Photo: Neal W. O'Connor via Greg VanWyngarden
Group photo of members of the Marine Jagdgruppe. In the foreground in a white uniform stands Gotthard Sachsenberg, to his right is Theo Osterkamp.
unit was naturally handed over to Gotthard Sachsenberg, who was
simultaneously promoted to Oberleutnant zur See. Before the end of
the war, he would accumulate a further seven aerial victories, giving
him a total of thirty-one. Theo Osterkamp ended the war with the
‘Blue Max’ around his neck as well, and a score that was one higher
than his commanding officer.
One of the most dramatic encounters experienced by Sachsenberg
came when MFJ I and II met Camels of No. 204 Squadron in the afternoon of October 23rd, 1918 over Termonde. The German pilots claimed
seven victories, two of which were by Sachsenberg. In reality, five
Camels were downed and all of their pilots were killed. Among them
were two aces, twenty-six-year-old Capt. T. W. Nash, DFC, of Sussex
and twenty-three-year-old Canadian Lieutenant O. J. Orr from Vancouver in British Columbia. Nash had eight kills and Orr five.
Ten Camels equipped with bombs under the command of Capt. Nash
took off at 0830h on a High Offensive Patrol mission. One was forced back due to engine trouble and crashed. There was heavy cloud
and ground fog over the battle zone. Nash’s formation dropped their
bombs on a rail yard at Melle. Later, at 1005h and at an altitude of
8,000 feet, they were intercepted from above by ten Fokkers and two
Albatroses, all of which had black and yellow colours. This was typical of aircraft belonging to Marine Jasta.
Lt. John D. Lightbody had three Fokkers at his six o’clock position. He
went into a spin, but couldn’t shake them and the chase continued
down to heights of between 50 and 100 feet. The young Scot made
a sharp turn to the left, causing two of his pursuers to collide, filling
the sky with a lot of debris. One of the attackers didn’t survive the
collision. It was Lt. z. S. Hermann Bargmann from MFJ I. Two other
Camel pilots each claimed a downed Fokker after having fired off several hundred rounds at point blank range. Lightbody would be killed
in combat on November 4th, immediately after his nineteenth birthday and fifth kill.
The End of the War, but not the Battle
Gotthard Sachsenberg Jr. who still maintained boyish looks, had behind him an incredible career. At the age of twenty-seven, he was the
Commanding Officer of a naval fighter wing, was one of the two top
naval fighter pilots and enjoyed the support of his men and respect of
his superiors. Besides the aforementioned awards that were bestowed on him, he also received:
- House Order of Albrecht the Bear, Knight First Class with Sword
- Friedrich Cross of Anhalt, Fist and Second Classes
- Friedrich-August Cross of Oldenburg, First and Second Classes
- Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg
After the end of the First World War, there were many local armed
conflicts and civil unrest. Some were the result strictly of territorial claims. Others were connected with the Bolshevik revolution that
originated in Russia. One of these conflicts led to the secession of the
Baltic States from Russia. Germany sent the IV. Reservekorps to the
area in January, 1919, a part of which was an air component commanded by Gotthard Sachsenberg Jr.
It carried the designation Flieger Abteilung Ost, but was simultaneously known as Kampfgeschwader Sachensberg. It had a total of 700
men, was composed of several aviation components, and the bulk of
its flyers were Marine Jagdgeschwader and Jasta 7 veterans. It was
equipped with several Fokker D.VIIs and Rumpler C.IVs, but most of
the equipment was the modern Junkers D.I and C.I with metal skinning.
Among its members were Theo Osterkamp, Hans Goerth (7 kills),
Gerhard Hubich (8 kills), Karl Scharon (8 kills) and Alexander Zenses
(19 kills). Notably, the list also included the legendary commander of
Jasta 7, Josef Jacobs (48 kills). Also among the members of the unit
was the then virtually unknown Walther Wadehn, who would achieve
the rank of Generalmajor with the Luftwaffe in the Second World War.
Flieger Abteilung Ost served in the areas of Mitau (today Jelgava) and
Riga until mid-November, 1919. After that, the unit returned to Germany and Sachsenberg retired from the military.
In 1919, he married Gisela von Sigsfeld, and they had three children.
Gotthard entered industrial and political life, and likely did not anticipate at the time that even this would be a life and death struggle.
INFO Eduard - April 2021