Hunting the German Flak on the Cotentin

Discussion in 'Introduction' started by StevenJ, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. StevenJ

    StevenJ Guest
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    Hey guys,

    I'm just jumping into a project that I've been wanting to do now for a long time-trying to pin down the general positions of the various German anti-aircraft weapons on the night of June 5/6. I realize that this is a somewhat ridiculous proposition given the state of the German records and I don't imagine that it'll be quite quick to do either. I think right now I'd aspire to produce a record of my findings in some form thought I'm not sure of which.

    Until recently I was an air defense officer, analyst and defense designer with the US Army. I found some of that work to be extremely entertaining and as someone interested in history, I've always been disappointed by the relative lack of ready reading material on related topics. Normandy is a quite visceral example because the German air defense failed entirely (and I don't think that they expected much better of it honestly) with some pretty drastic results for their coast defense efforts. Gen.d.Flak Wolfgang Pickert's FMS document suggests that they would have done better had an entire Flak Corps been made available to each defending army-instead, the 7th would have been lucky enough to scrape together a battalion.

    Anyway, I have a huge interest in ground and aerial photography, open-source intelligence (as its called for examining current events), air defense and Normandy. May as well combine them together, right?

    I look forward to working with you all,

    Steven J
     
  2. Pat Curran

    Pat Curran Administrator
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    Oct 20, 2012
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    Hi Steven,
    You are very welcome to the Forum and we look forward to helping you research your Flak project. I see you have already jumped in with a new thread which is generating a lot of interest.

    Regards,

    Pat
     
  3. StevenJ

    StevenJ Guest
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    Thanks Pat! I'm looking forward to contributing where I can!
     
  4. Steven Jaskowiak

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    Nov 25, 2019
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    Hey guys, I'm going to float back on the forum in very minor way after a year away. Ended up moving to Germany. More or less still interested in the same old project.
     
  5. Jpz4

    Jpz4 Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    It shows real dedication to move closer to the German archives ;-)

    All kidding aside: welcome back. I haven't done much more research on this topic, but I'll probably resume that next year.
     
  6. Steven Jaskowiak

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    Nov 25, 2019
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    No problem! I hadn't either! But honestly I moved out here for work...just coincidentally ending up near to Freiburg...and London for that matter.
     
  7. Stephen M. Fochuk

    Stephen M. Fochuk Active Member
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    Nov 26, 2015
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    I just spent two weeks at the National Archives in London, main focus was Normandy and 2nd TAF, specifically, Nos.126, 127, 143 and 144 RCAF Wings, and I came across flak maps... I will check my notes to see if I paid any attention to these. From what I remember after a giving them a cursory look, the Allies had these areas identified.
     
  8. Steven Jaskowiak

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    Nov 25, 2019
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    Stephen, they should have done exactly that. And its great to hear that some of these are around!

    There are two books immediate post-war books (45-46) written by American Flak intelligence sections detailing their processes and contributions. The first, "Flak Facts" (Flak facts: a brief history of flak and flak intelligence in the Ninth Air Force. :: World War II Operational Documents) came out of the 9th Air Force and discusses the history of flak intelligence and its incorporation into air operations. The second, "Light, Intense and Accurate: U.S. A.F. Strategic Fighters Versus German Flak in the ETO" (Light, intense and accurate: U.S. Eighth A.F. strategic fighters versus German flak in the ETO. :: World War II Operational Documents) comes from the 8th Air Forces' 65th Fighter Wing. They're both quite interesting for their statements on fighter and tactical bomber operations and the effects and dangers of flak units.

    One of the other things I'd like to do in London is figure out if the IX Troop Carrier Command actually had night fighter escorts accompany the C-47s. The period operations orders and immediate post-war accounts seem to suggest that No. 11 Group RAF contributed here, but some post-war books throw doubt on whether it occurred or not.
     
  9. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Stephen,

    If you made a note of which files they're in, I'd be interested. I'm going to Kew for a few days next week

    Steven,

    I can look for this info as well as it's something which comes up now and again. I should have time if I'm properly organised.

    Cheers

    Sean
     
  10. Steven Jaskowiak

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    Nov 25, 2019
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    Sean, I wouldn't say no to that! No worries if you're not properly organized of course. It may be a lost cause if in fact it did not occur.
     
  11. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Either way it would be good to clarify
    I'll do my best

    Cheers

    Sean
     
  12. Stephen M. Fochuk

    Stephen M. Fochuk Active Member
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    Nov 26, 2015
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    Guys,

    I did not make any direct notes about this; shame on me. I do recall it being in pre-planning related material, BIGOT?, and areas being plotted on a map(s) in relation to flak areas. Also, I did come across airborne material, which, again, I was not looking for and figuring it has been well documented, did not spend anytime in making notes, as my search time was quite limited.

    I am still pouring over my notes and images, some 16,000 clicks were made on my camera. so who knows...?

    Stephen
     
  13. Steven Jaskowiak

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    Nov 25, 2019
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    Stephen, I appreciate that you took a look for me. The intelligence annexes are somewhat all over the place but always worth reading to see what they say. I have pieces of several planning documents-but it is hard to say if the electronics documents I have are complete. Up until early June the various commands kept issuing modifications and fragords. The 82nd order I've got on hand unfortunately predates the move of their drop zones to the east. It's a real shame because their intelligence section did a pretty good job writing up a long list of everything they could find on aerial photographs and giving (mostly accurate) grids for them.

