April 4, 1945

On April 4th, 1945, the Evening Report of the Luftwaffeführungsstab Ic[1]Luftwaffenführungsstab Ic, Morning Report 01049/45 (BArch. RL 2-II/389) indicates allied reconnaissance aircraft in the area Kiel – Stendal – Berlin (3 aircraft) and Halle – Leipzig (3 aircraft).

Unfortunately, the report does not mention any own fighter activities and the amendment, available in the Morning Report of the next day, April 5th, 1945[2]Luftwaffenführungsstab Ic, Morning Report 01053/45 (BArch. RL 2-II/389) , only lists missions against the large bombers. So we cannot know for sure if the reconnaissance aircraft have been targeted and if possibly 10./NJG 11 was – once more – involved in hunting them. Karl-Heinz Becker’s flight log does not show any corresponding entry, neither does Herbert Altner’s. But that does not mean that other pilots did not get involved…

This morning, B-24 Liberators of the 446th Bomb Group attacked the airfield at Parchim. They were accompanied by a Mosquito XVI, flown by 1st Lt. Theodore B. Smith and Col. Troy W. Crawford. They flew as command aircraft of the bomber force [3]US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Missing Air Crew Report 13948. Members of the 446th BG reported the following on the loss of the Mosquito, NS635:

“At 0930 hours at 20.000 feet Mosquito aircraft called formation leader; said he was joining formation. Aircraft entered formation in a regular pursuit curve between two (2) Me 262’s during enemy attack on this formation. It is believed that Mosquito was fired upon and hit by gunners of this formation. Aircraft peeled off and hit cloud deck with right engine feathered and smoking, though apparently under control when last seen near Parchim (priority #1 target).”[4]US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Missing Air Crew Report 13948

In all likelihood, the reported Messerschmitt Me 262 were flown by pilots of Jagdgeschwader 7, where I./JG 7 and III./JG 7 were sent up in force to counter the USAAF attack on the airfields this morning[5]Luftwaffenführungsstab Ic, Morning Report 01053/45 (BArch. RL 2-II/389) ,[6]Boehme, Manfred: Jagdgeschwader 7, Page 194. This Mosquito was an accidental loss, most likely by friendly fire, her crew escaped the destruction of the aircraft, was taken prisoner and liberated 10 days later.

The night of April 4th, 1945, to April 5th, the Royal Air Force continued her attacks on Berlin. A force of Mosquitos is tracked as of 21:45 hrs., flying a route via the Frisian Islands – Wilhelmshaven – Hamburg – Schwerin – Parchim – Neuruppin to Berlin[7]Luftwaffenführungsstab Ic, Morning Report 01053/45 (BArch. RL 2-II/389) .

Einflug 1945-04-04

The bombers are reaching their target between 22:43 hrs. and 22:58 hrs., a reaction of the Luftwaffe is not documented in the Morning Report of the Luftwaffeführungsstab Ic on April 5th, 1945. However, both the flight logs of Karl-Heinz Becker and Herbert Altner are showing a nocturnal mission on the evening of April 4th, 1945:

FB Becker - Page 5

Karl-Heinz Becker notes a mission time from 21:12 hrs – to 22:23 hrs., that is a bit early for the Mosquitos to Berlin but not impossible. Herbert Altner, on the other hand, has no times recorded, there is just the plain statement for a mission on that day:

Altner-4

The Royal Air Force is sending out 35 Mosquitos to Berlin and 31 Mosquitos to Magdeburg. From the latter, two Mosquitos are lost[8]Middlebrook, Martin et al.; The Bomber Command War Diaries; Page 691 – RV305 and KB481[9]Summaries of Aircraft Damaged on Operations – Dec 1942 – May 1945 (AIR 14/3460); Page 440.

KB481 was flying for No. 142 Sqn. and was piloted by F/O Kenneth Pudsey and F/O John Reginald Dalton Morgan. They left their base at 22:35 hrs. for a mission to Magdeburg and failed to return. Nothing was ever heard of them again, aircraft and crew are lost without a trace.

1945-04-04 - KB481

RV305 was flying for No. 571 Sqn., although she is not listed on the operations of the night in the Squadron’s Records of Events book[10]The National Archives, AIR 27/2044. The crew, however, is listed as “missing from air operations 4.4.45”[11]The National Archives, AIR 27/2044 in the Squadron’s Summary of Events.

1945-04-04 - RV305

As a side note, there is no claim by a Luftwaffe pilot in the area – at least none known to me. But there is a claim of a “Junkers Ju 188” by a British pilot of No. 85 Sqn. – a Mosquito Night Fighter flown by F/L Turner and F/S Honeyman claims a Ju 188 “west of Magdeburg” at 22:44 hrs[12]The National Archivs, AIR 50/36/75 – their position given, “approx. 52°08’N – 11°30’E” however, is significantly closer to Magdeburg than the reported crash site near Lockstedt – the distance is roughly 45 km.

The same crew, by the way, made contact with what they described as “black shape hurtling towards us at tremendous rate of knots” when moving into position for their own kill. The navigator is thinking, it might be a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Night Fighter but is not sure.

The crew claims that they tried IFF, received no response and move into about 100 ft. below and astern from where they got a plain view on their victim: pointed wing tips with equal taper, a squared off tail plane. But – of course – there is no final confirmation on the aircraft type.

What remains are the times:

  • The Mosquitos going to Berlin reached their target between 22:43 hrs. and 22:58 hrs.
  • The Mosquitos going to Magdeburg reached their target around 22:36 hrs.
  • The claim of F/L Turner and F/S Honeyman was made at 22:44 hrs.
  • Karl-Heinz Becker records his mission time as 21:12 hrs. to 22:23 hrs.

Who met whom in the dark skies over Germany may forever remain in the dark – but at the end of the night, two Mosquitos and their crews were missing…

References   [ + ]

1. Luftwaffenführungsstab Ic, Morning Report 01049/45 (BArch. RL 2-II/389)
2, 5, 7. Luftwaffenführungsstab Ic, Morning Report 01053/45 (BArch. RL 2-II/389)
3, 4. US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Missing Air Crew Report 13948
6. Boehme, Manfred: Jagdgeschwader 7, Page 194
8. Middlebrook, Martin et al.; The Bomber Command War Diaries; Page 691
9. Summaries of Aircraft Damaged on Operations – Dec 1942 – May 1945 (AIR 14/3460); Page 440
10, 11. The National Archives, AIR 27/2044
12. The National Archivs, AIR 50/36/75
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