16 August 1944

At 06.36 hours, 2./JGr. 200 scrambled three Bf 109s, followed a minute later by a pair of Fw 190s from 2./NAGr. 13 which photographed Hyères from 7,000 m. and landed at 07.35. The Bf 109s touched down seven minutes later and may well have been been escorting the reconnaissance aircraft. Meanwhile, two more Fw 190s had taken to the air but broke off their photographic mission to Draguignan in the face of adverse weather. Allied Signals Intelligence reported that between 08.40 and 09.35 hrs. “a patrol appeared to establish contact with Allied fighters; an aircraft of undetermined nationality was probably shot down.” Seven Bf 109s of II./JG 77 had scrambled at 09.00 on an 80-minute sortie but there is no record of their claiming or losing an aircraft, nor of any contact with their enemies.

At 11.43 hours JGr. 200 dispatched another seven Bf 109s to escort two of 2./NAGr. 13’s Fw 190s which were making the day’s second attempt to photograph Draguignan. After just 20 minutes in the air, the Bf 109s (missing one of their number) landed at Pierrelatte, where another was shot up on the ground at 13.15.

The formation had run into Allied fighters, losing an Fw 190 badly damaged and a Bf 109 shot down. At 11.45 hours, four of No. 72 Squadron's Spitfires had taken off for a "Peaches Patrol", at 22,000 feet between Fréjus and the Hyères Islands. An hour into their flight and five miles north north west of Saint Raphael, they spotted "three F/W 190's" heading east at 21,500 feet and gave chase. Eventually, New Zealander W/O C.E.B. Woods (in Spitfire LF Mk. IX, MK134) was able to damage one of the enemy, scoring his last hits near Casetellane, about 40 km. from the point of first sighting. MAAF’s radio monitors noted that the "enemy sought cover of clouds to avoid combat."

About five days after these events, Uffz. Walter Lang was handed over to the Americans by the Resistance. He told his interrogators that at 12.15 on the 16th he and two other pilots of 1./JGr. 200 had taken off from Avignon-East to cover a reconnaissance by two Fw 190s but one of them and one escort failed to start. He was flying Bf 109 G-6 "white 1" and the formation — heading eastward at 5–6,000m — had reached St. Raphael and turned back when he saw "about 14 Thunderbolts" closing in on them. He turned to evade and flew into cloud, becoming separated from his flight and emerging to find two P-47s close behind. He was able to put some distance between himself and his pursuers but the Messerschmitt's right radiator had been shot out, causing its engine quickly to overheat. Lang belly-landed near Valensole (43 km. west of Castellane) but his Bf 109 caught fire and burned out.

NOTE: Valensole had been a Maquis hotspot for some weeks. On 11 June an observer post there was relieved after being surrounded by Resistance fighters. The rescue force had been put together by the airfield command at Aix-les-Milles and comprised 3 officers and 109 men drawn from 6./(gem.) Flak-Abteilung 592 and Luftnachrichten-Regiment 51. They suffered no caualties but reported that they had killed 31 "terrorists."

Lang's account and the other sources cannot all be right in every particular. Jagdgruppe 200's mission escorting Fw 190s took off earlier than he recalled and did not encounter Thunderbolts but Spitfires. Mistaken aircraft recognition is far from unusual in participants' memories of combat and Lang's account was given after what must have been a trying few days. The points of similarity in the accounts are the Germans' three-strong formation, their turn to the west at St. Raphael, the chase, their taking refuge in the clouds and the damage incurred. Reported altitudes are further apart, No. 72 Squadron putting the Germans 500 metres higher than Lang's upper figure.

At 12.27 hours another seven II./JG 77 machines took off to reconnoitre the coast west of Marseille, returning just over an hour later with one of their number missing. They were followed at 15.25 by yet another seven bound for the area round St. Remèze where the Maquis had attacked an observer post overnight:

Task: combatting guerrillas with a/c armament area TK44.

Successes: 1 passenger M/T, 1 lorry shot up and set on fire, fleeing terrorists fired at in scrub and wooded country. Buildings and houses shot up, one fire obscured [sic, but "observed" was probably intended]. No defence. No losses.

Between 15.38 and 16.25 hours an Fw 190 and four Bf 109s were on convoy reconnaissance between Toulon and Marseille. (If this is correct, then the total of 6 Fw 190 sorties for the day reported elsewhere is wrong). An hour after that formation landed, 11 of II./JG 77's aircraft sortied to look for low-flying raiders and checked out fires on the Salon-Lézignan railway in what was apparently the last fighter mission of the day, landing at 19.15 hours.

17 August 1944

Five JGr. 200 Bf 109s were in the air from 07.39–08.41, escorting an Fw 190 on reconnaissance of the Saint Tropez–Le Luc area; they were followed by 19 machines of II./JG 77 which screened "the reconnaissance area" from 09.35–10.45 hours. During the afternoon, from 15.40–16.16 hrs., six of JGr. 200's Bf 109s flew an operation against guerillas in the area of Vallon Pont d'Arc. MASAF's summary noted "enemy fighters in unreported numbers" flying morning and evening patrols.

By evening the Gruppe had been subordinated to JG 77, an arrangement that would be short-lived. At 21.00 hours it was ordered to transfer to the Dijon area as Aix-Les Milles was to be destroyed; an advance party from the 1. Staffel had already moved to Avignon and was followed during the night by the rest of the ground echelon. En route, a lorry carrying aircraft mechanic Uffz. Karl Mokry and five others was hit by a partisan grenade; Mokry was wounded and taken to the Marine Hospital at Aix where he was captured by the Allies on 21 August. At Avignon-East, Uffz. Josef Scheits of 2./JGr. 200 was killed in a strafing attack.

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