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WIM-Bodenstellen

gosewisch

I am indebted to author Martin Streetly for the suggestion (supported by Michaël Svejgaard) that WIM was a contraction of »Windmeß-Stelle« (= wind measurement station) and thus a cover name ralong the lines of the RAF’s use of “Air Ministry Experimental Station” for its radar sites.

WIM stations were situated around the Axis-held coasts of the Mediterranean, typically on high ground from which Axis shipping routes could be covered. Their role was to monitor and disrupt Allied radars and ground-to-air communications. Some were devoted to the protection of convoys from search aircraft, others provided screening for Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica raids on Malta and the Nile Delta. (I have yet to find out whether WIM was an acronym or a cover name — Wim is short for Wilhelm for example). Some if not all were co-located with navigation beacons. Gosewisch again:

For our own direction finding, heavy long-wave radio beacons with 1 kW transmitters were positioned on the eastern and western tips of Crete … To increase their range [they] had to be erected on the highest possible points in the terrain.

Kounavi, Crete was known to the crew of 6N+AJ (see above) as Sultan 3, it was “the main intercept station” but it also supplied weather reports and other information to Fliegerkorps X’s bombers. The site was operated by 9. (Funkhorch)/Luftnachrichtenregiment 40, charged with monitoring Allied signals traffic. While that regiment’s 7. (Aircraft Reporting) Coy. had been in Crete as early as July 1941, an advance party from the 9. only arrived on 30 March 1942, with the main body en route on 9 April (another platoon was in Africa a week earlier). This suggests that development of the island’s WIM stations may have begun that Spring.

Overall control of Luftwaffe signals in the Mediterranean Theatre rested with Oberst Heinrich Aschenbrenner (Nachrichtenführer, Luftflotte 2) but there is evidence of continuing interchanges with Luftwaffe research establishments, and the postal service main office (Reichpostzentralamt or RPZ) whose laboratories in Potsdam developed much of the equipment used in the WIM stations. The monitoring and jamming effort was co-ordinated by the WIM-Zentrale at Kounavi, Crete, in the sphere of X. Fliegerkorps.

Oberst Walter Gosewisch was Chief of Signals with X. Fliegerkorps from November 1941 until July 1942:

… In the summer of 1942 the Funkmeßbeobachtungs- und Störkompanie z.b.V. [special-purpose radar monitoring and jamming company] was still being built up, with regard both to personnel and equipment. It monitored British radars on the African coast and the radar (ASV) aboard their reconnaissance aircraft. The results were satisfactory. The jamming transmitters were not yet fully up to the job and probably without any lasting effect on the enemy radar sets. The radar search and jamming service in the Eastern Mediterranean area never reached full development. By this time the focal point of the high frequency war was around Malta.

Parts of the network had been established or were under construction by April 1942. It seems that the first »Nachtfalter« operation had been intended for early June but was postponed for about a week after Dr. Scholz’s arrival in the Mediterranean was delayed “for urgent reasons”. Once he arrived, Scholz was to confer with Ob. Süd before the action could proceed, suggesting there was high-level interest in the timing of the operation, perhaps to coincide with some other Axis enterprise. What was more, further equipment which had been ordered was still under construction. Aschenbrenner told RPZ Sonderkommando Antonius (“Antonius” was the cover name of Ob. Süd) that their gear was not to be dismounted from “the vehicle”—implying that the installation was mobile—but Sonderführer Mahlow was to proceed at once to Berlin with a full report and Wolf (a colleague?) was to take over the functioning of the WIM. The RPZ personnel were also to return right away, with the exception of a driver to look after the vehicle and a man to take responsibility for the equipment.

NOTE: A Sonderführer was a civilian specialist drafted to support the work of the armed services.

Each Mediterranean WIM station had a number, apparently reflecting the order in which they were established. Those I have identified are:

WIM-Zentrale

Kounavi, Crete

 

WIM 1

Noto, Sicily

first reported 10 August 1942

WIM 5

Crete-West

first reported end August 1942 (see notes)

WIM 6

Crete-East, Cape Sideron

(see notes)

WIM 7

Derna, Libya

 

WIM 8

Bardia, Libya?

(see notes)

WIM 9

El Daba, Egypt

established July 1942 or later, dismantled 1 November and stored at Mersa Matruh

WIM 10

S. of El Daba, Egypt

Site being sought south on 7 October 1942 but area lost to Axis within a month, so unclear if ever more than a proposal

WIM activity outlasted the North African Campaign: a conference in Düsseldorf on 26 July 1944 decided to subsume 3. Jagddivision’s individual air reporting detachments under the Fernflugmeldesammelzentrale (long-range air report collecting centre). All WIM positions—in which the 15. Company of the Air Signals Experimental Regiment was concerned—would also be attached to it while Sonderkommando Komet, Duisburg (which plotted RAF "Oboe" transmissions) remained separate. In Italy on 19 October that year, the US 12th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron photographed “four large masts and a round control building” in San Lazzaro di Savena, on Bologna’s eastern outskirts. Ground sources had reported that “the station was used to jam Allied broadcasts”, the target list terming it a “W/T jamming station”. Although it had not been attacked, the photographs showed all the masts had been toppled from their bases and were lying on the ground. The Karl jammer also continued in use: a memo of 7 July 1944 referred to allocations of equipment for three Karlstörtrupps (jamming squads) apparently associated with FuMB-Stelle »Erle« (radar monitoring station “Alder”) at Potsdam-Eiche.

NOTES: Reports from Allied aircraft indicated that there were jammers at Cephalonia, Greece (first reported 6 September) and near Tripoli (first reported 19 October). These may account for some of the numbers missing from the above list.

In May 1942, prisoners from II./KG 100 said that aircraft approaching Crete had first to identify themselves to a wireless station at Cape Sideron which was known as »Kreta-Ost« (i.e. Crete-East). It is known that WIM 6 was Crete-East and since equipment was airlifted to the island for WIM 5 and 6, I have inferred that the former was Crete-West.

German communications refer to a WIM station at Bardia without giving its number; since geographically it lies between Derna (WIM 7) and El Daba (WIM 9), it seems likely to have been WIM 8 which was being provided with barbed wire fencing on 25 September.


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