Spaniards in Russia; The Blue Squadron

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by gekho, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #1 gekho, Jul 17, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
    The Blue Squadron was a group of voluntary pilots of Spanish Air Force that during World War II fought next to Luftwaffe (Wehrmacht) in In front Russian to the aid of the Germans with his Legion Condor, during Spanish Civil War. In the Luftwaffe it was denominated to them with the name of 15ª Spanische Staffel, added to 27º Group of Caza (JG27), elite unit to the control of Tungsten von Richtofen (old head of the Legion Condor in the Spanish Civil War). In fact she was not a single squadron, but they were five squadrons who went away standing out between 1941 and 1944, every six months approximately, to fight in the Russian front. Its emblem was based on the emblem of Blue Patrol of Joaquin Garci'a-Morato leader of the national fighter aircraft during the Spanish Civil War. In the nose of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 of 1ª Squadron, the mechanics painted the emblem of the fighter group of Garci'a Morato, accompanied now by a two number Roman, in the case of 1ª Squadron (indicating in this way the second fight of the members of the famous unit against the Comunism); by the Cross of Santiago, in 2ª; mounted on the German cross that she identified to the airplanes of the Luftwaffe, in 3ª; superposed on the symbol of the German hunting (she shoots with an arrow winged, surrounded by a crown of laurels) in 4ª; and with a five number Roman (v) in 5ª, placed in the same position that the II of 1ª.

    Spanish Air Force was in many aspects better preparation than the rest of the Army to get up itself to the German army, since many of their pilots had flown next to their groups of comrades German of the Legion Condor in 1936-39 and knew the tactics they had taken and them to the practice in innumerable occasions. Some pilots already had flown in the airplanes that were going to them to be given. Spanish aviation hoped to pick up knowledge and formation when forming part of the Luftwaffe, and for this reason relief for the pilots and the expeditionary personnel was constituted when a period of only six months of stay in the front had been completed.

    Captain Salas Larrazábal, the right hand of legendary García-Morato, was instructed by the Spanish Department of Aviation (Ministerio del Aire), to command the first Blue Squadron, that left Madrid on July, 24´th 1941 and was trained at the fighter school Warneuchen, near Berlin. The squadron was subordinated to Luftflotte 2, commanded by Generalfeldmarschall von Kesselring. Another member of staff was deputy squadron leader, Captain Muñoz Giménez, who invented the "Kette"-formation, consisting of three planes, used by all actual airforces for ground attacks. The squadron consisted of three captains and twelve lieutenants, all veterans of the Spanish Civil War (7/18/1936 - 4/1/1939). The ground personal was commanded by Ramón Salas, the brother of Captain Salas. On September 24´th, the squadron was transfered to an aerodrom near Moschina, in the southwest of Smolensk, where they got brand new Messerschmitt Bf 109 E (E-4 und E-7) and took off for their first operations to cover german bombers in the area of Viasma. After serveral days, First Lieutenant Alcocer was shot down. The squadron moved to Byelov, at the Moscow-front and later to Kalinin, from where it operated since October 28´th. After that it transfered to Staritza and later, on November 14´th, to Rudsa, 80 km from Moscow. On November 27´th, Captain Muñoz crashlanded on enemy territory.

    The following day, the squadron was transferred to airport Klin. It was forced to leave again on December 21´st by motorized Soviet infantry, approaching the base, after the german attack on Moscow was defeated. By early December the squadron also got the new Bf 109 F (F-2 and F-4). It was moved to Duguino and later to Vitebsk, where it was reinforced. On February 7´th, 1942, the squadron got the order to prepare its replacement. General of the Lufwaffe Wilfried von Richthofen decorated the squadrons leader and other officers and soldiers of this Blue Squadron. The squadron downed an total number of 14 russian planes during 422 missions. In the same time, Captain Muñoz, the First Lieutenants Alcocer, Alfonso Ruibal, Ricardo Bartolomé and some more soldiers were killed in action.
     

