Heinz-Edgar Berres

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Heinz-Edgar Berres
Born 10 January 1920
Koblenz
Died 25 July 1943(1943-07-25) (aged 23)
over the Strait of Messina, Italy
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service 1940–43
Rank Hauptmann
Unit JG 77
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Heinz-Edgar Berres (10 January 1920 – 25 July 1943) was a 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. Berres was shot down on 25 July 1943 over Sicily. Berres claimed 52 victories in 354 missions. He was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross and promoted to Hauptmann.

World War II[edit]

Berres was posted to 3.(J)./Lehrgeschwader 2—3rd Squadron (fighter) of Learning Wing 2, in the summer, 1941. Berres was posted to the Soviet Union in the latter stage of Operation Barbarossa. At 13:57 on 29 November, he claimed his first victory when he shot down a Tupolev SB.[1] That day, I.(J)/LG 2 flew combat air patrol in the vicinity south of Rostov.[2] On 1 December 1941, I.(J)/LG 2 began relocation to Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine while the II. Gruppe was sent to Germany for replenishment.[3] On 29 December 1941, Berres claimed his second victory, a Polikarpov I-15 claimed at 10:20 in a mission to the port city Taganrog.[4]

On 28 February 1942 Berres another I-15 and a Polikarpov R-5 reconnaissance aircraft on 9 March 1942. On 24 and 27 March he claimed a single I-16 to surpass the 5-victory mark and become a flying ace with six victories.

The unit was re-designated 3./Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—1 Squadron of Fighter Wing 77) on 6 January 1942 and in March 1942 he was transferred to 1./JG 77. Berres was transferred to Romania to defend it's airspace from enemy incursions. On 12 June 1942, 13 Consolidated B-24 Liberators of the "Halverson project" (HALPRO) attacked Ploiești. Berres' staffel was scrambled to intercept. Berres claimed one B-24D shot down.[5]

Malta operations[edit]

1 staffel moved to Sicily in June 1942. The fighter group was to engaged in fighter patrols and escort duties over Malta as Axis forces laid siege to the island. On 8 July 1942 Berres claimed his first—and 8th overall—over Malta. On this day he shot down Supermarine Spitfire BR108 of No. 603 Squadron RAF flown by Flight Lieutenant L.V Sanders.[6] On 18 July 1942 Berres claimed a Spitfire for his 10th victory while escorting Junkers Ju 88 bombers. JG 77 claimed two and I./Jagdgeschwader 53 claimed one. The other claimant was Siegfried Freytag who claimed his 60th victory. No. 126 Squadron RAF lost Flight Lieutenant Charles B. MacLean in BR323 badly wounded. Pilot Officer C. H. Latimer BR170 was wounded but managed to land after his Spitfire was badly damaged by a Bf 109.[7] On 15 September 1942 Berres downed BP867 of 249 Squadron, flown by Flight Sergeant Bernard Peters who was killed.[8] On 24 September 1942 Berres shot down EP136 piloted by Pilot Officer Moody of No. 249 Squadron RAF for his 14th victory.[9] Berres achieved four victories in October 1942 as the Luftwaffe made its last major effort over the island before the end of the siege. By the end of operations Berres has accounted for 18 Allied aircraft—11 over Malta.[10]

North Africa[edit]

On 8 November 1942 Operation Torch began and Allied forces invalided Vichy French Morocco and Algeria. The Germans and Italians allocated large forces to prevent the Allied advance into Tunisia. The Run for Tunis was a success, and the fall of the country into Allied hands was prevented. JG 77 was among the units sent from Sicily to support the Axis forces in the Tunisian Campaign. On 1 November Berres claimed a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk over Bir-el-Abd, and other on 3 November northwest of Quotaifiya, and at 10:31 on 11 November 1942 he claimed another over Marble Arch.[11] On 7 December Berres claimed a Martin Baltimore west of El Haseiat.[12] The aircraft was from 60 Squadron SAAF, part of the 1437 Strategic Recce Flight.[13] The 11 December claim for a P-40 east of Ras Umm el Gavanigh was the Hawker Hurricane from 40 Squadron SAAF piloted by Lieutenant Shepherd.[14] Berres' last victory of 1942 was a Spitfire over El Agheila on 14 December. The claim was his 25th aerial victory.

