Sunday, 18 June 2017

Lehrgeschwader 1 - volume 1 by Peter Taghon with Jean-Louis Roba - new from Lela Presse

pre-orders being taken, with free shipping until publication. Due October 2017.

Lehrgeschwader 1 – the Griffon Geschwader

 Lehrgeschwader 1 (Experimental or ‘demonstration’ Bombing Wing 1) was one of the first units established in the new Luftwaffe shortly after 1933. Primarily equipped with the He 111 at the outbreak of the Second World War the unit was multi-purpose, deploying a Gruppe of Bf 110 Zerstörer and another of Ju 87 Stukas. It took an active part in the first Luftwaffe campaigns (Poland, Norway, France ...) before being re-equipped with Ju 88 bombers, which it retained exclusively until 1945. Deployed early on in the Mediterranean, LG 1 would immediately prove to be one of the most formidable and feared opponents of the Royal Navy. Under the orders of Kommodore Helbig, the Helbig flyers as they were dubbed were responsible for sending many Allied ships to the bottom. Notable actions included the sinking of three large transport vessels Clan Campbell, Clan Chattan and Rowallan Castle from the convoy MW 9, during attacks on 13–14 February 1941. On 22 May 1941 during the Battle for Crete, LG 1 Ju 88 pilot Gerd Brenner finished off the RN cruiser HMS Fiji with heavy loss of life (see below) III./LG 1 also damaged the Australian destroyer Waterhen on 9 July 1941, sinking it on 11 July. The Geschwader supported the Afrika Korps effectively in Libya and Egypt until 1942. Bombing raids were made on the Suez Canal, Cairo during this time. On 11/12 May 1942 I.(K)/LG 1 again led by Helbig were responsible for sinking HMS Kipling, HMS Jackal and HMS Lively in the Gulf of Sollum. This Volume I is a new updated French-language edition of Peter Taghon’s original German study with additional text and photos by acknowledged Luftwaffe expert Jean-Louis Roba. Volume 1 describes in detail the first years of combat of LG 1, the text being fleshed out with numerous rare personal accounts. Pre-order here

Below; Iro Ilk Staffelkapitän of 1./LG 1 during 1943 and bomber ace at the controls of his Ju 88. Both Ilk and his close friend in LG 1 Gerd Stamp were awarded the Knight's Cross with I./LG 1 for audacious attacks on British shipping in the Med, before going on to fly single engine night fighters with the wilde Sau. Ilk was shot down and killed by Spitfires as Gruppenkommandeur III./JG 300 on 25 September 1944. Post-war Stamp achieved high rank in NATO and married Ilk's widow.

The following is the text of a letter sent to HMS Fiji Survivor, ex-Boy Seaman Reg Verne by Gerd Stamp in 1986:

" Dear Mr Verne

Thank you very much for yours of 31st October 1986. Let me first mention that I admired your compilation of HMS Fiji news to a scrap book, from which every reader can learn a lot. I was about to write to Admiral William Powlett, but you say that he remembers almost nothing of the 22nd May 1941.

I saw your ship from above, and I dived at her during the early afternoon. However, I am not quite sure if it wasn’t the Gloucester. It must have been during that attack that the Fiji shot down one of our aircrew, who never returned.

The pilot was the son of a Luftwaffe general. Another pilot's JU 88 was hit by the Fiji’s anti-aircraft fire. He force landed near Monemvasia. He is still around and when I told him on the phone about my contacts to Fiji Members, he immediately replied that he was shot down by your anti-aircraft

His engines were fading and near Monemvasia he had to swim. The pilot, who dropped the final bombs on Fiji, was a close friend of mine. I enclose a photograph, but you will get a better one as soon as I shall have copies made. His name was Gerhard Brenner, born 1918 at Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart. He was a cheerful chap, full of humour. He loved girls and he was constantly fighting his 8 years older sister, who is still around.

On 14 June 1942 Brenner attacked a cruiser ‘Vigorous’ south of Crete. His JU 88 was forced to land north of the convoy in a high sea. We shadowed him for 3 days but had neither helicopters nor a ship to rescue him. Seaplanes could not land on the high waves. On the fourth morning the sea was calm and flat, the rubber dingy was empty. The only thing left is his voice on a tape.

I had no time yet to make a written transcript as he described his final raid against the Fiji, you will certainly get a copy.

My research is a one man band, and it takes time to answer all these letters. I got stuck in the middle of February 1941 as I had to move with all my documents and files into another flat, which is less spacious. 22nd May 1941 might became a book of its own, as it was the first great air-sea battle in the history of mankind ..."

below; Ju 88 of the Stab LG 1, September 1941