NSG 9 badge Rietitag

Unteroffizier Werner Engelhardt (4./JG 77)


Shot down while escorting SG 4 to Palombaro on 7 April 1944, Engelhardt was flying as wingman to his Staffelkapitän, Oblt. Dudek.

Picking up the fighter-bombers south of Viterbo, they headed for the target at 400 m. At 17.45 hours, turning for home after the bombs had been dropped, Engelhardt’s Bf 109 G-6 (WNr. 26129, white 7) was hit in the tail by AA fire, he lost control and only managed to bale out with some difficulty.

He landed on a mountainside and attempted to get back to his own lines. Near midnight when he asked an Italian civilian to guide him and was led to a British unit near Fara San Martino.

Engelhardt told his interrogators that 4./JG 77 had only six operational pilots and that Dudek was its only officer. He estimated that the Gruppe had 22 pilots in all and was critical of the inexperience of the new pilots arriving in II./JG 77 from the flying schools, blaming this for the high rate of fighter losses over the Italian front. He said that his Gruppe regarded anyone who survived 10 sorties as a veteran.

In Engelhardt’s opinion, the supply of new and reconditioned replacement aircraft was not a problem.

Sources: Two reports by Combined Sevices Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) AFHQ.


“Prisoner complained about the poor food served to GAF personnel in Italy. They had only one course meals, and many pilots lost weight owing to the poor diet."