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Thread: Radio silence...or not?

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    Default Radio silence...or not?

    I understand that ‘radio silence’ was adopted on the outward leg of a mission, but was this broken to radio back to base the effects of their mission.
    I ask this having read the remarks in the 35 squadron ORB’s for 28th October 1944 (Koln)
    Aircraft PB 612(F) –Capt. S J Hausvik-deputy master bomber-..’This aircraft is missing. Was last heard at 16.28 hours giving “Attack unsuccessful”. From this it would seem that the Master and /or Deputy Bomber called back.
    Can anyone confirm the procedure used?
    TIA
    Paul Herod.

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    Default Radio Silence

    Hi Paul

    I don't have the Cof E transcript to hand but in the case of my relative from Coastal Command who crashed his Sunderland, it says and here I am working from memory:- "After completion of their patrol over the Bay of Biscay they were informed that Pembroke Dock (their home base) was fogged in and they were to proceed to Lock Erne in Ireland. No further communications were received."

    This would indicate that the crew had sent a message back that they were returning to Pembroke Dock having completed their mission. This was Coastal Command but it could have been other branches too.

    Dyan
    Last edited by Dyan; 6th May 2012 at 10:51. Reason: typo

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    Coastal Command aircraft carried a coding machine which allowed tactical information to be passed on unsecure w/t.

    Bomber Command aircraft did not carry the coding gear so normally carried out a listening watch on w/t to receive wind broadcasts, details of weather and landing aerodromes and alternatives.

    Bomber Command transmissions were normally reserved for distress and in some rare cases aircraft being attacked. A few operations such as Signals Intell by the Wellingtons required radio silence to be broken to ensure that the information would reach base even in the event of aircraft loss.

    From the time of 16:28 hrs you are looking at the daylight operation of the 28th Oct. This was planned as a two phase attack with two aiming points. One was to be attacked before the other because of the chance of drifting smoke blanking the target. This may be the reason for the unusual radio message.

    At 22:00 to 23:00 a small raid from the night force was planned to return to Cologne.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Looking into this further.

    The Koln raid was described as a success and it was the night raid on the Bergen submarine pens that was called off by the master bomber due to cloud cover after the first few aircraft bombed.

    However PB612 was lost on the day raid and the message time agrees with time over target.

    This suggests that the message during the Koln raid was for guidance of aircraft during the raid rather than a transmission to base. Much in the same vein as directing aircraft onto which markers to bomb and which to ignore.

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    Ross
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    Ross,
    My thanks for your efforts and information.I now wonder if the message was heard at base, or as suggested by other aircraft that reported the message during their own debriefing.
    Thinking about this it must be the later, I think the pilot would have access to vhf equipment for air to air contact, whereas the w/op would be involved with hf set to transmit back to base.
    Do you mind if I ask your source for this additional information?


    Regards,
    Paul

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    Hi Paul,

    Chorley to confirm the operation and take off time for PB612.

    Bomber Command War Diaries to confirm the results of the Koln and Bergen raids.

    AIR14/3377, Bomber Command Monthly reports on Interception - Tactics, June 1944 - Jan 1945 for the time over target and precis of raid.

    Only the first two pages of the report for 28th Oct have survived but they usually report signal intel from Y stations listening into German nightfighters and own aircraft debrief reports. So although the message may have not been transmitted on either H.F or V.H.F. intended for the UK it would have been picked up by the eavesdroppers.

    Regards
    Ross
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    Default Wind Finders

    Paul

    For large raids, at least, radio silence was not maintained during the latter part of the war. In December 1943 a trial was started during which selected aircraft at the head of a bomber stream broadcast 'found winds' to the Group HQ at 30 minute inrtervals - both outbound and inbound. 4 Group was selected for the trial. By the end of January 1944 5 Group was also involved and 'Wind Finders' became a established as a normal element of at least the larger raids.

