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Strandfest meeting 07/07/07
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Auteur Bericht
Kleine Vuurkruiser

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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Jul 2007 22:11    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

OK Bedankt voor de uitleg. Gelukkig heb ik geen digitaal uurwerk Smile

PS Regulus, de link de je plaatste werkt niet Crying or Very sad
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Jul 2007 22:23    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Wat een prachtig materiaal!
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Regulus 1

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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Jul 2007 11:44    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ondertussen opgelost dankzij Khukri wat die kaart betreft. Als afsluiter de vernieuwe tekst die ik indertijd schreef over de operatie in het engels. Gelieve te noteren dat deze onder copyright valt.

OPERATION STRANDFEST – The origins of close air support

A new look on a unique attack, first of it’s kind in World War I.

This was to become the first operation in which artillery, aviation and infantry were working together, an operation coordinated from the air ! Today the Operation Strandfest is still known but it’s historic importance has been completely forgotten. This is the story of a small scale operation, with major results in new warfare and aerial warfare.

On the east side of the Yser river, still a small part of land was in hands of the Belgian army on the location where the river flew into the North Sea at a city called Nieuwpoort.
Since 1914 it had been a strategic place, the town of Nieuwpoort as this was where the Belgian army stopped the German one by flooding the area of the Yser river from the sluices of Nieuwpoort and some other locations.

So, starting half October 1914, the biggest part of the coastline of the Belgian province of West-Flanders became occupied by the German Marinedivision, the future Marinekorps Flandern. From the Dutch border till Lombardsijde was now in German naval hands, including the important harbours of Zeebrugge, Oostende and Brugge. The Germans originally had hoped to come also into the possession of Dunkirk and Calais, but this finally had been nothing more than some serious wishful thinking.

The importance of the Belgian harbors was very quickly discovered by a number of personalities of the German admiralty who were looking at the possibilities of using the ports. The harbours of Zeebrugge and Oostende each had a canal leading to the port of Brugge in the hinterland of the province, making Brugge an ideal base for submarines, torpedo boats, destroyers, motorboats, etc.

On the 15th November a second Marine Division was added to the first one and the Marinekorps Flandern became a fact, under the command of Admiral Ludwig von Schröder, also called the ‘Löwe von Flandern’ or the Lion of Flanders, who was exactly 60 years old.
On the 3rd of June 1917 a third Division was added to these. Most of the coastal area was in hands of the I Division, while the II and III were more in charge of the area’s near the front. The Lombardsijde area was next to the III Division sector.

Brugge, Zeebrugge and Oostende soon were to become U-boat bases from where the feared U-Flottille Flandern I and II were to operate. The UB and UC coastal U-boat types did sink no less than 2554 ships, excluding the military vessels, while operating from Flanders, something which was not halted by the ‘blockade’ of Zeebrugge and Oostende during April and May 1918.

Not only the U-boats were dangerous, but from time to time there were raids by German torpedo boats and destroyers, operating from the same harbors on all Allied shipping in the Channel, a few times with serious successes !

The strategically importance was known to both sides and soon after the Marinekorps had the coastal area, the British started shelling the harbors with monitors and other vessels. This resulted in a fist Atlantikwall, a network of trenches, bunkers and batteries along the Belgian coastline to defend the harbors and prevent the Allied troops of landing on the coast and weaken the Western Front this way.

About 42 batteries can be named, to be added are a number of Flakbatteries etc, calibers from 5, 8.8 and 10.5 cm to the average 15, 17, 21 and 28 cm, to the enormous 30.52 and 38 cm guns. Some of these batteries were railway guns.

The coast was secured but also the air had to be secured. This was done with a large number of naval air units such as the Marine Feldflieger Abteilungen, the Marine Jagdgeschwader, the Kustenflieger Abteilungen, the Seeflugstatione, Seefrontstaffel(s), Marine Schusta’s,…

Soon the coastline had become a hard to visit area for Allied visitors.

Allied visitor’s which had been playing with the idea to land on the Belgian coastline and get hands on the strategic important harbors, and perhaps even end the war this way by attacking the German Army in the back. It has to be said that the German High Command also seriously feared a landing on the mouth of the Schelde at Zeeuws Vlaanderen, Dutch territory, from where they could easily attack and occupy Brugge and Zeebrugge.

