- Posts: 249
- Joined: 14 Apr 2005 11:18
- Location: Budapest, Hungary
This comes from Tibor Tobak "Pumák és a többiek" /Pumas and the others/ 1990, Budapest, page 57-66 per request of Stuka Pilot in Shanghai.
This is a short account of Hungarian dive-bombers written by an old Puma fighter, Lt. Tibor Tobak using the text of memoirs (italics) of the Stuka squadron commander, Capt. Gyõzõ Lévay.
Please note that the text contains phrases like Russky etc., no offense is meant, it comes from the original text.
He got his nickname in Germany in 1938. They were on training and to irritate his German instructors he always told to his Hungarian comrade “Good morning, Sir, how are you, Sir” in English in the mornings. That was all he could speak in English by the way. “Sir” stuck as his nickname but later became phonetic “Szõr”. He was brave and tough. He was nicely decorated: Officers’ and Knights’ Crosses of the Hungarian Order for Merit /or something like it – Krisz/; Iron Cross class 1 and 2; and the Deutsches Kreutz im Gold. The number of sorties he had flown is well above 200. A historian dubbed him “pirate captain”. He was not offended, quite the contrary… He was not always playing it by the book but the way he saw it fit. This is what he has to say on this:
“…I do not mind being called a pirate captain. Field manuals do not address many situations. For example I ordered my men to shoot two SS-soldiers whom we caught robbing a Hungarian peasant. On another occasion we “convinced” a group of SS-guys at the point of our SMGs to hand over a couple of cows from the herd of cattle they were “escorting” towards the west. We had a right to do that, it was Hungarian property anyway.
There was one thing I always insisted on: it was me and me alone who should punish my boys – if need be – wherever they did wrong. I never allowed them to pillage from the population neither on the front nor at home. If such thing was brought to my notice I punished the guy and kicked him out of my squadron right away.
There were cases when I should have punished my men but I did not. When we arrived in Nikolayev to take delivery of our aircraft in 1943 my boys kicked some Romanian Stuka crews out of the canteen. I withheld punishment. In October 1944 when we returned from front service in Poland to Sárospatak, Hungary some of my boys went to a movie. Germans had not let them sit on the “Nur für Deutsche” seats. My boys got angry and kicked the Germans out of the movie and thoroughly beat them up. German HQ in the city demanded retribution. I gave the boys extra leave instead.
If someone arrived late from leave and told it straight that he was drunk or had been with women I was easy on him. If he tried to come up with some lame excuses however, I had him locked up. Noone went AWOL in my time.
We always had plenty to eat. If we got alcohol (e.g. rum) from supply we never drank that. We swapped it for food instead.
It is true however, that two non-crewmembers of my squadron became KIA during sorties. Lt. János Szakály, one of our engineers and a doc, István Balázs MD. They both volunteered for it as we were short of crews for a mission. They got posthumous Knights’ Cross for that. Another sin of mine is the case of the army-chaplain. He always begged to allow him to go on missions as a gunner. I let him; he was motor-racer in civil life anyway. I think he is the only priest in the world with seven Stuka sorties under his belt…”
He collected a bunch of tough guys around him and they adored him, would do anything for him. His combat performance made him a legendary figure of the air force. He started his career in the clandestine times in 1934. By 1939 he was a bomber instructor in Szombathely. When the need for a Stuka unit arose he was there. In 1940 training was under way with three Stukas.
In 1943 the Stuka squadron was formed in Kolozsvár (Cluj, Romania), CO Capt. Jenõ Kóróssy, XO Capt. Gyõzõ Lévay. He got the squadron in shape within a month. In JUN43 they were transferred to Kiev and got training for Ju-87D. After that they received 12 D’s, one of them was a D-5.
The squadron was attached to a German Stuka geschwader and began to fly missions in the aftermath of the Battle of Kursk. In AUG43 they were stationed in Poltava. It was here that they lost their first aircraft. This is how it happened:
“Our squadron was attached to II/SG77, CO Capt. Jenõ Kóróssy. On that day we stuffed a village called Omelivka with 1000-kg bombs. AA fire was withering.