    From Group HQs these found winds were relayed to HQ Bomber Command where a special meteorological upper air section was established in early January 1944. If the winds were significantly different to the forecast winds for the leg flown, the Bomber Command forecaster issued an amendment 30 minutes after the bombers had sent the found winds. Both the HQ Bomber Command forecasters and transmitting bombers had to adhere to a strict timetable. (Source - Air 2/5029).

    Don't forget the fact that a raid was 'on' was no secret; it would have been signalled by increased radio transmissions before and during departures, and would be tracked by radar - true, the target would not have been identified during the early stages of a raid, but there were only a limited number of dog-legs that could be flown.

    Coastal Commands's Met Reconnaissance squadrons transmitted reports every 80 minutes during their daily sorties; these were along standard tracks - southwest from Brawdy; over the North Sea from Docking and Wick towards Sola; north from Wick and southwest and northwest from Tiree - all but the last two being within range of German bases. (Rackliff's "Even the birds were walking".).

    Brian

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    My father was a W/O with 97 Squadron. One of his crew mates wrote me a couple of years and described some of the W/O's duties which I quote below.

    "First there is "Tinsel." this was an anti-aircraft device which your Dad operated. This most under-mentioned device was the most simple and totally effective of all the electronic devises used during the war. It didn't require any specialist fitting or new equipment. It was a sensitive microphone attached to or hung near one of the engines and wired back to the W/Op's transmitter via his morse key. German night fighters were controlled by ground operators who, with the aid of radar, vectored them onto the bombers. The W/Ops of each Squadron were briefed to listen out on a specified wave bands. On hearing a German voice the W/o jammed the morse key down, thus transmitting an ear-splitting noise and made their controllers instructions impossible, no doubt gave a lot of German ears a very nasty time.

    Your Dad, along with other W/Ops used this arrangement, quite unofficially to transmit messages to each other, as of course the Germans could not use these transmissions to pinpoint the aircraft, like a normal transmission would. Your Dad would then often pass bits of interest to the rest of the crew via the intercom.

    Also your Dad had the job of dropping "Window" anti-radar strips down the flare chute. He told me that when things got a bit "hairy" over the target he tended to ignore the specified timing and just shovelled the bundles out as fast as he could,- quite understandably."

    The time frame here would have been April 1943 to September 1943.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paulh View Post
    I understand that ‘radio silence’ was adopted on the outward leg of a mission, but was this broken to radio back to base the effects of their mission.
    I ask this having read the remarks in the 35 squadron ORB’s for 28th October 1944 (Koln)
    Aircraft PB 612(F) –Capt. S J Hausvik-deputy master bomber-..’This aircraft is missing. Was last heard at 16.28 hours giving “Attack unsuccessful”. From this it would seem that the Master and /or Deputy Bomber called back.
    Can anyone confirm the procedure used?
    TIA
    Paul Herod.
    Paul

    I have recently acquired two books written by Bomber Command Wireless Operators and in one it mentions a short code was sent, as soon as the aircraft had completed its mission.

    Looking at 1940 files (which is really a bit too early for your op) in the PRO / TNA, radio transmission silence was generally kept until over the sea on return and identification signals had to be sent to their "Control Section" about 60 to 90 miles before crossing the British coast on return in 1940, although this I.D., system was congested in poor and cloudy weather.

    In July 1940 my Grandfather's Whitley was shot up over occupied territory damaging an engine and they did send W/T transmissions to base whilst over the sea, to give and update their positions should they be forced to come down in the sea. Although after further research about their W/T calls, they never actually sent an S.O.S., managing to keep their Whitley flying and were diverted to another aerodrome in England.

    In 1940 they also used code (Syko) to which Ross refers, to request certain information by using coded cards in a Syko Machine to decipher W/T messages sent to the aircraft in code.

    However, radio silence was generally kept after take-off on the outward flight, to avoid the Germans getting a location fix of the aircraft.

    On their last mission when they were killed near Eastleigh Aerodrome, Hampshire and the No. 4 Group Raid Form Intelligence to the War Room confirms regarding the two missing No.4 Group aircraft:-
    "They both signalled that they had completed their tasks."

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Hood; 13th May 2012 at 18:04.

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