Tag Archives: Anderle

Leo Anderle, Czech Air Force

Wednesday, 8 April 1942

Operation WHISKEY

This is the second attempt to fly this NKVD operation. This time it is the Czech pilot P/O Anderle who attempts the trip in Halifax L9613. This is his first operation flying the four-engined Halifax. Time has run out for this operation to be completed before the ends of the moon period, and there will be no light for the first part of the trip. There is no moon until well into the early hours, but Anderle gets only as far as Mannheim, where he is unable to identify any point, essential for setting course futher east.

Anderle takes off at 20.25 from Tempsford. (The clocks have recently been set to Double Summer Time, so it’s 18.30 GMT.) Course is set for the target, but he encounters thick cloud and icing. He arrives north of Mannheim at 23.15 but cannot identify any feature to act as a pinpoint. Hardly surprising, as the moon won’t rise until 02.58 DST. South of Mannheim he decides to return. He flies over Paris, but realises he has done so only after recognising the castle of La Roche Guyon, on the Seine below Paris. He crosses the French coast at Ailly (just west of Dieppe) at 03.30, and encounters very poor weather over the Channel. He lands at Tangmere at 04.40.

Sources

138 Squadron ORB
US Naval Observatory Astronomical Applications Department

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

Sunday, 25 January, 1942

Operations DACE, HORNBEAM, CYPRUS

P/O Leo Anderle takes on the operations that P/O Smith was unable to complete on the 10th. Anderle takes off at 19.15, and is over the target areas near Le Mans from 21.40 to 22.35. DACE is dropped two kilometres south of Mulsanne, and the other two are parachuted one kilometre south-west of Vermeil, stated by Anderle as eight kilometres north-west of Vaas. Four canopies are seen from the aircraft, but no-one sees any sign of a reception committee. This is unusual, for the normal procedure at a drop with a reception committee is to abandon and return another night. However we don’t know the orders for this particular sortie; as the previous attempt has failed, the pilot may have asked the agents what they want to do.

Anderle returns to Stradishall and lands at 01.30.

Operation OVERCLOUD II

OVERCLOUD is a Gaullist SOE RF operation to supply its agents in Brittany. The first OVERCLOUD was to drop an agent and some containers in December, first attempted on the 8th but flown successfully by Leo Anderle on the 12th.

Sgt Wilde is the aircraft captain for tonight’s sortie. The ATF indicates that the cargo consists of two packages and four containers. Otherwise, very little is recorded about his sortie: Wilde takes off at 19.20 in Whitley T4166. Poor weather conditions cause the operation to be abandoned, and Wilde lands back at Stradishall at 22.15.

Postings

Pilot Officer W.R. Austin is posted in to 138 Squadron from No. 51 Squadron, Dishforth. He should not be confused with F/Lt J.B. Austin, currently on detachment in Egypt.

Wednesday, 7 January 1942

Operation MOUSE/VERMILION

This attempt to drop Edmond Courtin (MOUSE) was the first SD sortie by a wholly Czech crew. P/O Leo Anderle took off from Stradishall at 23.37 and headed for Tangmere and the French coast at Port-en-Bassin. The target was probably near Châteauroux. However, the Whitley soon ran into very wintry weather. Anderle’s report is dominated by the weather: at 01.13, two minutes after his ETA over Port-en-Bassin he flew into an intense snowstorm at 8,000 feet. Over the Channel the cloud tops had been about 5,000 feet, but over France it extended to ground level. Anderle was plagued by severe icing and static storms. A few minutes later he set course for somewhere quite illegible; the only extant copy of Anderle’s report is a very blurred carbon flimsy, and even the clerk compiling the 138 Sqn ORB entry gave up and wrote a brief summary.

At 01.27, at a DR position of 49 degrees North, 0 degrees 12 minutes West (about 30 miles south of Le Havre), Anderle decides to call it a night. (The reliance on DR positioning makes clear that visibility was bad.) At 01.41, DR position Port-en-Bassin, course is set for Tangmere; at this point they are at 3,000 feet. They activate their IFF, and at 2.38 see searchlights and flares roughly ahead; these guide Anderle towards Tangmere, and he lands there at 03.15, the airfield covered by ground haze.

