ALG Y-29 Asch, short history
Mid-September 1944 Zutendaal and environs were liberated by the Allies from four-year occupation by the Germans. But the war was not over yet. After the breakout from Normandy, the Allies advanced quickly but came to a halt at the German borders. It became very clear that the Germans would fiercely defend their country.
From 2nd to 21st October, 1944 there was the Battle of Aachen. During that time they also wanted to invade the south east of Aachen, through the Hürtgenwald, further into Germany to capture the industrial area around the Ruhr River and then to reach the Rhine. In this area lay the Siegfried Line or Westwall.
The Ruhr River, flowing through the Hürtgenwald, was of great strategic importance to the Allies, particularly the dams in the river. The Germans were able to flood the Ruhr valley, sometimes up to 7.5 meters deep, so as to stop the Allied advance into Germany.
To get enough air support, it was decided on November 3rd, 1944 to build an airfield, Advanced Landing Ground, at Zutendaal. This would shorten the flight time from the airbase to the enemy target from one hour to fifteen minutes so that there was more time available over the enemy territory.
Two days later, on November 5th, 1944, the 852nd Engineer Aviation Battalion began the construction of the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) Y-29. Located entirely within the territory of Wiemesmeer (township of Zutendaal), along the road from As to Bilzen, it got the name of the neighboring northern town Asch (now As).
In just three weeks the airfield was built, consisting of a single runway of 1500 meters which was built with PSP plates. On 26th November 1944, the P-47 Thunderbolts fighters from the 366nd Fighter Group landed at their new base. That same day the first missions from Y-29 Asch were flown towards the Hürtgenwald.
On December 16th, 1944, the Germans began the Battle of the Bulge. Thus, the fighting in the Hurtgenwald reduced temporarily. The missions from the Y-29 Asch then went direction the Ardennen. On December 23rd, 1994 the 352nd Fighter Group P-51 Mustang fighter planes were sent from Bodney (UK) to Y-29 Asch for reinforcement.
On January 1st, 1945 Y-29 Asch was attacked by dozens of German fighters during Operation Bodenplatte. This aerial combat will go down in history as "The Legend of Y-29", with a great success for the Allies.
After the failure of the Battle of the Bulge, the last great German offensive in the west, the Americans resumed the battle in Hürtgenwald on January 10th, 1945. This battle of the Hürtgenwald raged on until mid-February 1945 and ended with an Allied victory, albeit at the expense of a large number killed and injured from both sides.
On January 27th, 1945 the P-51 Mustangs of the 352nd Fighter Group left the Y-29 Asch and were replaced on February 8th, 1945 by the 406th Fighter Group P-47 Thunderbolts fighters.
From ALG Y-29 Asch the P-47 Thunderbolts were used for air support during the Battle of the Rhine and the further advance through Germany.
The distance between ALG Y-29 Asch and enemy targets increased with the advancement into Germany. Mid-April 1945 the 366th Fighter Group and the 406th Fighter Group moved to ALG Y-94 in Münster near Handorf in Germany.
From April 16th , 1945 ALG Y-29 Asch was the home for the 391st Bomber Group with the A-26 Invader. These light bombers completed from ALG Y-29 Asch several missions over enemy territory without losses. On May 3rd, 1945 the 391st Bomber Group flew its last mission during World War II from ALG Y-29.
On May 8th, 1945 the Second World War in Europe was over. The move on May 27th, 1945 of the 391 Bomber Group to ALG B-50 Vitry-en-Artois in France marked the end of the ALG Y-29 Asch.
Pilot Lt. Karl K. Dittmer in the North American P-51D-15-NA Mustang (44-14955) of the 487th Fighter Squadron (HO-I), 352nd Fighter Group at Y-29 Asch. Nickname: “Dopey Okie”.
(photo: Heemkring Zutendaal)