Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary
|Kamen synthetic oil plant|
Darmstadt: 226 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitos of No 5 Group. 12 Lancasters lost, 5.3 per cent of the Lancaster force. A previous No 5 Group attack in August had failed to harm Darmstadt but, in clear weather conditions, the group's marking methods produced an outstandingly accurate and concentrated raid on this almost intact city of 120,000 people. A fierce fire area was created in the centre and in the districts immediately south and east of the centre. Property damage in this area was almost complete. Casualties were very heavy.
The Darmstadt raid, with its extensive fire destruction and its heavy casualties, was held by the Germans to be an extreme example of RAF 'terror bombing' and is still a sensitive subject because of the absence of any major industries in the city. Bomber Command defended the raid by pointing out the railway communications passing through Darmstadt; the directive for the offensive against German communications had not yet been issued to Bomber Command, although advance notice of the directive may have been received. Darmstadt was simply one of Germany's medium-sized cities of lesser importance which succumbed to Bomber Command's improving area-attack techniques in the last months of the war when many of the larger cities were no longer worth bombing.
47 Mosquitos to Berlin and 7 to Steenwijk, 13 RCM sorties, 44 Mosquito patrols, 76 Halifaxes and Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat. 3 Lancaster minelayers and 1 Mosquito lost in the Berlin raid.
412 aircraft - 315 Halifaxes, 75 Lancasters, 22 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attacked synthetic oil plants at Dortmund, Scholven/Buer and Wanne-Eickel. The Dortmund raid was particularly successful, but smoke-screens prevented observation of results at the other targets. 7 aircraft were lost - 3 Lancasters and 1 Halifax from the Wanne-Eickel raid and 2 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster from the Scholven raid.
119 Halifaxes of No 4 Group and 5 Pathfinder Lancasters carried out the first raid by RAF heavies on Münster since June 1943. 2 Halifaxes were lost. Many fires were seen but smoke prevented an accurate assessment of the bombing results. A brief report from Münster describes a 'sea of fire' in the southern part of the town which could not be entered for several hours and tells of water mains destroyed by high-explosive bombs so that 'the firemen could only stand helpless in front of the flames'.
9 RCM sorties, 2 aircraft on Resistance operations. No losses.
378 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3 and 8 Groups on the last major RAF raid of the war against Frankfurt. 17 Lancasters lost, 4.5 per cent of the Lancaster force. The local report says that the raid occurred when many of the city's firemen and rescue workers were away working in Darmstadt. The bombing caused severe destruction in the western districts of the city, which contained many industrial premises. Property damage was extensive. A troop train was hit at the West Station.
204 Lancasters and 13 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 5 Groups to Stuttgart. 4 Lancasters lost. The attack was a success and local reports state that a firestorm occurred.
Support and 138 training aircraft on a diversionary sweep over the North Sea, 29 Mosquitos to Berlin and 6 to Steenwijk, 31 RCM sorties, 81 Mosquito patrols, 12 Halifaxes minelaying in Oslo harbour. 2 Halifaxes were lost, 1 from the diversionary sweep and 1 from the minelaying operation.
Total effort for the night: 901 sorties, 23 aircraft (2.6 per cent) lost.
|Daimler-Benz factory, Stuttgart|
140 aircraft - 102 Halifaxes of No 4 Group and 28 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of No 8 Group - attacked the Nordstern oil plant at Gelsenkirchen. Large explosions were seen through the smoke-screen. 2 Halifaxes lost.
98 Halifaxes and 20 Lancasters of Nos 6 and 8 Groups attacked Osnabrück, with the cutting of railway communications being one of the raid's objectives. The marking and bombing were accurate but no details are available. No aircraft lost.
13 aircraft flew RCM sorties without loss.
36 Mosquitos to Berlin and 3 to Karlsruhe, 29 RCM sorties, 41 Mosquito patrols. 2 Mosquitos lost from the Berlin raid.
184 aircraft - 133 Halifaxes, 51 Lancasters - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups dispatched to Wilhelmshaven but recalled while still over the North Sea; no reason for this is given in Bomber Command records. All aircraft returned safely.
