The pilot who crashed can be identified from the records of the Deutsche Dienststelle in Berlin: he was Leutnant Arndt-Richard Hupfeld, the leader of Rippert's Staffel, who was badly injured. The casualty report identifies his machine as a Bf 109 G-6, Werk Nummer 163231, marked "yellow 1."
Another intercept (CX/MSS/R.262(C), paragraph 7) states that aircraft 163231 had crash landed owing to lack of fuel and was being sent to the factory for repair. It never got that far, it was later found dismantled in a hangar at Avignon-Chateau Blanc by the Allies. (AIR51/281, MAAF Field Intelligence Unit – Report No. 11).
The 1./JGr. 200 also had to consign an aircraft for factory repair, Bf 109 G-6/U4 W.Nr. 441665 which suffered a breakdown on take-off. (The same Staffel had received two Bf 109 G-6/U4 from Wiesbaden the previous day: 441752, and 441754 which was fitted with FuG 16 and FuG 25A).
The deciphered report of the day's reconnaissance missions does not include any flights by 2./NAG 13's Fw 190s. (File DEFE3/64, item XL 4202).
The USAAF did lose a Lightning over Southern France that day, an F-5B reconnaissance version. This is confirmed by Missing Air Crew Report 7339 which records that Second Lieutenant Gene C. Meredith (23rd Photographic Squadron) went missing in F-5B No. 42-68294 on 30 July 1944 on a mapping mission over the South of France:
"At about 301315B hours, Borgo [Corsica] Sector Control notified Squadron Operations that the pilot had called "Mayday" due to the fact that an enemy aircraft was attacking.
At 301310B hours [= 13.10 hrs. local time, 30 July] Lt. Meredith called Sector Control and requested a homing. No evidence of difficulty was displayed at this time. At 3031313B hours, the pilot called "Mayday" stating than [sic] an enemy aircraft was behind and gaining. At that time his position was estimated to be 4324N 0712E. At 301314½B hours, the pilot called again with the message that the enemy was still gaining. This was the last word from Lt. Meredith. At that time. his position was estimated to be 4322N 0724E.
Radar reported a fix at 4307N 0756E at 301315B hours. This is regarded to be a more accurate position. Radar also reported one (1) hostile aircraft turning Northwest from this point. Other information reported that one (1) German aircraft claimed a victory over an American aircraft at this time."
Further evidence came from Georg Pemler who at that time had been a Leutnant with 2./NAG 13 (his rank and service with NAG 13 are corroborated by a deciphered signal):
"We carefully reviewed the reported and confirmed shootdowns scored by Jagdfliegerrführer 3 (Südfrankreich) and thus JGr. 200:
… Fw. Guth two P-38s confirmed shot down (29 April and 30 July 1944)."
(Personal letter to the author, 3 May 1994).
Summary of enemy air activity for 31 July 1944
(All times GMT)
FIGHTERS AND FIGHTER BOMBERS
Tactical reconnaissance aircraft were active from 1820 until 1848, but no other details are known.
… Three sections of fighters were airborne between 0758 and 0929 in reaction Allied fighters over CANNES, TOULON, and the area to the north; no contacts seem to have been made. Patrol activity north of TOULON was noted between 1410 and 1425.
(File HW41/87: MAAF Signal Int. Service, Enemy Air Activity, June 1944–Feb. 1945)
Operations Record Book, No. 276 Wing RAF (entry for 31 July 1944)
No. 12 FU [Field Unit] Ersa, Corsica told distributees of three enemy fighter sections between 0758/0929 hours operating in reaction to Allied fighters over Cannes, Toulon and the area to the North. No contacts. Patrol activity north of Toulon reported between 1410/1425 hours.
Four South France based recces were reported during the day by No. 1 FU at Tomino, Corsica, and the last aircraft mentioned a convoy, course ESE, and was plotted by D/F 100 miles north of Algiers at 1329 hrs. This was broadcast by No. 1 FU at 1340 hrs. whilst at 1500 they broadcast that a met report from the convoy area had been sent.
Vanrell and Pradel write that Rippert radioed in his claimed success and that "the Americans would have heard it." The records suggest that nothing of the kind was heard but MAAF Signals Intelligence files are not among their book's list of sources.
Diary entry of Luftflotte 3 (Air Fleet 3, commanding Luftwaffe forces in France) for 31 July 1944:
Jafü Süd sent 12 aircraft and Geschwader Bongart 2 aircraft against the guerillas.
Overall [i.e. for the Luftflotte]: 6 aircraft shot down; 14 of own aircraft lost; 3 aircraft destroyed on the ground.
(File AIR20/7703: Translations vol. 4: Luftflotte 3, July 1944)
Jan Bobek has commented that all of these six aircraft shot down can be accounted for in the documented victory claims of other German units.
Letter to the author from Georg Pemler (served as a Leutnant in 2./NAG 13) 4 February 1994:
"I have already confirmed, in the course of investigations that I was charged with in 1944, that on 31 July 1944 no shootdown was reported either by our unit , the Jafü or the Flak artillery."
The deciphered report of the day's reconnaissance missions by Fliegerdivision 2 does not include any flights by 2./NAG 13's Fw 190s (File HW5/548, item CX/MSS/T263/29).
continued on next page …
PART THREE OF FIVE
All file references are from the National Archives, Kew London.