On 8 and 14 January 1943 he claimed a solitary victory over a Spitfire and B-25 Mitchell. On 4 February 1943 Berres claimed two Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighters and a B-25 on the 8 February. On 26 February he accounted for a pair of P-40s.[15] In the following weeks the British Army prepared to assault the Mareth Line which began on the Battle of the Mareth Line. On 7 March 1943 Berres engaged Spitfires over the frontline and claimed it shot down for his 33rd victory.[16] At noon on 10 March Berres formed part of 30 Bf 109s from JG 77 committed to escorting 15 Junkers Ju 87s from Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 (StG 3). RAF units intercepted and shot down and killed Stuka pilot Leutnant Heinz üLdemann. JG 77 took a toll of the RAF fighters, nine of which were claimed destroyed. Berres claimed his 34th victory in the air battle.[16] On 17 March Berres claimed another spitfire.[17] The following day Berres claimed JG 77's only victory—a reconnaissance Spitfire of No. 680 Squadron RAF.[17] On 24 March—the day after the loss of Geschwaderkommodore Joachim Müncheberg—13 Bf 109s of Berres' I./JG 77 intercepted 18 B-25 Mitchell bombers from the 321st Bombardment Group escorted by the 57th and 58th fighter group. Berres claimed a P-40, then a B-25, flowed by another P-40 in 11 minutes. The Germans claimed seven American aircraft for one wounded, one killed and one captured. Berres had achieved his 37th, 38th and 39th victories.[18] On 2 April Berres scrambled with 3./JG 77 and after claiming his 40th victory over a P-40 was shot down near Oudref but escaped back to German lines.[19]

On 7 April the British 1st Armoured Division and US II Corps linked up east of Gabes. That evening the British IX Corps broke into the Fondouk Pass and the British 128th Infantry Brigade seized Pichon. However the American 34th Infantry Division was repulsed at Djebel Aouareb.[20] In the large air battles Berres shot down a Spitfire flown by Flight Sergeant G. W. Sweeney of 601 Squadron.[21] The last success was claimed over the collapsing front on 5 May 1943. The P-40 was Berres' 44th victory.[22]

Death[edit]

From 10:40 to 11:20 on 25 July 1943, seven Bf 109s from I./JG 77 and five Bf 109s from I./JG 77 were ordered to provide fighter escort to ten Junkers Ju 52 from I./Transportgeschwader 1 (TG 1—1st Transport Wing). The Ju 52s had been tasked with resupplying German forces on the northern coast of Sicily. Roughly 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Milazzo, the escort fighters came under attack by about 30 Spitfires while further fighters engaged the Ju 52s. During this encounter, all ten Ju 52s were shot down over the Gulf of Saint Euphemia. JG 77 suffered four Bf 109s shot down with three pilots escaping unharmed and one pilot killed in action. Berres died in his Bf 109 G-6 (Werknummer 18 101—factory number) "BF+QU", shot down near Milazzo.[23] Berres had become a victim of 322 Wing RAF led by Colin Falkland Gray.

Berres was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 19 September 1943. He had been credited with 52 aerial victories, including six on the Eastern Front, claimed in 354 combat missions.[24]

Aerial victory claims[edit]

Berres was credited with 52 aerial victories, including six on the Eastern Front, claimed in 354 combat missions. One claim was unconfirmed.[24]

  This and the – (dash) indicates unwitnessed aerial victory claims for which Berres did not receive credit.