35 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of Nos 3 and 8 Groups bombed 'an ammunition dump' (possibly a suspected V-2 store) near The Hague at Wassenar. The bombing was considered to be accurate until smoke and dust covered the target.
6 aircraft flew RCM sorties without loss.
38 Lancasters of Nos 9 and 617 Squadrons and a No 5 Group Mosquito for weather reconnaissance had set out on 11 September to fly to Northern Russia in preparation for this raid on the 45,000 ton battleship Tirpitz, which was at anchor in Kaa Fjord in Northern Norway. 1 aircraft returned to Britain and 6 crash-landed in Russia but their crew members were not seriously hurt. Only 27 Lancasters and a further Lancaster with a cameraman on board were available for the raid on the Tirpitz, which eventually took place on 15 September. 20 aircraft were loaded with the 12,000lb Tallboy bomb and 6 (or 7, the records are not clear) carried several 'Johnny Walker' mines - of 400-500lb weight developed for attacking capital ships moored in shallow water. The attack caught the Tirpitz by surprise and her smoke-screens were late in starting. One Tallboy hit the Tirpitz near the bows and caused considerable damage. The shock caused by the explosion of this bomb, or possibly from other bombs which were near misses, also damaged the battleship's engines. The Germans decided that repairs to make Tirpitz fully seaworthy were not practicable and she was later moved to an anchorage further south in Norway, but only for use as a semi-static heavy artillery battery. These results of the raid were not known in England at the time and further raids against Tirpitz would take place.
None of the Lancasters were shot down on the raid and all returned safely to the airfield in Russia but the No 617 Squadron aircraft of Flying Officer F Levy crashed in Norway while returning to Lossiemouth 2 days later with 11 men on board.
9 RCM sorties and 1 Resistance operation flight were also carried out on 15 September without loss.
490 aircraft - 310 Lancasters, 173 Halifaxes, 7 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 4, 6 and 8 Groups - to Kiel. 4 Halifaxes and 2 Lancasters lost. The evidence of returning crews and of photographs caused Bomber Command to record this as 'a highly concentrated raid' with 'the old town and modern shopping centre devastated'.
Support and 164 aircraft on a diversionary sweep over the North Sea, 27 Mosquitos to Berlin, 9 to Lübeck and 8 to Rheine airfield, 34 RCM sorties, 56 Mosquito patrols, 68 Halifaxes and Lancasters minelaying near Oslo, in the Kattegat and in the River Elbe. 5 aircraft lost - 3 Mosquitos and 1 Stir1ing of No 100 Group and 1 Mosquito from the Berlin raid.
Total effort for the night: 856 sorties, 11 aircraft (1.3 per cent) lost.
9 aircraft on RCM flights, 2 Mosquitos on Ranger patrols, 14 Stirlings and 4 Hudsons on Resistance operations. No aircraft lost.
Operation Market Garden: Bomber Command's main operations on this night were in support of the landings by British and American airborne troops at Arnhem and Nijmegen which took place the following morning. 200 Lancasters and 23 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups bombed the airfields at Hopsten, Leeuwarden, Steenwijk and Rheine, and 54 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of Nos 3 and 8 Groups bombed a flak position at Moerdijk. The runways of all the airfields were well cratered but there were only near misses at the flak position, although its approach road was cut. 2 Lancasters lost from the Moerdijk raid.
29 Mosquitos to Brunswick and 4 to Dortmund, 14 RCM sorties, 29 Mosquito patrols. 1 Mosquito lost from the Brunswick raid.
762 aircraft - 370 Lancasters, 351 Halifaxes, 41 Mosquitos - dropped more than 3,000 tons of bombs on German positions around Boulogne in preparation for an attack by Allied troops. The German garrison surrendered soon afterwards. 1 Halifax and 1 Lancaster lost.
Operation Market Garden : 112 Lancasters and 20 Mosquitos of Nos: 1 and 8 Groups attacked German flak positions in the Flushing area without loss.
