The Luftwaffe was still concerned over defence of its bases: Carpiquet was told on 13 August to camouflage its signals station, Luftgau Westfrankreich on the 21st stressed the personal responsibility of Aerodrome Regional Commanders for the dispersal, camouflage and protection from splinters of munitions and fuel dumps on their airfields. Three days later, “immediate steps” were ordered to camouflage all buildings connected with the »Knickebein« and »Wotan« installations at Beaumont-Hague. When two airfields in Western France were each being supplied with 1500 barrels of B4 fuel in the first week of September, it was stipulated that these must be stored in adjoining woodland and camouflaged against observation from the air.

On the 23rd an “express order” from Göring was relayed that Commanding Officers of flying formations were to use every anti-aircraft weapon at their disposal to protect their aircraft when on the ground; this was their responsibility as much it was the dedicated ground defences’. A week later an Obltn. Haarmann told ZG 76 and V.(Z)/LG 1 that the latter’s Staffeln should swap unserviceable aircraft for serviceable ones from the »Ablaßkommando« (literally “outlet detachment”) whenever their total ready fell below six. Jafü 3, it was added, could not countermand this order as he had handed over responsibility for the protection of V.(Z)/LG 1’s airfield to the Gruppenkommandeur.

Luftflotte 3 thought that RAF night raiders had passed as friendly and persuaded the Flak to cease fire by turning on their interior lights. Accordingly, German aircraft were forbidden as of 27 August to switch on such lights during landing approaches unless glazed areas were suitably screened. Position and landing lights were still allowed but the Flak and searchlights would engage any machine whose interior lighting showed. Also cause for anxiety in late August was that the illumination of ground obstacles was attracting RAF gun and bomb attacks on aircraft taking off and landing. Airfield CO’s in the St. Dizier region were enjoined to cooperate with Gruppenkommandeure to ensure that such lighting was extinguished promptly and the safe return of friendly aircraft notified to the central reporting post which in turn would tell the Flak. Weather permitting, pilots were encouraged, for their own safety, to forgo obstacle illumination as well as flashing signals and searchlights. Preparations were also to be made to light decoy fires away from the real aerodromes when attackers approached, to lure them and their bombs to where they could do the least damage.

Instructions were issued on 17 and 25 August explaining how to deal with the celluloid incendiary strips dropped by the RAF (Britain had a shortage of magnesium during 1940): affected areas should be searched in the early hours; the strips should not be touched or dropped into water but carefully collected and burned under supervision. Sabotage of the cable between a signals unit and the ”aircraft computing centre” in Morlaix, Brittany was under investigation on the 21st. Six days later the Geheime Feldpolizei (secret military police) were told of cuts in the Lannion–Morlaix cable. By the end of the month there was evidence that Luftwaffe officers were being schooled in special measures to tackle espionage and ensure secrecy.

German airmen that Summer sometimes attacked their own territory. At 1353 on 21 August, three Ju 88 overflew the Île d’Ouessant at around 800 m, one releasing three bombs, two of which detonated near the radio station, before opening fire with its machine guns and a house was severely damaged. German markings had been clearly visible on the aircraft while the fuse of the unexploded bomb had German markings “EL, OZ, C, 50”. Perhaps with this in mind, on 1 September Fliegerkorps IV demanded the cessation of bombing and strafing attacks on navigation aids in occupied territory. On 30 August II. Flak Korps had complained that trial shots from aircraft on aerodromes had frequently endangered its men, especially in the Pas de Calais. For example, a burst of machine gun fire four days earlier had come close to Flak personnel north of Marki” (Marquise?). In response ZG 76 ordered that in future trial firing should only take place from the air toward the sea or unoccupied areas of land.

NOTE: The German situation report for the day indicates why Ouessant was bombed. It says that around 1530 German Summer Time (=1350 GMT) eight x SC 250 were dropped on a radio station on the Isles of Scilly, with impacts observed near the target. If this was in reality the Ouessant attack then somebody’s navigation was out by around 180 km.

It seems that friendly fire was suspected again when Jersey aerodrome was bombed in the early hours of 25 August for a day later Fl.Kps. IV asked its units whether any of their aircraft had been over the island at 0130 on the 25th and had fired the correct recognition signal.

NOTE: The intercepted signal spoke of “considerable material damage” plus one killed and two wounded while the daily situation report adds that a 3.7 cm gun was put out of action by the raid.

Luftgau LN Regt. 12 reported at the end of August that its more northerly companies’ frequencies were often jammed, especially during RAF raids and that one company was jammed by, amongst other sources, Italian radio up until 2200 or even 2300 hrs. Not all the hazards were manmade, one signals company reporting that 63 of its men still needed inoculation against typhoid and paratyphoid and 156 against smallpox; the whole unit was also awaiting blood group tests.

continued on next page …









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© Nick Beale 2022

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