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Kritzinger, Hermanns J

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rank: Lieutenant
status: survived
airforce: SAAF    (no: 328642V )
born: South Africa

added by: Kevin Charles
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Hermanns Johannes KRITZINGER

1 Squadron SAAF pilot

From the National Archives AIR/27/13 1 Squadron SAAF ORB

Jan 23rd 1945

Cecil Boyd and Les Clarke bombed a group of 3 15 cwts. Cecil called out that he had undershot by 30 yds. and Les then went down and scored a VNM. They both strafed them then, Cecil setting one ablaze, both completely riddling and destroying a second, and damaging the third. they also strafed and damaged a fourth a little way from this group.

Cecil Boyd was heard to call up Kritz the, the leader, and say that his cockpit was full of smoke and he would have to bale out. There was no reply form Kritz. Les Clarke who was flying behind Cecil, called him to say he would cover him. He and Bill Frisby watched Cecil pull up to about 5,000', and roll onto his side. Then, instead of baling out, he went straight down with his A/C which crashed and broke up at (W) L 942642. This was at 07.55 hrs. As the A/C was climbing, and again as it was diving to crash, a thin plume of black smoke was seen issuing from it. After it had crashed, Les saw what looked like a bit of dark coloured fabric float past him at 1500ft.

Kritz did not return with the others. He had last been seen at (W) L 908612 at 07.50 hrs. N A.A. had been seen in the area but there may, of course, have been ball A.A. And there had been high tension cables there, always a menace when pilots are strafing. On this show our pilots destroyed 8 M.T. and a trailer and a trailer, and damaged 4 M.T. and 1 H.D.V. But we lost two very fine pilots and two Spitfires, and that seems to be bad arithmetic. There was a small fire where Cecil Boyd's aircraft crashed.

We are hoping that Kritz may have crashed landed, and may get back to us. His knowledge of Italian will help him evade capture and to obtain assistance. It is not known why Cecil Boyd did not bale out. If anyone had the technique of baling buttoned up it was he, for he had baled out successfully three times. He had completed 145 hrs Operational flying, while Kritzinger had done 193.50 hrs.

During Cecil Boyd's tour he had destroyed, or shared in the destruction of, 26 road vehicles (excluding H.D.V.'s) 4 H.D.V.'s one 175mm gun, and 10 barges. Kritz put up a quite exceptional score during his tour. Excluding H.D.V.'s he personally destroyed 16 road vehicles and 1 tank, and shared in the destruction of 51 road vehicles, 2 barges, 5 railway trucks and 2 locomotives. In addition to these, both of them damaged a considerable number of road or rail vehicles. Both pilots were popular members of the Squadron. Cecil has for a good while being flying No 3 in the formation, while Kritz has for a considerable time been flying No 1. He was an exceptionally fine leader.


23rd Jan 1945 Shot down and fought with the partisans. Returned to Unit 29th Mar 45.

From 1 SAAF War Diary Page 217-219

THE SIGHT-SEEING TOUR
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On the morning of the 23rd January, 1945 at about 07.45 hrs, whilst strafing in the Bologna Ferrara area I hit a high tree in one of the runs. I tried to get home but with half the prop gone was unable to gain altitude, and a forced landing became necessary. I put the A/C down between two rows of trees, twenty yards from a house, but then had considerable difficulty in opening the hood. However when two Jerries appeared about 200 yds away, the hood opened easily. With my chute still buckled on I hobbled towards the house, got rid of the chute, Mae West and inner as quickly as possible, and then made for a stable and a shed. My escape aids in the Mae West pocket, were left behind in the rush. It was not possible to reach the stable without being seen, so I hid behind a large pillar just outside it. The Germans started their search, one going into the house, and I side stepped him around the pillar. The Italians made an attempt to convince them that I had gone in the opposite direction. They seemed to swallow this. One of them remained to guard the A/C and the other went off to continue the search. I slipped into the stable for a while. Then four civilians passed along a track 20 yds off, and the owner of the house urged me to take a chance and go with them to a safer area. I did so. I had on a pair of slacks and a brown jersey, and, to assist my disguise, I took a hat from one of the civilians, in spite of his protests. Enquiries showed that most of the houses had Germans in them, so I had to walk about 5 miles to get out of immediate danger. I left the road and walked through fields and among trees, keeping the four civilians in sight. As I crossed the main Bologna-Ferrara road I saw some of the M.T. I had been strafing, and saw one of them explode.

At approx., 10.00 hrs I was told by the civilians to go to a house they pointed out to me, and to ask for a certain person Mr.D..., as there were no Germans in that house. Mr D was kind, and rather excited, but not at all scared of helping me. The people of the house gave me a very nice breakfast of fried eggs and liver, and some hot milk. I enquired about the partisans. Mr D volunteered to go out and contact them. I then took refuge again in a shed, on top of some hay, to keep out of the way. They gave me a blanket and some capes to keep me warm, for it was very cold. During the day some Germans came and took some lucarno(??) out of the shed. I felt rather excited because I could see them below me, and was not sure if they knew I was there or not, but they soon left.

