History of the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich (1940 - May 1944)

 


The history of the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich, the Luftwaffe unit in charge of Flak defence, early warning, and airfield logistics in Belgium and the north of France, begins as early as 1 June 1940, when it was formed in Brussels from the Luftgaustab zbV 6. At the start, it was commanded by Generalmajor Fritz Lob, who, hoever, died in an aircraft crash on 24 June. He was briefly succeeded by General Curt Pflugbeil (24.06.40-20.08.40). Its final commander, General der Flieger Wilhem Wimmer, would command the unit until 6 September 1944, when it was moved to Wiesbaden and renamed Luftgaukommando XIV. The chiefs of staff of the unit were Oberst Heinrich-Sigismund von der Heyde (01.06.40-01.10.41) and Oberst Hans Metzner.

The first full overview of the composition of the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich shows the organization on 14 January 1941. The general organization of the command was as follows:

 


For the organization of the individual Flakgruppen at this point in time we refer the reader to the detailed overview in the document below:


Source: https://www.google.be/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiOy-aAx5HWAhXJbVAKHbTCBAgQFggpMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fusacac.army.mil%2FCAC2%2FCGSC%2FCARL%2Fnafziger%2F941GAAD.PDF&usg=AFQjCNEXJwv4YDhLQj-j4lLLst9fFu9ybA

A German document of 15 April 1941 provides a new comprehensive overview of the organization of the Flak element of this large unit. Even though a period of only 3 months elapsed since the overview above, there are important changes in the overall organization. Two of these can be mentioned. Firstly, the IV Flakbrigade has disappeared; secondly, the number of Flakgruppen has been reduced, with some Flakunterguppen (e.g. Antwerp) being promoted to Flakgruppe and some Flakgruppen (e.g. Lille, Laon, ...) being demoted.
Its overall structure at this point is detailed below.  Below the visual, the detailed organization of each of the Flakgruppen is presented:

 

 

 

 

 

Flakgruppe Beauvais

Flakgruppe Rinxent

Flakgruppe Gravelines


Flakgruppe Ostende Flakgruppe Antwerpen Flakgruppe Brüssel


Finally, the document below details the number of heavy (schwer), medium (mittler) and light (leicht) Flak batteries on 15 April 1941:

 

 

On 16 April 1941 the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich issued an order that the Luftgaustab zbV 21 in Roubaix was to take over the duties of dissolved Ablaufstab (Lw) of Luftflotte 2 for the preparation and execution of Seelöwe for the air force within the area of Luftflotte 2 for the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Ostend, Dunkirk and Calais, as well as the duties of the equally dissolved Landungsstab E (Luftwaffe) for the supervision of landings and disembarkments in England. The commander of the Luftgaustab zbV 21 was Generalmajor Hartog.

 

On 25 May 1941 the presence of Flugmeldekompanie 1134/490 was reported in St-Gabriel (sector of the 321 ID). Also the deployment of the Flak units was discussed on the same day. Since the takeover the Flak defences in the sector of the 321 Infanteriedivision had been weakened, with only 2 Reserveflakabteilungen remaining, notably the 405 and 122, each with 2 light and 3 heavy batteries in the Boulogne area. Le Touquet and Berck, and the airfields in this location, were not devoid of Flak defences. The Flakgruppe Rinxent (Flaklehrregiment) had also left. The Flakuntergruppe Boulogne was now subordinated to the Flakgruppe Pas-de-Calais.

On 28 May 1941 the Heeresgruppenkommando A Abt T sent a large map to the AOK16 (T), showing all Luftwaffe airfield. The document belows shows all such airfield in the area of the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich.

 

 

 

A map dated 1 June 1941 provides an overview of the Flugmeldenetz in the area of the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich. In the document below you will find the Flugwachen at the coast as well as an overview of the army commands connected to the Flugmeldenetz:

 

 

On 13 June 1941 the commander of the Flakuntergruppe Boulogne was Major Henning.

 

On 7 July 1941 it wads reported that, with the departure of the 1. schwere Batterie/Flakabteilung 122, the Flak defences in the Le Touquet area were again reduced to the two platoons of the leichte Flakabteilung 204.

On 14 July 1941 the Flak defences at Le Touquet were again reinforced by a further battery.

 

On 23 August 1941 the 321 Infanteriedivision pointed out the possibility of unseen boating activity along the southern bank of the Canche river at Le Touquet, from the small port to the racing course and suspected that boating activity had taken place at night. It therefore requested the local Flakführer, Hautpmann Höffgen (Flakbatterie 204) for the deployment of 2 search lights which would be able to illuminate the Canche estuary from time to time.

