Wochschau footage from Crusader

Wochschau footage from Crusader

The Wochenschau was the weekly propaganda news reel of the 3rd Reich. As a boy I watched it’s re-runs, mesmerised. They ran every evening on regional TV stations.

The linked episode has North African footage from minute 24 onwards, including a Stuka divebombing attack, a short episode on female Red Cross nurses in a field hospital, and a fighter battle with Me 109s taking apart some Hurricanes.

m.youtube.com/watch

Please keep in mind that this was propaganda aimed to manipulate as well as inform. The segments would be cleverly cut, and the messaging adjusted to suit a criminal regime and support a criminal cause.

Luftwaffe Magazine Der Adler Online

Thanks to Stuart over at Tanknet, I have come across this, and had a bit of a look. I want to note that I am publishing this for research purposes, and not to in any way, shape, or form endorse the content.

Archive.org – Der Adler

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Cover page of the Italian edition of 30 June 1942, with Field Marshal Kesselring (OB Sued) and Italian Chief of the General Staff Field Marshal Cavallero in Benghazi.

It’s a pretty comprehensive collection of this Luftwaffe propaganda magazine, that was published in multiple languages, and also featured a lot of colour pictures.  Publication seems to have been bi-weekly, and it is reasonably close to the events, so for CRUSADER it is worth looking through the December to March issues of it.

The magazine carried foto stories of the war, both home and actual front, some political articles, regular columns such as ‘How they gained their Knights Cross’, some funny corners and a crossword, amongst other things.

When reading it we shouldn’t forget that it was a propaganda magazine for the Nazi regime, and anything, both pictures and text, needs to be critically considered in this regard, and with it constantly in mind.

Some sample content related to CRUSADER below:

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Anti-aircraft artillery and camels on the move in the desert, in a rather nice shot that certainly led to some ribaldry in other service arms (in German ‘Kamel’ is a term used for someone who is or who has done something stupid).

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Caption: ‘What choice do we have, the German recce planes see every nosetip’. Part of a special set of caricatures on the war in Africa, in the 8 July 1941 issue, incidentally (or not) also the issue in which Major Heymer’s Knights Cross for his services with 2.H/14 was announced.  

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Political education in the 8 July 1941 issue, probably to explain the strategic purpose of fighting in North Africa.

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Death Notice of an ace – Lieutenant Erbo von Kageneck of III./JG27 was shot down in a dogfight with No. 250 Squadron R.A.F. south Agedabia. He suffered an abdominal wound and died five days later in hospital in Naples. His brother, also a fighter pilot, died on the same day in Russia.

Airwarpublications 2./H14 Article pt. 2

I previously plugged the article at this link. Very pleased to see that the second part has now been published.

You can grab it here for a small fee: http://airwarpublications.com/earticles/unit-history-earticles/

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North Africa:  Mechanics in front of Me 110 5F+UK of 2./H14, courtesy Bundesarchiv.

Andrew and Morten are doing excellent work in bringing interesting vignettes of the war to our attention, and hopefully many will support them.

The usual disclaimer still applies.

Not Crusader – Report on the Crash of Hans-Joachim Marseille

Edited 30 May 2018: Added ULTRA Intercepts.

As I said, every so often I post something not related to CRUSADER.

The document below is a report by the unit that recovered the body of Captain (Hauptmann) and Squadron Commanding Officer (Staffelkapitaen) Hans-Joachim Marseille, at the time the top scoring German ace in North Africa, when his Me 109 went down in flames on 30 September 1942 in the area of Pz.Gren.Regt.115 of 15. Panzerdivision.

Hans-Joachim Marseille

Fighter Pilot Captain Hans-Joachim Marseille. Knights Cross with Diamonds, Oak Leaves, and Swords, 3 September 1942. Courtesy Bundesarchiv

Marseille was a major part of German propaganda about the war in Africa, and the way the immediate actions after his death and recovery went demonstrate this. He was generally regarded as an exceptional fighter pilot, and had been awarded well over 100 victories at the time of his death.

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Spanish edition of the Luftwaffe propaganda magazine Der Adler (The Eagle), 14 July 1942, Marseille on the cover, explaining a dog fight.

