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12 February 1918 in Mülheim an der Ruhr
03.11.37-31.03.38 4. Kompanie Flieger-Ersatzabteilung 24 Quakenbrück
01.04.38-30.06.38 1. Flug
16.05.40-20.07.40 Jagdfliegerschule 1, 1 staffel
23.08.40-01.03.41 I./ Jagdgeschwader 27, 2 Staffel
01.03.41-30.06.42 I./ Jagdgeschwader 27
01.07.42-20.04.43 III./ Jagdgeschwader 27
20.04.43-13.03.44 II./ Jagdgeschwader 27
14.03.44-28.06.44 III./ Jagdgeschwader 54
29.06.44-13.02.45 Fr. Fl. S.G. Ouedlinberg?
14.02.45-08.05.45 Stab./ Jagdgeschwader 3 "Udet"
Pages 7/8 from Schroer's Wehrstammbbuch.
01.03.41 Leutnant (Kr. O.)
01.07.42 Staffelkäpitan (8./ JG27)
01.11.42 Oberleutnant (Kr. o.)
01.02.43 Hauptmann (Kr. O.)
24.04.43 Gruppenkommodore (II. / JG27)
01.11.43 Major (Kr. O.)
14.02.45 Geschwaderkommodore (Stab JG3)
00.00.37 Reichssportabzeichen in Bronze (Reich Sports Badge in Bronze)
00.00.39 Flugzeugführerabzeichen (Pilots Badge)
09.10.39 Medaille Zur Erinnerung An Den 1. Oktober 1938 (Commemerative Medal of 1.10.38)
19.04.41 Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse (Iron Cross 2nd Class)
15.09.41 Eiserne Kreuz 1. Klasse (Iron Cross 1st Class)
15.09.41 Frontflug-Spange für Jäger in Silber (Operational flying clasp in Silver for fighters)
06.08.42 Ehrenpokal fur besondere Leistung im Luftkreig (Honor Goblet)
09.09.42 Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold)
15.09.42 Frontflug-Spange für Jäger in Gold (Operational flying clasp in Gold for fighters)
20.10.42 Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross)
02.08.43 Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz Mit Eichenlaub (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, No. 268)
00.00.43 Ärmelband Afrika (Africa campaign cuff-title)*
16.04.45 Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz Mit Eichenlaub Und Schwertern (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves And Swords, No. 142)**
05.11.41 Italienisch Kriegskreuz (Italian War Service Cross)
22.06.42 Italienisch Flugzeugführerabzeichen (Italian Pilots Badge)
02.08.43 Medaille Für Italienisch-Deutschen Feldzug in Afrika (The Italo-German Campaign Medal in Africa)
* Award not listed in Wehrstammbuch but eligible for cuff-title based on African service/awards in theater
** Award not listed in Wehrstammbuch but confirmed by other sources
Pages 44 from Schroer's Wehrstammbbuch.
11 July 41
Twelve Kittyhawks of 2 SAAF Squadron and twelve Tomahawks of 5 SAAF Squadron escorted twelve Bostons on a raid south-west of El Alamein. On the way to the target, a large formation was seen, composed of 30 Ju 87s escorted by seven Bf 109 from I Gruppe, twelve of II Gruppe and two from III/JG 27, the Curtiss fighters being ordered to leave the Bostons and attack.
The Kittyhawks made contact, Major Human and Captain Clifton each claiming a Ju 87, Lieutenant Wildsmith claiming a Bf 109 E, Lieutenant Hope a Bf 109 F and Lieutenants Higgo and Bryant each a probable Bf 109, though 27-year-old Lieutenant Ruper Alan Durose (SAAF no. 103189) was shot down and killed.
The Tomahawks were bounced before they could attack, Captain K. R. Coster and 27-year-old Second Lieutenant Lionel William Rapp (SAAF no. 206068) being shot down, and Rapp was killed while the aircraft of Lieutenant Lindbergh, 2nd Lieutenant Hinton and Major D. V. D. Lacey DFC were all badly damaged, the two former pilots being wounded.
On the return flight Major Human was attacked by three Bf 109s and force-landed in Allied lines.
