Martin Becker: German fighter ace and Knight's Cross recipient (1916 - 2006) | Biography
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Martin Becker
German fighter ace and Knight's Cross recipient

Martin Becker

Martin Becker
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German fighter ace and Knight's Cross recipient
Was Pilot Aviator Flying ace
From Germany
Field Military
Gender male
Birth 12 April 1916, Wiesbaden, Germany
Death 8 February 2006, Oberneisen, Germany (aged 89 years)
Star sign Aries
German Cross in Gold  
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves  
The details (from wikipedia)


Martin Becker (12 April 1916 – 8 February 2006) was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a night fighter ace credited with 58 aerial victories making him the tenth most successful night fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare. All of his victories were claimed over the Western Front in Defense of the Reich missions, the majority at night against the Royal Air Force's (RAF) Bomber Command and one daytime claim over a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

Born in Wiesbaden, Becker grew up in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Following graduation from school, he joined the military service in 1936 and was trained as an air observer and was posted to a bomber wing and participated in the Battle of France. In September 1940, he started flight training. In 1943, Becker was posted to a night fighter wing and claimed his first aerial victory on the night of 23/24 September 1943. Following his 26th aerial victory, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 1 April 1944 and was given command IV. Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 6 (NJG 6–6th Night Fighter Wing) in October 1944. On 20 March 1945, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.

Becker, who flew approximately 110 combat missions, died on 8 February 2006 in Oberneisen.

Early life

Becker was born on 12 April 1916 at Wiesbaden at the time in Hesse-Nassau, a province of the Kingdom of Prussia. On 25 October 1936, Becker joined the Luftwaffe. On 1 April 1937 he was assigned to Kampfgeschwader 155 (KG 155–155th Bomber Wing), and then to an aerial reconnaissance unit. On 16 November 1939, he was posted to Ergänzungs-Aufklärungsgruppe 2, a reconnaissance group. On 19 January 1940, he transferred to the 4. Staffel (squadron) of Heeres-Ergänzungs-Aufklärungsgruppe 21 (21st army reconnaissance group) as an Oberfeldwebel (master sergeant).

World War II

World War II in Europe began on Friday 1 September 1939 when German forces invaded Poland. From 10 May 1940, Becker flew reconnaissance missions in the Battle of France and Battle of Belgium. He was promoted to Leutnant der Reserve (second lieutenant of the reserves) on 1 July 1940. In September 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain, Becker transferred to the flight training school at Merseburg, which acted as a fighter pilot school for Jagdgeschwader 51. Becker received basic and advanced training as a night fighter pilot while based there. He was promoted to Oberleutnant der Reserve (first lieutenant of the reserves) on 1 April 1942. In 1943, Becker was posted to 11. Staffel (11th squadron) of Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (NJG 4—Night Fighter Wing 4). On 1 August, 11./NJG 4 became 2./Nachtjagdgeschwader 6 (NJG 6—Night Fighter Wing 6).

Night fighter career

A map of part of the Kammhuber Line. The 'belt' and night fighter 'boxes' are shown.

Following the 1939 aerial Battle of the Heligoland Bight, Royal Air Force (RAF) attacks shifted to the cover of darkness, initiating the Defence of the Reich campaign. By mid-1940, Generalmajor (Brigadier General) Josef Kammhuber had established a night air defense system dubbed the Kammhuber Line. It consisted of a series of control sectors equipped with radars and searchlights and an associated night fighter. Each sector named a Himmelbett (canopy bed) would direct the night fighter into visual range with target bombers. In 1941, the Luftwaffe started equipping night fighters with airborne radar such as the Lichtenstein radar. This airborne radar did not come into general use until early 1942.

Battle of Berlin

Becker scored his first victory on the night of 23 September 1943 at 23:21 south of Hameln. In October 1943 Becker was appointed to Staffelkapitän (squadron leader), 2./NJG 6. Becker shot down three bombers on the night of 18/19 November 1943 as RAF Bomber Command began their Berlin offensive. Becker claimed a Short Stirling at Lampertheim at 20:44. Southwest of Mannheim he claimed a Handley-Page Halifax destroyed at 20:56 and another near Rimbach at 21:05 for his second to fourth victories. Becker achieved ace status on 21 December when he claimed one Avro Lancaster bomber two Halifax between 19:50 and 19:55. On the night of 20 February 1944 Becker downed three bombers—two Lancasters and a Halifax—between 03:02 and 04:18 in the airspace between Celle and Leipzig. One of the Lancasters may have been JB469 EA-B from No. 49 Squadron RAF. Pilot Flight Sergeant E. White, Sergeants J. R. Ward, W.W. S. Compton (navigator), J. E. Ellis (radio operator), D. N. Stevens, J. T. Loveland, and H. Thomas were killed in action. The Halifax was LV834, and belonged to No. 35 Squadron RAF. Pilot, Flying Officer Randal Vincent Jones was killed with four other men. Two men included Horatius Douglas Stewart White DFM, were captured.

