Defence

Accounts of this period do not usually portray the Germans thinking defensively but ULTRA shows that they were; incessant, small-scale and scattershot bombing across the Reich and the occupied territories was playing on their minds. A call had gone out for volunteers for night fighting and on Goering’s orders of 28 June, I./ZG 1 in Düsseldorf was “in all haste to be used as a night fighter group”. Each Gruppe of ZG 26 was told to provide the new formation with a crew trained for night flying, in exchange for one lacking the qualification. The same day, Luftflotte 2 gave instructions that “the groups now to be detached for defence of greater Berlin” should go to Neuruppin and Brandenburg-Briest. Throughout this period, JG 2 was reporting on defensive patrols flown over the coast, usually in Rotte or Schwarm strength. Most passed off without contact but occasionally a Blenheim would be claimed. RAF raiders, singly or in small groups, continued to attack French airfields and their cumulative effect seems to have troubled the Luftwaffe out of all proportion to the actual damage being reported (and inadvertently providing the British with the most accurate assessments of their efforts that they could wish for). For example, around 40 bombs were dropped in a raid on Abbeville-Drucat, 25 of them cratering the landing ground; in addition a previously damaged hangar was burned down, two Bf 110 were damaged and a civilian and a horse were killed while one German NCO suffered minor injuries.

Fliegerkorps IV on 1 July ordered the use of a 4:1 mix of explosive and practice rounds in MG FF 2 cm cannon, “to achieve a higher incendiary effect on British a/c having armour-plated petrol tanks, particularly Vickers Wellingtons”. During the evening of 3 July, Oberst Theo Osterkamp, JG 51’s Kommodore, reported that: “… Our own aircraft, though considerably outnumbered, were able to intercept owing to excellent Frey-Meldung [sic = Freya report]”. This message has been cited by Dr. R.V. Jones as the first intimation the British had of German early-warning radar (supplemented on the 14th by a report that a “Freya apparatus” north of Lannion would be protected by 3.7 cm Flak). Of perhaps more immediate interest however was Osterkamp’s evaluation of German shortcomings:

… 4 Me 109 were shot down of which 3 were able to make forced landings at Étaples. Pilots were not seriously injured … The already weakened Geschwader lost a further 5 of 6 a/c which were shot down or made emergency landings. If effective air defence was to be provided it was essential that I./JG 1 should be moved immediately from Jever to the operational area and the Gruppen brought up to strength as quickly as possible. In particular 6 Me 109 were urgently required, fitted with “N” engines capable of intercepting fast, high-flying enemy a/c.

After an assessment of the quality of reporting and communications there came further confirmation of the concentration of Luftwaffe fighters in the Pas de Calais: "… the new Battle HQ of JG 51 at Wissant has been operating since 3/7 …"

The last week of July brought further radar intelligence when a Flak unit revealed that “DeTe apparatus” (= Dezimeter Telegraphie = radar) transmitted on the same frequency used for “Aircraft Observer Corps” reports. On 3 August Luftgau Nachrichten Regiment 12 asked Freya installations in Luftgau West France to say whether they needed “NGEMA-measuring chains (Messketten) GOKL” and how many. The British analysts put a query against the former acronym and added “(sic: spelt-out)” to the latter, according their reading only a “(B)” grading. However, an “(A)” (definite) rating was given to news on 8 August that 7./LN Regt. 12’s Freya installation had an AEG transformer but that 6./12 had left theirs behind in Kaiserslautern; 7./12 also reported its “high-power W/T apparatus … (frequency 2220)” back in action that day.

Preparing for the Offensive

Preparations continued for resuming the offensive: a message set out the demarcation between Luftflotten 2 and 3 for operations over Britain and II./St.G 2 reported the arrival of fuel and bombs at their new operational base (they had 41 aircraft and 30 crews ready for action on the evening of 27 June). Fliegerkorps I wanted to know how many of its crews had been trained to fly over the sea; I./KG 76 was awaiting the delivery of armour plating for some of its aircraft, still needing 30 sets on 7 July (KGr. 100 wanted 100). On the 13th, JG 2 was asking for 100 head-protection plates to be brought from Essen-Mühlheim and in the event, armour was still being installed by some units during August. This all suggests that the Western Campaign had highlighted the vulnerability of aircrew to enemy fire.