During the night of the 6th on the 7th of June 1917 Haig started another of his campaigns, another bloody one, for which he was known, as were most of the other commanders on either side. It resulted in the capture of Mesen and Wijtschate. On the 12th of July mustard gas was used, not resulting in much at all. On the 15th the shelling of the front started again…

Third Ypres it’s real target is most of the time forgotten, and even has been removed from it’s historic goals and context. The idea was to force an opening in the German frontlines and fight a way to the Belgian coast in order to capture the harbors of Zeebrugge and Oostende ! The big offensive really started on the 31st July 1917 and would result in not even 10 kilometers of terrain taken on the opponent side… Passendale was captured finally on the 6th of November. Capturing Oostende and Zeebrugge was already completely forgotten by that time.

On the 20th of June 1917 the French Army handed over the Nieuwpoort sector to the British, something Admiral von Schröder already was aware of the next day. He suspected now that a Allied, read British, landing was very near. Indeed such plans existed on the Allied side for a landing at Westende.

But already one day before the handover by the French to the British, on the 19th, a patrol of the 3 Marine Infanterie Division captured eleven prisoners of the 32nd British Division. This confirmed the fears of von Schröder that a British attack or landing on the Belgian coast was imminent.

Immediately von Schröder started planning the Operation Strandfest, which was to take the last Allied strongholds on the eastern side of the Yser near Nieuwpoort. This was an area of a depth of 1200 m on 3 km.

He asked permission to do a preemptive operation to seize the bridgehead on the eastern bank. For this he got the 199th Infantry Division in reserve while the attack would mainly be done by the 3rd Marine Division. The operation was to be led by General der Infanterie von Quast, commander of the Garde Korps.

During the last two weeks of June more units of the 3rd Marine Division were taken from the lines to rehearse for the forthcoming operation and this probably happened partially at Bredene.

On the 6th of July the final preparations started as the coastal and other batteries started shelling this part of the front. It would go on like this till the operation itself had started.

Originally the operation was to happen on the 8th but had to be postponed due to the weather conditions, which were extremely bad for the time of year.

However this seems to be a point of discussion and many sources contradict by saying that it was to happen on the 9th at 20.00 hours but it seems that orders arrived early that day that the operation was to be delayed by 24hours due to the heavy storm and heavy rain.

The actual Operation Strandfest happened on the 10th of July 1917. That day it was dry but stormy weather.
At 6 AM the first batteries started opening fire on the British lines.

About two hours later many of the British telephone lines were already down and signal lamps were used to try to get in contact with the artillery.

At 10 A.M. FA 231, I and II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung attacked British lines and destroyed the bridges over the Yser river. Due to the weather conditions the planned gun support from the destroyers and torpedo boats of the Flandern Flottille had to be cancelled.

By this time the shelling became worse and worse and all communications between the two banks of the Yser mouth were gone. The trenches were still in rather good condition.

With the bridges over the Yser destroyed, there was no possibility for reinforcements, and even more the roads leading towards the front were also under gunfire. The British had directly the fear that something was going to happen and were bringing reinforcements with trucks and lorries from Dunkirk, but this was to late.

At 11.30 only one bridge remained in good condition, Putney, the other were out of use already.

13.05 we found the first mentioning of gas. Indeed a new kind of gas shell was used, and it caused anyone to sneeze, affecting the eyes, throat and in some cases led to violent sickness.

At 15.30 there was again use of gas shells.

About this use of gas there can be found also a few lines in the Australian Official History, Volume 4, p 962 :
Some batteries suffered through the enemy’s use, for the first time, of what was to become his most dreaded gas shell, which smells, like new mixed mustard according to the diary of the 36th H.A.G.
The same diary says : The enemy was using a new gas shell freely. Shell bursts like a small H.E. Gas makers you sneeze and run at the nose and eyes. Smell is like cayenne pepper.
This actually was the Blaukreuz shell, a different type from the mustard – gelbkreuz – shell. Both these new shells were used in this action.

By 16.50 the front line was severely damaged, the whole right side was even completely wiped out, the second line was also in very bad condition and the attention of the German artillery went now to the 3rd line. Also many of the communication trenches were gone.

