RAF RADAR units in the Battle of the Bulge

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by chick42-46, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    Hi Andy

    Thanks for this information. I'd love to see your Dad's records. The more I know about 72 Wing the better. I suspect the mods would want a separate thread but maybe one of them will clarify that?

    And wouldn't it be great if that was your Dad in my photo! I know the RAF Regiment squadrons had their own despatch riders. So it may be one of the 2742 squadron men. But the squadron also provided armoured car escorts to 72 Wing "siting parties" and there were definitely 72 Wing vehicles with those.


  2. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    Hi tn203

    Great to hear from you. Do you have any more information on your Dad that you could post? What was his unit? Could be one of the units mentioned in this thread?

    On the 72 Wing history, to paraphrase the immortal words of the late, great Magnus Magnusson, "I've started..." but I've not yet finished. Pressure of work, family commitments and the fact I have two PCs in pieces at home has meant I haven't been able to make much progress for a while. But I hope to complete transcribing it soon.


  3. aj4010

    aj4010 Junior Member

  4. aj4010

    aj4010 Junior Member

  5. singeager

    singeager Senior Member


    A very interesting & well reserched thread.
  6. tn203

    tn203 Junior Member

    Hi Ian
    Thanks for the information regarding the 'history' look forward to reading this is due course. All I know is that he was a member of 72 Wing. He was a member of the Countermeasures Group at Malvern as he is on a photo published on the inside back cover of Colin Latham's book ' Pioneers of Radar' He was at Swanage in May/June 1944 as my Mum and I visited there about D/day time. How we got from Bradford in 1944 is anyone's guess. I have, I think, some photo's taken in France/Germany of his Radar truck. Will try to find them and post them if I can work out how to do it. l
    go9t his service record but all it gives is joining date and demob date. There is no postings etc. which I found rather odd. Will have to visit Kings College and get a copy of the 'Ridley' paper mentioned in my 1st post. If I find anything else out I'll let you know and hopefully someone out there may have more information.
    best regards
  7. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member


    A very interesting & well reserched thread.

    Thanks for that, Singeager. More to come.
  8. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    I’m still transcribing the relevant chapters of the History of 72 (Signals) Wing. Pending that, here is an excerpt from Michael Cumming, Beam Bombers: The Secret War of No. 109 Squadron, which arrived in the post this morning. This from pages 127 to 129.

    “As winter neared, in addition to the well-established ground stations in the UK, which continued to be range-effective for many targets on the Continent, as many as five convoys of mobile stations were now deployed at various locations on the Continent itself, further increasing the Oboe catchment area, with a sixth and ultimate convoy yet to leave the UK. At the time of the Ardennes Offensive, which came when the year was drawing to its close, there were mobile stations still at Florennes and Commercy, to which had been added de Rips in Holland (it was established on an abandoned German GCI site, totally destroyed before the enemy’s retreat) and at La Roche-en-Ardenne in Belgium, where AMES 9442 (two channels) with 9431A and 9412B (with one channel apiece) were positioned, operational since 22 October. However the Germans swift counter-blow was judged to put La Roche in jeopardy, so evacuation was ordered and those three units withdrew to Florennes, fortunately without repercussions any more serious than the loss of a number of vehicles which had to be left behind when the closing-down messages were transmitted at 1035 hrs on 18 December.

    Before the enemy’s action in the Ardennes became known, Wing Commander Fennessy had flown to Paris for meetings at the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) and subsequently at Reims where the Headquarters of the 9th United States Air Force was located. At SHAEF, his task on that occasion was to establish Bomber Command’s requirements for GEE, Oboe and G-H so that preparations could be made to position the ground stations within the context of the next phase of the Allied advance. Next day, visiting the 9th US Air Force, which was always anxious to get the Oboe cover needed for its operations, the purpose was to determine where best the ground equipment could be located, the continuing push paving the way for Oboe-led raids on more and more distant targets. At Reims, however, Fennessy found that German forces were about to upset the best laid plans by counter attacking in force. It was a move that he appreciated could have serious consequences, especially for the fifty or sixty personnel of No. 72 Wing who were manning the GEE and Oboe equipment at La Roche.
    “In the Ops Room there was a map which showed the front line and I queried a V-shaped ‘nick’ in that line, to be told that this represented German reconnaissance movement into the positions held by the Allied troops in the Ardennes. I was given to understand that patrols like this happened all the time, so there was no need to worry. That night, however, I was woken up around 3 a.m. by a telephone call from No. 72 Wing HQ at Mons, in Belgium, with the CO, Group Captain Phillips, telling me that La Roche was reporting information from the American forces in that area that German armoured columns were on the move. It looked dangerous, according to those on the spot, so the decision was made that if the CO considered it necessary, then La Roche was to be evacuated with nothing of value left for the enemy.

