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Attack on the airport in Havlickuv Brod

The aforementioned attack on the Luftwaffe airfield at Havlíčkův (then German) Brod occurred probably on 12th October 1944 when the local airfield was attacked by two Mosquito aircraft belonging to the Canadian squadron of the British Royal Air Force, the editors at least are not aware of any other case of an attack on this base that would have resulted in a greater number of destroyed aircraft at once. 

The details of the RCAF attack are described in an article by PhDr. Jiří Rajlich, Attack of Canadian Mosquitos on Czech Airfields on 12 October 1944, printed in the magazine History and Plastic Modelling (HPM), issue 8, 2005; the article is based on contemporary records and quotes surviving combat reports of the crews from the British archives, while at the same time it publishes brief biographical medallions of the participants in the operation. 

According to these documents, the attack was carried out by two Mosquita FB Mk.VI No. 418 (RCAF) Squadron (City of Edmonton), with crews consisting of S/Ldr Ross Garstang Gray, DFC (pilot), F/Lt Noel J. Gibbons, DFC (navigator); F/O Roy Daryl Thomas (pilot) and F/Lt Roderic Wray MacDonald (navigator).

The take-off of both aircraft took place at 15:00 11.10.1944 from the airport Hunsdon, from where they flew to the forward base St. Dizier, landing here took place at 16:30. On 12 October 1944 at 04:35 both aircraft took off from St. Dizier for Day Ranger action over Czechoslovakia. In spite of thick cloud cover, 8/10, and flying from approximately the Lake Constance area at ground level, the planes first attacked several Junkers W 34s at Planá airfield near České Budějovice, probably belonging to Luftflotten-Nachrichter-Schule 4 (Air Liaison School 4), at around 06:40 (air time). Air Army), with three of them claimed by Mosquit crews as destroyed and one as damaged.

Then their pilots took a course for Písek, but found it covered with fog, so they returned to Budějovice as a turning point, and from there both aircraft headed to Havlíčkův Brod, where according to the reports of the crews, the fog has already partially subsided. Here, between 07:15 and 07:24, both Mosquitos attacked a group of Junkers Ju 87 „Stuka“ aircraft on the local grass airfield, completely destroying five and damaging at least eight aircraft of this type.

As for the unit to which these aircraft may have belonged, at the time of October 1944 at the airport in Havlickuv Brod there was an operational training unit Schlachtgeschwader 102, under the command of major Bernhard Hamester, at least its Stab (command squadron) and 3. staffel (3./SG 102). In particular, it had Ju 87s and Focke Wulfs Fw 190s in its staff, and also housed Ergänzungsstaffel Fliegergeschwader z.b.V. 7 (supplementary squadron of the air squadron for special tasks 7), in whose composition, however, Jiri Rajlich does not mention Ju 87s, but indicates that it is doubtful that it had any Ju 87s at that time.

After the action took the attack swarm course to the landmark on the Danube east of Linz, but due to cloud cover between the territory of Czechoslovakia and France, S/Ldr Gray decided to take a course for the territory of Italy, where at 09:35 landed at the airport Iesi.

After refuelling and a short rest for the crews, both aircraft took off for their return flight at 15:00 and landed at their home base Hunsdon at 19:25.

The claimed losses could not be substantiated by contemporary Luftwaffe materials, as data on the losses of its non-combat units for October 1944 have not survived. The commemorative book of the village of Poděbaby, located near Havlíčkův Brod, preserves the following information: ‚On 12 October, two English planes appeared, under constant gunfire, completely over the roofs of the village, and flew to the airfield, where they set fire to several planes. Several roofs were damaged by the missiles – no fire was started“.

Ammunition consumption:

S/Ldr Gray: -Cannons: left outer 162 rounds, left inner 162, right outer 162, right inner 162; -Cannons: left outer 120, left inner 85, right outer 225, right inner 225.
F/O Thomas: -Cannons: left outer 162, left inner 162, right outer 162, right inner 162;
-bullets: left outer 65, left inner 395, right outer 410, right inner 390. 

All airmen were awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for this extremely successful action, so for S/Ldr Gray and F/O Gibbons this now meant the DFC and bar (Distinguished Flying Cross with clasp).



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