Air War Publications has another exciting eArticle nearing completion, this time about the German desert rescue squadron, the 1. Wüstennotstaffel. This unique unit, equipped with the remarkable Fieseler Storch STOL aircraft, served as a multi-purpose squadron for the German army and air force throughout the North African campaign, acting as a ‘jack-of-all trades’ for Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel. The story of the unit is a fascinating one, because it was involved in a number of lively escapades and events in the two years from its creation in the summer of 1941 to its disbandment in the summer of 1943.
Although rarely reporting more than a dozen aircraft on strength, the Wüstennotstaffel carried out a variety of tasks in the desert war, ranging from its regular rescues of downed Axis and Allied airmen, to evacuation of wounded German soldiers, providing assistance to various Axis special forces and irregular units, transporting senior German army and air force personnel, and generally doing whatever miscellaneous tasks it was required to perform. The unit’s Staffelkapitän, Heinz Kroseberg, was even awarded the Ritterkreuz for his efforts in rescuing friend and foe alike, although the award was given posthumously after he sacrificed his life trying to save some downed German airmen in the Mediterranean Sea off the North African coast.
This article outlines the history of the unit in North Africa, and delves into several of the more prominent events that it was involved in.