Category Archives: All posts

Wednesday, 11 March 1942

Stradishall

The Advance Party of 138 Squadron moves to Tempsford. S/Ldr Romanoff would have been in charge, with P/O A.B. Smith as his deputy. The party of 40 includes a pair of representatives from each of the many Ground sections.
The move of the Main Party to Tempsford, including the aircraft and crews, is to be carried out on 14 March, and is to be completed by 23.59 on the same day.

Monday, 9 March 1942

Operation FRENSHAM 1

S/Ldr Romanoff takes off on his first sortie, at six minutes past midnight. Strictly, therefore, the sortie takes place on the 10th, but by convention it should be dated to the 9th; in essence the night after the previous attempt. Romanoff has an all-Czech crew.

Ron Hockey watches from the control-tower. He sees the Whitley climb away, too steeply. It may be the first time Romanoff, who has flown Whitleys at Ringway since the late summer of 1940, has taken off with a full load of fuel, agents and containers. The Whitley stalls, and crashes. There are no survivors. Hockey and others rush to the wreck, but the fire and explosions are so fierce that they cannot get close. Hockey is peppered with shrapnel through his greatcoat.

This is the second attempt to drop the FRENSHAM agents, one night after the previous attempt. I have found no mention of FRENSHAM in the SOE archive. Whoever they were, and whatever their mission, it has escaped the record.

Sunday, 8 March 1942

Operation FRENSHAM

At 23.20 Sgt Wilde takes off in Whitley Z9286. He crosses the English coast at 4,000 feet, but the altimeter becomes unserviceable and the sortie is abandoned. Wilde re-crosses the English coast at 01.18 and lands at Tangmere two minutes later, still carrying his containers.

Normally he would have jettisoned the containers over the airfield before landing in order to keep the Centre of Gravity forward. He must be glad to get down in one piece, for a still-loaded Whitley is prone to stalling. Tangmere’s long runway allows the aircraft to be ‘landed-on’ at a higher speed with the tail still up, a method which forestalls a stall.

Tuesday, 3 March 1942

Operation ADJUDICATE

P/O Smith flies Whitley Z9275 to drop a package to ADJUDICATE, Count Dziergowski. According to the Air Transport Forms, the ADJUDICATE operation (near Cahors) is combined with a container drop called CLOAK, near Toulouse.

Smith crosses the French coast near Caen at 6,000 feet, but drops to 1,500 feet as he crosses France. According to the ORB the pinpoint is a wood near ‘Leoron’; the problem being that I can identify nowhere with that name. Smith drops the package from 600 feet. He searched the pinpoint area for about an hour, before finding it some 14 miles away. There is no mention of a further drop, so maybe CLOAK didn’t happen. He returns by the same route (whatever that is) and lands back at Stradishall at 02.49.

Operation TURNIP

P/O Rymills takes off in Whitley Z9230 and crosses the North Holland coast north of Ijmuiden at 6,000 feet. He then drops to 2,000 feet, though the ‘Cannisen’/’Lanuisen’ hand-written in the ORB has no equivalent (or near-equivalent) on the map. They reach the pinpoint, which the ATFs inform us, is near Almelo, near the German border. The ground is covered by snow. The agents refuse to jump for a second time: while their tracks might not be a dead giveaway in a remote countryside where later snow is likely to cover them, in a densely-populated area they are likely to be discovered. This refusal is judged acceptable on their return.

On the return leg, as Rymills re-crosses north Holland he drops eight pigeons north of Doorn, and lands back at Stradishall at 04.10.

The agents are Leonardus Andringa (TURNIP I), stocky, fair-haired, and Jan Molenaar (TURNIP II), his wireless-operator. Their eventual dropping-point at the end of March is near Hellendoorn, a few kilometres west of Almelo. Molenaar breaks his back and both legs by landing awkwardly on a water-trough; as the wireless-operator he will have been wearing the ‘A’type harness, with negligible control over his landing. He takes his cyanide ‘L’ tablet. Andringa is picked up on 28 April due to some clever improvisation by one of Giskes’ Dutch policemen called Poos, who profits from information gained by Schreider’s patient questioning of Taconis.

Giskes reports to London that Andringa has died on 6 December 1942, having caught pneumonia after spending a night on reception-committee duty, and London believes it, informing his executor. A French agent who has managed to escape reports that ‘Akkerman’ (Andringa’s alias) has been seen in prison camp at Rawitz, Silesia in July 1944. Probably true, but in vain: Leo Andringa is one of the many Dutch SOE agents killed in the massacre at Mauthausen on 6 September 1944, two days after the fall of Brussels to the Allies.

Operation COLLAR

Flight Sergeant Morrison takes off in Halifax L9618 at 18.38 and flies to Poland. He notes that the Baltic is frozen. He drops his load over the pinpoint from 900 feet, then returns to base, landing at 06.35.

Operation RUM

This is quite a long trip to the south of France. P/O Anderle takes off in Whitley Z9158 at 20.27. He crosses the French coast at 2,100 feet, then climbs to 6,500 feet in order to keep above the Massif Central. He then descends to 600 feet above the ground to drop his passengers. The pinpoint is the Etang de Thau (Lake Thau), a coastal lake south-west of Montpelier; from there Anderle will fly north to the target. According to Lt Colonel Barry the agents have asked to be dropped east of the river Hérault, north of the railway line between Paulhan and Montpelier. This would place them the target somewhere near La Boissière or Montarnaud. Anderle reports that he ‘dropped three men and two packages, all five parachutes seen to open.’ Anderle then sets course for base and lands at 05.36.

All the agents are NKVD agents, part of the PICKAXE series of operations. One of the agents is a woman, Anna Frolova, 25 years old, whose alias is ‘Annette Fauberge’. Her companions are Grigory Rodionov (aged 40), ‘George Robigot’, and Ivan Danilov (31), ‘Pierre Dandin’.

Operation BERET/BRAVERY/PERIWIG 1

F/Lt Outram flies this combined SIS/SOE sortie to Belgium, but the SOE operation is a container-drop only, albeit to a ‘blown’ agent. BERET and BRAVERY are dropped first: Outram takes off at 21.00 and crosses the French coast at Point Haut-Banc. He pinpoints on the Oise Canal and drops the two SIS agents from 600 feet. He then flies on to the PERIWIG 1 pinpoint, finds the triangle of lights and drops the containers accurately. He returns via the north bank of the Somme and Tangmere, landing at Stradishall at 23.51.

Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris

This is also the night of Bomber Command’s precision (for the period) attack on the Renault factory at Boulogne-Billancourt, the nearest to a full-on bombing raid that Paris will experience. Though it causes many casualties among the workers, many of whom live in the houses near the factories, most French view this positively, though German propaganda seeks to make the most of the carnage.

For the RAF, it shows the way forward, leading to the creation of the Pathfinders: experienced crews are used to drop flares on the target, and the moonlit Seine shows the crews just where they are. Needless to say, the Germans had pioneered the technique over Coventry.

Sources

ADJUDICATE

138 Squadron ORB
Air Transport Forms, February 1942

TURNIP

MRD Foot, SOEILC p.122, 153, 474, and other minor references.
TNA HS9/37/6: Andringa PF
TNA HS9/1048/4, Molenaar PF
TNA HS6/766

COLLAR

138 Squadron ORB

RUM

TNA HS4/342
138 Squadron ORB

BERET/BRAVERY/PERIWIG 1

138 Squadron ORB