That night 1.(F)/123 reported having 14 (13) pilots and 7 (5) aircraft: A, E, G and I were serviceable; B was away from base; M and H were unserviceable. The following afternoon the figures were 14 (12) pilots and 7 (4) Arados: the only changes were that H was now serviceable but B and M had gone
On the 20th an Ar 234 carried out a photo-reconnaissance of the Rhein from Nijmegen to Düsseldorf. An operation was flown from 06.39–07.26 hrs. next day but Ofw. Jorek achieved only partial success in photographing the Xanten – Appeldoorn area owing to “continual fighter attacks.” Another attempt was due to be made once GH was serviceable. An Ar 234 of III./KG 76 crashed at 17.52 hrs. while returning from a reconnaissance of the sea area near Amsterdam and its pilot was killed. Next day, a message was addressed to 1.(F)/123 at Rheine to the effect that the personnel of Erprobungskommando 335 (the Do 335 test unit) were still at Rechlin but “the required materials” were not. A reply to Rechlin was requested regarding the date for a “small collection” relating to some supply issue but no details were given.
On the 22nd, Horst Götz signalled from Reinsehlen to “Kommando Sperling, Marx” to ferry all aircraft able to make the flight to Reinsehlen as soon as “the airfield” was serviceable. Probably Marx was meant since it had been declared closed to all classes of aircraft on the 21st. The detachment was to be reduced to an Einsatzkommando for flights at extreme range. A power unit would be supplied shortly for MH and orders were given to establish whether it was possible for photographic interpretation and technical servicing to be supported by 1.(F)/33. This was the first that had been heard since early February of a detachment at Marx and nothing is known of its activities in the interim.
According to British Air Intelligence 4(f):
… on 22/3 and again on 24/3, 1.(F)/123 was ordered to operate Ar 234’s from NW Germany to cover harbours from the HUMBER southwards with the specific purpose of discovering Allied landing intentions.
On the night of 23/24 March the British Second Army began its crossing of the Rhein.
While 1.(F)/123 still had 13 (12 pilots on the 27th, it was now down to five aircraft: E, G, H, I and M (the last two of these being unserviceable). Two new machines were taken on to strength: W.Nr. 140488 on the 28th and 140590 the next day (another message says on the 29th and 30th). When delivered they lacked camera installations, clocks and logbook covers as well as exposure control gear. A subsequent serviceability report suggests that these aircraft became DH and LH but it is not known which was which.
Harald Rabeder writes that Uffz. Jackstadt, taking off in 4U+HH from Reinsehlen, flew a photo-reconnaissance of the Rhein from Emmerich to Duisburg on the 25th. This mission, apparently recorded in the pilot’s logbook, is missing from Lw.Kdo. West’s reports on the day’s operations.
On the 31st, according to a deciphered signal, Obltn. Fritz Worschech took off in 4U+EH at 13.10 hrs. On the return leg he made a forced landing at Bispingen (60 km south of Hamburg) owing to engine failure and blocked controls. He was slightly injured but his Ar 234 was 90% destroyed in the crash and ensuing fire. (See also the events of 2 May, below). It is not impossible that the same pilot crashed twice in the space of five weeks in two aircraft with the same markings, nevertheless it would be quite a coincidence and remarkably bad luck. The 1.(F)/123 had a new 4U+EH by 7 April, probably W.Nr. 140492 which had come on to its strength three days previously.
At 18.00 GMT on the 31st, the Staffel reported a strength of 13 pilots (all operational) and 6 aircraft: G, H and M were serviceable; D, I and L were not.
Two rather cryptic messages sent a week apart, seem to have concerned the supply of new aircraft to 1.(F)/123 by a hitherto unknown organisation. On the evening of 24 March a Kommandeur notified an unknown addressee that the rear base was Kommando Falke’s base airfield but that “consent from Lw.Kdo. West is still not to hand.” It was not explained what the absent consent was for but FAG 123 was awaiting a report on the “completed transfer.”
A week later a Technical Officer was told that W.Nr. 488 and 580 had been delivered “here” from Falke on the 29th and 30th. Both machines lacked some element of their camera installations, their log book covers and clocks, and the TO was asked to provide two sets of exposure control gear. These details seem to tie in with the arrival of two new machines, DH and LH, on 1.(F)/123’s strength between 27 and 31 March 1945.
An Ar 234 reconnoitred both sides of the Rhein between Emmerich and Arnhem on 2 April although the context of the relevant message suggests that it may have come from III./KG 76. The next day an aircraft, thought to be from 1.(F)/123 took off but bad weather forced it to return after only 13 minutes.
On 5 April the Stab of FAG 123 reported that it had transferred to Lechfeld and that its 1. Staffel had completed its move to Reinsehlen. That afternoon, Reinsehlen’s Naval Liaison Officer contacted Naval Chief Command North to ask what he should do if Allied forces approached the airfield, adding that “Further transfer eastwards of the Aufklärer [are] not to be expected.” One sortie was flown on the 5th, a visual reconnaissance of the road between Salzbergen and Ibbenbüren; the pilot reported traffic near Rheine but that neither this airfield nor Hopsten was occupied.
The following morning, at 06.45 hrs., the Naval Liaison Officer signalled his commanders that the reconnaissance aircraft were transferring to Lübeck-Blankensee and did the transfer [his own?] to Buxtehude [22 km WSW of Hamburg] still stand. Three hours later came confirmation that the aircraft in question were those of 1.(F)/123. A Staffel (inferred from the context to be 1.(F)/123) reported that it had completed its transfer to Blankensee but that its transport echelon had been strafed en route with one dead and five wounded as well as “heavy material damage.” The convoy had yet to arrive so details of the damage were not yet known.
One reconnaissance was carried out in Fliegerdiv. 14’s area on 6 April but was again frustrated by the weather; up between 15.04 and 16.07 hrs. it followed the route Blankensee – Meppen – Duisburg – Blankensee.
On the 7th, the 1.(F)/123 mounted two sorties from Blankensee. The first was from 08.43–10.12 hrs. (covering the Weser from Nienburg to Hameln, the Weser–Ems Canal from Minden to Rheine and the Dortmund-Ems canal from Rheine to Meppen). The second flight lasted from 13.27–15.00, taking in Zutphen, Arnhem, Dinslaken and Minden.
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