Bremen was taken by assaults from North and South, with separate T Forces attached to both groups. Their most important target was the Deschimag U-Boat Assembly Yard, where sixteen new U-boats and a Narvik-class destroyer were captured. Hamburg surrendered on May 2, and three T Force companies were dispatched to cover the 106 listed targets. One company secured the great Deutsche Waffen- und Munitionsfabriken (DWM) works in Lubeck, which was still being investigated by Ordnance experts over a month later. The T Force Bulletin reported the DWM organisation was of prime importance from the point of view of ammunition development, ballistics, explosives and propellants, including work on case-less ammunition for fuel-injection guns and cartridge cases made of propellant. (21)
On May 4 and 5, the Kiel T Force, consisting of two companies of about 200 men, was confused by instructions given by higher headquarters and advanced to its target – where it was met by a garrison of 12.000 Germans. Despite a somewhat hostile and skeptical reception from the German staff officers in charge, the force secured the cruiser Hipper and a number of U boats and maintained control of the garrison until relieved on May 8. They were assisted in the exploitation of several intelligence targets in the area by the 30 AU. After this the T Force was directed onto targets in Denmark.
As mentioned above, Kiel was also the target for the 30 AU. They secured a most valuable objective, Walterwerke, together with the owner, Dr. Hellmuth Walter, a leading expert on jet propulsion. Although he had spent four days burning his documents before the arrival of the Allies, he was convinced to reveal the location of the microfilms of the most important documents, which he had previously hidden away. The 30 AU were also able to secure the intact prototype of a jet-propelled submarine capable of 25 knots below the surface of the water. (22) Walter revealed that the design of the Me 163 rocket-propelled plane had been given to the Japanese six months before. The 21-AG T Force Bulletin No 7 for the period May 19-30, 1945 notes in its first paragraph: The short-term investigation of targets in Northwest Europe is drawing to a close and the long-term exploitation is now commencing. At the same time, the T Forces are retracing their steps to unearth installations and research establishments about which no information was available before the crossing of the Rhine River. (23)
Bulletin No 8 (Jun 1-20, 1945) explained further that: there has been a change of emphasis in the subjects under investigation. A new list of subjects which are not concerned solely with German war potential, but cover rather the secrets of German industrial and technical processes, is now being covered. It includes among other items metallurgy, plastics, textiles, forestry, building machinery, utilities, and railway equipment. (24)
By June 1945 it was estimated that nearly 1.000 tons of captured equipment had been evacuated by the T Force.
INDEPENDENT T FORCE TEAMS
One of the tasks of the Intelligence Targets, (T) Sub-Division was to make arrangements with Army Groups for further search of combat areas for items of intelligence interest after the T Forces have ceased to operate in such areas and for similar searches in areas where the T Forces are not operating. (25) The history of one such T Force Team is recorded in the online memoirs of Jack Heslop-Harrison, a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (REME) officer who commanded a T Force Team immediately after the war ended in May 1945. About a dozen REME officers were assembled north of Bruxelles from different locations to take charge of individual teams. They were briefed to:
– get to their individually allocated targets;
– collect any information available;
– collaborate with such RE and other units present in the vicinity about the earmarking and possible acquisition and transporting of potentially valuable equipment;
– then report back from a number of set contact points.
Heslop had with him a 2nd Lieutenant, a Royal Artillery sergeant, and five other ranks. Their main target was the Kriegsmarine Research Station at Pelzerhaken on the Baltic coast, north of Lübeck, close to the Danish border. The UK 2-A had advanced to Lübeck, arriving on May 2, before proceeding north to liberate Denmark with the CA 1-A. The previously unidentified Pelzerhaken Research Station had been discovered on the coast to the east of the main line of advance and bypassed by the front line troops. The team’s instructions were to assess the Pelzerhaken Research Station’s facilities and functions and make a decision as to whether it would require further expert, investigation. They found the Station unguarded and were only able to determine its work with the help of the head of research, Dr. Östertag, and one or two of his colleagues. A lack of electric power meant that they were unable to test any of the equipment.
While mainly intended for naval research, projects in progress covered a considerably wider span. The most active radar research was on anti-reflection measures, including methods for masking U-boat conning towers and schnorkels. The Allied bombing campaign had meant that people and equipment had been moved to Pelzerhaken as a still-undamaged haven. For example, research continued on infrared detection systems under Professor Dr. Müller, previously based at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. When his Institute had been largely destroyed he had escaped with his family and files of research results to a house in the Black Forest, and afterward, to Pelzerhaken. Heslop reported him as someone who should be given facilities to recover his material and possibly be taken to the UK.