Chronicle of aerial victories
Victory Date Time Type Victory Date Time Type
– 3. Staffel/Lehrgeschwader 2 –[25]
1 29 November 1941 13:57 SB-3 2 29 December 1941 10:20 I-15
– 3. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 77 –[26]
3 28 February 1942 12:05 I-16 4 9 March 1942 10:05 R-5
– 1. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 77 –[27]
5 24 March 1942 13:45 I-16 12 23 July 1942 16:44 Spitfire
6 27 March 1942 06:40 I-61 13 15 September 1942 18:10 Spitfire
7 12 June 1942 05:28 B-24 14 25 September 1942 11:42 Spitfire
8 8 July 1942 06:48 Spitfire 15 6 October 1942 11:11 Spitfire
9 9 July 1942 19:20 Spitfire 16 13 October 1942 10:45 Spitfire
10 18 July 1942 14:54 Spitfire 17 14 October 1942 08:07 Spitfire
11 22 July 1942 11:39 Spitfire 18 17 October 1942 13:33 Spitfire
Stab I./Jagdgeschwader 77 –[28]
19 1 November 1942 08:15 P-40 30 8 February 1943 12:50 B-25
20 3 November 1942 15:57 P-40 31 26 February 1943 14:03 P-40
21 11 November 1942 09:31 P-40 32 26 February 1943 17:02 P-40
22 7 December 1942 15:40 Baltimore 33 7 March 1943 14:44 Spitfire
23 11 December 1942 15:35 P-40 34 10 March 1943 16:34 P-40
24 13 December 1942 12:50 Spitfire 35 17 March 1943 13:23 Spitfire
25 14 December 1942 11:22 P-40 36 18 March 1943 13:18 Spitfire
26 8 January 1943 13:07 Spitfire 37 24 March 1943 09:55 P-40
27 14 January 1943 10:45 B-25 38 24 March 1943 09:58 B-25
28 4 February 1943 14:42 P-38 39 24 March 1943 10:06 P-40
29 4 February 1943 14:42 P-38
– 3. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 77 –[29]
40 2 April 1943 11:50 P-40 41 7 April 1943 08:07 Spitfire
– 1. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 77 –[30]
42 16 April 1943 15:48 Spitfire 47 2 July 1943 14:35 Spitfire
43 22 April 1943 17:38 Spitfire 48 2 July 1943 14:57 Spitfire
44 5 May 1943 16:46 P-40 49 3 July 1943 11:02 B-25
1 July 1943
Spitfire 50 4 July 1943 10:31 Boston
45 2 July 1943 07:58 P-40 51 5 July 1943 11:24 B-17
46 2 July 1943 08:10 P-40 52 24 July 1943 11:30 P-51

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Prien 1995, p. 2398.
  2. ^ Prien 1993, p. 864.
  3. ^ Prien 1993, p. 868.
  4. ^ Prien 1993, p. 884.
  5. ^ Shores, Cull & Malizia 1991, p. 381.
  6. ^ Shores, Cull & Malizia 1991, p. 400.
  7. ^ Thomas 2015, p. 100.
  8. ^ Shores, Cull & Malizia 1991, p. 553.
  9. ^ Thomas 2015, pp. 150–151.
  10. ^ Shores & 1985, p. 89.
  11. ^ Ring 1969, p. 207.
  12. ^ Ring 1969, p. 213.
  13. ^ Ring 1969, p. 450.
  14. ^ Ring 1969, p. 214.
  15. ^ Shores, Ring & Hess 1975, p. 222–223.
  16. ^ a b Murawski 2009, p. 11.
  17. ^ a b Murawski 2009, p. 14.
  18. ^ Murawski 2009, p. 17.
  19. ^ Murawski 2009, p. 24.
  20. ^ Murawski 2009, p. 29.
  21. ^ Murawski 2009, p. 30.
  22. ^ Murawski 2009, p. 52.
  23. ^ Prien 1994, p. 1671.
  24. ^ a b Obermaier 1989, p. 88.
  25. ^ Prien 1995, pp. 2398–2399.
  26. ^ Prien 1995, p. 2400.
  27. ^ Prien 1995, pp. 2402–2408, 2420–2421.
  28. ^ Prien 1995, pp. 2422–2427.
  29. ^ Prien 1995, pp. 2427–2428.
  30. ^ Prien 1995, pp. 2428–2430.
  31. ^ Patzwall 2008, p. 50.
  32. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 39.
  33. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 111.
  34. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 217.

Bibliography[edit]

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  • Murawski, Marek J. (2009). Luftwaffe Over Tunisia February - May 1943. Lublin: Kagero. ISBN 978-8361220336. 
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1939 – 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. 
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  • Prien, Jochen (1994). Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 77—Teil 3—1942–1943 [History of Jagdgeschwader 77—Volume 3—1942–1943] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-26-7. 
  • Prien, Jochen (1995). Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 77—Teil 4—1944–1945 [History of Jagdgeschwader 77—Volume 4—1944–1945] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-29-8. 
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