Freytag, Siegfried “Gustav” “the Lion of Malta”.

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Freytag, Friedrich "Justav".
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Freytag, Siegfried “Gustav”. born 10-11-1919 in Danzig-Langfuhr was a World War II German Luftwaffe pilot and wing commander.

Siegfried Freytag’s career is paved with joy, victory, suffering and the deepest loneliness. He once told Foreign Correspondent journalist Mark Corcoran in the post-war period when he visited the Legion nursing home in 2002 that the happiest time of his life was the day he joined the Air Force, the cruelest time he learned his Mother was slaughtered by the Red Army in West Prussia. As a fighter ace, he was credited with 102 aerial victories of which 49 victories were claimed over the Eastern Front. Among his victories over the Western Front are at least 2 four-engine bombers. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross Freytag had been nominated for the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, but the war ended before the paperwork had been processed. Freytag joined the Luftwaffe in 1938. After completing training as a fighter pilot he was posted to 6. Staffel (squadron) Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—Fighter Wing 77) , under the command of Oberstleutnant Eitel Roediger von Manteuffelin the autumn of 1940. Freytag claimed his first victory on 31-10-1940 on the final day of the Battle of Britain. Eitel-Friedrich Roediger Freiherr von Manteuffel died age 88, on 31-07-1984 in Wiesbaden  In April 1941 he participated in the Balkans Campaign, the Battle of Greece and Battle of Crete. In June Freytag was deployed to the Eastern Front with JG 77 for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Freytag passed five victories becoming a flying ace and by 03-06-1942 he had claimed 50 enemy aircraft destroyed. In 1945 JG 77 was relocated to Germany itself to help with the Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich). In the last months of the war part of JG 77 was employed against the Soviet Air Force in Silesia. In this area on 07-03-1945 the last Kommodore Major Erich Leie , a 118-kill ace, was killed in combat with Yak-9 fighters on 07-03-1945, aged 28, near Drogomyśl.

On 27-06-1942, Freytag was appointed Staffelkapitän (Squadron leader) of 1. Staffel and relocated to the Mediterranean Theatre. Freytag participated in the air battle over Malta. On 03-07-1942 Freytag was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for 53 aerial victories. He became the most successful German pilot over Malta. Freytag was transferred with his unit to North Africa with Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Corps to assist the collapsing Axis forces. On 13-03-1943, Freytag was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (Group Commander) of II./JG 77. By this date he had claimed 85 victories. Freytag continued operations over Sicily where he was shot down and wounded in action on 12-07-1943.

Thereafter, Freytag led the group in Defence of the Reich operations. On 13-06-1944 Freytag scored his 100th victory. In December 1944 Freytag commanded Jagdgeschwader 77 in air superiority operations on the Western Front at the beginning Ardennes Offensive until 25-12-1944 when he was appointed Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) on a temporary basis. Freytag scored his 102nd and last aerial victory during Operation Bodenplatte, on 01-01-1945. In April 1945 Freytag served with Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—Fighter Wing 51) under command of Major Heinz Lange , Lange died age 88 in 2006. and Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG 7—Fighter Wing 7), under command of Major Theodor Weissenberger, where he flew the Messerschmitt Me 262 until the German surrender in May 1945.

In 1952, Siegfried Freytag, volunteered in the Legion thinking that the Legion would recruit pilots; at least, that was the official version of a wrong assumption. Assigned to the 5th Foreign Infantry Regiment after his basic training at Sidi Bel Abbès, Legionnaire Siegfried served and fought with distinction for 18 years with the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion; the former Free French Demi-Brigade, in the Indochina War, the Algerian War and Djibouti. Promoted to Sergeant in 1962, he asked to be demoted to the rank of Caporal Chef and served in the 1st Foreign Regiment from 1965 to 1970, the year in which he retired from active duty.

Death and burial ground of Freytag, Siegfried “Gustav””the Lion of Malta”

Freytag died on 02-06-2003 in Marseille, age 83. He was interred in the Carré militaire of the Institution des Invalides de la Légion étrangère in Puyloubier.

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