Continuing the war diary of operations Katja / Sonja:
4th of June
The first half of the day is relatively quiet, caused also by meagre weather conditions for flying: visibility is bad, leading to little Reconaissance results, reports the German 8. Armee's. Another german main attack for the afternoon towards Moinesti is prepared by Gruppe Knobelsdorff. Starting around noon, strong Sturmovik-groups interfere these action. Anyway, strong artillery preparation and Luftwaffe support in shape of several attacks and "outstanding fighter defense" help the attacks and at 19:30, 24. PD reports that Moinesti is taken and the attack goes on.
One of the above mentioned german cover missions are flown by I./JG52 in the afternoon. In aerial combat with enemy Sturmoviks with fighter cover, the Gruppe's pilots shoot down twelve soviet planes: six IL-2, five Airacobras and a Yak-9. Over the day, Luftwaffe units claim 45 enemies shot down including, 14 IL2, one Boston and 19 Cobras, the residing eleven being soviet fighter types. Soviet losses are unknown for this day, except that 205.IAD recorded nothing.
Soviet fighters record 28 enemy aircraft shot down today, five from IAPs flying Yak-1. 9GIAD claims 20 victories, mostly in the late afternoon kills. In one particular heavy fight, five pilots from 16GIAP shoot down four fighters and three Ju 88 around Epureni. german losses for the day are relative low: Three Fw 190 from II./GS 2 and II./SG10 are lost. One of these machines is a particularly sincere: on the return flight from a mission, already 30km behind the frontline, Hauptmann Bleckmann's plane explodes in mid-air. He was Staffelkapitän of 6./SG 2 and temporary leader of II. Gruppe. Posthumous, he was given the rank of Major and the Eichenlaub.
5th of June
In the early morning, another german attack begins between Moinesti and Stanca. But 14.PD and most of 23.PD, which together by now can only provide six Panzers and 25 Sturmgeschütze, not to speak of the strongly molten number of Grenadiere (infantry). The attack is bogged down in stubborn defense and counterattacks. The german infantry and Grenadier units are already bled out and thus unable to push through to the edge of the high grounds south of the Jyia creek.
Air fighting begins slowly today and grows around 11:30 German time. The Luftwaffe claims 36 kills, out of which four are two-engined Bostons, seven are Sturmoviks, eight are Airacobras and 16 are soviet fighter types. Notably is that six IL-2 are claimed by Fw 190-pilots from II./SG2 and two of the Bostons by Oblt. Eugen Dicke and Uffz. Heinz Lauterbach from 6./SG10. No soviet losses are known. 31 soviet claims are known, most of them by units equipped with Yak and La-5 fighters, like 178.GIAP and 427.IAP. Outstanding pilots of the day are K.A.Evstigniev and S.I.Emilianov who both claim three kills while flying there Lavochkins in 178.GIAP.
Soviet counterattacks are fierce: "[...]what happened west of Zahorna on 5 June, when the enemy, with considerable support from bombers and clos support aircraft, charged Romanian positions on a 2-3 kilometer front and soon put th edefenders to flight. Elements of the Panzeraufklärungsbatallion Großdeutschland were able to restore the situation be evening, returning the Romanians to their foxholes". The latter action takes place at ca 14:00 with "sharply concentrated support bys artillery & air attacks" . The war diary of German 8.Armee contains an example for the German supply situation: There is not enough ammunition for 2cm Flak. "It is inacceptable that the numerous 2cm barrels have to watch enemy aerial attacks without sufficient ammunition". Nevertheless, 13 Soviet planes are shot down by ground troops today.
Oberleutnant Lipfert, acting Gruppenkommandeur II./JG52 since five days ago Gerhard Barkhorn was wounded, vividly describes one combat of this day in his memoirs:
The Yak Lipfert mentions was from 178.GIAP, its pilot became POW and later died in a camp in Calafat [acc. to Alex].
