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Manfred Meurer

German officer and fighter pilot during World War II
The basics
About
Date of birth Hamburg
Date of death Jan 22, 1944 Magdeburg
The details
Biography

Manfred Meurer (8 September 1919 – 22 January 1944) was a Luftwaffe night fighter flying ace of World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Meurer was credited with 65 aerial victories claimed in 130 combat missions making him the fifth most successful night fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare.

Early life and career

Meurer, the son of an editor-in-chief, was born on 8 September 1919 in Hamburg, at the time a sovereign state of the German Empire. After attending school and passing his Abitur (School Leaving Certificate) and compulsory Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labour Service), he joined the military service of Nazi Germany in 1938. He initially served with Flak-Regiment 6 (6th anti aircraft artillery regiment) of the Luftwaffe as a Fahnenjunker (officer cadet).

World War II

World War II in Europe began on Friday 1 September 1939 when German forces invaded Poland. Following the outbreak of war, Meurer was accepted for flight training and was promoted to Leutnant (second lieutenant) on 1 April 1940. From the Heeresaufklärern (army aerial reconnaissance), he was posted to II. Gruppe (2nd group) of Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76—76th Destroyer Wing). In Oktober 1941, he transferred to III. Gruppe (3rd group) of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1—1st Night Fighter Wing) where he became a night fighter pilot. There, he was assigned to the 9. Staffel (9th squadron) of NJG 1.

Meurer was credited with his first aerial victory on 26/27 March 1942, a Vickers Wellington bomber, claimed shot down at 00:10 approximately 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) east of Wichmond. For this, he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eisernes Kreuz zweiter Klasse) on 17 April 1942. On 30/31 May 1942, he claimed his second victory, a Handley Page Hampden at 02:05 roughly 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) north Deventer. The Hampden was identified as P2116 from the Royal Air Force (RAF) No. 14 Operational Training Unit. He shot down a Handley Page Halifax at 01:54 on 2/3 June 1942 claimed near Emmerich. At 04:17 on 15/16 August 1942, Meurer claimed a Wellington shot down at Rozendaal. Meurer became an ace on the night of 10/11 September 1942 after having claimed a Wellington shot down at 00:06 in the vicinity 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) west of Bienen. Three nights later, he claimed his sixth victory over a Avro Lancaster bomber at 03:26 about 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) north of Appeldoorn. On 1/2 October 1942, he claimed another Wellington shot down at 21:47 roughly 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) north-northeast of Haldern. Meurer claimed his last aerial victory in 1942 on the night of 15/16 October. The victory was claimed over a Halifax bomber at 22:52 about 1 kilometre (0.62 miles) north of Hellendoorn. Credited with eight victories, he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class (Eisernes Kreuz erster Klasse) on 19 December 1942.

Staffelkapitän

On 1 January 1943, Meurer was appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 3. Staffel (3rd squadron) of NJG 1. His first victory of 1943 was claimed on the night of 3/4 January. He shot down a Lancaster at 20:23 about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north-northeast of Roermond. The aircraft was Lancaster "U-Uncle" from No. 207 Squadron piloted by Flight Sergeant 'Barry' Chaster. In the attack, four crew members were killed. His 10th aerial victory was over a Halifax claimed at 20:53 on 27/28 January 1943 at Handel, followed by a Stirling claimed at 20:41 on 3/4 February 1943 near 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) south of Amersfoort.

On 14/15 February 1943, he claimed three heavy bombers, two Halifax and one Wellington. At 20:05 about 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of Eindhoven, he claimed the first Halifax of the night. The second was believed to have been shot down at 20:20 north-northeast of Maastricht. The Wellington was then claimed at 21:06 roughly 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) west of Roermond. Meurer claimed two bombers shot down on 26/27 February 1943. He destroyed a Lancaster at 21:18 about 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) northeast of Roermond, and a Wellington at 21:35 roughly 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Eindhoven. On 1/2 March 1942, he was victorious over another Lancaster, claimed at 23:56 approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) southeast of Rotterdam.