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  2. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Very interesting Gekho, Many thanks!!!!
     
  3. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Nice gehko, thanks!!!!
     
  4. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting Gehko, I did not know the Spanish fought with Germans in WWII. Thank you for sharing.:thumbright:
     
  5. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  6. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Looks like another outstanding thread, well done.
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I knew the Germans had a number of allies on the eastern front, but I didn't know the Spaniards were there as well, thanks for the info! :thumbleft:
     
  8. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Terrific - thanks. :)

    MM
     
  9. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #9 gekho, Jul 18, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2011
    The 2º Squadron was commanded by Julio Salvador Díaz-Benjumea and consisted of three Schwärme, lead by Captains Bengoechea (a Basque), Serra and Frutos. It was deployed in the Orel-area, where it got its babtism of fire on Juli 21´st 1942. Captain Gavilán distinguished most of all other members of this squadron. The first victim of this squadron was Captain Noriega. Second Lieutenant Antonio Navarro and the soldier Zazo died during an accident, caused by technical problems. They also flew Bf 109 (G-2). The squadrons emblem was the "Cross of Santiago de Compostela", the patron of Spain.

    Standing under the command of the experienced Captain Carlos Ferrandiz Arjonilla, the 3´rd Squadron - fitted with Bf 109 G-2 and G-4 - entered service at November 30´th 1942 in the Orel-West-area. Since February 20´th 1943, it got some Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-4 fighterplanes, that got stronger armament and a broader and more robust landing gear, what made the maneuvering on the ground easier. With the Bf 109 it was very difficult to taxi, espacially on icy and snowy runways.On December 30´th 1943 this squadron was withdrawn after 779 missions, from them, 403 were fighter and scramble missions. The squadron got 16 confirmed victories, showing the intensity of the fights in this area. Mainly the Focke-Wulf was responsible for the success: It was very reliable and the powerful BMW 801 double-row radial-engine also provided more safety to the pilot.

    The pictures show Jose Cabanilles and his Fw-190. This pilot served with the 4º Blue Squadron, with the 15 Spanische Staffel, integrated into the Jagdgeschwader (fighter squadron) JG-51 "Mölders" with General Staff in Smolensk, the Luftflotte 4. He was known throughout the Squadron for his good humor and his everlasting smile. He used to fly in the 3rd Patrol, under the command of Lieutenant Lorenzo Lucas Fernández Peña. "Pepin" Cavanilles, as he was affectionately called by his colleagues, won four aerial victories in 14 fights, 100 by war service. He died on January 10, 1944 southeast of Cawydowitschi, by engaging in aerial combat after escorting a group of bombers. Nobody saw him fall, as reported by their patrol leader, Lt. Lucas Fernández Peña.
     
  10. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The 4º Squadron entered service on July 4´th 1943, being transferred to the airbase of Seschstsniskaya, in the south-east of Roslav. It was commanded by Captain Mariano Cuadra Medina and was fitted with Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8 and G. After the german counter-strike at Kharkov was defeated, this squadron covered the withdrawing german groundforces by flying a high number of ground attack missions. The wo Schwärme, lead by the Captains Galarza and Llaca, were stationed at the airbases of Northern-Smolensk, Orsha, Star-Bichov and Bobruisk, where it finally was relieved by the 5´th Blue Squadron, on February 23´rd 1944. The 4´th Squadron reached a total number of 74 aerial victories, but also lost (among others) First Lieutenants Fernándo Sánchez Arjona (by accident) and Lucas. During its time of duty, it got the Bf 109 G-6 insead of their Fw 190.

