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  #1  
Old 27th August 2009, 12:39
tcolvin tcolvin is offline
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How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

This is a matter raised off-topic on Chris Goss' thread, because he has written a book about NSG 20.

There seems to be an assumption that NSG 20's remarkable night bombing was done visually and not with assistance from the FuS An 722 ZYKLOP that was used to direct the single-seat Ar 234s to the dive point with the right direction and height for bombing Remagen Bridge.

But I am now beginning strongly to question that assumption.
Surely no pilot of the single-seat FW 190 G could find 2 Lincoln's HQ in Winnekendonk at night from Twente over a distance of 100 kms.

2 Lincolns HQ & RAP occupied the big farmhouse on the outskirts of Winnekendonk at about 6pm.
German paratroopers were milling around in Winnekendonk for hours afterwards, without orders and uncertain as to what had happened and the location of 2 Lincolns and 3 Scots Guards whose Churchill tanks were in the town.

It took NSG 20 in Twente six hours until midnight to get a bomb delivered over a distance of 100 kms and dropped almost on top of Battalion HQ in Winnekendonk.

I would dearly like to know how they managed that feat.
FuS An 722 ZYKLOP looks like the only answer.

Does anyone have a view about that?

On March 2, 2 Lincolns and 3 Scots Guards broke through the last organised defences before Wesel.
The Germans were bound to react to this breakthrough with everything they had.
The only thing in their locker was NSG 20.

Tony
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Old 27th August 2009, 14:25
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Assuming they didn't just get lucky ... and assuming they had any idea that the HQ was even there ...

The NSG units were not big on precision bombing as ULTRA decrypts of their targets and their bombloads confirm (and Allied Intelligence summaries attest). The targets are repeatedly assigned as"concentrations", "localities" (i.e. built-up areas) and "traffic." Bombloads, where stated, tend to include a significant proportion of SD (fragmentation) and AB (cluster) munitions. My book on NSG 9 includes a first hand account from a Ju 87 pilot of the difficulties of aiming bombs at night.

The NSGs in the West would often send a proprtion of their planes out as flare-droppers to illuminate the target area. They also navigated by visual and radio beacons and starshell fired by Flak guns at fixed intervals or flares fired by front line troops. EGON guidance was introduced for NSGs (November 1944 in Italy for example) and NSG 20 used it to mark a crossroads where paratroops were to be dropped at the opening of the Ardennes offensive in December. You may be able to find Signals Intelligence reports that identify nights when EGON traffic was overheard in the West - the ground station had to talk the pilot on to the target.
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Old 27th August 2009, 16:17
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Post-D-Day, German night bombing attacks tended to be against targets of opportunity in the vicinity of various locations. With Allied forces moving eastwards and the front lines being generally known, I would go with Nick on this-NSG 20 was in the right place at the right time; the opposite for 2 Lincolns. Think also about the workload in the FW 190 cockpit-navigating there and back, avoiding Flak & fighters, finding a target.....and at night. My book supports this from the first missions-look at what Lt Fritz Setzer said
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Old 2nd September 2009, 01:58
tcolvin tcolvin is offline
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Could anyone give me additional help with NSG20, please.

In particular, how were missions requested and accepted.

On March 2, 1945 there were three air support missions - see attached annotated Google Earth aerial photo (in which 'A' is Kervenheim) - two by 609 Squadron in 123 Wing and one by NSG20.

609 Squadron at Gilze Rijen was up twice per these ORB extracts;
"The squadron was up soon after breakfast when W/Cdr Button led Mathys, Cables, King, De Bruyn, Jacquemin, Harkness, Mountjoy and Goblet at 0935 hours on D923/OJN1 Kervendonk area. 74 R/P and cannon were all in the target area. Much black smoke came up from the northern edge of the wood with a small explosion. 1 MET was damaged. Otherwise no movement was seen.
At 1140 the C/O took off. Mathys, Harkness, Mountjoy, King, De Bruyn and Jacquemin went with him on D931/0JN1 to the same area and the same target. Rockets and cannon were all in the target area ('B' on Google Earth) and no enemy movement was seen. Our own tanks were seen approaching the wood from the North West ('C' on the Google Earth)
........
This night was the night of the Squadron party at Tilburg and it was unfortunate that the ground crews were so late in arriving. However when they did the fist impression was that the place was full of girls waiting for them. Beer was free and everybody enjoyed themselves."