Battle of the Ruhr

In March 1943, RAF Bomber Command, under the command of Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, initiated a 5-month long campaign of strategic bombing targeting the industrial centres in the Ruhr Area. This series of bombing attacks, dubbed the Battle of the Ruhr (5 March 1943 – 31 July 1943), caused heavy damage to German industry. The Battle of the Ruhr began with a 442 aircraft attack on Essen on the night of 5/6 March 1943. That night, Meurer claimed a Halifax shot down at 20:57 west of Düsseldorf and at 21:20 a Wellington 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) northwest of Weeze. On 12/13 March 1943, Bomber Command was targeting the Krupp factory in Essen, Meurer claimed four aerial victories, two Halifax, one Lancaster, and one Wellington. The first Halifax was shot down at 21:16 northwest of Venlo. The Lancaster was claimed at 21:25 approximately 3–5 kilometres (1.9–3.1 miles) east of Bergen. The second Halifax was claimed at 21:48 at Grafwegen. The Wellington was claimed at shot down at 22:25 roughly 25 kilometres (16 miles) northeast of 's-Hertogenbosch. Credited with 23 aerial victories, Meurer was awarded the Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe (Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe) on 15 March 1943, the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) on 31 March 1943, and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 16 April 1943.

In May 1943, Meuerer was credited with 14 aerial victories which included one on 12/13 May, another the next night, three on 23/24 May, again three on 25/26 May, two on 27/28 May, and four on 29/30 May. The victory on 12/13 May was over a Wellington, claimed at 02:10 roughly 18 kilometres (11 miles) east-southeast Eindhoven. On 13/14 May at 02:31, a Halifax was claimed in an unknown location. The three victories claimed on 23/24 May were over a Wellington at 01:55 about 13 kilometres (8.1 miles) northwest of Eindhoven, a second Wellington at 02:12 east of Essen, and a Lancaster at 02:33 in a position 32 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Nijmegen. The three further victories claimed on 25/26 May were over a Wellington at 01:24 at Oostrum, a Lancaster at 01:36 about 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) southeast of Roermond, and a second Lancaster at 02:08 in a position 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) west of Nijmegen. The two victories claimed on 27/28 May were over a Lancaster at 00:38 about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) north-northeast of Barlo, and a Wellington at 02:12 approximately 21 kilometres (13 miles) southeast of Wanroij. On 21/22 June 1943, Bomber command targeted Krefeld, losing 44 aircraft in the attack. That night, Meurer shot down two bombers, one from No. 83 Squadron and another from No. 77 Squadron. Meurer's aircraft was hit by defensive fire of his second opponent, forcing him to bail out. His first victory was a Lancaster shot down at 01:23 about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) west of Oeffelt, and a Halifax at 01:48 roughly 0.5 kilometres (0.31 miles) southwest of Wamel. Flying a specialized Junkers Ju 88 with GM-1 power boost, Meurer was credited with his 50th aerial victory over De Havilland Mosquito IV DZ458 from No. 139 Squadron on 27/28 July 1943.

Gruppenkommandeur

Heinkel He 219

On 2 August 1943, Meurer was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). On 5 August 1943, Meurer was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of II. Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 (NJG 5—5th Night Fighter Wing). On 23/24 August 1943, Meurer claimed a Lancaster at 00:58 over the eastern area of Berlin and a second Lancaster at 01:38 at Fürstenberg/Havel. On the last night of August 1943, he claimed a Stirling bomber destroyed at 01:00 on 1 September in a vicinity 20 kilometres (12 miles) west-northwest of Berlin. He returned to NJG 1 on 28 September 1943 as Gruppenkommandeur of I. Gruppe. I Gruppe flew the Heinkel He 219 and Meurer gained five victories flying this type. At 20:05 on 18/19 October 1943, he claimed a Lancaster for his 57th aerial victory at Erichshagen. Near Bühne and Haarbrück on the night of 22/23 October 1943, he claimed a Lancaster shot down at 21:20. At 20:15 on 3/4 November 1943, Meurer claimed a Halifax 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) northeast of Tilburg.