    The 5º Squadron was ready to sart service, when the Blue Division was withdrawn from the Eastern Front to Spain, in 1944. General of the Luftwaffe Warlimont and Captain Murcia Rubio, leader of the 5´th squadron, met in Bobruisk, where Warlimont told Murcia, that Hitler had ordered Göring, to transfer the Blue Squadrons back to Spain. Although this squadron only saw six days of action, it launched a total number of 86 missions and reached 6 aerial victories. First Lieutenant Estanislao Segurola Guereca was killed in action. The spanish pilots downed a confirmed number of 156 enemy planes. 10 of them were shot down by Captain Cuadra, another 7 by Captain Salas Larrazábal. They were the most outstanding pilots of this five squadrons, followed by the Captains Gavilán and Galarza and the First Lieutenants Ibarreche (a Basque) and Mendoza. The members of the Blue Squadrons received eleven higher medals. Seven of them belonged to members of the 4´th squadron. 22 spanish pilots were killed in action.
     

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  11. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Air victories with Fw-190:

    1.- Gonzalo Hevia Alvarez de Quiñones: 12 (2 La-5; 2 Lagg 3; 1 Yak 9)

    2.- Mariano Cuadra Medina: 10 (6 Lagg 3; 2 La-5; 1 IL 2)

    3.- Jose Ramon Sparrowhawk Ponce of Leon: 9

    4.- Fernando Sanchez Arjona Courtoy: 9 (dead in accident 19/11/43) (5 La-5; 2 Lagg 3; 1 EP-2)

    5.- Angel Larrazabal Rooms: 7 (+16,33 in 1936-39)

    6.- Vicente Aldecoa Lecanda: 7 (4 La-5; 2 Lagg 3)

    7.- Damaso Arango Lopez: 7 (4 IL-2; 2 La-5; 1 Lagg 3)

    8.- Luis Azqueta Brunet: 6

    9.- Bernardine Meneses Orozco: 6

    10.- Manuel Sanchez-Tabernero de Prada: 6 (2 Lagg 3; 1 La-5; 3 IL 2)

    11.- Francisco Zarraga: 6 (3 La-5; 1 IL 2; 2 Douglas Boston)

    12.- Lorenzo Lucas Fernandez Rock: 6 (4 Lagg 3; 1 La-5; 3 IL 2)

    13.- Antonio Aldos: 6

    14.- Antonio Alos Blacksmith: 5

    15.- Fernando Bengoa Cremades: 5

    16.- Jose Strong Mateos: 5
     

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  12. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    Unbelievable pictures! I had no idea the Spaniards fought alongside the Germans on the Eastern Front.
    Were there any in N.Africa or the Western Front also?
     
  13. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Franco was obsessed with communism, which he believed was the greatest enemy of Spain and Humanity. For this reason he sent the Blue Division to fight the Russians, and also in consideration for the assistance given by Hitler during the Spanish Civil War. The menbers of the Blue Division were volunteers, and Spain never declared war to the URSS. At the other hand, there were never spaniards fighting the other allies, otherwise they would have been in serious troubles...
     
  14. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #14 gekho, Jul 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
    Picture 1.- Among the major Salas (left) and Captain Aristides, totaled 34 victories in Spain (17 each). Aristides spent most of the war in Spain as a member of 2G3, led by Salas. The Commander Angel Salas Larrazabal, born in Orduña (Vizcaya) on October 1906, came from the artillery Arm, where he had entered as a cadet on August 27, 1921. He joined the course of observers at Four Winds on 27 December 1927 obtaining the June 14, 1928. Awarded the Iron Cross I and II class, as well as German gold cross for his performance in the Russian campaign, with six confirmed and three probable kills. He became a Lieutenant General of the Spanish Air Force and a member of council of the kingdom of Spain.

    Picture 2.- The maximum blue ace squadrons, Gonzalo Hevia (12 wins), poses in front of the remains of an American bomber (Boston) shot down in the Russian front. It can be seen that after the Soviet star, the USAF circle remains .

    Picture 3.- Lieutenants Fernando Arrechea and José Calvo Nogales (3-1943).