On 25 February, Becker attacked and claimed two Lancasters at 21:30 and 21:49. In the evening of 22 March 1944 Becker claimed six between 21:42 to 22:39 which elevated his total to 18 bombers destroyed. Two were accounted for near Hamm-Paderborn, the other four were claimed around Frankfurt. Four were Halifax bombers and two were Lancasters. On 24 March Becker claimed a Lancaster at 22:35.

Nürnberg raid

On the night of the 30/31 March 1944, Bomber Command suffered heavy losses on a raid to Nürnberg. Becker claimed seven Halifax bombers shot down between 00:20 and 03:15; the first was claimed southwest of Cologne. One of Becker's victories was Lancaster ND535 ZN-Q, of No. 106 Squadron RAF. Pilot Officer R. Starkey and one of his crew survived, the others were killed. Another victory this night has been identified as Lancaster III ND466 (GT-Z), No. 156 Squadron RAF flown by Squadron leader P. R. Goodwin. Flying Officer W. C. Isted (DFM), E. H. J. Summers, J. V. Scrivener (RCAF) became prisoners of war. Pilot Officer C. A. Rose RAAF, Flying Officer H. C. Frost, Warrant Officer J. C. Baxter (DFM) and O. V. Gardner (DFM) were killed. Halifax III MZ504 QO-C, No. 432 Squadron RAF was also downed by Becker. Pilot Officer C. R. Narum and Sergeants W. R. Rathwell, S. Saprunoff, R. Thomson were killed and Flight Sergeants R. P. Goeson, L. E. Pigeon andt A. H. Marini were captured. Becker also shot down No. 51 Squadron RAF Halifax LV857 MH-H2 flown by Sergeant J. P. G Binder. Sergeants J. Brear, E. J. P. Monk, F. Kasher, R. H Manary, plus Flight Sergeants R. A Wilson and W. A Guy were all killed. Becker also shot down the experienced and decorated crew of Lancaster III ND640, OF-B, of No. 97 Squadron RAF flown by Flight Lieutenant L. V. Hyde DFC. Flight Lieutenant E. H. Palmer DFC, Flight Officers Craig DFC (RCAF), R. J. Weller DFM, and Pilot Officer R. Taylor DFC and Flight Sergeants M. Putt and S. Hill were all killed in action when the bomber crashed at Münchholzhausen, southeast of Wetzlar. Halifax III LK800, Al-N, of No. 429 Squadron RAF, also became a victim of Becker this night. Pilot Flying Officer J. A. Dougal was captured with four other members of the crew when it crashed at Weiler-la-Tour, southeast of Luxembourg. Two crewman, Flight Sergeants D. Findlay and R. Dawson evaded capture and went into hiding with the help of locals. The last of Becker's victories that night was Lancaster III LW555, C8-L, of No. 640 Squadron RCAF. Flying Officers C. E. O'Brien, R. D. Van Fleet and R. H. Carleton were killed. Crewman Sergeants E. Bake, E. Martin, T. C. McFadden, A. L. Wangler were also killed. Becker's tally stood at 26 after this night. After the war, Becker said of the mission, "They seemed to be lining up to be shot down. I just had to stop after the seventh one, I was sick of the killing."

Commander in NJG 6

Becker was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 1 April 1944 for 26 bombers shot down. Becker continued to fly and at 00:58 on 25 April 1944 southwest of Karlsruhe, he accounted for another Halifax. Becker was awarded the German Cross in Gold (Deutsches Kreuz in Gold) later that same day. In the early hours of 27 April, west of beacon "Christa", Becker accounted for a Lancaster at 01:30, another west of Stuttgart at 01:36 to reach 29. Twenty-four hours later, 28 April 1944, he accounted for two Lancasters and a Halifax. West of Stuttgart at 01:19 he accounted for a Lancaster for his 30th victory. Another was claimed an unknown location west of beacon "Christa" at 01:35. The last, another Lancaster, was destroyed southwest of Bremen at 01:57. On 26 July at 02:10, west of Stuttgart, Becker achieved his 34th victory over a Lancaster bomber. Becker accounted for two bombers around Luneville at 01:25 and 01:35. The last of the trio was claimed at 01:45 west of Stuttgart. Lancaster ME370, KM-R of No. 44 Squadron RAF crashed near Böblingen, west of Stuttgart. Pilot Officer William Edward Kewley RNZAF was killed along with four crewman. Two survived and were captured. It has been suggested ME370 was one of Becker's claims.

