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Thread: Georg von Hantelmann

  1. #1

    Georg von Hantelmann

    Georg von Hantelmann of Jasta 15 left no first-hand accounts; save for a very terse combat report for his final victory, but here is the account of his Staffel mate Joachim von Ziegesar, who was quite a writer. Von Ziegesar wrote the following in May 1933 for a memorial volume that von Hantelmann’s sister was writing about her late brother. He describes the action of 6 June 1918, when Jasta 15 attacked a flight of seven DH 4 bombers, probably from the RAF’s No 27 Sqn, near Chaulnes. He erred in recalling their opponents as ‘Frenchmen’, a common enough mistake (aircraft identification was abysmal on both sides in World War 1).

    For some reason, photographs of Ltn Georg von Hantelmann are scarce. One of the best shows the youthful ace posing for the cameraman in typical JG II fashion to mark his 20th victory, this shot being taken on 9 October 1918 at Charmois aerodrome. The Fokker’s nose is decorated with a floral wreath to commemorate the occasion. On 4 November 1918, Hantelmann claimed his final victory in D VII 465/18, but it is not known if this is indeed that aircraft.

    No 27 Sqn did lose DH 4 B2080, with its crew of Lt M F Cunningham and Lt W J Stockins both killed (probably by von Hantelmann).The squadron had two more DH 4’s badly shot up, returning with wounded observers, but it was not annihilated as von Ziegesar claims. Von Hantelmann was probably flying his Fokker D VII 382/18, emblazoned with his personal insignia from his former cavalry unit, the Braunschweiger ‘Death’s Head’ Hussar Regiment Nr 17. Here is von Ziegesar’s account; I don’t know how I could better begin memories of our good friend Georg von Hantelmann than with the story of 6 June 1918, when he conquered his first opponent in the air. ‘The time of the Hindenburg Offensive lay behind us. The wild turbulent life of the war of movement had again turned into the monotony of the war of position. Jagdstaffel 15, which we belonged to, was the commander’s Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 2, and was led by our unsurpassable Hauptmann Berthold.

    Because he had been seriously wounded in Flanders by an English explosive bullet, he could not yet fly, so that his replacement Leutnant (Josef) Veltjens, called “Seppl” by us. led the Staffel in the air. Besides this, these men belonged to our “club” at that time: Oberleutnant Turck, Leutnant von Buttlar, Leutnant von Beaulieu-Marconnay, Leutnant Schafer, Leutnant Klein and the Vizefeldwebels Weischer and Klaudat, as well as myself. On 6 June we were situated on a small, wretched airfield right near the village of Mesnil, not far from the Somme. 6 June awakened us with radiating sunshine. According to orders, we made our flight to the Front early in the morning, without experiencing anything of consequence. Upon landing, the mechanics made our aircraft ready again, and we leisurely went to tents to prepare ourselves for a second take-off at ten o’clock. ‘We were still standing around the airfield and talking when suddenly the report arrived from our radio position that an enemy squadron of seven aircraft from the hinterlands was nearing our area. With inimitable speed, we were dressed and sitting in our aircraft. Before every flight, the engine was first “braked” a hellish noise, then the aeroplanes were rolling up to take off. Veltjens, as leader, raised his hand and the wild chase was on. After a few minutes the Staffel was in its usual order. While we climbed with full running engines, “Seppl” led us to the Front so that we cut off the Frenchmen’s way back. Soon, we were at 4000 metres, then we caught sight of them.

    Fokker’s D Vlls of JG II are seen scattered around the aerodrome at Chery-les-Pouilly in August 1918. In the foreground is the arrow-decorated D VII of Hantelmann's Jasta commander, Josef Veltjens. In the middle distance is a line of white-nosed Fokker’s of Jasta 12, and behind them can be seen Jasta 13 machines.

    ‘The second bulge in our Front near Montdidier was good for them, and they attempted to escape to the south after they had also discovered us. In vain! Our aircraft were fast and our wills like iron to get the “cockades”. Minutes passed, they seemed like an eternity to us. Now it was our turn. Veltjens stopped for a second, and then gave the sign to attack! Like a steer unbound, the aircraft with the Braunschweig Hussar’s crest dived onto the enemy first. Even before we others had a chance to shoot, Hantelmann went down with his left wingman on the Frenchmen flying in arrow formation. For us, there wasn’t any more time left to watch. Each one grabbed hold of his opponent and as was normal in air fighting only a few minutes passed by and the French squadron that was in the process of returning home, certainly with valuable reports and photographs, no longer existed!

    On 17 June 1918, Ltn Georg von Hantelmann's Jasta 15 D VII was borrowed by new arrival Kurt Wusthoff, a 27-victory ace from Jasta 4, for a fateful patrol. The flight of JG II aircraft engaged 15 SE 5as from No 24 Sqn, and Wusthoff was brought down with a serious groin wound, landing the D VII behind French lines to become a prisoner. The fighter was turned over to the British, who gave it the number G/5/17 Bde. The D VII duly became the subject of great study.

    Radiating joy, we gathered together again around our leader and tried, flushed with victory, to find new battles, yet no opportunities offered themselves till the petrol has been used up by flying and we had to return to our airfield. ‘We had hardly climbed out of our machines when the usual dispute arose. Everyone had to tell his story, it was determined, though, that Hantelmann was the first one to bag his opponent. ‘It was not usual for us to throw big victory parties, but the Staffel received praise from Berthold, and we also bought ourselves a bottle of wine in the evening.’


  2. #2
    The skull on the plane, was that then later adopted by the SS as the Deathshead, or am I mistaken?

  3. #3
    he was truly an amazing man! it is just sad, that everything that he had been through, and everything that he had done, he was killed in his own home by Polish poachers. very very sad

  4. #4
    Excellent and interesting post, jim.


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