Battle of Berlin and death

In November 1943, Bomber Command initiated the aerial bombing campaign on Berlin. During the Battle of Berlin (18 November 1943 – 31 March 1944), the RAF also targeted other German cities to prevent the concentration of defences. At the start of this campaign, Meurer with his I. Gruppe were based at Venlo Airfield. Meurer was credited with his 60th aerial victory on 12/13 December 1943 for a claim made at 19:25 over a Mosquito west of Zaltbommel. The Mosquito was DZ354 from No. 105 Squadron piloted by Flying Officer Benjamin Frank Reynolds and Flying Officer John Douglas Phillips, both killed in action. On 16/17 December 1943, he claimed his 61st and 62nd victory. The 61st claim was made at 19:25 over an aircraft of unknown type and position. His 62nd claim was over a Lancaster at an unknown time and location.

On the night of 21–22 January 1944 he collided with the Lancaster W4852 LS-B, piloted by Flight Sergeant Robert Butler, roughly 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Magdeburg. His He 219 A-0 (Werknummer 190070—factory number) "G9+BB" crashed and Meurer, his radar operator Oberfeldwebel Gerhard Scheibe, the first radio operator of the night fighter force to have received the Knight's Cross of the Ion Cross, and all seven members of the Lancaster crew, were in killed in action. Meurer had been credited with 65 nocturnal victories, including 40 four-engined bombers and two Mosquitos, claimed in 130 combat missions. On 31 January 1944, Meurer was given a military funeral on the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg.

Aerial victory claims

Foreman, Matthews and Parry, authors of Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945, list 65 nocturnal victory claims, numerically ranging from 1 to 61, 61, 65, 63 and 64. According to Bowman, Meurer shot down Mosquito IV DZ458 from No. 139 Squadron on 27/28 July 1943. This claim is not documented by Foreman, Matthews and Parry.