That evening two partisans arrived to take me to a safe place for the night. Before leaving I exchanged my khaki slacks and flying boots for civvy pants and boots, and was also given a cape. We left by bicycle for M-P-, reaching it without mishap. A girl there disinfected a cut across my knee and bandaged it well. That night I slept well, and warm. Early the following morning the two Partisans and I left for Castel Maggiore, taking the main road, one of them going ahead and the other staying with me. Along the road I saw far too many Germans to my liking. At C-M- I met a commandant of the Partisans. Here, too, I was given a jacket to wear and also some tobacco. Before long we left to look for a farm house where I could hide out, and in an area where there would be fewer Germans. The going was slow on account of the snow, and my sore leg. After we had tried three houses in each of which we found Germans, I could not ride anymore, and so we walked. At 13.00 hrs we reached a house in which there were no Germans. I was made welcome by the farmer, and the Partisans left me with him. The people here treated me very well.

The next day another Partisan arrived to take me to a Squadron of Partisans where I would be safe and out of the way. We arrived at our destination after dark. There were some 30 people here well armed, and in civilian clothes. Eight of them took me to another house. Here there were two Russians, deserters from the German army, and the remainder were Italians from all parts of German occupied Italy. They had been held for forced labour, but had escaped. A shelter was built in a shed so that we could hide if hunted for. Things were quiet here for a few days. I did some skipping, and other exercises, to limber up my stiff leg and keep warm. We had enough to eat. On the 29th some Germans occupied the ground floor, while we were on the floor above. We had to remain very quiet all afternoon while they were below. They sent radio messages but expected none in return. When it was dark we retreated according to plan, to another house. I was now given a pistol to play with.

On the 31st it was arranged to attack M.T. on the roads that night. I was given a Mauser pistol and some hand grenades. The Partisans carried sub-machine guns, grenades and pistols. Some M.T. came along and the Partisans stopped them with m/g fire. Then they threw in hand grenades to flame them. Usually the Germans fired back if they were not wounded. That night 5 M.T. were destroyed and 7 Germans killed or wounded. Five blankets, two rifles and some ammo were taken from them. One of the M.T. was an ambulance, but it was loaded with 5 gallon cans of petrol. All of these went up in flame.

The next few days passed quietly. I did some odd jobs to wile away the time, such as milking and feeding the cattle. In the evenings I would go for walks. I was very cold and miserable during these days. On the night of 8th February bombers dropped their load near the house, breaking most of the windows, then we had a few more days of quiet.

On the 13th February many Germans on rest from the front began passing on their way to Verona. They went from house to house, searching in all for clothing, food, horses and cattle. I roamed from house to house with a Partisan to be out of the way. During this time I had a photograph taken for my identity card. We got news fairly regularly but it was scanty. I wanted to cross to the eastern side of the front but the Partisans would not let me do so. It was rather surprising what risks they were prepared to take themselves, but how reluctant they were to let me run any. They told me there were road blocks in the eastern areas where the terrain is flatter, and that spies were active. The Partisans shot spies when they could, and in consequence had to change their residence fairly frequently.

On the night of the 14th February, some German spies were shot. We went out that night to cut telephone wires, remove sign posts, and reverse others. On the 18th we went out again to attack M.T. The Jerries saw us first and threw two hand-grenades close to us. We defended ourselves with machine guns. They shot up Verey lights and flares, and sprayed the area with machine gun fire. In this brief fight a Partisan was wounded, shot through the stomach and left arm. We had to roam around that night as we could not get home. It was bitterly cold. Later that night we destroyed a M.T. and killed two Germans, and collected 2 Biretta automatic pistols and a sub-machine gun. We had to walk ten miles before we were safe, and so we barely slept that night. On the next day Jerry collected all the males in this area for cross-examination. We escaped by leaving very early. Fortunately on this occasion he shot none of them, as he had previously done.

The following evening, while we were at dinner, two young German soldiers of about 16 and 18 years of age walked in. We had no time to disappear. We cocked our pistols but kept them in our pockets. The machine guns they were carrying did not look friendly. I kept quiet and carried on with my dinner. After they had taken some eggs, bread, and wine they left again. Lucky! On the 21st Jerry had another round up of Italians, but we escaped again. They took some cattle, horses, and also food from the farm.

The next couple of days passed quietly. The farmer slaughtered a cow, and, to pass the time I pruned some vines and did various odd jobs. On the 23rd I went off to visit some people, and heard an English news-service for the first time. While I was with them some Germans came in, but as there were several men present I was not noticed. I sat quietly in front of the fire and sipped red wine with my back to the Germans. On the 24th many S.S. Troops went past. The Italians told me they were on their way home. Some of them were cycling, others in horse drawn vehicles, and the balance on foot. It was on this day that I got my identity card, forged by the Partisans, and my photographs. On the card my name appeared as Enrico Muzzoli. My occupation was given as "fitter and turner", and my birthplace as Naples. During the night tanks passed, towing M.T., and going in the direction of Verona. The Partisans considered that there were still too many troops about in this area for me to attempt to get through.

