KG-26 losses 23 Feb 45

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Barrett
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KG-26 losses 23 Feb 45

Post by Barrett » 16 Dec 2005 17:44

I'm researching loss of the merchant vessel Henry Bacon off Norway on 23 Feb 45. She was attacked by Ju-88s and/or He-111s of KG-26 but claimed downing five attackers, which undoubtedly was optimistic. Available info only shows one Ju-88 loss that day, cause unknown. Any additional information gratefull received.

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Post by Larry D. » 16 Dec 2005 18:29

II./KG 26 (Extract)

10.1.45: II.Gruppe reported 37(32) Ju 88s on strength.
15.1.45: transferred to Bardufoss/c.650 km N of Trondheim around this date to take up the duties of I./KG 26, which was being disbanded. All 30 Ju 88s belonging to I.Gruppe were incorporated into II./KG 26. Assignment now was to standby for torpedo attacks on convoys in the Norwegian Sea and Arctic.
7-10.2.45: flew several torpedo attacks on a strongly escorted convoy of 26 merchantmen south of Bear Island with 25 planes, and reported 8 torpedo hits on freighters and destroyers for a loss of 3 Ju 88s in the first attack and several more in the second. Among the missing was 6.Staffel Staka Oblt. Rudolf Rögner and crew. The convoy, JW/RA 64, was protected by two escort carriers carrying a complement of F4F Wildcat fighters. British naval sources claim a total of 21 Ju 88s/l88s from KG 26 were shot down for the loss of only one freighter.
20.2.45: attacked convoy BA 64 westbound from Murmansk with III./KG 26 and a total of 35 planes claiming 11 Liberty ships, 2 cruisers and 2 destroyers either sunk or damaged. The attack occured at mid-morning about 300 km NW of North Cape. According to Allied records, no hits were scored on any of the ships. The Gruppe lost two planes in the attack.
14.3.45: transferred temporarily from Bardufoss to Stavanger-Sola in SW Norway, and then on 15 March flew an attack on shipping in the North Sea losing 6 Ju 88s shot down. The rest of the Gruppe then returned to Bardufoss. (Note: this entry, which came from documents in BA-MA RL 10/602, cannot be confirmed in other sources and appears to duplicate the 21 April entry below, which is correct).
3/45 - 4/45: no operational activity after the convoy attack of 20 February, as no convoy sightings were reported. The Gruppe spent nearly two months training for defensive ground combat under Army instructors who were veterans from the 20th Mountain Army in North Finland. This training included use of the Panzerfaust anti-tank rocket.
21.4.45: 10 torpedo-armed Ju 88A-l7s were ordered south to Stavanger-Sola from where they flew an armed reconnaissance between the Orkneys and North Scotland as far south as Peterhead with instructions to attack any targets of opportunity. Before the mission could really begin the formation was intercepted by RAF Mosquito fighters just 100 km off the tip of southern Norway and lost 6 planes and their crews. Among those lost was 6.Staffel Staka Oblt. Friedrich Ebert.





III./KG 26 (Extract)

Germany and Norway - Conversion and Final Anti-Shipping Operations. (Aug 44 - May 45)
6.1.45: conversion completed, transferred from Leck to Gardemoen/S Norway with 15 Ju 188s, and then on 25 January to Trondheim-Vaernes in C Norway.
9.2.45: flew north to Bardufoss and the next day (10 Feb) contributed 18 Ju 188s in a joint attack with II./KG 26 on convoy JW 64 as it approached the Kola Inlet and the safety of Murmansk. Fierce AA fire and fighter cover kept the torpedo aircraft at bay and no ships were hit. No losses were reported by the Gruppe.
20.2.45: flew a maximum effort with all serviceable aircraft on the same convoy, only now westbound under the designation RA 64, without loss. (See II./KG 26 for details).
23.2.45: 8.Staffel located and sank the freighter Henry Bacon (7177 tons), a straggler from convoy JW/RA 64, although 2 Ju 188s and their crews were lost in the process (including that of Hptm. Otto Fischer). This is believed to have been the last large ship sunk by German aircraft in the Second World War.
3/45 - 4/45: returned to Trondheim-Vaernes after the convoy operations concluded on 23 February and relatively inactive over the next two months due to the critical fuel situation and lack of convoy sightings. Much of the time was spent in ground defense training in preparation for an expected Allied invasion of Norway.
21.4.45: flew an armed reconnaissance mission with 4 Ju 188s off North Scotland, but no targets were found.

