One of the most dramatic WW2 covert operations was carried on this day 77 years ago. Thanks to the efforts of Poles, a top-secret V2 rocket stopped being a secret, as the Home Army Intelligence brought its plans and vital parts to England in the course of Operation Wildhorn III.
Not only did the Home Army infiltrate German V2 rockets production in Peenemünde, which led to its bombing, but it also penetrated the security of the testing in occupied Poland – and took over one of the rockets in near-mint condition.
The components got examined, and reports were attached to the crippled rocket, whose journey was far from over. It was smuggled south, to a secret airfield not far from the launch site, Blizna near Dębica in German-occupied Poland and then transported to Britain on a C-47 Dakota sent by RAF. This is where Operation Wildhorn III begins.
The dramatic take-off of RAF Dakota FD919.
The RAF transport plane C47 Dakota had serious trouble taking off from the abandoned airfield in Matczyn, near Lublin, where meeting with the partisans took place.
The first take-off failed due to the plane’s wheels getting stuck in the mud. The second attempt was also unsuccessful. Threatened with detection by the enemy, the crew considered destroying the plane and its precious cargo. Finally, wooden boards pushed under the wheels helped, and Dakota took to the skies. Its first pilot, Flight Lieutenant Stanley G. Culliford from New Zealand, was awarded the Virtuti Militari.
The operation carried out in occupied territory, with German troops all around, could easily have become a failure. There was also a risk that the V2 components could be captured by advancing the Soviets.
The transfer of the V2 rocket components and its documentation wasn’t the sole purpose of Operation Wilhorn III. The mission also included the replacement of a few “Silent Unseen” soldiers, as well as the evacuation of Tomasz Arciszewski, future Prime Minister of the Polish government-in-exile, and Józef Retinger, principal advisor to the exiled authorities.
Thanks to the success of the mission, the British Intelligence obtained data on the V2 rockets before their first attacks in September 1944.
Source: Institute of National RemembranceBez kategorii History