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Old 14th June 2014, 16:24
Håkan Håkan is offline
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Re: José Falcó Sanmartín

Hello John,

I think (at least for me) that this discussion is finnished - I only reacted on the info on the wikipedia page, which both I and fran agrees on is wrong (i.e. Nirminger wasn't killed on 6 February 1939).

However, if anyone can provide more detailed info on the combat on 6 February I would happily move it to the correct Place in the forum.

Best wishes/Håkan
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Old 23rd June 2014, 13:18
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: José Falcó Sanmartín

I hope that You will find this interesting:

THE LAST COMBAT: the story of a pilot of Spanish Civil War

Translation of an article, which was published in Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia on 8.2.2009

The translation is not the best one and I made some editing, but I hope that it is good enough and that You find the story interesting.

Republican pilot, who killed a German officer on 1939, tells of his combat and how he preserved the memorial stone of the German

During many years those who circulated at the highway between La Jonquera and Roses, observed, how near of Carriguella was a memorial stone dedicated to a German pilot died during the Civil War. Someone had taken good care of it and there were even were few flowers decorating it. There was guessing who was regularly leaving those red flowers for this memorial monument of a pilot of Legión Cóndor. Some suspected that a group of extreme right was taking care of it. Not long ago one extreme left group listed this memorial stone in its list of fascist symbols, which were to be destroyed.

Very few knew that this monument was taken care by José Falcó, a Republican pilot, who in 1939 shot down his adversary Friedrich Windemuth. “We were opposing each other, he died, but it could have been well me.”

In the memorial monument there is a text: “Here on 6.2.1939 fell Friedrich Windemuth in the fight for National Spain. Born on 27.5.1915 in Leipzig”. Windemuth was the last casualty of Legión Condor, which Hitler sent to help Franco. Windemuth was flying one of six Bf 109´s, which on 6.2.1939 were strafing the airfield of Vilajuiga. The Germans knew, that there was, what remained of Republican Air Force in Catalonia: about 30 planes, which Republicans were going to evacuate to France. The battle over Catalonia was already lost, and it was only a question of time, when Nationalist ground troops would arrive.

But German fighters arrived, before the plane was carried out. It was more a massacre than a combat, because only four Republican planes managed to take off and the rest were destroyed. One of the few, who escaped was Polikarpov I-15 Chato piloted by lieutenant José Falcó, who was the commander of nightfighters.

When at six of the morning there was a group of planes at the horizont, they thought that these were reinforcements. They realized Soon™™™ that they were mistaken: “No, they are Germans, Messers!”

The first to take off was García Lacalle, commander of 11th Fighter Squadron. He was followed by another pilot called Batista, and they took the direction toward France. Behind them Falcó was faced with two Messers. There was a intense exchange of shots, and Falcó was sure that he had hit one Messer. When he had already taken the course toward the French border, he saw that other German fighter was pursuing a Republican Grumman GE 23 “Delfin”.

“I managed to put myself after the tail of the Messer and I did not stop shooting him until I had him, although I had to do very strong maneuver for not to collide with him and that stopped the fuel to coming to engine. I had to land to one vineyard”

Falcó returned to the airfield, which by now was deserted and he saw only the smoking wreckage of burned planes. Like other surviving Republican pilots, he crossed later French border. He was detained and transported to the concentracion camp of Argeles, where French placed Spanish refugees.

“We were between spinewires and beach. It was cold, and the worst was that you had to do your (toilet) necessities in front of all people.”

Few week later Falcó was transferred to Gurs camp. He was there until September 1939, when one family member, who was living in Alger, called him. This permitted José Falcó to leave the camp and he lived in Alger between 1939 and 1964. The independence war in Alger and the violences connected to it, made him to leave Alger and finally he was settled in Toulose (France). When time passed and Franco had died, he finally went to visit Spain. He went to see what remained of his old airbase, but he barely recognized the airfield almost vanished between vineyards.

“I found the memorial stone of Windemuth, thanks to one farmer. I saw the age of the pilot (23). It was almost same as mine then. Probably his family does not know, that there is still a memorial stone (dedicated to him) standing.”

After that Falcó had returned from time to time take care of Windemuth´s memorial. One day he found that at the side of it someone had planted a ciprés “which makes company to it”. The ciprés was planted by a owner of one vineyard, Xavier Casellas, who was also a paint artist. His father had been a red political commissar and a captain of Republican infantry.

“After the war my father had to spend one year at the concentration camp of Málaga and four years in the prison of Figueres. He wanted to destroy the memorial stone, but I stopped him. It is not a fascist monument, but a memorial of a soldier, who was killed in the war. We reds have shown that we do not want revenge, we want reconciliation.”

José Falcó, now 92 years, does not leave often from his home, because his sight is weak. Three years ago (in 2006) he met the king Juan Carlos as a member of the Association of Republican Pilots in France (a association, which he has presided many years). During one of his last visits in Catalonia, the lieutenant colonel Rober Pla of the airbase of Paní invited Falcó to fiesta patronal of Loreto. (a religious festivity)

“I have a great respect for Falcó, he was a ace of the war. And at his age then it was a merit to be a commander of nightfighters. They flew in darkness without any instruments and without radar.”

At the guestbook of Paní airbase Falcó wrote on 2002: “I have been honored to take part of this fiesta with all my humility remembering that in this time the Virgin can reign for all times blessing all of the Air Force. José Falcó, pilot of the Republic”.

The episode of Vilajuiga interests those, who are passionated for the aviation history. There are many mysteries. Falcó found on that fateful day of 6.2.1939 from the remains of a fallen Bf 109 card of identity with the name of Hans Nirminger. He might have been the second German pilot, who fell victim to Falcó. However, Legión Condor records say, that Nirminger indeed was in the air combat of 6.2.1939, but that he died in flying accident at León in May 1939. By that time the war was over. “Germans could not accept, that that a fly (like I-15) could bring two Messers down.” says Falcó.

At León standed a memorial stone for Nirminger, but it has now vanished. Today only monumets are what remains of the memory of the Civil War.
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Old 19th December 2014, 12:18
Arsenal VG-33 Arsenal VG-33 is offline
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Re: José Falcó Sanmartín

Originally Posted by fran View Post
The whole matter is very confusing but I am almost sure he did not shot down neither Nirminger nor Windemuth. Going farther, I'd say rather Falcó was himself shot down by Nirminger.

Why are you so sure, and why didn't you ask to Falco himself, in time when it was possible?

His variant of the story is fully credible, at least in the confusion of the day: first he went to the Villajuiega airfield and saw grouded 6-96 plane. Inside he founded papers on Nimringer name, that he transmitted to remaining headquaters (others were already en route for France), for claim confirmation.

It was not Windemuth's plane the 6-98 that was later shown in newspapers, also in a place that looked like Villajuiega. The fact is that numerous participants and witnesses of the scene (Bravo, Arias, Jacob, Sanz...) never recognized the badly damaged 6-98 on photos, for the almost intact 6-96 they really saw that days, that collided the groud very tangentially and suffered little damage.
Then Falco himself never new or quoted Windemuth name before his hollidays in 1963, when he was directed to a stone monolyth with this name by local inhabitants, along the Figueras to Valencia road.
From Juan Arraez and others historians enquests.

BTW, the mystery remains, Sanz for instance did not saw Falco's I-15 that day firing over Nimringer's plane...And there is not a problem for me to imagine that germans could have slyly distort their own archives.


Last edited by Arsenal VG-33; 19th December 2014 at 17:13.
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