The 6.(F)/123 had been renamed from 3./KG 66 in late April 1944, it was led by Hauptmann Heinz Dewilde and based at Cormeilles. Most of what is known about the latter Staffel derives from the interrogation of Gefr. Anton Rohrhirsch, sole-surviving crew member of a Ju 88 S-1, Z6+IN (W.Nr. 301228) of 5./KG 66, which came down off Brighton on the night of 24/25 March 1944 after being damaged by London’s AA defences. Prior to joining his present unit he had served for six months with 3./KG 66. Said to have been operating since August 1943 and known as the Störstaffel (jamming Staffel), it was concerned with both electronic warfare and intelligence, seeking to obtain warning of and to disrupt Bomber Command raids. For this the unit’s aircraft were equipped with FuG 123 Truhe (= "coffer", to exploit the RAF’s GEE navigation system) and FuG 350 Naxos (to detect centimetric radars such as H2S). Crews were augmented by an English-speaking Horchfunker (radio monitor) to listen in on RAF radio traffic which could then be jammed with a transmitter known as Viktor 1. According to Rohrhirsch, a fixed aerial about 1.20 m in length, fitted to the aircraft’s fuselage underside was associated with the jammer. A message sent on 14 May to FAGr. 123 suggests that conversion of the machines may have been carried out locally, the sender asking how best to dispose of five (evidently superfluous) Lotfe 7D bombsights and eight ETC bomb carriers. Conversely a request had gone in three days earlier for the provision of four blind-landing receivers.
Based at Cormeilles-en-Vexin, NW of Paris, the unit’s aircraft patrolled assigned areas (the coastal waters between Boulogne and Denmark were codenamed Rodelbahn, “toboggan run”) listening for the activation of RAF navigational aids and passing their findings to a plotting centre. This ground station correlated the information that came in and directed the initiation of countermeasures including disruption of the navigation systems and the laying of flares to decoy the bombers away from their targets.
More information came from signals monitoring. For 3½ hours on the night of 8/9 April 1944. Stations at Villacoublay in France and Zandvoort in the Netherlands passed plots a Mosquito raid, although no fighter running commentary was being broadcast. However a 3./KG 66 aircraft was airborne at the time and in contact with Zandvoort and Soesterberg. From this and Rohrhirsch’s testimony, British Air Intelligence inferred that the plots were for its benefit. There was however no evidence of his claim that the aircraft passed its own reports to the plotting centre and it was suggested that any reporting took place after landing. The Staffel’s operations were known only from Safety Service traffic associated with landings; there was no evidence of it flying standing patrols.
The 3./KG 66’s role seems to have been continued by 6.(F)/123. Evidence for this comes from a recommendation dated 9 May 1944 that Ogefr. Alfred Hormann, a Horchfunker with “6 Wireless Listening Regiment West” should get the Iron Cross Second Class. Hormann was on detachment to 6.(F)/123 and had made 23 war flights. Put forward for a medal at the same time were pilot Fw. Gerhard Schieck (29 war flights), whom we shall meet again, and observer Uffz. Arno Kohtz (28 war flights).
Two days after this recommendation, a Ju 88 S-1 of 6.(F)/123 (W.Nr. 301181, CR+GG) was destroyed in the dispersals by bombs when Cormeilles was raided by B-26s of the 9th AF.
The 6.(F)/123 filed regular strength returns which mention two pilots on detachment, Feldwebel Schieck and Hauck. In addition two aircraft are repeatedly listed as “away from airfield”: Ju 188 F-1, W.Nr. 281613 and Ju 88 S-1, W.Nr. 140607. It can be inferred from this that these men and machines were on the same assignment.
Poor serviceability seems to have dogged the enterprise. By 15 May the Ju 188 had damaged engines while the Ju 88 was having its fuselage repaired. The next day, Ltn. Suchy, Schieck and Uffz. Arno Kohtz (an observer) were reported to have returned from detachment but these three and Hauck were away again by the 18th. Four men (Ofw. Gäbler, Fw. Grosse-Ophoff, Fw. Gäbler and Uffz. Polzin) had been detached to Beauvais on 16 May for ferrying, returning next day. All four were ex-KG 66 and may have formed a crew. On the 20th »Kommando Suchy« reported to Cormeilles that Schieck and Hauck’s crews were ready for operations but that Z6+AL was undergoing an engine change while Z6+DL was having its 100-hour test and its landing flaps were damaged.
Six days later the ‘188 had a damaged hydraulic system and the ’88 an unserviceable automatic pilot. On 28 May, Fliegerdivision 2 reported among the day’s activities a test flight by a Ju 88 of “Special Detachment KG 66.” Bletchley Park’s analysts noted that 3./KG 66 had become 6.(F)/123, concluding that the latter was meant.
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A familiar name?
Although Hauck's interrogators knew that "after some months in hospital he joined 6.(F)/123", I have seen nothing to suggest that anyone made the connection to the many occurrences of his name in deciphered signals from that unit in the spring and summer of 1944.
Contrary to the prisoner's claims, Viktor 1 was not a jamming transmitter. A message (signed "Friedrich") of 27 June 1944 to II./Ln. Versuchsregiment, Köthen refers to the installation of "one radio-monitoring receiver 'Viktor'" in Ju 188 GF+SZ.
© Nick Beale 2015–20