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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.

NOTE: Although the bodies of the four crewmen were found in the Ju 88’s wreckage there appear to be no registered war graves for Schrapel, Ogefr. Bruno Schlag, Uffz. Kurt Gerber or Ogefr. Heinz Lemke.

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. The Gruppe’s diary gives this account of the day’s abortive operations:

06.35 hrs. [GMT+2] Operation with four machines against landings near Riva Bella. Target not reached, bombs jettisoned in emergency. Obfw. Schopper made an emergency landing. Supply operation was to have taken off for Luftwaffe strongpoint Douvres. At take-off all four Fw 190 destroyed in strafing by eight Spitfires. Two fighters (Bf 109) shot down. After that “stand down”.

The above was presumably a more considered assessment than the signal sent at 13.00 hrs. Laval had been attacked 45 minutes earlier 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).

NOTE: The two Bf 109 reported shot down may have been from JG 27 which lost Ltn. Horst Grimm of the 1. Staffel (Bf 109 G-6, W.Nr. 165155) and the 2. Staffel’s Fw. Gustav Sturm, killed and wounded respectively near Laval.

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. That this took place was confirmed by Luftflotte 3’s situation report as at midnight (GMT+2) on the 13th.

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.

The Luftwaffe Operations Staff called off the planned transfer to France of a I. and II./SG 4, neither of which was up to strength, as a composite formation.

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.

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