28 June

The IV. Gruppe at Châteauroux ordered the 10. Staffel at Aix to send it the available weapons truck and the motor transport which was due to be given up, since the equipment was urgently needed for operations.

A Ju 88 was posted missing from operations south east of Valence and with it the Kommandeur of the IV. Gruppe, Maj. Dr. Ferdinand Zandt. He had been flying as observer in the machine piloted by Uffz. Hans Masorsky (or Maszoski); the other crew members being wireless operator Ofw. Kurt Dommasch and flight mechanic Uffz. Edmund Fey. This aircraft was claimed shot down by “Compagnie Morin” of the South Vercors Maquis, while flying in support of the German advance on Beaufort-sur-Gervanne. The Ju 88 A-5 (W.Nr. 880504, PB+GB) crashed into the cliff above La Rivière, Gigors-et-Lozeron and the whole crew died. They are buried in the German war cemetery at Dagneux, north east of Lyon.

NOTE: French sources refer to a fifth body recovered from the wreck, the man’s name rendered as “Festine”, but I have not yet been able to match this or any obvious variation with a German War Graves record.

Another Ju 88 came down that day, at Ourches which is about 5 km from the crash site of Maj. ZandtÕs. This second aircraft is also reported to have carried five men and again all are buried at Dagneux:

Ogefr. Ewald Henker, Oblt. Stefan Ulrich, Ogefr. Werner Herbert Gaudigs, Uffz. Alois Hennecke and Ogefr. Edmund Klein.

It was probably one of these Ju 88s that was shown to Capt. John Houseman of the Inter-Allied “Eucalyptus” mission, parachuted in to work with the Maquis on the night of 26/27 June:

[In the hills above Aouste-sur-Sye] Commandant B revelled in showing us … the remains of a German plane, littering the side of one of the hills, which had been shot down by a lucky shot from a single rifle … "Here's the plane", he said, "and there's the engine over there", pointing to a tangled lump of machinery lodged against a rock …

On the road leading up from the Rhône Valley to the Vercors Plateau, the villages of Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans and Pont-en-Royans were bombed (by II./KG 26, according to Thomas and Ketley). Seven aircraft from III./SG 4 took off at 07.15 hrs. against Beaufort-sur-Gervanne and Plan-de-Baix. According to historian of the region, Robert Serre, Corbonne and Gigors were also hit during the day. In all, over 50 bombs fell, without causing any casualties.

29 June

Plans to move III./SG 4 seem to have been mooted, since Oberst Bongart urgently requested that he be allowed to retain one Staffel of 12 aircraft if it was planned to deploy the Gruppe elsewhere. Meanwhile the Fw 190s flew two operations (totalling 24 sorties) against Saint-Jean-en-Royans and Saint-Nazaire-en-Royans, landing at La Trésorerie after the second mission, owing to bad weather. In Saint-Jean, 10 died and seven were injured; in Saint-Nazaire, two were killed and six hurt.

The resistance fighters of the 11e Régiment de Cuirassiers learned:

… that at St. Nazaire and Pont-en-Royans there were a dozen victims and very great damage. When will the Allies decide to bomb the Boche aerodromes at Chabeuil [Valence], Lyon and the others in the area? After the Royans region the Boche planes attack the Crest area where they know the Resistance is everywhere and there, once again, the civilian casualties are heavy. There are 20 fatalities.

Les Ollières-sur-Eyrieux, in the Ardèche about 30 km south west of Valence aerodrome, was bombed on the 29th. German ground troops, said to be from Valence, were attacking FFI positions between La Voulte-sur-Rhône and Privas. According to the underground newspaper La Liberté, the bombing was directed against the bridge at Les Ollières and left one civilian dead plus around 10 houses destroyed.

At 17.00 hrs. Bongart’s Operations Officer gave orders for a Schwarm to be at 60 minutes’ readiness from 04.00 next morning.

30 June

Saint-Floret lies at the foot of cliffs 27 km SSW of Clermont-Ferrand; its inhabitants were expecting trouble after the Maquis had attacked a German convoy and wounded an officer. Spotter planes had been overhead from early on the 29th, the men had hidden in the woods and there had been heavy rain overnight. Now at 06.00 [local] the sound of low-flying aircraft impelled at least one family to dress hurriedly and dash for their cellars. For about three quarters of an hour, bombs fell in sticks of three interspersed with strafing. In the words of one witness:

[The bombs] meant for us were the last to fall. The rock must have got in the way of the plane’s manoeuvre [because] they missed us by a metre: one in the angle of the big archway, the other on the small house we’d bought and the third under the office window. All the doors and windows … were snatched and the partitions shaken by the blast. None of the projectiles hit us … what troubled us most was the smothering, we were full of dust to an unimaginable degree and didn’t dare put out a hand to the nearby tap for something to drink …

As soon as the bombing stopped, we climbed the stairs after a fashion — [they were] covered in debris — and rapidly filled a small suitcase with clothes and money in order to flee. We were convinced that our six bombers had gone to reload and would come back.

The damage was extensive — 18 houses destroyed in the neighbourhood of the old fort — and 10 villagers were killed; an unexploded bomb was found beneath the bridge. German troops soon arrived, looted the houses and shot or deported another nine people.

On 30 June 1944 the village of Saou was demolished in a bombardment by Nazi aircraft. Fifteen people met their deaths. For its participation in the Resistance, Saou received the Croix de Guerre.

Saou War Memorial

The III./SG 4 detachment in Valence contacted the Gruppenstab, asking for an operations order. At 11.35 hours, 16 Fw 190s took off on III./SG 4's last mission in the French interior, one aircraft losing its SC 500 bomb in the process. Thirty-five minutes later they dive-bombed two small villages east and south east of Valence: Léoncel and Saou. The 15 bombs dropped were reported to be well on target, with the former village damaged and the latter destroyed. In Saou 15 people died, only two of them FFI members, and 20 were injured. The bombs and the fires they started destroyed 15 houses and the vaulted nave of the 12th century parish church of Sainte Marie.

The pilots saw no traffic on the roads during their mission and all returned safely to Clermont at 13.00 hours. It seems as if only a part of the Gruppe was involved in this mission: the 7. Staffel appears to have remained in Conches until 1 July; returning aircraft landed in Clermont-Ferrand and Avord is not mentioned; Avord’s resident 9. Staffel had seven serviceable aircraft but no operationally ready pilots that day. (The Staffel’s full figures were: 11 (7) Fw 190 and 11 (0) pilots).

At 16.00 hrs. Geschwader Bongart gave orders to prepare for III./SG 4's transfer to the Eastern Front. At 22.30 hrs., Ltn. Klepke at Avord advised the Gruppe that the airfield was serviceable.

Bongart’s 13. Staffel was reported to be ready for operations from its new base of Lissay-Lochy, 10 km south of Bourges, the first time that Bletchley Park had heard of this particular unit. The Geschwader also reported stocks of 48,110 litres of B4 fuel. At 15.15 hrs. the Geschwader’s Ops. Officer told an unspecified Gruppe to rest and to submit a report on results. Also that afternoon, Luftflotte 3’s Operations Officer (Air), Hptm. Gräber, told an unknown recipient that operations for “Commandant Army area” were permitted and would be carried out according to the state of forces, “in direct agreement with Geschwader Bongart, Bourges.”

continued on next page …


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