Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Ernst Wilhelm Reinert

 Ernst Wilhelm Reinert was born on 2 February 1919 in Liderthal, near Koln. At the age of 13 the young Reinert joined the Deutschluftverband the German amateur flying club, and learned to fly. After having completed his school studies he joined the RAD ( Reichsarbaitdienst - German national work programm); he wanted to study as an engineer but was eventually accepted only as a technician in mechanics. His time at RAD completed, Reinert was sent to the Wermacht as an infantry soldier, but thanks to a friendly officer whom he knew from his time at the flyng club the future Jagdflieger managed to be trasferred to the Luftwaffe.

The young pilot underwent basic training at A/B Schule and was then transferred to Jagdgeschwader 77 in 1941, as an Unteroffizier. Initially detached to EJG 77, the Geschwader's training unit, based in Wien, Reinert was subsequently posted to 4./JG 77 and took part in the invasion of Crete.
After Crete' s fall, Luftwaffe units were transferred to the East in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa was launched on 22 June, and six weeks later, on 8 August, Reinert scored his first victory downing a Soviet I-16. A week later he shot down another enemy plane, and on 19 August  an I-16 for his third kill.
In September Reinert, flying as Rottenflieger for Hauptmann Heinrich Setz, was forced to land in a field due to engine malfunction. He actually never reached the field below him, since he hit high-tension cables and was lucky to escape unscathed.
Reinert started to score steadily, claiming three kills on 27 November and was promoted Feldwebel. On that particular mission Reinert attacked a formation of a dozen+ Soviet bombers, shooting down three but being badly shot up by return fire and flak. Chased by eneny fighters, he crash landed at 500 m from German lines., and was  was rescued by Waffen SS soldiers from the arriving Soviet infantry. His superior Oberst Roman Painczynk was less fortunate; he belly landed on enemy territory, and was never seen again.

During the harsch winter of 1941, II./JG 77 was sent back to Germany for rest and refit. On 7 February, with 24 kills to his belt, Reinert receive the Ehrepokal der Luftwaffe. During this time his unit re-equipped with the BF-109 F, and moved to Crimea in March 1942. The new theatre marked the start of a happy time for Reinert, who downed an I-153 on 17 March and other three the following day. On 1 May he was credited with three MiG-3s and awarded the German Cross in Gold on 18 May. Two days later Reinert claimed his 45th kill, and in three days reached 53.
On 1 July Reinert received the Knight's Cross. His happy time continued and on the 17th of the same month the young Jagdflieger topped the height of 79 kills. He was eventually wounded on 23 July following a clash with VVS fighters and hospitalized until September. His return to combat mission was nevertheless smooth, Reinert claiming 16 in two weeks and reaching 100 kills on 3 October, 1942. For his successes, Oberfeldwebel Reinert receive the Oak Leaves.
At the end of the year the Gruppe was transferred to Tunisia. Fighting against numerically superior USAAF and RAF units, Reinert scored 51 victories - 47 fighters, 3 Bostons and a single B-24 - more than any other pilot in the theatre. In many cases he claimed multiple kills in the same mission: five on 11 January and 1 April, six on 26 February. His last kill in Tunisia came on 6 May, a Spitfire; JG 77 then left Tunisia and relocated to Sicily.
Reinert enjoyed a brief license in Germany and came back to his unit when Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, was launched. Two P-40s were downed on 7 August and a Spitfire the following day. On the 9th, Reinert was forced to ditch his Bf 109 off Milazzo; he returned to his unit the following, having been declared missing in action. Reinert's Gruppe was moved to Central Italy in September, where the now Leutnant was nominated Staffelkapitan of 1./JG 77. At the end of the year his score had risen to 165.
Reinert contracted malaria and was then hospitalized; fully recovered for spring 1944, he was transeferred to  JG 27.  Assuming command of 1./JG 27 and shortly thereafter 14./JG 27, Reinert took part in Defence of The Reich operations. His Staffel was sent to Normandy in June, following the D-Day. Allied superiority was overwhelming and many Luftwaffe gruppen were almost entirely wiped out. Reinert nevertheless managed to claim one P-51, one P-47 and a Spitifre on 27 June, 2 and 3 July respectively. 14./JG 27 was sent back to Germany in August, having suffered terrible losses.

Reinert scored his last kills over the Reich in late 1944: two P-51 on 2 November and another on the 26th, followed by a Auster on 27 December. On 1 January Reinert was nominated Gruppenkommandeur of IV./JG 27, but operations were severly hampered by lack of fuel. At the end of the month Ernst Wilhelm Reinert was the 130th member of German Armed Forces to receive the Swords to the Knight's Cross. He was then promoted Hauptmann and transferred to JG 7, equipped with the revolutionary Me-262.
Reinert underwent conversion onto the new jet fighter, but never completed it. When the war ended in May, he still hadn't have the opportunity to fly combat mission with the Schwalbe.

After the war, Reinert joined studied at the university and got a degree in medicine. He eventually opened a ginecology clinic and married an opera singer. Ernst Wilhelm Reinert died at the age of 88 on 5 September 2007.

715 mission flown
174 victories
16 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground
10 armoured vehicles destroyed

DUEL UNDER THE STARS, THE STORY OF NIGHTFIGHTER PILOT WILHELM JOHNEN http://ww2eagles.blogspot.com/2011/03/duel-under-stars-story-of-wilhelm.html

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