[Adolf Galland shaking hands with Peter Ledger]

Peter Ledger shakes hands with Adolf Galland

Peter had a particular deep interest, since he was a boy, in the German planes of WWII, most especially the amazing jet aircraft developed during the war. In April of 1989, Peter and I travelled to Bonn, Germany, where we had the pleasure of meeting Adolf Galland, one of Peter's childhood heroes.

Galland was a dashing pilot who became one of Germany's great aces. He was a loyal warrior, a gentleman, a man of honor highly respected during and after the war. He was highly decorated, yet he dared to defy Hitler and Göring. To learn the details of his life, read Galland's autobiography, The First and the Last. And read this interesting interview with Adolf Galland, done before Galland's death on 9 Feb. 96.

He flew the first jet fighter, the Messerschmitt 262, sometimes known as the Stormbird. Our purpose in making the trip was to have Gen. Galland sign Peter's Limited Edition print of a Me262. You can see the print lying on the table in the photo. It took two days for Peter and Dolfo to sign the 500 prints.

He was still a charming rogue when I met him. He held my hand longer than he needed to as he made us both welcome in his home. I brought a pot of violets for his lovely wife, Heidi. She served us a delicious meal of tomato soup, and Adolf showed us vintage WWII news reels from his private collection.

His home was a war museum of his exploits, full of fascinating memorabilia. He had the two famous portraits made of him during the war. In the first, he posed with a cigar in his hand. He was so fond of cigars, he actually had a special cigar holder fitted in one of his planes. Hitler so disliked smoking, he ordered the portrait to be painted a second time, exactly the same as the first...but without the cigar!

Galland still had his authoritarian ways. He wasn't suited to being a co-pilot. Peter drove us from Galland's office to his home, having to cope with the foreign city and traffic, while Dolfo shouted terse commands until Peter was a nervous wreck. We missed being totalled by a streetcar by mere centimetres, and Galland ribbed Peter about it all day.

Though I had never heard of Adolf Galland before I married Peter, I'm happy to have met him and have these memories of him.

[Peter Ledger, Heidi Galland, Christy Marx and Adolf Galland]

From left to right: Peter Ledger, Heidi Galland, Christy Marx, Adolf Galland. Photo taken by Julian Ledger, in Oberwinter, April of 1989.

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© Christy Marx