6 June 1944

Men of Luftflotte 3! The enemy has launched the long-announced invasion. Long have we waited for this moment, long have we prepared ourselves, both inwardly and on the field of battle, by untiring, unending toil. Our task is now to defeat the enemy. I know that each one of you, true to his oath to the colours, will carry out his duty. You, who enter my sphere of command as newly sworn-in or as seasoned fighters from the hard-defended Reich, and you, untiring fighters on the Channel, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, you will all now be fighting side by side for the Fatherland, united in your sacred faith in victory. Great things will be asked of you, and you will show the greatest fighting valour. Salute the Führer. Your Commander-in-Chief, Sperrle, Generalfeldmarschall.

When the Allies landed, the bulk of the Gruppe moved up from Clastres and Frières-Faillouël to Laval (Mayenne). Their route, with a dogleg south of Paris totalled about 375 km while the 7. Staffel had about twice as far to come. Laval itself lay about 140 km. from the Anglo-Canadian beach heads, just within the radius of action for a bomb-carrying Fw 190. The deployment realised February’s fears (see above) that fighter opposition would be encountered en route to forward bases. Seven Fw 190 from the Stab and 9. Staffel) had taken off from Clastres for Laval at 10.15. The Gruppe’s “Results Report No. 1” records that they had become embroiled in a combat with 12–15 Mustangs over Brétigny-sur-Orge, 30 km south of Paris. Three Focke-Wulfs had been shot down with Obltn. Johann Pühringer killed, Ofw. Kolberg slightly injured and Uffz. Rahofer unhurt. Meanwhile the “position of technicians [was] still not known”.

According to “Results Report No. 2” another eight Fw 190 (of the 8. Staffel) had taken off to transfer at 15.57 (GMT+2), encountering 15 fighters over Saint-Jean-d’Assé (around 16 km NNW Le Mans). Fw. Franz Brauneis had been shot down and killed, Hptm. Heinz Mihlan had bailed out and was unhurt

NOTE: Although Brauneis’ death registration card says he died at “La Bazoge, south of Le Mans” this village actually lies north of the city.

At 15.19 Obltn. Hesse led a Schwarm against the invasion fleet off Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer (JUNO Beach). They were over their target 26 minutes later, claiming to have destroyed two landing craft with their four SC 500 bombs. They came through powerful AA defences without loss and the Spitfires and Typhoons they sighted did not attack. All four Focke-Wulfs were back on the ground at 18.10.

NOTES: The other pilots were Fw. George, Uffz. Schneider and Ogefr. Lienau. Among the shipping casualties recorded in the Admiralty’s War Diary for 6 June was LCM (Landing Craft Mechanised) 1229 which belonged to F Squadron, Force J (for JUNO) but no cause is given for the loss. The crew however was saved.

Arriving after their lengthy transfer flight, 7./SG 4 arrived at early evening, only to run into Allied fighters. Two of it aircraft were shot down over Laval at 17.00, their pilots Ofw. Martin Kolberg,and Uffz. Speer both being killed. Unteroffizier Wenzel force-landed near Rouen after contact with fighters. In addition, three pilots put down at other airfields: Uffz. Görz landed in Angers (at 17.10). This and the previous mission reported seeing numerous ships and intense landing and unloading activity.

Ltn. Karl-Ludwig Klepke (9./SG 4), Ofw. George, and Uffz. Fritz Plewka and Uffz. Walter flew the next operation from 17.25–18.30, diving on lorry and vehicle concentrations on the bridge at Ouistreham (SWORD beach). They met powerful light AA and counted 82 Spitfires, Mustangs and Thunderbolts before, during and after bombing but were not attacked. The fighter opposition was so omnipresent that the formation was compelled to land in Rennes to avoid it. One of the Fw 190s had been severely damaged by friendly Flak although the pilot was unhurt.

The Kapitän of 9./SG 4 led the third sortie (with Ofw. Golles, Fw. Krüger and Weiss, and Uffz. Schneider) from 19.00. Unable to reach their briefed target owing to fighter opposition, they instead bombed vessels off Lion-sur-Mer (SWORD) which they dived on from 1500 m down to 300 m. The fighter and AA defences left them unable to establish what damage if any their 5 x SC 500 might have caused. They landed at Angers, one aircraft returning badly hit.

The Allies deciphered a succession of fragmentary reports about aircraft lost on that first day:

Fw 190 A-7

430472

98%

Obltn. Johann Pühringer

(shot up by enemy fighters on ferrying flight, 1050 hrs. near Brétigny; fire observed on impact; pilot, born 17 October 1914, killed)

NOTE: Pühringer was the Gruppenadjutant.

Fw 190 A-6

470585

98%

Uffz. Otto Speer

(shot up by fighters on ferry flight near Laval; caught fire on impact; pilot, born 10 August 1919, killed)

Fw 190 A-6

650503

98%

Ofw. Martin Kolberg

(shot up by fighters on ferry flight near Laval; caught fire on impact)

Fw 190 A-6

150418

yellow D

Fw. Willi George

(lost by enemy action on ferrying-over flight to Nantes: further details lacking)

Fw 190 A-7

431002

35–40%

Lt. Gerhard Limberg

(shot up by enemy fighters on ferrying flight, 1050 hrs. near Brétigny; pilot, born 7 July 1920, slightly wounded)

Fw 190 A-6

650502

30–35%

Uffz. Max Rahofer

(shot up by fighters; pilot, born 1 September 1918, unhurt)

NOTE: 150418, as reported, is not a valid Fw 190 Werk Nummer and is in fact an error for 650418. Nor was this Focke-Wulf lost, as is confirmed by a Technical Intelligence report of 15 September 1944 on aircraft found at Clermont-Ferrand Among these was W.Nr. 650418, built by hmw (Norddeutsche Dornier Werk, Wismar). Accordingly to its main plate this partially dismantled aircraft was an A-8 but its compass card described it as an A-6, consistent with the MG 17 machine guns mounted over the engine and provision for four MG 151/20 cannon in the wings (both outer guns were missing, the port aperture was open but the starboard was closed with a metal plate). No centreline rack was present. The aircraft was marked brown "D", outlined in white, and had a yellow rudder. W.Nr. 650418 also featured in a report of 14 June (see below).

continued on next page …

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PART THREE OF EiGHT


WilliGeorge
FritzPlewka

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