Not a happy new year
Gert Gäbel was a seasoned pilot of the 3rd group of JG 27 (‘Jagdgeschwader’, fighter aircraft squadron). On 1 January 1945 he was actually one of the few experienced pilots left. During his career he managed to take down three opponents. He flew with Luftwaffe aces such as Adolf Galland, who was more or less the Red Baron of World War II.
Photo: Pilot Gert Gäbel
Gäbel was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and killed instantly, according to the authors of the book ‘Operation Bodenplatte; the Luftwaffe's last hope’. Other sources (such as a list on Wikipedia) claim that Gäbel was shot down by a Spitfire during Operation Bodenplatte following an attack on Brussels, where his squadron did heavy damage to American reconnaissance planes and bombers.
Gäbel flew a Messerschmidt Bf 109 K-4, the aircraft’s latest model, and was one of 15 members of JG 27 who lost their lives during Bodenplatte. He crashed in the vicinity of the duck decoy in Hedel.
Until 1957 he was buried in Kerkwijk, after which he was reburied at the expansive German cemetery in Ysselsteyn. In 1958 Gäbel's body was transferred to Bad Brückenau, a town 130 kilometres east of Frankfurt am Main, at his brother’s request.