3 British Infantry Division's (3BID) War Diary describes how, at 0930hrs, a message came from Air Support that; "Wood 995366 accepted as a target for Typhoons will be dealt with at 0955 hrs". 609 Sqdn did the mission and saw nothing.
At 1035hrs, the Air Liaison Officer (ALO) at 84 Group's Control Centre at Goirle sent a message to the Contact Car at 3BID that, "Owing to h(eavy)y commitments Typhoons not available for a repeat attack on wood DOVER (codename)".
At 1045hrs, 20 MT (motorised vehicles) were seen at map reference 005355 near the wood, probably from the Royal Artillery's Auster. "Corps commander (Horrocks) informed and told us to ask for Typhoons".
Ar 1155hrs, a message came through from the ALO at Goirle to the Contact car that a "Typhoon attack on DOVER wood would be on at 1205hrs." But at that time, 9 Brigade of 3BID were scheduled to attack DOVER wood themselves in Kangaroo armoured personnel carriers and Churchill tanks. They asked for the Typhoons to divert their attack to the wood south of Winnekendonk instead.
3BID ordered 9 Brigade to halt.
It was too late to divert the planes that by then had taken off from Gilze Rijen at 11.40am, this time led by the Commanding Officer Roberts, with Mathys, Harkness, Mountjoy, King, De Bruyn and Jacquemin. In the 10 minutes left before the planes attacked, a frantic effort was made by the ALO to contact them and redirect the attack and by 9 Brigade to keep the RUR and tanks out of the wood. The Left Flank tanks received the message and started streaming recognition smoke. The RUR stopped 600 yards from the Berber woods (Dover and Birmingham) to the north of Lűtzhof while the Typhoons swept in towards them from the East. This time the planes saw no sign of the enemy but they all saw the Scots Guards' Churchills 500 yards away, and retired Brigadier General Mathys remembers them ever afterwards, 'belching coloured smoke for identification as friendly'.
A forward company of the RUR was machine gunned by the planes, according to the Brigade War Diary, and Erskine wrote that, 'several 'overs' fell amongst the leading tanks and infantry, luckily causing no serious damage'.
9 Brigade thought it, 'a miracle no cas(ualties) were inflicted',
although it was known by Operational Research that rockets buried themselves in the ground before exploding with minimal damage to troops. The RUR, according to their Diary, were stopped 600 yards from the Berber woods.
At the Brigade conference on March 8, the notes record in three words the concern of 2 RUR; 'Attack by Typhoons'. Brigadier Renny said the error was at Corps or Army, but the problem was really systemic.
We can infer that since Corps told Division to request the air strike that the decentralised Forward Control Post (FCP) system was in operation that day. The decision to use an FCP was taken during the battle, permitting Group Control to deal with demands on the move. We can assume there was a Contact Tank at Division - presumably in the grounds of Schloss Calbeck - with its Air Support Signal Unit (ASSU) tentacle in direct contact with 84 Group Control at Goirle. The FCP would have been at Corps with its ALO and the RAF team. It intercepted all requests from the Contact Tanks and decided with Group which to accept. Once the request was accepted the Contact Tank was switched to direct radiotelephone (R/T) contact with Group through ASSU control, receiving verbally the details of smoke and the vital arrival timing.
The serious system limitation that led to the Berber Wood problem was identified in post-war analysis; 'For no longer than necessary was the demanding tentacle kept on R/T as in a moderately fast moving battle normal ASSU traffic accumulated during the time tentacles remained on R/T to the FCP'.
The Contact Tank at division was disconnected and cut off from Group control, and for some reason was unable to raise the aircraft on its VHF wireless.
These air attacks were reported in an early March copy of the News Chronicle, datelined 'Western Front, Wednesday', probably March 7th, and filed by Ronald Walker under the headline,
'CALCAR HEAVILY BOMBED IN CLOSE-SUPPORT T.A.F. RAIDS'.
The gist of the article was that 2 TAF had flown a thousand sorties,
'which is the measure of a busy day. The 84th Group was principally concerned with close Army support. The fighters were asked by British troops, thrusting out of Goch to lay a carpet of rockets and cannon fire in a wood to the south-west. They laid a carpet, flew home, refuelled and rearmed, and put in the second attack inside one hour."

