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continued …

Having survived the action over the convoy, a further aircraft fell victim to an RAF intruder into French airspace (see above):

 

8./KG 26

Ju 88 A-17

W.Nr. 801711

1H+KS

 

 

Uffz. Albert Schillig, Uffz. Wilhelm Treue, Gefr. Franz Mayrhuber, Ogefr. Karl Bauer all killed.

Another returning Ju 88 was shot up by German fighters and classed as “battle loss over own territory”:

 

2./KG 77

Ju 88 A-17

W.Nr. 801598

3Z+CH

 

 

Uffz. Bruno Bonk killed, Uffz. Helmut Wolf injured.

Aircraft (factory marking KS+CP) taken over by KG 26 on 3 August 1944 as 1H+NN and handed over to workshop. Badly damaged in fighter-bomber attack on Valence on 6 August.

A further Ju 88 turned over on landing at La Jasse:

 

2./KG 77

Ju 88 A-17

W.Nr. 822921

3Z+KW

 

 

Ofw. Wilhelm Tappert, Ogefr. Karl Geißler, Uffz. Herbert Rasche, Uffz. Josef Romer missing.

NOTES: The units given are those of the crews, some of whom might fly machines belonging to other Staffeln if their own were unserviceable.

The Germans should have learned of the Formentera casualties from the Spanish authorities and through the International Red Cross that Ltn. Hasneney was a prisoner.

The Ju 88 C-6 is unlikely to have fallen foul of the convoy’s defences if the escort fighters had turned back as Haseney stated (see above).

It is not clear why the crew of 3Z+KW which crashed on a home airfield should be posted missing. Rasche and Romer do however figure in the German Red Cross missing lists and none of the four crew appears on the German War Graves database with a date of death in May 1944.

In addition, a Ju 88 C-6 of III./ZG 1 was damaged at Cazaux owing to a technical problem but whether it was leaving or returning is not known. Of 13 reconnaissance aircraft dispatched one had been shot down (with its crew saved) and one was missing, a loss rate of 15.4%. For the attacking force and its escort the loss rate of 17 out 86 was 19.8%.

Asessments

The Luftwaffe

Some 13 reconnaissance aircraft had been sent to look for UGS-40, three sorties produced “correct results for the conduct of the attack”: one visual and one photographic by day, one by night with radar. No fewer than five aircraft (38%) had aborted their tasks and two had been lost (see above); radar reconnaissance by the remaining machines had brought no interpretable information. Fliegerdivision 2 concluded that the main force had not achieved surprise because: (a) a dusk attack was the only feasible option given the weather conditions; (b) the Allies were believed to have deployed “camouflaged aircraft reporting boats” between the Balearics and Sardinia; and (c) the need for Fli.Div. 2 to telephone reconnaissance reports to higher commands potentially compromised security, despite use of the “telephone code table”. Although fighters had effectively engaged only one of the attack waves, the simultaneous presence “by chance” of both waves over the convoy had hindered the attackers, restricting their freedom of movement.

The German airmen appear genuinely to have believed that they had sunk a large number of ships since Luftflotte 3’s report of 13 May contains details clearly not intended for public consumption:

 

III./KG 26 (24 attacked with 33 torpedoes)

 

3 cargo vessels

21,000 t

sunk

 

2 cargo vessels

14,000 t

probably sunk

 

1 cargo vessel

7,000 t

damaged

 

1 transport

9,000 t

damaged

 

1 tanker

4,000 t

damaged

 

1 light cruiser

damaged

 

6 cargo vessels (42,000 tones) and 2 destroyers attacked with observed results

 

I./KG 77 (15 aircraft attacked with 30 torpedoes)

 

1 cargo vessel

7,000 t

severely damaged

 

1 destroyer

severely damaged

 

III./KG 77 (14 aircraft attacked with 28 torpedoes)

 

3 cargo vessels

21,000 t

sunk

 

2 cargo vessels

14,000 t

severely damaged

 

1 destroyer

severely damaged

 

2 destroyers hit without results being observed (and 1 escort vessel?)

 

NOTE: In the above figures all of the lost and missing aircraft were counted as having attacked with the exception of the I./KG 77 machine which fell to friendly fire.

 

 

Seven aircraft (11% of the torpedo bomber force) had broken off early:

 

III./KG 26

2 Ju 88

technical or engine trouble

 

I./KG 77

3 Ju 88

technical or engine trouble

 

III./KG 77

2 Ju 88

technical trouble

The overall verdict:

In view of the very strong AA defence [and] the smoke shrouding the convoy the total success must nevertheless be described as good. Losses however were too high …

A Luftwaffe survivor

In captivity Ltn. Haseney of III./KG 26 gave his opinions:

Considerable time was wasted milling around at the collecting point near Cap de Creus before the aircraft were properly in formation … the aircraft when approaching the convoy were flying in much too tight a formation and the fear of collision in their individual endeavour to pick a target was responsible for as much evasive action as was caused by the AA and fighters.

continnued on next page …

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CONTENTS

Introduction

Shadowing

The attackng force

The convoy escorts

Air cover

The Attack

Aftermath

Losses

Assessments

Propaganda

Sources

Map

© Nick Beale 2019

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