Hans-Joachim Marseille
German World War II fighter pilot
Hans-Joachim Marseille
Hans-Joachim Marseille was a Luftwaffe fighter pilot and flying ace during World War II. He is noted for his aerial battles during the North African Campaign and his Bohemian lifestyle. One of the most successful fighter pilots, he was nicknamed the "Star of Africa". Marseille claimed all but seven of his "official" 158 victories against the British Commonwealth's Desert Air Force over North Africa, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter for his entire combat career.
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  • 1942
    Under the guidance of his new commander, who recognised the latent potential in the young officer, Marseille quickly developed his abilities as a fighter pilot. He reached the zenith of his fighter pilot career on 1 September 1942, when during the course of three combat sorties he claimed 17 enemy fighters shot down, earning him the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten (Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds).
    More Details Hide Details Only 29 days later, Marseille was killed in a flying accident, when he was forced to abandon his fighter due to engine failure. After he exited the smoke-filled cockpit, Marseille's chest struck the vertical stabiliser of his aircraft. The blow either killed him instantly or incapacitated him so that he was unable to open his parachute.
    Further research by other biographers has unearthed some truth to this story and his attitude to the ruling Nazi movement. Marseille demonstrated his lack of respect for the Nazi elite during his visit to Germany in June–August 1942.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille was a gifted pianist and was invited to play a piece at the home of Willy Messerschmitt, an industrialist and designer of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter Marseille had achieved so much success in. Guests at the party included Adolf Hitler, party chairman Martin Borman, Hitler's deputy and Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring, head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler and Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. After impressing with a display of piano play for over an hour, including Ludwig van Beethoven's Für Elise, Marseille proceeded to play American Jazz, which was considered degenerate in Nazi ideology. Hitler stood, raised his hand, and said "I think we've heard enough" and left the room. Magda Goebbels found the prank amusing and Artur Axmann recalled how his "blood froze" when he heard this "Ragtime" music being played in front of the Führer.
    Referring to 1 September 1942, Bungay points out that even if Marseille shot down 15 of the 17 he claimed that day, "the rest of the 100 or so German fighter pilots between them only got five.
    More Details Hide Details The British sic lost no bombers at all... During this period the DAF lost only a few bombers, but all fell to anti-aircraft defences and evidence shows that Rommel was forced onto the defensive because of the losses inflicted by bombers. Sometime in the early 1990s, one of Marseille's biographers, Robert Tate, visited the former Marseille-Kaserne base and Museum to see and photograph Marseille's medals. When he arrived, Tate was informed the Knights Cross, Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds belonging to Marseille had already been stolen. Hans-Joachim Marseille joined the military service in Wehrmacht on 7 November 1938. His first station was Quedlinburg in the Harz region where he received his military basic training as a Luftwaffe recruit. Hans-Joachim Marseille, after he had completed his training at the Jagdfliegerschule 5, was assigned to the Ergänzungsjagdgruppe Merseburg stationed at the airport in Merseburg-West.
    Attention is often focused on the 26 claims made by JG 27 on 1 September 1942, of which 17 were claimed by Marseille alone.
    More Details Hide Details Another biographer, Franz Kurowski, claims that 24 of the 26 victories were verified through Allied records after the war. A USAF historian, Major Robert Tate states: "for years, many British historians and militarists refused to admit that they had lost any aircraft that day in North Africa. Careful review of records however do show that the British South Africans did lose more than 17 aircraft that day, and in the area that Marseille operated." Tate also reveals 20 RAF single-engined fighters and one twin engined fighter were destroyed and several others severely damaged, as well as a further USAAF P-40 shot down. However, overall Tate reveals that Marseille's kill total comes close to 65–70 percent corroboration, indicating as many as 50 of his claims may not have been actually kills. Tate also compares Marseilles rate of corroboration with the top six P-40 pilots. While only the Canadian James Francis Edwards' records shows a verification of 100 percent other aces like Clive Caldwell (50% to 60% corroboration), Billy Drake (70% to 80% corroboration), John Lloyd Waddy (70% to 80% corroboration) and Andrew Barr (60% to 70% corroboration) are at the same order of magnitude as Marseille's claims. Christopher Shores and Hans Ring also support Tate's conclusions. British historian Stephen Bungay gives a figure of 20 Allied losses that day.