Copy

M o r i t z, Lieutenant in the Staff of Pz.Gren.Rgt. 115

O.U., 30 September 1942

Report on the Crash of Lieutenant[1] Marseille

On 30 September 1942, at 11.42 hours, 6 German Messerschmitt fighters, coming from the east, fly towards the location of the staff units of Pz.Gren.Rgt.115. Directly above the position of the heavy infantry gun company[2], in about 200 m of altitude, one of the planes suddenly started trailing black smoke; while the pilot escaped, and then, since the parachute did not open, fell from 200 m of altitude smashing into the ground, the plane spun almost vertically down and exploded on the ground.  Remaining parts burned.

MarseilleCrash

Burned wreckage of Marseille’s Me109G. Vehicle in the back at the point where his body impacted the ground. Unknown photographer, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Immediately attending soldiers of the heavy infantry gun company, as well as the doctor arriving five minutes later, could only note the death of the pilot because his brain was smashed in (in addition to a complex fracture of the femur). The time of the crash was 11.45 hours. Further investigations showed that the pilot was Lieutenant Marseille. He carried the following private items on his person: 2 rings, 1 medal, 1 letter, 1 watch, Knghts Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords[3]. These things and the whole pilot’s dress, including parachute, were picked up shortly before 12.00 hours by Sergeant W. Wal, L-21658 Munich II (7.schw.Flum.Kp.Ln.Abt.Afrika).

I arrived at 12.00 hours myself, and immediately recognised Lieutenant Marseille based on the published pictures. I ordered immediately, following the doctor’s cleaning and wound-dressing of the body, to lay it in state. Lieutenant Marseille was laid up under a large awning, covered by a Swastika flag, and surrounded by a honour guard of six men with rifles. At the same time, the commanding officer of the 1st battalion, 10cm Artillery Group Littorio, stationed nearby, Captain Luisiana, arrived with 3 officers and put two wreath fabric pieces in the national colours of Italy onto the chest of the dead Lieutenant Marseille, under the ceremonial greeting of all those present.

At 13.15 hours, Lieutenant Marseille was collected in ceremony by all the officers of his squadron, led by his squadron commander[4], and transferred to his base.

Signed Moritz

Lieutenant, Staff Pz.Gren.Regt.115

[1] His actual rank at this time was Hauptmann, Captain or Flight Lieutenant
[2] Unusually, at the time the regiment had two heavy infantry gun companies, normally equipped with 150mm sIG33 guns, the 13th, and the 15th company. It is not clear which one is referred to here, and I do not know if both were physically present with the regiment at the time.
[3]He should also have carried the diamonds.
[4] Marseille was the Squadron CO until his death.

Thanks to RodM on the 12 O’Clock High Forum, I can now add two ULTRA intercepts conveying the news of Marseille’s death to authorities in London. This is again a highly unusual step, showing that Marseille was not just recognised on the German side. The intercepts are to be found in the UK National Archives, DEFE 3/573 – Intelligence from intercepted German, Italian and Japanese radio communications, WWII, CX/MSS/C 1-533, 1942 Sept 16-1945 May 15.

What is notable is the discrepancy in the height given at which Marseille baled out of his plane, compared to the report by Lieutenant Moritz above.

TO: C.S.S. Personal

From: Duty Officer, Hut 3

Following neither reported in CX/MSS nor signalled abroad

CX/MSS/C44

MEDITERRANEAN

AIR PERSONALITIES

On 30/9 Fliegerfuehrer AFRIKA reported the death of Hptm. MARSEILLE, Staffelkapitaen in JG 27. He was not killed by enemy action. His engine caught fire and he baled out at 3,000 m. His parachute failed to open and he crashed at 0940/30/9 7 km south of the mosque at SIDI ABD EL RAHMAN, in his own territory. He was flying a Messerschmitt 109G.

2359/30/9/42

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Marseille with his 48th claim, a Hurricane Mk. II of No. 213 Squadron R.A.F., in February 1942. Courtesy Bundesarchiv Bildarchiv.

TO: C.S.S. Personal

From: Duty Officer, Hut 3

Following neither reported in CX/MSS nor signalled abroad

CX/MSS/C45

MEDITERRANEAN

AIR PERSONALITIES

AMSEL Ia[1] to 5th Air Corps[2] for Feldmarshall[3], on Hptm. MARSEILLE 2nd Report.

