Major Schulze notified the General der Aufklärungsflieger on 1 March that 2./NAG 6’s ground echelon had arrived in Münster-Handorf but that bad weather had prevented any transfer of aircraft (there is a corresponding diary entry the following day). Schulze added that the Staffel had seven aircrew and four Me 262’s with cameras installed, plus others (this figure was omitted) without; six machines were serviceable for ferrying over from Schwäbisch Hall.
It was evidently some days before the northward moves were completed as Fliegerdivision 16’s evening report for 2 March recorded that one Me 262 had reconnoitred Bischweiler – Ingweiler – Saverne – Brumath while a second had photographed roads in the Wantzenau – Saverne – Molsheim – Erstein area. The Allies had only overheard one Flak warning that a 2./NAG 6 Me 262 would be leaving Schwäbisch Hall after 09.00 hrs. to reconnoitre the Strasbourg area.
From Lechfeld that day, NAG 6 notified its 2. Staffel in Schwäbisch Hall that Gen.d.A. had ordered that Me 262s were to fly without armament until standard production models with 2 x MK 108 cannon became available. the fitting of supplementary armament to existing aircraft must cease. This directive apparently referred to the single-MK 108 armament seen on some camera-equipped Me 262s and it seems reasonable to conclude from this message that the modification was being made at unit or base workshop level.
On 3 March, NAG 6 asked NAG 11 (in Udine, Italy) to send an appraisal of one Obltn. Engles, suggesting that he had either joined the jet unit or was a candidate. Next day, NAG 6’s Obltn. Langendorf reported that the unit had taken over Me 262s W.Nr. 111561 and 500251 from industry while Gen.d.A. noted changes of destination for two ”conversion Staffeln”: 1./NAG 6 would now go to Münster-Handorf and Stab NAG 1 to Lippe. On the 11th, the same authority noted that the ground elements of Stab NAG 6, its Signals Company and the 1. Staffel were to transfer to their operational locations the next day. Nevertheless, the Flak was warned on the 13th that three Me 262 would be up from Schwäbisch Hall after 15.00 hrs. for reconnaissance in the Strasbourg area. British Intelligence referred to this as “the first indication of recce in the southern sector since 3/3”, stating that the Me 262s had not operated since the second of the month.
On the 14th, the Flak was advised of a transfer flight by five aircraft from 2./NAG 6, leaving Schwäbisch Hall for Münster/Handorf at 16.00 hrs. This does not seem to have completed the transfer because next day two Me 262 Rotten took off from Schwäbisch Hall after 10.00 hrs. for the Mulhouse – Strasbourg area and early in the evening three jets were up bound to Hagenau.
The 16th of March brought indications that three Me 262 would be leaving Schwäbisch Hall after noon for the Koblenz area, the British assessment being that reconnaissance was being combined with a transfer flight. More ambiguous was a warning that evening that three Bf 109 of NAG 6 would be taking off from the same airfield for Saverne — British Intelligence suggesting that Me 262s were meant. Two days later a report was received that an Me 262 would be taking off from Darmstadt around 09.05 hrs. for the Remagen bridgehead, the Allied analysts speculating that this could be a reconnaissance mission.
On the 19th, I. and IV./JG 26 put up 17 and 10 Fw 190s respectively to provide an “umbrella” for NAG 6 but details of the latter’s tasks that day are lacking. An encounter with ten Allied aircraft cost the Focke-Wulfs one of their number shot down and one missing (with one pilot missing and one wounded). The single 2./NAG 6 Me 262 could obtain no photographic cover of Nijmegen, Emmerich, Goch and Kleve because of the heavy ground mist and instead brought back pictures of the west bank of the Rhein from Xanten to south of Düsseldorf. It was also on the 19th that Ltn. Schubert transferred his “white 10” from Schwäbisch Hall to Münster-Handorf. The following day, the Staffel dispatched a machine to the Reichswald – Xanten area but the weather rendered the sortie fruitless.
The Gruppe apparently lost an aircraft on 23 March, the Gruppenstab at Vörden being notified that Ltn. Hader had landed in flames on the Engdener Heide near Schüttdorf (around 15 km. north west of Rheine).
