Monday 11 October 2021

"..holidays in Cazaux.." - Ergänzungsjagdgruppe JG 2 in Cazaux, near Bordeaux, France during the summer of 1941

Yellow-nosed Emil in service with the Ergänzungsgruppe of JG 2 during 1941. Left, Uffz. Helmut Rainer (KIA on August 6, 1941). Second left, Uffz. Karl-Heinz Munsche. Second right is instructor and ace Ofw. Kurt Goltzsch. Note that most of the unit's Emils featured a white band around the rear fuselage.

In late 1940 an auxiliary training Staffel subordinated to JG 2 was established in Le Havre. It was intended to toughen up young pilots fresh from training before they were thrown into the hard combats of the Channel front. Initially led by Hptm. Hubert Kroeck (a veteran of JG 53), it was Oblt. Horst Steinhardt -a former reconnaissance pilot- who commanded the Staffel from February 1941. Steinhardt had under him a number of experienced pilots who had participated in almost all the missions of the previous year; thus I. Gruppe gave up Stabsfw. Franz Jaenisch and Ofw. Josef Keil, II.  Gruppe were temporarily deprived of the services of Fw. Hans Otto and Kurt Goltzsch, while the third Gruppe seconded Fw. Rudolf Rothenfelder, to help train the unit’s fledgling pilots. Early in the year the training regime at Le Havre / Octeville was only half-hearted at best, chiefly because of the weather, but also due to the amount of leave granted to the different instructors.

Pilots who had flown against England received up to four weeks leave together with a pay bonus of two to three hundred Reichsmarks. The return of spring coincided with that of all the instructors. The timing was appropriate to restructure the unit: the Ergänzungsstaffel of the "Richthofen" became an Ergänzungsgruppe commanded henceforth by a Kommandeur, in this instance Hptm. Jürgen Roth (who had commanded I./JG 2 up until the start of the Battle of Britain). A second Staffel was established. The Ergänzungsgruppe of JG 2 was quickly split in two when the Stab and its Staffel charged with basic training (Ausbildungstaffel) moved to Cazaux in the Arcachon region, leaving the Einsatzstaffel at Le Havre.

Ergänzungsjagdgruppe in Cazaux is a film in the Karl Höffkes film archive. Screen captures presented here with permission

Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2 'Yellow 5', Ofhr. Heinrich von Einsiedel of 2. (Ausb.) Erg.St./JG 2 at the controls during the summer of 1941. Note the yellow engine cowl appears to have been 'toned down' with an overspray of RLM 74.

Heinrich Graf von Einsiedel in his 'yellow 5'. A great grandson of the Imperial German Chancellor Bismarck, Graf von Einsiedel was posted to the Eastern Front with JG 3 but was taken captive during August 1942. 

As a POW he would go on to become one of the leading members of the National Committee for a Free Germany (Nationalkomitee Freies Deutschland), an organisation established by German officers held in Soviet captivity to sponsor propaganda activities against the Nazi regime.

 While the units of JG 2 operating over the north of France were in almost constant action (far more so than the detachments in Brittany), the pilots of 2. (Schul) Erg./JG 2  continued their training programme in  an almost holiday-like atmosphere in Cazaux.  Activities on the agenda each morning included lectures, firing exercises, formation flying, some aerobatics.


Left; Betanken der Maschinen refuelling an Emil. The nozzle has a spring-loaded valve to prevent fuel flowing back while the 'second' hose attachment is to collect any fuel 'overflow' via a bucket. Note the fuel filler cap is attached by chain to the fuel tank opening. See Laurent Freidine's article in 'Luftwaffe Gallery 6'

left; II. Gruppe ace and future Knight's Cross bearer  Ofw. Kurt Goltzsch. Note he has a throat mike around his neck. Also seen in the screen grab of the Emil 'white 7' below.

left;  this section of the Agentur Karl Höffkes footage shows bullets being belted up by hand and MG magazines being installed in the wings of an Emil.


In the afternoons, the young pilots who were not designated to be in the single alert Rotte or who were not required by one of the many constraints of military life were able to relax on the shores of the nearby lake or even go to Bordeaux to visit the old town, go shopping or even spend some time in the "hot neighbourhoods" of this bustling city - see the film section entitled 'Bordelle'.. In early summer 1941, the ranks of the instructors in Cazaux were further swollen with the arrival of some veterans, among them Oblt. Franz Fiby. Some of their 'students' would go on to make their mark on the history of the Geschwader such as Lt. Leopold Wenger (who returned to training after a few weeks with 3. Staffel) or Uffz. Karl-Heinz Munsche.

 The young Austrian Leopold 'Poldi' Wenger, a future Ritterkreuzträger, described his stay in a letter home;

 " 29 June 1941: I passed briefly through Paris before reaching Bordeaux the next day. Here, we’re spending a good time and enjoying some peace and even solitude on the banks of a lake. We are surrounded by woods. The nearest hamlet houses three hundred souls. The heat is suffocating: temperatures have risen to as much as 40 to 50 degrees while the men have been issued with tropical helmets. The unit’s tailor has cut me a uniform jacket made of lighter fabric. Today, it is so hot that I walked around bare-chested, just wearing my uniform trousers. The sentries on guard duty all wear the tropical helmet and summer uniform. I have not had any luck yesterday - after a swim, I wanted to enjoy some sun. There was a fresh breeze blowing from the Bay of Biscay and it was very pleasant. But when I woke up two hours later I was sore all over, having been burnt badly in the sun. I'm moving again, with difficulty, because the pain is still very bad. Here, the water is not drinkable. We even wash our teeth with mineral water and when it runs out, we often have to fall back on wine, of which we have a large quantity. We fly very often. This afternoon, I went on a little yacht on the lake with an Unteroffizier. There was a bit of breeze and it was very pleasant..."

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