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Knight's Cross And Oak-Leaves Recipient Werner Baumbach

Discussion in 'German WWII Medals and Awards' started by Jim, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    Oberst Werner Baumbach

    Werner Baumbach was born on 27 December 1916 in the town of Cloppenburg. Fascinated by flying from an early age, as a young man he took up glider flying, a popular sport in Germany between the wars. He gained his glider pilot's licence, and then fulfilled his early ambitions by joining the Luftwaffe at the age of 19. He attended the Luftwaffe's Kriegsschule in Berlin-Gatow, and by the outbreak of war in 1939 was a commissioned officer and qualified pilot, flying bombers.

    During the Polish campaign, Baumbach was decorated with the Iron Cross Second Class for his part in an attack on a Polish airbase near Warsaw. Initially flying the Heinkel He III, shortly after the conclusion of the Polish campaign, Baumbach and his unit, Kampfgeschwader 30, changed to the Junkers Ju 88. Baumbach at this time was predominantly employed on anti-shipping strikes, including attacks on British warships and supply convoys during the invasion of Norway.

    Werner Baumbach is shown here as a Hauptmann, wearing the Knight's Cross with Oak-Leaves. He poses in full flight gear, in front of his Junkers Ju 88 A-4 bomber, the aircraft in which he achieved his greatest successes as an anti-shipping strike pilot.

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    On 4 May 1940, he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class. His flying and marksmanship skills soon paid dividends. His ultimate score on such missions was over 300,000 tons of shipping sunk, outstripping those of even the great U-boat aces. For his success in these missions, he was decorated with the Knight's Cross on 8 May 1940.
    After the fall of France, Baumbach took part in the air assault on London. On one occasion his Ju 88 was badly shot up and only just made it back to Holland: he was forced to crash land, and ended up spending several months recuperating.

    His unit was subsequently moved north, and from bases in Norway continued to achieve considerable success against Allied shipping, especially after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the start of the shipping of 'lend-lease' material from Great Britain and the USA to the Soviet Union by convoy. Baumbach was awarded the Oak-Leaves for his Knight's Cross on 14 July 1941, only the 20th German soldier to be so honoured. The Swords followed on 17 August 1942, the 16th recipient of this addendum to the Oak-Leaves. Two months later he was promoted to Major. Thereafter, Major Baumbach and his squadron moved to the Mediterranean front. Here his unit faced a total lack of organisation, due primarily to bureaucratic incompetence. Baumbach fired off a furious complaint direct to the Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff, Generaloberst Jeschonnek. Goring ensured that things were put right, but punished the young officer for bypassing the 'correct' communication channels by posting him into a backwater administrative post in a research establishment testing new radio-controlled bombs. Baumbach made strenuous personal efforts to ensure that a proposal to employ manned V1 rockets in a suicide role was thwarted, by appealing directly to Hitler who, agreeing with Baumbach, quashed the plans. The outspoken young officer once again risked incurring Goring's wrath when, personally asked by Hitler for his opinion on the conduct of the air war, he gave a full, frank and extremely critical response. This time though, the Reichsmarschall avoided punishing him again and simply ignored his comments. Baumbach ended the war with the rank of Oberst. He suffered the indignity of having all of his decorations looted, though they were later returned to him, and was questioned over allegations that aircraft of his unit had strafed survivors of sunk ships; but the allegations were proved groundless and he was released. He enjoyed a successful post-war career in aircraft development until his untimely death in an aircraft crash in October 1953
     
  2. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    BOMBER PILOT WERNER BAUMBACH, THE SCOURGE OF ALLIED SHIPPING

    Oberleutnant Werner Baumbach is shown here with two NCOs from his crew (Baumbach is the middle figure) in front of his Junkers Ju 88 bomber, the aircraft in which he made his reputation and earned his Knight's Cross. The Ju 88 was an excellent medium bomber with dive-bombing capabilities. Its twin Jumo 211 engines gave it a top speed of over 500kph. With a crew of four, the A-4 version flown by Baumbach had a defensive armament of five 7.92mm machine guns and carried an offensive payload of up to 2,500kg of bombs. The dive-bombing capabilities of the Ju 88 meant that it could often escape from faster enemy fighters by going into a steep dive. An aircraft with these capabilities in the hands of an expert flier such as Baumbach made an awesome weapon. Many of the great Luftwaffe fighter aces were known as superb marksmen, but few bomber aces attracted the same plaudits. Baumbach used his skills to great effect in the precision bombing of enemy shipping, and in the course of his career he sank a larger tonnage of enemy shipping than even the great U-boat aces. His expertise as a flier was matched by his strength of character. Baumbach had several confrontations with the Luftwaffe hierarchy, always speaking his mind, often quite bluntly and without regard for the consequences. Despite this tendency to confront bureaucratic incompetence at higher levels, he continued his distinguished military career through to the end of the war, and was regarded as a highly respected bomber 'expert'.


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