As I check around I cannot see my left wingman. The radio crackles: plane 636 was hit, left wing is on fire and crash lands. I have to bring them home, the thought occurs to me. I quickly turn back, my right wingman stays with me. I report the situation on radio. We hug the ground and search the crippled Stuka. Explosions and smoke everywhere. There it is, in the tall grass. Smoke is coming out of the left wing but the crew, Ensign Jászberényi and his gunner is fine, they are running towards us. I prepare to put down my plane next to the wreck and order my right wingman to turn back. As I land I realize that the undercarriage hit a field telephone line, the cord is wound around the wheel. Jászberényi and his gunner are reaching us and a German Feldwebel also shows up in a car. He is from a nearby artillery position.
‘Where are we?’
‘This is no man’s land!’
‘Where are the Russkies?’
‘Some 1000 meters away, on the top of that hill.’
As I glance at the hill it occurs to me that the Russians have an excellent view from there so it is quite unhealthy to spend to much time here. I order the parachutes out of the plane and begin to climb into the cockpit when I hear a hissing sound. “Take cover!” A mortar round lands near me but I am unhurt. As I look around I see the German in his car. He is speeding away. I do not blame him; the Russians open up on the Stukas. They hit Jászberényi’s aircraft with the fourth salvo. We cannot stay in the open, here we are sitting duck. There is a sunflower field some 800 meters from us. ‘Run to the sunflowers!’ I glance back just to see my Stuka being hit. Now it is our turn. We fall to the ground when we hear the hissing sound. After the explosion we jump up and continue running. As we are on the ground my gunner shouts at me.
‘Captain, you double-crossed me.’
‘How come, Jóska?’
‘You told me that any crater is safe, no second round will fall into that.’
‘The second round fell nicely into a crater just before I tried to slip in.’
There is not time to carry on with the chit-chat, we get up and run. We are sweating heavily under our pilot dresses but made it pretty quickly to the sunflowers. We do not stop until we cross the field and arrive to a dirt road. Here we sit down and try to bring our breath under control. Soon a German vehicle appears. It is full of wounded soldiers but we make place for ourselves somehow. Soon we reach a small village with German artillery observers. The commander cannot help us with transportation but offers us coffee and cognac. We reach the road to Krasnograd at dusk. It clogged with trucks moving slowly forward. No reflectors in the dark. We climb up on a truck and begin our lengthy journey.
Soon Russian night bombers appear to harass the traffic and start throwing bombs along the road. Occasional explosions to the left, right, behind or in front of us. There is nothing to do, we take our chances. I ask the driver: ‘What is the cargo?’ ‘Landmines’ - comes the answer. Oh, great! I never felt fear during my thirty sorties, not during AA fire or during our field run earlier this day. There was no time that, everything happened so quickly. But now fear creeps on me. I do not dare telling the guys that they sit on landmines. With cold sweat on my forehead I keep staring at the obscure silhouette of the truck in front of us. It was a long and unpleasant journey. We reach Krasnograd at 2:00 a.m. We find rooms in a hotel for officers. The bed is lice-ridden but still, it beats a heap of landmines.
In the morning we go out to the airfield. Our 3/1 recon squadron is stationed here and our comrades give us a lift to Poltava only to find that the Stuka squadron has moved to Msana.
When we finally find them Kóróssy reprimands me for my stupidy. We lost an additional aircraft. I only wanted to save the crew. I reason that we have plenty of airplanes but only few trained pilots and gunners. Kóróssy shakes my hand and privately thanks me.”
In SEP43 Capt. Kóróssy is relieved from command (he was to old for it with his 35 years of age). Szõr became CO. There was little to command anyway. The squadron has lost Lt. Imre Molnár and Cpl. Gábor Veress and their gunners. Lt. János Szakály and his gunner, Iván Balázs MD fell victim during strafing. Jászberényi died when a 250-kg bomb exploded beneath his aircraft. Cpl. Felvégi, Cpl. Dévényi and their gunners were also KIA. By the end of September there were only four pilots left when some new pilots arrived and they were able to field 12 aircraft again.