    On 30 September 1942, Hauptmann Marseille was leading his Staffel on a Stuka escort mission covering the withdrawal of the group and relieving the outward escort, III./Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53), which had been deployed to support JG 27 in Africa.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille's flight was vectored onto enemy aircraft in the vicinity but the enemy withdrew and did not take up combat. Marseille vectored the heading and height of the formation to Neumann who directed III./JG 27 to engage. Marseille heard 8./JG 27 leader Werner Schröer claim a Spitfire over the radio at 10:30. While returning to base, his new Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/trop's cockpit began to fill with smoke; blinded and half asphyxiated, he was guided back to German lines by his wingmen, Jost Schlang and Lt Rainer Pöttgen. Upon reaching friendly lines, "Yellow 14" had lost power and was drifting lower and lower. Pöttgen called out after about 10 minutes that they had reached the White Mosque of Sidi Abdel Rahman, and were thus within friendly lines. At this point, Marseille deemed his aircraft no longer flyable and decided to bail out, his last words to his comrades being "I've got to get out now, I can't stand it any longer".
    The two missions of 26 September 1942 had been flown in Bf 109G-2/trop, in one of which Marseille had shot down seven enemy aircraft.
    More Details Hide Details The first six of these machines were to replace the Gruppes Bf 109Fs. All had been allocated to Marseille's 3 Staffel. Marseille had previously ignored orders to use these new aircraft because of its high engine failure rate, but on the orders of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, Marseille reluctantly obeyed. One of these machines, WK-Nr. 14256 (Engine: Daimler-Benz DB 605 A-1, W.Nr. 77 411), was to be the final aircraft Marseille flew. Over the next three days Marseille's Staffel was rested and taken off flying duties. On 28 September Marseille received a telephone call from Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel asking to return with him to Berlin. Hitler was to make a speech at the Berlin Sportpalast on 30 September and Rommel and Marseille were to attend. Marseille rejected this offer, citing that he was needed at the front and had already taken three months' vacation that year. Marseille also said he wanted to take leave at Christmas, to marry his fiancée Hanne-Lies Küpper.
    After landing in the afternoon of the 26 September 1942, he was physically exhausted.
    More Details Hide Details Several accounts allude to his Squadron members being visibly shocked at Marseille's physical state. Marseille, according to his own post-battle accounts, had been engaged by a Spitfire pilot in an intense dogfight that began at high altitude and descended to low-level. Marseille recounted how both he and his opponent strove to get onto the tail of the other. Both succeeded and fired but each time the pursued managed to turn the table on his attacker. Finally, with only 15 minutes of fuel remaining, he climbed into the sun. The RAF fighter followed and was caught in the glare. Marseille executed a tight turn and roll, fired from 100 metres range. The Spitfire caught fire and shed a wing. It crashed into the ground with the pilot still inside. Marseille wrote, "That was the toughest adversary I have ever had. His turns were fabulous... I thought it would be my last fight". Unfortunately the pilot and his unit remain unidentified.
    Der Adler, a biweekly Nazi propaganda magazine published by the Luftwaffe, also reported his actions in volume 14 of 1942.
    More Details Hide Details Three days later Edwards likely killed Günter Steinhausen, a friend of Marseille. The next day, 7 September 1942, another close friend Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt was posted missing in action. These personal losses weighed heavily on Marseille's mind along with his family tragedy. It was noted he barely spoke and became more morose in the last weeks of his life. The strain of combat also induced consistent sleepwalking at night and other symptoms that could be construed as posttraumatic stress disorder. Marseille never remembered these events. Marseille continued scoring multiple victories throughout September, including seven on 15 September (nos. 145–151). Between 16 and 25 September, Marseille failed to increase his score due to a fractured arm, sustained in a force landing soon after the 15 September mission. As a result, he had been forbidden to fly by Eduard Neumann. But the same day, Marseille borrowed the Macchi C.202 '96–10' of the Italian ace Tenente Emanuele Annoni, from 96a Squadriglia, 9° Gruppo, 4° Stormo, based at Fuka, for a test flight. But the one-off flight ended in a wheels-up landing, when the German ace accidentally switched the engine off, as the throttle control in Italian aircraft was opposite to that of the German aircraft.
    On 3 September 1942 Marseille claimed six victories (nos. 127–132) but was hit by fire from the British-Canadian ace James Francis Edwards.
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    Leaving his fiancée in Rome, Marseille returned to combat duties on 23 August. 1 September 1942 was Marseille's most successful day, destroying 17 enemy aircraft (nos. 105–121), and September would see him claim 54 victories, his most productive month.
