… a large-scale enemy assault on French Air Force targets in and around Paris had been expected, full details of German plans for this Operation ‘Paula’, other than its actual date, having been known to the Allies for some time through intelligence sources and wireless intercepts …
Peter D. Cornwell: The Battle Of France, Then And Now
Viewed overall, the success of the attack signifies a substantial degradation of the striking power of the French air arm..
Luftwaffe situation report (4 June 1940)
"Paula" (as noted by Gen. Hoffmann v. Waldau of the Luftwaffe command staff) was intended to cripple such parts of the Armée de l’Air as were still functioning after three weeks of the western campaign; wreck the aircraft and aero-engine industries in the Paris region; and strike a blow at Parisians’ morale. ULTRA alone did not provide full details of the planned attack; it gave a start time a route and targets for one part of the onslaught but, crucially, not the day on which it would take place.
The first message pointing to a possible assault on aviation targets around Paris had been deciphered on 24 May:
It was learnt that Luftflotte 3 ordered a raid on Paris airfields in Fliegerkorps II and V and KG 77 of Fliegerkorps VIII were to take part. The objectives were to be Meaux, Villenoy and St. Cyr. Time of attack 1400 hrs. 22/5. Fighter aircraft were to cooperate.
This was followed on the 29th by a list of three aero-engine factories and four Luftzeugämter (aircraft depots or “air arsenals”) in the Paris area followed by 15 engine and airframe plants elsewhere in France. Each of these was preceded by a three- or four-digit number which Bletchley Park surmised to be a map reference but which, in retrospect, looks more like a target number. While this may simply have demonstrated that the Germans knew of these facilities, the third part of the message offered greater cause for concern: a list of 10 depots across France — from Toulouse to Nantes to Lyon — “already attacked”. This strongly suggested that the others would also be targeted and that the Paris region was in a category of its own, however the signal was not deemed sufficiently urgent — or sufficiently specific? — to be teleprinted to Allied HQ and British GHQ.
The Paris facilities in question were:
Much more was known by the afternoon of the 31st. In a message timed at 1100 hrs on 29 May, Fliegerkorps I expressed a wish for its units to use the route Cambrai – Crépy-en-Valois for “attack Paula”, flying at 5500 m. (Extrapolated, this course would take them somewhat to the east of the French capital). Following up 40 minutes later, the Korps proposed that if this route were not agreed, the dividing line should be Köln (Germany) – Charleroi (Belgium) – St. Germain (France), otherwise its units would be unable to reach the target area. Here then was an indication that the Luftwaffe was planning something that entailed coordination of forces drawn from more than one Fliegerkorps. However, at 2300 that night an officer of KG 77 obligingly asked Fliegerkorps VIII what “attack Paula” was and received the reply that it meant Paris.
These messages were passed to GHQ, as was one sent on the evening of the 30th by ZG 2, asking for confirmation that III./ZG 26 would be escorting KG 3 during “Paula”. The rendezvous was to be over Sainte Marie and three Gruppen of KG 3 would be taking part.
continued on next page…
PART ONE OF FIVE
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