The Luftwaffe fighters reported meeting a total of 40 to 45 British fighters, Unteroffizier Josef Vavra of 5 staffel claiming a Spitfire at 16:03 east of El Alamein. Feldwebel Heinrich Steis of 4 staffel claimed a Hurricane south of El Alamein at 16:05. At the same time claimed Leutnant Werner Schroer of 8 staffel, one Spitfire 10km south-east of El Alamein at 300 meters altitude, followed at 16:07 by Oberleutnant Ernst Börngen of 5 staffel, who claimed a Spitfire south-west of El Alamein.
Four P-40s were claimed at 16:10 one each by Leutnant Werner Schroer (?? victory) 10km south-east of El Alamein at 150 meters altitude, Unteroffizier Walter Timmerman of 1 staffel south of Mumin Busak, Leutnant Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt of 2 staffel, south-west of El Alamein and Feldwebel Heinrich Steis, west of El Alamein.
In February, Rommel launched his counter-offensive retaking a lot of the same ground all over again. So by March 1942, when Werner became Adjutant in I./JG 27 learning command under the experienced Eduard Neumann, they were back at Martuba, east of Derna.
22-23 June 42
On 22 June, the day after the fall of Tobruk, he was promoted to Staffelkapitän of 8./JG 27, based further forward at Gazala. The next day, 23 June, with Marseille having just reached 101 victories, Werner scored his 12th and finally started scoring regularly. With the Battle of Gazala well underway, and Rommel charging 500 km onto El Alamein, the airwar finally heated up.
Schroer scored 16 victories in July, then after a month away, a further 13 victories bringing his total to 44 (including six on 15 September).
On 9 September he was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold) after his 32nd & 33rd victories the day before. However, German pilots in North Africa may have significantly over-reported kills. On 15 September 1942 for instance; DAF squadron records suggest that German units over-claimed by a margin exceeding 200% on some occasions.
He continued scoring regularly in October, downing a further 15 aircraft. Leutnant Schröer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 21 October for 49 victories, just before Montgomery launched his victorious Battle of El Alamein. In the frantic air battles overhead, Schroer shot down 10 aircraft in a week.
On 4 November, the new Oberleutnant Schröer shot down his first four-engined bomber - a Boeing B-24 Liberator - west of Sollum. However, the end in Africa was nigh, and with the Afrika Korps in full retreat, III./JG 27 handed over its aircraft to Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing) replacing it on the continent, and evacuated to Crete and the Aegean islands. Fittingly, as the Gruppe's highest scorer, Werner scored one of its last African victories on 16 November (his 61st). Those 61 victories, all scored in Africa, made him the second-highest scoring ace of the Desert War, after Marseille (who had been killed in a flying accident on 30 September with 158 victories).
Hauptmann Werner Schroer's Bf 109G-2/Trop "Red 1", while serving as Staffelkapitan
of 8./ JG27 then based on Rhodes, February 43. 1
A break in the action, Schroer on Rhodes February 43.
Italian pilots on Rhodes admiring Schroer's victory tally. Feb. 43
In the few months they were in the Aegean, including a posting with the Italian forces on Rhodes, the newly promoted Hauptmann Schroer shot down two light bombers on 15 February. After that he had extended leave at home for his wedding.
Hauptmann Werner Schroer's Bf 109G-2/Trop "Red 1"
24 April 43
Schroer is appointed Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 27, replacing Gustav Rödel, who himself had been promoted to Kommodore of JG 27. II/JG 27 was now operating with the new Bf 109G in the dangerous skies over Sicily, as the Allies prepared for invasion with heavy preparatory bombing raids. Based at Trapani, on the western corner of the island, they were up against complete Allied air superiority and had the hopeless task of trying to protect transport aircraft makign desperate evacuation flights of remaining wounded and specialists our of the beleaguered Afrika Korps, now bottled up in Tunis. Just before Schroer took over command, on the evening of 18 April, only 6 transports had made it to Sicily out of 65 leaving Tunis. Flying at sea-level, half had been shot down and the remainder turned back damaged.Powerless to help, II./JG 27 claimed only one enemy fighter in response. However, with renewed vigour Werner led from the front and over the next two months, claimed 22 Allied aircraft shot down, including 12 four-engined heavy bombers. The surrender in May, of the Afrika Korps was of a comparable scale to the surrender of VI Army at Stalingrad only a few months earlier.
