Six Do 217s from III./KG 100 attacked between 20.38 and 21.59, a seventh aborted and further aircraft must have been sent out, even if they did not engage their targets (see the landing reports below). One hit was claimed with with Fritz X and two with the Hs 293. Like the Luftwaffe did at the time, Ulf Balke's sources spoke of considerable success:
III./KG 100 flew its last missions against the landing fleet, heavily damaging the American destroyer Le Long, LST [Landing Ship, Tank] 312 and 384. LST 282 and a 7,000 tonne freighter were sunk (this last by Ofw. Kube's crew).
Although one Allied source attributes the loss of two American LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicles/Personnel) to glider bombs, the victories reported seem excessive and there are several errors in the above list: there does not appear to have been any American destroyer called Le Long involved in the landings; nor did LST 312 and 384 take part, both had been damaged by a V-1 while moored at Deptford on the Thames on 8 July. Several of the DRAGOON ships were sunk or damaged by mines and shellfire however and these may have become confused with the few victims of air attack.
Balke (q.v.) reproduces the certificate awarded to Kube's crew (Uffz. Hugo, observer; Ogefr. Dorn, air gunner; and Ogefr. Kecher, flight engineer), their kill at 19.15 hours being "confirmed by witness reports." While the timings do not correspond exactly, theirs may have been the biggest substantiated guided weapons success of the night — and of the campaign. As seen from the receiving end, a small Do 217 force (estimated to be four at most) approached the Camel Beach area "first at about 15,000 feet, then dropped to about 8,000 feet" to release their glider bombs:
The German control aircraft skilfully operated over the land, thus keeping the LST between it and our jamming ships and compelling them to attempt taking control of a glider bomb approaching head on — the most difficult angle for control. This new German technique foiled no less [sic] than twenty-two of our jamming ships: this was the first occasion of its kind recorded — an important point to remember in view of the fact that we had written off the glider bomb as not really a serious menace.
LST 282 was 600 yards off St. Raphael and heading for shore when she was hit and caught fire. Although beached, she was a total loss and about 40 men aboard were killed. Bombs were also reported to have landed near the attack transport (and floating HQ), USS Bayfield. German guided weapons had sunk their last ship of the war and III./KG 100's work for the night was finished. From 22.50–23.28, two Fritz X and five Hs 293 aircraft landed at Blagnac. Two Hs 293 carriers still unaccounted for may have been those reported putting down at Luxeuil. In the immediate aftermath, two Do 217s were reported lost: Ofw. Rudolf Blab's crew is still missing (Do 217 M-11, 6N+AS); from 7/KG 100, Ofw. Rudolf Freiberg's plane was shot down by the ships' AA fire, the crew subsequently bailing out to be rescued by Spanish fishermen and interned.
While the Dorniers were engaging the fleet, Ju 88s were also due to be in action. I./KG 26 had been ordered to carry out a torpedo attack at St. Raphael while the II. Gruppe was assigned a target just east of Cap Nègre, where French commandos had come ashore. Bombs were to be dropped south of the road which was in effect the front line. According to Rudi Schmidt:
Only a few crews could be sent into action and they found the same thing as they had a few weeks previously off the Normandy Invasion Coast. They could not get near the real targets, the transport ships and their war material. These lay within so strong a protective cordon of warships that to break through the massive defensive fire was simply not possible. To carry out a torpedo attack at all they had to search further out to sea where supply convoys were still running in. This torpedo attack was the last in the Mediterranean.
In the event, a few Ju 88s attacked shipping without result at dusk and only four from II./KG 26 operated: one broke off; two did not attack on account of the darkness; and just one bombed the Cap Nègre landing point. The Geschwader's after-action assessment concluded that 2,000 m. was to high for clear identification of small targets in the late evening light but the bombers could not go in lower because of the AA defences. In the half-light targets were obscured while attacking aircraft were easily seen.
The bomber force was further impeded by damage to Valence aerodrome and Fl.Div. 2 was informed that three KG 26 illuminators had landed as far afield as Strasbourg-Enzheim and Freiburg owing to the unserviceability of airfields to which they had been diverted pending repairs to Valence.
Not surprisingly, the German forces had been overwhelmed. The Flivo of LXII. Armee Korps, Lt. Georg Vogler of Verbindungskompanie 18, claimed when captured that there had been no opportunity to lay on an air support mission because the Korps Command Post in Draguignan had been attacked by Allied paratroops on D-Day and communications disrupted. Even so his channel for requesting air support would have been through his own HQ at Compiègne, remote from the action on the Riviera.
Fliegerdivision 2 reported that its total effort up to 23.00 had been 21 sorties, including:
1 Ju 88 security recce using FuG 200
9 Bf 109s scrambled
4 Bf 109s on an escort mission
1 Bf 109 and an "unknown number" of Fw 190s on reconnaissance.
Supposedly there had been one loss. Clearly this list was incomplete as no Do 217s are mentioned and a later ULTRA decrypt referred to total of nine planes on reconnaissance. Additionally Uffz. Alfred Graap of II./KG 26 was posted missing on the 16th and II./JG 77 recorded one aircraft damaged by enemy action and another four in accidents.
After the 15th, no long range reconnaissance flights from Southern France were recorded by Allied listening posts but it was believed that 2.(F)/122 probably began to operate daily from Italy over the approaches to the beachheads.
continued on next page ...