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Operation JUBILEE, Dieppe 1942 II.

Author : 🕔07.05.2003 📕22.501
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The key task of the whole operation was given to the British RAF. To provide air cover for the landing and support the landing was to provide 750 aircraft gradually gathered at the airfields 11th Group. The Commander Air Operations A/M Trafford Leigh-Mallory, CB, DSO had 70 squadrons withdrawn for the operation from the 10th, 12th, 13th and 14th Group. These were a total of 59 fighter squadrons, 5 bomber, 4 reconnaissance and two with smoke screen launchers. The 42 fighter squadrons were armed with Mk. VB/VC, four squadrons had brand new Mk.IX Spitfires, two flew the high-altitude Spitfire version of the HF.Mk.VI. There were also three squadrons of attack Mk.IB Typhoons, eight squadrons armed with Mk.IIB Hurricanes/IIC, designed to directly support ground troops, and two squadrons provided several twin-engine Boston Mk.III Intruders. In addition, Bomber Command provided three squadrons of Mk.III Bomber Bostons from its 2nd Group, and Army Co-operation Command (Air Force Co-operation Command) released four squadrons of Fr.Mk.IA tactical reconnaissance Mustangs and two armed Blenheims Mk.IV adapted for smoke screen launching.[3] In terms of nationality, there were 42 British, 6 Canadian, 5 Polish, 2 Czechoslovakian, 2 Norwegian, 3 American RAF, one each contributed by the French, Belgians and New Zealanders, 3 American from the 8th Air Force and 4 reconnaissance from the RCAF. Bases in Southern England such as Biggin Hill, Tangmere, Hornchurch were literally bursting at the seams at the time. The huge number of aircraft was matched by the quantity of material collected to ensure their operation. The obvious task of the fighter squadrons was to protect the skies over the landing area from attacks by the German Luftwaffe and to support ground troops if necessary. Bomber Bostons were to attack the batteries to the east of the city while Intruders were to strafe Battery Hess to the west of Dieppe.

Of the Czechoslovak units, the 310th and 312th Squadron participated in Operation Jubilee, while the Thirteenth remained in the Exeter sector, holding cash in the absence of their sister units. Operation Jubilee was thus to involve two Czechoslovak squadrons that had been operating together since May 1942 as part of the newly formed Czechoslovak Wing.[4] On 16 August, the two selected squadrons moved from Exeter and Harrowbeer to the 11th Group's satellite base, Redhill airfield south of London in the county of Surrey. The pilots personally flew their aircraft, while ground personnel were transported by Handley Page Harrow aircraft from 271st Squadron. The following day, the two squadrons returned to the 10th Group area, to Warmwell, where they were joined by Thirteen. From there, the full Czechoslovak wing conducted a diversionary sweep over Cherbourg. The aim was to distract the German fighters from the action that was underway over Rouen. Twelve four-engine Fortress B 17E were here carrying out bombing raids on the Rouen-Soteville marshalling yard as part of Operation Circus 204. It was the first ever action by USAAF four-engine bombers from bases in the UK.[5] For our wing, the action over Cherbourg went off without an encounter with the enemy, and immediately afterwards the 310th and 312th Squadrons moved again to Redhill airfield. The day before the start of Operation Jubilee, that is, on 18 August, the Wing (310th and 312th Squadrons), along with the 350th Belgian Squadron, set off for the Rodeo in the area between Abbeville, Le Tréport and Berck-sur-mer. Our two complete squadrons were led into action by W/Cdr Karel Mrázek, DFC, who took command of the Czechoslovak Wing after the death of Alois Vašátko in June 1942. František Doležal as commander of the Thirty-third Squadron and S/Ldr Jan Čermák with the 312th Squadron. During Rodeo, it was about luring enemy fighters to counterattack and destroy them in the air. However, our Spitfires did not meet with enemy resistance this time either. After landing, the mechanics treated all the machines thoroughly and prepared them for the day ahead.


Douglas Boston Mk.III of the 88th RAF Squadron during the raid on Dieppe.