The team briefly visited the aircraft factory and shipyards of Blohm and Voss, located east of Lübeck, near Travemuende. The site was untouched, with partially and fully constructed hulls standing unguarded. There was nothing the team could do about this site except report what was seen and urge that some guards be sent. Heslop’s team left northern Germany in mid-June at the end of their mission for a short debriefing in Holland. (26) It was indicative of the thinness on the ground of Allied technical investigators in the northwestern area that Heslop met no other teams with similar assignments.
US T FORCES – 12-AG
After the completion of 12-AG’s T Force operations in Paris on Sept 6, most of the attached units and personnel were withdrawn by their parent organizations. Some of the new personnel assigned for future operations were not made available before the T Force HQ moved to Verdun, from where the operations against Luxembourg, Nancy, and Metz were dispatched simultaneously. Col Francis P Tompkins was the T Force commander, and he proceeded to Luxembourg with the main HQ element. Capt William E. Johns (Assistant S-3 for the Paris‘ T Force under Tompkins commanded the Nancy‘ T Force, which rejoined the main force in Luxembourg once its mission was concluded. There was prolonged enemy resistance in Metz which prevented the Metz‘ T Force under Lt William E Bell from entering the city, so the unit withdrew to rejoin the main T Force without completing its mission.
From Luxembourg, the 12-AG T Force moved to Spa in Belgium where the rest of the assigned troops joined the HQ. Between October and December 1944, the unit moved to Remouchamps and was reinforced with an Armored Infantry Battalion, Signals Communications personnel, and various intelligence units and detachments. Col John H F Haskell replaced Tompkins on Dec 28. During January and February 1945, Allied forces were recovering from the Battle of the Bulge, and the T Force was preparing to enter German territory. In March, the unit entered Germany and established a Command Post at Eschweiler. One sub-force was dispatched to search Bonn while the main unit entered Koln on Mar 6. The Bonn T Force had 51 building targets plus 12 targets of opportunity, and 30 personality targets, of which 12 were found and processed. A second sub-force was sent on Mar 9 to Coblenz, where they were able to search 67 buildings and process 58 persons from the target lists. On completion of their missions, both forces rejoined the T Force in Koln. Koln had 246 building targets, plus 39 targets of opportunity. 201 personality targets were processed between Mar 6-13. 215 additional investigators from 24 separate intelligence agencies were processed by the T Force during the stay in Koln.
At this time, the T Force was split in two. The main force was to operate with the US 9-A in the Ruhr, while the other T Force was to operate with US 3-A in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden. The units departed Koln on Mar 26. The Commanding Officer of 12-AG T Force, Col Haskell, was subsequently wounded at Neuss and evacuated on Apr 2, being replaced by Col William P Blair on Apr 4. The T Force Main operated in the Ruhr from Mar 25 to May 1, while the junior element, called T Force Lucky, moved into Frankfurt on Mar 28 and dispatched a smaller element to operate in Wiesbaden. Frankfurt had 171 buildings and 109 personality targets. All the buildings were searched and about 10% of the personality targets were arrested. In Wiesbaden, there were 73 buildings and 40 persons on the target lists. Nine further building targets of opportunity were exploited. The personality targets had already been covered by CIC elements with US 80-ID.
In one of the building targets, the HQ of Wehrkreis Kommando XII, important signals intelligence documents relating to codes and ciphers were recovered. Operations in both cities were completed by Apr 12, and the T Force Lucky moved north towards the T Force Main, operating in the Wuppertal area from Apr 14 to May 1. On May 3, the two forces were reunited at Herten. Most of the attached elements were reassigned on May 6, and the T Force HQ and HQ Company moved also to Wiesbaden. (27)
21. T Force Bulletin No 5 – Period 2-10 May 45, 21 Army Group Area, US National Archives ref: MR/CRR/243/15W4-19-9-D, ENV 69, Section 3
22. WO 205/1049, Comments on T Force Activities in Second British Army from 31 Mar to 15 Jun 1945, dated 18 June 1945, by G2 30 Corps, District T Force (UK National Archives)
23. T Force Bulletin No 7 – Period 19-30 May 45, 21 Army Group Area, US National Archives ref: MR/CRR/243/15W4-19-9-D, ENV 69, Section 3
24. T Force Bulletin No – Period 1-20 Jun 45, 21 Army Group Area, US National Archives ref: MR/CRR/243/15W4-19-9-D, ENV 69, Section 3
25. Activities of Intelligence Target “T” Sub-Division, dated 31 December 1944, SHAEF Office of ACOS, G-2; NARA MR/CRR/331 7W4-11-16-C-D Box 137
26. J Heslop-Harrison Autobiography: War Service Part 7, “T Force” (online at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/genomes/jhhpdfs/orig11wartf.pdf)
27. G2 Section (Pts V-VII) 12th Army Group Report of Operations (Final After Action Report), Vol IV, from US Army Military History Institute