    More Details Hide Details The 17 enemy aircraft shot down included eight in 10 minutes; as a result of this feat, he was presented with a Volkswagen Kübelwagen by a Regia Aeronautica squadron, on which his Italian comrades had painted "Otto" (Italian language: Otto = eight). This was the most aircraft from Western Allied air forces shot down by a single pilot in one day. Only one pilot, Emil "Bully" Lang, on 4 November 1943, would better this score, against the Soviet Air Force on the Eastern Front.
    On 17 June 1942, Marseille claimed his 100th aerial victory.
    More Details Hide Details He was the 11th Luftwaffe pilot to achieve the century mark. Marseille then returned to Germany for two months leave and the following day was awarded the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. On 6 August, he began his journey back to North Africa accompanied by his fiancée Hanne-Lies Küpper. On 13 August, he met Benito Mussolini in Rome and was presented with the highest Italian military award for bravery, the Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Militare. While in Italy Marseille disappeared for some time prompting the German authorities to compile a missing persons report, submitted by the Gestapo head in Rome, Herbert Kappler. He was finally located. According to rumours he had run off with an Italian girl and was eventually persuaded to return to his unit. Unusually, nothing was ever said about the incident and no repercussions were visited upon Marseille for this indiscretion.
    Marseille was awarded the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub on 6 June 1942.
    More Details Hide Details His wingman Rainer Pöttgen, nicknamed Fliegendes Zählwerk the ("Flying Counting Machine"), said of this fight: All the enemy were shot down by Marseille in a turning dogfight. As soon as he shot, he needed only to glance at the enemy plane. His pattern gunfire began at the front, the engine's nose, and consistently ended in the cockpit. How he was able to do this not even he could explain. With every dogfight he would throttle back as far as possible; this enabled him to fly tighter turns. His expenditure of ammunition in this air battle was 360 rounds (60 per aircraft shot down). Schröer, did however, place Marseille's methods into context: He was the most amazing and ingenious combat pilot I ever saw. He was also very lucky on many occasions. He thought nothing of jumping into a fight outnumbered ten to one, often alone, with us trying to catch up to him. He violated every cardinal rule of fighter combat. He abandoned all the rules.
    His attack method to break up formations, which he perfected, resulted in a high proportion of kills, and in rapid, multiple victories per attack. On 3 June 1942, Marseille attacked alone a formation of 16 Curtiss P-40 fighters and shot down six aircraft of No. 5 Squadron SAAF, five of them in six minutes, including three aces: Robin Pare (six victories), Cecil Golding (6.5 victories) and Andre Botha (five victories).
    More Details Hide Details This success inflated his score further, recording his 70–75th victories.
    Marseille had a narrow escape on 13 May 1942, when his Bf 109 was damaged during a dogfight with 12 Kittyhawks (Mk I) from No. 3 Squadron RAAF, southeast of Gazala and over the Gulf of Bomba ("Gazala Bay").
    More Details Hide Details With a wingman, Marseille bounced the Kittyhawks. After he downed one of the Australian pilots, Flying Officer Graham Pace in AL172, Marseille's Bf 109 took hits in the oil tank and propeller, likely from Flying Officer Geoff Chinchen, who reported damaging one of the Messerschmitts. Marseille nevertheless managed to shoot down another Kittyhawk (Sergeant Colin McDiarmid; AK855), before nursing his overheating aircraft back to base. The repairs to Marseille's Bf 109 took two days. The aerial victories were recorded as numbers 57–58. Weeks later, on 30 May, Marseille performed another mercy mission after witnessing his 65th victory—Pilot Officer Graham George Buckland of No. 250 Squadron RAF—strike the tail plane of his fighter and fall to his death when the parachute did not open. After landing he drove out to the crash site. The P-40 had landed over Allied lines but they found the dead pilot within German territory. Marseille marked his grave, collected his papers and verified his identity, then flew to Buckland's airfield to deliver a letter of regret. Buckland died two days before his 21st birthday.
    His success as a fighter pilot also led to promotions and more responsibility as an officer. 1 May 1942 saw him receive an unusually early promotion to Oberleutnant followed by appointment to Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 27 on 8 June 1942, thus succeeding Oberleutnant Gerhard Homuth who took command of I./JG 27.