27 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups attacked a V1 rocket depot at Eikenhorst without loss.
9 RCM sorties, 6 Mosquito patrols, 10 Stirlings and 1 Hudson on Resistance operations. No losses.
Total effort for the day: 952 sorties, 2 aircraft (0.2 per cent) lost.
Operation Market Garden: 241 aircraft made 2 diversionary sweeps - 1 to the Dutch coast and 1 into Holland - in order to draw up German fighters from Southern Holland. This intention was not achieved. No aircraft lost.
42 Mosquitos to Bremen and 6 to Dortmund, 29 RCM sorties, 29 Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.
74 aircraft - 34 Lancasters, 30 Halifaxes, 10 Mosquitos - of Nos 6 and 8 Groups attempted to bomb a coastal battery at Domburg on the island of Walcheren but the Master Bomber abandoned the raid after 8 Mosquitos had attempted to mark the target in poor weather conditions. No aircraft lost.
7 RCM sorties were flown without loss.
Bremerhaven: 206 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos of No 5 Group. No 100 Group's RCM Operations successfully kept German night fighters away from the force and only 1 Lancaster and 1 Mosquito were lost. This was another successful No 5 Group method raid and Bremerhaven, which had not been seriously bombed by the RAF before, required only this one knock-out blow by the comparatively small force of aircraft carrying fewer than 900 tons of bombs. The centre of the town, the port area and the suburb of Geestemünde were gutted by fire. 2,670 buildings were destroyed and 369 seriously damaged.
33 Mosquitos to Berlin and 6 to Rheine, 30 RCM sorties, 67 Mosquito patrols, 4 Lancasters minelaying in the River Weser. No losses.
56 aircraft - 28 Lancasters, 27 Halifaxes, 1 Mosquito - of 6 and 8 Groups set out to attack the Domburg coastal battery but were recalled. 1 Halifax crashed in England.
There were 8 RCM sorties and 6 Hudsons and 4 Stirlings flew Resistance operations without loss.
227 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and No 5 Groups to the twin towns of Mönchengladbach/Rheydt. 4 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito lost. Bomber Command claimed severe damage to both towns, particularly to Mönchengladbach.
The Master Bomber for this raid was Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, DSO, DFC flying a No 627 Squadron Mosquito from Coningsby, where he was serving as Base Operations Officer. Gibson's instructions over the target were heard throughout the raid and gave no hint of trouble, but his aircraft crashed in flames - according to a Dutch eyewitness - before crossing the coast of Holland for the homeward flight over the North Sea. There were no German fighter claims for the Mosquito; it may have been damaged by flak over the target or on the return flight, or it may have developed engine trouble. It was possibly flying too low for the crew to escape by parachute. Gibson and his navigator, Squadron Leader JB Warwick, DFC were both killed and were buried in the Roman Catholic Cemetery at Steenbergen-en-Kruisland, 13km north of Bergen-op-Zoom. Theirs are the only graves of Allied servicemen in the cemetery.
Aircraft of No 100 Group flew 15 RCM and 17 Mosquito sorties without loss.
646 aircraft - 437 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes, 40 Mosquitos - attacked German positions around Calais. Visibility was good and the bombing was accurate and concentrated. 1 Lancaster lost.
7 RCM sorties, 5 Hudsons and 2 Lysanders on Resistance operations. No losses.
2 Mosquitos and 1 Fortress of No 100 Group took off but were quickly recalled because of the widespread fog in England which prevented major operations being mounted.
2 Fortresses and 2 Wellingtons on RCM sorties and 12 Stirlings and 1 Hudson on Resistance operations. No aircraft lost. Bad weather - rain and low cloud - prevented any major operation during the next 48 hours.
7 aircraft of No 100 Group flew signals investigation patrols without loss.
9 RCM sorties and 5 Mosquito Intruder patrols were flown without loss.
50 aircraft - 34 Halifaxes, 10 Mosquitos, 6 Lancasters - of Nos 1 and No 6 Groups carried out a good attack on the Domburg coastal batteries without loss. One particularly large explosion was seen.