[Source: Schmidt, Rudi. Achtung - Torpedos los! - Der strategische und operative Einsatz des Kampfgeschwader 26. Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe Verlag, 1991. This is the primary source for this history].

It therefore appears III./KG 26 was responsible for Henry Bacon.


--Larry

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Barrett
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Post by Barrett » 16 Dec 2005 20:36

Larry, I owe you one, buddy! that's a terrific response. (And much appreciated by someone far more comfortable writing about the Pacific Theater!)

I note by the OOB that Stab/KG-26 had a few He-111s but the only listed loss (on the Luftwaffe in Norway site) was a Ju-88A flown by Fischer. However, since the OOB specifies 188s I'm inclined to go with that. I'll check into Ju-188 torpedo capabilities as well.

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Post by Jan-Hendrik » 16 Dec 2005 20:44

No , both 2 crews are shown as "vermisst" for this day in Schmidts books ( know as Larry mentioned I remembered that I bought it many years ago :wink: ) .


Jan-Hendrik

Derek Hicks
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KG26

Post by Derek Hicks » 18 Dec 2005 16:37

Most interesting responses especially translated into english as I myself have a copy of Achtung - Torpedo los! by Rudi Schmidt. As a matter of interest the book was put together by Rudi Schmidt (now deceased) and Reimer Voss and helped financially by Werner Morath. I am still in contact with Voss and Morath who have been most helpful in my research of a Major Otto Werner. I have Werner's complete service record but lack the final piece of the jigsaw by not having a photo of him. A shot in the dark but does anyone here have one?
Regards
Derek Hicks
England

RJ Burbine
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Re: KG-26 losses 23 Feb 45

Post by RJ Burbine » 26 Feb 2021 06:05

Sorry I am so late to see your posts regarding the Liberty Ship, SS Henry Bacon.
My Dad, Richard Burbine (95) is the last surviving crewmember of the Henry Bacon.
Some of you folks had questions about the type of aircraft that attacked the ship and questioned the number of aircraft the US Navy Armed Guard gun crew shot down that day.
When the attack began, my Dad headed to his action station in one of the 20mm gun tubs on the Bacon's superstructure. His job was to help load 20mm ammo cans onto the guns for the gunners.
My Dad and others who survived that day, say they shot down 5 Ju-88 / Ju-188 Bombers and damaged at least 4 others (seen trailing smoke and flames).
Having spoken to some of those other survivors, all confirmed the same numbers shot down or damaged.
I have no reason to dispute what they have said. They were there. We weren't.
Not sure why KG-26 records don't match up with the crews claims, but knowing these survivors first hand, I can tell you all of them were as honest as they come.
Hope this helps with your inquires.
Semper Fidelis
Richard J. Burbine

Larry D.
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Re: KG-26 losses 23 Feb 45

Post by Larry D. » 26 Feb 2021 14:42

Thank you, Richard, for your fresh input from the recollections of your dad and other survivors of the Bacon. Large disparities in wartime claims due to intentional or unintentional overstating and understating is the norm rather than the exception. People will choose among the numbers offered and go with the one(s) that looks best to them for a variety of reasons. Researchers have devoted 30, 40 even 50 years of their spare time investigating some of these claims hoping to either confirm or disprove them. For example, Luftwaffe fighter ace Erich Hartmann claimed 352 victories during the war, nearly 9 time any British or American fighter pilot. To the best of my knowledge, this figure is still in dispute and no one has been able to definitively confirm it or refute it, even 76 years after the fact. So if you feel comfortable with 5 Ju 188s shot down plus 4 or more damaged, then folks should leave you alone to believe what you want, and do so in good spirits.

Best,

Larry deZeng
Florida

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