Waldemar Semelka

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Waldemar Semelka
Born 8 January 1920
Doubrava, Czechoslovakia
Died 21 August 1942(1942-08-21) (aged 22)
Stalingrad, Soviet Union
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Luftwaffe
Years of service ?-1942
Rank Leutnant
Unit JG 52
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Waldemar Semelka (8 January 1920 – 21 August 1942) was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. For the fighter pilots, it was a quantifiable measure of skill and combat success. Waldemar Semelka was killed on 21 August 1942 over Stalingrad, Soviet Union. During his career he was credited with 75 (or 65[1][2][3]) aerial victories.

Military career[edit]

Upon completing his flight training Oberfähnrich Semelka was posted to 4./JG 52 (4th squadron of the 52nd Fighter Wing). He scored his first victory in the opening hours of Operation Barbarossa - the German invasion of the Soviet Union - on 22 June 1941, downing an I-15 biplane fighter. Perhaps due to its poor performance during the Battle of Britain, JG 52 was split up as gap-filler units and scattered up and down the front: II/JG 52 was seconded to JG 27, tasked with covering the Stukas supporting the drive onto Smolensk and Moscow.

Under the patient leadership of his squadron commander, the future great ace Johannes Steinhoff, Semelka (now commissioned as a Leutnant) along with his fellow pilots of 4./JG 52, started to score regularly. This included three victories on 23–24 September at the start of Operation Typhoon, the attack on Moscow. His Gruppe was stationed in Kalinin and so close to the front line that their airbases were shelled by Russian artillery, and ground crew had to defend against enemy attacks.[4] After enduring the shockingly cold Russian winter for several months, II/JG 52 was finally withdrawn to East Prussia for rest and refit in January 1942. At that time Semelka had a respectable 17 victories to his name.

His Gruppe returned to the east at the end of April, now under the command of Hptm Steinhoff, and finally in the same sector as the rest of the Geschwader. It immediately joined the assault of Sevastopol and the reduction of the Izyum 'bulge'. For the month of June 1942 Semelka was transferred temporarily to command 5.Staffel [5] from an injured Siegfried Simsch. Returning to 4./JG 52 on 1 July, he was awarded the Ehrenpokal on 6 July as the second summer offensive got properly underway - Fall Blau, the charge to the Caucausus. Initially II/JG 52 was covering the march on the Maykop oilfields. Right across the sector there was very intensive air combat and German pilots were racking up phenomenal scores. By this time, Semelka's own score moved on past 50 victories. On 25 July he was given temporary command of the 4th Staffel when his Staffelkapitän, Gerhard Barkhorn was injured.

On 18 August he shot down five fighters, in two missions over the Black Sea coast near Novorossiysk. The next day, Steinhoff led II/JG 52 to the Stalingrad sector to cover the imminent storming of the city. On 21 August, in their first operational sorties, Semelka shot down three fighters, bringing his total to 65. However, later that same day he was reported missing to the south of Stalingrad. It is possible he was shot down and killed by return fire from Pe-2 bombers of 86 BAP.[6][7]

Waldemar Semelka flew over 240 missions and scored 65 victories (some sources say 75 victories[8]), all over the Eastern Front. At the time of his death he was the third-highest scorer in II/JG 52. He was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross a fortnight after his death on 4 September 1942, and the German Cross in Gold on 7 September 1942.[9]

Victories (Partial list)[edit]

