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Date: Friday, 22 December 1944
Place: Libau/Liepāja, Kurland/Courland, Latvia
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Stachelscheid (Prop.-Kp. Wm Kb. Abt. Luftwaffe)
Oberleutnant Gerhard "Gerd" Thyben (24 February 1922 – 4 September 2006) on the day he received the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross) at Libau in 22 December 1944 as an Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of 7.Staffel/III.Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 54. Thyben was a Luftwaffe fighter pilot who flew 385 feindflug (combat missions) and claimed 157 fliegerabschüße (aerial victories). He claimed 152 victories on the Eastern Front, including 28 Il-2 Sturmoviks and five victories on the Western Front. He also flew 22 fighter-bomber missions on which he claimed two aircraft and seven trucks destroyed on the ground! He received the Ritterkreuz after destroyed 116 of his opponents in the sky. The award ceremony was held days after the actual announcement (6 December 1944), and Thyben would racked his kills in the months ahead that he also got the more prestigious award: Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes #822 in 8 April 1945. On 8 May 1945 he claimed his last victory over the Baltic Sea. He shot down a Petlyakov Pe-2 that was almost certainly looking for German refugee ships escaping from the besieged Courland Pocket. Thyben caught the reconnaissance Pe-2 at 07:54 and achieved what very well might have been the last Focke-Wulf Fw 190 victory of World War II! The Pe-2 crew, consisting of Starshiy Leytenant Grigoriy Davidenko, Kapitan Aleksey Grachev, and Starshina Mikhail Murashko were all killed in the engagement. Thyben surrendered to the British on touching down. Following his release in 1946 he traveled to Spain and Argentina before serving as an instructor with the Colombian Air Force.
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2007-1218-500. Prop.-Kp. Wm Kb. Abt. Luftwaffe Film-Nr. L419/22 Bildberichter: Stachelscheid Text: dto. Ort: Libau Datum: 22.12.44