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 with 2 t of bombs dropped. 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 (with 3.2 t of bombs). 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. Near Saint-Pierre-Bellevue (48 km WNW Limoges) during the morning, cap. Trancard’s company clashed with elements of Kampfgruppe Jesser, apparently after being spotted by a German aircraft.

18-19 July

Luftflotte 3 reported that four Bongart aircraft had made a successful attack with 0.8 t of bombs on a group of Résistants and a munitions dump at Gluiras, 35 km WSW of Valence. 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, with 1.8 t of bombs, were mounted against a Maquis HQ and weapons dump in Monestier (probably Monestier-de-Clermont as on 13 July, but Monestier is a common French place name) and billets north of Grenoble. Rresults 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. On the 16th the Military Commander for Western France had told LXVI. Reserve Korps that, “According to agents naval officers are held prisoner in Cosnat, 2 km south of St. Hilaire [-le-Château]”.

NOTES:

The naval officers were 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 but were ambushed on the road between Creuse and Guéret. Although two drivers and a civilian got away and alerted the authorities, the two officers were captured on 26 June.

On the 16th the Military Commander for Western France had told LXVI. Reserve Korps that, “According to agents naval officers are held prisoner in Cosnat, 2 km south of St. Hilaire [-le-Château]”. At 14.30 (GMT+2) that day, I./Sicherungs Regiment (mot.) 1000 was given the task of rescuing the pair (who were thought to be accompanied by two Obergefreite orderlies) “from the prison in Bourganeuf”. Reaching that village at 18.15 after three firefights en route, the battalion set up its HQ in the Hôtel du Commerce. At half past midnight the 2. Kompanie got to the officers’ expected location. Rather than find them, they surprised a 60-strong Maquis group and killing 10 of them during and after the fighting. On the 17th the 1. Komp. took prisoner a Maquis captain who said the prisoners were in Boissieux but when the Germans got there at 15.00 they found themselves a quarter hour too late. They did however find one of the orderlies, an Alsatian, who was dispatched to the brigade for questioning. The prisoners were moved several times before Lüden eluded his captors on the 18th July, reaching Limoges after six days. Landfermann escaped sometime later and got to Limoges on the 28th.

Army Group G submitted an urgent request to Luftflotte 3 for support from “KG Bongart” for movement by LVIII. Reserve Panzer Korps, starting on the 20th and lasting about six days. Concurrently it was intended to engage partisans in the “main guerilla area" and so it was proposed that Bongart’s combat-worthy elements should transfer to Toulouse for the operation. Orders duly went out on the 19th from Lfl. 3 for “Luftwaffe support of the Army in the principal bandit district during the transfer of the 11. Pz.Div. from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Coast in the period 20–26 July 1944”.

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 (i.e. its deployment from Toulouse to the front). 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. The day’s target for III./KG 100 was a camp about 25 km NW Carcassonne while Bongart’s machines dropped 0.4 t of bombs on a camp north of Grenoble. In both cases, “direct hits and destruction were ascertainable in the targets attacked”.

The Geschwader’s changes of base planned for six days earlier 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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