6 RCM sorties, 2 Mosquitos on Ranger patrols, 5 Hudsons on Resistance operations. No losses.
549 aircraft - 378 Lancasters, 154 Halifaxes, 17 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 4 and 8 Groups to Neuss. 5 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes lost. Bomber Command's report states that most of the bombing fell in the dock and factory areas.
136 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of No 5 Group to bomb the banks of the 2 parallel branches of the Dortmund-Ems canal at a point near Ladbergen, north of Münster, where the level of the canal water was well above the level of the surrounding land. Despite the presence of 7/10ths cloud in the target area, breaches were made in the banks of both branches of the canal and a 6-mile stretch of it was drained. Most of this damage was caused by 2 direct hits by 12,000lb Tallboy bombs dropped by aircraft of No 617 Squadron at the opening of the raid. 14 Lancasters -more than 10 per cent of the Lancaster force - were lost.
113 aircraft - 107 Lancasters, 5 Mosquitos, 1 Lightning - of No 5 Group carried out a supporting raid on the local German night-fighter airfield just outside Münster. 1 Lancaster lost. No photographic reconnaissance flight was carried out after this raid. Some of the bombs fell in Münster itself; the town records 100 high-explosive bombs but no fatal casualties.
38 Mosquitos to Bochum and 6 to Rheine night-fighter airfield, 31 RCM sorties, 45 Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.
Total effort for the night: 923 sorties, 22 aircraft (2.4 per cent) lost.
|Dortmund-Ems Canal breached|
Calais: 188 aircraft - 101 Lancasters, 62 Halifaxes, 25 Mosquitos. The German positions were completely covered by cloud at 2,000ft and only 126 aircraft bombed. Most of these bombed Oboe-aimed skymarkers, but some aircraft came below cloud to bomb visually and 7 Lancasters and 1 Halifax were shot down by light flak, which was very accurate at such a height.
2 Hudsons flew Resistance operations without loss.
872 aircraft - 430 Lancasters, 397 Halifaxes, 45 Mosquitos - were again sent to bomb German defensive positions at Calais but encountered low cloud. Only 287 aircraft were able to bomb, through breaks in the cloud. No aircraft lost.
70 Halifaxes of No 4 Group started a series of flights to carry petrol in jerricans from England to airfields in Belgium, in order to alleviate the severe fuel shortage being experienced by Allied ground forces. No 4 Group would fly 435 such sorties during an 8-day period. Each Halifax carried about 165 jerricans, approximately 750 gallons of petrol, on each flight. The total amount of petrol lifted during the period was approximately 325,000 gallons, about the same amount of fuel that the Halifaxes themselves consumed. No aircraft were lost during these operations.
4 RCM sorties, 5 Hudsons on Resistance operations. No losses.
Total effort for the day: 951 sorties, no losses.
48 Mosquitos to Mannheim and 4 to a chemical factory at Höchst, just west of Frankfurt, 3 RCM sorties, 30 Mosquito patrols. 1 Mosquito lost from the Mannheim raid.
722 aircraft - 388 Lancasters, 289 Halifaxes, 45 Mosquitos - carried out 2 separate raids in the Calais area. 531 aircraft were dispatched to 4 targets at Cap Gris Nez and 191 aircraft to 3 targets near Calais. Accurate and concentrated bombing was observed at all targets. 2 Lancasters lost.
5 RCM sorties, 2 Ranger patrols, 5 Hudsons on Resistance operations, 74 Halifaxes on petrol-carrying flights. No aircraft lost.
Total effort for the day: 808 sorties, 2 aircraft (0.2 per cent) lost.
226 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and No 5 Groups to Karlsruhe. 2 Lancasters lost. Bomber Command claimed a concentrated attack, with a large area of the city devastated.
50 Mosquitos to Frankfurt and 6 to Hamburg, 26 RCM sorties. Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.
341 aircraft - 222 Lancasters, 84 Halifaxes, 35 Mosquitos - of Nos 1, 3, 4 and 8 Groups attacked positions in the Calais area. The target areas were covered by cloud but the Master Bomber brought the force below this to bomb visually. The attacks on the various German positions were accurate and only 1 Lancaster was lost.
