• Kagohl3 War Diary •
• Notable Personnel •
Ernst Wilhelm Arnold von Höppner
Ernst Wilhelm Arnold Höppner was born in Tonnin, on the Baltic island of Wollin in the Province of Pomerania, on 14 January 1860. The son of an army major, he entered the Kadettenanstalt at Potsdam in 1872, and later the Hauptkadettenanstalt. In 1879 he was commissioned as a Sekondeleutnant in the Magdeburgische Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 6 at Stendal, and later attended the riding school in Hannover.
After attending the Kriegsakademie from 1889 to 1892, he worked first as a staff officer with the 39. Division at Colmar in Alsace before, in 1893, working for a short time with the General Staff. In 1898 Höppner became the Rittmeister of a squadron of the 14. Kurmark Dragoons. After that, he became a General Staff officer with the 29. Division at Freiburg, and later with the 39. Division at Colmar. In 1899 he was assigned once again to the General Staff, and in 1903 was promoted to Major. He was appointed as a staff officer with the IX. Armee-Korps at Altona in 1904 and, in 1906. took over as a Oberstleutnant in command of the 1. Kurhessische Husaren-Regiment ‘König Humbert von Italien’ Nr. 13 at Diedenhofen (Thionville).
In 1908 he was transferred as Chief of Staff to the VII. Armee-Korps, and in 1909 was promoted to Oberst. He was made commander of 4. Kavallerie-Brigade at Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) after being promoted to Generalmajor and, on 16 June 1913, was raised to the nobility by Kaiser Wilhelm II in recognition of his achievements as a staff officer and brigade commander. At the start of World War I von Höppner was Chief of Staff at the 3. Armee headquarters under General Max von Hausen, and later under General Karl von Einem. He remained in that post until 14 February 1915, when he took command of the 17. Reserve-Division. Later that year he was appointed Chief of Staff of the 2. Armee, and in April 1916 became the commander of the 75th Reserve Division. In October 1916, General Ludendorff decided that the German Air Service needed greater unity of command with a general officer having authority over all the Army's aerial combat and anti-aircraft units both in the field and at home. On November 12 1916 Ludendorff appointed von Höppner as the new air commander and it was at that time that the Fliegertruppe (Air Service) was renamed the Luftstreitkräfte. He was given the title of Kommandierender General der Luftstreitkräfte (Commanding General of the Air Service - usually abbreviated to Kogenluft), holding the rank of Generalleutnant. He was then directly responsible to Hindenburg at the Supreme Army Command. He immediately reorganized the fragmented air services, and priority was given to the development of strategies for massed air attacks. His contribution to the development of the Luftstreitkräfte was recognized on 8 April 1917 when von Höppner was awarded the Order Pour le Mérite, which he received together with his Chief of Staff Oberstleutnant Colonel Hermann Thomsen. However, as a senior commander he had not been directly involved in air combat, and consequently the award was resented by some of his junior officers. After the war the Luftstreitkräfte was disbanded, and although von Höppner’s post was abolished on 16 January 1919, he appears to have continued as Commanding General for a few more days, as his final order to his Luftstreitkräfte personnel was not issued until 21 January. On 10 April 1919 he took command of the XVIII. Armee-Korps, but resigned from active service at his own request at the end of November 1919, retiring as General der Kavallerie with permission to wear the uniform of the 13. Husaren-Regiment. He then returned to his estate at Groß-Mokratz (now Mokrzyca Wielka) on the island of Wollin where he wrote his memoirs, and in 1921 he published ‘Deutschlands Krieg in der Luft’, a study of the German Air Service from 1914 to 1918. On 26 September 1922 von Hoeppner died of Spanish Influenza at the age of 62, and was buried in his birthplace at Tonnin.
