30 June 1910|
|Died||27 March 1974
|Years of service||1939-1945|
|Unit||ZG 76, NJG 3, NJG 1, NJG 4, JV 44|
|Commands held||I./NJG 4|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Wilhelm Herget (30 June 1910 – 27 March 1974) was a night fighter flying ace[a] in the German Luftwaffe during World War II.[Note 1] He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). 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.
Born in Stuttgart, Herget trained as a pilot prior to the outbreak of war, and was serving with II./Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76—76th Destroyer Wing) flying the twin-engine Messerschmitt Bf 110 with 6 Staffel. In intensive operations during the 1940 campaign in Western Europe he scored his first air victories, with three Spitfires downed during May and a Curtiss Hawk in June; he was also awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class.
During the Battle of Britain he claimed two Hurricanes on 30 August, and a Spitfire the following day. Three more Spitfires were claimed on 1 September and another on 2 September. By the end of 1940, he had amassed 14 air victories.
In 1941, Herget converted to the night fighter role with Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 and in September 1942 became Commander of I gruppe, Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 until December 1944. On 20 June 1943 Herget had claimed some 30 victories and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). He was awarded the Oak Leaves in June 1944, after 63 victories. On the 15 June 1944 he was shot down by British ace, Branse Burbridge. Herget and his crew bailed out and the Junkers 88 G-1 (Werknummer—factory number 710833) crashed south-west of Nivelles. The crash site was initially excavated in the summer of 2008.
In January 1945 he underwent training to fly the new Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. After service with Sonderkommision Kleinrath, an experimental operations unit, he joined Adolf Galland's Jagdverband 44 (JV 44) in April 1945. His last missions of World War II were flown with JV 44, claiming one victory (a P-47 Thunderbolt) before the war's end.
Herget is credited with 73 aerial victories (57 at night and 16 during daylight missions) in 700 combat sorties. This included eight RAF bombers claimed in just 50 minutes during a raid against Frankfurt on the night of 20 December 1943.
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe for night fighter pilots in Gold with pennant
- German Cross in Gold on 7 February 1942 as Oberleutnant in the III./NJG 3
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st class
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- "PONT-A-CELLES: Des restes d'un avion allemand abattu !". Charleroi (in French). Retrieved 28 January 2014.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 179.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 223.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 384.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 81.
- 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.
- Hinchliffe, Peter (1998). Luftkrieg bei Nacht 1939–1945 [Air War at Night 1939–1945] (in German). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-613-01861-7.
- 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.
- 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.