continued …

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. The one Do 217 on patrol broke off in the face of bad weather. 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 Gleißberg and observer Uffz. Heinz Carow died, gunner Ofw. Walter Staab was injured along with wireless operator Uffz. Hermann Bez. The men's unit was reported as “Sonderkommando Koch II./KG 100”, reflecting its “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.

As initially reported by Fl.Kps. X, one man died in the crash while two were seriously injured and two slightly hurt, five casualties rather than the four named above. Carrying an additional crewman to operate jamming and monitoring gear was common practice.

Despite the previous night's 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 ASV sets en route) and two the transport Amsterdam. The following afternoon at 1607, 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.

NOTE: Despite the Kommando’s efforts, Dandolo was torpedoed on the night of 7–8 October. She sank next day along with 61vehicles and 1571 t of cargo, mostly munitions.

At 21.45 local time on the 5th, Beaufighter X7702, “K” was at 18,000 ft (5,500 m) NE of Luqa when its radar picked up a very weak blip and the pilot moved to intercept. Gradually overtaking with the target dead ahead, the blip began disappearing for a ½ second at a time before being lost and covered with “mush” as the range came within 1,000 m. Radar operator Sgt. Mould noted:

Whole picture covered with mush so switched to the other frequency … Gain control did not cut mush out … Suspected airborne jamming, switched over to appropriate frequency.

Early in October, Fliegerführer Afrika’s head of signals asked when “the transmitter for the WIM station” should be expected since the 70-Watt Lorenz transmitter currently in use was urgently needed by a liaison officer’s detachment. In Egypt, No. 250 Wing was still dealing with the problem of V.H.F. jamming, reporting on to Air HQ on the 6th that “although all Sectors and and squadrons have put in urgent demands for the necessary equipment, only 89 Squadron has received the V.R. 92 valves, but no valve holders or batteries.” By the end of November however, all the aircraft of Nos. 89 and 94 Squadrons had been modified to protect their V.H.F. communications against German jamming.

On 8 October, S/L Adrian Warburton photographed the German radio installation 8.75 km NW of Noto, Sicily. It had been covered from higher altitude on 5 August but Warburton now went over at 2,000 feet (600 m) and was able to obtain clear pictures of the various aerial arrays, huts and three Flak emplacements. Where work had only just begun in August, now there were new buildings and 14 aerial masts. RAF Middle East remarked: “Noto is known to be centre of jamming and it is very probably [sic] photos show development of site”. Something must already have been known in London because on 29 September G/C Cadell had written to S/L Scott Farnie:

The array at Noto certainly looks like Knickebein. Clearly jamming aerials might be mounted on Knickebein supports but no other example of this is known to us. We have information definitely confirming Noto is an RDF countermeasures centre as deduced previously from D/F.

A month later RAF ME advised that there was indeed a Knickebein present but that other areas of the site were: “almost certainly the monitoring station for ground and airborne jamming” and “a jammer for probably all RDF and certainly 170–230 mc/s [which] represents source of all trouble caused by ground jamming …” Summarising the position on 9 October, the RAF noted that in Malta, the COL jamming was now of a different type but interference with ASV remained “a most serious problem … most severe in the Derna and West Cretean [sic] areas”. Another special Beaufighter sortie was flown from midnight local time on the 10/11th, Sgt. R.C. Moss reporting that: “The set was not switched on until I was told ‘PUNCH’. When I did so I was already being jammed … I immediately switched to another frequency which was not jammed”. His experiences on a second sortie from 02.35 were similar. Doug Oxby recounted how on 12 October: “[P/O] Ken ‘Red’ Gray… Sgt. [M.T.J.] Mould were scrambled three times … in X7702 (K) but their A.I. Mk IV was completely jammed out, effectively reducing them to blind flying in the darkness”. Mould wrote his own account of one of these sorties, noting that the whole radar picture, from top to bottom, turned to mush and that retuning had no effect:

Suspected airborne jamming, also V.H.F. [voice communication]. Noise of jamming like two-stroke bicycle … Only jammed once before. Suspected airborne with blips fading and merging into mush. Note — Did not receive, in present case, any blip whatsoever.

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. Not long after midnight, a signal from the German Admiral for the Aegean advised the destroyer Hermes (ZG3) that “After consultation between Commanding General and Admiral, Wildschwein will not be used”. It is not known what task had been proposed. Late that evening Fl.Kps. X was told to have a Ju 88 with “V-receiving apparatus” and a wireless operator/interpreter ready for a flight to Sicily at short notice. Shortly after midnight on 10/11 October, 89 Squadron’s special Beaufighter ‘K’ was at 3000 m, 50 km north of Luqa, Malta when it encountered jamming. Promptly switching frequencies, radar operator Sgt. Raymond Moss just had time to observe that “the whole picture appeared to be swamped, just as if the R/T was interfering, although there was no noise heard”. In an attempt to ensure the safe passage of the cargo steamer Petrarca during the night of 11/12 October, the Germans planned to dispatch all available Wildschweine and night fighters to it:

The night fighters (especially with Lichtenstein installation) will be sent to the convoy after the sending of the first enemy recce report, with the order to shoot down enemy ASV aircraft over the convoy. All WIM ground stations are to be instructed regarding the importance of the convoy and jamming transmitters must carry out continuous jamming of ASV frequencies …

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TIMELINE

 

23 October

Eighth Army launches Second Battle of El Alamein.

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