On the 24th Field Marshal Montgomery’s forces were crossing the Rhein between Emmerich and Xanten. An order was given for all serviceable Silber left at Rheine and Hopsten to be handed over by 5./KG 51 to NAG 6 and W.Nr. 111636 and 110754 duly took off that day for their new unit (the former aircraft was found at the end of the war, burnt out at Twente aerodrome, Holland).
Another two Me 262s from 2./NAG 6 flew a reconnaissance mission, under the auspices of Fl.Div. 14:
07.30–08.20: 1 Me 262 photo-reconnaissance over the area Wesel – Goch – Emmerich – Nijmegen. Xanten – Rees area not covered owing to fog.
16.40–17.20: 1 Me 262 reconnaissance of crossing movements near Xanten and Emmerich.
These missions over places close to the Dutch-German border were far removed from the targets in Alsace which the Gruppe had been covering in past months.
By the 25th Stab NAG 6 was functioning as an Einsatzkommando at Vörden. An Me 262 was reported as being shot down by fighters that day after completing its reconnaissance of the Emmerich – Rees area (the pilot was unhurt). This was signalled by Fl.Div. 14 at 20.00 hrs. whereas Lw.Kdo. West's evening report referred to a Messerschmitt of the unit on reconnaissance over the Bocholt area from 05.30–06.20 being destroyed in a forced landing, with its pilot unhurt. All three towns are close together and a forced landing is not incompatible with being shot down, so both reports seem to refer to the same incident. (There is no 2nd TAF claim for an Me 262 that day).
Efforts continued to ensure the unit was strengthened: Air Movement Control at Erfurt was told to send Ofw. Scheider to collect an Me 262 in Lechfeld and advised that NAG 6 wanted a report on the outcome of repairs to crashed Messerschmitt jets so that they could be collected. For its part, NAG 6’s Gefechtsstand (command post) signalled Erfurt that the Me 262 crews (no number was given) should not take off for Vörden.
Also that day, 1./NAG 6’s ground echelon and Signals Company arrived in Ahlhorn. Their column had been hit by fighter-bombers south of Kassel, losing one man dead, eight seriously wounded and one slightly wounded. What was more, the airfield itself was unserviceable after an air raid. Next day, the General der Aufklärungsflieger was advised that 2./NAG 6 was in Münster-Handorf and that this base too was out of action due to bombing.
On the 27th, Lw.Kdo West’s Operations Officer concluded that “to ensure uninterrupted reconnaissance” it was necessary to divide NAG 6’s constituent Staffeln into small Einsatzkommandos, dispersed if necessary over several airfields. Therefore the following dispositions were requested:
Gruppenstab — Vörden (acting also as an Eins.Kdo.).
1./NAG 6 — Ahlhorn with an Eins.Kdo. at Reinsehlen.
2./NAG 6 — Münster-Handorf with an Eins.Kdo. at Hildesheim.
These steps were possibly intended to ensure that at least one base would be free of Allied fighters whenever the Me 262s were called on to fly a mission. All the above moves except the Kommando at Reinsehlen seem to have taken place earlier since they were already known to the Allies. On 28 March, 1./NAG 6’s Ofw. Nowak in Erfurt was ordered to report to Vörden whether “the Silber” was serviceable while the airfield at Hildesheim was told to arrange parking for the vehicles of Einheit Panther which would be arriving there.
Next day, Fw. Oldenstädt took off from Münster-Handorf in “1” at 16.50, landing in Vörden at 17.08 hrs. On the 30th, Fliegerdivision 14 reported that two Me 262s had reconnoitred area KR–KS (south and south east of Lippstadt) but the Lw.Kdo. West evening report gave more detail: the mission was a weather recce from 16.40–17.20 hrs. over Osnabrück – Soest – south of Paderborn – west of Bielefeld. In addition, from 17.12–17.43 hrs. one aircraft managed only a partial photo-reconnaissance of the Lippstadt – Paderborn area owing to heavy cloud.
On the last day of March two Me 262s covered the Rheine – Paderborn– Kassel area and an Fw 190 of NAG 6 was up from 09.32–10.12 hrs. for Brilon – Paderborn – Lippstadt but broke off owing to bad weather. Oldenstadt was flying one of the jets, marked “2”, on a low-level reconnaissance from Vörden which lasted 42 minutes from 15.06 hrs.
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