    One of the places I didn't expect to add to my list of sources to check is now ship logs and records. I seen it claimed that some warships had an electronic intelligence or interception capability that allowed them to identify German radar and radio sets by their transmissions. I need to look into that now, and into the ships' logs to say if they reveal anything.

    In addition, I'd like (someday) to look into the activities of the 175th Infantry behind Omaha. A lot of the secondary sources say the 175th with support from the 747th Tank Bn engaged with anti-tank guns of some description between La Cambe and Cardonville. In Cardonville there was an engagement at a "radar station" or a "radar bunker". From what I think I know, Cardonville is an inappropriate location for a naval or fixed luftwaffe radar station. It could instead be a radar set from one of the 88mm batteries. Who knows, perhaps even a 29th Infantry intelligence document may hold the key if I could locate such a thing.

    So much to do! So little of it online! Cheers!
     
  14. Jpz4

    Jpz4 Active Member
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    #14 Jpz4, Dec 10, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
    Allied intelligence (combat units) can be a very good source of information.
    The S2 and G2 are a source of information I would love to have much better access to.
    They recorded what they encountered, who the enemy was and captured a lot of documents from a tactical level. A lot of that did not make it into the German archives. Unfortunately very few of those records have been digitized.
     
  15. Steven Jaskowiak

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    Nov 25, 2019
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    It all ends up pointing to a big trip to NARA at some point next year.

    The after action reports for the 747th are depressingly slim once they got off the beach.
     
  16. Jpz4

    Jpz4 Active Member
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    Oct 24, 2012
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    Good luck.
    I'd focus on records at corps, division and regimental level. Those gather what the lower level units encounter. Also, to a point, after action reports are overrated. Typically they're far less interesting than communication logs and intel reports. Those hold the information on enemy troops and many coordinates.
    Battalion level logs tend to be good, if you can find them, but their intel seems to be mostly insufficient. With some (independent) battalions you get lucky with good information from all companies in the after action reports, but their logs are still very important for the details.
     
  17. Sean

    Sean Active Member
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    Hello there

    Well as half-expected I ran out of time in Kew, but should be back there end of January.
    I've looked through a lot (not all) f the 2nd TAF ORBs and the only references so far to night-flying (ie at the time of the Airborne ops) is bombing by Mosquitoes. Op Mallard in the evening of the 6th had escorts though.
    Still more to go through....

    Flak maps.... I only found some from July and onwards, so obviously after the end of the Cotentin fighting, but by way of illustration here's one:
    DSC_0143.JPG

    Cheers

    Sean
     
  18. Jan Foster

    Jan Foster Active Member
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    Jan 12, 2016
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    Thanks for posting this, Sean. I believe the 9th AF used these in each mission briefing. The Group Navigator would mark the navigation route and Allied troop positions on a wall sized enlargement in the Situation Room. Flak positions were marked in red. All eyes went straight to the map when the combat crews entered the briefing room. In one glance they knew how hot the target was going to be - flak positions marked in red, route marked in black. Not sure what color was used to mark Allied lines.

    After each mission, the aircrews filled out reports noting flak positions, rolling stock, troop movements, etc. The intelligence officer compiled them into one report, which was sent to 9th AF HQ, which probably sent them onto the map makers.

    Do you know whether these are available digitally on-line?
     
  19. Jan Foster

    Jan Foster Active Member
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    Jan 12, 2016
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    Look forward to studying this in detail. You’ll notice that the railway lines are marked with thick black lines. From early March until early to mid-May, the B-26 Marauders of the 9th AF implemented Phase I of the Transportation Plan - targeting marshaling yards. Around May 20, they flew double-headers for 12 days, attacking railway and highway bridges - Phase II- and decoy missions to the Pas de Calais. Peppered throughout May were attacks on coastal fortifications.

    you can see how important these maps were to their success and survival. The navigators had their work cut out for them. You have to remember that they were taking evasive action every 20 seconds - timed by the navigators- making it hard to stay on course. (It took about 20 seconds for an 88 mm shell to reach 11,000 feet.) The Marauder crews thought the flak guns were all manned by Master Sergeants because they were so good. To throw them off, the Marauder crews would vary their airspeed, particularly into and out of the target.

    I’ll call my dad’s tent mate, Frank Burgmeier, and let him know about this map - and send it to him. Frank was one of the top two navigators for the 456th BS, 323rd BG. He’ll very much enjoy seeing it and might offer some practical insights. Frank is still a prolific writer. He got his 65th mission, completing his tour, 75 years ago on Dec. 23, 1944. Eller Bridge.

    Finally, notice what a death trap the Pas de Calais area was. No Ball sites, CD’s, and marshaling yards.

    Jan
     
  20. Stephen M. Fochuk

    Stephen M. Fochuk Active Member
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    Nov 26, 2015
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    I found something in my notes. Have you checked AIR 24/36? This one contains material related to US airborne ops, whether before or after D-Day, I cannot remember. Most likely pre-D-Day material, which might be worth looking at.
     

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