    More Details Hide Details In a conversation with his friend Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt, Marseille commented on his style, and his idea of air-to-air combat: I often experience combat as it should be. I see myself in the middle of a British sic swarm, firing from every position and never getting caught. Our aircraft are basic elements, Stahlschmidt, which have got to be mastered. You've got to be able to shoot from any position. From left or right turns, out of a roll, on your back, whenever. Only this way can you develop your own particular tactics. Attack tactics, that the enemy simply cannot anticipate during the course of the battle – a series of unpredictable movements and actions, never the same, always stemming from the situation at hand. Only then can you plunge into the middle of an enemy swarm and blow it up from the inside.
    He claimed his 37–40th victories on 8 February 1942 and 41–44th victories four days later which earned him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross that same month for 46 victories.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille attacked under conditions many considered unfavourable, but his marksmanship allowed him to make an approach fast enough to escape the return fire of the two aircraft flying on either flank of the target. Marseille's excellent eyesight made it possible for him to spot the enemy before he was spotted, allowing him to take the appropriate action and manoeuvre into position for an attack. In combat, Marseille's unorthodox methods led him to operate in a small leader/wingman unit, which he believed to be the safest and most effective way of fighting in the high-visibility conditions of the North African skies. Marseille "worked" alone in combat keeping his wingman at a safe distance so he would not collide or fire on him in error. In a dogfight, particularly when attacking Allied aircraft in a Lufbery circle, Marseille would often favour dramatically reducing the throttle and even lowering the flaps to reduce speed and shorten his turn radius, rather than the standard procedure of using full throttle throughout. Emil Clade said that none of the other pilots could do this effectively, preferring instead to dive on single opponents at speed so as to escape if anything went wrong. Clade said of Marseille's tactics:
    The successes Marseille had begun to become readily apparent in early 1942.
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  • 1941
    His Staffel was rotated to Germany in November/December 1941 to convert to the Bf 109F-4/trop, the variant that was described as the Experten (experts) "mount."
    More Details Hide Details These victories represented his 19–23rd victory. box Marseille always strove to improve his abilities. He worked to strengthen his legs and abdominal muscles, to help him tolerate the extreme g forces of air combat. Marseille also drank an abnormal amount of milk and shunned sunglasses, to improve his eyesight. To counter German fighter attacks, the Allied pilots flew "Lufbery circles" (in which each aircraft's tail was covered by the friendly aircraft behind). The tactic was effective and dangerous as a pilot attacking this formation could find himself constantly in the sights of enemy pilots. Marseille often dived at high speed into the middle of these enemy defensive formations from either above or below, executing a tight turn and firing a two-second deflection shot to destroy an enemy aircraft.
    Finally on 24 September 1941, his practice came to fruition, with his first multiple victory sortie, claiming four Hurricanes of No. 1 Squadron, South African Air Force (SAAF).
    More Details Hide Details By mid December, he had reached 25 victories and was duly awarded the German Cross in Gold.
    As Marseille began to claim enemy aircraft regularly, on occasion he would organise the welfare of the downed pilot personally, driving out to remote crash sites to rescue downed Allied airmen. On 13 September 1941 Marseille shot down Pat Byers of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) No. 451 Squadron.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille flew to Byers' airfield and dropped a note informing the Australians of his condition and treatment. He returned several days later to second the first note with news of Byers' death. Marseille repeated these sorties after being warned by Neumann that Göring had forbade any more flights of this kind. After the war, Marseille's JG 27 comrade Werner Schröer stated that Marseille attempted these gestures as "penance" for a group that "loved shooting down aircraft" but not killing a man; "we tried to separate the two. Marseille allowed us that escape, our penance I suppose."
    He was further frustrated after damage forced him to land on two occasions: once on 14 June 1941 and again after he was hit by ground fire over Tobruk and was forced to land blind.
    More Details Hide Details His tactic of diving into enemy formations often found him under fire from all directions, resulting in his aircraft being damaged beyond repair; consequently, Eduard Neumann was losing his patience. Marseille persisted, and created a unique self-training programme for himself, both physical and tactical, which resulted not just in outstanding situational awareness, marksmanship and confident control of the aircraft, but also in a unique attack tactic that preferred a high angle deflection shooting attack and shooting at the target's front from the side, instead of the common method of chasing an aircraft and shooting at it directly from behind. Marseille often practiced these tactics on the way back from missions with his comrades. Marseille became known as a master of deflection shooting.
    By this time, he had crashed or damaged another four Bf 109E aircraft, including a tropicalised aircraft he was ferrying on 23 April 1941.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille's kill rate was low, and he went from June to August without a victory.