German defences on the other side of the Canal relied on units of the 302nd Infantry Division (General Konrad Haase), based in and around Dieppe. The division was part of LXXXI Army Corps (General Kuntzen) of General Haase's Fifteenth Army. The two infantry regiments (570th,571st) had a total of four battalions of 190 men each. The following units were attached to the unit: the 302nd Artillery Regiment, the 302nd Anti-Tank and Reconnaissance Battalion, the 265th, 770th, 813th Coastal Batteries, the 302nd Engineer Battalion, and a company of heavy machine guns. In reserve were four more battalions of infantry from the 570th, 571st, 676th Regiments. The mobile reserve consisted of the 10th Panzer Division and the SS Das Reich and Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler divisions could be used. In total, the Germans had a total of 2,600 men available in the landing zone, which they could reinforce with additional troops if necessary. The backbone of the entire city's defense rested on two large batteries, at Varengeville, where there were six 15 cm caliber naval guns (Battery Hess) and at Berneval, where four 105 mm caliber guns and three 17 cm caliber guns (Battery Goebbels) prized their teeth. Three more field batteries of four 75 mm calibre guns each were deployed to the east of the harbour, at Arques-la-Bataille near divisional headquarters and at Appeville near the fortified position of Quatre Vents, where there were a number of anti-aircraft guns. In the harbour itself there were, in addition, a number of pillboxes equipped with heavy machine guns. Allied reconnaissance also failed to discover a battery of eight 75 mm guns located directly in the town.


Deployment of German forces along the Dieppe coast, August 1942

The Luftwaffe was represented in the Canal Zone by Luftflotte 3, which could deploy up to 450 machines. Its fighter component, grouped in Jaffa 2, consisted of two complete Jagdgeschwader, JG 2 and JG 26. In addition, the German Air Force in the Canal Zone had bombers from KG 2 Holzhammer, I./KG 77, II./KG 40 and III./KG 53 scattered at airfields in Holland and Northern France. In total, the Germans were able to deploy 250 combat-capable fighters at the time of the landings, including 190 Fw 190A-2, A-3 and 60 Bf 109 F-4/G-1 and 107 combat-capable bombers Do 217 E-4 (KG 2), Ju 88 A-4 (I./KG 77), He 111 H-6 (III./KG 53)[6].

Since the only fighters in the Canal Zone came from the two Geschwader mentioned above, let's pay more attention to them. It was the pilots of these two German groups who clashed in aerial combat with Allied fighters. The commanding officer of Jagdgeschwader 26 Schlageter was held in August 1942 by Maj. Gerhard Schopfel, who replaced Adolf Galland in command and had 39 victories to his credit at the time. Subordinate units were stationed at the following airfields: I./JG 26 Maj. Johannes Seifert at St.Omer-Arques, II./JG 26 Hptm. Conny Meyer in Abbeville-Drucat and III./JG 26 Hptm. Joseph Priller in Wewelghem, Holland. The commander of JG 2 since July was ObLt. Walter Oesau at the time, an ace with 100 kills. He was the third Luftwaffe fighter pilot to receive the Swords and was also banned from taking off after achieving his 100th victory. Also JG 2 had three Gruppe stationed at the following airfields: I./JG 2 Hptm Erich Leie in Tricqueville, II./JG 2 Hptm Helmut Felix Bolz in Beaumont-le-Roger and III./JG 2 under the command of Hans Hahn in Théville. In addition, each Geschwader had two detachments at forward airfields: 10th (Jabo)/JG 26 at St. Omer-Wizernes, 11th (Jabo)/JG 26 at St.(Höh)/JG 26 at Norrent-Fontes; 10th (Jabo)/JG 2 at Carpiquet near Caen and 11th (Höh)/JG 2 at Liegescourt. As for German Long Range Air Forces bases in Western Europe, half of them were based at airfields in the Netherlands at Eindhoven, Gilze-Rijen, Deelen and Soesterberg. The rest were concentrated at bases in central France at Beauvais, Creil, Chartres and Rennes airports. A cursory glance at the map shows that most of the fighter Gruppe were no more than 80 km from Dieppe, while the British pilots had to cover a distance almost double that. For German bombers, on the other hand, Dieppe was a relatively distant target, requiring 60 to 90 minutes of flight time for their crews.

 

As of June 30, 1942, the elite JG 26 Schlageter had 105 combat-capable Fw 190 A-2/A-3 machines. Compared to the standard British fighter Spitfire Mk.VB/VC, which our squadrons were also equipped with, the new German Fw 190 A-2/A-3 was a much more powerful machine. These fighters, which arrived at the Canal front from August 1941 to July 1942, were faster than the Spitfire at all altitudes by 30 km/h. In addition, they had more acceleration and better climb, and were more agile in dive flight. The top speed of the A-3 version was around 676 km/h. The Spitfire Mk. VC reached a top speed of up to 595 km/h. The German versions of the A-2 and A-3 had similar armament, consisting of two 20 mm cannon of the MG 151/20 type in the wing roots and two MG 17 machine guns above the engine. The Spitfire Mk.VC carried the B variant armament, which was also common on the Spitfire version of the Mk. VB. It consisted of two 20 mm Hispano guns and four 7.7 mm Browning machine guns.

