Helmut Woltersdorf

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Helmut Woltersdorf
Born (1915-11-15)15 November 1915
Friedberg, Germany
Died 2 June 1942(1942-06-02) (aged 26)
Wadden Sea, Netherlands
Buried at Ysselsteyn German war cemetery, Netherlands
(Block Q-row 11-grave 255)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Years of service 1934–1942
Rank Oberleutnant
Unit II./ZG 141, I./ZG 76, 4./NJG 1

World War II

Awards German Cross in Gold (18 May 1942)

Helmut Woltersdorf was a German Luftwaffe flying ace and night fighter ace of the World War II. Woltersdorf is credited with 24 victories, including 20 Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber aircraft. Woltersdorf flew the Messerschmitt Bf 110 and Dornier Do 215 night-fighter.[Notes 1]

World War II[edit]

Woltersdorf initially joined II. Gruppe Zerstörergeschwader 141, based at Padubitz until May 1939, when it was renamed I./ZG 76. Woltersdorfs first kill came on 2 September 1939 over Poland. While escorting Dornier Do 17s he shot down a PZL P.11 fighter. He was to score his second kill against this type on 9 September.

During the Norwegian Campaign Helmut scored four kills against RAF Vickers Wellington bombers, two on the 12 April and two victories on 30 April.

During the Battle of Britain Woltersdorf claimed two Spitfires on 15 August, his only kills of the battle. I./ZG 76 had been withdrawn from the front-line in September 1940 to re-train in the night-fighter role.

Defending Belgian and Dutch air space, Woltserdorf destroyed nine Wellington, three Handley Page, two Avro Manchester, one Lockheed Ventura and a single Handley Page Halifax between 12 May 1941 and 2 June 1942.[1]

On the night of 6/7 July 1941 Woltersdorf, now flying a Dornier Do 215B-5 night fighter equipped with the Infra-Red "Spanner-Anlage" detection apparatus, assigned to NJG I, was forced to crash land just off the Dutch coast, after his aircraft was damaged by a Vickers Wellington bomber he had shot down. Woltersdorf ditched his aircraft into the Waddenzee Sea.

In October 2007 the Dornier was discovered largely intact. It remains the only known Dornier in existence, and there is a good chance of it being recovered (see the Dornier Do 215 page for more details).[2]

On 2 June 1942 Woltersdorf was shot down and killed by a Hawker Hurricane piloted by New Zealander Sergeant Peter Gawith of No. 3 Squadron RAF. The RAF unit had been conducting night sweeps over Europe since 11 December 1941[3] Gawith survived just two more months. On 28 July he was posted as missing in action over Noordwijk, Netherlands.[1]

List of victories[edit]

  Can be identified with a degree of certainty
  Possible identification
  A claim was made but no corresponding enemy losses found

Victory No. Date Flying Enemy type Details
3. 12 April 1940 Messerschmitt Bf 110 Vickers Wellington Claimed near Stavanger, Norway. Identified as No. 38 Squadron RAF P9296. Piloted by Squadron Leader Maurice Nolan. Two killed in action four captured.[4]
7. 15 August 1940 Messerschmitt Bf 110 Supermarine Spitfire Claimed near Blyth, Northumberland, England. The claim cannot verified. No Spitfire was shot down or damaged in this air battle in this area on this day. Only one RAF fighter was lost in north-eastern England throughout the 15 August—Pilot Officer K.S Law of No. 605 Squadron RAF was wounded in action after crash-landing his Hawker Hurricane. Woltersdorf's unit claimed nine victories.[5][6]
8. 15 August 1940 Messerschmitt Bf 110 Supermarine Spitfire Claimed near Blyth, Northumberland, England. The claim cannot verified; no Spitfires lost.[5][6]
9. 12 May 1941 Messerschmitt Bf 110 Handley Page Hampden Claimed over Enkhuizen at 02:57. Identified as Hampden AD900 (PL-?) attacking Bremen. Crashed at Hoogkarspel near Enkhuizen. Pilot Acting Squadron Leader Colin Guy Champion Rawlins (5 June 1919—23 October 2003) of No. 144 Squadron RAF was wounded and captured. Treated in the German naval hospital at Alkmaar.[7][8][9]
15. 29 December 1941 Messerschmitt Bf 110 Handley Page Hampden Claimed at 22:45 hours near Winterswijk.[10] Identified at the No. 408 Squadron RCAF Hampden piloted by Pilot Officer Stuart Brackenbury who was captured.[11]
17. 26 March 1942 Dornier Do 215 Avro Manchester Claimed at 00:32 near Bocholt, Germany. It was possibly the aircraft, L7465, piloted by Sergeant Markides from No. 207 Squadron RAF. All seven of the crew were killed. The victory was recorded on the Dornier's gun camera, which shows the aircraft engulfed in flames. The clock records 00:90:30 as the time of the victory.[12] It has also been suggested his victim was L7497, Code QK, of No. 61 Squadron RAF crashed killing all seven crew members; Sergeants C. G Furby, J.R Dow (of the Royal Canadian Air Force), J. E Smart, D.C Brockley, J. Buckley, W.A Roberts, H.H Fetherston. It crashed in Wertherbruch only several miles from Bocholt.[13]

Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Wednesday, 8 April 1942 In der Nacht zum 7. April errang Oberleutnant Woltersdorf seinen zehnten Nachtjagdsieg.[14] Oberleutnant Woltersdorf achieved his tenth nocturnal aerial victory in the night to 7 April.


  1. ^ For a list of Luftwaffe night fighter aces see List of German World War II night fighter aces


  1. ^ a b Flypast March 2008, p. 26.
  2. ^ Flypast, No.315, October 2007, p. 63.
  3. ^ Flypast March 2008, p. 25.
  4. ^ Shores, Foreman and Ehrengardt 1992, p. 259.
  5. ^ a b Mason 1969, pp. 260-261.
  6. ^ a b Weal 1998. p. 49.
  7. ^ Foreman, Mathews & Parry 2004, p. 21.
  8. ^ "Colin Rawlins". The Daily Telegraph. London. 21 November 2003. Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  9. ^ "Royal Air Force (Volunteer Reserve) 1939-45". Retrieved 2013-09-11. 
  10. ^ Foreman, Mathews & Parry 2004, p. 33.
  11. ^ Bowman 2011, p. 166.
  12. ^ Foreman, Mathews & Parry 2004, p. 36.
  13. ^ Chorley 1992, p. 50.
  14. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 2, p. 80.
  • Flypast, October 2007, No. 315.
  • Flypast, March 2008, No. 320.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. & Scherzer, Veit. Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, 2001. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • Aders, Gebhard. "A History of the German Night Force" [Geschichte der deutschen Nachtjagd 1917-1945] Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart, 1977 Translation 1979, Jane's ISBN 0-354-01247-9. Published in USA in 1980 by Jane's ISBN 0-531-03707-X, wherefrom information is taken.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.