Gruppe

This will be my final article about Feldwebel Günther Kramer.

I am still not sure where this picture was taken,

Frankreich, Jagdflugzeuge Me 109 auf Feldflugplatz

and if those planes represent what Feldwebel Günther Kramer’s Bf 109E-1 looked like.

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Bundesarchiv says this picture was taken in France.

Frankreich, Jagdflugzeuge Me 109 auf Feldflugplatz

Inventory: Bild 101 I – Propagandakompanien der Wehrmacht – Heer und Luftwaffe
Signature: Bild 101I-058-1784A-14
Archive title: Frankreich.- Vier Jagdflugzeuge Messerschmidt Me 109 E des Jagdgeschwaders 51 “Mölders” (IV./JG 51) auf Feldflugplatz; PK 670
Dating: 1940 August – September
Photographer: Eckert, Erhardt
Origin: Bundesarchiv

Eduard’s Website says it was taken at Odendorf in Germany.

Frankreich, Jagdflugzeuge Me 109 auf Feldflugplatz

Wanderzirkus Janke at Odendorf base, in the summer of 1940. On the cowling of the aircraft in the foreground, the ‘Lumpenstiefel’ emblem of I./JG 77 can be seen. (Bundesarchiv Bild 101I- 058-1784A-14 via Wikimedia Commons)

My source who’s a member of 12 O’Clock High forum says also Odendorf.

Frankreich, Jagdflugzeuge Me 109 auf Feldflugplatz

One Wikipedia page says a similar picture was taken at Mont-de-Marsan, France.

Hannes-Trautloft-Further-Fate-2Gruppenkommandeur Hptm. Johannes ‘Jänki’ Janke (left) with officers of his Stab. In the fall of 1940, his Gruppe was made subordinate to Hannes Trautloft’s JG 54, which was paradoxical since Janke was formerly Trautloft’s superior. Janke was transferred to Stab 1. Jagddivision in February 1941. (Bundesarchiv 58-1784-17 via J. Prien)

Who to believe?

Was this insignia from JG51?

Hannes Trautloft Bf 109 shoe

Since I am not an expert on the Luftwaffe, I am trying to make sense on how the Luftwaffe was organized as well as all the information I have gathered on Feldwebel Günther Kramer who gave this memento to an English lady when he went back to Germany after the war.

Luftwaffe Feldwebel shoulder strap

Remember how this story started in the first place…?

Last year we were given an envelope which held a shoulder strap with the following written on the front.

Sgt Major Günther Kramer was a Messerschmitt pilot shot down over Kent. He was taken as a POW. He was one of five billeted out on Chivers Farm Aldreth near Ely (Cambs).

He gave me his pilots shoulder strap as a souvenir when he returned to Germany, we called him Jack, he had been a school teacher before being called up, he came from Altenburg, he wrote a few letters when he returned home.

I have done some research to try and find any descendants  so that we could return these items but without success and wondered if you might be luckier.

I look forward to your reply and if you would like a picture of the shoulder strap I will attach one when we next communicate.

With Thanks,

What was a Gruppe ? (Wikipedia)

Gruppe

The Gruppe was the basic autonomous unit in the Luftwaffe, in both administration and strategic use, much the same as in the American air forces of that time. Each Gruppe would have a Gruppenstab (“Group Staff flight”) of three aircraft. The Gruppe would be commanded by a Gruppenkommandeur, that would be a major or Hauptmann. He would have a small staff including administration, operations, medical and technical officers. A Gruppe usually occupied one airfield. Gruppen from the same Geschwader typically occupied adjacent airfields. Each would have an air signals platoon, mechanical and administrative personnel. There was also a trained fire-fighting crew doubling as police officers and staffed by the SS.[26]

As with the Geschwader combat wing formation, the Gruppe included staff officers tasked with additional administrative duties, usually an adjutant, technical, medical and operations officers. These officers were usually (though not always), experienced aircrew or pilots appointed from the operational cadre within the unit.

Gruppen organized within a combat wing were designated with Roman numerals: I, II, III and IV. This would be combined with the abbreviated Geschwader designation – for example, the second Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 11 would be designated II./JG 11. Each Gruppe in turn consisted of three Staffeln (squadrons). In total, each group had thirty to forty aircraft including the Gruppenstab. A Gruppe was often transferred from one Geschwader to another. After a transfer they would be re-designated. For example, Gruppe II of Jagdgeschwader 3, II./JG 3 was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 1 as Gruppe I and was re-designated I./JG 1. In the case of bomber Geschwaders, an Ergänzungsgruppen (training group) might be attached to a Geschwader as the fifth Gruppe and designated ‘V’ (Roman numeral 5).[6][26]

Although all Gruppen in a Geschwader performed the same role, they were not always equipped with the same aircraft. This was more prevalent in fighter Geschwader, but did occur in bomber units as well. Some groups of a fighter Geschwader would be equipped with Messerschmitt Bf 109s, while others would be equipped with Focke-Wulf Fw 190s. Among the bomber Geschwaders, some Gruppen would be equipped with Dornier Do 17s while others would have either Heinkel He 111s or Junkers Ju 88s.[26]

So Gruppe I from JG77 had three squadrons each having about 10 to 15 aircraft. This is what Wikipedia says about Staffle.

A Staffel was the equivalent of a squadron. It usually had twelve aircraft but some had as few as five or six aircraft due to losses, while others had as many as 16. It would be led by a Staffelkapitän ranking Hauptmann, Oberleutnant or sometimes Leutnant. Staffeln were numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals within a Geschwader irrespective of the Gruppe they came under. The Staffel designation would be similar to that of the Gruppe except for the Arabic numerals. For example, Staffel 6 of Jagdgeschwader 27 would be designated 6./JG 27. The Staffeln of Gruppe I would be numbered 1, 2 and 3. Those of Gruppe II would be numbered 4, 5 and 6. This was continued for the rest of the groups.

Let’s go back to this information that was given to me by a member on the 12 O’Clock High forum.

Taken from Luftwaffe Crash Archives Volume 3:

Luftwaffe Crash Archives Volume 3

31 August 1940 Bf 109E-1 Wn 6092 marks: 5+ unit: 1./JG 77

Place: Shornemead Fort, Gravesend, Kent at 13.20H

While escorting bombers at 23000 ft to Hornchurch aerodrome this aircraft was attacked by a Hurricane, the controls and engine being damaged and the aircraft made a belly landing but started to burn and was almost completely destroyed.

Markings: most of the nose appeared to have been painted yellow.

Pilot: Feldwebel Günther Kramer EK II badly burnt, POW

There are two photos of the Bf 109 after the fire had been put out and a note saying, the pilot had in his pockets three receipts from shops in Aalborg dated 19th August 1940.

If this information is correct, there would be pictures of the Bf 109E-1 Wn 6092 for all people to see. My source says that if these pictures existed, they would have been available a long time ago on the Internet.

So is all this information I have gathered on Feldwebel Günther Kramer true?

Luftwaffe Feldwebel shoulder strapI am still waiting for any of his relatives, if he had any, to contact me, and validate all this research.

4 thoughts on “Gruppe

    1. Pictures taken during late spring or early summer 1940. Either in Odendorf, Germany or France.
      If it’s in France, then it’s after May 10th, 1940.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_France

      In the Second World War, the Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the successful German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, defeating primarily French forces.

      I believe the date (August-September) is correct. The location has to be France in the Pas-de-Calais region.

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