Aviators in WWII

Taking the military oath, March 1944

WWII—Training at Liepaja-Grobini

THE UNIT IS CREATED

  • In September of 1943 the Germans decided to create Luftwaffe units manned by Latvian aviators.
  • The preparation of these units was to take place at Liepaja-Grobini (Libau-Grobin), and the school was initially named "Flugzeugfuhrerschule A/B Libau-Grobin". The base was actually built by the Soviets during the 1940-41 occupation, and was situated at the North-east end of Lake Liepaja, between the lake and the railway.
  • The Estonians already had an Estonian unit in the Luftwaffe, as well as a training facility in Tallin. This facility was transferred to Liepaja-Grobin and the Estonians were trained alongside the Latvians.
  • On January 1, 1944 the Liepaja-Grobini school was renamed "Erganzungs-Nacht-Schlachtgruppe Ostland (shortened to ENO), and it was under the command of a German, Major Endress. The Latvian liason officer was Lt.Col.Rucels.

THE MANDATE

The Training Unit had the following mandate:

  1. To prepare aviators and specialist/ground support staff for the creation of Estonian and Latvian combat units.
  2. To create combat units from these personnel.
  3. Supply these units with replacements and reinforcements as needed.

THE TRAINING

  • Initially, the Latvian element of the training program consisted of former Aviation Regiment aviators, Aizsargu (National Guard) aviators and sport fliers, along with the available experienced support specialists. Early in 1944, as the supply of veterans ran out, they also took on recent graduates of the Latvian technical school. In total they trained over 1,000 Latvians at Liepaja-Grobini.
  • All had to pass a physical fitness exam, particularly strict for the flying personnel, which was usually administered at Pleskava.
  • Flight training began in October, 1943, starting with former pilots of the Latvian Aviation Regiment. Initially, the training was provided by German instructors. Later, the training duties were assigned to Latvian fliers, but they retained two German examiners. The Latvian flight trainers included Lt. Karlis Bungss, Lt. Paulis Grube, Ltn. Alberts Gundermanis, Sgt. Kirils Mikelsons, Ltn. Jekabs Morziks, Ltn. Ernests Rudzitis, Sgt. Janis Rudzitis, Ltn. Rudolfs Silarajs, Ltn. Pauls Sotnieks, Crpl. Edgars Students, Ltn. Karlis Skele and Sgt. Arvids Velme.
  • The training included the following eight elements:
    • Basic Ground Training
    • Basic Flight Training
    • Formation Flying
    • Aerobatics
    • Instrument Flying
    • Orientation Flights
    • Night Flying
    • Combat Training
  • Training began on the Bucher 131, then advanced to the Arado 66 and Gotha 45.

THE RESULTS

  • In all, they trained approximately:
    • 30 Latvian former military pilots
    • 50 Aizsargu aviators and recent military flight school graduates
    • 25 Latvian Aero Club fliers and glider pilots
  • Three Latvian aviators died in training accidents.
  • The following types of specialists were trained at Liepaja-Grobini:
    • Air Mechanics
    • Electricians
    • Ordnance Specialists (bomb-handlers)
    • Machine Gunners (anti-aircraft)
  • In August, 1944 the Liepaja-Grobini training unit was incorporated into Luftwaffen Legion Lettland and the final months of the units history can be found in the Squadrons page.

Sources

  • Krastins, K. Latviesu lidotaji 2. pasaules kara in Daugavas Vanagu Menesraksts, 1979, No.1
  • Millers, E. 1. Latviesu naktsbumbvezu eskadrilas darbiba Otra pasaules kara laika in Daugavas Vanagu Menesraksts, 1975, No.1
  • Silgailis, Arturs Latvijas Legions
  • Varpa, Igors Latviesu Karavirs Zem Kaskrusta Karoga

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