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Robert Spreckels JG1 and JG11

Roy Davies

Level 2 Account
Location
England
Hi guys,

Just finished re-reading Bob Braham's excellent "Scramble" and it appears not a lot is known about the guy who shot him down in 1944, (Robert Spreckels), apart from what is mentioned in the book text.

The Kracker archive is limited and a search regarding units served, combat claims etc. throws up little further information.

Can anyone fill in the gaps?

Spreckels appears to have served with JFS4 and SFAR24, then operationally with JG1 in 1942 and then JG 11 mid-1943 onwards. Magnus quotes 12 victories while Bowers/Lednicer quotes 21 victories. Only 8 are logged in surviving Luftwaffe records, with reportedly 6 heavies.

Claim 1/ 1 August 1942 (8./JG1) "Boston " 30 km. W. Helgoland 17-56 hours;
No obvious matches, though looking at JG1's 1942 coastal encounters the "Boston" may be a Beaufort or a Beaufighter/Blenheim type from Coastal Command. Uffz Karl Bugaj 11./JG1 shot down Mosquito DK308 of 105 Sqn. North of Langeoog at 13:18 hrs that same day.

Claim 2/ 22 March 1943 (8./JG1) B-17HSS Texel.
76 B-17's and 26 B-24's against Wilhelmshaven, losing 1 B-17 and 2 B-24's with 12 B-17s and 10 B-24's damaged. All 4 of JG1 Gruppen flew two missions. JG1 claimed 6 bombers; 2 B24s and 4 B17s.

Claim 3 & 4/ 25 June 1943 Two B-17s ( now with 2./JG11; 9.05 and 9.27 hours)
275 B-17's in scattered attacks on targets of opportunity in NW Germany when Bremen and Hamburg are obscured; 18 B-17's lost, Luft claimed 21, the 34 aircraft of JG11 claimed 12 of these (Stab claimed 2, I./JG11 claimed 5 0812-0930 hours, II./JG11 claimed 5). I./JG11 lost 2 FW190s (1 KIA).

We now have a big gap (maybe he was wounded in 1943?) to-

Claim 5/ 13 May 1944 B17 over Norway, with 'Alarmstaffel Aalborg' (ex 10./JG11)

749 bombers and 737 fighters hit targets in Germany; 12 bombers and 5 fighters lost; 289 B-17s dispatched to oil targets in W Poland; 10 bombers lost and 81 damaged. 199 B-17s dispatched to Osnabruck; 1 B-17 lost and 61 damaged; 261 B-24s to Tutow; 1 B-24 lost and 2 damaged; The most combats were with the escorts; P-47s claimed 14-2-9, P-51s claimed 33-1-4; Luftwaffe lost 38 with 18 KIA. JG11 claimed 3 B-17s (Inc. Spreckels) 3 P-47s and 2 P-51s for 12 fighters lost, 6 KIA. Ops flown 1200-13-30 hours

claim 6/19 May 1944 B17 with 'Alarmstaffel Aalborg' (ex 10./JG11);
888 bombers and 700 fighters to Germany; 28 bombers and 19 fighters lost; fighters claim 77-0-33 : 588 B-17s to Berlin; 16 B-17s lost, 2 damaged beyond repair and 289 damaged; 300 B-24s to Brunswick; 12 B-24s lost and 64 damaged; On the outward journey, I./JG11 claimed 5 B-24s, II/JG11 claimed 2 fighters for 12 losses. Return journey I./JG11 claimed a B24 HSS and III./JG11 claimed 2 B-17s for no loss. Luft lost 68 fighters, 30 KIA.

claim7/ 16 June 1944 11.24 hours Mosguito S. Hadsünd, Denmark;
Mosquito FB.VI (NS913) “SM-T” of 305 Sqn (Pol) RAF S/L MJ. Herrick DFC&B and Navigator F/O A Turski (Pol)both KIA;

claim 8/ 25 June 1944 12.05 hours Mosquito Skjern/Jütland, Denmark;
Mosquito FB.VI (LR373) “YH-A” of 21 Sqn RAF W/C RJ Braham DSO&2B DFC&B and Navigator S/L DC Walch POW.

Additionally, according to
URLs (links) are hidden to LRG Level 1 members and unregistered users.
Spreckels was at Aalborg May-June '44 to help convert bomber pilots to fly fighters.
This could suggest Spreckels was recognised as a competent instructor and maybe accounts for the large gaps between claims if he was heavily involved with Ausbildungsstaffel/JG11 during 1943-44?

