Despite operating in the far north from bases in Finland and Norway, JG5 ‘Eismeer’ managed to produce some of the highest scorers of the eastern front.
Foremost amongst them was Leutnant, later Major, Heinrich Ehrler with a total estimated at 208 victories, 10 of which on the western front, 8 with the Me 262.
On 12 November 1944 a message reporting incoming British bombers reached the 27 year old Geschwaderkommodore of JG 5. Ehrler, with his score at 199 victories, scrambled to intercept the Lancasters of 9 and 617 Squadrons at the head of a Gruppe of Bf 109s. The fighters were too late. The British Lancasters sank the battleship Tirpitz north of Tromsö with the loss of a thousand sailors. Ehrler was called to account for this disaster and at his court martial was accused of flying to get his 200th victory, instead of guiding his fighters from ground control.
Court martialled, stripped of his awards and command, and put under a ‘suspended sentence of death’, he was however allowed to keep flying and was able to record his 200th victory on 20 November 1944. Ehrler joined JG 7 on 27 February 1945.
On the 4th of April 1945, Ehrler intercepted a formation of B-24 from 338th BG. Ehrler managed to bring down 2 of the bombers before running out of ammo. It is claimed that he then left a last message over the radio to his long-time friend and fellow ace Theodor Weissenberger (the message was heard by witnesses but there are several slightly different versions):
“Theo. Ich habe keine Munition mehr. Ich werde diesen da rammen. Auf Wiedersehen. Wir sehen uns in Walhalla!“
“Theo. I have no more ammo. I will ram this one. Goodbye. See you in Valhalla!”
His body was found the next day near Berlin. He was 27 years old.
On 9 June 1944, the Soviets launched an attack on both sides of Lake Ladoga, one of the aims of which was to knock Finland out of the war. The attack, which tanks to wireless intercepts, did not take the Finns long to completely by surprise, was strongly supported by artillery and air power and the outgunned and outnumbered Finnish troops were soon forced to retreat. The formidable Mannerheim line was breached and with Soviet forces advancing on Viipuri, the Finns called for German assistance. As well as supplying the Finns with a number of BF 109s, the Germans organized a a Gefechtsverband, or Battle Groupe, at Petseri in Estonia comprising I./SG 3 with 32 JU 87 Ds, and 4. and 5./HG 54 plus I./SG 5 with a total of 23 FW 109s. Later, five reconnaissance BF 109s from NAG 1 arrived. The Battle Group, which was tasked with supporting Finish forces in their defensive battles, arrived with full technical support at Immola in Finland on 16 June. The fighters of 4. and 5./JG 54 immediately went into action against Soviet aircraft operating in support of their drive towards Viipuri which, however, fell on 20 June. Two days later, when the Soviets attacked again, strongly supported by artillery and aircraft, all formations of the battle group were in action and by the end of June their contribution in support of their Finnish allies succeeded in halting the Soviet Advance. Although most units were progressively withdrawn, with I./SG 3 flying its last mission on 17 July, the fighter-bomber Staffel I./SG 5 was reinforced on 12 August when they flew their last missions and returned to Estonia two days later. During their time in Finland, the JU 87s and FW 190s of Gefechtsverband Kuhlmey flew 1,242 sorties and released 577 tons of bombs, while the fighter pilots of II./JG 45 claimed 100 victories. Plate01: Major Erich Rudorffer wearing the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, awarded 11 June 1944. Plates 02,03 & 04: This FW 190 A-6 was flown by Major Erich Rudorffer, the Kommandeur of II./JG 54, before being passed on to II. Gruppe. Apart from the resprayed ares to either side of the fuselage Balkenkreuz, upon which was repainted a double chevron and a II. Gruppe bar, the machine remained the same as when flown by Horst Ademeit.
1944 Noruega Gustavs over Sola-Stavanger - Barry Spicer
A rotte of Bf-109 Gustavs circle over Sola-Stavanger, in southern Norway, looking for a break in the late Winter ground fog.The lead aircraft is a Bf-109 G-14 flown by Ofw Heinz Halstrick of 16/JG-5 of IV Gruppe.Ofw Halstrick flew with IV JG-5 from the Summer of 1943 until the end of the war acquiring an impressive tally of 13 victory claims and the destruction of one ship. His Gustav carries his personal emblem comprising the greeting “Kolle alaaf “, the city emblem of Koln (Cologne) and the Jagerpfeil.