Ernst Bruno Brandenburg (1883 to 1952)
Ernst Bruno Brandenburg was born in Sophienfeld (now Borzyslawice), in the Province of Posen, on 4 June 1883. After completing his schooling he embarked on a military career and on 18 August 1903 was granted a commission in the Prussian Army, becoming a Leutnant in the 6. Westpreussischen Infanterie Regiment Nr.149, where he acted as a battalion adjutant. On 18 August 1912 Brandenburg was promoted to Oberleutnant and appointed regimental adjutant, a position he still held when war began in August 1914. He subsequently fought in the battles of the Marne and Ypres, and on 28 November 1914 was promoted to Hauptmann. However, Brandenburg received a severe wound the following year while serving in the trenches.
After his recovery, like so many other soldiers no longer fit to return to the front line, he transferred to the army's air service. He began his training in November 1915, and adapted well to his new role as an observer flying in two-seater aircraft over the front line. For his efforts Brandenburg received both classes of the Eisernen Kreuz (Iron Cross) before, in January 1917, being awarded the Ritterkreuz des Königlichen Hausordens von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern (Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords).
Brandenburg’s abilities as an organizer and administrator also shone through, quickly bringing him to the attention of his superiors. Consequently, following his appointment as ‘Kogenluft’ in late 1916, Generalleutnant von Höppner personally selected him to command the bomber unit that was to provide the nucleus of a formation to be created to undertake the bombing of England. Brandenburg took up his new command on 5 March 1917, and immediately started an intensive training programme for the crews selected for the purpose, insisting that all aircraft allocated to what was to become Kagohl 3, were test-flown for at least 25 hours, and that his crews all carried out 20 landings, half in daylight and half after dark.
Raids on England began on 25 May 1917, and the success of the attack on London on 13 June so delighted Kaiser Wilhelm II that he commanded Hauptmann Brandenburg to fly to his supreme headquarters at Bad Kreuznach where, on 14 June, he was presented with the Pour le Mérite, better known as the ‘Blue Max’, the German Empire's highest military award. Unfortunately, on 19 June, at the start of the return flight his aeroplane crashed, killing the pilot and injuring Brandenburg so severely that one of his legs had to be amputated. Nevertheless while in hospital Brandenburg married one of his nurses.
As a result of the accident, on 23 June command of Kagohl 3 passed to Hauptmann Rudolf Kleine, who retained it until he was killed in action on 12 December 1917. Kagohl 3 was then placed temporarily in the hands of Oberleutnant Richard Walter before, on 18 February 1918, Hauptmann Ernst Brandenburg, complete with new artificial leg, had recovered sufficiently from his injuries to resume command of Bogohl 3 as Kagohl 3 had been re-titled, a position he held until the end of the war. During the time of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich Brandenburg was a senior official in the German Ministry of Transport and, from 1924 to 1933, he served as head of the aviation department in that organization. In this capacity he represented German interests at the Paris Air Agreement of May 1926, and in the same year participated in the foundation of Lufthansa. During 1932 and 1933 Brandenburg participated in the Conference on Disarmament at Geneva as an expert on aviation issues. Around the same time he was also awarded an honorary doctorate of engineering for his services in the promotion of aviation development. From 1933 until 1942 Brandenburg served as head of Department K (a section responsible for motor vehicles and highway), and from 1935 as Assistant Secretary of State at the Ministry of Transport. Although appointed to the military rank of Oberst on 27 August 1939, in 1942 he was charged with ‘political unreliability’, and relieved of all his offices. In 1948 Brandenburg served as an advisor to the German Parliamentary Council, and in 1950 made his last public appearance when he acted as a prosecution witness at the trial of former SS members Kurt Gildisch, who had been charged with the murder in 1934 of the Minister of Transport Erich Klausener. Brandenburg passed away at Bonn on 1 July 1952 and was buried in the city’s Südfriedhof, but shortly before his death he had been awarded the Große Verdienstkreuz des Verdienstordens der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany).