175 aircraft - 96 Halifaxes, 71 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos - of 6 and No 8 Group attacked the Ruhroel AG synthetic-oil plant in the Welheim suburb of Bottrop. The target was almost entirely cloud-covered and most of the bombing was aimed at Oboe skymarkers, although a few aircraft were able to bomb through small breaks in the cloud. Explosions and black smoke were seen. No aircraft lost.
171 aircraft - 143 Halifaxes, 21 Lancasters, 7 Mosquitos - of 6 and No 8 Group attempted to bomb the Sterkrade oil plant. Only 83 aircraft bombed the main target, through thick cloud; 53 aircraft bombed alternative targets, most of them aiming at the approximate position of Duisburg. No aircraft lost.
6 RCM sorties, 5 Hudsons on Resistance operations, 73 Halifaxes petrol-carrying flights. No aircraft lost.
Total effort for the day: 771 sorties, 1 aircraft (0.1 per cent) lost.
217 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and No 5 Groups in the only major raid carried out by Bomber Command during the war on Kaiserslautern. 1 Lancaster and 1 Mosquito lost.
46 Mosquitos to Kassel, 6 to Aschaffenburg and 6 to Heilbronn, 12 RCM sorties, 27 Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.
494 aircraft - 230 Lancasters, 214 Halifaxes, 50 Mosquitos - of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups to attack 4 German positions at Calais and 6 battery positions at Cap Gris Nez; approximately 50 aircraft were allocated to each position. Only 68 aircraft bombed at Calais before the Master Bomber cancelled the raid because of worsening cloud conditions and only 198 (from 301) aircraft bombed at Cap Gris Nez. No aircraft were lost. Calais surrendered to the Canadian Army soon after this raid and all the French Channel ports were thus in Allied hands, although most of the facilities required extensive clearance and repair. This, and the continuing presence of German troops along the River Scheldt between Antwerp and the sea, would cause the Allied ground forces serious supply difficulties for several more weeks.
2 Liberators and 2 Wellingtons on signals investigation patrols, 10 Hudsons and 2 Lysanders on Resistance operations, 75 Halifaxes on petrol-carrying flights. No aircraft lost.
Total effort for the day: 585 sorties, no aircraft losses.
44 Mosquitos to Brunswick, 5 to Heilbronn and 4 to Aschaffenburg, 43 RCM sorties, 52 Mosquito patrols. 1 Mosquito Intruder lost.
3 Liberators and 2 Wellingtons on RCM sorties, 3 Lysanders on Resistance operations, 72 Halifaxes on petrol-carrying flights. 1 Lysander lost.
40 Mosquitos to Karlsruhe, 25 RCM sorties, 42 Mosquito patrols, 15 Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat and off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
139 aircraft - 108 Halifaxes, 21 Lancasters, 10 Mosquitos - of 4 and 8 Groups attempted to attack the oil plant at Sterkrade but the target was cloud-covered. Only 24 aircraft attacked the main target; other aircraft bombed the general town area of Sterkrade. 1 Halifax lost.
136 aircraft - 101 Halifaxes, 25 Lancasters, 10 Mosquitos - of 6 and 8 Groups encountered similar conditions at Bottrop. Only 1 aircraft attempted to bomb the oil plant; the remainder of the force bombed the estimated positions of various Ruhr cities. No aircraft lost.
3 RCM sorties, 2 Ranger patrols (flown from a forward airfield in France), 6 Hudsons on Resistance operations, 74 Halifaxes on petrol-carrying flights. The two Ranger aircraft, from No 515 Squadron, were lost; they both force-landed in Switzerland.
46 Mosquitos to Hamburg, 6 each to Aschaffenburg and Heilbronn and 5 to Sterkrade, 1 RCM sortie, 20 Mosquito patrols, 14 aircraft on Resistance operations. 1 Mosquito of No 100 Group lost.
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