    “I drove to Mons, where Group Captain Phillips met me and the two of us went immediately to Brussels, to the Headquarters of the 2nd Tactical Air Force, to find out what was happening. When one of their top-ranking officers learned that we had given the CO permission to pull out of La Roche at his own discretion if the situation worsened, he blew his top, ‘You can’t do that,’ he stormed, ‘we need that ground station’. Then the phone rang, presumably with news of the German offensive, and we saw or heard no more of him! La Roche was evacuated – quite quickly afterwards it was overrun by enemy troops – and despite heavy snow which hampered the movement of equipment and personnel, the convoy was safe at Florennes within a day and soon set up and working again. Subsequently I heard that the Battle Orders of the German C-in-C, von Rundstedt, indicated that he had detailed a unit specifically to capture our radar unit at La Roche’.*

    * An entry in No. 72 Wing’s Operations Record Book in June 1945 shows ‘recent investigations’ as having brought to light that Field Marshall von Rundstedt had in mind capturing the technical units located at La Roche intact, particularly desirable trophies being a Type 9000 (Oboe ground station), a Type 100 Heavy (G-H) and a Type 7000 (GEE). The enemy was ‘in full possession’ of the pinpoints of those sites and information as to the mobility of the convoys into which these technical vehicles were formed."

    Wing Commander Fennessy is, of course, Sir Edward Fennessy, mentioned in earlier posts.
  9. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    At long last, I have finished transcribing the relevant parts of the History of No 72 (Signals) Wing RAF.

    Here is Part 1

    Excerpts from the history of 72 (Signals) Wing, RAF – AIR 16/921


    The enemy staged a counter blow against our steadily progressing offensive in the middle of December; the spearheads of his Ardennes salient struck swiftly, with the obvious intent to break through to the coast. The possibility of evacuation of 72 Wing units in forward areas was foreseen and planned in order that the maximum operational cover should be maintained at all costs.

    After initial thrusts of paratroops and tank elements, the situation rapidly became critical. For the first time the Wing was to be tested in its ability to maintain cover in the face of rapid adverse territorial changes. News of enemy activity East of Laroche caused a constant watch on the trend of the developing German offensive to be maintained at Headquarters. Reports were requested and received from military headquarters, local units, and all other reliable sources, to ensure that the Commanding Officer had before him a complete picture of the current position. The possibility of evacuation was reviewed, and plans for replacement of consequent weak points in coverage were tentatively prepared, units were instructed to be ready to move at a few hours notice, experienced officers of the RAF Regiment were sent to the area, and every possible contingency was guarded against.

    The units endangered were:

    (1) Type 9000
    9431A vP.587853

    (2) Type 7000
    7922 vP.532930

    (3) Type 100 (Heavy)
    114 vP.588854

    (4) Type 100 (Light)
    106 vP.793470

    (5) R.J. Units
    5369 vP.834136

    The disposition of these units is shown in Figure 7.


    Attached Files:

  10. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    Part 2

    At Headquarters No. 72 Wing the Commanding Officer kept in mind two factors as the pressure increased:

    (1) The necessity for maintaining units in an operational capacity as long as possible
    (a) to aid aerial counter measures
    (b) to enable plans to be completed for replacement sites in the rear.

    (2) The need for preventing technical equipment of either a useful or a secret nature from falling into the hands of the enemy, thus affording valuable information as to the function and strength of these units, and the principles upon which they operate. Furthermore it was essential to prevent, or at least to limit, casualties and the loss of skilled personnel.

