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  #1  
Old 30th January 2006, 19:33
Jon Jon is offline
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French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

In 1940 the French went back on their promise and handed captured Luftwaffe crews back to the Germans not to the RAF as agreed !!

I understand the numbers were very high including 400 pilots including 21 BF110 crews ( 12 pilots and 9 gunners )

Winston Churchill commented " they will be used to bomb this country and force our airmen to shoot them down again"......as in many cases they did.

However, were any future aces / Experten in this batch of released crews, that later in the war caused the Allies a problem ?
Also what difference if any would the loss of these crews had made on the Luftwaffe during the soon to arrive Battle of Britain.

Can i just add this is not a snipe at the French, just a genuine question
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  #2  
Old 30th January 2006, 19:57
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

Moelders for example but I think we must consider that in a more statistical way. A Staffel of Me 110s is not much but always something, having in mind those people were trained and combat experienced.
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  #3  
Old 31st January 2006, 19:17
Jon Jon is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

Thanks Franek.

Just think, if they had given them over to the British Moelders could still be alive today.

I think the BF110 gets a lot of stick, sure against a single engined modern fighter it suffered but also many Spits and Hurricanes fell to its guns.....not the fighter to be at the sharp end of.

21 BF110 crews would have meant the death or early death of many RAF fighter pilots.
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Old 31st January 2006, 22:46
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

Was there any such promise? Made by someone with the power to fulfill it? Or was it just wishful thinking by Churchill/the British? It would certainly have been much better for us had they passed over such prisoners, but in the circumstances of the fall it's understandable that it didn't happen. The Germans may even have made it one of the conditions, perhaps?

Given that one entire Highland infantry division was left behind, was there shipping available for German PoWs?
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  #5  
Old 6th February 2006, 20:24
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

This question raised my interest before, and here is what I gathered about German airmen released at the end of June 1940 when the French surrendered.

Not included those shot down over the surrounded Allied armies in North of France, that were probably liberated at the end of the Dunkirk battle, and those that are known to have been liberated before the end of the campain (either in hospital overrun by the Wermacht, or evaders):

Lt Walter Maurer 3./ZG 2 (and Bf Uffz Stefan Makera) (1 kill in Poland, no more known after)
Lt Friedrich Auinger 1./ZG 26 (no known kill)
Lt Hans Gaffal 13(Z)./LG 1 (no known kill)
Lt Helmut Schultze 13(Z)./LG 1 (no known kill)
(Bf) Uffz Fritz Radzko 4./ZG 76
Ofw Johannes Oertel 3./ZG 52 (no known kill)
Lt Franz Mentzel 3./ZG 2 (and Bf Gefr Wilhelm Oechsle) (one pilot same name claimed a kill with JG 77 in 1941)
Oblt Hans-Jochen Knop 6./ZG 76 (and Bf Uffz Jakob Neumayer) (2 kills on 13/05/40, no more known after)
Uffz Erwin Landgraf 4./ZG 26 (no known kill)
Hptm Eberhard d'Elsa Staka 5./ZG 26 (no known kill)
Major Walter Grabmann Kommodore ZG 76 (no known kill)
(Bf) Gefr Alfred Welzel 9./ZG 26
Lt Dieter Nülle Stab II./ZG 1 (and Bf Ogefr Georg Rothenberger) (no known kill)
Oblt Herwarth Ziebarth Stab I./ZG 52 (no known kill)
(Bf) Gefr Paul Eckert 9./ZG 26

Total: 12 pilots, 7 gunners. One known kill after their release (but ZG kills are not well known, at least to me)

Bf 109 pilots:

