Aviators in WWII

WWII—Transition: the Germans Invade, the Soviets Retreat


  • June 22, 1941
    • Germany attacks the Soviet Union along the entire frontier. In the Baltic, the attack begins with 4 am attacks upon airfields, ports and communication centres. The ground forces moved forward only on the second wave of such attacks, about two hours later. These initial attacks were apparently quite effective. The commander of the Soviet 8th Army, Lt.Gen.P.P.Sobennikov, later wrote that by the afternoon of the 22nd the aviation section which was supposed to support his Army had been reduced to 5-6 airworthy aircraft.
  • June 23, 1941
    • German troops reach Liepaja and, on June 29th, take the city.
    • German troops take Grobini.
    • The 10th Soviet Fighter Group was responsible for defending the airspace over Riga, but the German activity over Riga continued with intensity all the same.
  • June 25, 1941
    • The Germans take Ilukste
  • June 27, 1941
    • The Germans take Tukums.
    • A group of nearly 40 Latvian officers, NCOs and enlisted men, serving in the Soviet 24th Territorial Corps Aviation Unit, based at Gulbene, slip away into the Lubana forest to await the arrival of the German forces.
  • June 28, 1941
    • The Gulbene squadron, mentioned above, is ordered to withdraw into the Soviet Union. Eight aircraft were to depart, but one (piloted by V.Krastins) crashed on takeoff. The remaining seven flew to Rzev. (Note that two other aircraft with Latvian pilots had already defected to the Germans). The remaining members of the Squadron (ie- those who had not slipped away to the Lubana forest or flown out) were withdraw by ground transport.
    • The German military capture Preili.
  • June 29, 1941
    • Soviets send waves of bombers against the bridges on the Daugava in an effort to slow the German advance (especially the armour of Panzergruppe 4) across Latvia. Sixty-five of these, mostly unescorted, bombers were claimed by the fighter pilots of JG 54, and the bridges at Daugavpils remained intact.
    • The Germans capture the Daugavpils airfield, complete with 30 aircraft.
    • The Germans take Jelgava, Saldus, Livani, and Liepaja.
    • The German troops reach Riga and, on July 1, take the city.
  • June 30, 1941
    • 8.(H)/32 (Aufklärungsgruppe 32) bases at Daugavpils, soon to be joined by 2.(H)/13 (Aufklärungsgruppe 13).
  • July 1, 1941 - I./JG 54 rebases to Jelgava and Birzi, near Jekabpils.
  • early July - III Gruppe / Kampfgeschwader 1 "Hindenburg" bases at Jelgava. Verbindungsstaffel 1 bases at Riga/Spilve, the first of many units to follow. 1.(Einsatz) Staffel of JG 54 are based first at Ventspils and then Riga. The pilots of this unit were receiving limited "hands on" combat flying experience as the final stage of their training.
  • By July 4-7 the German troops were advancing past Latvia and into the territory of the Soviet Union.
  • August, 1941 - Seenotstaffel 9 (an Air/Sea Rescue Unit) bases at Liepaja and remains there until Sept. 1944.

TU SB-2-M-103 abandoned at Spilve when the Germans advanced 
TU SB-2-M-103 abandoned at Spilve when the Germans advanced. Various other types in background.


  • Krastins, K. Gulbenes Eskadrilas Liktenis in Daugavas Vanagu Menesraksts, 1982, No.5
  • Strods, Heinrihs Sarkanarmijas haotiska atkapsanas no Latvijas (1941. gada 22.junijs - 5.julijs) published in the Latvian Occupation Museum 2001 Yearbook, pgs.31-93.
  • Weal, John Jagdgeschwader 54 'Grunherz'

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