21 May 1916
15 July 1943
|Years of service||1935–1943|
II./ Zerstörergeschwader 1
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Günther Tonne (21 May 1916 – 15 July 1943) was a highly decorated Major in the Luftwaffe during World War II, and one of only 882 recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Tonne was born on 21 May 1916 in Frankfurt. He entered service with the Kriegsmarine and transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1937. In September 1939 he joined II./Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1). In June 1940 II./ZG 1 became III./Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76) and by July 1940 was an Oberleutnant with 9./ZG 76. He claimed some 7 victories over the English Channel in 1940. In April 1941 Tonne was Staffelkapitän of 6./Schnellkampfgeschwader 210 (SKG 210), and he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in October 1941. He claimed a Royal Air Force (RAF) Blenheim on 18 April 1941.
In January 1942 he was posted to command 6./ZG 1, before becoming Gruppenkommandeur of II./ZG 1. December 1942 saw promotion to Hauptmann and command of II./SKG 10. Tonne became Geschwaderkommodore, of SKG 10 until 15 July 1943 when he was killed in a in crash at Reggio di Calabria, when his engine quit shortly after take-off. He was posthumously awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross on 24 October 1944.
Günther Tonne was credited with around 15 victories (approx 5 in the west) in over 300 missions.
Awards and decorations
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe in Gold
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Thomas 1998, p. 386.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 344.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 748.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 76.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1941 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag.
- Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag.
- Spick, Mike (1996). Luftwaffe Fighter Aces. New York:
- Lexikon der Wehrmacht
Hauptmann Rolf Kaldrack
Commander of II./Zerstörergeschwader 1
4 February 1942 – 1 February 1943
Hauptmann Gerhard Weyert
Commander of Schnellkampfgeschwader 10
December 1942 – 15 July 1943
Major Helmut Viedebantt