January 1945

By now, Willem Copier had been told that since he was well known in Eindhoven, that would be the ideal place to drop him; once there he would not be expected to transmit before 15 January. Together with Schuchmann and another German, the 1st was spent driving to Flörisheim, on the western outskirts of Frankfurt, where Copier was billeted with a family. Schuchmann was still unable to give definite information on Copier’s mission, saying that he must wait on the requirements of the General Staff. Apparently believing that his agent was about to depart, Schuchmann sent a message to CORNELIUS on 2 January: “Good wishes. Do your duty as a soldier.”

It was in a Flörisheim cinema on 5 January that Copier first encountered BECK (known as LEONIDAS in signals traffic) who would be dropped with him, and a Ltn. Schumann. The two agents were told not to converse for security reasons.

NOTE: Schumann was known to M.I.5 as a member of Abwehr Trupp 134.

On the evening of the 8th, a Ltn. Schumann drove Copier and BECK to Zellhausen aerodrome. This was done on the orders of Hptm. i.G. Manfred Kirch, Intelligence Officer with Lw.Kdo. West. On arrival Copier waited in a stone building until Schuhmann reappeared to announce that the flight was cancelled. The intention had been that Transportfliegergruppe 30 should fly them to their drop zones. This proved a non-starter since the Gruppe’s supply flights to the “Atlantic fortresses” did not take the necessary route. In any event the missions planned for the night of the 8/9th were cancelled owing to bad weather (so bad that Copier and Schuhmann found lodgings in a nearby village rather than return to Flörisdorf).

Thoughts then turned back to Kdo. Olga but according to a signal from Schumann on 12 January, the Kommando had lost “2 machines through crashing on 9/1” and a third would only be ready from 11 January at the earliest. Corroboration for one of these losses came from interrogation of Hauck’s crew for they spoke of belly-landing A3+MD at Rhein-Main “in mid-January” and a Ju 188 bearing those markings was found at the aerodrome by the Allies in the Spring. There are no other details of a second mishap, however.

On 18 January, the German intelligence station in Goor, Netherlands (where Copier had done some of his training) asked its counterpart at Nastätten to find out from EISVOGEL (Rhein-Main) how things were progressing with regard to “setting down of C.” The response came that it was planned to drop him on the 19th but this evidently fell through and it was 21 January before the agents were again driven to an airfield. Copier believed himself again at Zellhausen, albeit on a different part of the base. In reality he was at Rhein-Main and he and BECK were taken into a hut where they were outfitted with parachutes. They were told that these would open automatically and that they should keep their knees drawn up when landing to minimise the impact. As each man jumped, he was to grab his luggage and hold on to it. Only now did Schuchmann tell Copier that he was to be dropped between Rosendaal and Breda to report on Allied troop movements.

The report of Copier’s interrogation shows just how awkward was the loading of a fully-crewed Ju 188 with two parachutists and their gear:

COPIER now went to the flying field and up to an aeroplane, where BECK had already embarked [then] was told to get in. Various articles were loaded in first, then he climbed in … followed by the W/T operator. In order to let the latter get in COPIER had to climb fairly high inside the plane and could see the other members of the crew as well as BECK already inside, but once the W/T operator was in position, COPIER had to come down again and find room for himself below in the plane.

The position of the five [sic] in the plane was finally as follows: the pilot and observer side by side in front; BECK behind them to the left; the gunner up above BECK; the W/T operator in the lower part of the plane, and COPIER occupying a very cramped position near the W/T operator. There was not even a seat for him and he gesticulated to the W/T operator, who answered him in the same way that he should hang on to a rail.

In the lower part of the plane, beside the operator, was COPIER’s luggage … a bundle firmly done up with wire, attached to a parachute, which consisted of a case 2’ x 1’ 6” x 9”, containing a W/T set and COPIER’s underclothes and money; an entrenching tool; his leather briefcase; and a pair of shoes.

All the effort expended in boarding proved to be wasted for one of the Junkers’ engines was running rough and the compass (or the turn-and-bank indicator) had failed. A mechanic was unable to rectify the problems and everyone disembarked, Schuhmann and Copier returning to their billets.

NOTE: All this may have taken place after midnight because Shuhmann’s report to his superiors advised that LEONIDAS and QUAX (another of Copier’s codenames) flight had been attempted on 22 January but “in run up for take off a/c developed a defect.” By Copier’s account he spent the 22nd in Weilbach/Flörisheim and returned to the airfield on the evening of the 23rd.

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