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From Luftflotte 2 Operations Section on afternoon of 18/8:

1) Fliegerdivision 2 is subordinated with immediate effect to Luftflotte 2.

2) On 19/8 an officer who knows all details about units and the situation (airfields, roads, railways), is to report to Luftflotte 2. Land at Villafranca.

3) Make up at once a competent ops detachment and send it by air to Bergamo South. It must arrive by 20/8 at the latest, and is to include one officer, one IA, one signals technical officer, IV A, and one officer to set up a battle HQ at Merate (about 20 kms W of Bergamo).

4) Get all units of the Division ready to transfer. Further orders follow.

5) Pay attention to the air situation during all ferrying flights (early morning and late evening).

Confirm.

From III./KG 100, Kommandeur, at 2030 hours [GMT] on 18/8:

On order of OKW, base to be evacuated at once. Request more detailed orders.

To III./KG 100 for Obltn. Fahtmann from II./KG 26, stamped 2345/18/8 [GMT]:

Transfer each a/c with 2 technicians to Valence immediately they have become serviceable.

Operations

At 08.00 hours KG 26 reported a Mustang attack on Valence in the course of which one Ju 88 and a gantry crane were destroyed. Local communications were in a poor state, with the bridge between Valence and Montélimar destroyed and the road bridge at Valence again bombed and destroyed. Signals also went back and forth about collecting four of the Geschwader's Ju 88s from the workshops at Salon.

Lt. Nicholson of 111th TRS destroyed a Ju 88 “on the deck” just south of Orgon, during the morning. Two Bf 109s were seen in the Montélimar area by Mustangs of the same unit but no contact was made and at 14.30 P-38s of 14th FG saw two Bf 109s attacking a Supermarine Walrus amphibian but the hostiles flew off as the Americans approached. Jagdgruppe 200's Fhj.Uffz. Alfred Kocken, flying Bf 109 "yellow 3", crashed on take-off and was killed, while II./JG 77 reported an aircraft damaged due to enemy action. During the day Lt. Georg Pemler flew the last of his 11 sorties (four in Messerschmitts, seven in Focke-Wulfs) for 2./NAGr. 13.

Reorganisation

During the afternoon, Fl.Div. 2, including KG 26, III./KG 200, 1.(F)/33, 2./NAG 13 and JG 77, was subordinated to Luftflotte 2 with immediate effect. The Divisional Operations Staff was to be in Bergamo by the 20th, establishing its Battle HQ at Merate. Flying units were ordered to prepare for transfer, with all ferry flights taking place in the early morning or late evening to avoid Allied fighters. Ground echelons were also on the move. Luftwaffe Berge-Kompanie z.b.V. 29 (29th Special Duties Recovery Company) departed for Rheims on the 18th. Commanded by Hptm. Oberlein, who had lived at Pélissanne (just east of Salon), the unit had operated all over Southern France, salvaging German and French aircraft wrecks.

On the afternoon of the 18th the Division's units were located as follows:

Stab KG 26

Valence

I./KG 26 (LT)

Orange Plan-de-Dieu

II./KG 26 (Bo)

Valence

1/.(F)/33

St. Martin

III./KG 100

Toulouse

Bombers

KG 26 issued orders during the morning for its I. Gruppe to carry out a dusk attack with the main effort against shipping south of St. Raphael while II. Gruppe was to repeat its missions of the 17th. Late in the afternoon, I./KG 26 reported that the airfield at Lyon-Bron (where the Allies also photographed 14 fighters) would be serviceable from the 19th with one take-off/landing runway of 1300 x 250 m. conditionally usable for night landing.

Dusk saw what the RAF's Air Historical Branch characterised as the "last serious effort" by Fl.Div. 2's bombers. Later it was learned from a PoW that III./KG 100's Dorniers were bombed up and ready for their evening flight when the news came through that the airfield was to be evacuated, the Gruppe returning to Germany. Even so, five Do 217s and 10–15 torpedo Ju 88s were estimated to have been airborne along with 10 Ju 88 bombers. One Junkers attempted to torpedo FDT (Fighter Direction Tender) 13 in the DELTA Beach area but the weapon exploded 250 yds. short. Another Ju 88 dropped anti-personnel bombs on the same beach from 6,000 ft. The light cruiser HMS Colombo and other ships of CTF 87 engaged a Ju 88 through gaps in the smokescreen but observed no hits and it was believed that only two hostiles had passed over the Task Force.

Eleven Ju 88s attacked around St. Tropez while five passed over CAMEL 26 and DELTA Beaches (Gulf of Fréjus) at 9,000 ft. At 21.05 hours one of these came as close to seriously impeding the Allied effort as any Luftwaffe aircraft was to do, when it straddled Fighter Director Ship USS Catoctin with anti-personnel bombs. One hit the after well deck, killing two men and seriously injuring three (two of the seriously wounded died next day); 32 others received less serious or minor injuries, PT 208 was close by and four of its men were injured also. Two hit home, killing six people and wounding 42 more, while others exploded near PT 208. Catoctin was the flagship of Admiral Hewitt, Allied Naval Commander, and had been the vessel which had put VI Corps' Commander, Gen. Patch, ashore. Fortunately for the Allies, a handover was already in progress at the time of the attack and control was not affected.

At 23.00, Fl.Div.2 reported that 11 aircraft (the context indicates that they came from KG 26) had taken off and attacked their designated targets. Two of the three setting down at Valence had belly landed after being shot up; three landed at Montélimar; and five at Orange-Plan de Dieu. One observer was reported slightly wounded but subsequent returns record one Ju 88, an officer and three NCO's of II./KG 26 missing from an attack on a shipping target in the Mediterranean. In the absence of any other Allied claims, it may be that this was the Ju 88 shot down by American fighters that morning near Orgon (see above). The night’s last known operation was a five-hour radar reconnaissance from 01.40 by a Ju 88 of II./KG 26 in the sea area south of Marseille and Cannes.

That night the Mistel composite aircraft unit KG 101sent a message that if it was to operate off the Mediterranean coast, it would need an airfield with a 1,600 metre run. After the releasing the explosive-laden Ju 88s, the intention would be for the guiding fighters to land in Northern Italy. In the event however, this unit was not to contribute to the brief campaign in Provence.

Summing Up

At 08.00 on the 19th, Fl.Div. 2 issued a summary of its operations for the night of the 17/18th, day of the 18th and night of the 18/19th. Sorties flown were as follows:

Bombing

16/17

FuG 200 radar reconnaissance

2

Photo reconnaissance

2

Escort

1

Fighter sweeps

38

Attacking guerillas

4

Losses reported included one Bf 109 destroyed on the ground and a Ju 88 missing (although documents later captured by the Allies list two Ju 88 bombers lost in air combat). The only victory claimed was one Lightning (MAAF records do list a P-38 missing on the 18th but no further details are known as yet. The lack of corroborating reports may point to this being a lone reconnaissance F-5).

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