Lt Kurt Rozenkranz JGr 152
Gefr Hesselbach JGr 152
Oblt Borth JGr 152 (heavily wounded, probably never flew again)
Uffz Georg Pavenzinger 2./JG 51 (no kill before, 4 kills in BoB, 5th kill on unknown date ?)
Lt Günther Voigt Stab/JGr 102 (no known kill)
Lt Heinz Schultz 1./JG 76 (no known kill)
Fw Karl Hier 1./JG 76 (1 kill before, 1 at unknown date, 13 during BoB, KIA 15/11/40)
Ofw Herfried Kloimüller 2./JG 51 (no known kill)
Ofw Wilfried von Balka 1./JG 51 (no known kill)
Uffz Wolfgang Wagner 2./JG 54 (lost his left foot, probably never flew again)
Lt Paul Stolte Stab I./JG 54 (KIA 18/10/43, 43 victories, all after his release)
Lt Gerhard Carnier 2./JG 53 (1st victory in BoB)
Lt Albert Walter 1./JG 54 (too common name for me to find what he did after, a pilot with the same name scored 37 kills with JG 51)
Uffz Josef Kröschel 8./JG 53 (KIA 30/4/42, 1 victory)
Lt Kurt Kirchner Stab I./JG 52 (1 victory before his capture, 2 in BoB, POW (for good) 30/9/40)
Lt Max Jaczak 1./JG 2 (or 1./JG 53) (1st kill in 1941 with JG 3)
Uffz Fritz Hotzelmann 1./JG 54 (no known kill, POW (for good) 5/9/40)
Oblt Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke Stake 7./JG 53 (KIA 23/3/44, 162 victories, 3 before his capture by the French)
Uffz Albert Mannske 2./JG 76 (no known kill)
Uffz Hubert Stephan 9./JG 3 (no known kill)
Oblt Hans-Christian Schäfer Staka 5./JG 27 (2 kills in May 1940 before his capture, 2/3 in 1941 with JG 77)
Lt Friedrich Strakeljahn 2./LG 2 (2 kills in May 1940 before his capture, 3 in BoB, 4 on Eastern Front. KIA 6/7/44)
Uffz Ludwig Reibel 1./JG 53 (1 kill in May 1940 before his capture, KIA 20/12/42, 38 victories)
Uffz Rudolf Hager 1./JG 76 (1 kill in May 1940 before his capture, 4 in BoB, 5+ on Eastern front. MIA 19/7/42)
Uffz Artur Beese 9./JG 26 (KIA 6/2/44, 22 victories, all after 1940)
Fw Willi Roth 4./JG 26 (4 kills in May 1940 before his capture, survived the war, 20 victories, including 5 in BoB)
Oberst Gerd von Massow Jafü 3 (no known kill)
Uffz Artur Tismer 1./JG 1 (no known kill)
Uffz Josef Keil 8./JG 3 (4 kills in May 1940 before his capture, 3 in BoB, survived the war with 16 victories)
Uffz Rudlof Saborowski 8./JG 3 (3 kills in May 1940 before his capture, 3 in BoB, KIA 8/7/42, 39 victories)
Fw Erich Schröder 2./JG 27 (no known kill, POW 26/5/41)
Lt Anton Falkensamer 2./JG 51 (3 kills in May 1940 before his capture, 4-8 in 1941 or later, KIA 22/12/43)
Hptm Werner Mölders Kdr III./JG 53 (25 kills in 39-40 before his capture, KIFA 17/11/41, 101 victories (+14 in Spain))
Lt Josef Unterberger 2./JG 27 (survived the war, 4 victories, all after his release (first in 1941))
Uffz Paul Grond 1./JG 53 (no known kill, KIA 22/8/44)
Fw Hans Galubinski 7./JG 53 (9 kills in May 1940 before his capture, KIA 13/1/44 with 28 kills)
Gefr Georg Deinzer 8./JG 52 (KIFA 16/3/42, 2 victories both in 1941)
Hptm Bernhard Mielke 3./LG 2 (3 kills in May 1940 before his capture, 1 in BoB, KIA 30/8/40)
Fw Alfred Burkhardt 3./JG 26 (2 kills in May 1940 before his capture)
Lt Klaus Mietusch 7./JG 26 (1 kill in May 1940 before his capture, 1 in BoB, KIA 17/9/44, 76 victories)
Lt Hans Bosch Stab II./JG 27 (survived the war, 1st kill in BoB, another later)
Oblt Otto Böhner Stab II./JG 53 (survived the war, 9 victories, all after his release)
Gefr Adalbert Madler 6./JG 51 (no known kill)

Total: 43 pilots, who claimed at least 549 victories after their release...

