20 October 1920 |
Nazi Germany (to 1945)
|Years of service||1939–45|
Hauptmann of the Reserves (Bundeswehr)
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Heinz Rökker (born 20 October 1920) is a former German Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) during World War II 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. He shot down 64 enemy aircraft (63 at night), all were British bombers.[Note 1] Since 26 September 2014 he has been the last living Luftwaffe night fighter ace.
Rökker was born on 20 October 1920 in Oldenburg, Germany. He joined the Luftwaffe in October 1939 and began his flight training with Flieger Ausbildungs Regiment 22 at Güstrow in July 1940. He attended Blindflugschule 5 in Belgrade before completing his training in September 1941 at Nachtjagdschule 1. Rökker was then posted in May 1942 to 1 staffel, Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 (NJG 2) operating in the Mediterranean theatre.[Note 2] Carlos Nugent was also posted to 1./NJG 2 in May 1942 and became Heinz Rökker's Bordfunker (wireless/radar operator). Rökker shot down a Royal Air Force (RAF) Bristol Beaufort by day on 20 June 1942, over the Mediterranean. His aircraft received several hits from return fire during the action, but he landed safely.
From airfields in Libya, Rökker flew deep penetration 'intruder' missions over Egypt, claiming four Vickers Wellington twin-engined bombers destroyed. Although in August 1942 1./NJG 2 was briefly relocated to Belgium, the staffel was relocated back to the Mediterranean theatre based in Sicily in February 1943.
In July 1943, 1./NJG 2 were back in Europe to undertake Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich) duties. Rökker claimed 3 victories on each of the nights of 15/16 March 1944, 22/23 March and 24/25 March. With 20 kills, Rökker was made Staffelkapitän of 2 staffel, NJG 2 in April 1944.
On the night of 6/7 June, he then claimed 5 RAF bombers over Normandy. Rökker was awarded the Ritterkreuz in July 1944, and recorded his 40th kill on 7/8 August. On 4/5 November he claimed 4 more enemy aircraft and recorded three more victories on the night of 3/4 February to take his score to 52. He claimed six enemy aircraft on the night of 21/22 February.
Rökker was awarded the Eichenlaub in March for 60 victories. On the night of 15/16 March, Rökker recorded 4 enemy aircraft shot down as his last victories of the war, including a Mosquito shot down over his airfield at St Trond.
As a Luftwaffe night fighter pilot, he mainly flew the Junkers Ju 88 G-1. Rökker was credited with 64 victories in 161 missions. He recorded 63 of his victories at night, including 55 four-engined bombers.
Carlos Nugent flew almost 150 missions with Rökker, participating in 62 of his 64 victories, and on 28 April 1945 became one of the few Bordfunker 's decorated with the Knight's Cross.
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe (12 June 1944)
- German Cross in Gold on 13 June 1944 as Oberleutnant in the 2./NJG 2
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Thomas 1998, p. 219.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2007, p. 383.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 635.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 361.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 99.
- Heinz Rökker in the German National Library catalogue