On the first day of the month, while taking off on an operation, T9+MH suffered the collapse of its port engine nacelle skid. The pilot, Fw. Wendt escaped uninjured but the aircraft’s rudder and fuselage underside were damaged and it was decided to return it to Oranienburg for repair. ULTRA disclosed that one of Sperling’s Arados had been up at 13.27 hrs. but was forced to break off its mission because of bad weather, which roughly corresponds with the Versuchsverband’s report that Muffey operated in T9+KH between 13.32 and 14.28 hrs.
Next day, Erich Sommer was in the air from 10.55–12.50 in T9+IH, carrying out an order from Lw.Kdo. West at 10.00 hrs. to take off immediately for Vlissingen to ascertain the weather there and the location of shipping concentrations. This was carried out successfully and may have been associated with proposed naval small battle unit operations. On the 3rd, Werner Muffey (T9+KH) made a flight of only 18 minutes from 08.45 hrs., turning back in the face of bad weather. He should not have been able to fly at all, given that at 08.30 Rheine had been reported unserviceable. Apparently the weather was putting the reconnaissance programme behind schedule because on both the 2nd and 3rd orders were issued for road and rail reconnaissance “in accordance with No. 14979 of 19 October.”
On 4 November an operation was flown by Ziese in T9+HH (08.26–09.55 hrs.) taking in railways, roads and bridges in Belgium and Southern Holland along with photography of Vlissingen, Ghent, Antwerp, Breda, Tilburg and ’s Hertogenbosch. Muffey took up T9+KH from 12.13–12.57 hrs. for P/R of the battle area, returning early because his starboard engine failed (putting the aircraft out of action for six days). Next day Sperling was again ordered to cover roads, railways and bridges with its main effort south of the line Roermond – Brussels – Tournai. Feldwebel Walter Wendt flew T9+GH on the 6th, from 09.00–11.03; Sommer (T9+IH) was in the air from 09.57–11.39 hrs. The only aircraft to fly on the 7th appears to have been T9+GH which Götz took up from 09.13–09.42 hrs., aborting because of bad weather. For 8 November the targets were to be aerodromes around Nijmegen – Eindhoven and Liège – Louvain while continuous railway recce was to be undertaken as soon as the weather would allow.
The 9th was the last time that the stricken T9+MH figured in the Kommando’s strength returns and it was retired from service ten days later.
The genesis of Kommando Hecht
Sperling’s orders for 10 November were to photograph railways and airfields in Holland and Belgium but the day would also bring a significant development for jet reconnaissance in the West. At 08.15 that morning, instructions were issued to inform the base command and Flak at Biblis (near Worms) that an Ar 234, T9+IH, would be arriving there. Five hours later, the Operations Officer (Flying) at Lw.Kdo. West ordered Sperling to send one and if possible two Ar 234 to Biblis that day, provided that one serviceable machine remained in Rheine. Since the evening of the 7th, only HH and IH had been reported serviceable and so only one aircraft could be detached.
On 11 November Luftwaffenkommando West passed urgent orders to Sperling for:
1) Road and railway recce area Brussels – Sedan – Liège.
2) A/F’s on both sides of line Nijmegen – Eindhoven and Liège – Louvain.
Muffey flew a mission in T9+KH that day but it had become unserviceable by evening. In Biblis on 12 November T9+IH was reported serviceable at 09.30 hrs. but could not operate in the bad weather which also grounded the Arados at Rheine. At midday Lw.Kdo. West asked Sperling if it had a working system for passing orders to Kommando Hecht (the first time Bletchley Park had heard the name given to the Biblis detachment). A message was passed on the 13th that Hecht’s wireless station (at Ringingen, about 50 km. south of Stuttgart) would be manned from 06.00–11.00 and again from 12.00–19.00 hrs. At this point BP surmised that:
Hecht is a man who commands part of Det. Sperling, since the Ar 234’s have been divided between the north and south of the front.
Sperling was grounded by bad weather on the 13th and Horst Götz was ordered to report to Lw.Kdo. West’s Chief of Staff two days hence. Weather again precluded any operations on the 15th but Kdo. Hecht’s Arado was up three days later:
09.21–11.10: P/R Ourthe – Liège – Maastricht – Beeringen – St. Trond – Liège – St. Vith – Liège – Sedan – Metz.
Two airfields were seen to be under construction north of Metz of which one was photographed, as was a new one north west of St. Trond. Also a “very large landing T” was spotted NNW of Metz. As of 13.00 hrs. Sperling was reported to be grounded by the weather while Bletchley Park’s Operational Watch had this to say about events on the 21st:
There were R/T indications of recce activity by 4 jet a/c in the Nijmegen – Enschede area 08.10–08.37 [British Summer Time].
Back in Oranienburg, Walter Wendt was killed in a take-off accident on the 19th (Ar 234 B-2 W.Nr. 140304). Five days later, Erich Sommer took off from Rheine in T9+IH at 09.55 hrs., landing 50 minutes later in Biblis. While photo-reconnaissance of Northern Holland and South East England was considered partially possible on the 24th, the weather prevented Sperling from operating next day, leaving unfulfilled an order to reconnoitre an artillery deployment identified by radio direction-finding NW of Roermond.
continued on next page …