Edmond Courtin is a wireless operator sent out by SOE’s Belgian section, apparently to assist Julian Detal (GYPSY) and Frederic Wampach (VERMILION). (These have already been sent out in September.) In reality Detal has asked for a replacement for Wampach, whose nerve has gone. Nevertheless Courtin is being sent out with a set for Wampach, hence the dual operation name.

It will be March before MOUSE is dropped.

Kabrit to Malta

F/Lt Austin flies back to Malta with a crew of four and four Yugoslav trainee parachutists. His return to Malta has originally been intended for the 2nd, but poor weather prevented it for that night; intensive bombing of Malta has since kept them in Egypt.

A P/O Munroe (about whom no more is known, not even whether he is in 138 Squadron) has been sent out to carry another four Yugoslavs to Malta. F/Lt Austin has refused to carry all the Yugoslavs in his aircraft as having so many in the rear fuselage would risk the Whitley’s centre of gravity. He takes off from Kabrit at 22.50, and lands at Luqa at 10.30 the following morning. There’s no record of P/O Munro’s flight in the other Whitley, so it has to be assumed that his trip is similar.

Sources

MOUSE/VERMILION

TNA AIR 20/8334, Encl. 132A
MRD Foot, SOE in the Low Countries, pp. 259-263

Kabrit to Malta

TNA AIR 20/8504, JBA report dated 16/2/1941
Logbooks: S/Ldrs Austin and Livingstone

Sunday, 28 December 1941

Operation ANTHROPOID was the successful SOE-sponsored Czech resistance operation to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich. Though Heydrich was not in the second rank of the Nazi leadership dominated by Goering, Goebbels, Bormann and Himmler, he was definitely of the third rank. Respected and feared by those above him, Heydrich commissioned the methodical extermination that became the Holocaust. Operation ANTHROPOID is also notorious as the trigger for the Nazis’ revenge: the razing and erasure of the villages of Lidice and Lezacky, their populations liquidated or deported to concentration camps.

Operations ANTHROPOID, SILVER A, SILVER B

In September 1941 Konstantin von Neurath, Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia, was replaced by Reinhard Heydrich as Acting Reichsprotector. In 1939 von Neurath had instituted a repressive regime in Czechoslovakia, but by 1941 Hitler regarded him as insufficiently zealous. Heydrich instantly brought a systematic programme of terror, with the wholesale arrest of political and resistance figures, with summary execution in many cases. Almost immediately the Czechoslovak government-in-exile commissioned SOE to mount a coup-de-main operation to assassinate Heydrich, the man they saw as the cause of their country’s misfortune. Cut off the new head, they believed, and the situation might improve. But they mistook von Neurath’s regime to be the pattern for Nazi rule, unaware that Heydrich was Nazism in unalloyed form.

The operation was initially planned for October 1941, an instant response to the terror. Two soldiers were selected from the Czech forces in exile, Karel Svoboda and Jozef Gabcik, but ANTHROPOID had to be postponed following Svoboda’s injury in training; it took several weeks to prepare his replacement, Jan Kubis, and to furnish him with appropriate documents.

The sortie

For the pilot and crew of Operation ANTHROPOID it is an unusual sortie. Operations to eastern Europe are still rare, even in the winter months. The Whitley’s range is constrained by its low cruising speed (and therefore by the hours of darkness over enemy territory), and by its small payload when flown with a full complement of additional fuel-tanks. It’s a moot point whether the RAF would have permitted the operation to go ahead in September or October 1941; in a Whitley it would almost certainly have been a one-way trip.