Spreckels is also referenced on 1 January 1945, when 41 Fw190s of Stab., I and III./JG11 and 20 Bf109s of II./JG11 took part in Bodenplatte, their target the airfield near Asch, Belgium, designated Y-29, hosting the 352nd FG and 366th FG. Some 30 of JG11 attacked Ophoven (RAF 125 Wg) by mistake. A Squadron of the 366th was already airborne to attack ground targets in the Bulge. A Squadron from the 352nd was idling on the runway as approached and was able to get all 12 aircraft off. A large dogfight then occurred at a low altitude over the base. JG11 lost 24 planes (4 to AA) and 22 pilots for a claim of 11 Allied aircraft down. 352nd FG claimed 23, 366th FG claimed 8, AA claimed 7,

In "Bodenplatte: The Luftwaffe's Last Hope : the Attack on Allied Airfields New Year's Day, 1945; John Manrho, Ron Putz. (Hikoki Publications, 2004) on page 164 it records "Ofw. Robert Spreckels of 11. Staffel managed to belly-land near Aachen and survived with minor injuries."

Reference "Scramble" page 12 for more information, where Spreckels himself says "I was shot down four times and if the last crash near Aachen on January 1 1945 had not kept me in hospital for a long time, I doubt if I should ever have seen Bob Braham again".

Braham met Spreckels after the war; in my 1961 version of "Scramble" (price 3/6!!) there is a pic of Mr and Mrs Braham with Mr and Mrs Spreckels- when Braham was posted to Europe by the RCAF.

Reviewing the book Spreckels also wrote the introduction to the 1961 edition.

He describes the fact that Braham was the 'third' Mosquito he had claimed. (?) He also mentions being in hospital "for a long time" after being shot down during Bodenplatte 1/1/45 (which brings into doubt any unconfirmed Soviet claims with JG11 Jan-Apr 1945?) and post 1945 returning to his pre-war job with a Hamburg shipping company. He mentions his parent's death in a Hamburg air raid too.

Braham mentions he first met Spreckels soon after capture and was introduced to his victor- a Leutnant and with 45 claims. There is also reference to Spreckels imminent move to the Normandy front as he asked Braham about the 'capability' of Spitfires.

Can anyone fill in the gaps?

Thanks
 

Jørn Junker

Level 3 Account
Location
Denmark
Country
Denmark
For a start get the German language books from Prien et al. And sadly parts of the information qouted above are faulty. Spreckles served with 10./JG11, stationed at Aalborg-Ost in 1944 and was also used as fighter instructor in A-Staffel./JG11.
Junker
 

Roy Davies

Level 2 Account
Location
England
Thanks for the reply Jorn,
Ive had a look at the JG1/JG11 Prien book, but it doesnt really fill out any more information than the basics.
I asked the same questions on TOCH forum and responses indicated that if he was never wounded significantly as there are no NVM listed for Spreckels. If he was shot down or made emergency landings four times, he therefore was never wounded, because no NVM was made. Yet in his intro to Brahams "Scramble" page 12 for this information, where Spreckels himself says "I was shot down four times and if the last crash near Aachen on January 1 1945 had not kept me in hospital for a long time , I doubt if I should ever have seen Bob Braham again".

I did find this which Danish account recently which mentions Spreckels a few times; you might find this interesting in its own right.
It appears to be the wartime memoirs of Uffz.Siegfried "Napp" Rudschinat, who was a close contemporay of Spreckels.
It looks an interesting account from Rudschinat himself as well.

URLs (links) are hidden to LRG Level 1 members and unregistered users.
 

Jørn Junker

Level 3 Account
Location
Denmark
Country
Denmark
You have to look at Priens Jagdfliegerverbände volumes. And the book you mentioned is Norwegian not Danish. The Scramble book is really old, and some of the content can not be trusted. Braham claim more victories that can not be verified.
Mosquito 16. june Spreckles started from Aalborg-Ost in a Fw190. Braham 25. june start in a Fw190 from Aalborg-Ost. Landing in Grove to refuel. Start from Grove and Abschuss. He claims an Abschuss Liberator NW Esbjerg second half of may 1944. His Fw190 were hit by returnfire, so he had to land at Esbjerg. He was unhurt. All from a personal letter from Spreckles. I do have one picture were he is wearing the EK 1 but no wound badge from june 1944. He does also mentions another Abschuss south of Lister 1943. No mention of him beeing shot down himself.
Junker
 

Roy Davies

Level 2 Account
Location
England
Hi Jorn,
Thanks for the correction regarding the language the account is written in!

With regards the B24 'incident', in the 1968 letter Spreckels mentions combat with a B-24 over Denmark in "second half of June 1944", the rear gunner causing enough damage to force him to land his damaged Fw190. Uncertain if Spreckels claimed the bomber shot down or just a damaged?
Looking at the 8th AF diaries this could be 14/6/44 mission 412, 20/6/44 mission 425, 28/6/44 mission 445, or 29/6/44 mission 447.
Looking at
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the opponent in question could be B-24H (42-50329) of the 445 Bomb Group (1st Lt Richard R. Plant, PoW) crashed in the Lille Bælt 21/6/1944, after being hit by flak over Germany it headed northwest. When over Denmark it was attacked by a German fighter and after 10 minutes of combat the B 24 winged over and crashed burning in the sea 800 metres south of the island of Årø at 12:42 hours.(8 crew killed) It is believed that the fighter was from Luftbeobachtungsstaffel 1, as Leut. Woeske claimed a B 24 at 12:42 hours.
 
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