Siegfried Freytag

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Siegfried Freytag
Siegfried Freytag.jpg
Siegfried Freytag
Nickname(s) "The Malta Lion"
Born (1919-11-10)10 November 1919
Danzig-Langfuhr
Died 1 June 2003(2003-06-01) (aged 83)
Puyloubier, France
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (1939 to 1945)
France France
Service/branch Luftwaffe
French Army
Rank Major (Wehrmacht)
Sergent (Légion étrangère)
Unit JG 77, JG 51, JG 7
Commands held II./JG 77, JG 77
Battles/wars World War II
First Indochina War
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Other work French Foreign Legion

Siegfried Freytag (10 November 1919 – 1 June 2003) was a German World War II fighter ace and member of the French Foreign Legion. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

World War II[edit]

Freytag was born on 10 November 1919 in Danzig-Langfuhr, then in the German Empire, present-day Wrzeszcz in Poland. He grew up in the Free City of Danzig. During World War II, he served in the Luftwaffe, beginning with 6./Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing) in the summer of 1940. His first victory was on 31 October 1940 when he claimed a Lockheed Hudson of Coastal Command. Along with JG 77, he then took part in the invasion of Greece and Crete in March – May 1941. JG 77 next operated over the Eastern front. By June 1942 Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant) Freytag had 57 victories to his credit, with some 12 aircraft destroyed on the ground, and he was awarded the prestigious Ritterkreuz on 3 July 1942.[1]

Freytag was by now Staffelkapitän (Squadron Leader) of 1./JG 77, and relocated to the Mediterranean theatre, operating against Malta from July until October 1942. Freytag was one of the most successful aces during these operations, claiming 21 victories, and raising his total to 78. He was shot down by Spitfires on 27 July, but was rescued from the sea off Valletta by a Dornier Do 24 flying boat.

Operating over North Africa and Tunisia, Freytag scored 16 more victories. On 13 March 1943, Freytag was made Gruppenkommandeur (Group Commander) of II./JG 77. He flew over Sicily, but was shot down over Gela by P-38 Lightning fighters on 12 July, bailing out wounded from his stricken Bf 109 G-6. Following his recovery, Freytag commanded II./JG 77, on Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties based in Germany.[1]

On 25 December, Freytag was appointed acting Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) of JG 77, when Major Johannes Wiese was shot down and wounded.

Freytag may have shot down RCAF fighter ace Flt/Lt. Henry Wallace McLeod. Freytag claimed the only Spitfire for his 101st claim on 27 September 1944 in the Duisburg area, which probably was flown by McLeod.[2] He recorded his last (102nd) victory and 2nd Spitfire on 1 January 1945.[3] Freytag was again appointed acting Geschwaderkommodore of JG 77 on 7 March, following the death of Major Erich Leie.

On 4 April 1945, Freytag was transferred to the Geschwaderstab (headquarters unit) of Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 5—5th Fighter Wing), but was soon transferred to Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG 7—7th Fighter Wing), flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter, where it was intended he become a Gruppenkommandeur. However, the war ended before he could assume the position.

Siegfried Freytag was officially credited with 102 victories of which 49 victories were claimed over the Eastern front. Among his victories over the Western front are at least 2 four-engine bombers. Freytag had been nominated for the Oak Leaves to Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, but the war ended before the paperwork had been processed.[1]

After the war[edit]

Captured near Regensburg by U.S. troops, he was initially employed as an interpreter. After discovering all his family and friends had been killed and his family's property had been seized by the Polish authorities when Danzig was annexed by Poland,[2] he worked for a time as a taxi driver before joining the French Foreign Legion in 1952 as an infantry soldier. Assigned to the 5th Infantry Regiment after his basic training at Sidi Bel Abbes, he served for 12 years with the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion. He fought in Indochina as a private and also served in Algeria and Djibouti. He was promoted to Sergent Chef in 1962.[4]

After his retirement in 1970, he resided in the French Foreign Legion retirement home in Puyloubier, where he died in 2003 at the age of 83.

Awards[edit]

Wehrmachtbericht reference[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
31 May 1944 Im Kampf gegen die britische-nordamerikanischen Terrorflieger zeichnete sich eine Jagdgruppe unter Führung von Major Freitag besonders aus.[9] A fighter group led by Major Freitag (sic) distinguished itself in combat against the British-North American terror-flyers.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ According to Scherzer in the II./JG 77[7]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c Obermaier 1986, p. 114.
  2. ^ a b "Siegfried Freytag". Aces of the Luftwaffe. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Weal 2012, p. 83.
  4. ^ "Siegfried Freytag". www.cieldegloire.com. Retrieved 10 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Patzwall 2008, p. 80.
  6. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 186.
  7. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 319.
  8. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 122.
  9. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 114.
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. 
  • Johnson, Johnnie E. (2000) [1956]. Wing Leader. London: Goodall Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-907579-87-6. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Weal, John (2012). Bf 109 F/G/K Aces of the Western Front. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-78096-351-8. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Major Johannes Wiese
Acting Commander of Jagdgeschwader 77 Herz As
December 26, 1944 – December 29, 1944
Succeeded by
Major Erich Leie
Preceded by
Major Erich Leie
Acting Commander of Jagdgeschwader 77 Herz As
March 7, 1945 – March 31, 1945
Succeeded by
Major Fritz Losigkeit