Friday, August 14, 2020

Enemy Elite Friday: Hans-Joachim Marseille (Germany) & "The Star of Africa"


"Hans-Joachim Marseille is noted for his aerial battles during the North African Campaign and his Bohemian lifestyle.  One of the most successful fighter pilots, he was nicknamed the "Star of Africa".  Marseille claimed all but seven of his 158 victories against the British Commonwealth's Desert Air Force over North Africa, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter for his entire combat career.  No other pilot claimed as many Western Allied aircraft as Marseille.  Marseille, of French Huguenot ancestry, joined the Luftwaffe in 1938.  At the age of 20 he graduated from one of the Luftwaffe's fighter pilot schools just in time to participate in the Battle of Britain, without notable success.  A charming person, he had such a busy night life that sometimes he was too tired to be allowed to fly the next morning.  As a result of poor discipline, he was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 27 which relocated to North Africa in April 1941.  Under the guidance of his new commander, who recognized the latent potential in the young officer, Marseille quickly developed his abilities as a fighter pilot.  He reached the zenith of his fighter pilot career on 1 September 1942, when during the course of three combat sorties he claimed 17 enemy fighters shot down, earning him the Knight's Cross with Swords and Diamonds.  Only 29 days later, Marseille was killed in a flying accident, when he was forced to abandon his fighter due to engine failure.  After he exited the smoke-filled cockpit, Marseille's chest struck the vertical stabilizer of his aircraft.  The blow either killed him instantly or incapacitated him so that he was unable to open his parachute."  Below is a post-war film of his life, "The Star of Africa".

A truly lethal enemy elite,
Brian & Melonie

The memorial's plaque

The original wartime memorial

Marseille's tail rudder on display at the Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr in BerlinGatow.
Marseille on the cover of "Der Adler"

Marseille in a news real with Rommel

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