12 June 1944
In the early hours, III./KG 54 again attempted to supply Distelfink, approaching at low level. Light AA fire brought down the Ju 88 A-4 (W.Nr. 301164, B3+HT) of Ogefr. Hans Schrapel a mile SE of Colleville-sur-Mer, inland from Omaha beach and over 30 km from Douvres. Two 1000 kg supply containers jettisoned before the crash were examined by American investigators and found to contain light artillery ammunition, 8.8 cm Flak shells and a belt of ammunition for an MG 42 machine gun.
That morning, Luftflotte 3 was told that actual strength in ground attack aircraft and fighter bombers had fallen to 130 with more than 50% serviceable. In this connection, the Allies noted that OKL had already ordered the immediate conversion of all fighter units back to fighters by removing bomb racks.
The III./SG 4 received a request from the Fliegerführer to please inform him when the collecting crews asked for three says earlier would arrive at Airfield 112 as "great haste is necessary." The response was that 10 had been sent that day to Le Bourget. No more could be spared and they had not been sent off earlier as the order had not arrived until that morning.
Laval was attacked again at 12.15 hrs. by an estimated 20–25 Spitfires, costing the Gruppe two more Fw 190s destroyed, two damaged and one man wounded. since the aerodrome was "plastered with bombs" it was no longer possible to supply Distelfink at Douvres. (At Alençon-Essay, II./JG 1 had fared even worse, losing nine aircraft burned out in a low-level attack).
The strength of III./SG 4 at 1500 hrs. was:
35 (22) pilots: 2 of them conditionally ready.
11 (5 ) aircraft, all with bomb racks
Two of the unserviceable machines would be operational in under 48 hours. The other four, not ready for more than 48 hours, were:
Fw 190 A-6 W.Nr. 650415
Fw 190 A-6 W.Nr. 470592
Fw 190 A-6 W.Nr. 550433
Fw 190 A-6 W.Nr. 650501
Bombs expended: 50 SD 250
Fuel stocks 100.5 cbm of C3 (consumption 1.5 cbm)
The encircled troops at Douvres were told that Jagdkorps II was making "every conceivable effort to drop supplies to them. Efforts hitherto had been unsuccessful because the objective had been missed but another attempt was to be made that night.
Very late on the 12th, the Front Transit Station at Toul told Fliegerkorps II's Quartermaster that so far there had been no allocation of Fw 190s for III./SG 4 (smudge) but the Korps would be notified as it was made.
The Gruppe told the Fliegerkorps that it intended to transfer on the 14th. However, in view of its losses in motor transport, it urgently required six heavy lorries to be brought to Laval and four of these must be able to pull one "special trailer" each. What was more the Gruppe had no fuel for vehicles.
13 June 1944
At 06.30 hours there was a report that an emergency landing area of 900 x 300 metres had been established at Laval. Also the Fliegerkorps told III./SG 4 that it had requested Seventh Army to release diesel and "O" fuel [apparently regular petrol] for the transfer and that the Gruppe should get in touch right away with a Maj. Kohze at Le Mans.
The day also saw an exchange of signals between Luftnachrichten Regiment 54 about arrangements for the control of the aircraft supplying Distelfink. Supply would only be possible if the "light indicator" had been laid out (presumably to mark the drop zone) and the aircraft could be guided by Tornado direction finding on 38.625 mHz, the frequency allocated to the Geschwader concerned (which unfortunately was not named).
14 June 1944
The search for a new home for III./SG 4 was underway. A survey of prospective bases in the Laval area by an Oblt. Kölmer was not especially fruitful:
Airfield 70 A: insufficient dispersal facilities, no further development possible.
Airfield 70 B: occupied.
Airfield 70 C: not developed, too few dispersal facilities. Development possible but would take 8–10 days.
That evening a signal was sent to the Gruppe's advanced detachment at Chartres, saying that Fw. Fixmer was to return to 9./SG 4 immediately. That day's strength was 10 aircraft of which 7 were serviceable , while 1 would be ready within 48 hours and 2 after that time; all aircraft had ETC 501 bomb racks. Pilot strength was 37, with 11 fully ready and 1 conditionally ready; fuel stocks were 52 cubic metres.
Appended to this report was a list of the Gruppe's aircraft that had been shot up and were in workshops for repair:
Fw 190 W.Nr. A-6, W.Nr. 470605, Laval [damaged in strafing on 7 June]
Fw 190 W.Nr. A-6, W.Nr. 650418, Rennes
Fw 190 W.Nr. A-6, W.Nr. 550433, Laval
Fw 190 W.Nr. A-6, W.Nr. 650500, Laval [found destroyed at Laval by the Allies*]
Fw 190 W.Nr. A-6, W.Nr. 470773, Laval
Fw 190 W.Nr. A-7, W.Nr. 431121, Laval
*Also found wrecked at Laval: Fw 190 A-6 W.Nr. 470621 and 530409.
continued on next page …
PART SIX OF EIGHT