No Date Time Unit & Airfield Gruppe Kommandeur[10] Location / Planquad Claimed Aircraft Source / Comments[11]
1 22 Jun 1941 9:48 4./JG 52 - Suwalki Hptm Erich Woitke Lithuania? I-15 Prien & Bock
2 26 Jun 1941 9:43 4./JG 52 - Varena Hptm Erich Woitke Lithuania? DB-3 Prien & Bock
3 2 Jul 1941 17:25 4./JG 52 - Molodelzno Hptm Erich Woitke S of Borissov DB-3 Prien & Bock
4 6 Jul 1941 12:43 4./JG 52 - Lepel Hptm Erich Woitke Belorussia? DB-3 Prien & Bock
5 14 Aug 1941 11:10 4./JG 52 - Soltzy Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-17 Prien & Bock
6 14 Aug 1941 17:52 4./JG 52 - Soltzy Hptm Erich Woitke  ? V-11 (?) Prien & Bock
7 25 Aug 1941 12:10 4./JG 52 - Spasskaja-Polist Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-16 Prien & Bock
8 26 Aug 1941 8:52 4./JG 52 - Spasskaja-Polist Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-17 Prien & Bock
9 26 Aug 1941 8:56 4./JG 52 - Spasskaja-Polist Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-17 Prien & Bock
10 11 Sep 1941 16:30 4./JG 52 - Ljuban Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-18 (MiG-3) Prien & Bock
11 23 Sep 1941 13:58 4./JG 52 - Ljuban Hptm Erich Woitke  ? Il-2 Prien & Bock
12 23 Sep 1941 16:31 4./JG 52 - Ljuban Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-18 (MiG-3) Prien & Bock
13 24 Sep 1941 11:55 4./JG 52 - Ljuban Hptm Erich Woitke  ? Pe-2 Prien & Bock
14 6 Nov 1941 11:20 4./JG 52 - Rusa Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-18 (MiG-3) Prien & Bock
15 14 Nov 1941 14:58 4./JG 52 - Rusa Hptm Erich Woitke  ? I-18 (MiG-3) Prien & Bock
16 14 Nov 1941 15:15 4./JG 52 - Rusa Hptm Erich Woitke 6 km S of Moscow I-18 (MiG-3) Prien & Bock
17 27 Nov 1941 10:10 4./JG 52 - Rusa Hptm Erich Woitke  ? BB-22 (?) Prien & Bock
 ? 26 May 1942 18:56 4./JG 52 - Barvenkovo Hptm Johannes Steinhoff Dudnikovka Il-2 C.2036/II
58 18 Aug 1942 9:50 4./JG 52 - Kerch Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 75 424 : 1500m LaGG C.2032/II
59 18 Aug 1942 9:58 4./JG 52 - Kerch Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 75 454 : 500m LaGG C.2032/II
60 18 Aug 1942 16:00 4./JG 52 - Kerch Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 75 422 : 2500m LaGG C.2032/II
61 18 Aug 1942 16:05 4./JG 52 - Kerch Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 75 424 : 1500m LaGG C.2032/II
62 18 Aug 1942 16:15 4./JG 52 - Kerch Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 75 421 : 1000m I-153 C.2032/II
63 21 Aug 1942 7:15 4./JG 52 - Tusow Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 49 284 : 50m I-180 (MiG-3) C.2032/II
64 21 Aug 1942 9:48 4./JG 52 - Tusow Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 49 432 : treetop LaGG C.2032/II
65 21 Aug 1942 10:15 4./JG 52 - Tusow Hptm Johannes Steinhoff 49 492 : 2000m LaGG C.2032/II

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ Bergström, Dikov, Antipov 2006, pg. 65.
  2. ^ Bergström 2007, pg. 65.
  3. ^ Weal 2007, p.88
  4. ^ Weal 2004, p.66-67
  5. ^ Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  6. ^ Bergström, Dikov, Antipov 2006, pg. 65.
  7. ^ Bergström 2007, pg. 65.
  8. ^ Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  9. ^ Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  10. ^ Luftwaffe Air Units: Single–Engined Fighters website.
  11. ^ Aces of the Luftwaffe website.
  12. ^ Weal 2007, p.88
  13. ^ Luftwaffe Officer Career Summaries website.
  14. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 323.
Bibliography
  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Stalingrad – The Air Battle: 1942 through January 1943. Midland Publications ISBN 1-857802-76-4
  • Bergström, Christer; Dikov, Andrey; Antipov, Vlad (2006). Black Cross, Red Star Vol 3 Eagle Editions Ltd ISBN 0-9761034-4-3
  • 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. and Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941–1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • 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. 
  • Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York: Ivy Books. ISBN 0-8041-1696-2.
  • Weal, John (2004). Jagdgeschwader 52: The Experten (Aviation Elite Units). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-786-4. 
  • Weal, John (2007). More Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84603-177-X.

External links[edit]