Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

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Sam Wren
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Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Sam Wren » 21 Oct 2015 05:45

Allied intelligence documents make reference to "26th zbV Art Abt "Helma" " (also labelled "Flak-Abt. "Helma" "). This info is based on interrogation of a Leutnant Lott. From the description given and terminology used, this almost certainly was one of the Flakkampfgruppen of III. Flak-Korps and the name given probably a temporary name given prior to or early in the establishment phase of this unit.

According to Zetterling each of these Flakkampgruppen had 4 Flakkampftrupps each equipped with 2 8,8 cm Flak and also light Flak (the number of which was not given by Zetterling). Leutnant Lott describes the organization of "Helma" as 6 Flakkampftrupps (his terminology), two from MUNICH and four from INNSBRUCK. Organization: "Each hy pl had two 8,8 cm Flak/Pak" and "Each lt pl had three 2 cm single Flak". The 8,8 cm were of the "18", "36", "37" and "41" type. Each Flakkampftrupp consisted of approximately 70 all ranks and had 13 LKW, 1 PKW and 2 MCs. They were to receive tractors for the 8,8 cm Flak but these never arrived so they had to be towed by LKW. Although Zetterling mentions only 4 Flakkampftrupps each, he does have a footnote indicating that Tessin indicates 6 per Flakkampfgruppe, which matches the organization given by Leutnant Lott.

The PW did not know the origin of the name "Helma". He indicated that the CO of "Helma' was Hptm. Bartelt. They arrived in the Caen area on 12 or 14 July & Lt. Lott was captured at Cuverville on 18.7.44.

Has anyone heard of this unit or know which of the Flakkampgruppen it was? I could find nothing in Pickert's manuscripts that sheds any light on this unit. Thanks

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Manuferey » 21 Oct 2015 22:39

Sam,

The closest reference I've found is a Flak-Kp zbV 26 in 1943 in a Feldpostnummer history, assuming "Fl" means Flak here:

FPN 49464
(2.1.1940-11.3.1943) Fl.Kompanie z.b.V. 26,
(12.3.1943-7.9.1943) gestrichen,
(8.9.1943-22.4.1944) 7.1.1944 Kfz.-Instandsetzungs-Zug der Luftwaffe 7/XVII.

Emmanuel

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Sam Wren » 22 Oct 2015 00:19

Thanks Manu,

He gives the FPN of "Helma" as: L 63379. But I suppose that could have changed once they were turned into a Flakkampfgruppe.

I had forgotten about the FPN being in there. According to http://www.axishistory.com/about-ahf/ne ... 3000-63999 this is the FPN for (23.4.1944-24.11.1944) 1.8.1944 I. Fl.K.Trupp Flak-Abteilung 11

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Luft 76 » 30 Oct 2015 20:54

Hello

Never heard of such unit. But I think you must not look on the side of III. Flak Korps because its subordinated units are well known. And the mission of III. FK was well defined for supports ground troops and their rear areas.
Many Flak units or batteries were involved in Normandy, and mainly rear of the normand front without being subordinated to that corps.
They were (all ?) depending of 13 or 16. Flak Brigade. Some were already in Normandy before DDay, some others arrived later. Few are known.
It's a real theme of research to him alone !
If you can know when and even perhaps where the Flak officer of this unknow unit was captured you can have a track.
Good luck.

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Sam Wren » 31 Oct 2015 00:23

He was captured at Cuverville on 18.7.44.

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Larry D. » 31 Oct 2015 13:59

Manuferey wrote:Sam,

The closest reference I've found is a Flak-Kp zbV 26 in 1943 in a Feldpostnummer history, assuming "Fl" means Flak here:

FPN 49464
(2.1.1940-11.3.1943) Fl.Kompanie z.b.V. 26,
(12.3.1943-7.9.1943) gestrichen,
(8.9.1943-22.4.1944) 7.1.1944 Kfz.-Instandsetzungs-Zug der Luftwaffe 7/XVII.

