Oesau, Walter “Gulle”.

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Oesau, Walter “Gulle”, born on 28-06-1913 at Farnewinkel/Meldorf to the bank director Richard Oesau and his wife Wiebke, born Martens, Oesau. He enlisted in the Army in 1933 and served in an artillery regiment. By 1934 he had become a Fahnenjunker and was undertaking flying training with the Deutschen Verkehrsfliegerschule. On completing his flying training he was posted to Jagdgeschwader von Richthofen

  Leutnant Oesau was one of the first fighter pilots to join Jagdgeschwader 88 , under command of Hauptmann Hubertus Merhardt von Bernegg, in Spain in April 1938. Here he served with 3. J/88 and gained nine victories. He became one of only 27 recipients of the Spanienkreuz in Gold mit Brillanten.  He was also wounded in this campaign and was awarded the Spanish Wound Badge. On 01-03-1939, Oesau joined the Stabsschwarm of I./JG 2. On 15 July, Oberleutnant Oesau was appointed Staffelkapitän of 1./JG 20  which was later redesigned 7./Jagdgeschwader 51. Oesau gained his first victory of World War 2 on 13-05-1940. He ended the French campaign with five victories to his credit. On 18-08-1940 he became the fifth Luftwaffe pilot to reach 20 World War 2 victories, bringing him the award of the Ritterkreuz. On 25-08-1940, Hauptmann Oesau was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./Jagdgeschwader 51, nickname “Udet”  where he succeeded Generalleutnant der Flieger, Hannes Trautloft.

  On 11-11-1940, Oesau was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./Jagdgeschwader 3. He led the Gruppe to the Eastern front where the invasion of Russia was launched. He recorded his 40th victory on 05-02-1941. On 6 February, he was awarded the Eichenlaub. He recorded his 50th victory on 30 June. He claimed five enemy aircraft shot down on 10-07-1941 for his 64th to 68th victories. He recorded his 70th victory on 11 July and his 80th on 17 July. On 15 July his victory tally had reached 80 and he became only the third man to be awarded the Schwertern.   At the end of July 1941 he was recalled to the Western Front to take command of JG 2, nickname “Richthofen Geschwader”   where he succeeded Wilhelm Balthasar Wilhelm_Balthasar Wilhelm Balthasar was awarded with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves for fourty victories, but was killed only a day later during an aerial combat with RAF fighters over Aire, France, 03-07-1941, age 27. As he was diving violently in his BF 109F-4, the wing of his aircraft malfunctioned and he crashed to his death near Saint Omer. “Gulle” Oesau recorded his 100th victory on 26 October, only the third Luftwaffe pilot to reach this landmark. He was forbidden by Hermann Göring (did you know) to fly further combat missions, his combat experience and leadership qualities being considered too valuable to risk. A series of staff appointments followed, including being appointed Jagdfliegerführer 4 Brittany. On 12-11-1943, Oberst Oesau returned to combat when he was appointed Kommodore of JG 1, nickname “Oesau” following the death of Oberst Hans Philipp ,who crashed, age 26, on 08-10-1943 (206 victories, RK-S). Total pilot losses of the 1st Jagdgeschwader in World War II were 464 killed in action, 174 wounded, 94 killed in accidents, and 16 POW Oesau soon added at least 14 victories against the USAAF formations of B-17 and B-24 four-engine bombers. On 11-05-1944, Oesau, leading three aircraft of the Stabsschwarm, took off from Paderborn to intercept Allied bombers raiding north-eastern Belgium and Luxembourg. During his attack on the bombers he was bounced by escorting P-38s. In the ensuing combat he was shot down and killed in his Bf 109 G-6/AS (W.Nr. 20 601) “Green 13” near St Vith, age 30, three months before his father’s death, caused by an explosive shell in the cockpit, his body having several bullet wounds. He had a total of 127 kills gained over 300 missions. 27 were Spitfires, 14 four-engined bombers, 44 were scored on the Eastern Front and 9 in the Spanish Civil War. In recognition of his record, JG 1 received the title Oesau in honor of its fallen Geschwaderkommodore. Only Werner Mölders had a similar honor with JG 51 Mölders. According to the “Eighth Air Force Mission Folder for 11-05-1944, Mission 351”, Lieutenant Doyle engaged in a turning dogfight with a pair of Bf 109s, scoring hits on the leader. Doyle had then broken off combat without claiming a kill, unaware that his victim, Oesau, had been killed by a 20 mm shell. Doyle’s kill had been the first kill of the 474th Fighter Group in its first combat with the Luftwaffe  Johannes Steinhoff, the high-ranking Luftwaffe ace (176 Kills) who went on to become the Chief of Staff for Allied Air Forces in Central Europe, once said: “Walter Gulle Oesau was the toughest fighter pilot in the Luftwaffe”

There is little information available on the personal side of Walter Oesau. He had good sense of humor and liked to spend time with his friends. He was a simple man, who did not display any flamboyant personal emblems on his aircraft. His aircraft while commanding JG 2 did not have any special markings except for the unit’s normal yellow under–cowling. While Oesau commanded, JG 2, like many others, dropped the special symbols for Stab (headquarters flight) units in favor of numerals. This helped make the leader’s aircraft anonymous. Unlike other aces, Oesau reportedly never had markings on his rudder representing his personal tally, although this is contradicted by some photos displaying what may be his aircraft rudder painted with score of downed aircraft.

Death and burial ground of Oesau, Walter “Gulle”.

     Walter “Gulle” Oesau is buried, on the local cemetery of Meldorf in a family grave with his parents.


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  1. Andreas Fiege


    I could not find words as man of the Luftwaffe.
    I am proud to have someone like him in the lines of german Vaterland. I have studied mechanical engineering next to Meldorf and I am sad to know this today. Walter, i will visit you during my life time like i visit known soldier veterans of my family.
    “Gulle”, i am a Bundeswehr Luftwaffe Officier, but I am proud to know you on history side.
    See you later….at the “Große Armee” together with my ancestors, coming from the East-Front…and the Bundeswehr of the new Germany.
    Take pride!

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