25–31 July 1944

The Gruppe scrambled aircraft twice on the 25th (9 sorties in total) and three of the Bf 109s sighted hostile reconnaissance planes soon after 14.00 hours but no combat seems to have taken place. Gustav Ohmert flew his last operation with JGr. 200 that afternoon, sighting »20 Indianer« (bandits) in the Orange–Avignon area without engaging. Strength was reported as 17 (10) Bf 109s and 25 (17) pilots. Next day, there were three scrambles (again involving 9 Bf 109s) but the enemy was not sighted. Another two Messerschmitts were sent up to escort a convoy and this mission too seems to have been uneventful — Luftflotte 3 recorded that the Jafü's fighters had no success that day.

On the 28th, there were four scrambles "in the Cuers area" with 10 Bf 109s in all; four machines sighted hostile aircraft but there were no victories or losses, however the report of the Gruppe’s activities for the day notes that a runaway barrage balloon was shot down between Marseille and Toulon, so this at least may have been a “victory” for JGr. 200. Missions for the 29th were four Bf 109s on escort (for another convoy?) and four on “observation” and all these sorties appear to have passed off without incident.

The next day brought far more action, with seven groups of Bf 109s (15 sorties) up between 07.45 and 21.07 hours, using guns and WGr. 21 mortars in support of German troops fighting guerrillas. A casualty of these missions was the Kapitän of the 3. Staffel. Lt. Arndt-Richard Hupfeld, was seriously injured when his Bf 109 G-6 (W.Nr. 163231, yellow 1) starved of fuel, crashed on approach to Avignon/Château Blanc. The Allies later found his aircraft dismantled in a hangar at the airfield and its mortar tubes, still loaded, nearby. They deduced from the earth in the tubes that the Messerschmitt had landed with them still attached; one could further infer that if Hupfeld was lacking fuel but still carrying rockets that he may have suffered problems with his petrol feed soon after take-off and decided to turn back. The Bf 109 was due to be sent for factory repair and Hupfeld was still in hospital (in a plaster cast) three weeks later. Also damaged enough to warrant return to the factory was Bf 109 G-6/U4 W.Nr. 441665, which had suffered a technical breakdown while taking off.

The 30th also had its positive aspects for the Gruppe: two new Bf 109 G-6/U4s were received (W.Nr. 441752 and 441754); Thunderbolts were sighted at 13.10 and five minutes later, 100 km. south of Nice, the 3. Staffel’s Fw. Guth shot down the F-5B of 2/Lt. Gene C. Meredith (23rd Photographic Squadron). Another patrol was up an hour later but proved uneventful.

Strengths at this stage were:

28 July

17 (14)

aircraft

27 (9)

pilots

29 July

17 (13)

 

30 (9)

 

30 July

17 (14)

 

31 (10)

 

On the last day of the month, Orange Plan de Dieu was shot up during the morning by Thunderbolts which set two Ju 88s on fire and destroyed 16 torpedoes — the Free French reported that one of their P-47s had been brought down by Flak over France and its pilot killed. For JGr. 200 no daily report survives but Luftflotte 3 recorded that 12 aircraft of Jafü Süd engaged guerillas alongside two of Geschwader Bongart. Allied radio monitoring detected fighters up over the Cannes–Toulon area from 08.58–09.29 hours in response to this Allied incursion and patrol activity north of Toulon from 16.10–16.45 hours. Elsewhere on this site is a discussion of a former 3./JGr. 200 pilot's "recovered memory" of shooting down an F-5 of the Free French GR 2/33 on 31 July 1944.

continued on next page …

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