If you have the chance, I’d recommend reading this article alongside Ken Wakefield’s book “Pfadfinder: Luftwaffe Pathfinder Operations Over Britain, 1940–44” (Tempus, 1999) ISBN 0 7524 1692 8. Wakefield interviewed several veterans of Kampfgruppe 100 including Gruppenkommandeure Artur von Casimir and Kurd Aschenbrenner and he tells a really interesting story of how German pathfinder operations evolved. He also evaluates the various forms of intelligence on German blind bombing available to the British in 1940–41, including deciphered communications. He says that the latter enabled the RAF to understand call signs and so forth but it seems his sources did not show just how much else can be found there about the Kampfgruppe’s early days in France (although equally, there are important things that Ultra missed).
Luftflotten 2 and 3 were advised by telegram of various orders from the Reichsmarschall, including:
Commitment of KGr. 100 [once] brought up is permitted as soon as the navigational foundations are secured.
On 8 August, 9. Fliegerdivision had told Kampfgruppe 100 in Lüneburg that hotel billets had been secured for its Stab and three Staffeln while the ground echelon would be quartered in the (unnamed) town at first, then move into barracks in about eight days’ time. This signal had been deciphered at Bletchley Park by next day, meaning that British Intelligence was aware of the Kampfgruppe’s move to France on the day it happened. The analysts’ assessment was that the town in question might be Brest but they knew better by the following day.
The Gruppe was also advised that there was no heavy Flak protection available yet; six tank lorries had arrived but not the Landeschützen company or the signals gear which had been ordered. The “Group HQ” (from the context this was probably the Gefechtsstand) would be ready for the Staffeln by 13 August.
From the day’s signal traffic it was learned that KGr. 100 was moving to Vannes, Obltn. Mansfeld reporting to the HQ in Lüneburg that the 1. and 2. Staffeln had landed safely at 16.45 hours.
Mansfeld (later identified as the Gruppe’s Signals Officer) also confirmed the arrival of aircraft “AAB” and “AHH” (errors for AA and AH perhaps?) while “the Ju 52” (probably a transport or courier aircraft) had taken off at 05.50 and “the He 111” had landed at 10.00 hours. By 20.00, some 15 aircraft had landed on the operational airfield. Meanwhile, Luftflotte 3 was asked to supply KGr. 100 with 1,000 x SC 250 bombs, 500 x SC 500 and 2000 x SC 50.
Already KGr. 100 had a fight on its hands: both Gruppenkommandeur, Hptm. Kurd Aschenbrenner and Obltn. Mansfeld complained to 9. Fl.Div. that the XI. Armeekorps was refusing to vacate a local hotel (presumably one of those allocated to the airmen).
The day seems to have been taken up with logistics and establishing the navigational systems to support the unit’s operations.
In a message to 9. Fliegerdivision, the Gruppe stressed that QU+OQ, “one of the five transport aircraft” was urgently needed. The Division was also told that the perimeter lights on an aerodrome (which, in the context seems likely to have been Vannes) would not be completely functional until the evening of 12 August, so no night operations would be possible before then.
Meanwhile Luftwaffe Supreme Command was chasing the unit over a change-over from the pendulum-weighted Lotfe 7B bomb sight to the gyro-stabilised 7C or 7AK, saying that to keep on schedule every sight KGr. 100 possessed must be dealt with. Therefore the unit was to submit a return of the numbers of 7A, 7AK, 7B and 7C it had, dispatching all superfluous gear to the Carl Zeiss factory at Jena. Another two days passed before the requested figures were given: 11 sets of 7A, 15 sets of 7B, and 9 sets of 7C.
Numerous messages were passed about the radio beacons which would be available for missions, one of them as far afield as Blåvand in Denmark. At 1500 hours however, news was sent of an aid unique to KGr. 100: Knickebein 2 was in future to operate on a bearing of 305º.
The 9. Fliegerdivision told the Gruppe that five Ju 52s must be returned on the 11th and that Göring’s HQ had forbidden the loan of any more. The unit was however able to report that one transport had left for Lüneburg on 9 August and another for Darmstadt at 12.30 hours on the 10th. Orders also went out that Airfield Servicing Companies would in future be under the orders of the flying units on their respective bases.
The Fliegerdivision ordered Aschenbrenner to prepare “strong forces” for an attack on the night of 13 August against targets 7461, 666, 733 and 7045 (which the British do not then seem to have identified, although some other such codes were understood). The Gruppe was to arrange immediately with Luftflotte 3 the routes to be flown and should report when its was ready for action. The order to carry out the operation would follow.
At 08.00 hrs. that morning KGr. 100 had been given corrected positions for navigational aids including the broadcasting station at Hilversum (recognition signal M), the heavy radio beacon at Brest and the broadcasting station at Bremen. Navigation aids were not the only operational requirement — that day Luftzeuggruppe West France was also asked to arrange the immediate supply of two field kitchens to Vannes for KGr. 100.
continued on next page …
PART ONE OF FIVE
ARTICLE © NICK BEALE 2011–2021