Among the pilots of the German fighter squadrons there were many great aviators, some of whom already at that time boasted the title of Luftwaffe fighter aces. Hptm. Josef Priller, commander of III/JG 26, was an ace at the time with 75 victories. He later became commander of the entire JG 26 and was the only fighter to penetrate with his number over the Normandy invasion beaches. He survived the war and achieved a total of 101 aerial victories. He shot down at least three pilots of the 313th Squadron (V. Michálek on 27.3.1942, K. Pavlik on 5.5.1942, S. Fejfar on 17.5.1942). Another regular opponent of our fighters was Hptm. Hans "Assi" Hahn, at that time commander of III./JG 2, who had over 60 victories to his credit. He left the Western battlefield in November 1942 and was captured by the Russians on the Eastern Front the following February. The German Luftwaffe in the Canal Zone was thus well armed and had no shortage of experienced and seasoned pilots.At 1000 on 17 August, Combined Operations Command gave the final order to launch Operation Jubilee, the earliest date for the cancellation of the action being set for 0300 on 19 August. During 18 August troop embarkations were in progress at Portsmouth, Southampton, Shoreham and Newhaven. The road to the French coast was mined and so the 9th and 13th Minesweeper Flotillas set off at 00.03 to clear passages for the main force. All minesweepers returned to port after completing their task. The way was clear. Clouds covered the moon and so the approach to the French coast was in total darkness. Because of the large number of ships, it was necessary to divide the fleet into several groups. Groups 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, 13 and part of the tenth sailed from Portsmouth and Southampton harbours, the rest, groups 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 from Newhaven and Shoreham. At 21.25 the fleet weighed anchor and sailed with the destroyer Calpe in the lead for the French coast. At 01.55, all ships sailed unharmed through the cleared corridor in the German minefield. The destroyer Calpe, which was the main tent of the naval and land forces, then rechecked the entire convoy. The time limit for the cancellation of the operation was three o'clock in the morning of 19 August 1942. As no order to abort the operation came, the launching of landing craft began after three o'clock. Although there was danger of an attack by German U-boats, the British locators detected none. The German Kriegsmarine had only a group of five fast boats at sea at the time, laying mines during the night off Lyme Bay.Another smaller fleet was anchored at Boulogne. The way to the coast seemed clear.


Landing craft en route to Dieppe during Operation Jubilee, 19 August 1942
Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3192395

On the night of 18 August, buses bring all the Kenley sector pilots together for a pre-operational briefing. At exactly midnight, the commander of 11 Group Air Marshall Leight-Mallory begins briefing pilots of several different nationalities on the future operation. The Air Force's primary mission will be to provide protection to ground and naval forces from enemy aircraft attacks. For most pilots, it's a welcome change from the daily routine of flying over occupied territory and endless seas. Now, on the other hand, there will be a huge invasion fleet below them and even their own troops fighting on the French coast. The briefing ends at one o'clock at night and the pilots go straight to bed. The wake-up call is at 5.30 am.


The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada during the landing of Operation JUBILEE, the Dieppe Raid, on August 19, 1942.
Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194300

According to a German Navy report dated 18 August 1942, a convoy of five motor schooners and three escort submarine destroyers departed Boulogne for Dieppe at 8 p.m. [7] The convoy was travelling at 6 knots and was scheduled to arrive in Dieppe at about 4 a.m. It was near the port of Dieppe at around 3.30 am.


[3] Fighters over the Channel, Sehnal J.,Rajlich J., pp. 72, 73

[4] The Czechoslovak Wing was practically created the moment Alois Vasátko was promoted to W/C, which happened on the 3rd. 5. 1942. The parent base became Exeter Airport and its satellite bases Harrowbeer and Churchstanton in the area of operations of the 10th Group. Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron (established 5 September 1940 at Duxford) and 313th Czechoslovak Fighter Squadron (established 10 May 1941 at Catterick).
Fighters over the Channel, p. 10 and 25

[5] It is not without interest that the co-pilot of the command aircraft during this action was Maj. Paul W. Tibbets, who dropped an atomic bomb from his B-29 on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
Sehnal, Rajlich, Fighters Over the Channel, p. 210

[6] Sehnal, Rajlich, Fighters over the Canal, p. 73

[7] Interestingly, the original German report speaks of five ships accompanied by three submarines. It is possible that the confusion occurred when the original German report was translated into Italian. In the original German version it could have been "V.boote = Vorpostenboote", where the Italians confused the letters "V" and "U" thus "U.boote", i.e. submarines. The Germans also sometimes referred to submarine fighters as "UJ.boote". The rescued sailors from U.J. 1404, which was fished out by the destroyer Brocklesby after the battle, claimed that the convoy consisted of eight small boats and four escorts.
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Author : 🕔07.05.2003 📕22.501