Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery
The Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery lies in Staffordshire, United Kingdom near the Commonwealth Cemetery and Katyn Massacre Memorial.
The cemetery contains 4929 burials from both World Wars. There are 2143 burials from the First World War with 5 unknown soldiers and 2786 burials from the Second World War with 90 unknown soldiers.
The deceased are mostly German and Austrian but there are some Ukrainians at the cemetery. The cemetery was established in 1959, over the years most German Soldiers on English soil are reburied here, but just over a 1000 Germans are still buried elsewhere in the United Kingdom like the Germans graves in Guernsey. They are mostly airmen, prisoners of war or Kriegsmarine personnel.
A small part near the entrance is dedicated to four Zeppelin crews from World War One.
The cemetery has some notable officers and soldiers;
Field Marshal Ernst Busch
Generalfeldmarchall Ernst Busch commanded the VIII Army Group in 1939 during the invasion of Poland, he commanded 16th Army during the Battle of France, Fall Red, on the left flank of Heinz Guderian and fought with Army Group North and Centre in the Soviet Union. He did not always made the right tactical choices. He surrendered to Field Marshall Bernhard Montgomery on 4 May 1945 and died in captivity on July the 17th in 1945. He was buried without ceremony at Aldershot Military cemetery and reburied at Cannock Chase German War Cemetery.
Luftwaffe Ace Lieutenant Hans Hahn
Hans Hahn was a Night fighter Luftwaffe Ace with 10 confirmed nighttime victories. He claimed to have downed 12 planes. As Lieutenant and pilot in the I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 2. He was the first to receive the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 9 July 1941. Five times the returned to his base Gilzen-Rijen in the Netherlands on one engine and on one occasion came back with a balloon cable caught on the Junker 88’s wing.
On the night of 11 to 12 October 1941 his Ju 88 collided with a RAF Oxford trainer aircraft and crashed near Grantham in England, killing Hans Hahn and his crew.
Waffen SS General Maximilian von Herf
During World War Two Maximilian Karl Otto von Herff commanded Kampfgruppe von Herff in the Deutsches Afrika Korps led by Field marshal Erwin Rommel in North Afrika. He was awarded with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross in June 1941.
At the suggestion of Heinrich Himmler he transferred towards the Waffen SS and served from October 1941 to the end of the war 8 May 1945 as chief of the SS Personnel Main Office. He dealt with internal and financial SS matters. and knew about the final solution. On 20 April 1944 he was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer, a SS general . Maximilian von Herff was taken prisoner by British forces at the end of the War and was send to England, to Grizedale Hall POW camp. He suffered a stroke and died at nearby Conishead Priory Military Hospital. General von Herff was reburied at Cannock Chase.
Luftwaffe Pilot Oberst Alois Stöckl
Alois Stöckl (Stoeckl) was a German pilot who commanded the 55th Bomber Wing of the Luftwaffe and a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. He was an Oberst, a Colonel. He was killed after a successful attack on his Heinkel He 111 by British Spitfires on the 14th of August 1940. He was shot down by pilot John Dundas DFC during the Battle of Britain.
Luftwaffe Weather Observer Leo Gburek
A German geophysicist who took part in the third German Artic expedition in 1938/1938. He served as a weather observer in the Luftwaffe in weather reconnaissance squadron Wekusta 1 / Ob.dL Wettererkundungsstaffeln, abbreviation Wekusta or Westa, are flying units of the Luftwaffe used for weather reconnaissance. Their primary task was to collect weather data in areas that only aircraft could penetrate. The Wekusta Heinkel He 111 was shot down by RAF Hurricanes over the Fair Isle Shetlands on 17 January 1940 and made an emergency landing. Two of a crew of five were killed, Leo Gburek was one of them.
Zeppelin Commander Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy
During World War one Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Mathy commander the LZ 72 Super Zeppelin. The navy designation was L31. Matty was an experienced Zeppelin Commander who took part in several air raids on London. On 8 September 1915 Mathy ordered to drops bombs and received a direct hit in the Dolphin Tavern in London, killing three men. Today you can still see the clock in the tavern with its hands frozen in time at 10:40, the time of the attack.
On 1 October 1916 the L31 was caught in searchlights and anti-aircraft fire north of London. It was spotted by RAF pilot Wulstan J. Tempest who set the zeppelin ablaze with incendiary rounds. The Zeppelins crews lacked parachutes so they could either stay in the burning Zeppelin or jump out and hope for the best. Heinrich and his crew of 18 jumped.
The indentation on the grass made by Heinrich Mathy’s body after hitting the ground seems to be a genuine photo made after the incident. Heinrich Mathy and his crew are reburied at Cannock Chase next to other Zeppelin crews.
Flying Ace and Luftwaffe Pilot Major Karl Ritscherle
Major Karl Waldemar Ritscherle was a World War One Ace flying for the German Empire. He was credited for 8 aerial victories. He joined the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. During the Battle for Britain, on 25 October 1940, his Heinkel He 111 was shot down by the RAF. Karl bailed out but unfortunately landed in the Essex Waterworks and drowned. He is buried with the aircraft’s gunner Erich Salomo.
U-boat Commander Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky
Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky joined the Kriegsmarine in 1929. He commanded the small Type IIA U-boat U-4 in the interbellum from 1937 to 1938 before he was transferred to the U-33. This was an early Type VII U-boat, a Type VII-A. During his first two patrols Commander von Dresky and his crew of 39 sank 10 small ships and took one out of commission beyond repair (total 22.931 tons).
A daring mission was ordered for the third patrol. The U-33 had to lay mines near the Firth of Clyde on the Scottish west coast, the location of a British Naval base. Upon arrival Kapitänleutnant Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky mistook the British minesweeper HMS Gleaner for a cruiser and saw no immediate danger. He dove with the idea the cruiser would pass them and head to open waters but was welcomed with depth charges instead. The U-33 was severely damaged and rested at the bottom of Firth of Clyde at 36 meters deep. After an hour or two, and several batches of depth charges the order was given to surface, the crew should leave the U-boat and scuttle it. Enigma wheel were distributed to three men and told to throw them into the sea on different locations.
The crew left the boat in freezing cold water and 25 men died of shock due to immersion and hypothermia, including their Commander Hans-Wilhelm von Dresky. Only 17 men survived, one who forgot to throw away his Enigma cipher wheels which played a crucial part in the code breaking of the Kriegsmarine.
The Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery is free to visit during daytime,