7 June 43
Hauptmann Werner Schroer took off from Trapani at 0510 on a "Jabobegleitschutz" mission, and returned to the same airfield at 0715.During this sortie he claimed one Curtiss P40 (77th victory). He was flying "Bf 109G <<+-", (probably a 109 G6).
Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily, started on 10 July. Unable to influence the result to any great degree, II./JG 27 had already been ordered back to the Italian mainland. Soon after, on 28 July, the unit was ordered to hand its aircraft over to other units and the pilots and crews returned to Germany for much-needed rest and re-equipment.
2 August 43
For his courageous efforts against the odds, Schroer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub), for 84 victories in defense of the Reich.
In August, II./JG 27 was at Wiesbaden-Erbenheim in Germany, starting training for a completely different air-war: Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties, at high altitude against the big, heavily-armed massed-formations of four-engined bombers, or Viermots. On 6 September, four bombers were claimed shot down by II./JG 27, three of them by Schröer (86-88v.).
From August to March, Schroer shot down 14 aircraft, 11 of them being Viermots - an indication of the type of air-combat in which he was now fighting. The unit's first operational sortie in the Reich, 6 September, was their most successful with nine bombers claimed, including three for Schröer (86th-88th victories).
Hauptmann Schroer displaying his recently awarded Oak Leaves.
Schroer's Me109 rudder displaying his ninety (90) aerial victories.
(Militär Historische Museum Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow)
7 January 1944
Schroer leads a stab flight from II. JG27 and intercepts bombers of the USAAF attacking Osnabruck. The bombers were escorted by P-38's from the 55th Fighter Group, 338th Fighter Squadron. During the action Schroer managed to shoot down two of the escorting P-38's (92nd and 93rd victories) one of which was flown by Captain Joseph Marsiglia. Marsiglia had to bail out and was apprehended near Holz, his aircraft crashed not far from there, near Riegelsberg, in a wooded area. Marsiglia was able to survive the ordeal and later recounted his parachute landing and subsequent capture, "As usual flak over the target area was intense and as the big birds withdrew cripples started to trail. My flight of four had gotten scattered in the twisting and turning and I found myself very much alone and out of radio contact. I was with the main bomber stream however and continued to turn enemy fighters away as well as I could by turning toward them. One 17 however was trailing smoke from the port side and losing altitude when four 109s started a gunnery pattern on it. I turned toward this attack which was about 5 thousand feet below, and off to my left and started a run on the fighters, calling for others in the escort to come down. No luck. My left engine was hit, flamed, and I was forces to bail out. I landed near the town of Fischbach, high up in a tree, right arm injured, in a driving rain. I managed to get to the ground and disposed of all military items. I buried them. I was picked up about an hour later by a forest ranger and his dog who had seen me coming down and who had alerted the military." Marsiglia's aircraft is believed to have been P-38H 42-67048
Image of Joseph Marsiglia with
his P-38 in happier times.
11 January 1944
On 14 March 1944, Major Schröer (with 99 victories) was appointed Gruppenkommandeur, III./Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54—54th Fighter WIng), based in the north at Lüneberg. In April the unit retrained and transferred onto the Focke Wulf Fw 190. On 24 May, Schröer claimed a P-51 Mustang and two P-47 Thunderbolts to reach his century (100th –102nd victories). But the worsening situation and the intense pressure was taking its toll, and he was sent on a month's stress-leave in early June just as Allied attention turned to Normandy, possibly saving his life as the unit took very heavy losses in France.
4 August 44
Major Schroer was leading 2 Staffeln of his Gruppe against a "US-Bomberpulk" of B-17s, when attacked by escorting Mustangs. During the ensuing battle, Schroer's FW190 was struck by defensive fire from one of the bombers which inflicted severe damage to his aircraft, shattering the cockpit canopy and severely wounding him in the process. Not wishing to risk bailing out, he elected to make an emergency landing, spending 3 months in hospital recuperating from his wounds.
