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Marian2

RAF abbreviation "W.E.A."---special mission intercepting

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Marian2

Reading through the 209 squadron record book for May-June 1918, I repeatedly come across missions described as "WEA."  The context suggests these are missions flown after an alert, triggered presumably by wireless interception, that enemy planes are near/over the lines.  (I can go into more detail as needed).  Can someone tell me precisely what W.E.A. stands for?  I can think of a number of possibilities:  "wireless enemy alert (aircraft, attack)."  But none really makes syntactical sense in context:  "Special mission intercepting WEA."  (Wayward enemy aircraft?  Not likely.)

 

thanks!

---Marian 

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MikeMeech
9 hours ago, Marian2 said:

Reading through the 209 squadron record book for May-June 1918, I repeatedly come across missions described as "WEA."  The context suggests these are missions flown after an alert, triggered presumably by wireless interception, that enemy planes are near/over the lines.  (I can go into more detail as needed).  Can someone tell me precisely what W.E.A. stands for?  I can think of a number of possibilities:  "wireless enemy alert (aircraft, attack)."  But none really makes syntactical sense in context:  "Special mission intercepting WEA."  (Wayward enemy aircraft?  Not likely.)

 

thanks!

---Marian 

Hi

One possibility for W.E.A. is 'Working Enemy Aircraft' , for example a German two-seater engaged in artillery spotting that would be picked up by the British wireless intercept service.  The term "enemy aircraft were working in...(such and such an area)" is used in reports, certainly W.E.A. would be much shorter to use.  I am open to other interpretations, but, this could work with "Special mission intercepting Working Enemy Aircraft".

 

Mike

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topgun1918

One duty carried out by RAF scout pilots was Wireless Interruption and I'm minded to think that 'WEA' in this context stands for 'Wireless E.A.' ie E.A. sending signals by wireless.

 

Graeme

 

Just dug this up from one of my posts on the other forum:

 

23 May 1918 - Lieut A W Aird (Kia), 209 Sqn RAF, Camel B7250 – took off 08:25/09:25 and last seen going down in flames Sh62d.P.18 [south-east of Le Hamel] 09:00/10:00 after diving on 2-seater while intercepting Wireless E.A.

Edited by topgun1918
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Marian2

Many thanks for the replies.  If anyone comes across the abbreviation in connection with a squadron other than 209, I'll be interested to learn of it.  

 

Best,

---Marian 

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topgun1918

The earliest reference I have is 3 September 1917 - 2nd-Lieut Douglas Urchart McGregor, No 23 Squadron, was injured in Spad VII B3572 in a forced landing near his aerodrome after pressure failure caused engine failure on return from pursuit of wireless E.A.

 

It seems that No 19 Sqn was also involved in Wireless Interruption work, suffering at least three casualties in September 1917.

 

Graeme

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MikeMeech
18 hours ago, Marian2 said:

Many thanks for the replies.  If anyone comes across the abbreviation in connection with a squadron other than 209, I'll be interested to learn of it.  

 

Best,

---Marian 

Hi

 

The book 'The British Army and Signals Intelligence during the First World War' edited by John Ferris, Army Records Society 1992, has several documents that contain details of the Wireless Intercept System.  The abbreviation you mention does not appear to be used in these documents. One document (p.99), a memorandum by Colonel W F E Newbigging, D.D. Signals, Third Army, 26 May 1918, mentions that:

 

"The 3rd Squadron has six machines continually standing by for these warnings.  2, 3 or 6 machines are employed for one patrol, the number being dependent on whether the A.A. report protecting scouts with the enemy ranging machine or not."  It also mentions that "The patrols average three minutes in leaving the ground after the warning has been received."

 

A look at the No. 3 Sqn. War Diary may turn up what abbreviation they used.

 

The system is described in a document (p.89) 'Memorandum from General Headquarters to British Armies in France and Flanders, March 1917 (This was cancelling the instructions of 2nd November, 1916), gives details that including the location of the Compass Stations that were intercepting the German wireless messages.  Once in the air ground panels to give further information to the aeroplanes were put out.

 

Reference No. 19 Sqn., the book 'Fighter Squadron' by Derek Palmer, He mentions, several times, what is probably Wireless Intercept missions, eg. page 52 (for 18 September, 1917.) "At 8.10am a message was received that enemy aircraft were working the area."  Although the abbreviation is not used. We should remember that the wireless intercept informed that an enemy aircraft was working but visual reports were necessary to give a height estimate and  if there were escorts or not.  I also have documents that refer to earlier 'intercept systems' that were in place against Zeppelin incursions over the Western Front during early 1916.  

 

Mike

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