We know how this complicated system functioned. The request for air support was made by 1 Canadian Army the night before in conference with 2TAF and Corps.
ALO(Mil) and Wing Commander Plans together vetted the requests. The result was a call put out to 123 Wing at Gilze Rijen.
At Wing the duty ALO was the Master of Ceremonies for the day. He supervised the manning of the phones, the maintenance of the battle boards and the handling of all traffic in and out. He watched the timings in close contact with the Wing Commander Flying, standing together with him on the platform before the vertical plotting screen and the state board. He ensured the details of the ETA, smoke and counter-flak were passed on to the Contact Car and the RA. He did not leave the room to take part in briefing the pilots, which was done by the Number 2 ALO.
The formation leader was briefed about the accepted target as quickly and accurately as possible. Briefing was always done centrally and never at dispersal, so that the Wing Co Flying, the Ops Officer and the Intelligence Officer could be available if required. It was said that detailed briefings were often completed in less than five minutes from initial warning. While the ALO was taking down the details by R/T from the FCP, the Number 2 ALO was shouting out the pinpoint for the Duty Clerk standing at the files to pull out the aerial photos and maps, and for the IO to prepare course and Flak details.
The Contact Cars provided 8 figure map references supplemented by as much information as possible that would orient the pilot.
While the Number 2 ALO briefed the pilots, the ALO gave the Contact Car the details of smoke and timings and discussed all aspects of the operation with him. When this was completed the line was disconnected. At this point on March 2 the situation changed but contact could not be re-established since the ALO at Wing would have been tied up with the next request.
Briefing of the pilots began immediately on the 1:100,000 Situation Map supplemented by a 1:25,000 map, and by aerial photos after being checked by the ALO. His responsibility was to ensure no pilot left the briefing without the bomb line clearly marked on his map, and with full knowledge of the location of the nearest friendly troops.
Each pilot carried up to six 1:100,000 maps numbered serially. Each map was divided into four quadrants with pencil lines. The pilot stuffed the maps into his map pocket located on his right thigh where he could flick through them while flying and select the one he wanted. The target was described to the pilots in terms of a) sheet number b) 4-figure map reference and c) the map quarter.
The simplicity of the system meant targets could be allocated or changed when the pilots were airborne, although on March 2 the system failed. It permitted cab rank operations with the section circling pending target acceptance, but there was no cab rank on March 2. Sometimes the pilots carried a 1:25,000 map, but those of any larger scale, such as town plans, were found to be useless.