    The two aspects were constantly balanced as the offensive gained momentum.

    By the 16th December enemy activity East of Laroche had increased considerably; on the 17th the Area Commander of the Laroche units, who was at that time attending a conference at Wing Headquarters, was instructed by the Commanding Officer to return to the area immediately. Information on the military situation was at that time nebulous, and a stern warning against the acceptance and spreading of rumours was issued at the Morning Conference by the Commanding Officer. One report, however, which was believed to be reliable, stated that fighting had occurred in the vicinity of Saint Vith (vP.8588), and that enemy paratroops had been observed dropping at a point some five miles from AMES 7922.

    The general military situation East of Laroche was rapidly deteriorating, and units were warned to be prepared to cease operations at short notice, and to withdraw if necessary. Throughout the early hours on the 18th, there were accredited reports of the approach of enemy units, paratroops, and tanks. At 0845 hours the Area Commander reported that the enemy were in strength with armour and infantry at Recht (vP.7995), with parachutists at various points some four to six miles away. The Commanding Officer instructed, therefore, that the area should be evacuated, and that units were to proceed to Florennes (vO.857853).

    At 1221 hours news was received that all units had left their sites and were proceeding independently to the rendezvous at Florennes. By this time the forward elements of the enemy were in Vielsalm (vP.7089). By 1930 hours all units with the exception of AMES 106, RJ 5369 and one Flight of the RAF Regiment, were reported at Florennes. At 0400 hours on the 19th December the Jemelle Signals Centre (vP.237778) was evacuated.

    Main factors which tended to hinder the withdrawal were:

    (1) The extremely bad road conditions, resulting from a strong frost after a heavy fall of snow.
    (2) The tremendous volume of retiring military traffic.

    Despite these the withdrawal was conducted in an orderly fashion, no casualties to Wing personnel were sustained, nothing of a secret or documentary nature was left for the enemy, and a few vehicles only were lost. These losses were remarkably low, since more than one hundred 72 Wing vehicles were involved. They included a few W/T signals vehicles which remained operational until the very last moment, and were fired by American demolition units. The only other items of technical gear left on site were two 105 foot towers; there had been insufficient time to dismantle and pack these.

    News was later received that AMES 106 had arrived at Philippeville (vO.7282) on the 19th December, and RJ 5369 and the Flight of RAF Regiment were confirmed safe with AMES 109 at Heerlen (vK.745512) by the 20th. Considerable concern had been felt as to the fate of the latter two units, since no telephone or W/T communication had existed with them prior to the withdrawal. Thus they had to make an independent evacuation against enemy action and under conditions of great severity.
    stolpi likes this.
  11. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    Part 3


    Extracts from the reports on the withdrawal by the Area Commander Laroche and the NCO in charge of RJ 5369 are submitted in Appendices IIA and IIB. Figure [8] shows a map of the Laroche-Florennes district for reference.

    Re-siting measures were immediately introduced. That some slight delay elapsed in perfecting cover was due to the necessity for deciding the location of the replacement units. The surprising depth of penetration seemed likely to involve the Florennes area, and to cause further evacuation of the proposed replacement sites.

    In the meantime a member of the Organisation Section had been instructed by the Commanding Officer to proceed to the area to cooperate with the RAF Regiment Commander and, by means of armed reconnaissance parties, to produce information on the following points:

    (1) the front line situation.
    (2) the possibility of re-occupation of Jemelle.
    (3) the possibility of re-occupation of the AMES 7922 site at Laroche by a Light Type 100 unit.

    By the 21st December some stabilisation of the situation had been achieved, and the Florennes area appeared to be relatively safe. By this time a number of actions had been initiated as follows:

    (1) AMES 105 was rushed to Florennes from Headquarters on the 18th December, and became available for G-H operations on this site at 2315 hours. The movement, which was executed in the face of great obstacles presented by a snow blizzard and drifts many feet deep, reflected great credit on the crew and officers concerned.

    (2) A 105 foot tower was hastened from AMES 7911 and erected at Florennes to await the arrival of AMES 114, who were to take over G-H operations from AMES 105.

