Army Group E reported that:
North west of Cacak our attack was continued. Near Podujevo attempts at a breakthrough made by enemy regiments supported by tanks, ground attack aircraft and strong artillery, have so far been frustrated. East of Pristina infiltration by superior enemy forces has been held for the most part. South of Kumanovo mopping-up west of Pcinja proceeds …
Four Fw 190s sortied to attack enemy positions south of Kumanovo but heavy Flak over German-held territory forced them to jettison their bombs and shot one of them down: this was WNr. 580228 whose pilot, Uffz. Altenpohl, baled out unharmed. With two Fw 190s now destroyed and three badly damaged by friendly fire, Korte and Generaloberst Alexander Loehr (commanding Army Group E) agreed to suspend ground attack operations "until fire discipline has been restored" in XXII. Armee Korps' area.
The II./SG 10 detachment's strength was now 6 pilots (all operational) and 6 aircraft (3 serviceable). Three more Fw 190s were promised but Korte was asked whether German forces would be able to hold on to Skopje long enough for them to operate from there. Failing that, were the additional aircraft still required and were operations envisaged from Pristina?
Another signal from Monsun gave the Allies an insight into that situation: Ju 52s were urgently required for Skopje, as the majority of the wounded were there with insufficient aircraft on hand to evacuate them. Meanwhile "the situation at Pristina is such that flying traffic is not yet jeopardised there."
The afternoon's operations brought a clash west of Kumanovo with 11 Bulgarian Ju 87s, three of which were claimed shot down. A 22 year-old pilot, Lieutenant Stoiu Stoianoff Kafedieff, baled out and was captured by the Germans. From him it was learned that his unit, the 2nd Stuka Polk, was based at Sofia-Vrasdebana and commanded by a Captain Karalvamov. They had flown four operations against vehicle convoys in Macedonia and prior to the mission of 3 November had lost two Ju 87s to Flak at Prilep. Normal serviceability was about 20 aircraft out of 30, since no spares were available; there were no anti-aircraft defences on their airfield, nor any Russian units — in fact they had hardly any contact with the Soviets.
The detachment flew six operations totalling 22 sorties against tank and vehicle concentrations in the Podujevo area. They dropped 36 x AB 70, 17 x AB 250 and 5 x AB 500 canisters, then strafed at very low level, reporting "very good hits … considerable casualties and losses in motor transport probable. Defence: Flak of all calibres, in part well placed." For once the Fw 190s suffered no losses. In the course of these operations the SG 10 pilots observed about 15 tanks km east of Podujevo as well as reinforcements, primarily Flak, being brought up from the north west. No hostile aircraft were encountered.
On the 4th, Korte's intelligence staff briefed that the Luftwaffe was operating the following types in the area: the Ju 52, Ju 290, Ju 188, He 111, Fw 190, Fi 156, Hs 126, Letov S. 328 and Piaggio 108. However, the enemy was operating German machines too: the Bf 109, Do 17, Do 215 and Ju 87.
Monsun's strength return for the day was:
During the day, Hs 126 WNr. 3079 was rammed by a Ju 52 and 25% damaged, putting it beyond repair with the facilities available. The II./SG 10 also lost another Fw 190, WNr. 930854 and its pilot, Ogefr. Antes was killed. Presumably this was in the course of operations but no further details are available: the Allies intercepted a message saying that a daily operations report had been filed but — unfortunately for this article — not the report itself.
continued on next page …
PART TWO OF FOUR
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Article © Nick Beale 2009