At 1730hrs (half an hour before darkness), 2 Lincolns (400 men) and Right Flank Squadron of 3 Scots Guards (15 Churchills) formed up (at 'D' on Google Earth) and advanced together on Winnekendonk. There was no air support - 609 Squadron was having a dance at Tilburg per the ORB. But Typhoons were desperately needed to neutralise/take out the 88-mms and StuGs.
As the British tanks and infantry came past the farm where the black line curves eastward on the Google Earth aerial, they were shot up by three 88-mms and 3 StuGs (see Google Earth). Two Churchills blew up. Robert Runcie's troop (later Archbishop of Canterbury) turned and drove straight at the 88-mms, firing as they charged, and destroyed them. One StuG was destroyed and the other two retreated. Six 50-mm PAKs were run down.
There were 120 British casualties, including 25 killed, and about 100 German casualties of which 40 were killed.
At about 2400hrs a FW 190 of NSG20 dropped a large bomb on the crossroads near 2 Lincolns HQ.
All of the defenders were Luftwaffe; the infantry were from 22 Fallschirmjaeger (Para) Regiment in 8 Fallshirmjaeger Division under Generalmajor Walther Wadehn. In October 1939 Wadehn commanded III Gruppe of Kampfgeschwader 77. In March 1942 he commanded Flieger-Ausbildungs-Regiment 72 in the East, where he became a protege of Eugen Meindl when raising the new Luftwaffe-Feld-Divisions. His career details are here: http://www.geocities.com/~orion47/WE...N_WALTHER.html
The StuGs were Luftwaffe, and the 88-mm were LW - everything German on and over the field that evening was Luftwaffe except the ineffectual fixed-emplacement 50-mm Paks which were a Heer Fortress Battalion.
The FW 190 was a smaller version of the Typhoon, with almost identical characteristics. In every other respect, equipment in the British and German armies was dissimilar.
The German command setup was Luftwaffe.
So can anyone describe, please, the German command and control arrangements for their fighter bombers as they were in March 1945 when supporting their fellow Luftwaffe; how were targets communicated and filtered, and by whom, where and with what communications. In short, how was it done?
And to what extent was there a LW old-boy network? Could Walther Wadehn get served because of personal contacts, while 15 Panzer Grenadier Division (an element of which fought at Kervenheim) could not?

Tony
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Old 2nd September 2009, 17:43
tcolvin tcolvin is offline
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Thanks, SES.

But the documents you reference describe the job of a Fliegerverbindungoffizier as liaising with Heer HQs down to divisional level.

But in the case of 8FJD at Winnekendonk, this was a Luftwaffe and not a Heer HQ.
The FLIVO role was therefore redundant.

Has anyone got info about this?

Specifically, did Wadehn's chief of staff ring NSG 20 at Twente (perhaps by landline) and make the arrangements for the FW 190 to bomb 2 Lincoln's HQ?

Tony

Last edited by tcolvin; 2nd September 2009 at 17:43. Reason: Grammar
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Old 2nd September 2009, 23:56
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcolvin View Post
Thanks, SES.

But in the case of 8FJD at Winnekendonk, this was a Luftwaffe and not a Heer HQ. The FLIVO role was therefore redundant.

Specifically, did Wadehn's chief of staff ring NSG 20 at Twente (perhaps by landline) and make the arrangements for the FW 190 to bomb 2 Lincoln's HQ?

Tony
The FLIVO role would be just as relevant in a Para. Div. — they were still ground troops who needed «Verbindung» (liaison) with the «Flieger».

Without any specific knowledge, I would expect the FLIVO to have been on the phone (or the Enigma machine and morse transmitter) to 14. Fliegerdivision and reporting that the village was in enemy hands. There are lots of Ultras from Flivos reporting where the front line ran, or where the enemy was thought to be concentrated, or where tanks had been heard.

From your photo (great use of Goole Earth, there!) I'd suggest that the crossroads was perhaps the target. Disrupting traffic was the usual modus operandi of the NSGs in the West.
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Old 3rd September 2009, 11:54
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Thanks Nick you preempted my response and I totally agree.
bregds
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Old 3rd September 2009, 20:31
tcolvin tcolvin is offline
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Thank you both.

I'd better get me to Kew and see if that particular FLIVO request is in HW5 (having just read your thread, Nick, on Enigma).
And you're right, Nick, the crossroads was obviously the target and not 2 Lincoln's HQ which happened to be close by.
The cross roads could have been identified by the EGON system, or spotted visually.

Tony
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Old 3rd September 2009, 22:07
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Re: How did NSG 20 find their targets at night?

Hi,
According to my sources found in BAMA RL 8/100 NSGr 20 was indeed employed at night using the EGON/ZYKLOP system. Please see:
http://www.gyges.dk/II%20JK%20spring%201945%202.htm
as we have discussed in a previous thread.
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