|Born||13 January 1914
|Died||23 April 2003
|Years of service||1934–45|
|Commands held||I./KG 4
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Hansgeorg Bätcher (13 January 1914 – 23 April 2003) was a highly decorated Oberstleutnant bomber pilot in the Luftwaffe during World War II, and one of only 882 recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Hansgeorg Bätcher was captured by American troops in May 1945.
Born in January 1914, Bätcher received flight training at Fliegergruppe Tutow between November 1935 and March 1936. As a Leutnant, he joined I./KG 157 (later I./KG 27) in December 1938. He served with this unit during operations against Poland in 1939. In 1940 Bätcher participated in the invasion of France, though he was shot down and captured near Rouen on 5 June 1940.
Following the surrender of France, Bätcher was released. He then served as a flying instructor before returning to operations in May 1941, with Kampfgruppe 100 "Viking", equipped with the Heinkel He 111.
In July 1941 Bätcher was appointed Staffelkapitän 1./K.Gr. 100, and posted to the Eastern Front. Bätcher operations over Moscow in the late summer and autumn of 1941. Bätcher was awarded with the Bomber Pilot's Clasp in Bronze on 23 August 1941, in Silver in September 1941, and Gold in November 1941.
In early 1942 I./KG 100 flew maritime attacks against the Soviet fleet in the Black Sea. Bätcher became the most successful bomber pilot during this campaign, sinking or damaging several Soviet naval vessels. In March 1942, he was promoted to Hauptmann. In the summer of 1942 Bätcher took part in the assault against Sevastopol, and he carried out his 300th combat mission on 2 July 1942.
Following missions over the Caucasus during August 1942, he then participated in the Battle for Stalingrad. With Stalingrad surrounded by the Red Army, Bätcher carried out supply flights to the besieged Sixth Army. Bätcher was awarded with Knight's Cross on 21 December 1942.
In the summer of 1943 Bätcher took part in Operation Zitadelle; the Battle of Kursk. He also flew missions over the contested Kuban Bridgehead. On 30 July 1943 Bätcher completed his 500th combat mission.
In November 1943, I./KG 100 was redesignated as I./KG 4, and Bätcher was promoted to Major and appointed Gruppenkommandeur. Bätcher completed his 600th combat flight on 21 November 1943 and his 650th combat flight on 9 February 1944.
After completing 658 bomber missions Bätcher was posted to the Staff of Luftflottenkommando 4 in May 1944. He remained there until December 1944, when he was posted to command III./KG 76 equipped with the first Jet bomber, the Arado Ar 234. Bätcher's last bomber missions were made with the Ar 234 against British and American troops in February 1945.
In February 1945, he was appointed to command the Me 262-equipped KG(J) 54, which he led until the end of the war.
Awards and decorations
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe
- in Bronze (23 August 1941)
- in Silver (3 September 1941)
- in Gold (8 November 1941)
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe on 24 November 1941 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän
- German Cross in Gold on 2 July 1942 as Hauptmann in the I./Kampfgeschwader 100
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Thomas 1997, p. 19.
- Patzwall 2008, p. 45.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 26.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 103.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 69.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Kaiser, Jochen (2010). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kampfflieger—Band 1 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Bomber Fliers—Volume 1] (in German and English). Bad Zwischenahn, Germany: Luftfahrtverlag-Start. ISBN 978-3-941437-07-4.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- Patzwall, Klaus D. (2008). Der Ehrenpokal für besondere Leistung im Luftkrieg [The Honor Goblet for Outstanding Achievement in the Air War] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-08-3.
- Schaulen, Fritjof (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
Oberstleutnant Volprecht Riedesel Freiherr zu Eisenbach
|Geschwaderkommodore of Kampfgeschwader 54
27 February 1945 – 8 May 1945