Heinrich Alexander Ludwig Peter Prinz zu
- Sayn-Wittgenstein, Heinrich Alexander Ludwig Peter Prinz zu
Jagdfliegerass, Kommandeur I./N.J.G. 100.
- 14-08-1916, Kopenhagen, Denmark.
- 21-01-1944, crashed, age 27, Lübars by Stendal .
Netherlands, Ysselsteyn Kriegsgräber. Plot TH-Reihe 1-Grab 2.
Sayn-Wittgenstein, Heinrich Alexander Ludwig Peter Prinz zu
Heinrich Alexander Ludwig Peter Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, born 14-08-1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark, was a German of aristocratic descent and a Luftwaffe night fighter flyer during World War II. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. At the time of his death, he was the highest scoring night fighter pilot in Goering's (see Hermann Goering) (did you know) Luftwaffe and still the third highest by the end of World War II. Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein joined the cavalry of the German Wehrmacht in the spring of 1937. He was accepted for flight training and transferred to the emerging Luftwaffe. He initially served as an observer and later as pilot in Kampfgeschwader I and Kampfgschwader 51. With these units he fought in the Battle of France, Battle of Britain (see Bomber Harris) and Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, before he transferred to the night fighter force. He claimed his first aerial victory on the night of 6/7 May 1942. By October 1942, he had accumulated 22 aerial victories for which he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 07-10-1942. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves on 31-08-1943, for 54 aerial victories. The next day, 21-01-1944, Sayn-Wittgenstein, wireless operator Ostheimer and board mechanic Unteroffizier Kurt Matzuleit took off on a Zahme Sau, Tame Boar, (see Victor von Lossberg) a combination of ground controlled and airborne radar, night fighter intercept mission flying the Ju 88 R4+XM, which normally was assigned to the Technical Officer of NJG 2. At 22:00 contact with the first of five Lancasters was established and shot down which was observed to explode at 22:05. Between 22:10 and 22:15 the second Lancaster was shot down. Observers reported the third Lancaster exploded at approximately 22:30, followed shortly by number four, which hit the ground at 22:40. During the fifth and final attack, the four engine bomber was burning when their Ju 88 came under attack, presumably from British fighter escorts. In the attack, their left wing caught fire. Sayn-Wittgenstein ordered his crew to jump, and Ostheimer and Matzuleit parachuted to safety from the damaged aircraft. Sayn-Wittgenstein's body was found near the wreckage of the Ju 88 in a forest area belonging to the municipality of Lübars by Stendal the next day. His parachute was discovered unopened and it was assumed that he may have hit his head on the vertical stabiliser of his aircraft when trying to escape. The death certificate listed "closed fracture of the skull and facial bone" as his cause of death. He was posthumously awarded the 44th Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, by Adolf hitler (see Hitler) (did you know), on 23-01-1944 Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein had flown 320 combat missions, 150 of which as a bomber pilot or observer. At the time of his death he was the leading night fighter pilot with 83 aerial victories, with 23 of them claimed on the Eastern and 60 on the Western Front. On 25-01-1944, Heinrich zu Sayn-Wittgenstein death was announced in the Wehrmachtbericht, an information bulletin issued by the headquarters of the Wehrmacht, the name of the unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945. The question who shot down Sayn-Wittgenstein is unanswered. Friedrich Ostheimer remained convinced that they were shot down by a long range intruder de Havilland Mosquito night fighter. However, no Mosquito pilot claimed an aerial victory that night. A closer analysis reveals that three Mosquito's, two Serrate radar detectors from No. 141 Squadron RAF and one from No. 239 Squadron RAF , participated in the attacks on Magdeburg. Only one Mosquito had enemy contact: No. 141's squadron Mosquito FII, DZ 303, piloted by Flight Sergeant Desmon Snape, he would crash, age 20, on 24-02-1944 with Flying Officer L. Fowler as his radar operator reported radar contact at 23.15 south of Brandenburg.
Snape and Fowler.
After three to four minutes of pursuit they encountered a Ju 88 with its position lights on. They attacked the Ju 88 and believed to have damaged it behind its cockpit, but they did not claim a victory. This encounter exactly matches the time and area in which Sayn-Wittgenstein was killed. He was buried on 29-01-1944 in the Geschwader cemetery at the Deelen Air Base. His remains were re-interred in 1948. He, age 27, is now resting next to Prinz Egmont zur Lippe-Weißenfeld (see Lippe-Weissenfeld) at Ysselsteyn war cemetery in the Netherlands. Also buried there the personalities, General Friedrich Kussin (see Kussin), General Oskar von der Hagen (see Hagen), Flyer aces August Geiger (see Geiger), Paul Gildner (see Gildner), Lippe Weissenfeld (see Lippe Weissenfeld), Kurt Schmidt (see Schmidt), Helmut Woltersdorf (see Woltersdorf), and Karl Willius (see Willius).