    (3) Advance preparations for the return of a Light Type 100 unit to the former site of AMES 114 at Laroche were completed. AMES 108 were moved from Axel to Wing Headquarters and checked technically in readiness to fulfil this commitment when the military situation permitted.

    (4) Jemelle Signals Centre was re-occupied later on the 19th December, the situation having improved. Owing to further deterioration in the situation, it was necessary to evacuate Jemelle again on the 22nd.

    (5) All units with the exception of AMES 114 and 106 were instructed to return to Wing Headquarters for re-fitting.

    (6) The second channel of AMES 105 carried out satisfactory tests with AMES 7911, with a view to becoming C slave of the modified Ruhr Chain.

    (7) AMES 106 who had arrived at Philippeville on the 19th were ordered to proceed to Florennes.

    (8) AMES 114 took over G-H operations from AMES 105 at 0900 hours on the 21st.

    (9) AMES 105 became operational with effect from 0900 hours on the 21st as C slave of the modified Ruhr Chain (now renamed the Cologne Chain). Pending the production of lattice charts the chain was available for target fixes only.

    Threats to the Florennes area continued to cause alarm, and plans for a further evacuation were made, the units to move in the following order of priority as far as possible:

    (1) Type 9000.
    (2) Type 7000 and Heavy Type 100.
    (3) Light Type 100 with the exception of AMES 106 who were to stay on site as long as possible, even to destroy the technical equipment if necessary.

    Reserve sites at Elincourt (vN.872714) were chosen against this eventuality and AME stations 9442, 120 and 108 were subsequently deployed there. By the 26th December, however, it was apparent that there was little prospect of an early return to the Laroche area.

    Vital radar navigational aid cover of all types was therefore re-established with the minimum delay with AMES 114 and 7922 operating at Florennes in a G-H capacity and as a C slave of the Cologne Chain respectively, and AMES 9422 (No. 2/9000 Convoy) providing Oboe cover at Elincourt. Figures 4, 5, and 6 show the amendment in Gee, G-H and Oboe cover respectively consequent upon the re-siting of these stations.
  12. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    Part 4

    The successful maintenance of operational cover at this critical time is due in no small extent to the work of the Communications Section. In the early days of battle, when it was necessary to move units with great rapidity, W/T signals personnel were in many cases the last to leave the threatened area, maintaining vital communications until the very last moment possible. In addition to maintaining contact with such units in the field, a great pressure of work was thrown upon the Headquarters Section by the necessity for constant liaison with the various military headquarters to obtain up-to-the-minute reports on the front line situation. The 14th Air Formation Signals played their part in the maintenance of land-line communications, and it is worthy to remember one incident in this connection, when on Christmas Eve 1944, four men built a field cable over the River Meuse at Dinant with the Germans only four kilometres away. Thus although the strain imposed on the Section as a whole was very great, vital communications were maintained at this critical time with a high degree of efficiency.

    The Commanding Officer received the following letter written on the 4th January 1945 from Air Marshall J.E. Robb, CB, DSO, DFC, AFC, Deputy Chief of Staff (Air), SHAEF:

    “I have just heard of the magnificent work done by your unit in the recent rapid re-siting of G-H and Oboe equipment necessitated by the enemy offensive.

    Please accept my thanks and congratulations in maintaining such vitally important services for all the Air Forces concerned.”

    It is interesting to note that Field Marshall von Rundstedt subsequently disclosed that he had detailed an armoured unit for the specific purpose of capturing intact all 72 Wing units at Laroche. The enemy were in possession of the locations of the respective units, and of other details, including their strength and degree of mobility. In view of this, their successful withdrawal without casualty was a very notable achievement and reflected the greatest credit on all concerned.

    The New Year commenced with the threat of a further evacuation of technical units; in this case the Molsheim area was endangered by the enemy’s thrust beyond Strasbourg. On the 2nd January, the Area Commander signalled Wing Headquarters that an American withdrawal was in progress and that preparations to move had been instituted according to a plan prepared on the 24th December. Information on the military situation was also requested.

