continued …

Early on the morning of the 17th, a Ju 88 A-4 of II./KG 77 (W.Nr. 140206, 3Z+AC) was shot down off Malta by Spitfires. Three of the crew bailed out safely and when interrogated, the Wireless Operator, Uffz. Ernst Seibt, knew a Sicilian ground station was jamming British radar but had never heard, so he said, of jammers being fitted to any of the Ju 88s based on the island.

NOTE: Postwar it was learned that Noto had been home to a suite of Karl II jammers.

An He 111 left Heraklion at 2000 on the 9th for a jamming mission, again in support of Proserpina. In an attempt to ensure the safe passage of the tanker Petrarca during the night of 11/12 October, the Germans planned to dispatch all available Wildschweine and night fighters to it as soon as a sighting report from a British aircraft was intercepted with the object of shooting the shadower down. Meanwhile, British ASV frequencies were to be jammed continuously by ground-based transmitters. In the event, two Do 217 were dispatched on convoy defence (reporting two flares shot down and an ASV aircraft chased) while an He 111 was up at 2100 hours to give jamming cover to another ship, the Amsterdam, on its way from Patras, Greece to Tripoli but the vessel was damaged by a torpedo off Misrata, Libya and taken in tow by an escort. The following night, the convoy was to be supported by one RCM aircraft after midnight.

The German transport MV Ruhr had already escaped a torpedo from a British submarine; on the 14th it was to receive RCM support courtesy of two He 111s which left Heraklion at 1600 and 1945 hours respectively, both having landed by 0545. The following night, the Amsterdam was again the focus of attention; a detachment of IV./KG 54 at Castel Benito was to maintain one Ju 88 over the convoy at all times, charged with shooting down any flares that the RAF might drop over the ship.

Late on 16 October Benghazi was given orders to ready the tug Ciclone to assist in salvaging Amsterdam and an He 111 ASV jammer was transferred to Tripoli to screen these operations. By next morning the Italian authorities had requested fighter cover by day and night. The ship itself had been run aground a kilometre outside the harbour at Homs (Al Khums, Libya) and there were hopes of retrieving a substantial part of her cargo in the course of the 18th. That night two Wildschwein Heinkels and a Do 217 night fighter had been deployed to Catania and these machines were due at Castel Benito to carry out convoy protection on the night of the 19/20th, after which they were to return to Kalamaki.

NOTE: Among the cargo later recovered from Amsterdam were 70 motor vehicles.

Back in Germany, the Köthen research station was conducting jamming exercises on the morning of 17 October, radiating signals which would be listened for at Wustrow and Glogau (now Głogów, Poland): “Köthen will jam. Accurate reports on observations made are requested”. In the event, Wustrow was able to respond that when the transmissions stayed on-frequency they rendered communication impossible. These exercises were repeated on the 19th and three days later, Ob. Süd’s Head of Signals contacted his counterpart at Fliegerkorps X:

Marinetrupp consists of technically efficient personnel and is to be employed for the speedier instruction of the WIM Trupps. METO receiver is to be sent here by the quickest route with the aircraft of Unit Schütte returning from Maleme.

NOTE: Marinetrupp = naval contingent; METO was almost certainly the FuMB-1 Metox: whose final 'X' had probably been mistaken at Bletchley Park for one used as a punctuation mark in Enigma procedures. Metox had entered service aboard U-boats in August to offer warning of ASV Mk. II radar (1.7 m waveband) transmissions. “Unit Schütte” is not readily identified since several Luftwaffe officers of that name are known, in the signals branch and elsewhere.

To Quartermaster from Supply Forwarding Station on 23/10: ZEBRA ((PROSERPINA)) is expected on 26th …

Decrypt of 24 October 1942

Proserpina was expected off Patras, Greece at 0400 on the 23rd, heading through the Corinth Canal for Piraeus. Her safe passage was considered vital to sustaining the Axis front in Africa and she was due to be covered by two He 111 jammers overnight; from dawn her escort was to be two bombers which would see her into port, as well as Italian fighters. The Heinkels took off at 1730 and 2215 had both landed by 0530. Also on the 23rd/24th, the tanker Alfredo was to receive continuous cover from one night fighter in contact with a Freya station. Clearly great importance was attached to getting her through safely. Her aerial escort after dark on 24 October was to be the usual two RCM aircraft plus a night fighter or bomber and, from daybreak, six bombers and four Zerstörer continuously overhead. Then, from nightfall on the 25th two jammers and a Do 217 night fighter would again be assigned, plus two Ju 88 bombers assigned to shoot down flares, at least 12 of which were seen. Overnight the British dropped torpedoes and bombs without success and the Junkers claimed damage to a Wellington and two "Hampdens" encountered near the convoy but the Do 217 made no contact with the enemy. One of the callsigns intercepted that night was TM+KM, a Kdo. Koch Heinkel (see above).

NOTES: One of the callsigns intercepted that night was TM+KM: this belonged to an He 111 H-6 which would reappear more than a year later on electronic intelligence patrols over the Bay of Biscay.

There were no Hampdens; according to RAF sources, only Wellingtons of No. 38 Squadron attacked the convoy on the night of the 25/26th and one of them was indeed slightly damaged.

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