Heaven Next Stop: A Luftwaffe Fighter Pilot at War
First published in 1953, Heaven Next Stop is the vivid personal story of a German fighter pilot set in the latter years of the Second World War. ... Show synopsis First published in 1953, Heaven Next Stop is the vivid personal story of a German fighter pilot set in the latter years of the Second World War. Gunther Bloemertz was one of the legendary 'Abbeville Boys' of Jagdgeschwader 26 who flew Focke-Wulf FW190 day fighters from their base in northern France against intruding RAF fighters and USAAF bombers. Bloemertz describes life and death on the squadron, his fellow pilots and their almost daily duels with RAF Spitfires and USAAF Flying Fortresses, fought at both ground level and in the stratosphere over the Pas de Calais. Following the D-Day landings his Geschwader was eventually forced to retreat into Germany in August 1944 from where they fought an increasingly desperate battle against the Allied massed bomber streams. On New Year's Day 1945 he took part in the massive Luftwaffe dawn attack on Allied airfields in Belgium and Holland, Operation 'Bodenplatte', which claimed the lives of many Allied airmen and destroyed dozens of aircraft on the ground. Bloemertz concludes his story by relating the part he played as a fighter pilot defending the crumbling Third Reich in its final death throes, when he and fellow pilot Werner were all that remained of the original 'Abbeville Boys'. In the last hours of the war both Gunther and Werner were shot down in dogfights with Allied fighters. Werner was killed and Gunther baled out of his aircraft, his face and body horrifically burned. Heaven Next Stop gives us a fascinating insight into the lives of the Luftwaffe's fighter pilots during the Second World War. It also emphasizes that apart from the small number of Nazi fanatics in their ranks, there was little to distinguish the average Luftwaffe pilotfrom his opposite numbers in the RAF or USAAF. Looking at a photograph of RAF pilots in a magazine, one of Bloemertz's fellow pilots exclaims: 'Have a look at those faces! They might just as well belong to us.'.