Introduction

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One of my first pieces of research was into an agent-dropping operation by I./KG 200. Years later I learned that the pilot concerned had served with 6.(F)/123, which had absorbed aircraft and personnel from 4./FAGr. 5 which had in turn been formed from Horch- und Störstaffel 2, itself the successor to Sonderkommando Rastedter which was in turn a descendant of Kommando Koch. So in effect this has all been a matter of following a trail back to what (I think at the moment) may be its starting point.

According to postwar interrogation of a German scientist, Dr. Ing. Scholz, the first Luftwaffe airborne jammer, Karuso, was deployed to the Mediterranean in 1943 to counteract RAF night fighters’ radio telephony. This device (written as Caruso by other sources) was found to be underpowered but once boosted was used for barrage jamming. It was however so cumbersome that only one could be carried per aircraft, meaning that no single machine could cover the necessary waveband. In addition, efforts were made to jam height-finding sets on Malta, and tests were undertaken at the Köthen signals research establishment with captured British A.S.V. (Air to Surface Vessel) radars. Scholz related that a Sonderkommando Koch had been formed in 1943 and based at Athens-Kalamaki, aiming to jam A.S.V. with the Kobold (goblin) transmitter, on the 160–200 mHz (1.5–1.9 metres) waveband. The unit was led by Hptm. (later Maj.) Adolf Koch of Köthen. Further investigation shows Scholz’s recollections to have been faulty for his own part in the story can be traced back to at least June 1942.

NOTE: A potential source of confusion for researchers is the presence of another and quite distinct Sonderkommando Koch in the North African theatre during the summer of 1942. A detachment of “smoke troops” (apparently a Nebelwerfer mortar unit) it had left Benghazi on 26 June at a strength of three officers and 104 other ranks.

 

Prelude

Aircraft were allocated to Luftwaffe signals units early in the North African campaign. In October 1941, two Fi 156 Trop. (W.Nr. 5372 and 5376) had been assigned to LN-Abteilung (Air Signals Battalion) Afrika but their arrival appears to have been delayed. In March 1942 there was a clear sign that electronic intelligence flights were planned: two more Fi 156, intended to undertake direction-finding, arrived. They were however without their crews, who were thought to have been lost when the ammunition ship SS Cuma was bombed in Palermo harbour on 3 March. Back in Europe a heavy telephone construction squad “for continuing experiments with Fieseler Storch” was sent to Köthen. Two months later, the LN-Versuchsregiment (Trials Regiment) was transferring yet another two Storch to above-mentioned battalion; these machines being fitted with “FuG X” (presumably the FuG 10 transceiver). A total of five Fi 156 was thought to have been on hand by the end of May.

continued on next page…

navtag

KdoKochplate
Kochtag

TIMELINE

 

21 June

Tobruk surrenders to Axis forces, Eighth Army retreats to El Alamein/ Alam Halfa line.

25–29 June

Battle of Mersa Matruh.

30 June

Axis forces reach El Daba.

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