Wasps over the bay
Early August 1943, the Bf 110 G-2s of II./ZG 1
moved from Monte Corvino to LanveocPoulmic. Command of II./ZG 1 passed to Hptm
Karl-Heinrich Matern, Staffelkapitän of 4./ZG 1.
II./ZG 1 was to be used countering increased
Allied air traffic over the Bay of Biscay together
with Ju 88 C-6s of V./KG 40 and Fw 190s
of III./JG 2 and 1./Seeaufklärungsgruppe 128.
August 21, 1943, saw the first victory when the
Gruppe claimed a Liberator. This is believed
to be from 311 Sqn. and was flown by Wg Cdr
Jindřich Breitcetl – all eight crew perished
but Uffz Georg Planer of 5./ZG 1 was lost
in the combat.
On September 11, 1943, Mosquitoes of 307
Sqn. claimed to have destroyed a Bf 110,
probably destroyed two and damaged one.
Lt Dieter Bambauer of 5./ZG 1 was lost so was
probably the victim of Flt Sgt Zbigniew DuninRzuchowski. Five days later, II./ZG 1 intercepted
B-17s attacking targets in western France
claiming three, credited to Fw Klaus Schreuer
and Oblt Arnold Dorka of 4. Staffel and
Fw Emil Pfeiffer of 6. Staffel.
A Liberator of 53 Sqn. flown by Flt Lt Tony
Spooner was then damaged by Bf 110s between
the Scillies and Lundy Island on September
21, 1943 and three days later, the Gruppe
suffered its heaviest losses to date. Despite
Ofw Ruhland Zahn and Fw Hans Fuchs of 5./
ZG 1 each claiming a Spitfire and Ofw Heinrich
Börger and Uffz Peter Schölz of 6./ZG 1 claiming
a Mitchell and a Spitfire, four Bf 110s, including
those of Zahn, Fuchs and Oblt Arnold Dorka,
were lost to Spitfires of Nos. 66, 313 and 610
Sqn. No 98 Sqn. Mitchells were lost but 313 Sqn.
lost three which included Sqn Ldr Jaroslav
II./ZG 1’s time over the Bay of Biscay would
now only last another three weeks. On the
morning of September 27, 1943, Fw Klaus
Schreuer of 4. Staffel claimed a Wellington
and 30 minutes later, 5./ZG 1 got a second
Wellington. The Wellingtons came from
No. 612 Sqn. flown by Flt Sgt Robert Hyndson
and No. 407 Sqn. flown by Wg Cdr John
Archer, the latter having gone to search for
a No. 407 Sqn. Wellington which had ditched off
the Scillies returning from the Bay.
Six days later, the Gruppe apparently claimed
a Sunderland and a Typhoon. The former was
possibly from No. 10 Sqn. RAAF captained
by Fg Off Fred Lee while the latter was
possibly a Hurricane of 1449 Flt flown by Flt
Sgt Richard Adams which was reported shot
down 35 miles south-west of the Scillies
The end for II./ZG 1 came on October 8, 1943.
At 0735hrs, seven Spitfires of No. 453 Sqn.
took off on what was called an anti-Me
110 patrol. At 0845 they came across eight
Bf 110s and in the ensuing battle, Fg Off Harold
Parker was seen to be shot down and Flt
Lt Russell Ewins, having shot down a Bf 110,
suffered engine failure and ditched. Parker
was reported missing, but Ewins was rescued.
Another four Bf 110s were claimed destroyed
by Fg Off Patrick McDade and Plt Off Colin
Leith. At 1330hrs, eight Bf 110s got airborne
from Lanveoc-Poulmic looking for two
aircraft lost that morning. No. 610 Sqn. were
relieving a Mosquito circling Russell Ewin’s
Text: Chris Goss
Illustration: Piotr Forkasiewicz
dinghy and at 1415hrs bounced the Germans.
Fg Off Vincent Moody and Flt Sgt Bob Hussey
each claimed a Bf 110 around 1415hrs. Finally,
at 1445hrs, No. 66 Sqn. together with 453
Sqn., got airborne to escort aircraft bombing
II./ZG 1's home base. No. 66 Sqn. bounced eight
to 10 Bf 110s off Brest claiming three Bf 110s
destroyed, one probable and one damaged.
The timings for II./ZG 1’s losses are hard
to determine. There were some claims by
6. Staffel as Ofw Heinrich Börger claimed
a Mitchell, Fw Franz Meissl a Spitfire and
Uffz Anders a P-47 around 1545hrs. During
the day they lost 11 fighters with three more
suffering varying degrees of damage. Those
lost included Hptm Karl-Heinrich Matern (who
would be awarded the Ritterkreuz the following
day – he was possibly lost in the morning as
Hptm Rudolf Wangner was leading the Gruppe
later that day), Lt Hans-Bodo Busch (Adjutant)
while Lt Hans Schmidtal, who was leading
6. Staffel, was wounded. Lt Wolfgang Priebe
and his radio operator from 4./ZG 1 were
captured after being shot down by No. 610 Sqn.
and their interrogation revealed much about
the Gruppe but by then it was too late. Having
suffered such heavy losses, one more coming
on October 14, 1943, when Uffz Max Wichert
of 6./ZG 1 crashed due to engine failure off
the Ille D’Ouessant, in November, II./ZG 1, now
commanded by Ritterkreuz winner Hptm Egon
Albrecht, former Staffelkapitän of 6. Staffel,
withdrew to Wels where in July 1944 it was
disbanded to become the Bf 109-equipped