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Old 20th October 2022, 15:15
Simon Trew Simon Trew is offline
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I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

I’m trying to clarify the base(s) used by I./KG 66 during the ‘Steinbock’ raid against London on the evening of Sunday 20 February 1944 (the sixth of the major London raids, and one of the more successful).

According to Unteroffizier Thomale, wireless operator from 2./KG 66 Ju 188 Z6+HK (works number 260185), shot down on 24 February, on 20 February about ten aircraft from I./KG 66 operated from Châteaudun against London (TNA AIR 40/2416, ADI(K) 109, London raid report dated 12 March 1944, paragraph 37). However, in another interrogation report the same prisoner seemed to suggest that the Gruppe was based at Montdidier, which is quite a distance further north (TNA AIR 40/2416, ADI(K) 108, report dated 9 March 1944, paragraph 7).

As far as I can tell, although almost all bombers involved in the 20 February raid operated from NW Germany, the Netherlands or Belgium, and were identified by British signals interception and radar as approaching London from the east (departure point over the Dutch coast being M/F Beacon 2 ‘Nora’ at Noordwijk), ADGB plotted approximately 30 aircraft at 2103 hrs in the Le Touquet area of France flying north and north-west (TNA HW 13/38, CX/MSS/OPD. 1089 of 22 February) and another source confirms enemy aircraft plotted in the St. Omer – Amiens region (not terribly far from Le Touquet) at 2105 hrs (TNA WO 166/14234, HQ AA Comd Intell. Summary No.52/44). The first raider made landfall at Dover at 2128 hrs (Dover HAA opened fire at 2126 hrs, and Ashford HAA five minutes later). Presumably, these were I./KG 66 aircraft, plus at least some planes from II./KG 51 (Jan Horn, Das Flurschaden-Geschwader, pp.10-11 identifies at least six 6./KG 51 Me 410s flying from Vitry-en-Artois, and this may be an incomplete list).

I’m trying to map this raid for the Osprey book (much interrupted for reasons I won’t bore TOCH forum users with) and I’d like to get the I./KG 66 departure airfield(s) correct if I can. Please can anybody help by confirming whether it was Châteaudun or Montdidier, or possibly both?

On an associated matter, various sources identify 2./KG 66 Ju 188E-1 Z6+DK (Wn.260369) as crashing at 2120 hrs on 20 February at ‘Sailly-Loretto’, France; all five men on board were killed. If that timing is accurate, one might infer that the plane took off but subsequently turned back before crossing the Channel and then crashed. I understand from http://forum.12oclockhigh.net/showthread.php?t=21558 that the crew members were buried at Montdidier, which might imply that Sailly-Loretto is near there, and that Montdidier was the aircraft’s departure airfield. Unfortunately, I cannot find any location in France with the name of ‘Sailly-Loretto’. There is a Sailly commune NE of Mantes (west of Paris), but that’s quite a long way from Montdidier. So, does anybody know exactly where ‘Sailly-Loretto’ actually is?

Many thanks, Simon
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Old 20th October 2022, 16:17
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Re: I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

Crashes/incidents in January 1944 appear to indicate Montdidier but it is not unknown for them to re-locate for missions. Marcel our resident KG 66 expert will know
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Old 20th October 2022, 16:29
Matti Salonen Matti Salonen is offline
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Re: I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

I have Sailly-Laurette, 22 km östlich Amiens.

Matti
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Old 20th October 2022, 17:49
Simon Trew Simon Trew is offline
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Re: I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

Thanks very much. Sailly-Laurette 'fits' perfectly. Given the known and estimated times that various Gruppen took off (around 2000-2030 hrs for the most part), the time that the British detected a small mass of aircraft heading N and NW in the Le Touquet - St. Omer - Amiens area (just after 2100 hrs), and the time of the crash, this looks very like a plane that got off the ground OK and which started towards the UK, but which subsequently turned back for some reason and tried to return to Montdidier (a relatively short distance south of Sailly-Laurette). Unfortunately for the crew, they never made it.

I'll hope for Marcel's confirmation or correction when he has a moment.
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Old 21st October 2022, 01:49
Marcel van Heijkop Marcel van Heijkop is offline
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Re: I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Trew View Post
Thanks very much. Sailly-Laurette 'fits' perfectly. Given the known and estimated times that various Gruppen took off (around 2000-2030 hrs for the most part), the time that the British detected a small mass of aircraft heading N and NW in the Le Touquet - St. Omer - Amiens area (just after 2100 hrs), and the time of the crash, this looks very like a plane that got off the ground OK and which started towards the UK, but which subsequently turned back for some reason and tried to return to Montdidier (a relatively short distance south of Sailly-Laurette). Unfortunately for the crew, they never made it.

I'll hope for Marcel's confirmation or correction when he has a moment.
Hi all,

For the night of 20/21 February 1944 I have a single Flugbuch entry in my database: The Besatzung Österle took off from Fliegerhorst Montdidier at 20:49 hours in their Ju 188 "+GK" (unit code not given, could still be "3E" for KG6, their previous unit till 13 February 1944) for a "Beleuchter Einsatz" against London. They landed at Chievres at 23:25 hours. From about 10 March 1944 I./KG66 moved from Montdidier to Avord, although Montdidier was occasionally used as an "Einsatzhafen" (Forward Staging Airfield) against England.

PS crash site of Ju 188E-1 Z6+DK is indeed Sailly-Laurette

Hope this helps,

Marcel
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Old 21st October 2022, 11:42
Simon Trew Simon Trew is offline
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Re: I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

Thank you, Marcel, I am most grateful. It looks like the balance of probabilities favours Montdidier for this raid, although the evidence is far from complete.

Best,

Simon
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Old 21st October 2022, 12:35
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Re: I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

I too have looked through my KG 66 FB. Knode of Stab I was not flying that night as apparently on the night of 18 Feb 44, their Ju 88S had been damaged pathfinding over London. Both before and after that date their take off was Montdidier. The only change I can see is on 29 Feb 44 they flew from Montdidier to Rennes, attacked London and then landed back at Montdidier. Altrogge of 2./KG 66 flew from and to Montdidier on ops 18-19 Feb 44 and again 24 Feb 44. Altrogge supports what Marcel has written-2 Mar 44 take off Rennes land Montdidier; 21 Mar 44 take off Soesterberg, land Montdidier but then for April 44, it was from and to Rennes. No mention of Avord but Knode wrote they moved to Avord 10 Mar 44 but were operating all over the place after that
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Old 21st October 2022, 19:56
Simon Trew Simon Trew is offline
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Re: I./KG 66 operating base(s) during 'Steinbock' London raid Sunday 20 February 1944?

Thanks for checking your own records, Chris, it is appreciated. The general trend of evidence seems to be towards Montdidier, so that is what I'll represent on the map.
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