Rudolf Kleine (1886 to 1917)
Rudolf Kleine was born in Minden, in the Province of Westphalen, on the 26 August 1886. He was the son of a military man, a Hauptmann serving with Infanterie Regiment Nr.15. Following in his father’s footsteps, Kleine joined the army and initially served in the cadets corps. On 14 June 1905 he was commissioned Leutnant in Infanterie Regiment Nr.65, later becoming a battalion adjutant. After three years in that post, in 1913 he was sent to the Herzog Carl Eduard Fliegerschule at Gotha where, just prior to the outbreak of war, he obtained his pilot’s license.
On 2 August 1914, Kleine arrived at Feldflieger Abteilung Nr.9 (FFA 9), which had been formed the day before at Cologne, and it appears that he became one of the first airmen to make contact with the enemy while flying reconnaissance missions over Liege from an airfield at Aachen. Promotion to Oberleutnant followed, but in October 1914 Kleine was wounded in the arm, admitted to hospital, and awarded the Eisernen Kreuz 1. Klasse (Iron Cross 1st Class). He left hospital in December, after which he spent a short time with Fliegerersatz-Abteilung Nr.5 (FEA 5) at Hannover to work back up to operational status before, in February 1915, returning to FFA 9 and being promoted to Hauptmann in July.
On 13 December 1915 Kleine left FFA 9 to join Kampfgeschwader der Obersten Heeresleitung Nr.1 (Kagohl 1) a bomber unit, where he acted as a Staffelführer until August 1916 when he was appointed officer commanding FFA 53. While serving with that unit he was awarded the Königlichen Hausorden von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern (Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords), mainly because he had been the first one to see the massive enemy troop concentrating for the campaign to be launched in the Champagne area. On 5 January 1917 FFA 53 was re-titled Fl.Abt. 272(A), and Kleine remained its commanding officer until March when he was appointed Gruppenführer der Flieger 1 (Grufl 1), the senior air officer at the Army Corps Headquarters at Rheims. It was his duty to arrange the employment of the Feldflieger Abteilungen allotted to his Corps Headquarters in the best tactical way that he thought fit.
However, on 19 June, Hauptmann Ernst Brandenburg, the officer commanding Kagohl 3, was so severely injured in a flying accident that a replacement was required urgently. Hauptmann Kleine was the first choice, as he had already impressed his superiors with his drive and dedication while acting as a Staffelführer in Kagohl 1. Consequently, he was officially appointed commander of Kagohl 3 on 23 June 1917.
On 4 October Kleine was awarded the Pour le Mérite for outstanding leadership, distinguished military planning, and the successful operations carried out by Kagohl 3. The award was given in particular recognition of the fact that he had led six raids on London between 24 September and 2 October, as well as organizing those against Harwich, Dover, Chatham and Sheerness and the French city of Calais. Unfortunately, on 12 December 1917 Hauptmann Rudolf Kleine was killed in action while piloting a Gotha bomber brought down north of Frelinghien, near Armentières on the Franco/Belgian border, following operations against enemy camps near Ypres. His body currently rests in the Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof at Vladslo in Belgium, Grave 5/1004.
Martin Gerlich (1892 to 1920)
Martin Gerlich was born on 28 October 1892, and initially served as a Leutnant in the Grenadier-Regiment Kronprinz (1.Ostpreußisches). Following the outbreak of World War One he transferred to the army's air service where he trained as an observer, and went on to be known to his comrades as "Spatz". By February 1916 Gerlich was serving with Kasta 4 in Kagohl 1, but by July 1916 had transferred to the unit’s Kasta 2, with which he was credited with four victories. Finally, by August 1917, and as an Oberleutnant, he was acting as Kagohl 3’s adjutant. During the war he was depicted on one of the Sanke series of postcards (Nr.388), photographed indoors and wearing a 1914 pattern Iron Cross 1st Class and a Prussian Army aerial observer badge. By the end of hostilities Gerlich had been promoted to Hauptmann, and later became an Abteilungsleiter in the Republikanischen Sicherheitswehr, which had been set up by the Reichswehrministerium in August 1919 as a militarised police force to take action during times of riots or strikes. Martin Gerlich died on 26 February 1920, and his grave is in the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin (location II/15/17).
