Erbo Graf von Kageneck (April 2, 1918 - January 12, 1942) was born in Bonn, one of four sons of Generalmajor Karl Graf von Kageneck and Freiin Maria von Schorlemer, daughter of Clemens Freiherr von Schorlemer, an Imperial Secretary of Agriculture.
After passing his Abitur in 1936, Kageneck immediately joined the German air force, the Luftwaffe. At the outbreak of World War II, he served with Jagdgeschwader 1 and flew his first missions of war during the invasion of Poland. Kageneck scored his first victory during the first days of the Blitzkrieg in the Netherlands and soon claimed 4 kills in the skies of Western Europe. He claimed a further nine victories during the Battle of Britain and on September 18, 1940, he was appointed Staffelkapitän of Staffel 9, Jagdgeschwader 27. Kageneck also gained four vicories over Hawker Hurricanes during his spell supporting the offensive against Malta.
In 1941, during the invasion of the Soviet Union, JG 27 was tasked with neutralising the Soviet air force. Kageneck shot down more than 20 Soviet aircraft in less than four weeks. For that he was awarded the Knight’s Cross on July 30, 1941 and also was promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant). By October 1941, Kageneck had recorded 48 Soviet victories and — with his total now at 65 — was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight’s Cross (Nr. 39) on October 26, 1941.
In December 1941, Kageneck was transferred back to the Mediterranean theatre with Staffel 3, JG 27 and gained his last two victories against British Commonwealth fighters over the deserts of North Africa.
On December 24, Kageneck was seriously wounded in combat with several DAF Tomahawks, and Hurricanes south of Agedabia. Both Sgt. Maxwell (of 94 Sqn) and P/O Thompson (229 Sqn.) made claims for a fighter shot down in the same action. Many years later, some sources, including Kageneck's brother, August Graf von Kageneck, claimed that the shots which hit Erbo were fired by the pre-eminent Australian ace of the war, Clive Caldwell. The main reason for this was that Caldwell favoured attacks from beneath his opponents, which was precisely the fashion in which Kageneck's wounds were sustained.
Although he suffered severe injuries to his stomach, abdomen and groin, Kageneck managed to fly his crippled fighter back to his base at Magrun and pull off an emergency landing. He was immediately evacuated, first to a hospital in Athens, and then to another in Naples where, despite intensive care, he died of his wounds on January 12, 1942 at the age of 23. He was posthumously promoted to Hauptmann (captain).