Heroes & Villains - Franz Von Werra

The Luftwaffe's Lion-Taming, Escapist Fighter Ace!

My first H&V of the year. I'm going to be trying out some slightly different formatting for this one. If I decide I like the formatting, I may go back and revamp some older entries. First off, I'm going to dress up my articles with sensational (but true) headlines. Like a 50's stag mag. 50's stag mags knew how to get attention and interest.

  Franz Von Werra and Simba inspecting his Bf 109 E-4. They're checking out the MG FF/M cannon in the wing. I believe this was taken in August of 1940. (That's just an educated guess, however)

Franz Von Werra and Simba inspecting his Bf 109 E-4. They're checking out the MG FF/M cannon in the wing. I believe this was taken in August of 1940. (That's just an educated guess, however)

Franz Von Werra joined the Luftwaffe in 1936, and qualified as a fighter pilot by 1938. Upon the formation of the fighter group Jagdgeschwader 3 , he was assigned as an officer, and flew combat over France, scoring 4 kills by the time the invasion was over.

Von Werra maintained a reputation as an eccentric upper-class playboy. His squadron had a pet lion named Simba, and photographs of the man often feature this mascot. He often returned from missions with wild tales of impossible feats and odds. His penchant for tall tales earned him the nickname Baron, a reference to the fictional Baron Münchausen, who also spun tall tales of adventure and achievement. On August 28 of 1940, he returned from a sortie claiming to have downed 9 RAF Hurricanes after getting separated from his squad.

  Another picture with his lion cub. I wonder if it was concerned that the British Spitfire would turn out to be more than a match for the Bf 109 E series.

Another picture with his lion cub. I wonder if it was concerned that the British Spitfire would turn out to be more than a match for the Bf 109 E series.

Soon, Von Werra would have an opportunity to make his facts much more impressive than his fiction. September 5th, 1940, The Bf 109 E-4 "Black >" of Stab II./JG3 (Von Werra's fighter) crash landed in Kent.

The exact circumstances aren't entirely clear, but here's what I've determined. Von Werra's plane was damaged (possibly by friendly fire, possibly by P/O Bennions of the RAF), causing him to drop altitude over the Kent district of England. An RAF pilot named Gerald Stapleton reported engaging a wounded fighter matching Black >'s description in that area, forcing it down in a field outside Marden, Kent. Also according to Stapleton, Von Werra was apprehended by an unarmed cook who had been manning a searchlight.

  British soldiers at the "Black >" wreck. That's an annoying name, but I'm pretty sure that's how the name is supposed to be written.

British soldiers at the "Black >" wreck. That's an annoying name, but I'm pretty sure that's how the name is supposed to be written.

Actually, the Brits got some great photos out of this wreck and I'd hate to have them go to waste.

  "Commander, an extensive review of the wreck turned up suspicious amounts of pussy hair. We'll be wanting to let the folks at Bletchley know about this."

"Commander, an extensive review of the wreck turned up suspicious amounts of pussy hair. We'll be wanting to let the folks at Bletchley know about this."

The Brits put Von Werra's smug ass to work at Maidstone Barracks, digging ditches. He attempted to overpower a guard with his pickaxe, and was moved to a slightly more prison-y location, Grizedale Hall

  Everywhere in England is castles. Even their homeless shelters are castles. Hell, this image is proof that even their goddamned prisons are castles.

Everywhere in England is castles. Even their homeless shelters are castles. Hell, this image is proof that even their goddamned prisons are castles.

The Brits, in their eternal quest to be upper-class weirdos, apparently allowed the prisoners at Grizedale to have an escorted walk each day. Von Werra collaborated with the other prisoners to block the guard's view while he slipped away. And it worked! Briefly. After an extensive search, the Home Guard found him in a ditch and dragged him back to prison. This time, he was sent to Camp 13 at Derbyshire.

  Seriously? I wanna go to British war prison.

Seriously? I wanna go to British war prison.

From Camp 13, Von Werra participated in an escape attempt with four other prisoners. They created fake IDs and paperwork to leave the country, and then built a tunnel out of the camp. The plan worked, and all five of them escaped the camp. Four were quickly recaptured, but Von Werra was unaccounted for.

For his part, Von Werra had convinced a local train driver that he was a Dutch pilot, Captain Von Lott, and he needed some help getting back to his unit. During the journey, they were stopped by the police and questioned, but the cops failed to realize the passenger with the heavy accent might have been the person they were looking for.

It wasn't until he was literally in the cockpit of a fueled up British plane, running a quick check and figuring out the controls, did anyone realize he was Franz Von Werra. In the nick of time, he was pulled from the cockpit at gunpoint. The Brits were finally tired of Von Werra's shit, and decided to send him to Canada.

Once they reached Ontario, the Brits put Von Werra on a train to his new home. He and a few other prisoners hopped off the train as soon as they had a chance. Naturally, everyone but Von Werra was quickly captured and put back on the train. He was nowhere to be found.

Von Werra managed to cross the northern border of the United States and made his way to New York City, where the police planned on arresting him for entering the country illegally. I'm not making that up. However, the German embassy demanded his release, and got it. They then shipped him down south to Brazil, and from Brazil, back to the Axis forces.

In October of '41, the Luftwaffe assigned Von Werra to I./JG53, to go fight on the Ostfront. They also issued him one of the new Bf 109 F series, which he put to use downing 12 soviet aircraft (mostly bombers, but his last kill was an Il-2). Then on October 25th, Von Werra was on a practice flight when his engine failed over the North Sea. He was never seen again.

  The Ostfront, where the only thing colder than the weather was the pitch black lump of ash pretending it was Stalin's heart.

The Ostfront, where the only thing colder than the weather was the pitch black lump of ash pretending it was Stalin's heart.

