04 January 2015

Studio Portrait of Luftwaffe Ace Wilhelm Batz

Image size: 1113 x 1600 pixel. 384 KB
Date: Tuesday, 25 July 1944
Place: Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze, Rastenburg, East Prussia, Germany
Photographer: Walter Frentz

Sun-tanned Hauptmann Wilhelm "Willi" Batz (21 May 1916 - 11 September 1988) smile for a formal portrait by Walter Frentz after the award ceremony with Adolf Hitler and two other Luftwaffe officers (Major Herbert Lamprecht and Hauptmann der Reserve Heinz Strüning) at Führerhauptquartier Wolfsschanze (Rastenburg) in 25 July 1944. Only five days before (20 July 1944) Batz received the telegram from Oberkommando der Luftwaffe which informed him of the bestowal of Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (vorschlagnummer 526) for his remarkable achievement as a fighter pilot with 188 confirmed victories. At that time he was a Gruppenkommandeur of III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) / VIII.Fliegerkorps / Luftflotte 4. He was operating with such luminaries as Hauptmann Erich “Bubi” Hartmann (352 victories, RK-Br), Oberleutnant Friedrich “Fritz” Obleser (120 victories, RK) and Oberleutnant Walter Wolfrum (137 victories, RK) among the high-scoring pilots of III./JG 52 at that time. In the end of the war, Batz flew 445 combat missions and claimed 237 enemy aircraft shot down. 234 of these victories were achieved over the Eastern Front, including at least 46 Il-2 Sturmoviks, but he did claim three victories, including one four-engine bomber against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) over the Ploieşti oil fields. He was wounded three times and was shot down four times.  At war’s end he was able to extricate his unit and men from Hungary and Austria back to Germany to surrender to American forces. He was thus able to avoid the prolonged Soviet captivity that befell the personnel of other two JG 52 Gruppen.


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