At 19.51 hrs the attack follows by the naval infantry of the III Marine Division, supported by planes.
It took the first German wave only two minutes to take the first British line ! Some reports even still talk about the Seesoldaten taking the lines, although this was a referral to the Seebataillone, which officially stopped to exist by the end of 1914. Surprised by their luck they stormed directly the second line, took it in a mather of no time and the third was taken in hand grenade battle. It seems the German artillery had a hard time following the fast attack (in other words, probably some marine personnel died by friendly fire).
Flamethrowers were used to destroy the last British defenses in the dug outs etc.
However more to the east, the naval infantry was not that lucky, but again German reports tell us that the goals that had to be reached were taken by 21.00 hours.

Also flamethrowers were used in this attack. The 6th and 12th Kompagnie of the Garde Reserve Pionier Regiment (Flammenwerfer) used for large (model Grof) and 26 light (model Wex) flamethrowers. According to Bob Lembke, who’s father participated in this, the flame attacks were very well planned.
The Grof models were used in the opening phase of the attack, as they were not mobile, but had a longer range then the other models. The 26 others were used to make the first defense line collapse, but this seemed to be not that difficult as we already saw that not much remained of these lines.

According to German sources 1300 POW's were taken, of which 17 officers including the Regimental CO. . The British opponents were the 1 Northamptonshire and 2 KRRC of 2nd Brigade, 1st Division.
According to Robert Dunlop the total British casualties amounted to approximately 3,126 of all ranks, killed, wounded and missing. Of these, fifty officers and 1,253 other ranks belonged to the two battalions of 1st Division. He also mentions that 4 officers and 64 other ranks managed to reach the west bank of the Yser. It is not clear at all how high the German casualties were, but fact is that it was not a big number, which is also supported by the small number of graves that can be found that date of the 10th of July 1917 on the German military cemeteries in Flanders.

In the most easterly sector of the attack there still was a British counterattack which were able to retake the 250 meters of ground they had lost in that area, but this was without any importance to the Germans, which had reached their goals more to the west, and would keep them till the retreat in October 1918.

A report said that the observer planes and also the Kampfgeschwader with Rittmeister von Richthofen, had played an important role in the action.
The POW 's were taken to Oostende and Brugge, where there was a parade for Admiral von Schröder.
One of the participants in the operation Strandfest and a Lt. in the future Marine Sturmabteilung was a certain Bernard Hermann Ramcke, which certainly is known as the famous WW II Fallschirmjäger General.

This is what generally can be found on the matter… concerning the aviation.
If one’s lucky this is what may be found more on the operation, concerning the aerial part :

The III Marine Infanterie Division attacks, supported by planes. The western bank of the Yser is bombarded by 24 C type planes, and a plane from II MFFA co-ordinates the battle from the sky with it’s wireless, meanwhile two Schusta 29 planes protect the plane.
KG I planes bombarded coastal line between Nieuwpoort and Oostduinkerke. Jasta 17 planes do air cover for the whole operation during which a Sopwith is shot down.

During my visit this year in May at the Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv at Munchen, Reinhard Kastner pointed me towards a most interesting source on the aviation part of this attack. These reports were sent to Kofl 6 by Kofl 4 and Kofl Marinekorps. It gave in detail what happened day to day before and on the of the Strandfest. This text is the result from the translation.

The following units participated : I, II MFFA – FA A 293b, A 231, 48b - Schusta's 1, 16, 29, Marine Jasta, Jasta's 7, 8, 17, 20, Kasta 23 + the 4 elite fighter units of Jagdgeschwader I and the 6 Kasta's of Kampfgeschwader I, saying that the unit left it's airfield at Ascq for it to go to Gistel.

Most of the reports are from the hand of Alfred Ritscher, who was the Kommandeur of the Feldflieger Abteilungen of the Marinekorps Flandern.

Ritscher issued a very clear order for the crews before and during the operation, and if necessary after it, the first days.
No cards, notices or orders were to be taken along in the plane. If taken prisoner there was not to be said a word about the operation, even when in prison, because of the danger of the enemy, listening to conversations among prisoners.
The plane was to be burned if forced to land in enemy territory, and for this purpose a special device was build in to the planes.
All participating units had to place an experienced observer by the telephone as Officer with duty.
No planes were to take off from an airfield unless they were on the schedule made by Ritscher, otherwise they needed an ok from Ritscher. Every loss of personnel or material, or personnel not able to operate, planes with engine trouble or other were immediately te be reported to Ritscher. The crews were also told to take enough negatives, maps without positions, signaling and machinegun ammo, etc with them.