His engine began to smoke from unknown causes over the front area, at 6,000 metres. He then glided towards our territory, during which time the Geschwader[4] control heard him speaking continuously. The enemy did not interfere. MARSEILLE’s voice was perfectly clear. He supposed himself that his engine was on fire. He let his companion in the Schwarm[5] guide him as the cockpit was full of smoke. Flames were first seen as he baled out, which he did at 3,000 metres 7 km. S of SIDI ABD EL RAHMAN ….. (several sentences illegible) …. The a/c was burnt out. Engine and parachute have been found. Funeral probably in the afternoon of 1/10 at DERNA.

0827/1/10/42 GMT

[1]Codename for Chief of Staff (Ia) of Fliegerfuehrer Afrika, the commander of Luftwaffe forces in North Africa.
[2]5a Squadra, the Italian air force command for North Africa.
[3]Probably Field Marshal Kesselring
[4]Wing, a unit composed of three Gruppen, the largest tactical command in the Luftwaffe. Comparable to a regiment.
[5]Flight. A sub-unit of a Staffel or Squadron, comparable to a platoon. The six Me109 reported by Lieutenant Moritz would have been the Schwarm on this occasion. As an aside Schwarm is a very old word, originating possibly in Sanskrit, and being very similar in German, English, and Norwegian/Danish.

Air War Publications – New Article

It’s that time of the year again, the time where I have to plug my friends at Air War Publications. They just published the first part of the 2-part e-Article on 2.H/14, the German close-range aerial recce unit that worked hard to provide intel to the staff of Panzergruppe Afrika.

Examples of the intel provided are below:

Written reconnaissance report (in this case from the long-range recce outfit 1./F121)

Visual interpretation of enemy situation from the air (probably from 2./(H)14, see comment by Andrew below.

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Luftwaffe mechanics working on a dis-assembled Hs126 close-range recce plane. From Pinterest.

You can find it at this link:

Air War Publications – E-Articles

As always, the article is very well researched and written, and contains a number of rare pictures. Well worth the very low price for anyone interested in the war in North Africa.

Full disclosure: I reviewed the article and contributed data and (I think) some pictures to it. I have no financial interest in plugging it here.

D.A.K. 27 March 1941

D.A.K. 27 March 1941

27 March 1941

Aerial reconnaissance ascertained 50-60 motor vehicles, including armoured cars, well dispersed across the countryside in the track area north of B. el Ginn. These can only be forces that have been newly brought up. 18km east of Maaten Belcleibat a stationary patrol was noted.

Forward forces at Agheila were reinforced by bringing up M.G.Batl.8. A.A.3 was pulled out to be fully available for reconnaissance tasks.

09.00 hours Agheila was attacked by one Hurricane at low-level. No losses caused.

I./A.R.75 reached area around Nofilia. By 28 March arrival of 5.lei.Div. is expected.

0251

10.5cm howitzer of A.R.75 in firing position, unknown date and place but almost certainly 1941, based on the tropical helmets. Rommelsriposte.com Collection.

The return march of Count Schwerin was ordered since the Afrikakorps does not consider the reported movements of the De Gaulle troops to have any meaning. Two motor vehicles that went missing at Ummel Araneb have not been found yet. Since Fliegerfuehrer Afrika  did not have resources available a request for help was made to the Italian air force in Hun.

O.K.H. turned the attention of the Deutsches Afrikakorps again on the taking possession of Gialo Oasis, to prevent a flanking move from there in the context of the planned operation.[1] The Deutsches Afrikakorps is fundamentally in line with this view, but considers the move on and the supply of the forces tasked with this to be only possible by air, due to sand drifts affecting vehicles. The Commander in Chief intends for the time being, due to a lack of forces and to prevent dispersion of forces, only to use weak forces (reinforced MG platoons). In this context the quick arrival of the first companies of Foreign Legionnaires was requested from O.K.H. (possibly by air)[2]. Fliegerfuehrer Afrika considers the the plan to occupy Gialo from the air as executable. He does not believe however that air transport capacity will be available prior to 30 March. A corresponding request is made to the O.K.H., to make available to the X.Fliegerkorps the requested air transport units.

[1]A piece of micro-management from Berlin that was no doubt appreciated in the D.A.K. HQ. It is interesting to note however the weakness in infantry at this stage, as well as the very thin situation of air cover across the theatre. The Regia Aeronautica would be responsible for much of the reconnaissance in the North African theatre throughout the campaign.

[2]I suspect this refers to the Oasenbatallion 300 z.b.V. In the end this did not arrive until much later. See this link.