Priller, Josef “Pips”.

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Priller, Josef  “Pips”, born on 27-07-1915 in Ingolstadt, Bayern, was nicknamed Pips since his early youth. In 1935, Fahnenjunker Priller was serving in 19th Infanterieregiment. Oberfähnrich Priller transferred to Hermann Goering’s (did you know) the Luftwaffe and began his flying training at Salzwedel in October 1936. On 01-04-1937, Leutnant Priller was posted to I./JG 135 under command of Major Max Ibel.  In November 1938 the unit was redesigned I./JG 233, under command of Major Ernst Freiherr von Berg, and again on 01-05-1939 to I./JG 51 under command of Oberst Theodore “Theo” Osterkamp , Priller was the wingman of the ace Klaus Mietusch. Oberst Theodore “Theo” Osterkamp died  02-01-1975, aged 82, Baden-Baden, Baden-Württemberg, 

   In July 1939, he was serving with I./JG 71  which was to be redesigned II./JG 51 in October 1939. On 01-10-1939, Priller was appointed Staffelkapitän of 6./JG 51. He gained his first victories on 28-05-1940 over Dunkirk in aerial combat with RAF fighters. He claimed six victories during the French campaign, including his 6th on 25 June, when he shot down a RAF Spitfire fighter near Desvres. By the end of August his victory total stood at 15. On 17 October, Oberleutnant Priller claimed his 20th victory resulting in the award of the Ritterkreuz on 19 October. He claimed at least fourteen victories in the Battle of Britain. On 20-11-1940, Priller was transferred as Staffelkapitän to 1./JG 26, nickname “Schlageter” , succeeding Oberleutnant Eberhard Henrici (7 victories) who had been lost in aerial combat over the Channel three days previously.

   Despite much combat with the British, Priller was unable to add to his score before the end of the year. That winter, JG 26 was withdrawn from the Channel front back to Germany for a rest. On his return to the Channel Priller enjoyed a remarkable run of victories between 16 June and 11 July 1941 shooting down 19 RAF  aircraft, including 17 Spitfire fighters, to bring his victory total to 39. On 14 July, Priller shot down his 40th victim. He was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 28) on 19 October for 41 victories.  Hauptmann Priller became Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 26 on 06-12-1941. By the end of 1941 Priller’s score stood at 58. He recorded his 60th victory on 27-03-1942 and his 70th victory on 5 May. By the end of 1942 Priller had 81 confirmed victories to his tally. On 11-01-1943, Priller here with Erwin Rommel  became Kommodore of JG 26, replacing Major Gerhard Schöpfel, he died old age 90, on 17-05-2003, (45 victories, RK) who was taking up a staff role. Pips Priller was with sergeant

 Heinz Wodarczyk were the only two German air fighters over the beach of Normandy during D-Day. Wodarczyk died in a crashed east of Wijhen, Holland, age 22 on 01-01-1945, probable hit by anti aircraft fire. He was awarded the Schwertern (Nr 73) on 02-07-1944. Oberstleutnant Priller brought up his 100th victory on 18-07-1944 when he brought down a USAAF B-24 four-engine bomber. On 01-01-1945, Priller led JG 26 and III./JG 54, nickname “Grünherz”  in the attack on the Allied airfields, code named Operation Bodenplatte, at Brussels-Evére and Brussels-Grimbergen. On 28 January, Priller was appointed Inspekteur der Jagdflieger Ost, a position that required he cease operational flying and which he held until the end of the war.

Death and burial ground of Priller, Josef “Pips”.

   Post-war “Pips” Priller here with Marschall Erwin Rommel in Normandy, managed the family brewery business. Josef he became a member of the student union “Bavaria zu Weihenstephan”. After completing his studies, he became director of the Riegele private brewery in Augsburg, after marrying the owner Johanna Riegele-Priller. In 1956 he published a book about the history of Jagdgeschwader 26, which he directed, from his point of view. He was employed as a military advisor by the producers of the film “The Longest Day” about the Normandy invasion in the early 1960s. In the film, his flight over the invasion beach was re-enacted by Heinz Reincke. He died on 20-05-1961, age 45, in Böbing in Oberbayern following a heart attack. On my search for his grave Priller’s nice daughter and look a like, gave me the necessary information.

His son, Josef Priller junior (born 1944), was also an Air Force officer (most recently Generalmajor and Commander in Defense Division III of the Bundeswehr). Pips is buried with his wife Johanna, born Riegele, who died at the age of 65, on 17-05-1990, on the Westfriedhof of Augsburg, in the family grave of Riegel. During the burial with military honors in Augsburg, jet fighters of the Bundeswehr Air Force flew over the crowd as a tribute..


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