Chronicle of aerial victories
Victory Date Time Type Location Serial No./Squadron No.
– 9./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –
1 27 March 1942 00:10 Wellington 2 km (1.2 mi) east Wichmond
Stab III./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –
2 31 May 1942 02:05 Hampden 3 km (1.9 mi) north Deventer P2116/No. 14 Operational Training Unit
3 3 June 1942 01:54 Halifax near Emmerich
4 16 August 1942 04:17 Wellington Rozendaal
5 11 September 1942 00:06 Wellington 1 km (0.62 mi) west Bienen
6 14 September 1942 03:26 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) north Appeldoorn
7 1 October 1942 21:47 Wellington 2 km (1.2 mi) north-northeast Haldern
8 15 October 1942 21:47 Halifax 1 km (0.62 mi) north Hellendoorn
– 3./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –
9 3 January 1943 20:23 Lancaster 20 km (12 mi) north-northeast Roermond W4134/No. 207 Squadron
10 27 January 1943 20:53 Halifax Handel
11 3 February 1943 20:41 Stirling 5 km (3.1 mi) south Amersfoort
12 14 February 1943 20:05 Halifax 50 km (31 mi) east Eindhoven
13 14 February 1943 20:20 Halifax north-northeast Maastricht
14 14 February 1943 21:06 Wellington 5 km (3.1 mi) west Roermond
15 26 February 1943 21:18 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast Roermond
16 26 February 1943 21:35 Wellington 20 km (12 mi) northeast Eindhoven
17 1 March 1943 23:56 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) southeast Rotterdam
18 5 March 1943 20:57 Halifax west Düsseldorf
19 5 March 1943 21:20 Wellington 4 km (2.5 mi) northwest Weeze
20 12 March 1943 21:16 Halifax northwest Venlo
21 12 March 1943 21:25 Lancaster 3–5 km (1.9–3.1 mi) east Bergen
22 12 March 1943 21:48 Halifax Grafwegen
23 12 March 1943 22:25 Wellington 25 km (16 mi) northeast of 's-Hertogenbosch
24 13 May 1943 02:10 Wellington 18 km (11 mi) east-southeast Eindhoven
25 14 May 1943 02:31 Halifax
26 24 May 1943 01:55 Wellington 13 km (8.1 mi) northwest Eindhoven
27 24 May 1943 02:12 Wellington east Essen
28 24 May 1943 02:33 Lancaster 32 km (20 mi) southeast Nijmegen
29 26 May 1943 01:24 Wellington Oostrum
30 26 May 1943 01:36 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) southeast Roermond
31 26 May 1943 02:08 Lancaster 5 km (3.1 mi) west Nijmegen
32 28 May 1943 00:38 Lancaster 2 km (1.2 mi) north-northeast Barlo
33 28 May 1943 01:30 Wellington 21 km (13 mi) southeast Wanroij
34 30 May 1943 00:33 Halifax 5 km (3.1 mi) north-northeast Roermond
35 30 May 1943 00:50 Wellington 12 km (7.5 mi) northeast Roermond
36 30 May 1943 01:09 Stirling southeast Roermond
37 30 May 1943 01:44 Lancaster 20 km (12 mi) west Geldern
38 12 June 1943 01:14 Wellington Coesfeld
39 12 June 1943 01:40 Halifax Zutphen
40 12 June 1943 01:55 Halifax 7 km (4.3 mi) north Xanten
41 13 June 1943 01:14 Lancaster Beaumetz
42 15 June 1943 01:02 Lancaster Hünshoven
43 15 June 1943 01:11 Lancaster east-southeast Sittard
44 15 June 1943 01:15 Lancaster 4 km (2.5 mi) west-southwest Bracht
45 17 June 1943 00:55 Lancaster southwest Krüchen
46 17 June 1943 01:20 Lancaster 2 km (1.2 mi) west Braunsrath
47 17 June 1943 01:41 Lancaster south Boerdonk
48 17 June 1943 01:55 Lancaster 4 km (2.5 mi) north Bortel
49 22 June 1943 01:23 Lancaster 2 km (1.2 mi) west Oeffelt
50 22 June 1943 01:48 Halifax 0.5 km (0.31 mi) southwest Wamel
Stab II./Nachtjagdgeschwader 5 –
51 24 August 1943 00:58 Lancaster eastern part Berlin
52 24 August 1943 01:38 Lancaster Oranienburg/Fürstenberg
53 1 September 1943 01:00 Lancaster 20 km (12 mi) west-northwest Berlin
54 7 September 1943 00:40 Lancaster south Munich
55 7 September 1943 00:50 Lancaster 25 km (16 mi) south Munich
55 7 September 1943 00:50 Lancaster 25 km (16 mi) south Munich
56 28 September 1943 23:20 B-17 south Hanover
Stab I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 –
57 18 October 1943 20:05 Lancaster Erichshagen
58 22 October 1943 21:20 Lancaster Bühne-Haarbrück
59 3 November 1943 20:15 Halifax 14 km (8.7 mi) northeast Tilburg
60 12 December 1943 19:25 Mosquito west Zaltbommel DZ354/No. 105 Squadron
61 16 December 1943 19:25 Lancaster
62 16/17 December 1943
Lancaster
63 1/2 January 1944
Lancaster
64 22 January 1944 23:10 Halifax Magdeburg
65 22 January 1944 23:50 Lancaster 20 km (12 mi) southwest Magdeburg W4852

Awards

  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (17 April 1942)
    • 1st Class (19 December 1942)
  • Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe (Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe) on 15 March 1943 as Oberleutnant and pilot
  • German Cross in Gold on 31 March 1943 as Oberleutnant in the 3./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
    • Knight's Cross on 16 April 1943 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 3./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
    • 264th Oak Leaves on 2 August 1943 as Hauptmann and Staffelkapitän of the 3./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1
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