1 February 1914|
24 February 1943 29) (aged|
Gilze en Rijen, Netherlands
Ysselsteyn German war cemetery, Netherlands|
(Block M-row 4-grave 81)
|Years of service||1933–43|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Paul Gildner (1 February 1914 – 24 February 1943) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Gildner claimed 48 aerial victories, 46 of them at night, 8 of which were four engined heavy bombers.
Born on 1 February 1914, in Nimptsch (Silesia), Gildner was already serving as a Oberfeldwebel pilot with Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1) when war began in September 1939, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110. Gildner flew intensively during the European campaign in May–June 1940, and also flew missions during early stages of the Battle of Britain.
In August 1940, Gildner, after training in night flying, was transferred to 4. /Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1). After his first claim on 3 September 1940, he would score regularly and on 9 July 1941, after his 14th claim, Oberfeldwebel Gildner was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Through 1942, Gildner (now commissioned to Leutnant), continued his series of claims, making him one of the highest scoring Luftwaffe night fighter pilots at the time.
Gildner died in the crash of Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 (Werksnummer 4846—factory number) following engine failure and fire near Gilze en Rijen in the Netherlands in the night of 24/25 February 1943. His radio operator Unteroffizier Huhn managed to escape and bailed out with his parachute.
On 26 February 1943, Gildner was awarded posthumously, with the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross.
- Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe
- Front Flying Clasp of the Luftwaffe
- Iron Cross (1939)
- 2nd Class
- 1st Class
- German Cross in Gold on 18 May 1942 as Oberfeldwebel in the 5./NJG 2
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Knight's Cross on 9 July 1941 as Oberfeldwebel and pilot in the 3./NJG 1
- 196th Oak Leaves on 26 February 1943 as Oberleutnant and pilot in the 3./NJG 1
- Mentioned four times in the Wehrmachtbericht (19 June 1941, 13 March 1942, 27 March 1942 and 23 April 1942)
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- MacLean, French L (2007). Luftwaffe Efficiency & Promotion Reports: For the Knight's Cross Winners. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military History. ISBN 978-0-7643-2657-8.
- Obermaier, Ernst (1989). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe Jagdflieger 1939 – 1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force 1939 – 1945] (in German). Mainz, Germany: Verlag Dieter Hoffmann. ISBN 978-3-87341-065-7.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.