LUFTWAFFE

   

Besides units of the Heer and the Kriegsmarine the area of operations of the Armeeoberkommando 15 also included units of the Luftwaffe, even though they were not directly subordinate to it. A major difference needs to be made between flying units and ground units.

 

1. FLYING UNITS

 

For the occupation of Western Europe, the Luftwaffe, just like the Kriegsmarine, had elected to place all air force flying units in the Netherlands, Belgium and France under one command. This was Luftflotte 3, established on 1 February 1939. From June 1940 to August 1944 it was headquartered in Paris. During this entire period Luftflotte 3 had only one commander: Generalfeldmarschall Hugo Sperrle.

 

Generalfeldmarschal Hugo Sperrle

 

Later commanders were:
  • Generaloberst Otto Dessloch 23.08.1944 - 21.09.1944

  • Generalleutnant Alexander Holle 22.09.1944 - 28.09.1944

In June 1944 the Ia Flak of the Luftflotte 3 was Major Stock

On 28 September 1944 the command was renamed into Luftwaffenkommando West and subordinated to Luftflotte Reich for the defence of the homeland. On 1 April 1945 it was moved to the southwest of Germany and subordinated to Luftflotte 6 until it finally surrendered.

On 31 May 1944 Luftflotte 3 had a total of 539 serviceable aircraft, including 137 bombers, 115 single-engined fighters, and uniquely 93 bombers armed with anti-shipping guided missiles to counter the invasion fleet. Such numbers were insignificant in comparison to the 12,837 allied aircraft at the time.

The flying units were spread across the following units:

 

1 Jagdkorps (fighters) II Jagdkorps in France and Belgium

3
Fliegerkorps (bombers)
II Fliegerkorps in Northern France
IX Fliegerkorps in Northern France and Holland
X Fliegerkorps in Southern France
1 Fliegerdivision (anti-shipping) (part of X Fliegerkorps) 2 Fliegerdivision in Southern France

                                              

Finally, Luftflotte III possessed its proper reconnaissance units, the Aufklärungsgruppen and transport units, Transportgeschwader.

 

A special case in hand was the III Flakkorps. Even though it had no flying units, it was attached to Luftflotte III when it was established on 22 February 1944. It consisted of 4 Flaksturmregimenter, which only had motorized air defence units.

Between June 1940 and May 1941 Luftflotte III was mainly based in western France. Based in the area of command of Armeeoberkommando 15 was Luftflotte II under the command of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring with headquarters in Brussels. The German fighter and bomber units based on airfields in the north of France, the Pas-de-Calais and Upper Normandy which interest us were thus under the operational control of Luftflotte II.

The following bases are covered on this website:

2. GROUND UNITS

 

The Luftwaffe also commanded a large number of ground units. The situation here is somewhat more complicated and a difference must be made between operational and administrative lines of command. Administratively, the non-flying units of the Luftwaffe were commanded by so-called Luftgaukommandos. On 1 June 1944 there were 2 such commands in the area occupied by the Armeeoberkommando 15:

  • Luftgaukommando Belgien - Nordfrankreich for Northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands

  • Luftgaukommando Westfrankreich for the remainder of the French coasts

The Luftgaukommandos, fully-fledged commands run by a general, were in charge of the entire ground organizations and facilities of flying units (such as airfields), light fighter units, all Flak units, the Flugmeldedienst, the Luftschutz, and supply organizations and facilities (including flying schools and reserve flying units). Tactically, however, the Luftgaukommandos were subordinated to Luftflotte III.

In addition, Luftflotte III also had its ground-based communications units, Luftwaffennachrichtenregimenter and and even its own secret police unit, the geheime Feldpolizei.

A further important aspect of the Luftwaffe ground organisation were the so-called Flieger(ausbildungs)regimenter. Furtrher information on these regiments and on the regiments present within the area of command of the AOK 15 can be found here.

 

3. ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE

 

All units can be found in the following clickable diagram, which shows the tactical lines of command on 1 June 1944. Further detailed information can be accessed by clicking on the units: