Elmar Schäfer

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Elmar Schäfer
Hauptmann Elmar Schäfer.jpg
Captain Plenzat
Birth date 28 May 1913(1913-05-28)
Place of birth Bonn, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 16 April 1983 (aged 69)
Place of death Bad Godesberg near Bonn, Bad Godesberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Allegiance  National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War Ensign of Germany (1921–1933).png Reichswehr
Luftwaffe eagle.jpg Luftwaffe
Rank Major
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Iron Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Elmar Schäfer (sometimes also Schaefer; 28 May 1913 – 16 April 1983) was a German NCO of the Reichswehr as well as officer of the Wehrmacht as Stuka pilot of the Luftwaffe. Along with Paul-Werner Hozzel, Martin Möbus and Gerhard Grenzel, Schäfer belonged to the first dive bomber pilots to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in WWII.[1]


Schäfer joined the 3rd (Jäger) Battalion of the 15. Infanterie-Regiment in Kassel as Fahnenjunker (Officer Candidate) in 1934, transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1935 and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in 1936. In March 1939, now a fully-trained pilot in the 2nd Squadron of the Dive Bomber Wing 160, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. The Stuka wing, with only one group, was incorporated into the Dive Bomber Wing 1 (Sturzkampfgeschwader 1) on 1 May 1939 as the 1st Group/StG 1. Schäfer now belonged to the 2nd Squadron, which, however, only flew a few missions during the Poland Campaign in September 1939.


The 1st Group of Dive Bomber Wing 1 retrained on the Junkers Ju 87 R in Delmenhorst in March and April 1940. The group was the only Luftwaffe Stuka group to take part in the Norwegian campaign. From Kiel-Holtenau it was deployed over the Oslo area. The 1st Squadron, with which Schäfer now served, was transferred to Trondheim / Vaernes on 9 April 1940. The squadron temporarily flew its missions from Josvatnet, a frozen lake near Trondheim. On 10 April 1940, the group headquarters and the 2nd and 3rd Squadrons moved to Stavanger-Sola. On 24 April 1940, the group was reunited in Trondheim-Vaernes. Subordinated to the Trondheim pilot leader (Fliegerführer), the 1st Group fought against British troop accumulations and airfield occupancies. The group was also used against British naval warships of the Royal Navy off Norway and in the North Sea. Among the Stuka's warship victims were the destroyers Afridi and Bison (Polish) and the sloop Bittern, all sunk, while the heavy cruiser Suffolk, AA cruiser Cairo and many smaller ships were heavily damaged.

On 20 June 1940, the 1st Group moved to Evreux in France and took part in the final phase of the Western Campaign. After a brief refreshment in Beauvais, the group was placed under the command of Dive Bomber Wing 3 in Angers at the end of July 1940 and flew missions from the Caen area over the Channel (against convoys) and southern England during the Battle of Britain. Due to heavy losses, the group was withdrawn from deployment in November 1940 and refreshed in Bergen-op-Zoom. At the end of December 1940 and the beginning of January 1941, the 1st Group was moved to Trapani on Sicily in association with the Dive Bomber Wing 2. On 10 January 1941, the group took part in the attacks on the British "Force A" convoy protection[2] together with the 2nd Group/Dive Bomber Wing 2 (II. Gruppe/StG 2).

The group then flew missions against Malta and British shipping units in the Mediterranean. At the end of January 1941, the group, still in the formation of Dive Bomber Wing 3, moved to Birdufan in North Africa to support the Italian Army and the arriving parts of the German Afrika Korps. At the beginning of April 1941, the group was transferred to Bulgaria to take part in the Balkans Campaign under the staff of Dive Bomber Wing 2 in the VIII Aviation Corps. After the Balkan campaign, the group was briefly deployed to the X. Fliegerkorps in Elmas on Sardinia and then from Argos to the VIII. Fliegerkorps during the Battle of Crete. From June 1941, the group was deployed in association with the Dive Bomber Wing 3 under the "Fliegerführer Afrika" to support the German Afrika Korps in the battles for Tobruk and El Alamein.

Still 1941, Schäfer was appointed as Luftwaffe liaison officer attached to the Panzer Group 1, which conquered Belgrade on 12 April 1941 and was then deployed for the Operation Barbarossa. On 1 February 1942, he was promoted to Hauptmann (Captain). In 1942, schäfer and others were retrained on the Junkers Ju 88 and assigned to Lehrgeschwader 1 (Training Wing 1). Deployment from Crete with the staff and the 1st and 2nd Groups. The 3rd Group was deployed to Sevastopol. The 4th Group was stationed in Finland.

At the end of 1942, Schäfer was transferred to the new Dive Bomber Wing 101 as group commander and was transferred to the Dive Bomber Wing 77 on 24 February 1943. He then became director of training at the Würzburg pilot school (FFS A 2) and was retrained as a fighter pilot in 1945. During this time, he crashed in a Bf 109 and was hospitalized to war's end. On 20 April 1945, he had been promoted to Major. In 1946, he was released from American captivity.

Awards and decorations



  1. Das waren die deutschen Stuka-Asse 1939-1945, Stuttgart 1976, p. 246
  2. The British began Operation Excess, a series of supply convoys to Malta, Alexandria and Greece. Force A was comprised of HMS Warspite, Valiant, Nubian, Mohawk, Dainty, Gallant, Greyhound, Griffin, Jervis and Illustrious to sail from Alexandria, covering convoys MC 4, MW 5 and ME 6 east of the Skerki Banks. Warspite was lightly damaged by a bomb. Illustrious was hit by five bombs, including one which failed to explode and a near miss disabled her rudder mechanism. A bomb striking a lowered elevator caused extensive hangar damage, with many casualties among aircraft maintenance personnel, nine Swordfish and five Fulmars destroyed. Fairey Fulmar fighters and AA gunners of the Royal Navy shot down at least seven aircraft on 10 January 1941, in defence of Illustrious, while one Fulmar was lost. Illustrious reached Malta at 21:30 and would suffer 126 dead and 91 wounded by the time she departed from Malta. HMS Illustrious was able to complete additional repairs after reaching Alexandria on 25 January but restoration of full combat effectiveness required a trip to United States shipyards. Gallant was beached in Malta's Grand Harbor at dawn of 11 January 1941 and never repaired. As Mohawk and the Force B cruisers steamed from Malta to rejoin Force A, they were surprised by 12 Ju 87 R dive bombers of II/St.G.2 attacking out of the sun at 15:20. Gloucester was hit by a bomb which failed to explode and Southampton was hit by two bombs, which killed eighty men and started fires, requiring the ship to be scuttled 180 nmi (210 mi; 330 km) east of Malta. A bomb exploded in Essex's engine room on 16 January 1941 killing 15 men and wounding 23 more.
  3. Schäfer, Elmar