 

In the autumn of 1941 a re-organisation of Flak forces took place. Thus, on 1 September 1941 the following units were established:

  • 9 Flakdivision (formed from the Luftverteidigungskommando 9) with headquarters in Caen and commanded by General Otto Wilhelm von Renz with the following units:

    • Flakregiment 59 in Paris

    • Flakregiment 100 in Le Havre

    • Flakregiment 15 in Rennes

    • Flakregiment 30 in Cherbourg

    • Luftnachrichtenabteilung 129

  • 6 Flakdivision (formed from the Luftverteidigungskommando 9) with headquarters in Brussels and commanded by General Job Odebrecht with the following units:

    • Flakregiment 8 in Dordrecht

    • Flakregiment 111 in Amstelveen

    • Flakregiment 129 in Oostende

    • Flakregiment 132 at the Cap Blanc Nez

    • Flakregiment 431 in Beauvais

    • Luftnachrichtenabteilung 126

On 6 September 1941 the commanders of the Flakregiment 129 (headquarters in Oostende) and the Flakregiment 132 (headquarters at the Gefechtsstand Kesselring (Cap Blanc Nez) were Oberstleutnant von Keilingbrunner and Oberst Pawel, respectively.

 

On 21 October 1941 the Flakgruppe Gravelines was commanded by Major Runge and was made up of: I/Flakregiment 49 (3 batteries 88mm and 2 batteries 20mm), leichte Flakabteilung 81 (motorisiert) (1 battery 37mm and 2 batteries 20mm) and 1/Flakregiment 765 (37mm). The headquarters were located to the northeast of Oye-Plage.

 

On 11 November 1941 acting in the context of increased British air attacks an an order from the HK XXXII, the diviison ordered measures to be taken to increase anri-air defences, on the one hand with increased use of MGs, on the other hand with cooperation with the Luftwaffe, notably the Flakuntergruppe Beauvais. The document also mentions the deployment of the latter within the area of the division: 1x 3.7cm battery at the Flugplatz Poix, 1 7.5cm battery and 1/2 2cm battery at the Flugplatz Abbeville-Drucat and 1/2 2cm battery at the Flugplatz Montdidier. Two officers of the 225ID were also commandeered to assist the commander of the Flughafenbereich Beauvais, Generalmajor Krüger to help with the drawing up of defensive plans against air landings. The officers were Hauptmann Buchholz for the northern part of the area (Fliegerhorstkommandanturen Montdidier, Rosières, Amy, Glisy, Poix) and Hauptmann Gehl for the southern part (Fliegerhorstkommandanturen Beauvais-Tillé, Cormeilles, Beaumont, Creil). Finally, an order was also issued on an Auswahllehrgang for future officers. 

On 29 November 1941 a new unit was formed was formed by the 6 Flakdivision to control all Flak units in the area Brugge - Oostende - Dunkirk - Calais - Boulogne - Bethune - Lille - Gent, the Flakbrigade XI. It probably replaced the Flakbrigade III, which had been sent to the Russian front in the autumn of 1941. Subordinated to the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich it was based in Lumbres (later in St-Omer) and commanded initially by Generalleutnant Gaston von Chaulin-Egersberg (until 31.01.42) and then by Generalmajor Alfons Luckny. In November 1942 it moved to the south of France.

 

In January 1942 the 9 Flakdivision was transferred to the Russian front.

 

On 1 April 1942 the 6 Flakdivision moved to the Russian front and was replaced by the 16 Flakdivision.

 

On 27 July 1942 the 2. Zug/5/Flakabteilung 253 was reported as located in the Koksijde area.

 

On 1 August 1942 Major Freiherr von Butlar was appointed as Ic in the headquarters staff, succeeding Oberst Baron von Loewenstern.

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 8 August 1942 mentions the 500th downing of an enemy aircraft in the unit's area of operations.

On 10 August 1942 the commander of the Generalkommando Schelde Generalleutnant Ottenbacher travelled to Brussels for a meeting with the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich in the morning. At this point in time the latter's area of responsbility covered the whole of Belgium and the north of France (to the Somme). During the meeting with General der Flieger Wimmer, Chef des Stabes Generalmajor Metzner and the Ia Major Hahn an order was given for Flak units to be organized in such a way that the (heavy) Flak guns could also be used in land combat. There was a also a  Jagdfliegerreserve, namely the Industrieflieger operating from the German aircraft re-engining facility at Deurne (Antwerpen). It was further noted that the Fliegerausbildungsregiment in Hoogboom (3,000 men) had been dissolved. Further, there were to be close contacts with Oberstleutnant Kossmak (the commander of the Flakgruppe Antwerpen) and with Oberst Bachmann in Maria-ter-Heide. The former was also responsible for requesting Luftwaffe air support.