Soon they were withdrawn to Kolozsvár-Szamosfalva. This was the time when I met Szõr. He allowed me to try the Stuka. My opinion was that although an excellent aircraft it was obsolete and should not fly without fighter escort. They were expecting to receive new D-5s.
A tragedy took place. Cpl. Reményi with 70 sorties under his belt showed off above his girlfriend’s village and crashed into a nearby hill.
The squadron headed for the front once again in JUN44. The situation became more dangerous for Stukas. Apart from the usual La-5 and Yak-9 they encountered Aircobras. This what Szõr said about that:
“The 37-mm gun of the ‘Cobra is a killer. A single hit can disable the venerable Stuka. Our 151/20mm is just a popgun compared to that but my boys have practiced formation flying a bit in Kolozsvár. If jumped German staffels usually break formation and disperse, we keep a close formation to concentrate our firepower instead.
We lost our most experienced pilot, Sgt Pénzes. He fell victim to senseless bragging too and I am partially responsible for it. It happened during a strafing run on a Russian column when 40-mm AAA hit my plane. To save my neck I blew off the undercarriage before crash landing in a marshy area. My face still bumped into the instrument panel. It was quite a bruise, it took the German doctor some time to stich it together. I got a handsome little turban on my head and that impaired my vision so I was out of action for a week. In my absence Sgt Pénzes took over my role as leader because he was the most experienced pilot. It was the mission on 17JUL when ‘Cobras jumped the formation and attacked the leader as usual. Pénzes’ B7+07 got hit in the engine by a 37-mm round. He attempted crash landing on a plough-land. It seemed even enough so he decided to keep his wheels on although it was standard procedure (and order) to jettison the undercarriage before crash landing. The wheels caught a tiny ditch, the Stuka tumbled and Pénzes had his skull smashed for good. Sgt. Tarlós, his gunner told later that Pénzes said: ‘I gonna show Szõr how to crash land on wheels.’ Bragging took another victim.”
After Pénzes’ death there emerged another trouble: Lt. György Istványi. I knew him from the Academy in Kassa (Kosice, Slovakia). He was an aggressive flyer. He would love to become a fighter pilot but he only made it to the bombers. In the end he was transferred to Szõr’s outfit. This what Lévay told about it:
“Istványi is a pain in the neck. To be honest I cannot tell whether he is clumsy or just playing the hero. He always straggles from the formation. When I raise this issue with him he always tells he can take care of himself. How to make him understand that we are dive-bombers not fighters?”
And here is his account of the mission that took Istványi’s life:
“We are on our way for 20 minutes now. There are eight airplanes approaching some 1000 meters above us. Germans promised four Fw-190s as escort so these cannot be them. As they are getting nearer I recognize them: ‘Cobras. They have not noticed us yet and I hope it will stay this way. My radio crackles, some gibberish in Russian but I can clearly understand one word: Stuka! Oh, well… The ‘Cobras begin maneuvering but their leader seems a bit dumb. They prepare for a frontal attack that gives them the least chance. I glance around as I arm my guns. My boys stick close like little chickens around their mother hen. The ‘Cobras are only 300-350 meters away and they have not opened fire yet. Of course, they have little ammo for their big gun so they do not want to waste it. I wait a moment longer then open fire. My boys follow suit and 18 tubes start spitting hot metal toward the ‘Cobras. It is a deadly net; the bandits only have to fly into it. But they do not feel inclined to do it, they disperse instead. Cpl. Lajos Sarkady reports that the Fw-190s have arrived. We will never know who scared the Russians away but I sure hope the Focke-Wulfs will keep them occupied until we finish our job. I start searching our target: Russian armor. There they are, in that small wood. I radio my order: ‘We strike at those tanks. Dive one by one at 70 degrees, no brakes, release at 700 meters. Then quickly up and rendezvous at 2000 to avoid the ‘Cobras.’ The nine tanks make a big dust cloud so you cannot lose them from sight. I select the foremost one as my target. I dive and gain speed quickly; 500, 600 then 700 kph. My altimeter is constantly spinning, I am at 2000. Realizing that I am attacking him, the T-34 begins zigzagging. Oh, mate! I am too old to fall for this trick. I scan his movement and calculate to put my bombs into the zag as he is still in the zig. I constantly check the altimeter and release at 700. There is jerk as the bombs fall away and the automat pulls up the plane. I force my upper body forward and try to put my head on my knees to avoid losing blood from my brain. G-force pushes me into my seat, I cannot move. My limbs are heavy, even the skin on my face. My vision is grey but I do not lose it completely. My 250-kg and four 50-kg bombs are on their way, I hope the tank will just turn into them upon impact.
