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Archive Report: Axis Forces
1914-1918   1935-1945

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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Karl Henze Stuka Pilot
Karl Henze: Stuka Pilot. 1098 Missions


Karl Henze was born 20 January 1916 in Holzminden, Weser and died  25 September 1985 in Neunkirchen-Seelscheid, Germany.

He was a 'Channel pilot', one who fought in the Battle of Britain in 1940, when Luftwaffe pilots had to face the long journey home over the English Channel. He was shot down with wounds 18 August, 1940 after aerial combat with Spitfires over Ford airfield. Although suffering from a head wound, he was able to force land northwest of Bayeaux in Normandy. His hydraulics had been shot up and he himself had a bullet lodged against his skull. On the journey home his wheels actually touched the Channel but he was able to wrest the aircraft back into the air and managed to limp back to France at wave-top height before crash landing.

He is noted to have rescued at least one downed aircrew behind enemy lines under heavy fire. He was shot down several times, including a heavy crash in a badly holed aircraft. He flew an incredible 1098 missions. 

He was a highly decorated Major, and one of only 882 recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves which was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He was taken prisoner at the end of the war and later joined the post-war Luftwaffe, retiring as an Oberst.

He took part in the invasion of Poland in 1939, then fought in France before coming up against the RAF's Spitfires and Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain when the deficiencies of the Stuka were soon to be exposed. He later fought in Greece and Yugoslavia, and took part in the attack on Russia (Operation Barbarossa) and was at the siege of Sevastopol in 1941 - 42, and later at Kursk.

His awards were the Flugzeugführerabzeichen, Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold with Pennant "1000", Iron Cross (1939) 2nd and 1st Class, Wound Badge (1939), Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (24 November 1941), German Cross in Gold (13 January 1942), Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Knight's Cross on 15 July 1942 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of the 1./Sturzkampfgeschwader 77, 481st Oak Leaves on 20 May 1944 as Major and Gruppenkommandeur of the I./Schlachtgeschwader 77. 

(Photo: Henze on right)

He was appointed Staffelkapitan I/StG 77, then Kommandeur I/SG 2 from 2 March 1943 to 15 November 1944. His last command may have been SG-103 and SG-151 in April, 1945, flying the Ar 96, Fw 190F & G and the Ju 87 D or G. R

Researched by Stefan Pietrzak Youngs from the Kracker Archive (on this site), Mick Spick's 'Luftwaffe Bomber Aces' and private sources.



SPY 05-2014

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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