HANS-JOACHIM MARSEILLE PRESENTATION ITALIAN WINGS WITH DIAMONDS
HANS-JOACHIM MARSEILLE (1920-1942) 'The Star of Africa', a German ace serving principally in North Africa, Marseille had 158 kills in 482 sorties. Marseille was awarded a Knights Cross with Diamonds, and he was rated by fellow ace Adolf Galland as the war's best pilot. Marseille claimed all but seven of his 158 victories against the British Commonwealth's Desert Air Force over North Africa, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter for his entire combat career. No other pilot claimed as many Western Allied aircraft as Marseille. Marseille was killed bringing in his crippled Me-109l when his body struck the rudder of his aircraft and plunged to earth. Offered her is an important, evocative relic from Marseille's distinguished career, a set of unique, gold presentation Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica Italiana) wings with diamonds, presented to Marseille in recognition of his receiving the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross of the Iron Cross. The wings measure 2 15/16 in. wide, presenting an Art Deco left-facing eagle clutching fasces in its talons. The eagle is surmounted by a crown, unique in this case as the crown is set with 17 diamonds positioned in the frame of the crown. The Italians did not have any similar cross among their awards. The wings are period engraved on the reverse: 'H. J. Marseille 6.6.42', the date corresponding to the day Marseille was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross. The pin on the reverse is secured using a push-type lock, and the piece is purity stamped '800'. The consignor of this piece is the same as the Hermann Goring presentation ring given to Marseille, offered elsewhere in this sale, and he obtained this pin at the same time as the ring. The ring was mentioned in the Spring, 1991 edition of 'The Military Advisor' magazine. The article states that following the brave pilot's death, a Luftwaffe officer helped recover Marseille's body. It continues: 'The same officer also took the Knight's Cross and Diamonds, as well as the Reichsmarschall's presentation ring. Planning to give these pieces to Marseille's commanding officer, he found himself transferred before he had the opportunity to do so...' That officer was likely Ludwig Franzisket (1917-1988), also an ace who was tasked with recovering Marseille's body. The wings are sold with two original 5 x 7 in. post mortem photographs of Marseille. One image shows the pilot's body upon a blanket in the desert, immediately after it was recovered. The second image shows an honor guard of four armed soldiers standing watch over Marseille's body, which lies on a cot beneath a tent in the desert, covered by a German flag and with two stands of arms in the background. This important relic is also sold with copies of the Military Advisor article mentioned above, and a copy photograph of Marseille apparently wearing these wings and his Oak Leaves, probably at the time they were presented to him. A unique set of historically important wings!