These OVERCLOUD operations can easily be confused with the maritime OVERCLOUD operations reported in Brooks Richards’s ‘Secret Flotillas’. They relate to the same organisation, set up by the Free French (RF) section of SOE, and involved several figures who had been instrumental in some of the very early SOE sabotage operations. It operated in Brittany, and was therefore under the watchful eye, and control where naval activities were concerned, of SIS.
The first OVERCLOUD air sortie has already been carried out by P/O Anderle on 12 December, a container-drop near to the Meucon airfield near Vannes.
Operation OVERCLOUD 2
P/O Simmonds takes off at 19.36 in Whitley ‘L’, Z9232. He is over the target at 23.35 and drops four containers. (The report does not mention the two packages on the ATF.) Due to poor visibility they land at Steeple Morden at 02.00. There is no information available about the target.
Operation OVERCLOUD 3
Sgt Peterson takes off at 21.04 in Whitley ‘M’ Z9282. Over the target at 00.55; four containers are dropped. Peterson returns without encountering any enemy opposition (encounters are rare anyway at this period of the war) and lands at Stradishall at 03.54.
The timings of these two sorties indicate the possibility that these sorties formed a ‘double’, though if both targets were at the same location the second drop would have been risky to those on the ground. The organisation had several experienced personnel, easily enough to man two separate landing-sites; this would also have facilitated the disposal of the containers and the dispersal of their contents.
Takeoff and landing times are from the Stradishall log.
OVERCLOUD 2 and 3
Stradishall Ops Officers’ Log
138 Squadron ORB
TNA AIR 20/8334, encl. 115A
TNA HS 7/123 (SOE RF History)