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Heinz Hauck and 6.(F)/123

April–June 1944

The 6.(F)/123 had been renamed from 3./KG 66 as of 25 April 1944. Led by Hptm. Heinz De Wilde and based at Cormeilles-en-Vexin, it was allocated a heavy signals troop and the unit code 1S+_H (although it is not clear that this was ever applied to any of its aircraft). On 25 April 1944, as part of a reorganisation of I./KG 66, its 3. Staffel had been redesignated as 6.(F)/123 while a new 3./KG 66 was formed by renaming 4./KG 54.

Much of what is known about 3./KG 66 derives from the interrogation of Gefr. Anton Rohrhirsch, sole-surviving crew member of a Ju 88 S-1, Z6+IN (W.Nr. 301228) of 5./KG 66, which came down off Brighton on the night of 24/25 March 1944, following damage by the London AA defences. Prior to joining his present unit he had served six months with 3./KG 66. Said to have been operating since August 1943 and known as the Störstaffel (jamming Staffel), it was concerned with both electronic warfare and intelligence, seeking to obtain warning of and to disrupt Bomber Command raids. For this the unit’s aircraft were equipped with FuG 123 Truhe (“coffer”, to exploit the RAF’s GEE navigation system) and FuG 350 Naxos (to detect centimetric radars such as H2S). Crews were augmented by an English-speaking Horchfunker to listen in on RAF radio traffic which could then be jammed with a transmitter known as Viktor 1. According to Rohrhirsch, a fixed aerial about 1.20 metres in length and fitted to the aircraft’s fuselage underside was associated with this set. A message sent on 14 May to FAGr. 123 suggests that conversion of the machines may have been carried out locally, the sender enquiring how best to dispose of five (evidently superfluous) Lotfe 7D bombsights and eight ETC bomb carriers. On the other hand a request had gone in three days earlier for the provision of four blind-landing receivers. The unit’s aircraft patrolled assigned areas codenamed Rodelbahn (“toboggan run”) over coastal waters between Boulogne and Denmark, listening for the activation of RAF navigational aids and passing their findings to a plotting centre. There the incoming information was correlated and the initiation of countermeasures ordered, including disruption of the navigation systems and the laying of flares to decoy the bombers away from their targets.

German records now available show that a new scheme of establishment for I./KG 66 had been approved on 26 November 1943. This followed from proposals submitted by IX. Fliegerkorps a month earlier, based on “I./KG 66’s operational experience as a pathfinder, target marking and monitoring formation”. For this last role it was suggested that 3. (Einsatz)/KG 66 should consist of six Ju 188 and the same number of Ju 88 S or “corresponding fast bomber aircraft”. Equipped with monitoring and jamming sets, its functions would be:

(a) carrying out battle reconnaisance and jamming of of light radar sets [night fighter AI?] in the context of concentrated attacks;

(b) with fast bomber aircraft flying singly, reconnoitring the inland radar network in preparation for concentrated attacks.

This all came with the caveat that even at full strength the Staffel would not be able to map the whole English radar system as well as monitoring the Allied navigational beams used in raids on Germany, so a »Sonder-H-Staffel« should be formed under Ob.d.L. or Befehlshabber Mitte. In the event, it was laid down that the 3./KG 66 was to be a Horch- und Störstaffel (=listening and jamming) with 12 aircraft, each of whose crews would consist of a pilot, observer, wireless operator, air gunner and Horchfunker (an operator monitoring enemy transmissions). Three more aricraft and crews would constitute the Staffel’s reserve.

More information came from signals monitoring. For 3½ hours on the night of 8/9 April 1944, stations at Villacoublay in France and Zandvoort in the Netherlands passed plots a Mosquito raid, although no fighter running commentary was being broadcast. However a 3./KG 66 aircraft was airborne at the time and in contact with Zandvoort and Soesterberg. From this and Rohrhirsch’s testimony, British Air Intelligence inferred that the plots were for this plane’s benefit. There was however no interception evidence for his claim that the aircraft passed its own reports to the plotting centre and it was suggested that in fact any reporting took place after landing. The Staffel’s operations were known only from Safety Service traffic associated with landings; there was no evidence at that time of it flying standing patrols.

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A familiar name?

Although Hauck's interrogators knew that "after some months in hospital he joined 6.(F)/123", I have seen nothing to suggest that anyone made the connection to the many occurrences of his name in deciphered signals from that unit in the spring and summer of 1944.

© Nick Beale 2015–2022

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