On 11 August 1942 the commander of the Flakuntergruppe Zeebrügge was Major Dohle.

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 27 August 1942 mentions the existence of a Feldluftzeuggruppe Belgien-Nordfrankreich (Gruppe III/4).

 

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 30 September 1942 mentions that the Erholungsheim Namur would no longer be used. The same document also mentions the existence of the Kraftwagenwerkstattzug der Lufwaffe Brüssel (Leuvensesteenweg 510).

 

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 8 October 1942 mentions the existence of the Erholungsheim Spa0. The same document mentions the existence of a Kraftfahrgerätverwaltung des Feldluftnachrichtenzugamtes 1.

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 17 October 1942 names Dr Scmidt as the new Generalintendant, in succession of Dr Eder (who was transferred to Luftflotte III).

 

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 2 November 1942 mentions the existence of a 1. NSKK Brigade der Luftwaffe beim Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich as well as the Flaktransportbatterie (A) (mot) 2/61.

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 6 November 1942 mentions the dissolving of the Geräteleitstelle des Luftgaukommandos Belgien-Nordfrankreich Etterbeek, Bahnhof Brüssel-Etterbeek

 

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 24 December 1942 mentions the 600th downing of an enemy aircraft by the Flak artillery.

 

A Luftgautagesbefehl of 21 January 1943 mentions the existence of the following units:

  • Transportkolonne (mot) der Luftwaffe 46/XI

  • Luftwaffenachschubkompanie 11/III

  • Mittlerer Flugbetriebsstoffkolonne 4/VI

  • 1. Transportkompanie der Luftwaffenachschubkolonnenabteilung (mot d. VIIII Fliegerkorps

  • 1. Transportkompanie der Luftwaffenachschubkolonnenabteilung (mot d. VIII

  • Luftnachrichtenausbaukompanie 3Fliegerkorps

On 1 February 1943 the commander of the Flakgruppe Antweroen was Oberstleutnant Koszmag. On the same day: the following Flak forces were reported to be present in the Abschnitt Antwerpen:
  • 4 schwere batterien
  • 2 leichte Batterien
  • 3 Scheinwerferbatterien
  • Flugplatz Deurne: 3 Züge 2cm Flak (= 9 Geschütze), 55 MG. Besatzung: 576 Mann (6/20/550)
When needed 2 heavy Flak guns woulld be made available to the corps as a mobile artillery reserve.
A Luftgautagesbefehl of 10 February 1943 mentions the Feldpostnumme of the Nachschubstelle der Verwaltung beim Kommando Flughafenbereich 22/XI (L37 419 (A))

On 26 April 1943 the corps issued an order concerning the setting-up, mobility and deployment of Flakkampftrupps. Thus, it was ordered that each heavy and each light Flak battery were to build a Flakkampftrupp. The schwere Flakkampftrupp was to consist of 1 heavy (88mm)  and 1 light (20mm) Flak gun, as well as 1-2 MG, while a leichte Flakkampftrupp had 2 light guns instead. In addition all batteries were also to foresee heavy and light guns for mobile ground action (AT). The document also contains an interesting list of all Flakkampftrupps deployed in the KVA B, C and D1, and consequently, a list of Flak units in these areas. The list is processed in the document below:


By 14 June 1943 at the latest the following Flak units had left the Flakuntergruppe Koksijde: 1./Flakabteilung 402 and 2./Flakabteilung 252.

A Wochenmeldung of 23 August 1943 mentions that the leichte Flakabteilung 993 was pulled out. Consequently, the Flakuntergruppe Coxyde now became tactically subordinated to the schwere Flakabteilung 252.

On 13 November 1943 the 2/leichte Flakabteilung 691 was located in the Schelle area, possibly protecting a.o. the Wasserwerk Schelle.
On 29 November 1943  the Stab Scheinwerferabteilung 469  and the 2/leichte Flakabteilung 993 left the KVA A3

Between August 1942 and April 1944 the commander of the Flakregiment 431 (Lille) was Oberstleutnant Werner von Kistowsky.

