Veteran Stories:
Oscar Boesch

Air Force

  • Oscar Boesch.

    Oscar Boesch
  • Pilot Oscar Boesch (second from right) of Sturmstaffel 1, a unit within Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3) Udet, a Luftwaffe fighter wing. Salzwedel, Germany, April 1944.

    Oscar Boesch
  • Pilot Oscar Boesch, age 19. Salzwedel, Germany, April 1944.

    Oscar Boesch
  • Pilots of Sturmstaffel1 in dress uniform. Oscar Boesch is second from right. Salzwedel, Germany, April 1944.

    Oscar Boesch
  • Oscar Boesch climbing into his Focke-Wulf 190 fighter aircraft.

    Oscar Boesch
  • John Colton and Oscar Boesch at Sherbrooke Airport, Quebec, 1987 when Mr. Boesch performed a glider aerobatic demonstration. This was the first time these men had met since Operation BODENPLATTE on 1 January 1945, when Boesch of the Luftwaffe strafed the airbase at which Colton and his squadron were stationed. After this initial reunion in 1987, the men became good friends and speak to each other every January 1 in honour of that day.

    John Colton
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"We tried, to be happy with it, and it was always a – you know, you can say it was almost like a sporting event. You know, super – you want to be the best. But, up there in the sky, it was always a duel. You know, a deadly duel – If you were lucky, you got away. "

Transcript

You had to be – number one – fearless.  Because, if you would have, you know, scare – the scary jitter, in the aircraft, you could not survive.  So, we had the right environment, or mental attitude, that we took it up, and we knew – number one – most important, having self-confidence.  That you knew, “Yes, I am good.  I am the best in the,” you know, “in the surrounding.”

You needed the technical feel for your aircraft.  Most important: self-confidence and trust, a hundred percent to the aircraft, and everything what goes with an aircraft.  That’s the weaponry, and the – in addition, you have to be on top, in all these necessities, for instance, orientation was most important – that you always end up flying the right direction, particularly if you go to the frontline, and you have to know where is your airport.  Because, one problem we always had, it was the gasoline, you know, onboard.  We run out of fuel and you have a problem.  You should be on the ground.

It was fun – yeah, we tried, to be happy with it, and it was always a – you know, you can say it was almost like a sporting event.  You know, super – you want to be the best.  But, up there in the sky, it was always a duel.  You know, a deadly duel – If you were lucky, you got away.  And, in between, let’s say, most of the time you were up in the sky, there were so many possibility not to return.  The greatest problem had been, we had to go against the bombers.  Every bomber had about 12 guns, you know, to defend himself.  And you had, you know – it’s similar, one mentioned it correctly – like if you want to take a shower in the morning, but you don’t want to get wet.  But, the defence mission from the bomber was, you know, was like a shower of rockets or guns.

First Sortie

On that day, we had the B-17,*   and we, we came in – that was our trademark as a Sturmstaffel** fighter; they attacked the bombers from behind.  Because, from the front, you know, frontal attack, that was, you only had a few seconds.  Maybe only one or two or three seconds, because our two speed[s], air speed, you know, came over a thousand kilometres per hour, you know, additional because we flew head on, and it was very difficult compared, if you attacked the bomber from behind.  Of course, you had been and you had to fly into defence, into the bomber’s defence.  And they had time, maybe two, three minutes to fire at us.  They started firing at us when we were out of range for us to shoot.  They were about a kilometre, a thousand metres, they started shooting at us.

Final Sortie

My last mission, defending Berlin [Germany] against the Russians, happened on the 24th of April 1945.  And on the - what happened, I collided with a Russian Yak*** head on, collision.  We probably only touched each other, or just, “destrive” each other, but our two aircraft went up in pieces, because I – it happened in about 3,000 feet and I got out of my aircraft, just about 500 metres above ground, and within seconds, I was only a few seconds, on the parachute, when I landed. By bailing out, I hit my body or my foot on the tail section and when I landed, I felt I cannot walk or stand on my feet.

Within minutes, we had Russians came. You know, the infantry.  I fell right in the frontline, in the fighting frontline, just south of Berlin, and within a few minutes, I was surrounded by Russian soldiers. That was, I thought, “That’s the end for Oscar” - you know.  That’s pretty well all I can take.  But, they took me, and first of all, they took off everything of value, you know – we had leather flight suit. Took that off, and then, so, lucky enough they didn’t take my shoes, because I needed them, because one thing was certain, I thought, “That’s the end for Oscar, and if you are lucky, you could probably break free” – and, it happened three days later.  They kept me for three days in confinement, single confinement.  I’d been interrogated many times, maybe ten times, maybe more.  Three days they did not give me a drop of water, no food at all. I just, I felt miserable. On the third day, I had a chance, just for probably a few seconds, to get away. I did. I could hide for – just get away for probably a few hundred metres from the post, there was one post there with me, and he fell asleep, he was tired, a young soldier, Russian soldier. So, that was the beginning of my walk. Can you imagine with the [injured] knee?  Under normal circumstances, you could not even take a step, because I torn up my knee, but in the circumstances, it’s a matter of life or death.  And so I walked, I walked – I made it back home a thousand kilometres – totally, totally occupied… by the [enemy] forces.  I made it back home. To Austria, a thousand kilometres.

Yeah, it was luck.  Thank God I was physically in excellent condition, you know, it’s - as a sporty guy, as a youngster, and fearless.  Though nothing was impossible for us in general, you know, we had, our… my other fellows were just about the same. Never give up.  Just try to do your thing.  Defend your homeland, and whatever comes, if you survive, you’re just lucky.

*Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, United States Air Force four-engine heavy bomber

**Sturmstaffel 1, unit within Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG 3) Udet, a Luftwaffe fighter wing

***Yakovlev Yak-9, Soviet Union single-engine fighter

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