit crew.
“Lt Will succeeded in belly-landing our He 111 on the field. I had already opened the pilot’s sliding hatch to make getting out… easier for him. The other members of the crew who were able to escape had left… at the side of the fuselage.
“They crept along the furrows away from the plane. The pilots of the enemy fighters acted very fairly because they did not shoot at us. They shot at our Heinkel until it burst into flames.
“In the meantime we had reached Hahn which was only about 300 metres away. The villagers who had been running towards us lead us into the village Inn. The landlady helped us and sent for the doctor.
“Because of the strain and the concentration during our emergency landing I had not noticed until now that I had been wounded by shell fragments in my right upper arm and the right part of my chest. Our radio operator and the engineer were wounded, too.
“Only seven out of our crew of nine had arrived at the inn. Our gunner, who was the last to arrive, told us that Lt will and Ogefr Hermann Deubner had not left the aircraft, so they burnt in the plane. They had probably suffered such severe or even deadly wounds that they were not able to leave the plane. We were deeply shocked by the death of our comrades.
“An ambulance took the three of us who were wounded to a hospital in Bernkastel for further medical care. Because of his severe wounds our comrade Ofw Ludwig Römer lost his right leg…”
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