    Picture 4.- Lieutenant Demetrio Zorita posing with his Bf-109 E-1. In July 1941, Demetrio Zorita and the other 16 pilots were selected to form the 1st Blue Squadron and are concentrated in the Aerodrome Barajas, where they perform various flight training in the fighter Me-109 aircraft is the backbone of the fighter aircraft of the Luftwaffe in 1941. In late July leaving for Germany, the school Luftwaffe fighter Werneuchen, near Berlin, for training in tactics and procedures used by the Luftwaffe in August remained at the school. Demetrius Zorita, speaking German, is appointed by the Commander Squadron Angel Salas Lazarrabal to break first, toward the Russian Front, going as an outpost of the squad. On August 23, partly to the Russian Front. On 24 combat mission out in a German squadron joined, taking off from an airfield Soltzy I-109. On August 27, interview with Wolfram von Richthofen, who had led the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War, and had under his orders and other hunting groups to the 27th Fighter Group, which was to incorporate the 1st Squadron Blue. On August 28, rejoins Werneuchen, along with his companions, staying in school game until October 4 that for the front, participating in the day in a combat mission on the Russian Front. Following months of war makes various fire services on November 30, a plane on the ground, near Moscow. On December 6 he was appointed Lieutenant Professional Scale Air, passing under its administration of the 21st Fighter Group Getafe. It´s known for being the Spanish first pilot to exceed the sound barrier.

    Pictures 5 6.- The undisputed german ace (115 confirmed aerial victories), Oberst Molders, former command of the Legion, on the Russian front speaking with commander Salas Jimenez and the commander and Lieutenant Muñoz Busquets. Both pilots were friends since the war in Spain, as Muñoz was added to the Molders 3J/88 of the October 1, 1938. Fate would play a trick on them and they die just with 5 days of difference: November 22 Molders, and Muñoz the 27 of the same month.
     

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  15. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    I see. this falls under ' the enemy of my enemy is my friend '. the pictures of Salas Jimenez with Werner Molders is interesting. very good thread!
     
  16. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Interesting shots!
     
  17. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Though sympathetic to the Axis cause, Franco resisted Hitler’s advances to bring Spain formally into the war even at the height of the Third Reich conquests. Spain had just suffered through a lengthy civil war which had drained its resources, and was therefore in no position to assist in any significant matter. Franco did allow, however, volunteers to serve under German arms on the Eastern front; by doing this he maintained Spain’s neutrality while both repaying the help Germany provided during the Spanish Civil War and continuing his fight against Bolshevism. Within minutes of Germanys invasion of the Soviet Union, Von Ribbentrop received a formal offer of aid and on June 24 1941, Hitler approved the use of Spanish volunteers. In Spain, there was no shortage of volunteers and though only 4,000 men were initially required, the overwhelming response prompted the authorities to set the goal of a full division, which in the Spanish Army equaled 19,000 men. Volunteer regiments were raised in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Valencia and all other metropolitan areas. On July 2nd, 1941 the recruiting stations were officially closed, with the number of even a full division having been surpassed. The men who lined up at the party offices and Army barracks were not raw recruits, most were Civil War veteran thoroughly familiar with the rigors of military life.

    With the Legion now forming, the commander of the Spanish was announced; it would be General Augustin Muñoz Grandes. The issue of uniforms was complicated because Spanish was not technically at war so Spanish Army uniforms were out of the question. A new symbolic uniform was created which consisted of the red beret of the Carlist movement, the blue shirt of the Falangist movement (from which the division received its name) and the khaki trousers of the Spanish Foreign Legion, while Officers wore khaki shirts with blue cuffs and collar. This uniform was worn on leave in Spain, but before going to the front the Legionnaires would change into regular field gray Heer uniform with a shield on the upper right sleeve which bore the Spanish National colors with the word “España”. On July 13th the first train with volunteers left Madrid bound for Grafenwohr, Bavaria, where they became the Wehrmacht 250th Infantry Division with a strength of 17,924 Officers and men in four infantry regiments. As German divisions had three regiments, one of them was soon dispersed among the others leaving the 262nd (mainly Barcelona recruits), 263rd (Valencia) and 269th (Seville) regiments. Each regiment had three battalions of four companies. An artillery regiment (the 250th) consisting of three batteries of 150mm guns and one of 150mm guns was added to the division. Also, because among the volunteers there were enough pilots, a squadron was formed entirely of Spanish airmen and equipped with Me 109s and later FW 190s. The “Blue Squadron” received credit for 156 Soviet aircraft.

