August 1944

2 August

A group from the 1st company, 2nd battalion of the Drôme Maquis, attempting to escape across the River Drôme, was seen by a spotter aircraft and surrounded by German troops. Five men who were unable to fight their way out were shot by the Germans the following day.

3 August

Greko

Three German aeroplanes bombed Thônes, 15 km east of Annecy, at 16.00 hrs. and six people died when the Saint Maurice Church was hit. An hour later, as people were clearing the debris of the first attack, aircraft appeared again, releasing seven bombs which destroyed the bridge over the Nom. In all, 12 people died in these attacks which were seen as punishment for a major daylight supply drop to the Glières Maquis on the 1st.

In an intercepted signal, the reason for which is elusive, Jafü Süd advised “Kampfgeschwader Bongart” of the Field Post Number for a wireless specialist belonging to Luftnachrichten Regiment 51 (which operated the radar stations in the Jafü’s jurisdiction).

4 August

At midday Maj. Georg Teske, Kommandeur of II./KG 26, asked 2. Fliegerdiv. for permission to operate three Ju 88 in an attempt to relieve Verbindungsstab 577 and the local hospital at Privas (37 km south west of La Trésorerie) which were surrounded by partisans. That evening the Gruppe reported that two Ju 88 had each dropped two bombs on the western and southern boundaries of St. Étienne, near Privas. Three of the four weapons failed to explode, a setback attributed to the fuse batteries being too weak, and the attack was broken off. There is more than one Saint-Étienne in the Ardèche region but a possible candidate is Saint-Étienne-de-Serre, 8 km north west of Privas by air. Quite how bombing this village may have helped those besieged in Privas, is not clear.

That afternoon it was the turn of Les Villards-sur-Thônes (5 km along the road east from Thônes) to be bombed. Three aircraft were seen coming up the valley at low level toward Saint Jean de Sixt before turning back to release their bombs. Roland Avrillon, just 8½, was playing outdoors with his cousins:

All at once a throbbing sound made us look up. Three planes were coming up the valley at low level … it was the first time I’d seen aircraft so close. Something elongated and black detached itself from the first aeroplane, hitting the ground near the church amidst a huge noise and a cloud of dust.

M. Avrillon ran home as the second machine was diving and took refuge in the cellar with his mother. In the village a woman and her infant daughter were killed, three people were injured. A shop had been destroyed along with a house while another house was set on fire and the church suffered blast and shrapnel damage; the post office was partially destroyed also. In Le Petit-Bornand-des-Glières one woman was injured by another bomb. Departing westward, the aircraft are reported to have again attacked Thônes (where leaflets had been dropped earlier in the day); the attackers were understood to have come from Lyon-Bron and one of their leaflets read:

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Another one threatened: “… Expect no mercy if you persist in making common cause with the self-styled Resistance.”

5 August

Early that evening Ltn. Schnabel of 4./KG 26 (Ju 88 1H+MM) flew two 45-minute operations described as “engaging gang [-occupied] areas with bomb-dropping and onboard weapons.” Given the distances covered, it appears that the target area was within about a 100 km radius of Valence.

NOTE: It seems unlikely that the 4. Staffel assigned many more machines to this task since II./KG 26 was committed to torpedo operations over the English Channel that night and was declaring only 10 or 11 Ju 88s serviceable at this period, divided between torpedo- and ordinary bombers. The 4./KG 26 itself had only three Ju 88 ready for operations on 3 August and contributed just one (1H+GM) to the torpedo operation on the 5th.

continued on next page …

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