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A selection of pages devoted to the North German Gee Chain
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THE HISTORY OF THE NORTH GERMAN GEE CHAIN>
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Setting up the North German Gee chain
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

SETTING UP THE CHAIN

The following is adapted from an article in the Gee Bulletin with some additional information supplied by John Pond.

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.

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BOOK RECOMENDATION
An interesting book which covers the principles of GEE and GEE H, its early history and use in the war is RADAR A WARTIME MIRACLE by Colin Latham and Annie Stobbs. Published by Allan Sutton Publishing Limited, Phoenix Mill, Far Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire at £17.99 There is one section recording the arrival of the first set of equipment at Winterberg in 1945.The following sections are adapted from material in the book and used by permission of the authors.

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THE PRINCIPLES OF ‘GEE’

Gee was the most widely used radio navigation aid during the second world war. It was devised by R.J.Dippy working at the Bawdsey Research Station. Trials began in 1941 and it was used extensively on operations from 1942 onwards.

 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.

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THE ORIGINAL GEE STATION AT WINTERBERG

Adapted from an article by Ray Barker.To read the full version CLICK HERE

January 1945

.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 )

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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.

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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  Landrover.
Manning  was   if  I remember correctly a total of twenty six ,Flt . Lieutenant Stanley the C.O.  Sgt. Henderson  ,for the Technical signals side and Sgt. Jenkins for the M.T.Section. There were two Corporals Baker and Cunningham on the Radar watches and several lads ,four or six as watch  keepers ,a bunch of lads as drivers and myself and Don Cannon the cooks and one or two GDH`s.
We kicked our heels at Chicksands for a while and  eventually  set off for the continent in convoy escorted by two “snowdrops” to guide us to Sandwich where we stayed  overnight before boarding the train ferry Lord Waldren the following morning .the crossing was calm and only two of the lads succumbed to Mal de Mere, on arrival in Dunkirk we made our way to a small Pension in the outskirts of the town  witch turned out to be a  small time House of  ill repute on the side  ,much to the discomfort of the liason  officer who joined us on disembarkation . The lads were billeted three or four to a room and the Nco`s were given the job of safe guarding our morals   ,I`m  glad to report that the morals appeared to be in good order when the next day we made our way to a Belgian Air Force Barracks  in Brussels  where we stayed  the night ,the next morning we discovered that the Barracks had been the scene of a  mutiny three days before and most of the Belgian erks thought we had been sent to help restore order. There was a bit of tension in the air and we were glad to be on our way again.
Our next stop on the grand tour was at Whan near to Cologne where we stayed for some while, I don’t have dates for the wanderings, but it took several months before we hit the road to a site at Adenuar in the Eiffel near to the Nurberg Ring race circuit, the technical site being on the course itself. We stayed there for some months before going to Butzweilerof for another bout of   heel  kicking ,  with the GH  lads going off for minor test runs lasting perhaps a day as part of schemes with “2ND  TAF.
Eventually   we made our way to Roberts Barracks near Osnabruck where we lodged on 38TH Field Regiment of the Royal Engineers, the barracks were allegedly pre-war SS accommodation , but I woudn`t  swear to that. After settling in there we set up what was to be our home base at Iberg and the pictures on the Iberg page show the site pretty much as we found it. As you entered the site up the hill road the tech wagons were parked up on the right hand side and the domestic stuff, the marquee-cook house cum mess on the left. Most of this stuff was parked fairly well up the site and the office truck, spare transport and the bowser on the lower short side of the hole witch we forbidden to enter. At the very far end of the site beyond the tree line a small desert Lilly was constructed and we made daily journeys to and fro to Osnabruck, . At Osnabruck we lodged on the Royal Engineers and made our daily trips to Iburg in one of the QL`s   where  Don  and I would prepare the midday meal  on a twin burner  petrol stove of the camping variety. This went on for several  months  lasting  throughout the  winter, with us  lot all issued with flying suit inners, and a Rum ration  each day.
The   following  spring brought  the start of the construction of  our new  domestic site  in the village of  Iberg  to which we moved in the early summer,  it was a great  relief to all of us as it was not far from the Gasthous where we spent most of our  evenings  in  concentrated  supping when in funds.  The time  passed  happily till it came round to  September of 52 and  I  travelled back to the UK and demob, I wouldn`t have missed  it for worlds.

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