In the closing months of the Second World War in Europe, T Force was assigned the task of securing enemy military, scientific and industrial sites of interest to Allied intelligence. The following history written by the T Force teams after the end of hostilities documents these attempts at capturing the Germany's technological secrets.
HISTORY OF 'T' FORCE ACTIVITIES IN 21 ARMY GROUP
- History of 'T' Force Activities in 21 Army Group
- Appendix 'A' - Staff Organisation and Order of Battle
- Appendix 'B' - Chief of Staff, HQ 21 Army Group Policy letter on Securing of Special Targets by 'T' Force
- Appendix 'C' - 'T' Force pass and special authority for 'T' Force guards
- Appendix 'D' - Details of CIOS Groups
- Appendix 'E' - 'T' Force activities in Second British Army
- Appendix 'F' - Story of First Canadian Army 'T' Force
- Appendix 'G' - Activities of reconnaissance platoon of 5 KINGS during the closing days of the campaign
- Appendix 'H' - A diary of 'T' Force operations in KIEL
during a raid by Avro Lancasters of Nos 1 and 3 Groups on the night of 9/10 April 1945.© IWM (CL 2772)
'T ' FORCE ADVANCE ON KIEL
1 May 1945
Officer commanding 'A' Coy ordered to hand over all BREMEN targets to 846 Pioneer Coy and move to LUNEBURG (S7921) in readiness for KIEL.
2 May 1945
'A' Coy moved to LUNEBURG.
3 May 1945
1. Officer Commanding 'A' Coy went to Headquarters 8 Corps to get tactical picture. Operations in the KIEL direction appeared to be rather vague - 1300 hrs forces in HAMBURG area surrendered. It was decided to move coy to MOLLN (S9564). 7 platoon was moved up at once as a holding party.
2. Second-in-command 'A' Coy sent to 'T' Force headquarters and on orders of commanding officer brought 805 Pioneer Coy (less two platoons) up to LUNEBURG.
3. Second-in-command 'T' Force on his return from 8 Corps brought the following instructions. All 'T' Force targets held by 'B' Coy at LUBECK to be handed over to 5 Divisional troops - 'B' Coy to be prepared to move to KIEL at any moment - 'A' Coy to move to LUBECK as soon as possible to take over targets from 5 Division.
4 May 1945
0600 hrs 'A' Coy left LUNEBURG - picked up 7 platoon at MOLLN and arrives in LUBECK at 0930 hrs. 0700 hrs 805 Pioneer Coy (less two platoons) left LUNEBURG for LUBECK, It was decided that 805 Pioneer Coy could guard all the 'A' priority targets at LUBECK, the Divisional troops would guard 'B' priority thus leaving 'A' and 'B' Coys free for KIEL, 'B' Coy had been standing by ready to proceed to KIEL but "stood down" on receiving instructions that a 24 hour "stand-still" order had been issued. Rumours reached us during the evening that:-
(a) the War was over;
(b) all forces facing 21 Army Group had surrendered.
2300 hrs second-in-command 'T' Force (Major GASKELL) and GSO2 'T' Force (Major HIBBERT) went to 8 Corps to check the above rumours.
5 May 1945
0300 hrs Major GASKELL and Major HIBBERT returned from Corps with the following information:-
8 Corps had been ordered to stand still for at least 24 hrs. No further information could be obtained from Army but 21 Army Group gave authority for 'T' Force to move into KIEL. No troops were to move forward of BAD SEGEBERG (S6897) before 0800 hrs. The start line was fixed by Corps.
0700 hrs 'A' and 'B' Coys left LUBECK for KIEL. Troops were warned that they would be the first troops to enter the port and they were kept on the alert, 0800 hrs 'A' and 'B' Coys reached the start line. As arranged one troop of the SAS passed through - travelling at great speed in their Jeeps - followed at a reasonable pace by 'A' and 'B' Coys.
0830 hrs - Half way on the road to NEUMUESTER 'T' Force convoy was passed by 30 Advanced Unit RN driving at great speed with a White Ensign on the leading Jeep.
0900 hrs - NEUMUNSTER (C4812) was reached. The leading elements of the SAS and 30 Advanced Unit RN were held up by a badly cratered road and as a result the three convoys left for KIEL together.
The drive from BAD SEGEBERG onwards was most eerie. We had left all signs of battle behind - no directional signs at the side of the roads, no traffic or signs of traffic, no slit trenches and perhaps worst of all no white flags. One or two German soldiers, complete with kit, were straggling down the road, otherwise there were hardly any people there about. Each wood that we passed through may have contained the odd German platoon or coy which had not yet received the cease fire order. The company commander's Jeep driver saw several Germans dart into the woods as we went through - that may have accounted for the erratic speed of the convoy.
The German armed guards at the barracks seemed as unconcerned as we pretended to be - driving past them made one feel particularly unprotected at the rear. Luckily "the standing load" had been taught in "another lesson" and was not part of the "duties of the sentry".