KG 1 and KG 3 were moving to operational airfields as July began. Many changes of base were revealed through messages requesting Ju 52s to carry ground crews and equipment. On 30 June, Fliegerkorps I ordered checks on oxygen systems “on account of the height of flight necessary in attacks on England”. The same day, Luftflotte 2 directed headquarters and units (with the exception of fighters) to “keep W/T silence in their new positions until [the] beginning of operations”. A message about the leadership of III./KG 77 proposed that Maj. Karl-Albert Berg remain in post “at the present beginning of the operations against England” and mid-afternoon on 2 July saw the issue of a detailed weather forecast for the South and Southeast of the country. A conference involving the signals officers of KG 51, 54 and 55 was convened with ZG 2 at Châteaufort (about 1 km from Toussus-le-Noble aerodrome) for 4 July; the object was to discuss “technical signal questions connected with the working together of bomber and heavy fighter units”. Fliegerkorps I’s Geschwader Kommodores were to fly in to Compiègne for a conference at 0730 on the 8th.

While JG 51 on 5 July was still awaiting the dinghies it had indented for, all of Fliegerkorps VIII’s airfields were stocked with fuel and bombs for three operations and at 0500 on 7 July the Korps was told to be ready to attack any convoys located by reconnaissance. Luftflotte 2 likewise alerted Fliegerkorps I to a recent increase in shipping movements through the Dover Straits, instructing that “increased attention” should now be paid to them. The 9th brought orders for Fl.Kps. VIII to move two Ju 87 Gruppen to the Calais area for attacks on Channel shipping under the auspices of Fl.Kps. II; strong fighter and Zerstörer protection was to be provided for such attacks. At noon, the ground echelon of I./St.G 3 arrived at Le Porte airfield near Boulogne while IV. (Stuka)/LG 1 was expected in Tramecourt and II./St.G 1 in Quœux-Haut-Maînil. All of these moves were known to the British by 0430 on 10 July. That day advance parties from JG 1, JG 2 (Le Touquet) and St.G 77 (Berck) arrived on the Channel coast. The next day, three airfield servicing companies were moved to Calais, Boulogne and Berck-sur-Mer “with the greatest possible speed” and “to accelerate the pace columns of lorries are to be brought into play”.

If the main effort was to be over the Channel, operations over Britain itself continued to be mounted on a relatively small scale. In ordering harassing attacks overnight on the 7/8th, Fliegerkorps I told KG 76 that while London should be overflown as much as possible, “dropping of bombs within [the] London barrage-area was forbidden”. If nothing else, this told the British that a sizeable fraction of the nation’s population, trade infrastructure and productive resources was safe from attack for the time being. However, the morning of 10 July brought a significant piece of intelligence in the form of a document addressed to Göring’s Führungsstab (= command staff) spelling out the role of Jafü 3, which included directing “combined operations of light and heavy fighters during large scale attacks upon England”.

Luftflotte 3’s situation report early on the 11th summed up the military position:

War activities against England are taking the form of armed reconnaissance against shipping with good results. In all 26,000 tons were sunk and about 40,000 tons damaged. Aerodromes and factories in SE England and stores and munitions depots in SW England were attacked.

Three days later, Luftflotten 2, 3 and 5 were directed by Göring as follows:

(1) Attacks on England by day are only to be made when weather offers adequate protection against fighter attack. These raids must be made by single aircraft only. Pilots must be expressly ordered to break off attack whenever weather no longer ensures surprise.

(2) Attacks on convoys on the other hand are to be made in such strength that annihilation of the convoy can be counted on. Attention is again called to necessity for adequate fighter and heavy fighter protection.

On 15 July, Luftflotte 3 reiterated the second point and added a third:

For special reasons the ballon barrage at Southampton and Bristol must be attacked and shot down at every opportunity. When weather is favourable formation attacks by fighters or heavy fighters will be made with the object of destroying as many balloons as possible.

From this point onward, orders to attack Southampton’s balloons would be a regular feature of the deciphered traffic and a ZG 2 pilot, landing at Caen on the 18th, claimed to have destroyed one.

continued on next page …

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CONTENTS

Introduction

Armistice and After

Defence

Preparing for the Offensive

Re-equipment, Precautions, Logistics

Comforts for the troops

Conferences

Special Reports

Conclusions

Sources

© Nick Beale 2020–2021


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