Clausen, Erwin “Caesar”.

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Clausen, Erwin ‘Caesar’, born on 05-08-1911 in Berlin-Steglitz, the son of the master craftsman joiner. Before joining military service, he worked in his father’s company. Erwin joined the Reichsmarine, the German Navy during the Weimar Republic, in 1931. During his service with the Reichsmarine , he went on cruises on board of Hessen and the school ship Gorch Fock. In 1935, Clausen transferred to the newly Herman Wilhelm Goering‘s emerging Luftwaffe of the Nazi Germany. Holding the rank of Unteroffizier or lance sergeant), he received flight training. World War II in Europe had begun on Friday, 1 September 1939, when German forces invaded Poland. Edwin, now a Feldwebel, had been assigned to the 3.(Jagd)/ LG 2, the 3. Staffel (3rd squadron) of Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2—2nd Demonstration Wing) under command of Major Hanns Trübenbach, before the outbreak of hostilities. This squadron was subordinated to I.(Jagd) Gruppe (1st group) of LG 2. On 09-09-1939, Jagdgeschwader I under command of Oberstleutnant Carl-August Schumacher , was ordered to relocate to an airfield at Lauenburg west of Bydgoszcz. On the afternoon of that day, the Gruppe flew a combat air patrol mission, and for the first time of the war 3. Staffel had enemy contact. In this encounter, Clausen claimed his first aerial victory when he shot down a PWS-26 biplane trainer. On 17 September, he received the Iron Cross 2nd Class  Following the Battle of the Bzura on 20 September, I.(Jagd) Gruppe was ordered to relocate to Graz-Thalerhof.

On 30 September, the Gruppe moved to an airfield at Uetersen, flying defensive missions over the German Bight. The unit relocated multiple times and was flying in defense of the Reich from Esbjerg on 10-05-1940, the start of the Battle of France.and the attack on Holland On 14 May, I.Jagdgeschwader transferred to Essen-Mülheim for operations against France. On 23 May, they transferred again, this time to Ferme Montecouvez, an airfield approximately 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) south of Cambrai. Two days later, 1st Squadron was tasked with providing fighter escort for German transports resupplying the 4th Army under command of Generalfeldmarschall Gunther von Kluge in the vicinity of Cambrai. On this mission, Clausen claimed a Armée de l’air Potez 63 twin-engined aircraft shot down. In this encounter, his Messerschmitt Bf 109 E was also damaged, resulting in a forced landing near Cambrai. On 15 June, Ist Jagd Squadron was moved to Saint-Omer, the armistice was signed on 22 June, ending the Battle of France on 25 June. The unit was given three days of rest, some of the pilots were sent on home leave. On 30 June, Ist Squadron was scrambled to intercept a flight of Royal Air Force Bristol Blenheim bombers resulting in combat southwest of Saint-Omer. In this encounter, Clausen claimed a Blenheim from No. 110 Squadron, nicknamed “Hyderabad”, shot down which was not confirmed but was himself shot down in his Bf 109 E. Clausen was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class on 04-07-1940 and was promoted to Oberleutnant on 01-02-1941. That day, Clausen was also appointed Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 1.(Jagd) Staffel of LG 2, this squadron became the 1. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 77  under command of Major Gotthard Handrick, on 06-01-1942. Handrick won the gold medal in the modern pentathlon at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. As a fighter pilot, he fought in the Spanish Civil War and claimed 5 aerial victories. He survived the war and died 30-05-1978, aged 69, in Ahrensburg.

Leading this squadron, Clausen participated in the Balkan Campaign. On 06-04-1941, he recorded three victories during the invasion of Yugoslavia, these were Hawker Fury fighters of the Yugoslav Royal Air Force’s 36th Fighter Group shot down over Režanovačka Kosa airfield near Kumanovo. This resulted in the presentation of the Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe on 20-06-1941.

Following the Balkan Campaign, I.(Jagd)/LG 2 was again subordinated to Jagdgeschwader 77 on 18-06-1941 and was moved to Bucharest, Romania in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22-06-1941. JG 77 supported the German advance as part of Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South) under command of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt. On 21 June, the Gruppe was ordered to Roman, a forward airfield near the Siret river. Clausen claimed his first aerial victory on the Eastern Front, his seventh overall, on 02-07-1941. The mission, the second of the day, a combat air patrol encountered a flight of a Polikarpov I-153 biplane fighters east of Iași. Later that afternoon, on the fourth mission of the day, he claimed another I-153 shot down.

On 3 and 4 February 1942, Clausen and Oberleutnant Friedrich Geißhardt shot down three Polikarpov R-5s or Polikarpov R-Zs of 622 LBAP. and 672 LBAP. Clausen became an “ace-in-a-day” for the first time on 09-03-1942, claiming aerial victories 36 to 40. Following the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula, his total had reached 52 aerial victories on 06-04-1942. For this he was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) on 18-05-1942, a direct presentation by Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering. Four days later, he was also honored with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.

Oberleutnant Friedrich Geißhardt, who was flying Fw 190 A-4 in Josef “Pips” Priller‘s   schwarm, was severely wounded in combat with United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 306th Bomb Group under command of Colonel Charles B “Chip” Overacker Jr, in 05-04-1943. He had been hit by the defensive fire from the bombers. He was bleeding profusely from a wound in the abdomen but managed to make a smooth landing on the airfield at Sint-Denijs-Westrem, Belgium. Friedrich succumbed to his injuries early the next morning on 06-04-1943, age 24.

On 27-06-1942, Clausen was transferred to 6. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 77 and appointed its Staffelkapitän. On 21-07-1942, he claimed four victories, three Pe-2s and one LaGG-3. He reached his 100th victory after he claimed six further victories the next day. Shooting down a LaGG-3, a Hurricane and three Il-2s, took his tally to 101 aerial victories. Clausen was the 12th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. For this achievement, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves on 23-07-1943. He was the 106th member of the German armed forces to be so honored. Clausen and together with Oberleutnant Victor Bauer   were presented the Oak Leaves by Adolf Hitler at the Führerhauptquartier at Rastenburg. Victor Bauer survived the war and died on 13-12-1969, age 54, in Bad Homburg

Death and burial ground of Clausen Erwin ‘Caesar’.

Clausen, who for his facial features was nicknamed ‘Caesar’, was transferred to the Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Süd (Supplementary Fighter Group, South) on 01-02-1943, and promoted to Hauptmann. On 20-06-1943, Clausen was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of I. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader11  succeeding Major Walter Spies.

On 04-10-1943, the USAAF   targeted and bombed Frankfurt am Main. Clausen shot down a B-24 Liberator, his 12th over the USAAF, but then was killed in aerial combat over the North Sea in his Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5/U12 approximately 115 kilometers (71 mi) northwest of Borkum. The exact circumstances of his death remain unknown, he made his last radio communication at 10:28, confirming the order to return to base. At the time, his wife and three children had been living with him at the Husum airbase.

Clausen was posthumously promoted to Major, the promotion backdated to 01-10-1943. Three of his brothers were also killed in action during World War II. Clausen was credited with 132 aerial victories with some unconfirmed victories in 561 combat missions. He claimed one victory over Poland, three over Yugoslavia, 14 victories over the Western Front with the remaining victories achieved over the Eastern Front. Matthews and Foreman, authors of Luftwaffe AcesBiographies and Victory Claims, researched the German Federal Archives and found documentation for 100 aerial victory claims, plus one further unconfirmed claim. This number includes 1 claim over Poland, 3 over Yugoslavia, 16 on the Western Front, including 10 four-engined bombers, and 84 on the Eastern Front.

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