The roads were thronged by displaced persons who had just been freed from their camps. The displaced persons waved and cheered and at times almost blocked the road in their excitement at seeing British troops. The Germans just stared; some of the children ran as though frightened.
1000 hrs - 'T' Force reached KIEL. At cross roads 562381 the convoy dispersed, 'A' Coy turned right - 'B' Coy went straight on. It was a queer experience to stand in the centre of KIEL on a wet Saturday morning and direct our mere handful of troops to their various targets. The civilians stared very hard at us - but we stared even harder when we saw that German soldiers, sailors, policemen, firemen, etc were still armed.
'A' Coy seized targets 18, 23c, 23b, 12 and 16. 'B' Coy seized targets 3, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 17. 30 Advanced Unit, RN seized target 22.
Major HIBBERT went to the Naval Academy and took charge there. 'T' Force headquarters was established at target 23c where we were met by the directors of the ship-building works. The works were crowded by workers who weren't quite sure what to do with themselves. They stood about in groups and stared at us. At last they got an answer to the question that was worrying them - were we British, American or Russian, They didn't conceal their relief.
the Allies. Both the German attempts to camouflage her and the damage caused by Allied bombers can be seen.
Through the managing director of the firm orders were issued to the workers. When the managing director gave out these orders he sounded exactly like HITLER in his prime. On target 18a "living ship" was captured containing forty-three German sailors - all U-boat personnel. The "HIPPER" was in dock in target 23c and the "ADMIRAL SCHEER" capsized in the same area.
1430 hrs - Major GASKELL, Major HIBBERT and Major LAMBERT went to the police headquarters. There, surrounded by officials, all of whom must have been very pro-Nazi the following arrangements were made:-
To maintain law and order in the town, the German military forces and police would be allowed to keep their rifles. All displaced persons were to be ordered to stay in their camps. Arms were to be removed from all displaced persons.
The police, evidently used to taking orders, were prepared to do anything ordered. Reports continued to come in to 'T' Force headquarters of German armed guards on certain dumps and targets. All troops were told to allow the Germans to carry on with the guards, which they were doing very well.
6 May 1945
It was discovered that the German troops NORTH of the canal were still very much in fighting order. They were very reluctant to hand in their arms but it was agreed that all automatic weapons should be put in a central dump at the bridges and collected by us. An explanation of the situation in KIEL was issued to all officers. It explained that we were the only troops in KIEL - total strength about 300 and that there were something like 40,000 armed Germans in the town.
Officers were warned about the danger of causing an incident yet at the same time they were told to issue definite orders to German Army personnel. The German Navy was the most doubtful factor - the German officers were quite convinced that they hadn't surrendered and seemed prepared to prove it. They could have blown us out of KIEL with one salvo.
1430 hrs - Major LAMBERT reconnoitred a new headquarters over the canal - excellent accommodation with water and electric light was discovered and arrangements were made to move in at 1000 hrs tomorrow.
1730 hrs - Commanding officer 'T' Force arrived in KIEL bringing the following information - 'T' Force should not have moved into KIEL. It had been part of the original agreement of the surrender that no troops should go NORTH of BAD SEGEBERG. The authority obtained from 21 Army Group was questioned and 'T' Force was rather unpopular at Corps and Army. The danger of an international incident worried most people - as apparently we had broken the terms of surrender and as a result the Germans may have continued fighting in NORWAY and other parts of EUROPE. The commanding officer called a conference for all officers and warrant officers and explained the situation. He stressed the importance of not causing any incident but at the same time said targets would be held. Each coy was to be responsible for its own defence and the commanding officer mentioned "the last round and the last man". Special authority signed by the Corps Commander was obtained to bring rations up the following day. The Corps Commander said he would visit 'T' Force in KIEL within the next few days, provided we still held it.
2000 hrs - three truck loads of arms and ammunition were collected from the EAST bridge over the canal and it was agreed that the remainder would be collected tomorrow. Altogether the Germans had gathered thirty tons of arms ready to hand in and they were rather insulted when we only sent three trucks.
7 May 1945
Our worries were over as troops of 15 Division moved into the town and we no longer needed "the assistance" of the German Army. It was agreed that 15 Division should take charge of all targets EAST of the harbour and NORTH of the canal - leaving 'T' Force the WEST of the harbour, i.e. the main town area.
During the morning the Guards Armoured Independent Brigade moved into KIEL. They entered the town, after much spit and polish, in perfect formation and all at "attention" under the impression that they were the first troops to enter the town. The disgust of the Brigade was well expressed by a guardsman, who exclaimed in a loud voice "What the Hell is 'T' Force - it must have been here a long time - it has notices up all over the place and the men have even got their washing on the line".
1430 hrs - the Corps Commander visited 'T' Force. Luckily it was a very nice day - there were plenty of things of interest to the Corps Commander and the time of entry of 'T' Force into KIEL was hardly raised.
[Source: TNA FO 1031/49, transcribed by www.arcre.com]