16 June

Operating out of Clermont-Ferrand, Bongart aircraft attacked three hamlets in the countryside south east of Limoges, as described in the memoirs of Resistance leader Georges Guingouin. He alleges that the Germans had a source—one “Viscomte de R…”—in the ranks of the Maquis and that he passed on intelligence allowing the Germans to bomb and strafe the Brigade command post at La Villa de Sussac and Battalion HQ’s in Poumeau and Amboirat: “Magnificent performance that day on the part of a Maquis Bren-gunner: a Focke-Wulf 190 was shot down”. Early that afternoon, Reggiane Re. 2002 W.Nr. 1256, “5” (DV+BI) belly-landed in a field near Jumeau-le-Grand, losing a wing in the process. It was said to have been brought down by Resistance fighter Franc Comboc, with a machine gun. Since a broken airscrew blade was found in the woods, it was later argued that the Reggiane may have suffered a synchronisation failure and shot its own propeller off. The pilot evaded capture and apparently reached German forces. Odette Frachet, then 12 years old, recalled that she and her friends counted some seven aircraft circling over Amboiras. Aside from bombing, these also strafed the hedgerows where they suspected Résistants were hiding. Other witnesses stated that the pilot got out and asked the way to Limoges, getting away as fast as he could. Later, German soldiers came to find him.

After the war, the aircraft’s fuselage was installed as a monument in Limoges and in 1976 was removed for restoration (with considerable artistic licence) and exhibition in a museum.

NOTES:

A possible reference to this incident came three days letter in a message from the Abwehr station in Limoges, reporting a “German bomber” shot down 35 kms from the city.

DV+BI was restored as “red 5” and although the relevant fuselage panels and paint were largely gone by the time I saw it, the restorers’ choice seems consistent with a contemporary photograph — the number (outlined in white) seems much lighter than the letters of the call sign. There is clear photographic and documentary evidence of Reggianes with white, black and yellow numbers so if “red 5” is correct, this points to four Bongart Staffeln being equipped with the type.

A message from ZG 1’s Operations Officer made clear that only the 2. Staffel would be moving to Châteauroux, where it would be subordinate to Geschwader Bongart for operations. Specific references to any combat missions by the Staffel after its arrival are lacking, unfortunately.

17 June

The 2./ZG 1’s Albrecht Bellstedt carried out two more anti-partisan Frontflüge, giving only his generic description of the target, “assemblies of vehicles, villages, tented camps”. More detail was given by Lfl. 3 which noted that during the morning Geschwader Bongart had undertaken reconnaissance of terrorist camps in the areas Grenoble – Valence – Montélimar and from Clermont-Ferrand to NE of Bourges.

18 June

After heavy losses over the Allied beach heads in Normandy, on 18 June it was announced that 12 of III./SG 4's Fw 190s would be withdrawn immediately to Clermont-Ferrand and that the rest of the Gruppe would follow later. A number of aircraft flew from Laval, via Tours, to Clermont the next day but bad weather meant that others were unable to make the move. During the morning Geschwader Bongart made a “concentrated attack against strong bandit groups” in the area SE of Limoges, at Cousssac-Bonneval, St. Gilles and Châteauneuf.

19 June

The German position in the French interior seemed to worsen by the day, the Abwehr sub-station in Limoges reporting:

Situation more acute. German bomber shot down 35 km from Limoges. The Maquis are at 6 km distance round Limoges where French police and Militia have been concentrated. It is incomprehensible that no assistance has been sent. Clarification is requested.

That “German bomber” may well have been the Reggiane at Jumeau-le-Grand (see above), although the distance from there to Limoges is nearer 30 km.

In the South West that morning, Hptm. Roderich Cescotti of Stab IV./KG 100:

… received the order to undertake an anti-partisan mission. At 0530 hrs. [GMT + 2] I took off from Francazal to operate in conjunction with ground troops against a Maquisard camp in the Pyrenées. I dropped two 500 kg bombs. There were other actions of this kind, such as an attack on a village where we dropped a tonne of incendiary bombs on two barns and a farm. My plane took some hits attributable to shots from the ground. I don’t really know how many operations of this kind took place since I had become the unit’s TO (Technical Officer) and I was often absent, forced to shuttle back and forth to Germany bringing in new aircraft or spare parts.

NOTE: Cescotti is quoted (in French) by Jean-Louis Roba in his « La Kampfgeschwader 100 » and the above is my translation from that source.

20–21 June

The III./SG 4’s Gruppenkommandeur, Maj. Gerhart Weyert, flew from to Bourges to confer with Oberst Bongart, “who leads the Luftwaffe’s fight against the partisans”, before joining his unit at Clermont-Ferrand where 19 of its aircraft had now arrived. There were complaints that this new base was not big enough and that too few blast bays were available to protect their Focke-Wulfs. Conversely, the base command reported next day that it could supply III./SG 4 with bombs from existing stocks. Meanwhile the newcomers investigated the dispersal of some of their aircraft to other fields but considered none of them suitable.

On the 20th, German aircraft supported the assault on the Maquis redoubt of La Truyère in the Auvergne; it had been set up by the Revanche (Revenge) group under Henri Fournier. The first bombing and strafing took place at 15.00 local time and three hours later the villages of Anterrieux, Saint-Martial and Pradel (Lavigerie) were practically destroyed by air and ground bombardment. “Colonel Charles” of the Limousin FFI was on the receiving end:

The spotter plane is watching the area, the enemy attack can’t be far off. Indeed the alert is given at 09.00 [local] on 20 June … Towrds noon … Anterrieux finds itself under fire from German armour. We have to pull out under a hail of bullets and mortar bombs [and] then 50 kg bombs that four bombers with black-crosses drop on us … Around 17.30 hrs. a squadron appears at low altitude and begins a hellish dance above us. For forty minutes we are inundated with bombs, shells and machine gun bursts. At last the planes depart and we establish that we just have some wounded. At 20.00 hrs. the order arrives for a general withdrawal through Albaret-le-Comtal. We pass close to garage installations which bear the marks of a recent and violent bombardment. The planes have been here too.

During the afternoon »Zugvogel« (= migratory bird, a callsign of Kampfgruppe Jesser or one of its elements) notified Abel West that aerial reconnaissance had seen a tented camp with approximately 100 motor vehicles 1.5–2 km to the south west of Chaudes-Aigues in the Cantal département and that the Luftwaffe would be attacking it; another formation, Gruppe Cölle, was notified of a tented camp near “Martial” (possibly Saint-Martial, Creuse).

An intercepted supply return of the 21st showed that 26 x AB 250 canisters filled with SD 1 fragmentation bombs had been issued to Châteauroux, where 12./Geschwader Bongart was based, and that the IV. Gruppe had received 6 x 250 kg and 12 x 50 kg Italian bombs.

ZG 1 was again active, Obltn. Bellstedt recording anti-artisan operations on both the 20th and 21st. During the morning there was reconnaissance of St. Flour (85 km south of Clermont-Ferrand) “for combatting bandits”. During the morning there was reconnaissance of St. Flour (85 km south of Clermont-Ferrand) “for combatting bandits”.

continued on next page …

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