    Just a month later, records show that James Denis shot down Marseille again on 21 May 1941.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille engaged Denis, but overshot his target. A turning dogfight ensued, in which Denis once again bested Marseille. Neumann (Geschwaderkommodore as of 10 June 1942) encouraged Marseille to self-train to improve his abilities.
    Marseille's unit briefly saw action during the invasion of Yugoslavia, deployed to Zagreb on 10 April 1941, before transferring to Africa.
    More Details Hide Details On 20 April on his flight from Tripoli to his front airstrip Marseille's Bf 109 developed engine trouble and he had to make a forced landing in the desert short of his destination. His squadron departed the scene after they had ensured that he had got down safely. Marseille continued his journey, first hitchhiking on an Italian truck, then, finding this too slow; he tried his luck at an airstrip in vain. Finally he made his way to the general in charge of a supply depot on the main route to the front, and convinced him that he should be available for operations next day. Marseille's character appealed to the general and he put at his disposal his own Opel Admiral, complete with chauffeur. "You can pay me back by getting fifty victories, Marseille!" were his parting words. Nevertheless he caught up with his squadron and arrived on 21 April.
  • 1940
    As punishment for "insubordination"—rumoured to be his penchant for American jazz music, womanising and an overt "playboy" lifestyle—and inability to fly as a wingman, Steinhoff transferred Marseille to Jagdgeschwader 27 on 24 December 1940.
    More Details Hide Details When he joined his new unit, it was difficult to foresee his outstanding career. His new Gruppenkommandeur, Eduard Neumann, later recalled, "His hair was too long and he brought with him a list of disciplinary punishments as long as your arm. He was tempestuous, temperamental and unruly. Thirty years later, he would have been called a playboy." Nevertheless, Neumann quickly recognised Marseille's potential as a pilot. He stated in an interview: "Marseille could only be one of two, either a disciplinary problem or a great fighter pilot." Jagdgeschwader 27 was soon relocated to North Africa.
    Shortly afterwards, in early October 1940, after having claimed seven aerial victories all them flying with I.(Jagd)/LG 2 Marseille was transferred to 4./Jagdgeschwader 52, flying alongside the likes of Johannes Steinhoff and Gerhard Barkhorn.
    More Details Hide Details He wrote off four aircraft as a result of operations during this period. Steinhoff, later recalled: "Marseille was extremely handsome. He was a very gifted pilot, but he was unreliable. He had girl friends everywhere, and they kept him so busy that he was sometimes so worn out that he had to be grounded. His sometime irresponsible way of conducting his duties was the main reason I fired him. But he had irresistible charm."
    While returning from a bomber-escort mission on 23 September 1940 flying Werk Nummer (W.Nr) 5094, his engine failed 10 miles off Cap Gris Nez after combat damage sustained over Dover.
    More Details Hide Details Pilot Officer George Bennions from 41 Squadron may have shot Marseille down. According to another source, W.Nr 5094 was destroyed in this engagement by Robert Stanford Tuck, who had pursued a Bf 109 to that location and whose pilot was rescued by a He 59 naval aircraft. Marseille is the only German airman known to have been rescued by a He 59 on that day and in that location. Tuck's official claim was for a Bf 109 destroyed off Griz Nez at 09:45—the only pilot to submit a claim in that location. Marseille tried to radio his position but was forced to bail out over the sea. He paddled around in the water for three hours before being rescued by a Heinkel He 59 float plane based at Schellingwoude. Severely worn out and suffering from exposure, he was sent to a field hospital. I.(Jagd)/LG 2 claimed three aerial victories for the loss of four Bf 109s that day. Marseille was in serious trouble when arriving back at the airfield. He had abandoned his leader Staffelkapitän Adolf Buhl, who was shot down and killed. He received a stern rebuke and final warning from Herbert Ihlefeld, during which he tore up his flight evaluations with a visibly upset Marseille looking on. Other pilots were voicing their dissent concerning Marseille. Because of his alienation of other pilots, his arrogance and unapologetic nature, Ihlefeld would eventually dismiss Marseille from LG 2.
    On his second sortie, he scored another victory, and by the 15 September 1940, had claimed his fourth victory.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille became an ace on 18 September after claiming a fifth enemy aircraft.
    In his first dogfight over England on 24 August 1940, Marseille was involved in a four-minute battle with a skilled opponent.
