On 1 January 1945, the Luftwaffe dealt a
savage New Year's Day blow at Allied air bases in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Between 0800 and 1000 hours, about 700 German aircraft (Goering later said
2,300) laid on a stunning attack. It was an ugly surprise for the Allies, who
lost 156 Airplanes, 36 of which were American. Spaatz paid tribute to the
careful planning that lay behind the German operation. Again the Luftwaffe had
demonstrated its versatility and aggressiveness. Yet the Fuehrer, who had
fathered the idea, lost far more than he gained. While he was able to replace
his losses of airplanes readily, just as the Allies could, he had expended
some of his last remaining capable pilots and key squadron leaders. The
evidence indicated in fact that 1 January 1945 was one of the worst single
days for human and aircraft losses the Luftwaffe ever experienced, and the
military effect on the Allies, save for some embarrassment, was truly
This period had a duration of one day
and was defensive in nature. Between 0920 and 0945 hours on 1 January 1945,
Site A-92, St. Trond, Belgium underwent strafing attacks by 7 FW 190's and ME
109's. The attacking squadron made three or four runs across the field
inflicting damage to combat and administrative aircraft. The 404 and 48 Groups
were located on this field as well as Headquarters Flight of the XXIX TAC and
numerous bombers of the VIII Air Force which had landed on the field. The
attacking aircraft were fairly successful in their mission although the cost
to themselves was great.
Of the combat aircraft on the field, the
enemy destroyed two P-47's, damaged 11 P-47's category AC and 16 P-47's
Of the Command aircraft on the field,
one UC 78 was destroyed and 4 other aircraft were damaged.
One B-24 and two B-17's were destroyed
and two B-17's were damaged category AC. Thus, the seven attacking planes
destroyed 6 aircraft and damaged 33.
Three enlisted men of the anti aircraft
complement were seriously wounded. The field was not otherwise affected from
an operational point of view.
None of our fighter planes were able to
give battle to the enemy but AA destroyed 3 FW 190's and 2 ME 109's and
damaged another enemy plane.
The one attack is of interest in itself
as it represents the first attack of its kind during the invasion of German
held Europe. However, as the day wore on it appeared that the attack on us was
only a small part of a very well planned and coordinated attack on all
fighter-bomber fields in the Brussels-Eindhoven area. It is now thought that
between 700/800 German aircraft were employed in this large scale offensive
against our bases. The enemy achieved a maximum of surprise throughout the
area as strict silence was maintained on the radio. Radar did not pick him up
as he flew at deck level on a well planned route which took advantage of the
"Bulge" area and all terrain features. Over the target
area, however, the organization broke down to some extent, largely due to the
inexperience of personnel. The final reports reveal that some 127 allied
operational aircraft were destroyed and 133 damaged. Only 11 pilots were lost.
GAF losses were enormous in comparison. 160 aircraft were claimed shot down
the air and nearly 300 were claimed by anti aircraft.
The considerable number of documents
taken from crashed German aircraft and statements of German pilots have thrown
a great deal of light on the manner in which the GAF raid on our airfields was
carried out on the 1st of January. It seems to have been the enemy's plan to
attack both Y-89, Le Culot and A-92, St. Trond, Belgium with considerable
forces on each.
The rendezvous point for the attack on
A-89 appeared to be Bingen, Germany, marked with a beacon and a smoke bomb,
then to St. Vith and south of Liege to A-89. It is estimated that between 40
to 50 enemy planes started on this mission, but after leaving the
"Bulge" got slightly mixed up and vigorously attacked B-56 at
Approximately 30 FW 190's left the area
of Limburg, Germany for the attack on A-92. Their route was Keblenz to west of
St. Vith to Malmedy to north of Liege to A-92. Of the thirty, only seven
reached the target.
The entire operation, as directed
against the airfields of 2nd Tactical Air Force, XXIX Tactical Air Command and
IX Tactical Air Command, appears to have been a prodigious effort for any air
force, let alone the [missing]
The effort was brilliantly planned, but,
fortunately for us, was too difficult for the pilots of the GAF to carry out
to the letter.
It should be called to mind that by
January 1, our ground forces were cing the enemy back at Celles and Bastogne
and undoubtedly the German high command knew he would be forced to withdraw
before long. It is my opinion that this action on the part of the GAF was to
cripple the fighter bomber effort which was certain to be used against such a
withdrawal. Had he been successful, he would have prevented the mass
destruction of motor transports, armored vehicles and tanks which took place
only a little later in the month.
Due to the fact that the aircraft from
the XXIX Tactical Air Command was on missions or on the ground, we had little
part in destroying the enemy in the air. Only one ME 109 was damaged and this
in the St. Vith area. 50 E/A were seen during the day but they succeeded in
evading our aircraft by diving into the clouds.