    The Commanding Officer immediately replied that preparations to withdraw were to be completed, and that the closest liaison was to be maintained with the local military commander. He advised that no risks were to be taken, and gave authority for the evacuation to be undertaken on the initiative of the Area Commander without further reference to Headquarters in the case of an emergency. Units were instructed to proceed to Commercy and to await further orders there. The order of retreat was laid down in a further signal, with the following order of priority:

    (1) No. 1/9000 Convoy, including the B and D Mobile Signals Units.
    (2) AMES 117.
    (3) AMES 102 with the K Mobile Signals Unit. AMES 102 were to take over operations from AMES 117, and to remain on the air until the last reasonable moment; at the worst, technical equipment and documents were to be destroyed if necessary, in order to facilitate the retirement of personnel.

    Meanwhile reports on the military situation were requested from authoritative sources, and these indicated that there was no immediate danger, and that it was anticipated that a minimum of 48 hours warning of the necessity for withdrawal could be given. On this basis, therefore, instructions were modified and the Area Commander was signalled that unless an emergency arose, units were to remain on site pending further orders. In the event of an emergency, however, the previous orders were to be adhered to.

    On the 4th January the position became untenable, and the Commanding Officer signalled the order for all units to evacuate in accordance with standing instructions. This decision was based upon the advice of SHAEF, who stated that the army authorities were now prepared to give only ten hours notice of attack. This was followed by further instructions that AMES 102 were to withdraw with the main body, and that the serial array and spars of AMES 117 were to be salvaged if possible, leaving the tower intact.

    All equipment was successfully withdrawn to Commercy, but adverse weather conditions again caused long delays; AMES 102, which was the last unit to leave the area, was bogged down in deep drifts of snow for a considerable period.

    By the middle of January the enemy attack had been repelled with some force, and the re-occupation of both the Laroche and Molsheim areas came under consideration. Although the Laroche area was clear of the enemy, it was not possible to occupy it immediately. A vast number of mines had been sown on the area, and all habitable accommodation had been destroyed during the short-lived German occupation. In addition the weather conditions were extremely severe, and the snow which was several feet deep made movement difficult.

    The site was inspected by a reconnaissance party after mine clearance had been affected over a restricted area. On the 26th January the Commanding Officer decided that the return of all units to the area could now take place.

    The units returned in the following order:

    (1) AMES 120.
    (2) AMES 7922.
    (3) No. 2/9000 Convoy.
    (4) AMES 114.

    The Ruhr Chain was re-established at the end of January when AMES 120 became operational as C slave at 0900 hours on the 28th. AMES 7922 took over operations as heavy C slave at 1615 hours on the 29th.

    AMES 120 were deployed at Laroche as fore-runner of the other units, and they did excellent work under very trying conditions. They move to Laroche on the 18th January, making their way to the site through a blinding snow storm. Some shelter was found in a shelled house, but this was quite inadequate to keep out the intense cold. Three of its rooms were later repaired in an attempt to make it more habitable; glass from picture frames served to provide some temporary windows, and the remaining holes were plugged with cardboard.

    Meanwhile exceptionally severe weather conditions persisted, the snow continued, and the roads were impassable; the amount of wreckage on the technical site made the immediate erection of a 105 foot tower for AMES 114 impossible. Even after the site had been bulldozed, it was a quagmire, and the tower was then only erected with great difficulty.

    The unit continued to work cheerfully through great physical discomforts, showing an excellent spirit of determination to do their job; these were perhaps the severest conditions ever experienced by any unit of the Wing. In addition to preparing the site for AMES 7922, they found time to issue up-to-the-minute reports on the front line situation, and later to prepare, with AMES 7922, a site for No. 2/9000 convoy.

    No. 2/9000 convoy moved back to Laroche on the 29th January, and became fully operational there on the 5th February. AMES 114 were the last unit to re-occupy their former site at Laroche, moving there on the 6th February, and becoming operational at 0900 hours on the 8th.

    In the meantime plans for the re-occupation of the Molsheim area were also proceeding and on the 8th January AMES 102 returned in advance of the other units and became available for G-H operations almost immediately. On the 18th January No. 1/9000 convoy moved to a site near Baccarat (vV.2680) to await clearance of their former site, and they were later joined by AMES 117. The latter unit did not return to Molsheim, however, but was deployed at Saint Avold (vQ.169616), moving there on the 27th January and becoming operational at 0900 hours on the 8th February. No. 1/9000 convoy returned to Molsheim on the 5th February and became operational on the 12th.

