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Paris: 26/27 August 1944

The enemy intends to take Paris and to annihilate all the forces of Army Group B which are between the Lower Seine, the sea and the area round Argentan. We must reckon with strong pressure on Paris and the West Bank of the Lower Seine northwards … It is the most important Task of C-in-C West to hold a bridgehead W. of Paris, and S. of Paris to prevent a thrust by the enemy through between the Seine and the Loire in the direction of Dijon.

Führer order, OKW Ops. Staff/Ops No. 772956/44, 20 August 1944

Paris: Heavy fighting was reported in the University Quarter and at the Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est on the 22nd.

Seekriegsleitung War Diary, 23 August 1944

… the Führer has ordered:

The defence of the Paris bridgehead is of decisive military and political significance …

Inside the town the sharpest measures must be taken against the first sign of insurrection. For example, blowing up of blocks of houses, public execution of ringleaders, evacuation of the quarter of the city affected, as such measures afford the best means of preventing the trouble from spreading … Never, or at any rate only as a heap of rubble, must Paris fall into the hands of the enemy.

Army Group B, 09.00 hrs. 23 August 1944

Defence ring Paris, no changes. In Paris yesterday there was fighting in the University Quarter, Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est. Terrorists in the Louvre, dug in with machine guns. The Grand Palais is on fire. Transport rendered difficult.

Gruppe West, evening 23 August 1944

Introduction

At 14.05 hrs. (GMT+2) on 23 August Ob. West called Army Group B with the news that the Führer had ordered a Luftwaffe attack on Paris “to annihiliate those parts of the city which are in a state of insurrection” but either this directive did not get through or was countermanded. All that Luftflotte 3 announed on the afternoon of the 24th was that a single aircraft from Transportfliegerführer 1 (quite possibly an He 111 of KG 53) would drop leaflets on Paris overnight while the bomber force. Army Group B and 5. Panzer Armee were told that the bombers’ assignments were an attack on troop assemblies in the Seine loop NW of Mantes (where the Americans had crossed the Seine at 19.30 hrs. (by II. and III./KG 51) and one on Évreux at 21.15 hrs. by the medium bombers. The latter city had been liberated by the Allies a day earlier (and bombed by them eight days before that). In the event, bad weather meant that no attacks took place.

In Paris the terrorist movement has captured the entire city. Up until now, resistance flaring up locally has been bloodily repulsed.

Seekriegsleitung War Diary, 24 August 1944

It was on the evening of the 24th that the first Free French troops entered Paris, securing the surrender of the German commander, Gen. von Choltitz, after fighting the following day. On the 25th Choltitz’s superior, Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model, was apparently unaware of the situation, planning a relieving attack to allow friendly forces to escape the city and join a defence line being established to the east. To support the planned breakout, the bombers were to be sent against roads coming into Paris from the south. The object may have been either to divert attention from the attack in the north or to disrupt the flow of Allied reinforcements into the capital.

The enemy pushed into central Paris as far as the Palais du Luxembourg with two armoured columns. Fierce fighitng in progress throughout the city with enemy troops and terrorists. Many fires reported.

Seekriegsleitung War Diary, 25 August 1944

They’re here! Capitaine Brionne of the Leclerc Division, in his tank “Romilly”, is the first Frenchman to reach the Hôtel de Ville.

Libération, 25 August 1944

However slow the news of the surrender had been in reaching him the day before, Model was surely being disingenuous when he issued this declaration on Saturday the 26th:

The enemy is spreading a false order from General von Choltitz [that] resistance in Paris is to be stopped. The order is false. All strong points will be held to the last.

Orders

The same afternoon, IX. Fliegerkorps’ Operations Officer set out his intentions for the coming night as:

A) 21.00 hours, bomber and SK [Schnellkampf] units concentrated on city quarter Montrouge, Paris.

B) 0200 hours, same target: harassing operation by part forces of KG 6.

Seventy-five minutes later (at 16.15 GMT) the detailed objectives were given as:

Operations Order No. 125 for the night 26–27.8.44:

1) IX. Flieger Korps attack with all forces and mixed bombload on area of city Sceaux (southern edge of Paris), concentrating on main supply roads on both sides of Sceaux from Châtenay-Malabry to Montrouge (Route Nationale 20) and from the crossroads just east of Villacoublay (southwest of Robinson) to Montrouge (all according to Map 1:80,000 [scale].

2) Avoid city centre under all circumstances. Own troops fighting in Luxembourg.

3) The Army will bring some containers of leaflets to Le Culot for KG 30, which will be taken on the operation and dropped over Paris provided they arrive in Le Culot by 18.00 hours [local time].

4) Navigational aids: none.

NOTES: Robinson in this case is the Paris district, not the cover name of Göring’s HQ.

The Palais du Luxembourg was home to the French Senate. Luftflotte 3 had established its command post there and the building and gardens had been fortified. It was defended by 6–700 soldiers, SS and Schutzpolizei as well as a small force of tanks. The garrison surrendered late on the afternoon of the 25th.

continued on next page …

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PART ONE OF FIVE

A much-expanded account of the raid mentioned in "Kampfflieger Volume 4".

© Nick Beale 2019–21


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