The principle of Gee
Radar, the wartime miracle.
The original Gee station at Winterberg in 1945.
Early Days at RAF Winterberg
Early Days at Iburg
Those things will never run" That's what the two Officers in charge of setting up the North German Gee Chain thought when they saw the vehicles housing the equipment. They were 8 years old and arrived at Hamburg by boat on Christmas Eve 1952.
With snow falling heavily they were pushed, pulled and somehow driven the RAF Butzweilerhof through the day and night arriving on Christmas day,
Everyone fell into bed exhausted only to be woken two hours later to say that the neatly lined up vehicles were blocking the entrance to the Officers' Mess.
The next batch of vehicles arrived on New Year's Eve in equally filthy weather but were driven to the camp successfully.
No time was lost on their arival, everyone set about cleaning the vehicles and getting to know the rather antiquated equipment they carried. Only four people had any experience of operating Gee equipment and only two had seen this wonderful 'light' version
Eventually the vehicles were to be driven out to Winterberg (124SU) and Iburg(757SU). The snow was two foot deep and there were ice warning on the autobahns. One vehicle took three days to get to Winterberg. Of the two remaining vehicles, 725SU went to Adenaur and 889SU went to Fulda in the American zone.
The setting up at the site took five days with the crews working round the clock in freezing conditions and eventually on Febrary 28th at 10.00 hours the chain went on the air spot on time.
Troubles were many, the phone lines were poor,the equipment layout was as per the book i.e. one set in each vehicle which meant running from one vehicle to another when changing 'gear'. It was a typical Fred Karno outfit but it worked and worked efficiently.
When 1 SHQ was established the control of the W/T net was 1SHQ with 550SU at Spikejeboor, 124SU at Iburg, 757SU at Winterberg, 725SU at Adenaur and 889SU at Fulda. The net was joined in 1954 when the second batch of SU's became operational.
Depending on the height of the aircraft and reception conditions, Gee had a maximum range of around 350 miles and was used by bombers as a means of approaching target areas.
At long range, it’s accuracy diminished and other methods were used for the final approach to the target, but it came into it’s own again as a means of navigating with great accuracy back to base.
The principle of Gee is basically simple. A Master station transmits a powerful radar type pulse. This is picked up by the aircraft and displayed on a cathode ray tube. The pulse is also received by a ground station known as a slave. This station then transmits it’s own pulse after a short delay. The aircraft also receives this pulse and displays it on the same display as the master pulse.
The display is calibrated in units knows as Gee units. and the time difference between the reception of the two pulses can be determined in these units.
The actual display at RAF Winterberg showing Master and slave pulse
This figure can then be used to plot the position of the aircraft on a line drawn on a map.
This would be of limited use however so a second slave also receives the master pulse and transmits it’s own pulse. This is displayed in the aircraft on a second part of the cathode ray tube display and the difference in time compared with the master pulse can be determined.
The figure for the second reading is plotted on a second set of different coloured lines on the map and where this intercepts the first line, you have the position of the aircraft. The slave pulses are identified by having a small indent pulse after them which can be made to blink. They are also triggered by every alternate master pulse and this enables them to be displayed on a separate line on the display.
A third slave station can be added to the ‘chain’ as it was in North Germany. This extends the range of the chain and also helped accuracy in some circumstances. This responded to every master pulse and therefore appeared on both parts of the display
A monitor station, often combined with the master as it was in North Germany, keeps a check on all the pulses, checking their ‘phasing’ their time delays, their shape and strength. An operator watches these all the time and is in touch with all the slaves so that adjustments can be made to maintain maximum performance and accuracy.
Adapted from an article by Ray Barker.To read the full version CLICK HERE
.We embarked at Tilbury in rough weather and it took us three very seasick days to cross to Ostend. The first posting was to Louvain in Belgium but I was soon posted to a new unit, AMES7932, a combined Gee master/ monitor station near the German border to prepare for the crossing of the Rhine.
A couple of months later another unit took over from us and we set out for Germany itself. We travelled along the west bank of the Rhine to Bonn while we waited for a pincer movement of troops to capture our next location, Winterberg.
After crossing the Rhine on a pontoon bridge we eventually arrived at our destination which was the summit of Kahler Asten, a mountain in the Hochsauerland.