HISTORY OF THE LUFTGAUNACHRICHTENREGIMENT BELGIEN-NORDFRANKREICH

An important unit subordinated to the Luftgaukommando Belgien-Nordfrankreich was the Luftnachrichtenregiment Belgien-Nordfrankreich. This large unit was established in Brussels at the end of June 1940, to operate the Luftwaffe radar and radionavigation stations at the coast, as well as the many Flugwachen, i.e. the locations along the coasts where Luftwaffe soldiers were physically observing overflying aircraft. At its head, since 26 June 1940 and until 28 February 1941, was Oberst Hermann Schuler.The unit stayted operational throughout the war and was disbanded only in the course of the German withdrawal from France and Belgium in September 1944. In its most expanded form the regiment consisted of no fewer than 6 Abteilungen. The overview below details the organisation of this large unit, including the many changes which occurred during its existence: Information in red means units were disbanded, renamed or transferred before September 1944, while units in blue existed until September 1944 (adapted from www.ww2.dk).
  • I. Abteilung (this was the HQ battalion, formed in Brussels in October 1941 from the Stab/Luftverteidigungsnachrichtenabteilung 2). It consisted of 5 companies:
    • 1. Nachrichtenkompanie (Brussels) (April 1941) (renamed to 5./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment Belgien-Nordfrankreich in October 1941, renamed (see below)). The 1. Nachrichtenkompanie was reformed in October 1942 but was moved to the Russian front in April 1943, transferred)
    • 2. Nachrichtenkompanie (Brussels) (April 1941) (left the unit to become 5./Lufgaunachrichtenregiment Holland in October 1941, transferred). The 2. Nachrichtenkompanie was reformed  in October 1941.
    • 3. Nachrichtenkompanie (Cambrai?)
    • 4. Nachrichtenkompanie (Brussels?)
    • 5. Nachrichtenkompanie (Hesdin?) (from 1. Nachrichtenkompanie in October 1941, see above)
  • II. Abteilung (formed in Lille in April 1941 from the Stab IV./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment 11). It cosnisted of 7 companies.
    • 8. Flegmeldereservekompanie (Reims) (October 1941)
    • 9. Flugmeldereservekompanoe (Amiens) (June 1940)
    • 10. Flugmeldereservekompanie (Gent) (June 1940)
    • 11. Flugmeldereservekompanie (Lille) (June 1940)
    • 12. Flugmeldereservekompanie (Beauvais) (December 1940) (renamed to 16./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment West-Frankreich in April 1943, renamed and transferred)
    • 13. Flugmeldereservekompany (Chauny) (December 1940) (renamed to 23./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment West-Frankreich in January 1944, renamed and transferred)
    • 14. Flugmeldereservekompanie (Brussels) (December 1940)
  • III. Abteilung (formed in Beverloo in April 1941 from the Stab/Luftgaunachrichtenscheule Belgien-Nordfrankreich. October 1942, disbanded)
    • 16. Nachrichtenersatzkompanie (Beverloo) (forming) (October 1942, disbanded)
    • 17. Nachrichtenersatzkompanie (Beverloo) (October 1942, disbanded)
    • 18. Nachrichtenersatzkompanie (Beverloo) (October 1942, disbanded)
    • 19. Nachrichtenersatzkompanie (Beverloo) (October 1942, disbanded)
  • V. Abteilung (formed in Le Touuquet(?) in June 1940 from Stab II./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment 8) (renamed to Stab VI./Luftgau-Nachrichten-Regiment Belgien-Nordfrankreich in April 1941).(reformed from Stab/Luftgau-Nachrichten-Abteilung zbV.in April 1941) (renamed to Stab V./Luftnachrichtenregiment 52 in April 1943) (April 1943, renamed and transferred)
    • 6./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment 6 (June 1940)(April 1941, disbanded)
    • 7./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment 1 (June 1940)(April 1941, disbanded)
    • 20. Nachrichtenkompanie (October 1941) (April 1943 under I. Abteilung (?)) (June 1944, disbanded)
  • VI. Abteilung (formed in Le Touquet in April 1941 from Stab V./Luftgaunachrichtenregiment Belgien-Nordfrankreich) (renamed Stab IV./Luftnachrichtenregiment 52 in April 1943) (April 1943, renamed and transferred)
As its clear from the above overbvew, only the I. and II. Abteilungen (with 9 companies) were still in existence in June 1944 (see here for the situation in June 1944), while the units of the VI. Abteilung continued existing, albeit under a different name and subordinated to another unit the Luftnachrichtenregiment 52.
This division efectively separated the radar troops from the 'eyes and ears' observation troops (Flugwachen).