16 April 45
While serving as Geschwaderkommodore of Jadgeschwader 3, Major Werner Schroer becomes only the 142nd recipient of the Ritterskreuz des Eisernes Kreuz Mit Eichenlaub Und Schwertern (Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves And Swords).
The Experten Major Werner Schroer wearing the Swords to the Knights Cross mid-late April 45.
8 May 45
The war in Europe comes to an end with the unconditional surrender of all German armed forces. Werner Schröer was the 144th recipient of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. He was credited with 114 victories, claimed in only 197 combat missions. His tally of 26 four-engined bombers ranked him the 5th most successful pilot against that formidable type. Likewise, his score of 102 victories against the Western Allies, including 61 claimed over North Africa, make him the 5th-equal ranked pilot, alongside Joachim Müncheberg and Egon Mayer.
Schroer was kept a prisoner-of-war until release in February 1946, and did not return to the military. In his later years, he ran a campaign to get a memorial erected to his friend Hans-Joachim Marseille, but passed away before he could see that mission completed.
Werner Schroer is interviewed about his experiences with the Lutwaffe during the air phase known as the Defense of the Reich for the English television series "The World At War", a 26 episode series which aired in 1973.
10 February 85
Werner Schroer dies in Munich at the age of 67.
Schröer joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 as ground crew (with 4.Kompanie Flieger-Ersatzabteilung 24). However, in 1938 as a Gefreiter he enrolled in basic flight training, which he completed, as a Feldwebel, in May 1940. He then spent two months posted with Jagdfliegerschule 1 getting advanced fighter training, graduating on 20 July 1940. In August he was assigned to 2./Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG 27—27th Fighter Wing), which at the time was heavily engaged in the Battle of Britain. Operating over the Channel and southern England he got three victories, but they could not be officially confirmed.
Mediterranean theater of operations
After attending officer-training over winter, and as a Leutnant, he and the rest of I./JG 27 was sent to North Africa, via Sicily, in March 1941 to support the Afrika Korps. The first aircraft arrived at Ain-el-Gazala airfield, west of Tobruk on the 18th April. So it was mildly surprising that after 8 months without success that Schroer's first victory was one of the four claimed the next day in the first missions by the Gruppe in Africa: a Hurricane shot down over Gazala, although he had to force-land his own Messerschmitt Bf 109E ('Black 8', Werknummer 3790—factory number) near his airfield, with 48 bullet-holes in it. Two days later, on 21 April, he collided with another aircraft while combatting Hurricanes, slightly injuring himself and requiring another forced-landing. On 23 April Marseille opened his account with JG 27 scoring his first victory in Africa (and 8th overall).
Schröer's scoring progress was slow, as he adapted to the wide open spaces of desert aerial combat - his second victory was another Hawker Hurricane on 25 June, and by the end of 1941 his tally was just seven. On 29 August 1941 Schroer engaged in aerial combat with the top Australian ace Clive Caldwell of No. 250 Squadron RAF north-west of Sidi Barrani. In the course of the battle Schröer damaged Caldwell's P-40 Tomahawk. Caldwell suffered bullet wounds to the back, left shoulder, and leg but was still able to shoot down Werner Schroer's wingman and heavily damage Werner's own aircraft and thus forced him to disengage. The arrival in September of II Gruppe from the Eastern Front allowed I./JG 27 to rotate its pilots back to Germany, a squadron at a time, for rest and re-equipment with the improved Bf 109F. However, this could not prevent the Axis forces being routed out of Cyrenaica by the British Operation Crusader.
Returning to duty, from 29 June 1944 to February 1945, Schröer was senior instructor at the DES Kommandersschule for fighter leaders. But in the desperate final days of the Reich, Werner was recalled to active service as Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3—3rd Fighter Wing), taking command on 14 February. He then claimed 12 Russian aircraft destroyed - his only victories not on the Western front. On 19 April 1945 he received the Swords to his Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves (Schwertern), then, finally, on 8 May he surrendered his unit to British forces.
1. Aircraft profiles by Chris Davey, Keith Fretwell and John Weal