What then could ULTRA tell the British authorities about German, capabilities, weaknesses and intentions in the wake of the Franco-German armistice?

The campaign in France had left the Luftwaffe in some disarray; units were understrength and aircraft needed repairs and overhauls which had to be carried out in Germany.

The logistical support necessary to operate two Luftflotten against Britain from bases in France and the Low Countries was taking time to establish and the process was not always smooth. Communications links too had to be set up.

Not all replacement crews were fully trained; replacement aircraft sometimes arrived in poor condition and were not always of the latest type (fighter units were still receiving the poorly-armed Bf 109 E-1 alongside the E-3 and E-4).

The standard Bf 109 E left something to be desired in intercepting fast, high-flying raiders and frontline units were demanding machines with the DB 601N motor.

Significant numbers of fighters were being lost in avoidable accidents and operations were being hampered by poor fuel quality.

Petrol supplies in France were insufficient to fuel visiting aircraft.

Aircraft and crews were getting improved protection against enemy fire but some of the necessary items were in short supply.

Overwater operations on any scale must await provision of a range of safety gear for aircrews, and the Germans were anxious to establish air-sea rescue services along the English Channel.

Even before the fighting in France was over, the Luftwaffe began deploying offensive and defensive units along the Channel coast. Soon they began to concentrate fighters and Stukas in the Pas de Calais and Jafü 2 established himself there.

Large scale attacks on England were envisaged and Jafü 3 was to direct fighter and Zerstörer escorts.

The granting of leave with recall expected on 1 July, and a similar deadline for the repair and overhaul of aircraft, were indications of when the Luftwaffe might attempt something more than their current reconnaissance and nuisance raiding.

From 7 July “increased attention” was to be paid to shipping in the Dover Straits.

Repeatedly postponed plans for a big armed services parade in Paris: a sign that no full-scale assault on Britain was contemplated before the end of July.

Four weeks’ warning of the Bf 110 being employed as a bomber.

A Night Fighter Division had been formed, including aircraft equipped as long-range intruders.

With rare exceptions, captured French aircraft were not to be used operationally.

The existence of warning radar in France, including the location of one Freya and a clue to the system’s working frequency.

A developing picture of the German aircraft reporting and navigational beacon networks in France.

The many strength returns intercepted offered clues to the rate at which units could be rebuilt after six weeks of campaigning.

Sufficient data was available by early August to allow a fairly accurate reconstruction of the German order of battle.

Considerable information came through on where German units were based and on the effects of RAF raids on their airfields. The Luftwaffe was sufficiently concerned over British bombing to order a range of protective measures for men, machines and munitions.

The German High Command recognised that under the Hague Convention, sea-rescue aircraft bearing the Red Cross operated at their own risk. This did not prevent denunciations of British attacks on them in the Völkischer Beobachter of 16 July, nor in Field Marshal Kesselring’s memoirs.

The Germans were anxious to keep the quays of southern English ports intact. From this it could be inferred that they hoped to make use of them in future.


National Archives, Kew London

HW 1/3794: Correspondence with C (Head of M.I.6) concerning officers in various ministries who were aware of or had access to Special Material (15 Oct–7 Nov 1940)

HW 5/2, HW 5/3, HW 5/4: Government Code and Cypher School, German Section: Reports of German Army and Air Force High Grade Machine Decrypts (CX/FJ and CX/JQ Reports) (19 May–11 September 1940)




Armistice and After


Preparing for the Offensive

Re-equipment, Precautions, Logistics


Night Fighters

Comforts for the troops


Special Reports



© Nick Beale 2020–2022

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