Emmanuel
Hi Emmanuel,

This was not a Flak-Kp. z.b.V., but rather a Flieger-Kp. z.b.V. There were a total of 40 of these formed between 30 December 1942 and the first few days of May 1943. 60% of them had their own separate Feldpostnummer while the other 40% did not. They were all in France and they were all disbanded by fall 1943. I have not been able to determine what their purpose was, but they were probably made up of personnel in training, possibly for the Luftwaffen-Felddivisionen. If I had to make a guess, I would say that they may have been used at least part of the time to guard airfields, radar sites and other high value Luftwaffe installations in France.

Sources:
Feld-Luftgaukommando Westfrankreich Tagesberichten (daily orders) in NARA RG 242 Microcopy T-405 roll 46.
Luftwaffenpersonalamt Officer Assignment Orders in NARA RG 242 Microcopy T-77.
Kannapin, Norbert. Die deutsche Feldpostübersicht 1939-1945. 3 Bde (I – III) (Osnabrück, 1980-82).

L.

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Manuferey » 01 Nov 2015 03:07

Thank you, Larry.

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Luft 76 » 29 Nov 2015 18:24

Sam Wren wrote:He was captured at Cuverville on 18.7.44.
In my opinion, the unit was involved in Caen city AA protection, perhaps the Mondeville industrial sector (?). Indeed, both Mondevilel and Cuverville are very close (east of Caen).

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Larry D. » 29 Nov 2015 20:14

I find it somewhat strange that no one, apparently, has ever found a Belegungsbericht for Standort Cherbourg and Standort Caen for around May-June 1944. A lot has been written about the defense of the city over the past 71 years and a number of these authors spent months combing through the archived documents in Germany, France, England and the U.S. Belegungsberichten (billeting reports) were typically prepared monthly by the local Feldkommandantur and included the number of Wehrmacht personnel from each unit billeted within his area of responsibility. All branches of service were included as well as the Org. Todt, NSKK, etc., exact addresses were given and every unit down to tiny independent Trupps and Züge were covered. These reports were distributed up the chain of command to Armee and Heeresgruppe level. If one for Cherbourg and Caen is ever found, then it may be possible to correctly identify this puzzling unit.

L.

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Sam Wren » 06 Dec 2015 19:50

As it so happens, this same Leutnant Lott was one of the POWs whose conversations were secretly recorded and I happened to find a report on him yesterday. Apart from the revelation that his unit was supporting 16. LW Felddivision (which, from the date and location that he was captured, could be surmised and is, therefore, not really new information) there is not much in here that is helpful (to me) for the purposes of determining more about this mystery unit. Perhaps those who know more about LW units can glean more from the report.
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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Sam Wren » 06 Dec 2015 20:20

Luft 76, the original interrogation report states that "HELMA" was under direct command of III. Flakkorps. I can't say whether this means that it was an organic component of III. Flakkorps or just attached or subordinated. The description given matches in many respects to the description of the Flakkampftrupps/Flakkampfgruppen which formed a part of III.Flakkorps, but the name of the unit throws some doubt on that.

One point that must be made however, is that the interrogators often misidentified the unit on the reports for various reasons. I do not know enough about how they determined the unit other than the obvious (admission by POW, Soldbuchs, other documents) but it is frequently obvious (based on the other information contained in the reports or that is available to us today that was not available to Allied Intelligence at the time) what the true unit name was. In some cases it is reasonably presumable that in the case of recent reinforcements, that the "unit" given on the report was actually the reinforcement unit from which they came rather than the unit in which they were serving when captured (many "Marschbataillon X" for example).
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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Larry D. » 06 Dec 2015 20:54

Sam W. -

Your Kensington Park (KP) interrogation used in conjunction with published accounts of 16. Feld-Division (L) helps shed additional light on this unit. First of all, the 16. Feld-Division (L) was removed from the Luftwaffe effective 1 November 1943 and incorporated into the Heer (Army). At the same time, its Flak-Abteilung, which was one of the three Abteilungen that comprised the Division's Artillerie-Rgt., remained with the Luftwaffe and was taken away and redesignated I./Flak-Rgt. 53 before it was sent from Holland sto Lille/France in February 1944. It had no further connection to the Division. On 10 Jun 44, I./Flak-Rgt. 53 was brought forward to the Normandy invasion front and moved into the area 19 km south of Caen. Subordinated to Flak-Sturm-Rgt. 4/III. Flakkorps and designation changed to I./Flak-Sturm-Rgt. 53. These Flak-Sturm-Regimenter were the ones with the Flakkampfgruppen and Flakkampftrupps.

