A lot has been written about the Battles of France and Britain, little if any based on a message-by-message trawl of the ULTRA reports for the relevant months. The German Blitzkrieg in the West had been underway for 12 days before Bletchley Park achieved its first regular breaks into German machine cipher traffic. Prior to that, output was much sparser, although there is material from the Scandinavian campaign which I’ve yet to look at.

My impression of the material I’ve seen is that its significance is only going to be apparent to someone who already has a very detailed knowledge of the period (i.e. somebody other than me). The aim of this article is, in the first instance, to put out some information that others may find useful but I may annotate more of the entries later, as far as my (fairly limited) references on the period allow.

Except where you see quotation marks, I haven’t reproduced the decrypts verbatim but paraphrased them somewhat for the sake of clarity. Occasionally it has been necessary to infer which date is being referred to: for example if a decrypt issued at 06.00 hours on the 15th says "at 10.00 hours" then I have taken this to mean 10.00 on the 14th. Messerschmitt aircraft are named as in the originals which showed no consistency over the use of Bf and Me.

Sources for this article are National Archives files HW5/1 – HW5/5. Annotations I've made are in square brackets.

May 1940

19 May

A Bf 109 was shot down by German Flak while attacking a Potez 63, SE of Guise. The French machine escaped.

20 May

The IC (Intelligence Officer) of II. Fliegerkorps reported that the day’s reconnaissance had revealed heavy traffic retreating from Northern France to the Seine and Paris areas. Transport trains and road junctions had been bombed and there had been no response by hostile fighters. Of the 268 sorties dispatched, six aircraft had been shot down; of these, three He 111 had been lost over enemy territory and one Do 17 was a total loss in the German-held area.

22 May

A Bf 110 C was attacked by enemy fighters near Paris and was 100% damaged in the ensuing forced landing.

Two Potez 63 were attacked by I./JG 21 and smoke was seen to pour out of the starboard engine of one of them. One German fighter was forced to abandon the pursuit owing to engine trouble.

The following probable losses were reported:

St.G 1

3 Ju 87

St.G 2

2 Ju 87

St.G 77

3 Ju 87

JG 1

1 Bf 109

JG 51

3 Bf 109

23 May

I./ZG 1 had 20 Me 110, protecting armoured formations in the Calais – Dunkirk – St. Omer – Bailleul area. As cloud forced them to fly at 600 metres, they suffered from AA fire. “2 a/c were totally disabled and 35% more damaged.” [Meaning one destroyed and one over 35% damaged?]

An aerodrome in XIX Armee Korps’ area was bombed by German aircraft, 2.(H)/23 losing some men killed and an Hs 126 destroyed.

24 May

At 22.35, the British intercepted a report from an officer named “Ulsch” that nine of his aircraft had been in action and “none of them had been put out of action even for a short time but he had lost 3 shot down.” [Hptm. Fritz Ultsch, Kommandeur of III./JG 54?]

At 22.55, a report was received that 5J+HP had been shot down with three killed, one bailed out and one probably taken prisoner. [6./KG 4]

25 May

Oberleutnant de Wilde reported at 11.50 GMT that U5+CD was missing. [Stab III./KG 2]

An Me 109 of JG 53 turned over on landing after a flight over the front (apparently at “Sissenne aerodrome”), and was totally wrecked. No one was killed. [Sissonne, East of Laon?]

Ju 88 5J+KT made a forced landing near Heurigen. [9./KG 4; location?]

Report of heavy German aircraft losses in the Amiens area during the evening, “through the activity of Spitfires and Moranes.”

At midnight on 25–26/5 the Chief of Staff at HQ Fliegerkorps VIII "was almost speechless with indignation at the way numerous German a/c, after making forced landings, were left lying about in occupied territory, while nobody cared. Curious sightseers (even civilians!) clambered about them. In this way even slightly damaged a/c became total losses. It was extraordinarily damaging to the whole system of replacing a/c. He had just appealed to higher authorities for salvage parties.”

26 May

A Ju 52 was fired on by infantry on the ground near Sedan. It was hit about 30 times and three men on board were wounded.

I./St.G 76 urgently requested replacements for a missing Ju 87 B-1 and a Ju 87 B-1 50% damaged at Guise-East aerodrome.

At 22.00, JG 53 reported that they had recently carried out 13 operations, and had shot down two Potez 63 and five Curtiss without loss to themselves. One of their own aircraft had been damaged in a crash: no one killed.

Generalleutnant Gustav Kastner-Kirdorf of the Luftwaffe Führungsstab was informed that Oberstltn. Gustav Wilke of KG z.b.V. 2 had been either killed or wounded.

27 May

5K+DL of 3./KG 3 made a forced landing in St. Pol and one of the crew was badly wounded.

5K+HS of 8./KG 3 made a forced landing at Rombies [-et-Marchipont, E of Valenciennes]

12 He 111 of II./KG 27 landed at Krefeld. One aircraft of the Stabsstaffel made a forced landing at Maastricht.

An aircraft of IV./KG 35 [sic, KG 53 intended?] made a forced landing at St. Pol.

9K+DK and 9K+HK [of 2./KG 51] made forced landings in Brussels with one Leutnant and one NCO injured.

I./KG 53 apparently reported one Kette missing in a fight with Moranes near Forges-les-Eaux during the afternoon.

Two Ju 52, L2+WN and T6+MK, appeared to be missing.

28 May

Visiting Philippeville, Generaloberst Milch remarked on the number of aircraft which had crashed when landing there. He blamed LG z.b.V. 14, whose fighters had themselves chosen the aerodrome.

30 May

Ju 88 L1+IF reported shot down by a Spitfire near Bruges. [LG 1]

continued on next page …


lossplate next top back declink novlink octlink septlink auglink julylink junelink maylink introlink homelink