The first Luftwaffe kills are around 8:45 (two Sturmoviks). During the day, only 22 kills are recorded, out of which six are Sturmoviks and two are Bostons (both 10:45). The rest of 14 are fighters, mostly P-39. 129.GIAP from 205.IAD looses two Cobras while claiming not a single kill. Losses of other VVS-units not known.
After noon, the VVS shifts its focus westwards to the attack of Gruppe Knobelsdorff, while the Luftwaffe also stays active there. Luftaufklärung (aerial reccon) from the afternoon reports (amongst others) 120 cars North of Sculeni and ca. 16 tanks plus 30 trucks moving towards Epureni from the West. Altogether, the Luftwaffe flies 650 sorties.
6th of June
At night between 1:30-2:45 a "Terror attack by a strong bomber unit" took place in Iasi, presumably by the Soviet strategic bomber command ADD.
The fighting activities are much smaller today on the ground and in the air. The weakness of the Luftwaffe becomes evidently from an order of around 10:00, where all activities are stopped for several hours due to an US-bomber unit flying from Pervomaisk towards Galati / Romania.
Between 14:00 and 15:00, the VVS gets quite active in the rear areas of both German groups Knobelsdorff and Mieth. This seems to be unhindered by the Luftwaffe due to the flying ban mentioned above. All ten claims of the day are before 10:00 and after 15:00, all being fighters except a Pe-2 by Ltn. Heinz Sachsenberg (6./JG 52) and a Sturmovik by Ltn. Manfred Eberwein from 1.Staffel. Seven claims are from 9.Staffel (five by Ltn. Erich Hartmann). Fw. Jürgen Nordmann from 1.Staffel of JG52 is wounded in action after aerial combat with eight P-39 and a belly landing. Alotgether, the Luftwaffe reports one Me 109 and one Fw 190 lost while five single-engined fighters/fighterbombers return damaged.
The VVS fighters are also quite active, claiming nine Bf 109s, all but one from Airacobra regiments of 7.IAK. Two losses are known: A.I. Sopin from 438. IAP is wounded while flying an Airacobra, and St.Lt. I.V. Lavronenko (239 IAP/235IAD/10IAK)is killed when his La-5 is shot down.
Targul Frumos and the main road from there southwards to Strunga are target of a soviet bombrun around 19:00.
German espionage sources report about a Soviet bomber formation taking off in Kiev at 20:30. This group attacks Iasi at around 22:00.
A crashlanded Sturmovik is inspected by German troops
7th of June
The Soviet 35th Guards Rifle Corps and 2nd Tank Army attack again north of Zahorna with considerable air support. Two kilometers south of Epureni, Hill 181 is taken by the Russians and they even manage to drive into the village itself. After a request Gruppe Knobelsdorff requested support at 12:40, the Luftwaffe attacks tanks and infantry in Papricanii.
In the afternoon around 14:00, Luftwaffe fights tanks positioned in holes south of Epureni. VVS' Schwerpunkt is northwest of Iasi, basically the same area.
Dogfight activities during the day are low: Only two kills are claimed by the Luftwaffe, while no losses on either side are reported.
8th of June
This day sees a last outburst of activity in the air, at least on the Axis side: 400 combat flights target mainly the area northwest of Iasi.
German pilots from JG52 and SG2 claim 14 fighters and and three Sturmoviks shot down without any losses. Additionally, Reconnaissance pilots from NAGr14 shoot down two IL-2s far beyond the frontline and one R-5 in the eastern part of the Bessarabian front, near the Dnepr.
Soviet air attacks with bombs and guns are reported near Vultur and the eastern wing of the fourth Rumanian army. A high concentration of flak is identified around Epureni.
9th of June
The fighting comes to an end, from German side also due to the bitter need to save resources due to the additional fron in Normandy. As an example for this, a request for a Stuka attack on the castle of Stanca is refused in order to save supplies.
The last part of this article will be an analysis.
Last update 12.11.11