Thursday 1 September 2022

Two RK holders of 3.(F)/Aufkl.Gr. 122 - Hermann Hemmer, Ludwig Wagenfeld


3.(F)/Aufkl.Gr. 122 was a Ju 88-equipped recce Staffel based in Holland (Eindhoven and then Schipol) from mid-to-late 1940 and tasked with missions over England. 

The Staffel remained in the West following the launch of Barbarossa attached to IX Fliegerkorps (Luftflotte 3) for continuing operations over England. Elements of the Staffel were temporarily based in Creil north of Paris.

The Staffel recorded its 1,000 Feindflug in March 1942 - the banner states, "Welcome home from the 1000th combat mission!". The crew of Ofw Geuter (FF), Oblt Salecker (BO), Uffz Gärtner (BF) and Uffz Banz (BS) paraded in front of the Staffel on March 31, 1942. Over 900 of the 1000 sorties had been carried out over British territory..

Typical 3(F)./122 sorties for the period of March 1942 included;

08 Mar 1942 – 'F6+CL' possibly gave weather reports for 05E 1469 (55 Km NE of Cromer) at 08:00 and landed back at Schiphol at 09:15.

'F6+KL' flew from Schiphol to 45km NE of Margate, then to the Humber area and then as far north as Whitby. Sighted convoy FN 49 25 miles E by S of Spurn Point at 08:58 and probably also convoy FS 44 to the N of this point. Landed back at Schiphol at 10:54. In its second sortie of the day 'F6+CL' again operated from Schiphol to the Whitby- Clacton area. No shipping was sighted and the Ju 88 returned to Schiphol at 16:36.

09 Mar 1942 – one Ju 88 overflew Folkstone, Dover, Deal and Ramsgate along the south and east Kent Channel coast area between 07:55 and 08:00. No shipping was sighted. 'F6+AL' was sent to the Skegness – Whitby area and reported convoy FS45 between Whitby and Scarborough at 09:40, landing back at Schiphol at 11:46. 'F6+EL' operated from Lowestoft as far north as the Withernsea (East Yorks) area, no shipping was sighted. The operation was probably broken off here on account of the weather conditions and a shortage of fuel. The aircraft landed back at Schiphol to refuel at 10:53 taking off again at 11:38 to resume its sortie.

10 Mar 1942 - 'F6+GL' was dispatched to the Whitby-Skegness area. During the outward flight the crew reported 2 MTBs in 05E 2460 (75km NE of Cromer) at 09:05. No shipping was sighted in the Whitby area, although the crew reported a convoy off Skegness at 09:30. Aircraft returned at 11:33. 'F6+CL' was sent to the area from the Thames Estuary to as far north as Cromer on the east Norfolk Coast. The aircraft returned on reciprocal course. No shipping was sighted in the Thames. Reported two British aircraft off Cromer at 10:00 and two MTBs off Orfordness at 10:15 hrs. 

On May 24, 1942, 3. Staffel pilot Hermann Hemmer crash-landed 'F6+CL' at Schipol (80% damage)  - possibly this wreck which appears in Hemmer's album.

On March 7, 1943, 3(F)./122 at Schipol reported the following strength:- 8 Ju 88 D-1, 4 Ju 88 D-5 and a single Fw 58 C-2. In early 1944 the Staffel moved to Soesterburg and took a number of Ju 188s on strength. The Staffel had celebrated their 2,000th sortie during June 1943 in Schipol (below). The 'official' 2000th Feindflug took place on June 15, 1943 with the celebration held the following day. The crew involved were:- Ofw.Von Zabiensky, Obfw.l Tonne, Fw Knörtz and Oblt Salecker (who had flown on the 1,000th FF too), all seen here below to the right of the port engine.

Above; the two Knight's Cross holders of the Staffel with Blumenstrauß leading the parade following the 2000th sortie. On the left with RK, Lt. Hermann Hemmer (RK in September 1942). Alongside him is Oblt Ludwig Wagenfeld. Wagenfeld was awarded the Ritterkreuz on March 24, 1943 for service while StaKa 3.(F)/Aufkl.Gr. 122. Hemmer  (seen below, right) departed 3(F)./122 for ZG 1 later during 1943 and was posted to the Stab JG 4 on the establishment of this unit's III. Gruppe (summer 1944). Both survived the war.

Andy Mitchell's Luftwaffe Data website for Aufkl. Gr. 122 diary entries can be consulted here