Messerschmitt Bf 109G-10/R3, Werk # 130297
Horst Petzschler, a German fighter pilot that landed at Bulltofta at the end of the war
- Text by Ingemar Melin -
He had fought the airwar on various theatres of battle, both on the home front in defence of Germany and on the Eastern Front. He had also been assigned to some training units. On 15 February he went to Danzig to report to 10 Staffeln / Jagdgeschwader 51. Once in place he was assigned a Bf 109G-10, one of the most recent versions of the series of ever-improved versions of the legendary fighter, and advanced in his career and assumed the role as a leader of a Staffel.
Over the years he actively participated in combat missions he had regularly been involved in aerial combat and duels against both Russian and western Allied opponents. His 26th and last victory occurred on April 27, 1945 when a Russian Petlyakov Pe-2 was shot down north of the city Pillau in East Prussia.
On May 4, the Group Commander of 10./J.G.51 Oberleutnant Anton Lindner assigned fifteen pilots to fly the groups remaining aircraft to Copenhagen, Denmark and surrender to the British army. Horst took off in a Messerschmitt Bf 109G-10/R3 heading for Copenhagen.
Horst Petzschler remembers:
The officer who received Petzschler on Bulltofta was 1st Lieutenant Sven Forssén of the Swedish Air Force Wing F10. When the plane rolled out and stopped in the middle of the field, Forssén jumped up on the wing of Petzschler´s "Yellow 5". The canopy was opened and Forssén formally announced Petzschler that he now was in Sweden and the war was over for him. Furthermore, he would be interned for the duration of the war, and as a German soldier be treated according to the Geneva Convention. Then Forssén asked Petzschler to hand over his sidearm (a Belgian Browning 7.65mm pistol) and not to sabotage his aircraft. There was a 1kg explosive charge placed between the control stick and the fuel tank for destroying the aircraft if it should be forced to land behind enemy lines.
Petzschler was then taken to the officer´s mess of F10 Wing and served a genuine "Swedish smorgasbord" of the finest kind. Horst could hardly believe his eyes, during the past couple of months the main staples for his Luftwaffe unit were horse meat, vodka and Slibovitz (plum schnapps) - all richly provided. To see the great variations of meat, bread ond other food was overwhelming. Horst was not much interested in the meat, he had had enough horse meat to turn him off meat for a while.
For a long time hereafter Petzschler would come to prefer the "Swedish smorgasbord" more than any other type of food, the German kitchen included.
I was released on the 22nd of September 1949, a skeleton but alive! I then gave a promise to myself - to give that experience further on to younger generations, to show my Thank You to the Swedish people and in particular my very good friend Lt. Sven Forssén of the Swedish Air Force Wing F10 at Malmoe-Bulltofta. When my oldest son was born in Berlin 1951, he was christened Sven Peter James."
During the war Petzschler flew a total of 297 sorties. He was shot down 13 times (11 crash landings and 2 bail outs). All the times he was shot down was due to anti-aircraft fire except for May 28, 1944 when a P-51 brought him down over Magdeburg. Except for a stay with J.G.3 in defending the Reich, his primary mission was fighter-bombing and tank-busting in support of ground troops, he also flew as fighter escort for Hans Ulrich Rudel´s Stuka unit.
In the 1950´s Horst emigrated to Canada where he earned his living as an auto mechanic. After a while he moved to the United States, where he put to use his aircraft training. He then worked for several major aircraft manufacturers; Boeing, Lear, Northrop and Beechcraft. After retirement he and his family settled down in Wichita, Kansas.
Petzschler´s Bf 109G-10, Werk Nr 130297, at Bulltofta. Photo via Claes Sundin
Another picture of Horst Petzschler's Messerschmitt at Bulltofta. Photo via Claes Sundin
Back at Bulltofta, in the background is the Fw 190 that landed a few days earlier.
Parked at Bulltofta. Photo via Bo Widfeldt
Photo Bo Ekberger (via Leif Hellström)
Horst photografed at F10 after his landing.