October 1942

CXMSS1497T4

Commenting on night convoy protection during the month, RAF Signals Intelligence noted that such activity had been observed on six nights and that the aircraft involved had been: “3 Do 217 night fighters (2 of NJG 2 and 1 of NJG 3) with … He 111s not bearing the markings of any specific unit”. These last were almost certainly the Heinkels of Kdo. Koch. For the Kommando, October began with two jamming sorties, from 1555 to midnight and 1925–0505. Also in the air was Do 217 night fighter, R4+DR of 7./NJG 2, which took off at 1950 on a convoy protection sortie of six hours’ duration. It saw seven flares dropped and sighted two hostile aircraft which it did not engage.

Early on 2 October, a Wellington Mk. VIII searching the sea 415 km NW of Benghazi picked up signals from what seemed to be a “new ASV jammer situated Cyrene area which was active from 0200 hours to 0430 hours”. Even so, an RAF summary of the period 5 September–5 October noted that “no Wellington VIII strike has failed to find by ASV because of jamming”.

NOTE: “Cyrene area” is imprecise enough that it might just refer to WIM 7 at Derna. (Cyrene itself, now Shahat, Libya, is about 70 km from there).

Malta’s night fighters were still experiencing jamming, as described in Douglas Oxby’s report of an unsuccessful sortie from Luqa that evening, in Beaufighter Mk. I, X7695, ’S’ which was fitted with AI Mk. IV:

The azimuth tube was affected more severely than the elevation tube … The aircraft was fitted with a modified transmitter of changeable frequency, one being better than the other … When the “duff” frequency was in operation the jamming was severe in all positions of the Receiver tune control. When the “good” frequency was in use the jamming was severe when one tuned to maximum signal but when slightly off tune … was almost unnoticeable until the very end of the chase. We had been told to “flash” some seven minutes or so before contact was obtained and the interference was in operation within 30 secs. … But I had no trouble on the “good” off-tune point until a range of 500 feet [150 m] was reached.

Oxbyscope1

 

(above) F/S Doug Oxby's drawing shows how German jamming affected his AI Mk. IV over Malta on the night of 2/3 October 1942.

Only one jamming aircraft operated on 3 October, landing at Kalamaki, (two others had been scheduled to protect a convoy which in the event did not sail). The next night Fliegerkorps X undertook jamming west of the Gulf of Patras, Greece but the sole Do 217 on patrol (R4+CR) was forced to break off in the face of bad weather although two He 111 managed to give jamming cover to a convoy. On the 5th, the Horchdienst was ordered to cooperate with WIM to determine the procedure used by American bomber units in attacking Axis convoys. The Luftwaffe suspected that these bombers were accompanied by A.S.V. aircraft, following up on positions transmitted by daylight reconnaissance sorties and that direction finders were picking up VHF radio telephony from Italian destroyers.

The MV Sestriere had left Brindisi for Benghazi on 4 October, accruing a six-strong escort en route. On the 6th there were no Do 217 serviceable to protect this convoy but two jammers were assigned: the first He 111 left Kalamaki at 1530, landing at 2300 in Tympaki, Crete without detecting any hostile aircraft; the second crashed on take-off from Tympaki and was completely destroyed. While Baltimore AG755, ‘B’, of No. 69 Squadron was searching for shipping off Cape Matapan, Greece on the morning of the 6th, “radio interference was experienced from some high power transmitter at close range”, rendering Sgt. Souter’s W/T unusable.

NOTES: the crashed aircraft was He 111 H-6 W.Nr. 7192 and it burned out. Of the crew, pilot Ofw. Heinz Gleisberg and observer Uffz. Heinz Carow died, gunner Ofw. Walter Staab was injured along with wireless operator Uffz. Hermann Bez. The Heinkel’s unit was reported as II./KG 100, reflecting “pay and rations” arrangements (II./KG 100’s operations were reported by Fliegerkorps X separately from those of the Kommando, however).

Carow is buried at Maleme, Crete. Jean-Louis Roba spells the pilot’s name Gleissberg, but a single “s” is used in the denkmalprojekt.org listing and that spelling outnumbers the “double-s” variant 40:1 among German telephone subscribers.

Despite this setback a reported four He 111 RCM sorties were put up on the 7th, one of which supported the Tobruk-bound freighter Dandolo (jamming five A.S.V. sets en route) and two the transport Amsterdam. The following afternoon at 1600, an He 111 left Kalamaki to support the tanker Proserpina, a second Heinkel joining from Heraklion just over four hours later. Transmissions from no fewer than 14 hostile aircraft were picked up, five of them in contact with Proserpina. Meanwhile in Africa, a Signals Officer had been told on 7 October to contact Fl.Kps. X regarding the search for somewhere south of El Daba to establish WIM 10. The necessary generator was being delivered and radio gear would follow. Three days later, Ju 52 NR+AE was once again in evidence, conveying a 70-Watt transmitter from Grottaglie to Qotafiyah.

continued on next page …

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TIMELINE

 

23 October

Eighth Army launches Second Battle of El Alamein.

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