    After undergoing a five-week training period in Grafenwohr, the division took an oath in front of Hitler and left for the front on August 20, 1941. After embarking on long marches (totaling 1,000km) to reach the front at Smolensk where they were supposed to join army group center on the attack on Moscow, they were rerouted north to Leningrad where they formed part of the German 16th army. On October 10, 1941, the Spanish Legion saw its first action in the sector between Ilmen and the west bank of the Volkhov river and participated in a major offensive against Leningrad which took place four days later. They were to remain on the siege of Leningrad for the remainder of the division’s life, where they fought with distinction (in December 1942, General Emilio Esteban Infantes took command of the division). The ruthless winters and savage fighting inflicted heavy casualties among the Legion, so much so that there were rumors that the entire division was going to collapse. Reinforcements were quickly organized in Madrid and sent to the front, as it was not the fate of a single division but the honor and reputation of Spain that was at stake. In order to keep up the numbers, conscripts were sent in along with volunteers. Because of casualties, and a system of rotation, as many as 45,000 Spaniards fought on the Eastern front. Of these, 4,500 were killed in action and a 16,000 further were taken prisoner or wounded in action. Those who were wounded were treated on hospitals throughout Germany, which were operated mainly by Spanish Medical Staff.

    As the fortunes of war began to turn against the Axis, the Allies began to place considerable pressure on Franco to recall his fighting force. Negotiations with the German government began in the Spring of 1943, and the order to withdraw was given on October 10th, 1943. A “Blue Legion” compromising 3,000 men was left behind, commanded by Colonel Navaro, and it was attached to 121st infantry Division. This appeased the Germans and those volunteers who did not want to abandon the struggle, but even this token force was ordered to withdraw in March, 1944.

    Though it was now illegal for Spaniards to serve on the Axis side, some of the volunteers refused to return. Partly refreshed by fresh forces they smuggled across the border to Lourdes, France, where they were picked up by a especial unit and sent mainly to the Waffen SS. However, there were also platoon sized units attached to the 3rd Mountain Division and the 357th Infantry Division. A further two companies of Spaniards were sent to the Brandenburg unit for anti-Partisan action in Yugoslavia. One of these Brandenburg companies was sent in September of 1944 to Austria, where it became the Spanische-Freiwilligen-Kompanie der SS 101 and soon afterwards a second company (102) was formed. The 101 Company was attached to the 28th Waffen SS Division (Wallonien) and saw heavy action in Pomerania. In the end, the 101st was attached to the 11th SS Division Nordland and fought to the bitter end in the defense of Berlin. Waffen Haupsturmfuhrer der-SS Miguel Ezquerra commanded the 101st in the last days of Berlin. He survived the battle, and later escaped from Russian imprisonment to return to Spain. An honest assessment of the Spanish Volunteers would cast them in a favorable light, their fierce fighting abilities places them among the most successful foreign legions who fought for the Third Reich. They proved themselves in battle continuously in one of the most brutal theaters of war in history, the Eastern Front.

    Source:The "Blue Division"
    For more information: Amazon.com: Blue Division Soldier 1941-45: Spanish Volunteer on the Eastern Front (Warrior) (9781846034121): Carlos Caballero Jurado, Ramiro Bujeiro: Books
     

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  18. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Nice shots!
     
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