Bavaria – Sanke Card – Oberleutnant Eduard Ritter Von Schleich – Autographed – NR 378
Eduard Ritter von Schleich (1888-1947) was one of the leading aces of the Imperial German Air Service and a top ace amongst Bavarian pilots.
He began the war in a Bavarian infantry regiment and after suffering serious wounds in August 1914 like many men of the time he applied for pilot training. After commanding a Flight School, he was posted to Jasta 21 and was its commanding officer. After a redesignation Jasta 21 became a Saxon squadron and he was transferred to Jasta 32 in October 1917 and became its commanding officer. Later in the war he would command a Bavarian Jagdgruppe which was similar to a Jagdstaffel and consisted of four Bavarian Jastas.
He would be awarded the Orden Pour le Mérite in December 1917. Due to political considerations and not being a Prussian he was never awarded the Knights Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order (KCHHO) which was typically awarded prior to the PLM. This was quite unusual and to my knowledge he was the only pilot not receiving the KCHHO but being awarded the PLM. He flew a variety of Albatros D. V aircraft and with the death of a close friend flew an all black airplane which included the Bavarian rampant Lion. He would become known as the “Black Knight of Germany.”
After the war still suffering from ill health he held a number of positions. With the establishment of the Luftwaffe in the mid 1930’s his old comrade and fellow Bavarian Hermann Göring convincing him, he joined the Luftwaffe. During WW II he commanded German Luftwaffe ground forces in Denmark and Norway. Still suffering from ill health he retired in 1944 with the rank of Generalleutnant. After the war he was held captive by the British for alleged war crimes which were never proven. He died in 1947 while still in captivity.
This Sanke card Nr. 378 is the earliest card of him. He is wearing an overcoat with fur collar and the ribbon of the 1914 Iron Cross 2nd Class along with a visor cap. It is likely that he had not yet been awarded the PLM. The card is boldly signed in black ink “Oblt. Schleich.”
The card is in excellent condition and has never been mailed.