15 August 1940

In the event, the postponed mission was not flown by day but, under an order issued at 11.30 hrs., deferred until after dark. At 16.00, KGr. 100 reported that it would be employing 24 aircraft on the operation and this number took off between 20.56 and 23.32 hours. Seventeen of these Heinkels landed between 02.00 and 05.00 hours on the 16th while of the remainder:

two turned back with technical problems;

one returned owing to altitude sickness among the crew, dropping its bombs on the seaside town of Exmouth;

one returned on one engine;

one crashed south of Bordeaux with its crew unhurt;

one force landed near Dinard; and

one was missing.

Interestingly, Wakefield’s book does not mention this operation but the Home Security Report does refer to one industrial target hit within the general time frame:

At 0149 hours, 16th August, damage is reported from Saltley, Birmingham, where bombs fell in close proximity to the Morris Commercial Car Works. Overhead cables are down and mains damaged but further details are not yet available.

The He 111 that crashed south of Bordeaux may have been that reported as making a forced landing , its crew unhurt, by Trupp 4 of 7./Luftnachrichten Regiment 12. This particular aircraft reporting post was located at Sainte-Eulalie, on the north eastern outskirts of Bordeaux.

On 15 August, the Gruppe's aircraft were distributed over three aerodromes:

Vannes

8

He 111 H-1

 

14

He 111 H-2

 

18

He 111 H-3

Lüneburg

4

He 111

Köthen

6

He 111

16 August 1940

Aschenbrenner reported that 14 of his aircraft had raided England between 23.25 on the 15th and 01.47 hrs. on 16 August. There had been cloud over the Channel during the operation while over England crews had reported mist between 2,000 and 4,500 metres. The assigned targets ordered had been attacked and large fires were observed but once again bad visibility hampered damage assessment so a better evaluation must await proper reconnaissance. Otherwise:

two aircraft attacked searchlights W and SW of Bristol (40 x SC 50);

one aircraft attacked searchlights at Exmouth (24 x SC 50);

one aircraft attacked AA position at Worcester (20 x BSK); and

one aircraft attacked Salisbury (20 x BSK).

Regarding the British defences, searchlights had been highly active with as many as 60 near Birmingham but far fewer after a number of aircraft had approached the eastern side of the city. Anti-aircraft fire had been intense but mostly too low. It was “definitely confirmed” that red lamps were being used to signal the raiders’ track.

One Heinkel was missing, another had force landed near Dinard, on Brittany’s northern coast while a third had crashed south of Bordeaux but its crew was safe. Later messages afforded more information: the He 111 which force landed near Dinard had dropped 24 x SC 50 on its targets (presumably Exmouth, since the number of bombs corresponds) but subsequently engine failure had necessitated a pancake landing; another had force landed near Cherbourg, incurring slight damage. (Regarding that last incident, on the evening of the 17th, the regional aerodrome command at Cherbourg was notified of a crashed He 111 near Saint-Vaast-La-Hogue requiring salvage). Finally the Gruppe reported the following aircraft out of action and needing replacement following operations on the night of 15–16 August:

One He 111 H-1 missing

One He 111 H-3 crashed near Bordeaux [Note: since this was far south of Vannes, the aircraft may have had navigation problems]

One He 111 H-3 crashed near St. Brieuc in Brittany.

In addition, Luftnachrichen Regiment 12 reported the forced landing of an He 111 near one of its platoons at 05.15 hours; the crew was unhurt but their unit was not named.

From deciphered traffic it was learned that “a source in contact with Fliegerdivision 9” advised that, weather permitting, an attack was planned that night against objective No. 1040 (Castle Bromwich). Once again the weather service advised KGr. 100 against operations that night. What was more, a UHF beacon short-wave beacon and the Peilschneise (homing flightpath) were unavailable. Instead it was was suggested that 20-plus aircraft should operate on the night of 17/18 August (only 19 were reported ready for operations on the 16th).

The Gruppe sent an urgent request for a second breathing mask for each member of a crew, stressing that because it operated exclusively at high altitude, the failure of just one man’s mask was enough to render his aircraft useless (presumably because in descending below oxygen height, it could no longer pick up the X-Verfahren guidance signals).

Also on the 16th, the unit was told that to avoid being fired on by their own batteries, aircraft needing to land at Cherbourg must fire Verey lights and flash recognition signals when approaching the coast, not wait until they were illuminated by searchlights or shot at.

During the day, V. Fliegerkorps signalled the likely issue of the 250 kg Flammbombe to some of its units. The “Flam C2-250” could be dropped from any height after allowing for the safety delay period of the No. 26 fuse. Other formations’ experience with these bombs was reportedly very satisfactory and on the 29th Luftgau Westfrankreich gave instructions that as soon as they were received, 200 of these weapons should be sent to Vannes.

continued on next page …

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