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Memoirs of a Stuka Pilot, by Helmut Mahlke

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by ColHessler, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    (Not to be confused with Hans Ulrich Rudel's Stuka Pilot)

    Length: 320 pages, including appendices

    This is the story in his own words of German dive bomber pilot Helmut Mahlke. He served from the Poland Campaign to the early days of the invasion of the Soviet Union with Stukageschwader I.

    Mahlke started out as a naval cadet in the Weimar navy, the Reichsmarine. He went with some other cadets to pilot training at a flying school on the Baltic to learn to fly land and seaplanes. He graduated from flying school on 1932 and went in December of that year on a one year voyage on the cruiser Koln, He came back to find himself and the other cadets with flying training transferred to the Luftwaffe.

    He and the other flyers were to be part of the air wing of the aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. With the outbreak of war they were attached to a Stuka wing in the invasion of Poland. They then served in the invasion of France, including Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, and the Mediterranean, before going to the invasion of Russia. On 8 July, 1941, Mahlke was shot down and severely burned. He spent the rest of the war behind a desk, but the translator of this book went on to tell us the rest of the exploits of Mahlke's unit.

    We end up with a roll of honor for all those killed, wounded and captured of Stukageschwader I.

    I liked the down to earth descriptions Mahlke used for his varied adventures, such as his time in Libya where they had to deal with sand getting into everything. There are also several plates of photos showing Mahlke after his receipt of the Knight's Cross and how his face looked wit the burns, and paintings by Hans Laska which related various experiences of the author.

    He did talk about regrets of having to attack the ships at Dunkirk and how helpless the British soldiers must have been, as well as other instances of guilty feelings about some of their missions. I feel he laid it on a little thick. He truly may have regretted it, but I feel he was trying to sell it too hard.

    Overall, I'd recommend this book to get an idea of how a German pilot went through his buisness in the blitzkrieg days.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
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  2. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    .............added to "future reads" :)
     
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