Higher authorities were clearly trying to get to grips with a rapidly changing picture and Lyon-Bron was asked to report on the local situation. At 09.00 hrs. Hptm. Gräber, Luftflotte 3’s Operations Officer (Air) instructed Bongart that from now on he was to collaborate very closely Army Group G, supporting its operations with all the forces at the Geschwader’s disposal. For reconnaissance in the Army Group’s zone of operations, Bongart was to work with 5.(F)/123 and Staffel Kaatsch (both currently in Dijon). In a fragmentary intercept, he also notified someone — probably Nineteenth Army — at 19.00 hrs. that no units were currently free for offensive operations but that Geschwader Bongart’s support could be expected within a few days. Gräber added that a supplementary report about the Geschwader’s activities since 16 August was necessary. Sadly for the historian, no such document was intercepted by the Allies.
That evening Bongart notified Luftlfotte 3 that Saint-Yan’s airfield commandant had quit Lyon without asking the Aerodrome Regional Command and without giving any orders for anyone else to move off. The Kommodore’s view was that the 110 men of the Platzkommando (airfield detachment) should be got out right away, given the progress of the ground war an asked that his Geschwader be given the necessary orders. He also called for three Ju 52 to evacuate valuable material and fuel, saying that his unit was able to cover both their landing and the ground echelon on its withdrawal march.
At 08.45 hrs. the Ops. Officer replied that Transport Fliegerführer 1 would evacuate Saint-Yan, as Bongart had asked. That evening there was another fragmentary intercept from the same source which ended by warning that there were at present no units free for offensive operations but that Geschwader Bongart could be counted on within the next few days. This assurance would soon prove to have been misplaced.
Apparently from Luftflotte 3, an ammunition quartermaster signalled that Lyon-Bron had not been cleared of supplies since it was still needed as an advanced landing ground. At Luxeuil, the resident pilot school (probably FFS A/B 2) requested the urgent dispersal of its equipment and activities to bases in the Reich.
In a reversal of the situation to date, as the Germans retreated, the Resistance was acquiring its own airpower. A party of five MAAF intelligence officers flew into Toulouse/Blagnac to an enthusiastic welcome on 29 August 1944. Visiting the Dewoitine factory next day, they found the workers assembling D.520s with salvaged machinery and materials:
… the FFI are now operating [them] against enemy transport columns. They are reported to have a top speed of 550 k.p.h. (345 m.p.h.), are armed with one cannon and four machine guns and bear the French roundel, the letters “FFI” on the fuselage and Allied black and white “invasion” markings. The operate as the “1 ere. Groupe de Chasse, FFI”, and are commanded by Marcel DORET, the well known French civil flyer …
A number of JU-88’s are also being repaired or assembled in this factory with the intention that they too shall be used operationally by the FFI.
As the aerodromes at Luxeuil and Malbouhans were being prepared for destruction, Oberst Bongart asked permission for the immediate but temporary transfer of his Re. 2002 and Bf 109s either to Köln-Ostheim, where they could be serviced in the workshops of I./Fliegerzielgeschwader 2, or to Goslar. For the time being, he proposed sending his Ju 88s to Deiningen, deep inside Germany.
As requested the previous day, Luftflotte 3 agreed to the Bf 109s and Reggianes going to Goslar and the Ju 88s to Deiningen. Bongart presented his compliments to Luftflotte 3 and announced his Geschwader’s departure from its sphere of command, marking the end of its career as an anti-partisan force.
Oberst Bongart was posted to be aerodrome Kommandant at Neumünster. On 10 November he was in touch with Nachtjagdstaffel Norwegen and featured in signals traffic as late as 20 April 1945 when Neumünster’s Station Command was told by its counterpart at Westerland that the Oberst would be arriving at around 17.00 hrs. the following day.
Air Movement Control at Langendiebach directed the workshops at Ansbach to send Ju 88 R6+XG off to Steiningen at once for an overhaul. This was at the behest of “Geschwader Major Hippacher”, this officer having last figured in ULTRA traffic on 1 July while serving with Geschwader Bongart.
A signal of this date referred to a Ju 52/3m g8e, W.Nr. 500154, 40% damaged by enemy action at Lyon-Bron. Since the city of Lyon was liberated on 3 September, this aircraft may perhaps have been damaged in late August when the base was being evacuated. Two Ju 52 were found there by the Allies but details of their markings and condition were not recorded.
It seems to have been common for disbanded Luftwaffe units to have a lengthy afterlife and as late as 18 October there was a “Winding-up Detachment [Abwicklungskommando] III./Geschwader Bongart” at Goslar. It will be remembered that this is where, six weeks earlier, the Geschwader had been told to withdraw its Bf 109s and Re. 2002. On 7 December, Hptm. Röber, Offizier z.bV. at Goslar, mentioned that the 13. Staffel had been disbanded there; next day, a Maj. Windhagen at the same airfield noted that “the unit” was in the process of disbandment. Even this was not all for on the 15th the Fliegerzieldivision asked to be sent the punishment record of IV./Geschwader Bongart.
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