    Thus we see the successful re-establishment of radar navigational aid cover on the pre-offensive sites.

    On the 16th January the following letter was written by the Air Officer Commanding No. 60 Group to the Commanding Officer:

    “Recent enemy attacks in Europe have emphasised the need for you to have a very clear understanding of my policy regarding the evacuation and re-occupation of RNA stations under your command. I am entirely satisfied that the decisions which you made during the recent attacks were correct, but it is possible that at some time in the future you may be faced with further decisions under different circumstances, without time to refer the matter to my Headquarters. The following lines of policy are therefore laid down for your guidance.

    “The loss of heavy equipment (RNA) cannot be faced owing to shortage of supply, but light mobile equipments are replaceable; I therefore consider that it is a justifiable risk to leave a light mobile equipment, if provided with reasonable defence, on the site very much longer than heavy mobile equipment; crews are smaller; the equipment not so irreplaceable and the complete loss, should it occur, of such equipment and crew, though regrettable, would not be as disastrous or as lasting in its effect on RNA cover as would be the loss of heavy equipment.

    “It follows therefore that heavy equipment, particularly Type 9000 equipment should not be sited in such a position that it is liable to capture, or have to be destroyed to prevent capture. If sufficient mobile defence forces, including light armour and light anti-tank weapons, are available (and this provision has been requested from HQ 2nd TAF) light mobile G-H equipment and crews may be sited further forward and left on site considerably longer that would be justifiable with heavy equipment.

    “You should at all times keep yourself informed of the military position by the closest contact with local military authorities in the area of your stations and also with Headquarters 2nd TAF, Headquarters No. 85 Group and SHAEF. You should, of course, give due weight to the advice obtained by you from the three last named Headquarters but the decision to act on this advice either in evacuation or restoration of a station is one for you to make, after consultation with me or my deputy should you so wish. On the other hand the military commander in charge of operations in any given area is entitled to order you to evacuate a station on tactical military grounds should he consider such an order necessary. Similarly, the permission of the local commander must be obtained before a station is re-occupied.

    “Your policy should be to restore, at the earliest practicable moment, any station previously evacuated, unless you have received information from my Headquarters of any change in plan rendering such restoration unnecessary.

    “Similar problems are likely to arise in the event of an Allied advance. Plans for the formation of new chains, or the opening of new stations (with the exception of G-H stations allocated to 2nd TAF) must receive the approval of my Headquarters before they are implemented. Once of these have been approved by my Headquarters the decision as to how soon the stations can be moved to the approved sites rests with you; in making this decision you will give due weight to the advice of any military Headquarters concerned and obtain permission, in the normal manner, of the local military commander.”

    On the 23rd February 1945, the following extracts from a personal letter from Air Vice Marshall W.E. Theak, CBE to the Commanding Officer were signalled to the Area Commander Laroche, No. 2/9000 convoy, AMES 7922, 114, 120, 106 and 105:

    “Now that the Battle of the Ardennes has been successfully won, I would like to congratulate you on the excellent work done by your units in that area under conditions always difficult and often hazardous. I have watched the situation closely from day to day and have been fully informed of the difficulties imposed by severe weather, congested roads and mud, and I fully appreciate the determination and hard work which has been necessary to overcome these difficulties and to maintain essential RNA services.

    “I would ask you to convey my congratulations to all Officers and Men concerned in this good work of which the Group is justly proud.”

    The Commanding Officer added his own appreciations to this message.

    It is fitting to end this Chapter with short testimonies paid to the Gee and G-H systems by the main users, Bomber Command and Second Tactical Air Force.

    The accuracy of Gee at comparatively short ranges was well illustrated on the Ardennes front during January, when 2 Group aircraft blind bombed through 10/10ths cloud, blasting St Vith. This earned high praise from Bomber Command and the front line troops.

