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Einsatzkommando KG 51 in France: August 1944 (page 2)

24 August 1944

Early on 24 August, Einsatzkommando KG 51 reported to IX. Fliegerkorps that it had four pilots (all operational) and four Me 262s, all but one serviceable, and listing them by Werk Nummer. In another report that evening their tactical codes were given too:

DL 130182

GL 170002

HL 170016

IL 170004

A report sent by IX. Fl.Kps. at 15.30 hrs. was addressed to Einsatzgruppe Schenck at Juvincourt in France. A certain flexibility over the names of ad hoc units seems to have been quite common in the Luftwaffe.

The same day, Luftflotte 3 issued a brief description of the Me 262 which it characterised as “nearly employed.” Unless there was a mistranslation or there was ambiguity in the original German, this message appears to confirm that the type had not yet operated in France.

25 August 1944

Today's strength return was again four Me 262 (their sub-type now given as A-1), one of them unserviceable. One of the pilots was unavailable for operations as well.

It is not clear whether the Me 262s operated. Jagdkorps II’s fighters flew midday and evening missions in defence of the German bridgehead west of the lower Seine but were hampered by softened airfields, fog and Allied activity over their bases and assembly areas.

At mid-afternoon strafing Allied aircraft wrecked a wood-gas lorry and wounded three men from the aerodrome (two of them seriously) on the Corbeny–Juvincourt road.

26 August 1944

The unit was directly subordinated to Luftflotte 3 which was to issue its operational orders, only for subordination to be returned to IX. Fliegerkorps two days later.

Between 09.34 and 09.42 hrs., three of the Einsatzkommando's aircraft took off from Juvincourt to attack troop concentrations on the left bank of the Seine in the loop northeast of Bonnières. On the map this seems a clearly defined target but instead the Messerschmitts attacked a wood southeast of Bonnières, dropping their three AB 500 canisters of SD 10 fragmentation bombs from a horizontal approach at 3–4000 metres' altitude.

NOTE: For a discussion of the possibility that this operation took place on 25 August, see the Postscript to this article.

By 15.30 hrs. only two Me 262s were still serviceable but the Kommando had gained a fifth pilot.

27 August 1944

Luftflotte 3's situation reported for 27 August (as translated by the RAF's Air Historical Branch) includes three daylight sorties by IX. Fliegerkorps. The only aircraft of this formation operating by day were those of Kdo. Schenck but no details of their targets are given. (Oberfeldwebel Hieronymus Lauer's logbook records an attack on Melun in 9K+GL, taking off from Juvincourt at 12.50 GMT and returning an hour later).

The same report recorded an order to the Tactical HQ of Luftgau Belgien-Nordfrankreich "to transfer special purpose aircraft and Flak defence units based at Juvincourt airfield to Chièvres."

28 August 1944

During the evening, the Einsatzkommando's Ofw. Lauer was shot down near Brussels by USAAF P-47s.

NOTE: Lauer was some way from both the Kommando's base and its present area of operations when his aircraft crashed.

The Kommodore of KG 51 told IX. Fliegerkorps' Operations Officer that five more aircraft and crews should be available by 1 September but that it had not been decided whether to concentrate efforts on one Staffel or bring the whole of the I. Gruppe to a uniform state of training. The Einsatzkdo. had only received "emergency training" since it had the best pilots but this would not suffice for average personnel and so the Gruppe as a whole was not expected to be ready before 1 October. The Geschwader also proposed that a motorised Field Workshop Detachment should be permanently allocated to the Einsatzkdo. for mobile operations in West.

The Fliegerkorps' advice to Luftflotte 3 was that the promised men and machines should go to Schenck's Kommando so that testing of the Me 262 at the front should not be interrupted by shortages of either. After that however, the Korps thought that I./KG 51 ought to be brought to a uniform state of training and then be made fully operational. The Luftflotte was asked to inform KG 51 of its decision.

The Operations Officer signalled Major Schenck:

1) That with immediate effect, the Einsatzkommando was again operationally subordinated to the Fliegerkorps.

2) That he should report restored operational readiness right away; and

3) notify the actual depths of penetration of flights during the last days of the unit's subordination to Luftflotte 3.

Luftgau Belgium/North France reported to the Chief Quartermaster that it had 230 tonnes of J2 fuel (for jet aircraft) in stock and that 2 tonnes had been consumed since the previous day.

That evening Luftflotte 3 ordered that all flying units and the entire ground organisation including Flak employed on airfields south west of the line Dunkerque – Charleville-Mézières were to be transferred to the north east and their former bases destroyed: this included Juvinvcourt.

At 21.00 hrs. the Operations Officer gave Schenck's unit its targets for the next day: Coulommiers (east of Paris) and the area south west as far as "Rozoy" (map reference 04 East/2943).

NOTE: The quoted point on the Luftwaffe fighter grid system lies at the corner of a wood about 3.5 km NW of Rozay-en-Brie, a village about 16 km SW of Coulommiers.

continued on next page…

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This article covers the preparations for the deployment of the Me 262 bomber on the Western Front and one week — possibly the first — in the operational life of Einsatzkommando KG 51 which saw its withdrawal from France to Holland.

The information here is drawn from the files of the British Government Code & Cipher School, a report by the Air Prisoner of War Interrogation Unit of 2 TAF on an Austrian mechanic who deserted from 3./KG 51 and the Air Ministry Intelligence file on Junkers turbo-jets. I will also make some comparisons with what has been said in books by Wolfgang Dierich, J. Richard Smith & Eddie J. Creek and Manfred Jurleit.

Times are all GMT.


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