Becker was promoted to Hauptmann der Reserve (captain of the reserves) on 1 August 1944. It took over a month for Becker to add to his personal tally. On 26 August between 00:50 and 01:15 he claimed another three bombers destroyed in the Rüsselsheim am Main area. For his experience and leadership, Becker was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (group commander) of IV./NJG 6 in September 1944. That month he achieved his last victories of the year at 22:45 and 00:23 on 12 September 1944 in the Frankfurt area to achieve his 43rd victory. Becker is said to have downed Lancaster PD262, HA-G, No. 218 Squadron RAF on night of 12 September. Flight Sergeant K. C. Spiers, Flying Officer G. O. B. Sinclair, Flight Lieutenant H. T. Seller, Sergeant W. H. T. Pettman, Flying Officer W. L. Leibhardt (RAAF), Flight Sergeant H. Clarke and Pilot Officers D. W. Clarke and C. A. Black (RAAF) were all killed.

NJG 6 covered the Ruhr and frontline from Bomber Command operations. In December 1944 the German Ardennes Offensive had achieved success but was bogged down. Bomber Command attacked rail targets to disrupt the flow of supplies to the German Army and proceeded to continue its campaign against Germany. On 2/3 January 1945 Becker intercepted two Lancaster bombers over Bruchsal at 18:45 and Luxembourg at 19:32 and claimed both shot down. Lancaster PB823, BH-T, crashed at Longuyon, France, just south of Luxembourg. Squadron leader B. B. Janus of No. 300 Squadron RAF "Polish", was killed with his six crewmen. It is thought PB823 was downed by Becker. No other German pilot claimed a victory location of the crash, and only two others claimed a victory on that night.

By 1945 Germany was under the threat of invasion. On the night of 21–22 February 1945 German night fighter pilots claimed 57 or 58 British aircraft shot down and one Soviet bomber in defence of German airspace. Becker claimed another three bombers between 20:39 and 20:47 around Worms to achieve his 48th victory. British losses amounted to 34 bombers. Becker's crowning achievement, and a Nachtjagd record, was on 14/15 March 1945, when he claimed nine bombers of No. 5 Group RAF attacking Lützkendorf. Only seven other separate claims were filed on this night: one for Herbert Lütje and three for Gerhard Friedrich and three to other pilots. Becker's victims were downed between 21:53 and 23:37. The first fell near Bad Berka, the second near Apolda at 21:59, two near Naumburg at 22:05 and 22:06. Northeast of Jena at 22:15 and southwest of Heidelsheim at 23:00 a Lancaster was reported shot down at each location. West of Göppingen at 23:15 and southwest of Baiersbronn at 23:37 Becker claimed his 57th victory. Becker's last victory before the final capitulation of Germany came on the evening of 16 March 1945. West of Nuremberg, he claimed a Lancaster at 21:35. It was his 58th success. Hauptmann Martin Becker received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) on 20 March 1945, the 792nd serviceman so honoured.

Becker's tally included three shot down by crewman Karl-Ludwig Johanssen with his MG-131 rearward-facing machine gun. Martin Becker flew 110 wartime missions. As an observer he flew 27 operations and as a night fighter pilot he flew on 83 interceptions. He was officially credited with 58 aerial victories.

Summary of career

Aerial victory claims

Foreman, Parry and Matthews, authors of Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945, researched the German Federal Archives and found records for 58 victory claims, 57 nocturnal and one daytime claim. Matthews and Foreman also published Luftwaffe Aces – Biographies and Victory Claims, listing Becker with 56 claims plus one further unconfirmed claim.

Chronicle of aerial victories

  This and the ♠ (Ace of spades) indicates those aerial victories which made Becker an "ace-in-a-day", a term which designates a fighter pilot who has shot down five or more airplanes in a single day.
  This and the ! (exclamation mark) indicates aerial victories listed in Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945 but not in Luftwaffe Aces – Biographies and Victory Claims.
  This and the ? (question mark) indicates information discrepancies listed in Luftwaffe Night Fighter Claims 1939 – 1945 but not in Luftwaffe Aces – Biographies and Victory Claims.