    An extract from a Bomber Command Report on G-H indicates the excellent service maintained by the system during this time:

    “In December 1944, the G-H force continued to add to its rising fame, and, despite weather conditions, which had hampered other bombing operations, it set an example in maintaining continuity of effort in one of the worst months of the year, by operating on 15 days of the month. Three of these attacks were in support of the army, during Rundstedt’s break through in the Ardennes, the first being undertaken in response to an urgent call for tactical support when other Air Forces in the theatre were unable to respond to the call because of prevailing weather conditions. On this occasion, an attack was made against Trier, when the target area was entirely fog covered. The success of this attack and the weather conditions under which it was made, drew the personal congratulations and gratitude of the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force.”
  13. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    A couple of appendices still to come.
  14. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    A further confirmation that the Germans knew about the radar units in the Ardennes comes from this entry in the Operations Record Book of No 72 (Signals) Wing, RAF from the end of May 1945 (mentioned as a footnote in the Wing History):

    "The Air Officer Commanding 60 Group notified Air Commodore Phillips, Commanding Officer 72 Wing, that in the course of recent investigations it had been brought to light that Field Marshall Von Rundstedt in the Battle of the Ardennes had detailed an armoured unit of considerable strength for the specific purpose of capturing intact 72 Wing technical units located at Laroche. In particular, a Type 9000, a Type 100 (Heavy) and a Type 7000 unit were desired. The enemy were in full possession of pinpoints and other details such as degree of mobility of these convoys."

    This is from AIR 26/103.
  15. bennys-son

    bennys-son New Member

    I am researching a personal history of my Father, having identified his photographic archives, diary etc. RJ 5369 was formed at RAF Dunkirk near Canterbury, a RAF Chain Home radar site, in August 1944 alongside RJ5370 (commanded I believe then by my Father Flt Lt Herbert 'Benny' Bennett) and RJ5371. The three units crossed the Channel from Tilbury to Knocke near Ostend on Nov 20, 1944. They were not part of the radio direction team (GEE/OBOE), but actual radar units, tasked to detect enemy aircraft coming out of Germany to attack allied forces. Hence the RJ nominal rather than AMES - though I don't know what RJ stood for...

    The CO was Sqn Ldr Len Pittendrigh - the lead lorry of 5369, an Austin, was known as 'Pitt's Pint'. (And incidentally, the lead of 5370 was 'Dead Ernest', my Father's middle name - unfashionable then and a joke so gawd knows why he passed it on to me in 1960...and I've done the same to mine... ). By Mid December my Father's role has changed, and he seems to have moved to a support role between the three units, stationed in south Holland and Belgium, and recc'ing new sites as the Front advanced, as well as seizing German technical kit for 72 Wing.

    The attached pictures show the RJ5369 team in Malmedy in Early-Mid-December (around 9/10th judging by his diary) - so a few days before the Ardennes offensive, and my Father's diary recording the event - though he was at the time in Holland.

    I also have the August 1944 team picture showing all RJ5369 with all names (and 5371/70, less my Father who was the photographer) and a high resolution of 'Pitt's Pint' entering Hohengoeft near Strasbourg the following February - so this was clearly one of the lorries rescued at Malmedy. Too big to post though so if interested, please PM and let me know.

    Footnote: In total there are about 250 pictures i the archive, from Belgium, France, Germany and Denmark (Romo, and Exercise Post Mortem in 1945) and am hapy to share with serious researchers who can help fill my gaps. Again, PM please.

    Footnote 2: As a child growing up, my father talked briefly and usually to peers about his 'war' days. He had a story about how he had almost been captured by the Germans in the Ardennes, and had to lead his unit to escape in the dead of night. I was always mystified about why the detail was always thin and to me, he seemed to change the subject when asked for more. Now I know...he was 100 miles away at the time, but clearly missed his own story.. Cheers Dad! Good one...having seen the pictures including meeting the Russians, and 'liberating' part of Denmark, his own stories were just as good!

    Attached Files:

    CL1 likes this.
  16. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    Fantastic and welcome, personally I would nbe most interested in any pictures showing vehicles of the RJs.

    regards TED
  17. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    Yes, please show some pictures of the vehicles
  18. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    Fantastic to hear your story, Benny's son. I too would love to hear more and see the photos.