In the preparations of the operation can be found that during the Strandfest and the days after a Jagdstaffel was flying ‘Sperrzeit’ while another one was in ‘Bereitschaft’. The last unit was to be in the air within 20 minutes after the command was given of heavy enemy activity that could endanger the operation. Meanwhile the Jagdgeschwader Richthofen was kept in reserve and could be used every of these days from 08.00 hours. Refueling and reserve airfield for this unt were the aerodromes Snellegem and Varsenare (in fact the northern and eastern side of the Jabbeke aerodrome). Between 5 and 6.30 Jasta 20 was on duty with the Marine Jasta in reserve. 6.30 till 8.00 was for Jasta 17 and Jasta 7 in reserve. 8.00 till 9.30 the Marine Jasta and Jasta 8. 9.30 till 11.00 Jasta 7 and Jasta 20. 11.00 till 12.30 Jasta 8 and Jasta 17. 12.30 till 14.00 Jasta 20 and Marine Jasta. 14.00 till 15.30 Jasta 17 and Jasta 7 as reserve. 15.30 till 17.00 Marine Jasta and Jasta 8. 17.00 till 18.30 Jasta 7 and Jasta 20. 18.30 till 20.00 Jasta 8 and Jasta 17. 20.00 till 21.30 Jasta 20, no reserve. 21.30 till darkness Marine Jasta, no reserve.

Kasta 23 bombed the station of Adinkerke in the night of the 8th on the 9th of July.

Kagohl I was moved from Ascq to Gistel aerodrome on the 7th of July. The unit was to operate from the night before the operation and to bomb railway stations, aerodromes and fortified positions behind the frontlines. They also were to bomb Dunkirk in the night before, but this had to be cancelled because of low clouds.

During the days before the attack, observation planes were recording all enemy traffic on the roads and railways towards the sector.

Concerning the other units involved, this were their operations on the 10th, a day which was very clouded and stormy :

Marine Feldflieger Abteilung I
From 05.00 till 10.00 : Photographing of results of the artillery on Allied targets. This artillery had been led from the air to their targets by the same unit the previous days. From 10.00 till 20.00 Helping the artillery to find targets. From 20.00 till 23.00 Observation on enemy artillery activity and locations, observing of the ‘Sperrfeuer’, barrage artillery and reporting on the matter.

Marine Feldflieger Abteilung II
From 05.00 till 20.00 Long distance observation, afterwards photo recon flights.

FFA 293
05.00 till 20.00 same operations as MFFA I

Schusta 1
05.00 till 20.00 Protection flights on demand of the I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung.

Schusta 29
05.00 till 20.00 Idem Schusta 1 but for the A293

Kasta 23
Around 09.00 bombing flight on the Allied aerodrome at Bray Dunes

FFA 231
05.00 till 20.00 stationed at the Flugplatz Vlissegem and operating in demand of the I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung.

FF48b and Schusta 16 were kept in reserve.

When the attack started at 07.51 hours, two Schusta planes were flying at low altitude over the storming infantry and were reporting the progression of the troops to the artillery and HQ.
A total of 6 planes was used for wireless telegraphy during the operation and with full success.

4 C type planes from Kogohl I were used as Sturmflieger, and were flying at altitudes between 20-50 meters attacking the enemy positions with machinegun fire, operating just in front of the infantry.
The principle of Stormflieger was completely new, and reports also mention that some British soldier were so terrified by the attack that they were surrendering, hands in the air, even before theyw ere reached by the Marine Infantry ! The planes themselves were very slightly damaged, only a few bullet holes were found. Kagohl I was also very happy about the results and sees a new way of warfare in it, they call them the Infanterie-Kampfflieger. They even made a task description : Their goal is to help the hard fighting infantry in attacks or defences, by deep flying, so strengthening the own troops and weaken the enemy by bombing and machine-gunning them. Needed are fast and very maneuverable planes with at least two MG’s, capable of dropping bombs and with a light armor. Construction of special bombs with shrapnel or even gas is wished.
The use is only adequate when the planes attack on the right moment, exactly on the moment that the troops are leaving the trenches attacking the enemy, so that they are under attack already from the air. It is even said that a good pilot, used in this way, has tactical more value than a Jasta pilot, shooting down an enemy at high altitude…

Reports also say that between 20.00 and 22.00 all available planes were used to bomb targets in the area and to strafe them with machinegun fire on the western side of the Yser river, making the Allies unable to bring along any reinforcements or to give any support to their attacked colleagues on the other side of the river.

