WWII German ace pilot Martin Drewes dies aged 94 in Brazil

WWII German ace pilot Martin Drewes dies aged 94 in Brazil

Photo story (Clockwise from top left): (1) Drewes during WWII (2) In 2011, Martin Drewes in Hannover Aircraft Museum (3) A British Gloster Gladiator in pre WWII period with RAF markings (4) A Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110 in 1943 (5) A British 4 engine heavy bomber Handley Page Halifax (6) British 4 engine heavy bomber Avro Lancaster (7) German president Walter Scheel greets Queen Elizabeth II on her Silver Jubilee, Drewes appears just behind Prince Phillip in 1977.

Decorated night ace fighter in the German Air Force or Luftwaffe during WWII, Martin Drewes has died on 13th October, 2013 in Blumenau, Southern Brazil at the age of 94. Martin’s close friend Oswaldo Pfiffer said that he died of multiple organ failure. Drewes flew Messerschmitt Bf 110 during WWII and shot down 52 allied aircrafts mostly four engine British Bombers Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax. The www.timesofisrael.com reports:

Martin Drewes was born on 20th October, 1918 in the small village Lobmachtersen, Hannover, northwestern Germany. He was the son of a pharmacist. Martin joined German army in November 1937 and was transferred to Luftwaffe in 1939. He was first assigned to the II Zerstorergeschwader 76 or ZG 76 unit that was used as air support in the final phase of invasion of Greece in April 1941.

In the same year in Iraq, an anti British revolution was taking shape and the nationalist Government of Iraq requested Hitler to help defeat the British there. On 17th May 1941 in a secret mission, one squadron bombers and fighters were sent to Iraq led by Werner Junck, Drewes was part of the squadron. Drewes and two others attacked airbase RAF Habbanyia that day. He shot down his first ever prey three days later, a British Gloster Gladiator. Days later, while attacking a British truck, Martin’s aircraft was badly damaged by machine gun fire and he had to make a forced landing. By 26th May, 1941 the small German contingent was easily overpowered by the British offensive and they were ordered to evacuate Iraq.

Soon, the ZG 76 unit was transformed into a night fighter unit named Nachtgeschwader. Drewes shot down Allied aircrafts on a regular basis in his night victories until the end of WWII. He had flown 252 operations and his 52 shot down aircrafts includes a Spitfire, a Gladiator, 7 US 4 engine bombers and 43 British night bombers of the two mentioned types. He received the Ritterkreuz or Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross and Eichenlaub or Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, highest war bravery awards given by Nazi Germany. At the end of the war he was captured by the British forces. Drewes emigrated to Brazil in 1949 and one of his jobs was flying planes to make aerial photographs for construction companies of the capital Brasilia.

In an interview in 2012 with a local tv network called Globo, Drewes said that he never fired at the pilots who parachuted out of the aircrafts he shot down. His friend Pfiffer said that Drewes was ‘a soldier not Nazi’.

Mohammad Rafi Saad

Mohammad Rafi Saad is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE