continued …

On the 5th, Sperling put up a single Arado from 10.45–12.25 but achieved only partial photographic coverage of Givet – Namur – Brussels. British Intelligence noted from intercepted traffic that on 6 December the Kommando’s orders were for reconnaissance of “Brussels – Louvain – Diest – Roermond – Hasselt – Eindhoven – Nijmegen as on 05.12.” Regarding 7 December, the British commented that:

The only operation of interest prescribed is the demand for coverage of unloading facilities at Antwerp sent to Det. Sperling (Ar 234 jet a/c). This follows a general request from the German Navy for fuller and more comprehensive recce of the Scheldt now that the port of Antwerp is functioning again.

The next day’s Operational Watch report stated that coverage of the Maas crossings “remained [the] first call on Ar 234 detachments” with Antwerp as alternate target. In the event, on 6, 8, 10 and 11 December there were no operations by Sperling owing to the weather although orders continued to be issued daily. One sortie proved possible on the 12th: from 13.00–14.25, photographing Düren – Maastricht – St. Trond and railway traffic around Liège – Tirlemont and Maastricht – Sittard.

There was 10/10 cloud cover over Sperling’s primary objectives for the 13th but only 3/10 over the alternate, Antwerp. Wolfgang Ziese was aloft from 11.20–12.55 hrs. in T9+HH, reporting five medium cargo ships in harbour; three small vessels headed upstream in line ahead south of Beveland. There were three large ships on the opposite heading and ahead of them a trio of small craft in line abreast. South of Vlissingen, two big freighters were upstream and three apparent destroyers stopped off the river mouth. There were small vessels off the Kruisschans lock and others off Knokke, on course for Ostend.

Hecht reported that T9+IH was unserviceable that day because its engines were being changed in Rheine and a new remote drive was being installed for its FuG 16 radio (the aircraft was ready for action again on the 14th). The Kommando also asked if heavy machine guns could be allotted to the billets at Biblis, presumably for air defence.

Three flights were reported by Sperling on 14 December, one of them not by a jet:

10.34–11.34 hrs.

Hptm. Götz Task: Maas crossings. Mist in Maas Valley, so P/R of the mist-free area around Liège.

10.41–11.58 hrs.

Obltn. Muffey P/R of the mist-free area Liège – Namur and front area Maas.

12.40 hrs.

Storch took off.

It seems that Götz and Muffey were reconnoitring planned lines of advance for the imminent German ground offensive while the Storch may have been delivering their films to higher command (at 15.30 Sperling asked Lw.Kdo. West if the Fieseler had landed yet). The next day’s weather grounded both Kommandos but Hecht reported the arrival of a gas-fuelled vehicle with three men and asked whether IH was returning to Biblis.

Three flights were made on the morning of 16 December, the opening day of Wacht am Rhein:

09.38–11.19 hrs.

Ltn. Ziese (T9+HH) area Liège – Namur.

09.48–11.15 hrs.

Obltn. Sommer (T9+IH) abandoned, technical trouble.

11.07–12.27 hrs.

Obltn. Muffey (T9+KH) P/R Liège – Huy – Namur –Dinant.

That all of these feature in the same message suggests that Erich Sommer had been brought north to reinforce the reconnaissance effort over the battle area. An exchange of messages from the next day confirms this:

08.00 hrs.

Is IH serviceable; is the aircraft coming here [Biblis] today?

10.00 hrs.

Aircraft serviceable. Will probably be ferried over. Probably in two hours.

10.17 hrs.

IH [will] take off 10.45 hrs. [on] ops. Landing Biblis.

12.00 hrs.

IH has not taken off.

Late that afternoon, Sperling signalled Hecht to ask how many dispersals had been made ready for Ar 234s at Biblis. All four Ar 234s of Sperling and Hecht were reported serviceable on the afternoon of 18 December and all their pilots were ready for operations. Among the results the two Kommandos achieved were:

10.31–11.38 hrs.

T9+HH, P/R Liège – Andennes – St. Trond – Maastricht – Eupen.

11.35–12.48 hrs.

Visual recce of roads Eupen – Malmedy, and Limberg – Eupen. A “very considerable number of vehicles was seen to be heading for Malmedy. (This aircraft landed at Biblis).

The implication of this second route is that the aircraft was Sommer’s IH, starting from Rheine and returning to home base after completing its mission.

continued on next page …


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