Tuesday 23 June 2020

Lehrgeschwader 1 by Peter Taghon, Lela Presse - new Luftwaffe books

The second part of  Peter Taghon's Lehrgeschwader 1 history is published by Lela Presse in French.

Deployed in the Mediterranean in early 1941 against the British, LG 1 had very quickly gained the respect of its opponents (whether Navy or Army), having earned during these bloody battles the formidable nickname of 'Helbig's flyers' (after one of its best officers - see below). But, in September 1942, III./LG 1 was 'temporarily' assigned to the USSR and detached from the rest of the Geschwader, re-designated III./KG 6. I./KG 55, also operating the Ju 88 at the time, became the new III./LG 1. While this Gruppe was disbanded in May 1944, I. and II/LG 1 flew their missions until the end of the war, leaving Italy to be deployed over Normandy at the time of the 'invasion' in June 1944 and then over the Reich both in the West (Battle of the Bulge) and in the East (facing the Soviet steamroller). The remnants of LG 1 were not de facto dissolved until the beginning of May 1945. Throughout this latter period of the war, the Geschwader flew mainly on various variants of the Ju 88 (A-5, A-4, A-14, S-3). While other Kampfgeschwader were equipped with more modern aircraft (Ju 188 or Do 217), LG 1 fought to the end on machines that could be considered outdated. And while the other KGs were disbanded or switched to fighters, Lehrgeschwader 1 was one of the very few Luftwaffe units to make it through the six years or so of the war as a pure bombing unit.

Posted by Kevin Huckfield on TOCH;

  "...Volume 2 of the LG-1 book has just arrived and it is just as good as the first volume and about one and a half times the size in terms of pages. Features some 600 photos over 288 pages and 25 artworks by Thierry Dekker. The page quality is very good allowing for good images and the book is packed with narrative, photos and paperwork of all kinds, more so than the original German language versions. It also includes Annexes for such things as LG-1 Ritterkreuzträger, LG-1 related Werknummern, personnel etc...."

A ten-page PDF extract from the book is available from the publisher's website here

The first volume of this two-part unit history is reviewed elsewhere on this blog here

Two photos offered on ebay taken on July 5, 1941, on the airfield at Eleusis, on the occasion of the award of the Ritterkreuz to Hptm. Gerhard Kollewe Gruppenkommandeur II./LG 1 (below, on the right) presented by the Kommodore Friedrich-Karl Knust, on the left in the image below. Similar ceremonies were held on 30 August 1941 for the presentation of the Ritterkreuz to Ofw. Franz Schlund (radio operator in Helbig's crew) and 8 September 1941 when the Staka 8./LG 1 Hptm. Hermann Hogeback received his RK.

from 'Helbig flyers - I./LG 1 im Mittelmeer und Afrika' by Gerd Stamp

"....The year 1941 was drawing to a close. If it had been too hot in summer, it was now too cold. We stood and froze in front of our accommodation building, which with its squarish shape was reminiscent of a cigar box. The personnel of the entire Gruppe stood in an open square: the Stab, first, second and third Staffeln, the technical company and the intelligence section.. Expectant faces and frozen fingers marked the spot. I was shivering unashamedly. The cutting northwest wind, which came down from the Parnassus, did not make for pleasant thoughts. Suddenly commands, and an announcement - the Kommodore was to address us. The wind snatched the words from his mouth. I stood opposite and heard only torn fragments:

" . . . a few days ago . . . the old commander v e r a b s c h i e d e t . . took his leave. Today I am introducing the new K o m a n n- deur . . .an old member of the Geschwader . . . look back on great achievements . . . Expect the same in the future .."

 My thoughts started to wander. Hopefully it wouldn't be long now. Then, more commands barked out, car doors slamming and he was gone. Then someone else stood in our midst. Again I heard only snatches of the words;

" . . . Take over the group . . . add more to the successes achieved . . . I won't ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn't do myself!"

But now it was really too cold for me. I felt Hoffmann and "Fähnlein" (Gerd Brenner) freezing next to me, and with these thoughts the command to stand down came.

So that was Joachim Helbig.(below, centre)

I still had a fleeting memory of him from France when he was once in our command post. A thick fur waistcoat, impossibly crumpled cap that kept his smooth slick-backed hair in check, a pair of mischievous eyes that constantly flitted to and fro. . . . and always some apt remark on the tip of his tongue. At first he was called "Capitaine Fit". The name came from the "Pelikan", a bar in Orleans, which even at the mention of its name evoked longing memories in all its former patrons..."