Richard von Bentivegni (1887 to 1946)
Richard von Bentivegni was born in Rendsburg, in the Province of Schleswig-Holstein, on 20 August 1887. He joined the army in March 1905 and went on to serve in the 8. Thuringisches Infanterie Regiment Nr.153. In August 1906, two days before his 17th birthday, he was promoted to Leutnant and remained with his regiment until he volunteered to join the Schutztruppe in German East Africa in 1911. He returned to his regiment at the beginning of August 1914 and became a company commander before, in November 1914, being promoted to Oberleutnant while serving on the Western Front.
However, in September 1915, von Bentivegni transferred to the army's air service and was posted to Flieger Ersatz Abteilung 9 (FEA 9) at Darmstadt where he trained as an observer. Then, in December 1915, he was assigned to Armeeflugpark 13 on the Eastern Front to await an active appointment. As a result, in January 1916 he joined Feldflieger Abteilung 28 (FFA 28), again serving on the Eastern Front. Two months later he was promoted to Hauptmann and then, in September 1915, transferred to the Reisenflugzeugersatz-Abteilung (Rea) at Döberitz near Berlin to train on the giant R-type aircraft. Finally, in October 1916, he was ordered to proceed to the Riesenflugzeug-Abteilung (Rfa) 501 on the Eastern Front, prior to becoming commander of the unit the following month. In July 1917 Rfa 501 relocated to Berlin where it trained on the new Staaken R.VI 'Giant' before arriving in Belgium in September 1917 to take part in the air assault on London.
To begin with things went well, and through his performance von Bentivegni was well on the way to earning the Pour le Mérite, but all that changed on the night of 9/10 May 1918. Rfa 501 had dispatched four aircraft to attack Dover, but due to the weather French coastal towns of Calais and Dunkirk were bombed as alternatives. However, while returning, ground fog with zero visibility conditions at the unit’s airfield was reported by radio, but some of the crews ignored the command to divert and land at other bases. The results were disastrous as there were at least three crashes resulting in fatalities and wrecked aircraft due to the ignoring of the order to divert elsewhere. This failure to obey a direct order ruined any chances that von Bentivegni had of being awarded the German Empire's highest military award.
On 23 October 1918 Rfa 500 merged with Rfa 501, and von Bentivegni moved to Morville to lead the combined formation, although several un-serviceable R-planes were left behind in the Gent area. Rfa 501 was finally demobilized at Düsseldorf in early 1919, after which von Bentivegni became a journalist, and a manager at Siemens, Schultheiß and Portland Cement. He married Eliane von Brandis in 1928, and the couple had two children.
Richard von Bentivegni was recalled to the military in 1939 and assigned to the Luftwaffe, serving throughout 1940 with the Fl.H.Kdtr. at Kolberg. On 10 February 1941 he was transferred to the Fl.H.Kdtr at Furstenwalde (Führerreserve), and on 29 April 1941 to the Stab of Luftgau Kommando II as Sachbearbeiter bei Quartiermeister 1. On 1 January 1942 he was promoted to Maj.d.Reserve before, on the 27th, being assigned to the Luftwaffenplanstelle bei Rohstoffstammabteilung des Wi.Ru.Amts in the OKW for employment as Sachverstandiger.
By 21 November 1943 von Bentivegni was an Oberst, serving in the Amt Ausland Abwehr III/OKW, while on 8 February he was transferred to the RLM Gen.Qu 6. Abt., followed on 12 June 1944 by a move to Fl.Ers.Btl. IV, and on 4 September to the Lw.Festungs-Btl. XIII. Finally, on 27 November 1944, he was released from active service only to be taken into Russian captivity in the summer of 1945. As a result, in January 1946, Oberst Richard von Bentivegni died aged 58 at Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia in the USSR.