Flugplatz St-Inglevert

 

The French airfield of St-Inglevert was used by the Luftwaffe between 20 June and 26 November 1940 to fight the battle of Britain. The Germans re-used the French hangars and the grass landing strip.

 

It is unclear whether a Flugplatzkommando or Fliegerhorstkommandantur was located at the airfield or whether the airfield was part of such a unit located elsewhere. However, we do know that the non-flying units at the airfield were under the operational control of the Flughafenbereich St-Omer.

 

On 20 June 1940 the first unit arrived: the I (Jagd) Gruppe/Lehrgeschwader 2, which was an operational training unit, equipped with Bf109E aircraft. The unit stayed until 12 July and was commanded by:

Gruppenkommandeure:

  • Maj Hanns Trübenbach, 1.11.38 - 18.8.40
  • Hptm Bernhard Mielke, 18.8.40 - 30.8.40
  • Hptm Herbert Ihlefeld, 30.8.40 - 6.1.42

On 12 July 1940 the above-mentioned unit was replaced by the I Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 51 (Mölders), also equipped with Bf109E aircraft. This unit remained in this location until 20 November 1940 and was commanded by:

Gruppenkommandeure:

  • Maj Ernst Freiherr von Berg, 1.5.39 - 31.10.39
  • Hptm Hans-Heinrich Brustellin, 1.11.39 - 17.10.40
  • Olt Richard Leppla (acting), 17.8.40 - 23.9.40
  • Hptm Hermann-Friedrich Joppien, 18.10.40 - 25.8.41
  • Hptm Wilhelm Hachfeld, 26.8.41 - 2.5.42
  • Hptm Josef Fözö, 3.5.42 - 31.5.42
  • Hptm Heinrich Krafft, 1.6.42 - 14.12.42
  • Hptm Rudolf Busch, 15.12.42 - 17.1.43
  • Maj Erich Leie, 18.1.43 - 28.12.44
  • Hptm Günther Schack, 29.12.44 - 23.4.45

On 25 August 1940 the unit was joined by the Stab/Jagdgeschwader 51 (Mölders). Also equipped with the ubiquitous Bf109E the headquarters unit remained until 26 November. Its commanders were:

Geschwaderkommodoren:

  • Oberst Theo Osterkamp, 25.11.39 - 23.7.40
  • Obstlt Werner Mölders, 27.7.40 - 19.7.41
  • Oberst Theo Osterkamp (acting), 28.7.40 - 7.8.40
  • Obstlt Friedrich Beckh, 19.7.41 - 10.4.42
  • Maj Günther Lützow (acting), 9.41 - 8.11.41
  • Obstlt Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, 10.4.42 - 30.3.44
  • Maj Fritz Losigkeit, 1.4.44 - 31.3.45
  • Maj Heinz Lange, 2.4.45 - 8.5.45

 

A second fighter unit was also briefly based at the airfield. On 24 September 1940 the II Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 27 arrived and stayed until 5 November. Equipped with Bf109E it was commanded by:

Gruppenkommandeure:

  • Hptm Erich von Selle, 3.1.40 - 6.2.40
  • Hptm Walter Andres, 6.2.40 - 4.9.40
  • Olt Ernst Düllberg (acting), 8.8.40 - 4.9.40
  • Hptm Wolfgang Lippert, 4.9.40 - 23.11.41
  • Olt Gustav Rödel (acting), 23.11.41 - 25.12.41
  • Hptm Erich Gerlitz, 25.12.41 - 20.5.42
  • Hptm Gustav Rödel, 20.5.42 - 20.4.43
  • Hptm Werner Schroer, 20.4.43 - 13.3.44
  • Hptm Fritz Keller, 14.3.44 - 17.12.44
  • Hptm Herbert Kutscha, 12.44 - 20.1.45
  • Olt Anton Wöffen (acting), 3.1.45 - 20.1.45
  • Hptm Gerhard Hoyer, 21.1.45 - 21.1.45
  • Hptm Fritz Keller, 1.45 - 8.5.45

Finally, the airfield was also home to a reconnaissance unit, the 5.(H)/Aufklärungsgruppe 32 until or in November 1940. The unit flew with the Henschel Hs126.

During their presence the Germans expanded the airfield with their own infrastructure, notably aircraft splinter boxes and maintenance hangars on the east and north sides of the airfield. Also, concrete taxiways were laid, connecting the with the concrete landing strip of 600 x 50 metres. Remains of these are still visible today to the north of the current runway and at the entrance of the street leading to the current airfield. Also still visible is the firing range at the western end of the runway, as well as the old control tower. It is the house to the right as you drive into the street leading to the present-day airfield.

By 1941 most units had left and the airfield was occasionally used by lone aircraft or transport planes supplying the remaining personnel. In 1943 the location became Stp 134 Paderborn and was occupied by the field army and integrated into the Atlantikwall. On 25 March 1943 the following troops were based at the strongpoint:

  • 26 soldiers of an unknown Luftwaffe unit (possibly ground crew)

  • 36 soldiers of the Luftwaffe Landesschützenzug 296/VI

  • 36 soldiers of the Luftwaffe Landesschützenzug 167/VI

  • 5 soldiers of a Luftwaffe Wetterhilfsnebenstelle (this unit was located outside the airfield boundaries)

So, 103 soldiers were based at the strongpoint, one of them the commander Stabsfeldwebel Mötting. Nearby, other German troops were based as this point in time. In the centre of St Inglevert two dozen or so soldiers were located in Stp 169 (later 199) Braunschweig in order to defend the important crossroads. Finally, more Luftwaffe troops were based in Stp 181 (later 141) Magdeburg, commanded by Feldwebel Heinig. Nineteen of these belonged to the 5/Luftgaunachrichtenregiment Belgien-Nordfrankreich. Also present at the same location were 2 soldiers manning the Schaltstelle St Inglevert. The RAF bombed the area three times in November 1943.

 

Interestingly, soon after in April 1943, the strongpoint became an artillery position, the story of which is told elsewhere.

 

Time to finish now with some present-day pictures of what remains of the airfield and its infrastructure. The first set of pictures show the remains of aircraft hangars, as well as a small building which must also have been part of the airfield infrastructure.