Good results against partisans in southeastern France, especially with the deployment of paratroops.
Kriegsmarine situation report (25 July 1944)
The badly-tattered papers from a Luftwaffe staff conference on 3 July recorded that “Oberst Heigl and his men are in Nancy” and envisaging operations for training purposes alongside the Army in the “gang area”. The Chief of the General Staff was said not to agree with this, since 50 of the men would be needed for some other deployment. On the 7th, Luftflotte 3’s Operations Officer (Flying) sent a telegram to his opposite number at OKL regarding “the intended deployment of II./K.G. 200 in combating gangs”, repeating this request four days later and stating that the deployment’s purpose was “to train the men”. Koller approved the request and that evening it was reported that Heigl’s unit had 200 air-landing and parachute troops “available for special operation”. There followed a brief exchange of messages about I./LLG 1 in the days immediately before the Vercors operation. A message of 8 July reported that:
a) On the basis of detailed conversations with Oberst HAIGL [sic], Kommandeur of KG 200, the detachment will last some considerable time. The order did not arrive until 8/7.
b) Oberst HAIGL can be reached at II./KG 76 [in Belgium].
On 17 July, Luftgau VII told the aircraft park in Illesheim to send “at once” ten MG 81Z (twin defensive machine guns) to I./LLG 1 at Strasbourg-Enzheim. Next day there was a telephone conversation between an Obltn. Lemke and Oberingenieur Weinberger regarding the equipment of 30 »Sturm DFS 230« (assault gliders). This was followed up on the 20th when 3. Ergänzungsgruppe (S) 1 at Strasbourg-Polygone was told that the depot in Pontfaverger-Moronvilliers near Reims could supply 24 fittings for fixed MG 17s in the DFS 230 and plexiglass for windows, as well as fabric for covering. Also on the 20th, the I./LLG 1’s Do 17 “rigid towing Staffel” was advised that it could collect 20 fixed towing carriers forHe 111s from Pontfaverger and that the Fliegerführer of the Parachute Army should be notified when this was done. Next a message between officers of I./KG 66 noted that Strasbourg was occupied by I./LLG 1 and “envisaged for further transport units". It is (just) possible that this was all a last-minute scrabble in preparation for the Vercors operation but perhaps more likely that tugs and gliders were being readied similar missions in future. However the Allied breakout from Normandy and the landings on the Mediterranean Coast soon had the Germans more concerned with escaping France than pacifying it.
Surprisingly, the II./KG 200 prisoner did not mention the Vercors Plateau or any of its villages by name. He did however speak of two missions which may be a garbled account of the battle, relating that over 100 men of a Sicherungsregiment (Security Regiment) from Lyon had been flown by glider to the Grenoble area “where the German infantry had been surrounded by American troops”. A day later, supplies were dropped to the encircled forces. In fact the Germans pulled out of Grenoble overnight night of 21/22 August, ahead of the Americans’ arrival, and were never surrounded in the city, let alone fighting for it. Grenoble however lies right alongside the Plateau where from 21–24 July German airborne troops were surrounded by a Resistance force which included a small American contingent (OSS Operational Group JUSTINE). Elements of only one Sicherungsregiment, Sich. Rgt. 200, were involved in the battle, as part of the force cordoning off the western side of the Plateau, and the IV. Bataillon had been based in Lyon. After being relieved by 157. Res. Div. and with its part in the Vercors operation over, Kdo. Schäfer was returned to Nancy on the 26th although Army Group G’s situation report for the day records that “Kampfgruppe Zabel mopped-up Vassieux with Gruppe Schäfer and reached Vassieux-en-Vercors”. Two days earlier, Luftflotte 3 had issued an order to KG 200, LLG 1, and Geschwader Bongart about “the formation of Gefechtsverband Heigl and the support of the army against bandits”.
Toward the end of July (the precise date was not given) the workshop section at Westerland signalled II./KG 200’s Technical Officer that spares for He 111 F7+BK (markings of 2./LLG 2) had not arrived but that it could be made serviceable in four days once they had been received.
continued on next page …
PART TWO OF THREE
© Nick Beale 2022–23