Wednesday, 18 June 2014

'new' pictures of a Fw 190 Dora 9 with all female ground crew

..a couple of interesting late-war pictures recently posted on the 'German Warplanes' page on FB depict a Dora being attended to by an all-female ground crew. From the accompanying comments it is apparent that few enthusiasts are aware of the role played by German women in the Luftwaffe, especially in the closing months of the war..when manpower was otherwise all but exhausted..or desperately required elsewhere...

In the case of  leading Reich's defence Geschwader JG 300, during the first two weeks of March 1945 alone, a third of the complement of mechanics and aircraftsmen of the Geschwader were assigned to the Wehrmacht (das Heer) or the Waffen SS in preparation for the defense of Berlin, with the unit's commanders forced to arbitrarily draw up lists of names for transfer to the ground fighting forces. The Werftzug was reduced to a skeleton personnel complement of just six men, including an electrician and two engine technicians. The number of “lame ducks” that went unserviceable as a result of minor malfunctions increased noticeably. In order to make up for these arbitrary reductions in manpower, numbers of young auxiliaries - women - joined the Geschwader. Hastily and sketchily trained, they quickly proved rather inept for the tasks assigned them, with their enthusiasm and determination apparently of little compensation.

 Lt. “Timo” Schenk (Staffelführer 2./JG 300) was at Mörtitz when a contingent of young women for the Gruppe arrived;

"..  They had received heaven-only-knows what sort of accelerated training programme - it certainly left a lot to be desired. We were lumbered with them as second mechanics, but above all else, they simply got in the crew chief’s way and brought a new dimension of drama to our daily routines. When  pilots were injured or failed to return - killed in action - then it proved impossible to get them to hold back the “waterworks”. Staffel leaders took an the new and unwanted role of 'agony aunts', forced to combat excessive sentimentality and attempting to keep our mixed forces on an even keel..."

(my translation; extracted from Jean-Yves Lorant's history of JG 300 published by Editions Larivière ..)