Herbert Lütje

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Herbert Lütje
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2008-0505-501, Herbert Lütje.jpg
Herbert Lütje
Born 30 January 1918
Abbesbüttel/Gifhorn, Germany
Died 18 January 1967(1967-01-18) (aged 48)
Cologne-Wahn, Germany
Allegiance  Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 West Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht)
Luftwaffe (Bundeswehr)
Years of service 1937–1945, 1957–
Rank Oberstleutnant (Wehrmacht)
Oberst (Bundeswehr)
Unit LG 2, JG 2, NJG 1, NJG 6
Commands held 8./NJG 1, IV./NJG 6, NJG 6
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves

Herbert Lütje (30 January 1918 – 18 January 1967). He was a highly decorated night fighter pilot and flying ace during World War II. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat.[1] Lütje was credited with 50 aerial victories, 47 of which were claimed at night.[Notes 1]

Military career[edit]

Herbert Lütje joined the Luftwaffe in November 1937 as a Fahnenjunker (Officer Cadet). Lütje was transferred to the night fighter squadron of Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2—2nd Demonstration Wing) in December 1939.[Notes 2] In February 1940 he was posted to the 12. Staffel (12th Squadron) of Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen" (JG 2—2nd Fighter Wing). Flying with this squadron he participated in the Battle of France in May 1940 and flew numerous night fighter missions on single engined aircraft in June 1940.[2]

In July Lütje was transferred again this time to the Stab of III. Gruppe (3rd Group) of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing). Flying his 49th night fighter mission he claimed his first nocturnal aerial victory on the night of 6 September 1941. With four aerial victories to his credit he was appointed Staffelkapitän (Squadron Leader) of the 8./NJG 1 (8th Squadron of the 1st Night Fighter Wing) on 1 May 1942. By the end of 1942 his number of aerial victories had increased to 15.[2]

Lütje claimed a B-17 Flying Fortress shot down during a day time mission against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 4 March 1943.[2] He achieved his 20th aerial victory on the night of 29 March 1943. Lütje was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 1 June 1943 after he had shot down six British bombers (aerial victories 23–28) on the night of 13 May 1943. Among them was a Royal Air Force (RAF) Avro Lancaster from No. 57 Squadron piloted by Pilot Officer Jan Bernand Marinus Haye on a mission to bomb the Škoda Works at Plzeň. The bomber was set on fire and the crew bailed out safely.[3] He was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (Group Commander) of the IV. Gruppe (4th Group) of Nachtjagdgeschwader 6 (6th Night Fighter Wing). IV./NJG 6 was based in Rumania and tasked with the protection of the Romanian oil fields. In September 1943 he flew a number of combat missions out of the Netherlands claiming four aerial victories (aerial victories 29–32).[2]

Over Romania he again fought the USAAF during daytime sorties. Fighting the Fifteenth Air Force he shot down two P-38 Lightnings—one of them by his radio operator with the MG 81Z—on 10 June 1944. His Bf 110 G-4 (Werknummer 140018—factory number) was severely damaged. He and his wireless radio operator Oberfeldwebel (Sergeant) Bogumil were wounded and had to make a forced landing. Over Romania Lütje was credited with 6 Vickers Wellington bombers and one Soviet Ilyushin DB-3 reconnaissance aircraft over the Black Sea during nocturnal combat missions. At the end of August 1944 IV./NJG 6 was relocated back to Germany. Lütje was appointed Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of NJG 6 on 1 October 1944. Lütje claimed his final eight aerial victories in 1945 and was awarded the 836th Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) during World War II after 50 aerial victories on 17 April 1945.[2]

Awards[edit]

Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
14 May 1943 Hauptmann Luetje erzielte als Nachtjäger gestern sechs Luftsiege.[8] Hauptmann Luetje achieved as a night fighter six aerial victories yesterday.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces
  2. ^ For an explanation of the meaning of Luftwaffe unit designation see Luftwaffe Organization

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Spick 1996, pp. 3–4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Obermaier 1989, p. 76.
  3. ^ Pitchfork 2003, p. 103.
  4. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 289.
  5. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 518.
  6. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 298.
  7. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 102.
  8. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 493.
Bibliography
  • 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. 
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7. 
  • 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. 
  • Pitchfork, Graham (2003). Shot down and on the run: the RCAF and Commonwealth aircrews who got home from behind enemy lines, 1940-1945. Toronto : Dundurn Press Ltd. ISBN 1-55002-483-3.
  • 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. 
  • Scutts, Jerry (1998). German Night Fighter Aces of World War 2. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-85532-696-5.
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 978-0-8041-1696-1. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Major Heinrich Griese
Commander of Nachtjagdgeschwader 6
13 September 1944 – 8 May 1945
Unit disbanded