SPREE was set up on a hill 2 km NW of Jobourg, SW of Cherbourg in the Cotentin Peninsula, crewed by six men. It was still under construction on 19 September 1940 but expected to be ready to operate by the following night. The original installation’s career proved brief for it was completely destroyed by bombs at 0200 GMT on 11 October, with Uffz. Werner Hagedorn being killed and Ogefr. Schwozer wounded.
Less than four hours after the bombs had fallen, Fw. Sader (in charge of the two Cherbourg installations) was asked by Obltn. Rudolf Bican of KGr. 100’s Signals Company, “Did the aircraft fly in on OSKAR?” Since this seems to have been a component of the navigational beam (others were codenamed MARTHA, ROSA and IDA) Bican was anticipating a sophisticated form of attack the RAF would not attempt for another month. Sader’s report was that the first bomb had fallen directly adjacent to the station and two more “in the direction of OSKAR.” From Cherbourg, Fw. Boller also advised that enemy action had left WESER intermittently unable to control traffic between 2300 and 0300 GMT.
Bican’s next message to Cherbourg, ordered the erection of a sandbag wall “right around the station … right up to the turntable” to protect the neighbouring and still-intact WESER. Although Bican was in Ambleteuse, about 470 km by road from SPREE, he was quickly able to inform KGr. 100 in Vannes that the stricken station would be unable to operate again until further notice. By mid-morning, Cherbourg was being asked to report how much of SPREE’s equipment was still usable, only to be told that this would take several days to establish. Orders were given mid-afternoon to prepare to rebuild SPREE, on a better camouflaged site, if possible. However, it was not until 1900 that Bican advised his home base at Köthen that:
… at 0200 hours special wireless station 2 kilometres north-west of Jobourg, near Cherbourg (WOTAN installation) was bombarded.
On the evening of the 12th, [Fl.Stabsing. Wolfgang?] Rautmann was trying to reach Dr. Kühnhold to arrange a discussion on the rebuilding. Over the days that followed there we communications about the availability of various components and cables, as well as camouflage netting. By the 23 October the issue of protecting WESER and SPREE with Landeschützen (second-line troops) had been raised, since although units were in situ, the full number had yet to arrive. On the 26th, Ltn. Langhelm advised that SPREE’s wooden »Ausleger« (boom/bracket/outrigger, so probalby the horizontal support for the antenna elements) had been damaged beyond repair and a replacement could not be obtained locally. He therefore asked Köthen to supply one from stock
At least some of SPREE’s crew had been given leave during the hiatus and their return was announced on 2 November but even then the station was still “without apparatus.” Six days later, someone was asking if dipoles and reflector isolators were needed for the reconstruction. On the 10th, Uffz. Aldenhoff at WESER was asked if he needed assistance in calibrating part of SPREE’s system because the station must be ready to operate that evening, without fail. Dr. Kühnhold likewise told WESER’s Obltn. Mayer he must “make sure of transmission by SPREE this evening on ANNA setting 5”, albeit with only one »Still Aggregat« (a silenced petrol generator). The correspondence continued, even after the station came back on line, with Köthen asking on the 18th for a detailed list of items destroyed by enemy action because it was unclear which requests were for replacements and which were entirely new orders.
German Air Ministry Situation Reports (times GMT+2):
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PART ONE OF TWO