There was a large round tower onthe summit which had housed a German met station and a high frequency transmitter so we decided not to assemble a full tower but take advantage of the exisiting one. We hoisted only a section of our tower and fastened it to a convenient concrete block on the roof of the Asten tower.The feeders were run down the outside of the tower to the transmitter vans. We were operational very quickly giving extended coverage to the aircraft bombing deep into Germany.
The Americans had brought a high powered signals unit to the site and the Master Sergeant in charge told it it would blast us off the face of the earth. When we got operational, he came to see us and said 'Jeez what have you got there ? You win and promptly packed up his equipment and departed.
We also experienced infiltration by small numbers of German troops who assumed we were still a German radio station. On one occasion, German soldiers were waiting to be served breakfast. Fortunately they didn't cause us any problems, we fed them and sent them off to the nearest prisoner of war camp.
I stayed at Winterberg for almost a whole year being demobbed at last in June 1946. I returned home to a South Yorkshire mining village only to discover that after six years involvement with high level electronics, we still did not have electricity in the house.
(Ray Barker has published a book 'Reflections on a chain of events.To read a longer version of the article above CLICK HERE )
EARLY DAYS AT RAF WINTERBERG
George Harthill ex Ground Radio Fitter RAF Winterberg
My association with Winterberg goes back to the time when it was operated by Bomber Command. I was with 4 GRSS at Chigwell and used to carry out the Quarterly overhauls on the UK eastern Chain 7K stations.
We were also responsible for the Type 100 Chain in Germany. The unit at Winterberg at that time was 757 Signals Unit. Winterberg was the Master in that chain, and the Slaves were at Iburg, Adenau in what was the French Zone and Wasserkupper in the American Zone..
On 19 September 1954 I, along with some others was placed on an emergency draft to Germany. We arrived in Germany and were accommodated at Butzweilerhof. We sat on our backsides, played snooker, cards and all other games to pass the months we waited there. The reason was a dock strike and the vehicles could not be shipped while the strike was on. Eventually in December we went to Hamburg to pick up the vehicles and arrived at Butzerweilerhof on Christmas 1954 - at least some of us did. Some vehicles spent the night on the road because of breakdowns from petrol starvation due to rust in the petrol tanks. After a further spell at Butzweilerhof we eventually set out in early 1955 for Winterberg, Nordhorn, Iburg and Uchte. With the exception of the mail and ration runs, no vehicles were allowed out because of the dreadful conditions. However we got out and arrived safely at Winterberg.
We had a wonderful time at Winterberg but unfortunately I was posted to Handorf Mid 1955. My wife joined me at Winterberg and we spent a delightful summer there, staying firstly in The Holiday Inn and later in an army house in the village itself I still remember the address - Haus Kramer, 6 Nunetahl Strasse. I was unfortunately posted to RAF Handorf where I met up with Ted Lamsdell who had been at Uchte. After Handorf both Ted and I went to Brockzetel (Jever) and on to RAF Locking as instructors where we met up with Pete Wareham who had also served at Uchte. Ted is now living in Forres Morayshire having ended up at RAF Kinloss. My wife is the godmother to his second daughter, Susan., who was born at Locking.
People I remember at Winterberg were Johnny Walker, who did Louis Armstrong impressions. Brian Coshall who did impressions of everybody, Ken Smith, Jack Shave, Lew Ayres, The CO Duggie Orme, an MT corporal Arthur fsomebody from Manchester, A corporal cook, Geordie ( I think) Murray, Ted Gittins who if I remember correctly played the piano, a corporal operator, Paul sommebody who also brought his wife out to Winterberg and stayed at The Holiday Inn, Jack Shave. I have e-mailed Johnny Walker.
Anhow Jim, it was a nostalgic occasion for me seeing all the domestic site and the dear old Asternturm where I spent many happy hours. If I remember rightly, the Deutsche Bundespost had one of the rooms at the top of the tower.
EARLY DAYS AT IBURG
I joined what became 124SU at RAF Chicksands not far from Henlow where
the unit was in the process of being formed. There were twenty six of us
and quite an array of vehicles , two Bedford QL`s
two Austin equipment vans with the radar GH sets installed plus a Bedford
15 cwt. Van for odds and sods. We also had a Bedford
water Bowser ,two seven ton Austin`s fitted with Deisel
generating plant another Austin with extending
sides to convert into a triple size office wagon and for the CO. a