Sonderkommando Blaich

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Sonderkommando “Blaich”

Formation and History. (c.Dec 41 - Jun 42)

Formed on or about December 1941, or possibly a month or two earlier, and probably in the Tripoli area in Libya as a special operations unit. Using desert strips at Hon (Hün)/c.600 km south of Tripoli, which was its main forward operating base, and at Sebha/c.400 km south of Hun, “Blaich” flew armed He 111 search-and-destroy missions against patrols of the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG). After locating a patrol’s vehicle tracks in the vast emptiness of the Sahara, the Heinkel crew would follow these back to the LRDG’s camp and attack with bombs and machine gun fire.[1]

Its commander, 41-year-old Hptm.(d.R.) Theodor Blaich, was chosen to lead the Sonderkommando because he had been an explorer of some note before the war, which presumably included some work in Africa and therefore a familiarity with the terrain. Blaich was attached to the Stab of Fliegerführer Afrika, having come from a staff position with X. Fliegerkorps in Athens. He later commanded training units in Germany and in fall 1943 became the commander of Nachtschlachtgruppe 7 in Croatia.

On 21 January 1942, using a single He 111H, “Blaich” flew the mission it later came to be known by. After drawing up a plan and getting General Rommel’s personal approval, Hauptmann Blaich and the crew of the He 111 staged a long-range attack on Fort Lamy, a French strongpoint near Lake Chad where the Sahara begins to merge with the vegetation of central Africa. The raid was a success – the crew claimed 10 parked aircraft destroyed along with a substantial fuel dump, but the Heinkel came down in the desert on the return leg after running out of fuel and Blaich and his crew were not rescued until almost a week later. The raid had been carried out to coincide with Rommel’s second Cyrenaica offensive along the Libyan coast, which commenced the same day.

Because of its extreme range and sheer daring, the Fort Lamy raid was simply the most spectacular of the missions flown by Sd.Kdo. “Blaich”, which operated directly under the control of Fliegerführer Afrika and had a normal complement of a single He 111H, a Messerschmitt Bf 108 B-2 Taifun (KG+EM) and an attached Italian Air Force Savoia Marchetti SM-82. Missions continued after the Fort Lamy operation until its He 111H was destroyed as a result of a crash landing near Kufra (Cufra) Oasis in southeast Libya in June 1942. A week or two later Sd.Kdo. “Blaich” was disbanded.

FpN: none assigned.


Hptm. Theodor Blaich (c.Nov 41 - Jun 42)

© by Henry L. deZeng IV (Work in Progress).

(1st Draft 2023)

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  1. P.Carell - The Foxes of the Desert, pp.140-52; Flugzeug magazine, 5/1986, pp.22-25; Profile Publications, Profile No. 15, p.6.