    ON "RJ", I always thought that stood for "radio jamming" but I could well be wrong.


  19. chick42-46

    chick42-46 Senior Member

    Following my earlier post, here are two entries relating to RJ5369 from the History of 72 (SIgnals) Wing.

    The first lists Benny's-son's father, HE Bennet under Officers on the Strength of Wing HQ at cessation of hostilites. The second is a list of men mentioned in dispatches etc, which includes 2 RJ5369 men, including the Sgt Mason mentioned in the pocket diary posted at #35 above.

    72-wing-history-page-170.jpg 72-wing-history-page-184.jpg
  20. Jmch

    Jmch Member

    My late father John J McHardie, Service Number 1019763 served with an Raf Radar Squadron as a Corporal MT driver. He landed on Omaha beach from an LCT on D+3 and served continually with the unit till the end of the war in Europe. My sister is sending me a photo which she believes is of him at Omaha and as soon as I receive it I will scan it and send it to you.

    My father reported that when he landed from the LCT he had to stand on the dash and steer the truck with his foot, AS he was only 5'4" tall he said he began to get worried when the water started lapping his chin. Fortunately the extended exhaust and waterproofing measures worked in his cad but he said some trucks were waterlogged and had to be abandoned till the tide was lower. I'm afraid I don't have much more from his experiences in Normandy except general talk about St Lo and the move out and north into Belgium.

    The unit he was with were at the Battle of Aachen in October 1944 where he said they were at Drielandenpunt ("Three-Country Point") on the Vaalserburg. A high point and tourist attraction about 2km from Aachen. He reported helping US engineers to load explosives with time fuses into tram cars which they then push down the hill to free wheel into Aachen.

    After Aachen the unit moved to a new location outside Malmedy. I believe the unit was located near the village of Stavelot. Dad was actually in Malmedy at a field cinema show when the order was put out over the loudspeakers for all personnel to return to their units due to enemy infiltration. Although I have seen reports of RAF regiment being involved the convoy he was in seem to have been protected by a US unit that dad always called Rangers. The Rangers rear guard he reported as blocking the road behind them with satchel charges. Dad as the MT Corporal on the convoy gained a field substantive promotion to sergeant after the battle for emerging from the Ardennes with more vehicles than he started with by using every available man to drive any abandoned vehicles they came across.

    There is an interesting footnote to the US troops. When they had safely reached Mons the OC of the convoy thanked the US OC for getting them out safely only to be told it was as well they had as the orders were to shoot them and destroy the equipment rather than let them and it fall into enemy hands. Hence the abundant supply of satchel charges.

    After the Battle of the Bulge the unit re-equiped and continued with the US advance down through Germany finishing the war in the close vicinity of Nuremberg, indeed Dad said they were at the liberation of Dachau and were used to control the US troops who were intent on killing the Germans present.

    I have made a quick scan of photos I have found and will make better copies if you wish them. The two larger ones at the bottom show the convoy after it arrived at Mons. My dad is the small mani in forage cap and jerkin smoking a cigarette in the centre of the picture. You will notice the men were in RAF battle dress which dad said caused them to be stoned by Belgian civilians who thought they were German POWs. It was after this that when they re-equped they were issued with british khaki battle dress.

    As an indication of just where this unit went, the photos of the pontoon bridge were taken at Remagen the day after the railway bridge final collapsed and the wide straight road is an Autobahn beside the Rhine. The shot of dad with his whisky ration is taken at the end of the war at the Von Faber Castle (of pencil fame) which was his last billet with the unit before being posted to RAF HQ in Brugge.

    Dad was finally demobbed from RAF Kirkham 10/1/1946.

    I myself served in the RAF for 12 years as, strangely enough a Radar Technician and during Mechanic training at RAF Locking in 1969 sat my final exam on type 13 and type 14 GCI radars. I'm not sure what equipment dads convoy had but he did report it had been converted to clip onto the centre pole of bell tents. Maybe that will help you identify the unit and the equipment.
    Wapen, Klubhausman and CL1 like this.

Share This Page