I started work on this back in 1985 or ’86, when I found a prisoner of war interrogation report at the (then) Public Record Office. This was before the UK Ministry of Defence had declassified such reports and only the occasional, overlooked example could be found on the files (If you wanted more, you could purchase them on microfilm from the USAF Historical Research Center).
The report I chanced on dealt with the crew of a Ju 188 of 4./KG 200, shot down over Belgium in January 1945. I decided to follow it up and it became the subject of an article published in Aviation News in 1989; in 2005, I briefly covered some of the night’s events in Kampfflieger, Volume Four. Since then, a lot more relevant material has been released and so I decided to have another go at telling the story. Look on this as the expanded and remastered 25th Anniversary de luxe reissue.
Fahnenjunker-Feldwebel Heinz Hauck had begun his operational career with KG 2 and, after some months recovering from wounds, had flown with 6.(F)/123 in summer 1944. His name was known to at least one arm of British Intelligence, having cropped up in the Staffel’s strength returns. The unit was disbanded in September and its ground personnel were consigned to the infantry. Hauck and the other aircrew sent to the assembly depot at Quedlinburg:
I was there quite a long time. We were told we were going to … the paratroopers and so on. With the exception of the pilots. The pilots went to Reich Defence.
Then, at the beginning of November, I accidentally met … the fellows with whom I’m now flying. I’d been with them before — at least with two of them — in one Gruppe … I knew them very well. They came along and said, “They want crews for ferrying supplies to strongpoints.”
Their own pilot having been posted away, they were pleased to crew up with Hauck. Observer, Fw. Max Wuttge recalled that different categories of men were progressively posted away from Quedlinburg until someone asked, “Who’s flown the He 111? … “ Wuttge and his fellow crew members (Uffz. Max Großman, Wireless Operator; Fw. Heinrich Hoppe, air-gunner) answered in the affirmative and were told “That’s good.” Next day:
Our current pilot came running up. He had also been in KG 2 but went to the Fernaufklärer … we were given him as pilot. The marching orders were handed to me. So we asked them at Quedlinburg, “What kind of mob is it?” “Transport unit” … we then went to Finow [and] the following day we met the Staffelkapitän.
… we were transferred to a certain place [Finow] but we were not told what we were to do there [and] immediately told to keep our mouths shut about everything we learnt:
“What are we to keep our mouths shut about?”
“… You’ll find out soon enough.”
About a week later, Hauck and his crew took over Ju 188 W.Nr. 260542, A3+QD from Rangsdorf and flew it back to Finow where they made one test flight. Otherwise the aircraft stayed in a hangar alongside an He 111 and an Fi 156.
After the deactivation of Fliegerkorps IX’s bombers in September, Ltn. Peter Stahl of KG 30 was expecting to be retrained on fighters. Instead, on early November he was offered command of a detachment of 4./KG 200 known as Kommando Olga, its mission to drop spies behind Allied lines. He later wrote of his own memories of arriving at his new unit’s base, Rhein-Main. After getting to the outskirts of Frankfurt-am-Main by rail and tram, he had to complete his journey on foot:
… after a while I could hear the sound of aircraft engines … And there it was! Over a forest clearing I suddenly spotted a Ju 188 floating past at low altitude with its wheels down—obviously coming in to land … This was it! The southern end of the field and I could just make out a few aircraft camouflaged between the trees … The command post of Olga consisted of two barracks well hidden in a wood … My predecessor seemed overjoyed that I had finally arrived and he could “take off.”
Stahl writes that Olga had six Ju 188 and two B-17 when he arrived but that technical support was hamstrung by constant air raids, resulting in low serviceability and a backlog of operations. At least one Ju 188 was lost in November, W.Nr. 180846 which made an emergency crash-landing on the Frankfurt–Erfurt Autobahn, killing Uffz. Ernst Eisenhardt and his three crew. Eisenhardt is buried at Breitenbach am Herzberg.
By late November, Dutch former journalist Willem Copier was undergoing training in Rotterdam after being recruited by the Sicherheitsdienst in Groningen the previous month as a stay-behind agent to report on Allied troop movements. A self-professed believer in “honest National Socialism” (a concept understandably derided by his British interrogators), he had twice sought to join the SS, only to be rejected for his poor eyesight. Now he told his wife that he was training as a Waffen-SS war reporter.
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