Claim Date Time Type Location Serial No./Squadron No.
– 2. Staffel of Nachtjagdgeschwader 6 –
1! 23 September 1943 23:21 Lancaster vicinity of Speyer
2 18 November 1943 20:44 Stirling vicinity of Lampertheim
3 18 November 1943 21:05 Halifax vicinity of Rimbach
4 20 December 1943 19:50 Lancaster Bodenrod
5 20 December 1943 19:52 Halifax Weilmünster
6 20 December 1943 19:55 Halifax Hintermeilingen
7 20 February 1944 02:59 Halifax northwest of Hannover
8 20 February 1944 03:02 Halifax northeast of Hannover
9 20 February 1944 03:20 Halifax southeast of Hannover
10 20 February 1944 04:18 Lancaster Halle-Leipzig JB469/No. 49 Squadron
11 25 February 1944 21:30 Lancaster 12 km (7.5 mi) east of Lunéville
12 25 February 1944 21:49 Lancaster vivinity of Roggenbach
13♠ 22 March 1944 21:42 Halifax 10 km (6.2 mi) southeast of Hamm
14♠ 22 March 1944 21:53 Lancaster Meyrich
15♠ 22 March 1944 22:10 Halifax southeast of Frankfurt am Main
16♠ 22 March 1944 22:29 Halifax northwest of Frankfurt am Main
17♠ 22 March 1944 22:38 Halifax northwest of Frankfurt am Main
18♠ 22 March 1944 22:39 Halifax northwest of Frankfurt am Main
19 24 March 1944 22:35 Lancaster Reuden
20♠ 31 March 1944 00:20 Halifax southwest of Cologne ND466/No. 156 Squadron
21♠ 31 March 1944 00:23 Halifax southeast of Rosbach ND535/No. 106 Squadron
22♠ 31 March 1944 00:33 Halifax 5 km (3.1 mi) northeast of Bad Hönningen ND640/No. 97 Squadron
23♠ 31 March 1944 00:35 Halifax 5 km (3.1 mi) northeast of Bendorf LV857/No. 51 Squadron
24♠ 31 March 1944 00:40 Halifax 12 km (7.5 mi) west-northwest of Wetzlar LW555/No. 640 Squadron
25♠ 31 March 1944 00:50 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Alsfeld MZ504/No. 432 Squadron
26♠ 31 March 1944 03:15 Halifax northwest of Kettenburg LK800/No. 429 Squadron
27 25 April 1944 00:58 Halifax southwest of Karlsruhe
28 27 April 1944 01:30 Viermot Beacon "Christa"
29 27 April 1944 01:36 Lancaster west of Stuttgart
30? 28 April 1944 01:19 Lancaster west of Stuttgart
31 28 April 1944 01:35 Halifax vicinity of beacon "Christa"
32 28 April 1944 01:57 Lancaster vicinity of beacon "Christa"
33 28 April 1944 02:19 Halifax 30–50 km (19–31 mi) west of Friedrichshafen
34 26 July 1944 02:10 Lancaster west of Stuttgart
35 29 July 1944 01:25 Lancaster north of Lunéville
36 29 July 1944 01:35 Lancaster northeast of Lunéville
37 29 July 1944 01:45 Lancaster west of Stuttgart
38 29 July 1944 02:04 Lancaster Wissembourg
39 26 August 1944 00:50 Lancaster northwest of Rüsselsheim
40 26 August 1944 01:08 Lancaster west-southwest of Rüsselsheim
41 26 August 1944 01:15 Halifax west of Rüsselsheim
42 12 September 1944 22:45 Lancaster southwest of Frankfurt am Main
43 12 September 1944 22:53 Lancaster south-southwest of Frankfurt am Main
– IV. Gruppe of Nachtjagdgeschwader 6 –
44 2 January 1945 18:45 Lancaster Bruchsal
45 2 January 1945 19:32 Lancaster Luxembourg
46 21 February 1945 20:39 Halifax southwest of Worms
47 21 February 1945 20:42 Lancaster northwest of Worms
48 21 February 1945 20:47 Halifax northwest of Worms
49♠ 14 March 1945 21:53 Lancaster Bad Berka
50♠ 14 March 1945 21:59 Lancaster 2 km (1.2 mi) northeast of Apolda
51♠ 14 March 1945 22:03 Lancaster Naumburg
52♠ 14 March 1945 22:05 Lancaster 3 km (1.9 mi) south of Naumburg
53♠ 14 March 1945 22:06 Lancaster 5 km (3.1 mi) south of Naumburg
54♠ 14 March 1945 22:15 Lancaster 10 km (6.2 mi) northeast of Jena
55♠ 14 March 1945 23:00 Lancaster 8 km (5.0 mi) southwest of Heidelsheim
56♠ 14 March 1945 23:15 Lancaster 3 km (1.9 mi) west of Göppingen
57♠ 14 March 1945 23:37 B-17 5 km (3.1 mi) southeast of Baiersbronn
58 16 March 1945 21:35 Lancaster 30–50 km (19–31 mi) west of Nürnberg


  • Iron Cross (1939)
    • 2nd Class (15 June 1940)
    • 1st Class (19 July 1940)
  • Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe on 15 May 1944 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän
  • German Cross in Gold on 25 May 1944 as Oberleutnant in the 2./Nachtjagdgeschwader 6
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
    • Knight's Cross on 1 April 1944 as Oberleutnant and pilot in the IV./Nachtjagdgeschwader 6
    • 792nd Oak Leaves on 20 March 1945 as Hauptmann and Gruppenkommandeur of the IV./Nachtjagdgeschwader 6
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 24 Apr 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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