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While there seem to be no Allied claims on 20 August to account for the loss of the two Junkers Ju 52 of II./TG 1 at Courmayeur, US Navy pilots claimed three such machines at 16.15 hours on the following day.

Once again the airmen concerned were members of VOF-1, on their carrier's last day supporting DRAGOON. As their After Action Report puts it “rocket, dive bombing and wholesale strafing attacks were made” on German columns clogging the roads around Remoulins (west of Avignon), Lt. Schauffler dropping a 350 lb (158 kg) depth bomb on a group of lorries. During these attacks, Ensign Mooney spotted a Ju 88 “streaking along the deck” and disappearing among the mountain valleys to the east. Then:

Upon return to the Rhône Valley, Lt. (j.g.) [Edward W.] Olszewski and Ensign [Richard W.B.] Yentzer became separated from the balance of the flight and proceeded along the east bank of the river in a southerly direction. North of Orange three Ju 52s were seen in a Vee formation, on the deck flying [south]. Olszewski and Yentzer immediately bracketed the formation. Olszewski commenced a run on the the number 3 plane, from starboard, a high side from 3 o’ clock, opening fire at 1000’, hitting the starboard engine and fuselage. He made a second run from 600 feet above, at 4 o’clock holding fire until forced to pull up over the target. Fire was returned from a 20 mm ring mount topside. The enemy plane fell off on its right wing, went into a skid and crashed into the trees.

The bracket formation was maintained and number 2 plane in the formation was singled out for attack. Yentzer made the first run from port beam coming in at 9 o’ clock level, opened fire at 1000’ and continued firing up to 150’. He executed a wing over and made a return run from 3 o’ clock level. At the same time Olszewski had commenced to crossover and dove in at 5 o’ clock from above — he got in a long burst, following the Ju 52 as it broke off from formation. He continued to fire until a propeller was seen flying off … [The Ju 52] went into a violent skid, hitting the ground, digging in a wing and ground looping through several fences. One person was seen to flee the wreckage. Olszewski followed down strafing. The Ju 52 was demolished.

Yentzer crossed over from his run on plane number two and made a level run on the lead plane from 9 o’ clock, opening fire from 1000’ and continuing fire until pull up was necessary to avoid collision. Hits were observed on the port engine and fuselage. [He] made a flat tight turn right off the deck and made a second run from 9 o’clock. He observed hits as before. He made the same type turn and third run from 9 o’clock. The enemy plane crashed, burned and exploded.

On the way home, a Kette of Ju 52s was seen North of Orange and heading south along the east bank of the Rhône. Two Ju 52s were credited to Lt. (j.g.) Edward W. Olszewski and the third to Ensign Richard W.B. Yentzer. Author Georg Schlaug has identified these Ju 52s as aircraft of II./TG 3 whose Kommandeur, Obstlt. Otto Baumann, reported the loss of three machines over the Rhône Valley on this date. An airman named Schwacke was the Beobachter of 4V+DP which was brought down by “Thunderbolts” near Orange at 15.45 local time. He recorded that his pilot was able to make a crash landing and that the whole crew got out unhurt before their the Ju 52 was destroyed by the explosion of the 300 Panzerfaust rounds it was bringing from Clermont-Ferrand to Orange.

This supply mission followed a request two days learlier from Army Group G that Panzerfäuste and Panzerschrecken should be flown to 19th Army which had “scarcely any other means of combatting tanks.” Replying on the 20th, Airfield Region Command 6/XII (in Salon-de-Provence) said that the requested weapons would be flown to Orange-Caritat during the night of the 20/21st since it could not be done any earlier.

New sources: the correlation between these claims and losses was suggested by Bruce Lander, quoting Dr Frank Olynyk's research into US Navy victory claims. Bruce is the co-author (with Brian Cull and Heinrich Weiss) of Twelve Days In May:The Air Battle for Northern France and the Low Countries, 10-21 May 1940, as Seen through the Eyes of the Fighter Pilots Involved (Grub Street, London 1999).

Thanks also to James Pratt and Guy Julien.

Ronnie Olsthoorn kindly alerted me to the availability of USN After Action Reports on Fold3.com.

Additional information from Naval Aviation News, May-June 1994.

Photos of Olszewski, Yentzer and other VOF-1 pilots can be found on the web here.

Georg Schlaug supplied the information about II./TG 3's involvement in supplying 19th Army.