Our friend Chris Boonzaier sent in a mission anecdote by Heribert Koller. A few grammatical changes were made by me, but the majority of the report has been left untouched.
My mission on the 18 Jun 1944 was to fly my FW190 "Black 12" from our base in Immola to Petseri in Estonia for repairs. I was going to stop in Helsinki to refuel. Upon reaching an altitude of 2000m I noticed a lone IL-2 attacking a passenger or cargo ship. I changed direction and after a few minutes was in a position to suprise him from behind. After my first burst the gunner thought it better to jump out of the plane. He must have pulled his rip cord before he actually jumped as his chute caught in the tail of the aeroplane. I followed watching with interest as the pilot turned south towards his base in Lavansaari trailing the gunner behind him.
After a while the pilot did a sharp turn to free the gunner who then landed safely on a small island in Finnish territory.
I followed the IL2 who was now trying to escape with increased speed and downed him with one burst. He dropped straight into the sea at 9:20 not managing to leave his plane. This was not a recognized victory.
The continuation to Helsinki became difficult because of terrible weather conditions and as I approched Helsinki the clouds/fog were almost at ground level. While I knew where the landing ground was, I managed to get myself in position to land by staying low enough to see the ground. In a wide curve I accidently gained height and lost sight of the ground. I did not dare to try get under the clouds as they were so low and flying eastwards I tried to gain height using the artificial horizon. As I reached 1200m of altitude, I found myself hanging in the straps and rapidly began to loose height. It suddenly became bright and I saw the green ocean below me. I righted myself and gained height in the hope of getting above the clouds, unfortuantely the same thing happened again. At 700m, I dove straight down and this time something dark came towards me. I recognized it as a cliff and brushed through the top of a tree. Somehow I managed to gain height again and as I knew there was no water below I jumped out at 300m.
I was happy when heard "Black 12" hit the ground, and I landed right next to the airfield. The aircraft was burning about 100m away and the fire brigade arrived a few minutes later to tackle the blaze.
It was an eventful flight and I owe my life to God and fate. If it was not for the faulty artificial horizon, the landing would have succeeded.
On a side note, the JG 54 loss listing that can be obtained from this website does not list Koller's "Black 12" as being lost on this date. The only listing involving Koller is on 25 Mar 44 in which his Fw 190A-4 "Black 4" is listed as 100% total loss due to mechanical malfunctions.
In addition, Chris also sent in a listing of Koller's victory claims. Enjoy this rare treat.