Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Death of an Unsung Hero

Theo. I have run out of ammunition. I'm going to ram this one. Good bye. We'll see each other in Valhalla." - Heinrich Ehrler's last transmission over the Squadron Radio Network before he allegedly rammed a B-24 bomber, destroying both aircraft and killing himself. "Theo" refers to Theodor Weissenberger.

Today is the Anniversary of the death of Lüftwaffe Ace Heinrich Ehrler on April 4th 1945.  (So close to the end of the war).  Ehrler ended his career with 208 kills.  The last 8 in the ME-262.

Ehrler was one of the finest pilots the Lüftwaffe had and was considered a "Top Ace" with his 200 kills.  Then controversy would ruin his reputation when Avro Lancasters sunk the German Battleship Tirpitz unopposed.  Ehrler who was a loyal Lüftwaffe pilot was "Scape-goated", as he was given conflicting orders as to where the enemy was.  By the time they realized the Tirpitz was the target, Ehrler's squadron was to far away to render support.  He was stripped of his rank and sentenced to 3 years an 2 months in prison.  Prior to this incident, Heinrich Erhler was being considered for the Iron cross with Oak leaves and Swords. (But the award was never approved)

Once the truth came out about the demise of the Tirpitz, it was discovered that the position of the Tirpitz was moved without the Lüftwaffe being notified by the Kriegsmarine.  Ehrler was released after a month, he was demoted and allowed to fly again with an ME-262 squadron.  One of Ehrler's junior officers,Walter Schuck, sent an affidavit of what truly happened to Reichsmarschall
Hermann Göring who "commuted" Ehrler's sentence, and rescinded his demotion.  He was allowed to fly an "Rehabilitate himself"

Ehrler was never the same pilot after that.

On April 4th 1945, the 714th Bombardment squadron of B-24 liberators were carpet bombing Berlin when Ehrler and his squadron engaged the enemy.  After shooting down two B-24s Ehrler ran out of ammunition. His final words were:
"Theo. (Theodor Weissenberger his wingman) I have run out of ammunition. I'm going to ram this one. Good bye. We'll see each other in Valhalla."   He flew his ME-262 into the final B-24 destroying both planes and killing himself.  The war would be over 30 days later. Ehrler's body was found the next day in the woods of Scharlibbe confirming his death on April 4th 1945.


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