16–17 July

At 04.20 hrs. on the 16th, 2./ZG 1 began leaving Châteauroux, bound for Salzwedel, 83 km NNW of Magdeburg.

Ten anti-guerilla sorties were flown by the Geschwader. An intercepted signal thought to be from its I. Gruppe (presumably the former III./Fl.ZG 2) stated that an Oberstlt. Neitzke had returned from an NSFO (National Socialist Leadership Officer) course the day before. Another message of the 16th suggested that the transfer of the IV. Gruppe and 12. Staffel to Clermont was still underway.

At 09.00 hrs. in the Ardéche, Lamastre was attacked again, the bombardment destroying several houses and killing seven people.

On the 17th, three Do 217 were active against the Resistance as were 16 Geschwader Bongart aircraft. Among their targets was Saint Pierreville, 40 km south west of Valence, where houses and a church were damaged in attacks which were resumed the following day.

18-19 July

Luftflotte 3 reported that four Bongart aircraft had made a successful attack on a group of Résistants and a munitions dump. That afternoon an Re. 2002 in German markings put down on the landing ground at Marcilloles (48 km north east of Valence) and the pilot is reported to have telephoned his base, then immobilised his machine; subsequently German aircraft came over and destroyed it with gunfire.

NOTE: When examined early in September by a Field intelligence Unit, Marcilloles was “Under cultivation. Small hangars intact. No equipment.”

According to regional historian Michel Germain, Swiss Radio announced that evening that the Luftwaffe had bombed Oyonnax, Nantua and Montréal-la-Cluse in support of their infantry.

The Technical Officer of JG 1 reported that Bf 109 G-5/U2, W.Nr. 110359 was being handed over to Geschwader Bongart; the aircraft was listed as off strength by JG 1 the following afternoon. A partial intercept of a message from base command at Clermont-Ferrand listed a mixture aircraft that corresponds closely with earlier return by 12./Geschwader Bongart:

One Bf 109 G-2, two Bf 109 G-4, one Bf 109 G-6, two Bf 110 C-2 one He 46 D, two Go 145, two W. 34 Hi. and a Bf 108 B.

In a fragmentary intercepted message of 19 July, the Militärbefehlshaber Frankreich (Military Commander, France) reported:

During numerous counter-undertakings against terrorists, 48 terrorists shot …

Some nine sorties were mounted against “the guerilla headquarters”, billets and a munitions dump and results were said to be good.

Ground operations had begun around Guéret on the 18th and next day a Hauptsturmführer Dr. Schmidt asked whether an operation by Geschwader Bongart was planned or whether the Wehrmacht was to be told of the contents of a message of the 16th about the abduction of two Kriegsmarine officers, with a view to acting on it.

NOTE: These officers were probably Kapitänleutnants Siegfried Lüdden and Karl-August Landfermann. The former was the commander of the U-188 and the latter the Chief Engineer of U-181, transferred at sea to Lüdden’s boat on account of illness. U-188 had returned to port on 19 June after a six-month voyage that had taken it to Penang, with seven ships sunk. Recalled, to Berlin, they had set off by car through central France. They were ambushed on the road between Creuse and Guéret and although two drivers and a civilian got away and alerted the authorities, the two officers were captured on 26 June. A major German search operation was launched on 16 July, and the prisoners were moved several times before Lüden escaped on the 18th, reaching Limoges six days later. Landferman escaped later and got to Limoges on the 28th. Dr Schmidt would therefore not have known of their escape when he sent his message.

20 July

The intensification of the guerilla war compels the introduction of drastic measures … try without delay to free abducted or surrounded garrisons, employing the severest measures. Court martial soldiers who have surrendered without resistance. Check again weapons and ammunition issues of all positions …

5. Jagddivision to subordinated signals regiments.

Army Group G sent an urgent request to Luftflotte 3 for support from “KG Bongart” for movement by LVIII. Panzer Korps, starting on the 20th and lasting about six days. At the same time as this move it was intended to combat guerillas in the “main guerilla area" and so it was proposed that Bongart’s combat-worthy elements should transfer to Toulouse for the operation. According to the day’s situation report, four aircraft of the Geschwader and five from X. Fliegerkorps (almost certainly from III./KG 100) operated against guerillas.

At 06.45 hrs. (local time) in the mountains about 25 km north west of Carcassonne, members of the Montagne Noire Maquis were woken by six Ju 88 and two “mouchards” (literally “tell-tales”, spotter aircraft) coming over at low altitude. Concentrating on a camp by Lac de la Galaube, their first bomb cut the telephone line and killed the Commandant, Henri Sévenet. According to the account of Resistance leader, Roger Mompezat:

… the projectiles are big torpedoes with fins, more than 300 kilos, opening up after being released, letting out numerous little bombs of only a few tens of kilos.

After dropping what were evidently AB canisters, the bombers shot up the Maquis’ huts at point-blank range:

… the noise is horrific, the ground trembles, smokes and burns …

Machine guns sited for air defence claimed hits on two of the bombers, causing “fireworks” on one, which made off at reduced speed. The engines of the second faltered and it gave off thick smoke as it flew away. At 08.00 hrs. four more aircraft bombed and shot up another two encampments and again hits were claimed on one attacker. After 90 minutes Plo Del May was hit, destroying the camp and killing four men. The Germans followed up with an infantry assault, backed by armour, which forced the Maquis first to withdraw in good order and later to disperse. The battle was later described by Resistance leader Serge Ravanel as “our Vercors.”

If III./KG 100 was involved (and if some or all of the reported Ju 88s were Do 217s) then one of the damaged aircraft may have been Do 217 K-3 W.Nr. 4713 of its 9. Staffel, piloted by Ofw. Schneckener and destroyed in a crash at Toulouse that day.

The Geschwader’s changes of base planned for the 14th had still not been completed, Châteauroux informing Clermont on the morning of the 20th that IV./Geschwader Bongart with the 11. and 12. Staffeln was “transferring to your end.” For its part, 2./ZG 1 was leaving Châteauroux at 02.30 hrs. that morning for Salzwedel.

continued on next page …

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