15 June

The IV./Fl.ZG 2 complained of receiving a mere tenth of its June allocation of wood-gas vehicle fuel, stressing that supply of the outstanding 6300 kg was “urgently necessary.” Another message, sender and recipient unknown, advised that Luftflotte 3 had ordered that six “bomb personnel” (armourers?) were to assist Geschwader Bongart.

Jagdgruppe 200 meanwhile was operating throughout the day against “gangs in the Valence area.” The 2. Staffel’s Ltn. Heinz Moschke took off from his home base of Orange-Caritat at 05.18 GMT on his first mission of the day, landing in Valence half an hour later. He flew another six operations from there, returning finally to Caritat at 18.20 hrs. Moschke flew three different Bf 109s, reporting that he had shot up cars, lorries and buildings. Moschke’s flights were almost certainly associated with the reprisals inflicted on Saint-Donat-sur-l’Herbasse for local resistance activity. Between 08.30 and 09.00 (local time) four Bf 109s shot up streets, houses and gardens in five passes. Soon afterward Ostbataillon (ex-Red Army) troops encircled the village and subjected its inhablitants to arson, shootings, rape, beatings and arrests. According to historian Dr. Peter Lieb, German aircraft “in an extraordinarily tasteless act of propaganda” then dropped leaflets warning the inhabitants against friendship with Russia.

16 June

Researcher Rémi Baudru has established that on 16 June the Geschwader, operating out of Clermont-Ferrand, attacked three hamlets in the countryside south east of Limoges: Sussac, Le Poumeau and Amboiras. 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.

NOTE: 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.

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.

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 June-21 June

The III./SG 4’s Gruppenkommandeur, Maj. Gerhart Weyert, flew from to Bourges to confer with Oberst Bongart 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.

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.

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