At 17.00 hrs. next day Sperling reported “no further operations” but the Allies intercepted fragments of what was thought to be a return from the Kommando:
… Kommando of 4 [crews?], 4 aircraft; 1.(F)/1… 2 crews, 1 a/c from 1.(F)/123. Personnel arrived: technical 72, photographic 29, general 10, signals 41.
This was apparently responding to Lw.Kdo. West’s order of two days earlier to give a breakdown of crews and aircraft and is evidence that 1.(F)/123 was now arriving with a view to taking over from Sperling. Early in January Gen.d.A. had noted that the 1.(F)/123’s transfer to the front could start after the middle of the month and ground elements of the Staffel were reported to have arrived in Rheine on the 23rd. An Arado marked EH appeared on Sperling’s strength by 26 January (but was absent again from 28 January–5 February inclusive). This may have been the vanguard of the incoming unit: T9+EH was still listed on the strength of Hecht, so it is possible that this new machine was 4U+EH.
On 29 January At 07.57 hrs. Günther Gniesmer took off in T9+CH; at 11.00 he had not returned and a search was instituted. He soon turned up — the Kommando’s pilot strength was unchanged next day — but his Arado, W.Nr. 140307, was 70% damaged in an emergency landing, brought about by fuel shortage, near Neusustrum (on the Dutch border, 68 km north of Rheine).
Probably in response to the recent losses of AH and KH on the runway, Luftwaffenkommando West signalled on the 30th that:
With reference to Einsatzkommando Götz [’s message] No. 105: order for fighter protection of Sperling at take-off and landing was given to II. Jagdkorps [and] 13. Jagddiv.
On the 29th it was announced that:
… to guarantee the fulfilment of the allotted tasks in spite of enemy air activity in the area [of] Rheine, Einsatzkommando Götz is sending a detachment to … Marx near Varel in Oldenburg as advanced landing-ground. Designation Sperling 3.
Luftgau XI was to stock the airfield with J2 and the Base Commander was to be made aware how urgent it was to support the detachment’s work. The designation “Sperling 3” is possibly an indication of the aircraft and pilot involved: a fortnight earlier “Sperling 10 and 15” had been flown to Biblis, proving to be W.Nr. 140310 and 140315 respectively. If “Sperling 3” corresponds to a Werk Nummer ending in 3, the only known such aircraft with Sperling was Ltn. Wolfgang Ziese’s 140153 (T9+HH).
Next day, Lwkdo. West agreed to the “alternative occupation of Marx” and confirmed that the Chief Quartermaster had arranged supplies. The same official was to issue a special order for wireless procedures. Kommando Hecht asked that morning where the new “Detachment Sperling 3” was being set up: “We are not clear here about the place. If necessary give a grid reference.” The reply was:
Alternative Detachment Sperling 3 set up today in Marx. It is possible to service 2 a/c there continuously.
This last point was somewhat academic, since only GH was currently serviceable (AH had been out of commission for 8 days, damaged by gunfire; CH had gone missing; HH had been unserviceable, apparently with engine trouble, for 17 days).
British Intelligence used Y-Service and ULTRA information to compile weekly lists of the main operational Luftwaffe airfields in the West. The reports for 1, 8 and 15 February 1945 record “Twin-engined, jet-propelled recce a/c (1 Rotte)” at Marx although none was discovered by a photo-reconnaissance on 14 February, rather 11 Me 410, 19 Ju 88 and miscellaneous other types.
Sperling's Wolfgang Ziese recalled flying two operations from Stavanger in Norway, shortly before the war’s end and then returning to Hohn. There is tenuous evidence that these may have taken place somewhat earlier than he remembered, however. On 30 January British Intelligence noted that:
1 a/c (probably non-operational) of Recce Staffel ObDL Aalborg worked Stavanger 09.21–09.36 (this a/c may have carried out P/R of Scapa on 29/1 — an a/c was tracked off N. Scotland at 1400/29).
There was a sequel to this on 10 February when:
An aircraft of Exp. Staffel ObDL Aalborg, thought to be a Ju 388, flew from Stavanger to Aalborg, landing 16.24. (This was the a/c which may have attempted a P/R of Scapa on 29/1).
A paper of 28 March elaborated a little:
An a/c T9+YH appeared in the Norwegian area early in February, and it would be tempting to connect this with a good “Y” tie-up on 10/2. however it appears that this a/c is a Ju 352.
This was almost certainly a transcription error since there was no serious likelihood of a Ju 352 flying a long overwater reconnaissance. British radar would have provided the bogey's speed and altitude and it seems that these were high enough to suggest a new type with improved performance: the Ju 388 and Ar 234 were obvious candidates, the Ju 352 could fly neither fast nor particularly high.
Ju 388s were tested by the Versuchsverband but within the 3. Staffel, one being coded T9+DL; the unit’s known Ju 352s carried Stab and 3. Staffel letters — B and L respectively — not the H of the 1. Staffel.
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