Friday 5 March 2010

Lt. Wolfgang Fischer I./JG2

Grub Street are publishing Wolfgang Fischer's memoir (translated by John Weal). A few years ago I translated an extract from Fischer's memoir which appeared in the Kagero monograph series on the Fw 190. Fischer was a pilot in I./JG2 at the time of the Normandy landings in June 1944 but he had in fact volunteered for service within weeks of war being declared. Over the course of the following years leading up to D-Day he was given a succession of postings; long-range recce unit, a decoder in a met office in occupied France; bomber Geschwader, flying instructor before being posted to the Richthofen Geschwader in Italy, from where he was shot down in his FW 190 by Mustangs en route to Normandy. By now a Leutnant, he survived to fly offensive rocket attacks over Gold Beach on D-Day, only to be shot down again on D + 1. He was taken captive and sent first to a hospital in the UK, then into captivity in the USA. He was finally repatriated in April 1946. His description of all these events is entertaining and well-written, ranging from comic to tragic.

On 6 June the Allied air forces flew 14,674 combat sorties in support of the D-day landings, while the Luftwaffe managed just 319.

I./JG 2 was nearest fighter Gruppe to the Allied beachheads based in Cormeilles-en-Vexin sixty km from the coast.

Lt Wolfgang Fischer of 3./JG 2 described the sortie he flew;

" we were woken at 04h30 and taken to the airfield from the hotels in the town (Nancy) where we were quartered. We were airborne a short while later and flew to Creil (north of Paris) at around 05h00 to have our Fw 190s fitted with underwing rocket launchers. We took off again at 09h30 to strafe shipping off 'Gold' beach. There was 7/10 cloud cover as we overflew the Seine estuary, which allowed us to close on our targets and launch our rockets. We could see a huge number of enemy fighters orbiting over the landing beaches. My rockets probably scored a direct hit on a "Victory" class troop landing vessel...we fled the scene and returned to Chamant near Senlis (south of Creil )after this sortie.."

JG 2 clashed with Allied aircraft towards middday. At 11.57 Kommodore JG 2 Major Bühligen shot down a P-47 near the Orne estuary. A major battle took place in the afternoon, when ground attack Typhoons were encountered near Caen. Four of them fell in a few minutes' fight. Two more Typhoons were brought down by evening. Lt. Fischer continued;

"..there were no further sorties that afternoon and the pilots of I./JG 2 spent the afternoon bathing at the swimming pool in Senlis.. a joint sortie with III./JG 2 was organised for the early evening against gliders on the ground near the Orne estuary under Gruppenkommandeur III./JG2 Hptm. Huppertz who landed at our field with five machines at we aproached Bernay we spotted a formation of a least twelve (335th FS/4th FG ) Mustangs strafing German infantry near a bridge over the Risle...using the evening mist and setting sun for cover we climbed to 1200m to take up a position for a classic bounce..the ensuing combat lasted just minutes as we were each able to select a target before diving down on them… 8 P-51s were shot down with no losses on our side !.."..

JG 2 was the principal Luftwaffe unit in action against overwhelming Allied air power on June 6. Overall, the unit shot down eighteen Allied aircraft (the entire Luftwaffe claiming 24 on that day), JG 2's most successful day in the entire campaign in Normandy. Kommandeur Hptm. Huppertz reported five claims before crashing to his death south of Caen just two days later shot down by a P-47. His replacement was another veteran, Hptm. Josef "Sepp" Wurmheller. He was shot down and killed barely two weeks later. Lt Fischer himself was shot down by flak the following morning over the beaches, bailed out unharmed and was taken prisoner

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