The traffic had so far not disclosed the date of the planned operation but at 0820 on 30 May a postponement was announced (it was two days before the Allies were able to read this signal). Meanwhile, two unspecified Gruppen were to be moved to Guise as soon as possible, in readiness for the operation. The same morning however, KG 77 confirmed to Fl.Kps. VIII that the transfer would take place as soon as the ground-mist cleared sufficiently. Nevertheless, the Geschwaderkommodore (Oberst Dr. Johann-Volkmar Fisser) was complaining that the Korps had provided him with no written orders for "Paula” and that he was often “left ignorant of plans in which he had to take part”.
Further details of the operation emerged on the 30th:
The start of “Operation P” from Sainte-Marie might be 55 minutes before zero [time on target?].
One of the bomber Geschwader participating was to fly in a column of three Gruppen over Sainte-Marie at 1500 m, with a Wackelflugzeug [literally “wobble plane"] flying 10 minutes ahead. Their course would take them south of Reims and their targets would be Corbeil, Melun and Nangis. After bombing, they would wheel south and return over Sedan. Time of take-off would be notified later.
III./ZG 76 would take part, weather permitting [confirmation followed just after midnight that it would indeed be available to escort KG 3].
Perhaps connected with the forthcoming operation, Fliegerkorps VIII was told at around 1930 on the 31st that it must have Staffeln of fighters at Denain-Rouvignies on 1100 hrs. on 2 June, ready to escort a Ju 52 of the Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe.
On 1 June, it was announced (and the Allies knew by that evening) that KG 26 was to carry out an attack, meeting its escort from ZG 26 over Ste. Marie at 1300 but the day was not specified. The I./ZG 2 would also provide an escort as far as Creil and advance reconnaissance of both the weather and the target would be undertaken. That afternoon, KG 53’s Kommodore, Oberst Erich Stahl, asked to meet Jafü Luftflotte 3 regarding fighter escort for “Paula”; similarly, an officer of KG 1 was expected at Haynecourt (8 km NW of Cambrai) to confer with ZG 76, whose base this was, about the operation. Early that evening, Jafü 3 announced that he intended to hold one more conference before Operation “Paula” and that Kampfgeschwader (plural) were to telephone “L.S.Z. Neuenburg” to acknowledge some order. From a message possibly relating to the attack it was learned that KG 2 and ZG 2 were “shortly to make some move together”.
During the morning, Luftflotte 3 carried out a reconnaissance of the aerodromes Villeneuve-Orly, Vélizy-Villacoublay, Toussus-le-Noble, Beauvais, Dieppe-Saint-Aubin and Dieppe-Rouxmesnil. The first three of these were in the Paris area and in each case the condition of the field, its precise position and the aircraft present were reported.
“Paula” finally took place on 3 June and an intercepted message describes one of the day’s bombing attacks, albeit not on Paris. III./KG 76’s assigned target was the aerodrome at Mory (S of Arras), with Crépy-en-Valois as the alternate. Nine aircraft took off from Cambrai at 1135, taking up a wedge formation. They flew at low level and the weather was perfect but they encountered rifle and machine gun fire throughout their flight, as well as anti-aircraft guns at Compiègne. Falling behind schedule, they attacked Noyon station, moving into a column formation and here again there was Flak. Dropping one SC 250 and 100 x SD 50 with delayed action fuses, they reported serious damage to the station. All the aircraft returned but eight of the nine were damaged by ground fire and the Kommandeur, Maj. Franz Reuss, was badly wounded. The following evening, III./KG 76 reported a strength of 31 aircraft, of which 20 were serviceable. Also, two aircraft of KG 77 were reported missing and a month later a report was issued, explaining that the crew of Oblt. Kapsch (9./KG 77) had made a forced landing near St. Omer with one man badly wounded, two slightly wounded and one unhurt. Feldwebel Patrzich’s (8./KG 77) had also force landed near St. Omer and all on board were killed.
The total German effort is given by Ulf Balke as 640 bombers and 460 fighters in what he describes as, “the single great and cohesive military demonstration by the Luftwaffe during this campaign”. Apart from aerodromes, the Citroën, Renault and Gévelot factories in the Paris suburbs were among industrial targets. The Boulogne-Billancourt and Javel neighbourhoods in the south west of the city were especially hard-hit. Some 254 people were killed and 906 were injured.
The French Defence Ministry sums up the attack as follows (my translation):
On 3 June 1940, Paris is bombed in the operation christened “Paula” by the Luftwaffe. The Germans’ objective is to attack the airbases of the Île-de-France [region] along with the Air Ministry and the Citroën factories (Quai Javel) which make military equipment.
The massive raids take place during the afternoon. The French AA is ineffective with the exception of the Navy’s 90 mm cannons. The majority of the attacks are accurate without causing significant damage. All the same, Operation “Paula” ends in 254 dead and 652 injured — 80% of them civilians.
continued on next page…
PART TWO OF FOUR