I thought readers might be interested to see original Axis material on which the intel reports were built. So here is a Fliegermeldung, an aerial recce report, in all its glory. The cognoscenti will recognise this as a NARA copy. If you click on the picture, it should load it in all its glory.
The example here was a message dropped at the command post from the air, in order to expedite delivery. It would have been followed by a full report based on the interpretation of the pictures taken. But this would of course have taken some time, and not been available until hours later. Dropping messages from the air was a relatively standard way of delivering timely intelligence to German ground units.
So, what does it say? From the top:
Submitted Fliegermeldung Reporting unit: Crew Ju 88 – 7A+GH* 1st Report Location: air drop Date: 12 Jan 1942 Time 14.15 hours Pilot: Feldwebel** Weger Observer:Flight Feldwebel*** Schlesier Path: Take off: 12.20 Arco – Uadi Faregh – Trigh el Abd – Tengeder – el Hacheim – Mechili – Msus – Arco Received: Ic 12 Jan 1942 19.00 hours To: Panzergruppe Map used 1:1,000,000 Task: Eye and photo reconnaissance in area outlined above Report: 12.45 4,500 m Around Giofer about 20 vehicle stopped 12.50 5,000 m Just north Belcleibat in Uadi el Faregh 2-3 vehicles stopped 13.45 6,500 m Just north Tengeder about 5 vehicles stopped 14.00 7,000 m Northern edge of el Hacheim 80 – 100 vehicles stopped 14.50 7,500 m Around el Mechili about 20 vehicles stopped 15.10/15.?5 8,000 m on track Bir Belhamed – Msus about 50 vehicles, driving west 15.40 8,000 m Airfield Msus occupied by about 40 planes, single- and 2-engined Weather no clouds, visibility 100 km Light good Defense None
* 7A was the unit code for 1./(F)121, a long-range reconnaissance unit equipped with Junkers 88D-1, the long-range recce version of the Ju 88. GH was the plane identifier. Since the plane was based at Arco dei Fileni air field, it is likely that it was part of the Afrika Kette, a small group of recce planes permanently based in North Africa, while the remainder of 1./(F)121 was based in Sicily on 12 Jan 1942, at Catania, participating in the assault on Malta (see here).
A less fortunate sister of GH can be seen below:
** RAF equivalent rank: Sergeant, US Army Air Force equivalent rank: Staff Sergeant
*** This is the first time I note an NCO observer, they normally seem to have been officers.