On the 27th Fascists raided a nearby house and carried away all the valuables without as much as a thank you. On this day, too, Allied A/C strafed in this area. On the first of March the Partisans caught two girls and a man that were thought to be collaborating with the Germans. They wanted to shoot them out of hand but I persuaded them to give them a trial. The Enquiry lasted the best part of two nights. Then the verdict of guilty was passed. The two girls were very beautiful. I tried to talk the Partisans out of imposing the final penalty, but I could not influence them. The girls were separated, and shot, while the man was a witness. Then a pistol was put below his ear and he too was shot. Three holes were made in a field and the bodies buried. The holes were covered in such a way that no one would find them. I felt really shaken and a bit sick that night, but as they were guilty, it was better so, because they could endanger the lives of many people fighting against the horrid Hun. Later we heard people say that the girls had left with the Germans again. The Germans view was that the Partisans had captured them. Soon the whole affair died down.

The Germans had another round up, and I went for a stroll to avoid them. On the 6th March I was happy to hear that I would be leaving the following day. One of the Partisans, whilst playing with a revolver, shot himself through the leg. A girl was to guide me on the first leg of my journey on the 7th, but she was held up by Jerries. When she arrived we set off, but as we were late the second guide had left by the time we got to the place of appointment. I stayed with some very nice people for the next few days, while new arrangements were being made for my guidance through the lines. While I was with them some Germans came into the house, so I just attended to the fire. There was plenty to eat and drink. We would have as many as five eggs each. I again worked on the farm, and did some ploughing to pass the time.

On 11th I was told that I should leave the following day. At 10.00 hrs on the 12th I set course for Bologna, accompanied by a nice young girl as a guide. We took the main Ferrara-Bologna road. Before long we were stopped by Germans. My guide did most of the talking. The false papers did the trick and away we went. I felt very excited and rather scared. There were many Jerries on the road, all going the same way. At 19.30 hrs we got to Bologna. Here we changed cycles and two other girls took me on to Modena along Highway 9 the Via Emilia, there were also many dirty, lousy, tired Jerries going N.W.

We reached Modena at 22.30 hrs. I felt tired as I was not used to cycling. Here I stayed with some friendly people until midday, the 13th March. Another girl then took me from here for a short distance, and handed me over to another. We were stopped by Jerries at 17.30 hrs. After eating well, a male guide took me on and we made our way on foot into the hills. At midnight we stopped to sleep and rest for a few hours in a stable. We had no blankets and it was very cold. At day break we left again, up and down lonely hills until 10 o'clock. Since we had reached the mountains we had seen no more Jerries.

After a time we met up with some Partisans, and joined them. They took prisoner a German deserter and an Italian girl. We did not go on much further as we began meeting many Germans along our course who were leaving this area and also many reinforcements were coming in. And so we stayed here quietly for a few days.

On the 17th, at 20.00 hrs, four of the Partisans, the two prisoners, and I set off again. It was difficult going, up and down steep slopes. In the dark we had to cross the Secchia river, through about three foot of ice cold water. At midnight we stopped for a drink and a sleep. At 07.00 hrs we started struggling again in the mountains, walking about five miles to get one mile nearer our destination. We passed several burnt out houses, and even two villages that had been completely gutted, not one house left standing in them. At 13.00 hrs we arrived at the Partisans H.Q. where there were both English and American Missions. Here, that evening, we had a nice meal, with music, and that night I slept in a soft bed.

We left the next day at noon, and struggled on, tired, and with little to eat, until 17.00 hrs. They reckoned then that we could not go through, that night, as we were too tired for the final 18(?) miles. So we ate well off bread and cheese, and then slept there. The next evening at 17.00 hrs we started off to cross the line. The route took us up and down, with many detours to avoid German outposts, and then more climbs and descents. After a while, our Jerry deserter could not go on, and we had to drag him up the snow clad ridges, and then down again, battling right through until 04.00 hrs. We rested for an hour, then went on again, passing near some Germans and following a roundabout course, then through no-man's land, and finally at 07.00 hrs arrived at an American post.

I was very happy to be on the right side on the line again, and to be able really to relax.

H J Kritzinger


DFC Announcement Flightglobal.com August 23rd 1945

17th Apr 1947

Died at the age of 26 in a Lockheed PV-1 Ventura (Serial Number 6501) plane crash in which 4 Crew and 11 SAAF Pilots were killed. The Ventura was ferrying fighter pilots from Pretoria to Cairo to collect Spitfire Aircraft to fly back to the Union, the aircraft crashed at 19h30, 60 miles South West of Khartoum in the Sudan. There were no survivors.

All were originally buried at Shugeig in a communal grave. This grave was later exhumed and all the remains were re-located to the Khartoum War Cemetery on 7 February 1949 and all rest in the Khartoum War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan, Plot 5, Row C, Collective Grave 10.

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SAAF 1 1945-01-01

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