So, the question remaining is did Lt. Lott remain with 16. Feld-Div. (L) after 1 Nov 43, or did he belong to I./Flak-Rgt. 53? It seems clear to me that he belongs to I./Flak-Sturm-Rgt. 53. As for "26. z.b.V." and the name "Helma", I can find nothing that this correlates with.

L.

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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Manuferey » 06 Dec 2015 21:08

In the "green" document posted by Sam Wren above, paragraph 3 "STRUCTURE" refers to "its guns "41" ".

I originally wondered if that meant 5 cm Flak 41 or 8,8 cm Flak 41 guns. :? But paragraph "WEAPONS" mentions 8.8 cm Flak/Pak which would seems to tilt the balance towards 8.8 cm Flak 41. :idea:

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Have I found the answer?

Post by Sam Wren » 09 Dec 2015 07:45

As I continued through the secretly recorded interrogations, almost the very last one was for a Hauptmann Barthel whose unit was listed as "Fla.Kampfgruppe 11/700):
668 - SRM 796, 19.8.44, Flak Kampfgruppe 11700 .JPG
This rang a bell since Leutnant Lott had given the name of the CO of his Abteilung as being named "BARTELT". Also, while 11/700 looked like a strange designation for a Flak Abteilung, 11700 is a known Flak Abteilung that was in this same area (Hautmesnil) on 8.8.44. As a matter of fact, I found an interrogation report of 5 different members of Flak Abteilung 11700 and a check of Tessin shows:

Flak-Abt. 11700 (b.mot.)*Aug 1944 als behelfsmäßig motorisierte Abt. mit dem I.-VI. Flakkampftrupp; Einsatz in der Normandie (Cintheaux, Argentan), dort vernichtet und aufgelöst. (August 1944 as a provisionally motorized Abt. with the I. - VI. Flakkampftrupp; Action in Normandy (Cintheaux, Argentan), where it was destroyed and written off.)
5 PW of Flak Kampf Abt. 11700, Pg. 1.JPG
5 PW of Flak Kampf Abt. 11700, Pg. 2.JPG
Of interest is the mention of being formed in Munich & in Innsbruck (just as Lt. Lott stated) and of being visited by Gen. Pickert. Zetterling has one of the known Flakkampfgruppen of III. Flakkorps as 11700. Also, the location where Barthel was captured on 8/8/44 (Hautmesnil) is only a few miles from where the 5 POWs of Fl.Abt. 11700 were captured (Bretteville-sur-Laize) on the same day:
Screen Shot copy.jpg
My guess is that HELMA was a temporary name of Flak Abteilung/Flakkampfgruppe 11700 which the interrogators found in Lt. Lott's Soldbuch and the unit was either officially designated 11700 after Lt. Lott was captured (he was captured on 18 July, only a few days after the unit arrived SE of Caen) or he decided not to correct the false assumptions made by his interrogators.
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Re: Flak Abt. zbV 26 "Helma"? u/c III. Flak-Korps, Caen

Post by Larry D. » 09 Dec 2015 14:26

Excellent research and information, Sam W. All I can add from my notes is the following:

Flak-Abt. z.b.V. 11700 (b.mot.)
12 Jun 44: Flak-Kampftrupps III and IV being unloaded in Tours but are to be redirected from there. Stab and Trupps I – VI en-route to Meaux and from there to proceed by road to the Flak ammunition issuing station at Château/7.2 km SE of Falaise.

[Sources: BNA HW 5/500]

"BNA" = British National Archives.
"HW 5/500" = is one of the ULTRA intercepts

L.

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