I came to this subject essentially as a by-product of five years' work on the latter part of the Axis air forces' campaign in Italy. DRAGOON's genesis and progress was closely intertwined with events in that country and many of the ground and air units involved in the one campaign took part in the other. Having finished the major project, I began to assemble what information I already had on the battles in Southern France, then to do more research specifically on that subject.
Most of what you'll read here is pieced together from the files of The National Archives in London but I'm especially indebted to Luftwaffe veteran Georg Pemler; Dieter Reichardt (whose father flew in the campaign); my good friend J. Richard Smith for the data on JGr. 200's losses; and to Dr. Frank Olynyk for those on USAAF victory claims. Naturally I'd be interested to hear from anyone with corrections or anything to add to this account. I haven't published my full list of sources here because if anyone's inclined to appropriate my research without asking first, at least they won't be able to back it up. On the other hand, contact me and I'll be glad to let you know the details in return for due credit in anything you might publish.
While there are published sources on the ground campaign (Jean-Paul Pallud's account in After the Battle Magazine No. 110 is both inexpensive and informative) and the naval operation, those giving any real attention to the aviation aspect are fewer and deserve acknowledgement:
• Ulf Balke's «Kampfgeschwader 100, Wiking» (Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart, 1981) gave valuable information on III./KG 100's claims and losses but lacked the material now obtainable from ULTRA and other Allied intelligence files. When I last corresponded with Ulf, he was working on a revised edition.
• Jochen Prien's «Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 77: Teil IV, 1944-45» (Stuve Druck, Eutin, 1995) provided the story of Seckel and Hupfeld's flight from Orange. He also had most of the same information on sorties by II./JG 77 and JGr. 200 that I had got from ULTRA but since his was expressed in local time rather than GMT, I surmise it came from German sources. Those same sources misled Prien (and Frappé, see below) into reporting JGr. 200's Uffz. Walter Lang as killed in action on 16 August.
• Rudi Schmidt's «Achtung—Torpedos Los!» (Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1991) offers the perspective of a former Staffelkapitän of 7./KG 26 and details of the personnel (but not aircraft) lost but contains other things that cannot be substantiated from contemporary records—not least an attack on the DRAGOON convoys that never in fact took place.
• Jean-Bernard Frappé's "La Luftwaffe Face au Débarquement Allié" (Editions Heimdal, Chateau de Damigny, 1999) has information on II./JG 77 and JGr. 200 similar to Prien's and provides tables of losses, victory claims and wrecked aircraft of both units for the period June-–September 1944.
Since what I came up with was long for an article and too short for a book, the net seemed to offer a good outlet for this bit of research.
Preface to the 2010 edition
I’ve never quite managed to leave the Mediterranean Theatre behind. More work on the period, the arrival of new sources and the ready availability of some (mainly USAAF) data over the internet has enabled me to add to post a separate (and far more accurate) history of Jagdgruppe 200 and correct my original account of DRAGOON somewhat — although I’d like to think I got it more or less right the first time.
The most obvious change to this latest version is in its appearance, with the use of my more recent web page design. Most of the material about Jagdgruppe 200 has come out, in favour of links to the separate article. I’ve also converted all the times to German Summer Time (GMT+2) which was exactly the same as the Allies’ Double Summer Time in use throughout the weeks concerned.
© Nick Beale