My vision is clear now and I am on 2000. I am waiting for the others to catch up when Lajos Sarkady, my gunner tells me calmly that a ‘Cobra is on our tail. He opens fire and the first salvo of the Russian just misses my right wing. I glance back; he is 200 meters behind us. I think about what naughty things he should do to her mother. I put the Stuka on her wingtip and pull the stick as much as I can. My left wing seems motionless while the Earth just whirls around. The ‘Cobra did the same; he is still on my tail. He is so close that I can clearly see his face as he tries to pull a tighter turn to get into a better firing position. He fails and his shots miss the tail of the Stuka but I cannot shake him off. My gunner fires at him but in this position he also misses. Shall I pray or shall I curse. One thing is sure, I bath in sweat. I get an idea. Back the throttle and push the nose down. This surprises the Russky, he darts past me. I sigh and begin to close with the formation. As I do that I catch sight of a Stuka being chased by two ‘Cobras. The Stuka has a tail of black smoke and one of the Russians is sitting right behind and firing constantly. My God, who could that be. As I look at the formation I see that Cpl Róza has a missing wingman. Would that be Istványi? My God, yes. He has no chance, the smoke is becoming ever thicker. I shout into the radio: ‘Gyuri, bail out! Bail out! Gyuri, do you hear me?’ No answer. B7+13 turns into a steep dive instead. Good, he tries to lose the ‘Cobras with this dive. But, alas, no. The Stuka smashes into the ground and turns into a huge orange fireball.
I bite back my tears and rage engulfs me. Where the hell is our fighter escort, they should have prevented this tragedy. As I look around I realize that the Fw-190s are still engaged in dogfight with the ‘Cobras. I can count six so they have shot down two so far. They are still outnumbered though.
We form up and I set a homebound course. Suddenly a lonely ‘Cobra appears and heads toward the point of the formation. According to Russian custom he tries to attack the leader. I am not excited a bit, as soon as he enters our field of fire he is a dead man. When he comes into range eight twin-barreled MGs open up on him. 16 tubes pour deadly 8-mm slugs on him. As I glance back I can see that the tracers end up exactly in the ‘Cobra’s fuselage. Sarkady pumps it right behind the cockpit, where the engine is. ‘Well done, Lali!’ I shout ‘I think you got him!’ Ivan has miscalculated his move. He came in too steep to get under our formation but he had to pass through our field of fire… The ‘Cobra is now ahead of me by some 100 meters and I can see her engine smoking. I can see the pilot bailing out. The abandoned aircraft topples and begins her final spiral descent towards the ground. The parachute blows into big white flower. We did it, we got the guy! I feel satisfied; we can finally paint our first red star on the tail.”
It was not to be. Four other gunners also claimed that victory. Typical of Szõr, he put the five names into a cap and drew one. The victory went to Cpl. Jenei and Szõr’s reputation benefited from this solution.
In AUG44 they were ordered to return home leaving behind their Stukas. They flew 1500 sorties, dropped 750 tons of bombs, and lost 50 percent of their commissioned officer pilots and 40 percent of non-com pilots. Szõr had 180 sorties, Capt. Kóróssy 120 while Sgt Pénzes, Cpl. Róza and Reményi were each near to 100.
At home 102/2nd dive-bomber squadron was redesignated 102/1st fighter-bomber squadron and the pilots began their training on Fw-190F-8s in Börgönd airfield.
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- Joined: 03 Jan 2020 16:45
- Location: Chile
I´m the granddaughter of Jeno Kóróssy, and I´m serching for more information about his militar history. My mother told me that it was a movie about my grandfhader or maybe about the Stukas, which was filmed around the 40s or 50s. Anybody has more info about that? It would be great!!