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Knights of the Battle of Britain (Hardback)

Luftwaffe Aircrew Awarded the Knight's Cross in 1940

Aviation > Royal Air Force Aviation > WWII > Luftwaffe Military > Biographies > Military Biographies Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII P&S History > British History Photographic Books WWII > Photographic Books

By Chris Goss
Frontline Books
Pages: 212
Illustrations: 100
ISBN: 9781526726513
Published: 3rd July 2018



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The Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross), known simply as the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross), was the highest German military award of the Second World War. Instituted on 1 September 1939, to coincide with the German invasion of Poland, it was awarded for leadership, valour or skill. As the war progressed, higher variants were instituted, namely the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, and the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves Swords and Diamonds.

Similar in design, but larger, than the Eiserne Kreuz (Iron Cross), and worn around the neck as opposed to on the breast, the border and hanging loop on the Knight’s Cross were made of pure silver which was marked ‘800’. The award was made by a number of German manufacturers.

On 3 June 1940, the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz mit Eichenlaub (Knights Cross with Oak Leaves) was instituted, by which time 124 Rittterkreuz had been awarded to all arms of the German military, of which forty-nine had been awarded to Luftwaffe personnel. The first recipient was Generalfeldmarschal Hermann Göring on 30 September 1939; the first Luftwaffe operational Luftwaffe aircrew member recipient, and the fifth overall, was Oberst Robert Fuchs, Kommodore of Kampfgeschwader 26. His award was made on 6 April 1940.

The first fighter pilot to receive the Ritterkreuz was Hauptmann Werner Mölders of III Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 53 (III./JG 53) on 29 May 1940. Only three Luftwaffe officers would receive the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub in 1940, and all of them were fighter pilots – Mölders on 21 September 1940 (he was then Geschwader Kommodore of JG 51), Major Adolf Galland (Kommodore of JG 26) on 24 September 1940, and Hauptmann Helmut Wick (Kommandeur of I Gruppe/JG 2) on 6 October 1940.

Throughout the summer of 1940, many more Luftwaffe members, be they serving on fighter, bomber, dive bomber or reconnaissance units, would receive the Ritterkreuz. Some of these awards were made posthumously, whilst others would learn of their awards whilst a prisoner of war in Britain or, later, in Canada.

In this book, the renowned aviation historian Chris Goss provides biographical details of all operational members of the Luftwaffe who received the Ritterkreuz during 1940 or were awarded it as a result of their actions in what became known as the Battle of Britain.

As featured

Wings Museum Website

This is one of those books that you have on the shelf. Safe in the knowledge that it’s there when you need it and that it’ll have the information you need on a specific Luftwaffe aircrew member between April and December 1940 that were awarded the Knights Cross.

Chris Goss has once again brought together a high level of detail from a specific time in air war history and collated it into a very useful and informative book.

A must have book for any Battle of Britain historian.

Read the full review here

Vintage Airfix

The author has put together a compendium of short synopsis of the operational careers of those German aircrew who were awarded the Knight’s Cross (Ritterkreuz) during the first full year of the war. Each recipient has been researched in detail and, in a majority of cases, numerous photos have been provided related to their careers. The book is presented in chronological order by month with a series of useful appendices outlining recipients by role. A quick read, with a high quality publication value from the publisher; the author has undertaken a prodigious amount of research in putting this work together. An interesting read.

Read the full review here

The Military Reviewer

This book is an unique research tool for the serious historian doing targeted work on specific Luftwaffe personnel or unit histories within the early war years.

Air Power History

As featured on Scale Modelling Now

Scale Modelling Now

Copiously illustrated in black and white throughout, with a short additional photo section towards the end, this is ideal for dipping into. Again, if this is your primary area of interest a cover to cover read might be in order. But for me it's a case of occasionally having a glance through, and cherry picking a few entries. This makes it eminently suited to workplace reading, if one's job allows occasional time-outs, as mine occasionally does.

A fascinating and informative resource.

Read the full review here

A Question Of Scale, Seb Palmer

The Much of Chris Goss's book reads like an article from the Boys' Own Paper, tales of daring deeds committed by heroes from another age and, indeed, the stunning illustration on the front cover looks like it might be to do with an earlier conflict than the Battle of Britain. Goss's biographies are brilliantly written, captivating, and indicative of the fact that these were men who went above and beyond the call of duty. Absoutely fascinating!

Books Monthly

The book is a small gem for anyone who wants to have at hand the biographies of 121 German aviators who distinguished themselves during that period of crucial importance for the fate of the war, although in the end it was the British who won in the skies. A book that I highly recommend.

Read the full Italian review here

Old Barbed Wire Blog

The photo material, already mentioned before, is unique though. That Goss has managed to get access to this source, may be called a formidable achievement!

Read the full review here

Aviation Book Reviews

Chronological and alphabetical indices complete a useful reference.

Aeroplane Monthly, March 2019

With useful cross-referencing appendices and a proper index, this 6½in x 9½in hardback is an attractive reference work of real value for those seeking a more nuanced perspective of the battle.

The Aviation Historian, issue 26

An unusual and fascinating addition to the history of World War II.

Medal News, December 2018/January 2019 - reviewed by Allan Stanistreet

I have most of this author's books and this one doesn't disappoint. Comprehensive biographical details on Knights Cross holders are illustrated with contemporary photos, many of which I have never seen before in any publication. A worthy addition to the library of anyone interested in the Battle of Britain.

Peter Cook, Amazon

Luftwaffe expert and regular FlyPast contributor Chris Goss is the historian responsible for this excellent series of profiles.

FlyPast, October 2018

As featured by

Hiya Bucks

About Chris Goss

After a 32-year career in the RAF and three years working for a civilian company as its Head of Operations, Chris Goss is now a full-time aviation author and military historian. He is the author of over 50 critically acclaimed books covering aspects of the World War II air war over North- West Europe. He is a historical consultant for a number of major projects, such as the recovery of the Dornier 17 by the RAF Museum and Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and for TV channels such as The History Channel and Channel 5's The Battle of Britain: 3 Days that Saved a Nation.

Perfect Partner

Luftwaffe Aces in the Battle of Britain (Hardback)

The term ‘fighter ace’ grew in prominence with the introduction and development of aerial combat in the First World War. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an ‘ace’ has varied but is usually considered to be five or more. For the Luftwaffe, a number of its fighter pilots, many of whom had fought with the Legion Condor in Spain, had already gained their Experte, or ace, status in the Battle of France. However, many more would achieve that status in the hectic dogfights over southern England and the Channel during the Battle of Britain in the summer of…

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