He would be remembered by Germany as a vain playboy, prone to telling tall tales, but who managed the skill and guile to hold up his stories.

The Brits would remember Von Werra as "The One Who Got Away".


Sources

  • Kacha, Petr. Aces of the Luftwaffe - Franz Von Werra, www.luftwaffe.cz/werra.html.
  • http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/12th-october-1956/16/the-thruster
  • https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/threads/done-1-48-bf-109e-4-von-werra-defense-of-britain-atlantic.43991/
  • https://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?73749-Who-shot-down-Franz-Von-Werra
    • This one was a discussion of the circumstances that led to Von Werra getting shot down.
  • https://www.warhistoryonline.com/featured/franz-the-one-that-got-away-von-werra.html

2018 Resolution - South America - Part 1

Moving on to South America. I will not be including the Falkland Islands because those are under the dominion of the UK. Nobody, including anyone in the UK, knows why.

Also, I'd like to mention as a point of pride that I do not use Wikipedia for research. Nobody should.

 

Argentina: After securing the presidency in 2003, Nestor Kirchner would spend his presidential term courting danger in the interest of bettering his nation. First, he lifted legal protections from members of the military responsible for atrocities committed during internal struggles in the 70's. He impeached two corrupt supreme court justices. And finally, he took the Argentine economy off a dubious "US Dollar" standard that had been a source of economic turmoil for decades. In the wake of his presidency, Argentina is far from a stable nation, but its prospects are looking better than they have in a very long time.

Bolivia: President Morales of Bolivia comes from a background as a coca farmer. Among many positive social reforms, he has put a lot of effort into rehabilitating the international image of his profession. He'd like for the coca leaf to be recognized for its myriad of uses beyond that of drug production.

Chile: During WWII, Chile's massive deposits of copper were in high demand all over the world. Chile supplied copper ore to both Axis and Allied powers. In 1943, Allied demand was sufficient to allow Chile to safely disengage its trade with Axis powers, improving diplomatic relations with North American trade owners and partners.

Colombia: The legendary drug lord Pablo Escobar sustained the Colombian drug empire through a fascinating combination of diplomacy, civic responsibility, and terrorism. After hooking his organization firmly into national politics, Escobar spent heavily on local development, including housing. He was even part of a multi-cartel attempt to offer extensive public work funding and a payoff of the nation's entire foreign debt in exchange for political favor and leniency. When this offer was rejected, Escobar and the other cartels launched a massive terror campaign that featured bombings and assassination of high level politicians.

2018 Resolution - North America - Part 4

Alright, let's wrap up North America

St. Lucia: St. Lucia is home to the Kouwes Snake, the world's rarest snake. Originally quite prolific, the Kouwes Snake was driven to the edge of extinction when a British officer imported several Mongooses to the island in the 1800. The Mongooses were supposed to bring down the population of Norwegian rats, but also decimated the Kouwes Snake population.

St Vincent / Grenadines: In 1635, a Dutch ship sank off the coast of St. Vincent, and the slaves on board the ship escaped. Coming ashore, the displaced Africans integrated with the local population.

Trinidad / Tobago: Trinidad is spotted by natural phenomena called "mud volcanoes". A mud volcano is caused by the buildup of sediment and methane gas underground, which erupts in a torrent of mud, rather than lava.

United States: Most people are familiar with the so called "Gold Rush" of the 1800s that increased westward expansion of the United States. Far fewer are familiar with the "Uranium Rush". In the 1950s, there was a mass movement of people to the mineral rich deposits of the Rocky Mountains. This time, the search was not for Gold, but for Uranium. The US government offered a significant bounty for the discovery of Uranium deposits as the world entered the Atomic Age.

2018 Resolution - North America - Part 3

Here we are, Part 3! What a fascinating world we live in. Mexico's entry is two sentences long, but takes up most of the page. Read it, and you'll see the use of space is worth it.

Jamaica: In 1978, amid violent internal political struggles, musician Bob Marley convinced opposing political faction leaders Michael Manley and Edward Seaga to hold hands in a gesture of unity at his 'One Love' Concert.

Mexico: Throughout his career, Santa Anna (whose full name is about a paragraph long), in this order, fought against and for Mexican independance, overthrew the victorious independance movement leadership, fought off the Spanish attempt to reclaim Mexico, became President of Mexico, led a coup against his own presidency, fought a war with the rebelling Republic of Texas (with mixed results), declared himself the "Napoleon-of-the-West" when captured, was exiled from Mexico after signing a peace treaty with the US, came back and violently crushed another rebellion for the Mexican government, was exiled again for how violent that was, came back again to fight off a French invasion (which led to him losing a leg, which he put on public display because he was proud of that), was elected president of Mexico again after that, was voted out of the presidency just as quickly, was exiled again, asked US president Polk to be made a liason to Mexico to prevent a war, then took command of Mexico's military and started a war with the US, lost that war (and his prosthetic leg, on display in the US in a museum now), was exiled for losing, came back from Jamaica to be president of Mexico yet again, was exiled for selling New Mexico and Arizona to the US, and nearly negotiated a deal with the US and France that would have put him in charge of Mexico again. Oh, and he helped invent chewing gum.

Times Santa Anna was exiled from Mexico: 5

Nicaragua: In Nicaragua, it is considered bad taste to pour a glass of hard liquor straight from a shared bottle. Instead, one should use a shotglass to measure their portion out.

Panama: Roughly 10% of the workforce assigned to construct the Panama Canal died on the job.

Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis: Apparently, men of this small Carribbean nation tend to be on the aggressive and assertive side when it comes to courting women. This often comes across as sexual harassment to outsiders. In truth, women of the Federation tend to be equally as assertive, and it is not considered improper for a women to candidly and personally berate a man for overstepping his boundaries.