The Jasta’s on the other hand did over 70 war flights, but Allied air activity was extremely low duet o the weather conditions. Before noon only one enemy plane was sighted, and during the afternoon a total of only 4 !

Jasta 17 was protecting Kagohl I during it’s flights and they shot down a Nieuport plane. This probably was not a Nieuport but very probably Sopwith Camel N6361 of 4 Naval Squadron, shot down between Pervijze and Ramskapelle at 7.50 PM, killing Flight S.Lt. EW Busby, who was the first Sopwith Camel casualty due to combat. It is said that it crashed south of Nieuwpoort and that the wings had already broken off in the air. A terrible death…

On the 10th of July 1917, during the Strandfest operation, Kagohl I was bombing during 3 operations Oostduinkerke-bad and Nieuwpoort, targeting ammo and troop concentrations in that area. They claim that during the first raid they made explode an ammo dump near Oostduinkerke.
It seems that between 8 and 10 in the evening they dropped over 6000 kg of bombs for this operation. Unfortunately nobody could confirm me if the story is real on the destruction of the ammo dump.

Later that night the railway station, harbor installations and aerodrome of Dunkirk were bombes as were the railway station of Adinkerke, and De Panne and Koksijde. This was again a total of 1500 kg of explosives.

Concerning the artillery this was their activity :
From 05.00 till results are ok :
Battery Pommern (1 x 38 cm gun), Moere (in fact Koekelare) was to open fire on the railway station of Adinkerke
Battery Deutschland (4 x 38 cm guns) at Bredene had Zielgruppe 3, an unidentified target (probably targets along the Yser river)
Battery Tirpitz (4 x 28 cm guns) at Stene, Oostende, was to fire at the Veurne railway station
At 08.00 five railway guns (21 or 28 cm, not specified) was to open fire on various targets
Between 10.00 and 12.00 the Pommern gun had to fire at Adinkerke in general and between 14.00 and 16.00 targeted again the railway station and the same location
Even after darkness they were firing on their targets…

They were assisted by A293, A231, and very curiously, a unit unnamed before A204… Curious thing is that the unit is only mentioned once in a list on the artillery flights, while the others are named frequently, and that FA A 204 is not even mentioned in the list of units that participated. I think they did only some recon over the French targets during the operation.

The photo’s taken of the results, were immediately to be taken to the Generalkommando Gardekorps (Marinekorps) and to the III Marine Infantry Division by a motorcyclist.

It is clear that the operation was the first of it’s kind and opened the way for a completely new way of warfare, which is still used with success by modern forces.

Jabbeke, Flanders – 11 July 2005 – 22 July 2007

Johan R. Ryheul

Sources :

- Kofl 6 – Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv
- Kofl 4 - Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv
- KTB Battery Deutschland and Pommern – Militärarchiv Freiburg
- Kofl Marine – Militärarchiv Freiburg
- Various - Marinekorps Flandern Archive – Jabbeke
- Bob Lembke
- Robert Dunlop
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Jul 2007 9:23    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Dat ziet er heel erg geslaagd uit zeg! Mooie en leuke foto's. Jammer dat er niet bij kon zijn
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BerichtGeplaatst: 27 Jul 2007 10:38    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

ironmarc @ 27 Jul 2007 10:23 schreef:
Dat ziet er heel erg geslaagd uit zeg! Mooie en leuke foto's. Jammer dat er niet bij kon zijn

Hé Iron...: 25 augustus??
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(Porcupine Tree)
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Dec 2007 13:20    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

ik zie dat het een leuke dag was.
ik kon spijtig genoeg niet afkomen, want ik was op 2km van de kazerne aan het werken op de cafetaria van de kamping "de lombarde".
hopelijk ben ik de volgende forummeet wel aanwezig puh

mvg Vince
"We were cuffed and shoved about by the Germans, and fed only a slice of sour black bread as thick as tissue paper, then given a bowl of coffee made from burnt barley."

Pvt. James W. Walker, 106th Infantry Regiment.
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