But now, thanks to General Sikorski’s relentless lobbying for a Polish Air Force Flight equipped with faster, long-range aircraft to make air contact with the Polish homeland at least feasible, 138 Squadron is receiving its first Halifaxes. One operation (RUCTION) has already been carried out with a Polish crew, with mixed results. F/Lt Ron Hockey has undergone Halifax conversion training with a new crew, the training provided at Linton by 35 Squadron, the first operational Halifax squadron for much of 1941. The Canadian pilot Dick Wilkin is Hockey’s 2nd Pilot. ANTHROPOID is to be the first non-Polish Halifax operation. It is to be combined with operations SILVER A (a three-man team) and SILVER B (two agents), both of which have been attempted before but failed.

Stradishall’s runways are too short for a fully-fuelled Halifax, so Hockey flies to Tangmere before taking off from its extra-long runway at about 22.00. The Halifax has a crew of eight (the Halifax’s normal bomber crew of seven, plus a Despatcher), seven agents for the three operations, plus Major Sustr of SOE’s Czech Section as Accompanying Officer: a total of sixteen souls, plus two containers for ANTHROPOID. Hockey’s take-off run is about 1,300-1,400 yards into a 15 mph head-wind. The meticulous Hockey records his take-off weight as 59,800 lbs. He and his crew cross the French coast near Le Crotoy, at the mouth of the Somme estuary. He then sets course for the German town of Darmstadt, possibly because the Rhine has a distinctive configuration south-west of the town.

But the weather is against them. Snowfalls have softened the recognisable features of the land beneath, and despite the good visibility the Rhine is not easily seen. Nevertheless Darmstadt is reached at 00.42 and course is set for the ANTHROPOID pinpoint. As they fly east at about 10,000 feet the snowfalls cover the landscape, making accurate navigation using ground features impossible: ‘the heavy snow . . . blotted out all roads, railways, rivers, and small towns’ — the major types of ground-feature useful to identify a pinpoint. It is bitterly cold at that height: oxygen has to be used to help keep the crew warm and alert. Twice they encounter enemy aircraft, which nevertheless leave them alone. Low cloud increases to 10/10ths, and they lose height gradually from their cruise height of about 10,000 ft. At 02.12 they see flak ahead, and identify its source as Pilsen. According to Freddie Clark, the target area is near Borek aerodrome, south-east of Pilsen and some 80 km south of Prague. (This I have yet to check against the SOE file, currently on loan to Paris.) Instead the agents are dropped blind near the village of Nehvizdhy, some 22 kilometres east of Prague. Hockey may even have flown over the capital, Prague, without realising it.

Hockey than sets course for the SILVER A and SILVER B target. From Hockey’s report it is clear that he is unaware of his location. As he is way off course, it follows that the second and third sets of drops will also be off-target. Moreover, in his report Hockey hints that his orders, at least regarding SILVER A & B, are to drop these teams regardless of whether he can find the precise target: ‘Both the two latter operations were completed under difficult conditions owing to their urgent nature and according to instructions received before take-off.’

Having completed all three operations, Hockey sets course for Darmstadt, but does not see it on the return leg. His account implies that they realise their true position only when fired on over Brussels. They fly over Lille, and cross the French coast near Fécamp at 07.20. As they cross the Channel the cockpit’s overhead hatch flies open, and Dick Wilkin has to hang on to it, probably until they land, to stop it coming adrift and fouling the tailplane controls; Hockey reduces speed to 140 mph. They cross the English coast near Selsey Bill at 08.07, and land back at Tangmere twelve minutes later.

This operation shows that the Special Duties crews, when faced with similar conditions to those faced by the main force bomber crews, fared little better. Their ability to find a pinpoint deep in enemy-occupied Europe depended on pinpoint-to-pinpoint navigation at relatively low level. At 10,000 feet the ground beneath, if it is visible at all, appears very different from the detailed view acvailable at 2,000-4,000 feet; under deep snow, even a city can be rendered almost invisible at that height in poor visibility. By the time Hockey reached Czechoslovakia there was heavy cloud; had he not encountered flak he and his crew might have had little idea of where they were.

Sources

TNA AIR 20/8334, encl. 128A
Clark, ‘Agents by Moonlight’, pp. 34-38
Logbook, G/Capt. R C Hockey.
‘Assassination; Operation ANTHROPOID, 1941-1942’, by Michal Burian and others, Prague (2002).