So I found a staffel of Bf 110, but most important a full group of Bf 109, with 14 pilots becoming aces later or already being one.

Then I should say that I have never seen a proof of an agreement between France and United Kingdom to transfer POWs to England. It was done in Netherlands (when possible) but the Dutch government didn't surrender while the French did. I wonder if the Belgian also released German airmen once they surrendered in 1940.
On the other hand several pilots I have not included in the list above were captured over Dunkirk and liberated when the "pocket" fell, so British also "liberated" some German airmen in those confuse days...

To reply to the question someone asked, yes, the release of all POWs was one of the armistice terms imposed by the Germans (Article XIX of the armistice):

"All German war and civil prisoners in French custody, including those under arrest and convicted who were seized and sentenced because of acts in favor of the German Reich, shall be surrendered immediately to German troops.

The French Government is obliged to surrender upon demand all Germans named by the German Government in France as well as in French possessions, colonies, protectorate territories, and mandates.

The French Government binds itself to prevent removal of German war and civil prisoners from France into French possessions or into foreign countries. Regarding prisoners already taken outside of France, as well as sick and wounded German prisoners who cannot be transported, exact lists with the places of residence are to be produced. The German High Command assumes care of sick and wounded German war prisoners."

PS: on a side note, I was unable to find the text of the armistice in French on the Net, but I found it in English...
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  #6  
Old 6th February 2006, 21:40
Jim P. Jim P. is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

The lead sentence at the head of the thread strikes as a somewhat disingenous statement. The German advance was so rapid that many of the POWs were in fact rescued by their own forces. I think the French and British forces may have had some higher priorities, such as keeping their own butts out of German POW camps, than worrying about the transfer of POWs. The same occurred in Holland and Belgium as well.
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  #7  
Old 6th February 2006, 23:31
Tom Semenza Tom Semenza is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

Just to update some claims for pilots mentioned by Laurent:

Walter Maurer 1 in Spain, 1 in Poland, 2 in France, later 3 in Russia before being shot down over England with 16./KG 6 (PoW again)

Johannes Oertel 1 in France

Franz Mentzel 1 in Poland

Walter Grabmann 7 in Spain, 1 in France, later 5 in BoB

Kurt Rosenkrantz 2 in France, later 2 in BoB plus 2 B-17s u/c in 1943

Herfried Kloimüller 1 subsequent claim

Wilfried von Balka later 1 in Russia

Erich Schröder 1 in France

Regards,

Tom
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  #8  
Old 6th February 2006, 23:37
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim P.
The lead sentence at the head of the thread strikes as a somewhat disingenous statement. The German advance was so rapid that many of the POWs were in fact rescued by their own forces. I think the French and British forces may have had some higher priorities, such as keeping their own butts out of German POW camps, than worrying about the transfer of POWs. The same occurred in Holland and Belgium as well.
Just to add a precision: all pilots named in my post were still in French captivity (AFAIK) at the time of the French armistice. I didn't list about 20-30 other pilots that were freed by their own troops before this date or evaded (one ran away from a French ambulance-train under bombing by the Luftwaffe, and then hid with 60 other German ex-POW).

Thanks Tom for the added details
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  #9  
Old 7th February 2006, 21:00
Jon Jon is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

Hi Jim.

I think you are refering to my opening line, as i have stated this is not a dig at the French in any way shape or form. I am just interested into what those released pilots and aircrew achieved.

I am a strong believer that we sat here in safety on this forum have no right to judge anyone or any nation for what they did or did not do in the War.

Can i just also say thanks to the responses especially from Laurent Rizzotti....superb.
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  #10  
Old 7th February 2006, 22:09
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: French hand over of downed Luftwaffe crews in 1940

You're welcome Jon.

I haven't noticed your statement on the first post about the 12 Bf 110 pilots and 9 gunners. My own list (drawn from the book of John Vasco about Bf 110) has 12 pilots and 7 gunners, so close to, especially has for 2 of the pilots, the gunner is just shown as POW, without the * showing he was released at the end of the campain, but it may be a mistake and that will bring the number of gunners to 9.
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