227th Review Knights Of The Battle Of Britain- Luftwaffe Aircrew Awarded the Knight’s Cross in 1940- Chris Goss
When Chris Goss was asked to write a book about the Ritterkreuzen that between April – December 1940, the period of the The Battle of Britain, were presented to members of the Luftwaffe, he thought that at best it would be like 30 of them. It appeared to be 121 men of which 2 with Eichenlaub. To be awarded with a Ritterkreuz you had to officially have taken down at least 20 hostile planes. This book gives in DeutschGrunlige manner an oversight of all Ritterkreuzen des Eisernen Kreuzes, as the official title was, which were presented to the Luftwaffe members.
With each awarded men comes an overview of his career, almost all accompanied by photo’s. Perhaps not so much by the text but most of all through the photos this has become an extraordinary book. The military career of some described Ritterkreuz awarded, starts at the moment of their entering into service and ends when they fall in battle, become a prisoner of war or at the end of WO II. More than half of the men fall in battle. What also strikes is that there was no truce. They simply continued to fly, often till the bitter end. The term ‘Ritter’ (or another noble title) already fell to many of them even before they were merited with the Ritterkreuz. Meine Ehre Heist Treue shall have been nursed from birth in these societies!
Anyone who knows a little bit about WO II shall with no doubt come across known names. Adolf Galland and Werner Molders for a starter. One of them got his Ritterkreuz before he had taken down 20 enemies: Oberleutnant Franz Baron von Werra and even personally from the hands of Der Fuhrer. Von Werra was after 8 acknowledged Air Combat Claims, taken down above Kent. He did survive it, became a prisoner of war and..saw chance to escape and fly off with a Hurricane by showing he was a Dutch flyer in service of the RAF (!). Reason for the British to transfer him to Canada, where he escaped again and managed to cross the border with the than still neutral America. Of course he was a hit with that. The Americans did not really hurry with sending him back to Canada due to unlawful border crossing.
The German Vice-Consul already saw it coming and smuggled him across the border of Mexico. Via Brazil and Spain Von Werra arrived again in Germany. All in all enough reason for this early awarding of the Ritterkreuz. Von Werra continued at the Luftwaffe, first with the start of Operation Barbossa and finally, of all places, with a JagtGeschwader (Bf 109) in October 1941 to Flugplatz Katwijk (our former Marine airbase Valkenburg). There came an end to his luck. Above sea he got engine trouble and disappeared of the radar. He got 23 acknowledged hits on his name, with which he, in the end, applied to the limit of 20 victories. Of his, by the British also recognized remarkable Escape Story, was made a film in 1957 ‘The One that got Away’.
In my opinion this is more a reference than a reading book. The photo material, already mentioned before, is unique though. That Goss has managed to get access to this source, may be called a formidable achievement!