Helmut Wick: Wikis

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Helmut Wick
5 August 1915(1915-08-05) – 28 November 1940 (aged 25)
WickHemut.jpg
Helmut Wick
Nickname Sigfried
Place of birth Mannheim
Place of death MIA-English Channel
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Years of service 1936–1940
Rank Major
Unit JG 333, JG 53, JG 2
Commands held JG 2
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub

Major Helmut Paul Emil Wick (August 5, 1915 – November 28, 1940) was a German Luftwaffe ace and holder of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves. He scored all of his 56 kills against the Western Allies flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109.

Contents

Early life and pre-War service

Wick was born in Mannheim, Germany, youngest of three children of a civil engineer Karl Wick. Due to the demand for his father’s skills and expertise, he spent most of his childhood traveling throughout the German Reich. The Wick family moved to Hanover in 1919 and later then to Danzig and Königsberg in East Prussia, finally settling in Berlin in 1935. The same year, upon graduating from high school, Wick applied to the officer candidate course of the new German Air Force. He was accepted and joined the German military on April 6, 1936 at the Luftwaffe officer candidate school in Dresden. After successfully passing officer training courses, Wick started special pilot training at the Fighter Training facility at Werneuchen in summer 1938. On completion of his training, Wick was assigned to Jagdgeschwader 333 under Oberstleutnant Max Ibel, flying obsolete Arado Ar 68 biplane fighters. On November 8, 1938 Wick was promoted to Leutnant and on January 1, 1939 was transferred to 1. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 133 which was later renamed JG 53. It was there Wick began flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter planes under the tutelage of Werner Mölders, already the greatest German fighter Ace of the time.

Outbreak of WWII

On August 31, 1939 Wick was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 2 - Richthofen, based in Döberitz near Berlin under the command of Oberst Gerd von Massow and was assigned Bf 109 E-3 with the tactical code Yellow 3. On September 1, 1939 he joined its 3. Staffel and served with the unit in the air defense of Berlin during the Polish Campaign. Following the German victory in Poland JG 2 was transferred to Frankfurt-Rebstock and tasked with protection of Germany’s Western border. Leutnant Wick claimed his first, and the Geschwader’s second, victory on November 22, 1939, when he shot down a French Curtiss Hawk 75 fighter near Nancy, piloted by Sergent Saillard of the Groupe de Chasse II/4 Armée de l’Air who was killed in action. For this feat, Wick received the Iron Cross, Second Class.

Battle of France

Bf 109 E-4, W.Nr. 5344, flown by Hauptmann Helmut Wick, Oktober 1940

On May 10, 1940 German forces launched offensive in Western Europe, but Wick remained on the ground while his aircraft, Bf 109 Yellow 2, underwent an engine change. Finally, seven days later, he was back in the air recording 3 victories over French LeO 45 bombers in one mission. By June 6, Wick had 10 confirmed and two unconfirmed victories, including 4 French Bloch 151/152 fighters shot down on June 5 to record his fifth through eight victories. The two unconfirmed victories were the Royal Navy’s Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers claimed on May 19th and for which he had no witnesses. He was also awarded the Iron Cross, First Class by Oberstleutnant Harry von Bülow-Bothkamp. By the end of the French Campaign, Wick's total stood at 14 confirmed victories, trailing only Hauptmann Mölders of JG 53 with 25 victories and Hauptmann Balthasar of JG 27 with 23 victories as top scorer of the Luftwaffe.

Knight's Cross and the Oak Leaves

Helmut Wick (center), Erich Leie (right) on 22 October 1940

Throughout the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 Wick rose quickly in rank and in profile both on the battlefield and as a public figure back home in Germany. On July 21, 1940 the just promoted Oberleutnant also became leader of the 3. Staffel succeeding Major Henning Stümpell. Although the fighting in the air grew increasingly difficult, Wick kept adding victories to his tally. He recorded his 20th victory on August 24 and added two more fighters a day later. For this achievement Wick was awarded the Knight’s Cross on August 27, 1940 at Karinhall by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring. Upon his return back to France, Wick was promoted to Hauptmann and on September 9 was officially named Gruppenkommandeur of I. Gruppe JG 2 . During September Wick continued accumulating victories over the RAF and on October 5 gained his 41st combat victory on his way to overtake his two closest rivals Major Galland and Oberstleutnant Mölders. The 41st aerial victory also earned him his second of five references in the Wehrmachtbericht on 6 October 1940. He also became the 4th member of the armed forces to receive the Eichenlaub (Oak Leaves) to his Knight's Cross directly from Hitler at Berghof in Bavaria on September 8, 1940.

Final weeks

On October 19, 1940 Wick was promoted to Major and succeeded Major Wolfgang Schellmann, who had left to command JG 27, as the commander of Jagdgeschwader 2. At the age of 25, he became the youngest Major and Kommodore in the Luftwaffe. Under his command, on November 16, the Geschwader achieved its 500th aerial victory. Wick continued adding to his combat victories, reaching number 55 and 56 on November 28, 1940. These were also his last.

On the same day, around 5 p.m., Wick's Bf 109 E-4 (Werknummer 5344 — factory number) was shot down, probably by Flight Lieutenant John Dundas of No. 609 Squadron RAF in the vicinity of Isle of Wight but it is also likely that Wick was shot down by Pilot Officer E. Marrs.[1] Wick was seen to bail out, but was never found and is missing to the present day. The Luftwaffe declared Wick MIA, presumed dead on December 4, 1940.

Family

On August 5, 1939 Wick married Ursel Rolfs (1916-1968) and had two children Walter (born in 1939) and a girl born after his death, in 1941.

Awards

References

Citations
  1. ^ Michulec 2002, p. 36.
  2. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 783.
Bibliography
  • unknown - Helmut Wick - das Leben eines Fliegerhelden - Scherl, Berlin for Der Adler, 1943
  • unknown - Horrido - Walter Zuerl, München, 1940
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Hagen, Hans-Peter (1998). Husaren des Himmels Berühmte deutsche Jagdflieger und die Geschichte ihrer Waffe (in German). Rastatt, Germany: Moewig. ISBN 3-8118-1456-7.
  • Michulec, Robert (2002). Luftwaffe at War/Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-486-9.
  • Nauroth, Holger (2005). Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen", A Photographic History. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-2094-7.
  • Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939–1945 (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 3-87341-065-6.
  • Ringlstetter, Herbert (2005). Helmut Wick, An Illustrated Biography Of The Luftwaffe Ace And Commander Of Jagdgeschwader 2 During The Battle Of Britain. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-2217-6.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Williamson, Gordon and Bujeiro, Ramiro (2004). Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves Recipients 1939-40. Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84176-641-0.
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939-1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 (in German). München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, 1985. ISBN 3-423-05944-3.
  • Helden der Wehrmacht - Unsterbliche deutsche Soldaten (in German). München, Germany: FZ-Verlag GmbH, 2004. ISBN 3-924309-53-1.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Major Wolfgang Schellmann
Commander of Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen
September 20, 1940 – November 28, 1940
Succeeded by
Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Greisert
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