    More Details Hide Details He defeated his opponent by pulling up into a tight chandelle, to gain an altitude advantage before diving and firing. The British fighter was struck in the engine, pitching over and diving into the English Channel; this was Marseille's first victory. Marseille was then engaged from above by more enemy fighters. By pushing his aircraft into a steep dive then pulling up metres above the water, Marseille escaped from the machine gun fire of his opponents: "skipping away over the waves, I made a clean break. No one followed me and I returned to Leeuwarden was based near Calais, not Leeuwarden." The act was not praised by his unit. Marseille was reprimanded when it emerged he had abandoned his wingman, and staffel to engage the enemy alone. In so doing, Marseille had violated a basic rule of air combat. Marseille did not take any pleasure in this victory and found it difficult to accept the realities of aerial combat.
    On 10 August 1940 he was assigned to I. Jagd/Lehrgeschwader 2, based in Calais-Marck, to begin operations over Britain and again received an outstanding evaluation this time by his Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur, Herbert Ihlefeld.
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    Marseille graduated from Jagdfliegerschule 5 with an outstanding evaluation on 18 July 1940 and was assigned to Ergänzungsjagdgruppe Merseburg.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille's unit was assigned to air defence duty over the Leuna plant from the outbreak of war until the fall of France.
    Those he graduated with had been made full officers by early 1940, while Marseille's indiscipline left him with the rank of Oberfähnrich at the end of 1941.
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  • 1939
    Marseille completed his training at Jagdfliegerschule 5 (5th fighter pilot school) in Wien-Schwechat to which he was posted on 1 November 1939.
    More Details Hide Details Jagdfliegerschule 5 at the time was under the command of the World War I flying ace and recipient of the Pour le Mérite Eduard Ritter von Schleich. One of his teachers at the Jagdfliegerschule 5 was the Austro-Hungarian World War I ace Julius Arigi.
    On 1 March 1939 Marseille was transferred to the Luftkriegsschule 4 (LKS 4—air war school) near Fürstenfeldbruck.
    More Details Hide Details Among his classmates was Werner Schröer. Schröer reports that Marseille was often in breach of military discipline. Consequently Marseille was ordered to stay on base while his class mates were on weekend leave. Quite frequently Marseille ignored this and left Schröer a note: "Went out! Please take my chores." On one occasion, while performing a slow circuit, Marseille broke away and performed an imaginary weaving dogfight. He was reprimanded by his commanding officer, Hauptmann Mueller-Rohrmoser, and taken off flying duties and his promotion to Gefreiter postponed. Soon after, during a cross-country flight, he landed on a quiet stretch of Autobahn (between Magdeburg and Braunschweig) and ran behind a tree to relieve himself. Some farmers came to enquire if he needed assistance, but by the time they arrived Marseille was on his way, and they were blown back by his slipstream. Infuriated, the farmers reported the matter and Marseille was again suspended from flying.
  • 1938
    He joined Luftwaffe on 7 November 1938, as a Fahnenjunker (officer candidate) and received his military basic training in Quedlinburg in the Harz region.
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    Although not athletic in physique, Marseille received a good report for a term with the Reichsarbeitsdienst ("State Labour Service") Abtlg. 1/177 in Osterholz-Scharmbeck near Bremen, between 4 April and 24 September 1938.
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    Toward the end of his school years he started to take his education more seriously and qualified as one of the youngest (at 17 years, six months) to achieve his Abitur, graduating in early 1938.
    More Details Hide Details Marseille then expressed his desire to become a "flying officer."
  • 1919
    Hans-Joachim "Jochen" Walter Rudolf Siegfried Marseille was born to Charlotte (maiden name: Charlotte Marie Johanna Pauline Gertrud Riemer) and Hauptmann Siegfried Georg Martin Marseille, a family with paternal Huguenot ancestry, in Berlin-Charlottenburg Berliner Strasse 164 on 13 December 1919 at 11:45 pm.
    More Details Hide Details As a child, he was physically weak, and he nearly died from a serious case of Influenza. His father Siegfried was an Army officer during World War I, and later left the armed forces to join the Berlin Police force. Siegfried later rejoined the Army in 1933, and was promoted to General in 1935. Promoted again he attained the rank of Generalmajor on 1 July 1941. He served on the Eastern Front from the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. Siegfried Marseille was killed by partisans near Pyetrykaw on 29 January 1944. He was buried in the cemetery of Selasje. Hans-Joachim also had a younger sister, Ingeborg "Inge". While on sick leave in Athens at the end of December 1941, he was summoned to Berlin by a telegram from his mother. Upon arriving home, he learned his sister had been slain by a jealous lover while living in Vienna. Hans-Joachim never recovered emotionally from this blow.
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