Halifaxes tow gliders over landings

March overview

Coastal Command Beaufighters Again, the air attacks on the rocket and flying bomb sites continued, medium, light and fighter-bombers were out every day attacking them, especially the V-weapon sites in Northern France. Interdicting the sea lanes and German coastal shipping became a priority, particularly curtailing the activities of U-boats. To this end, anti-shipping and anti-U-boat attacks are made by RAF Coastal Command, which operates more aircraft than ever before in these roles. To assist in this goal, Bomber Command is active in sea-mining operations. The transport and communications network across the whole of France became a priority target under the terms of the Transportation Plan. Neutralising the French railway network would slow or prevent any movement of German armoured reinforcements to the beach-head area.

March 1944

On the morning of 6 June at RAF Coastal Command HQ 1 March - Air Chief Marshal W Sholto Douglas, CINC Coastal Command, briefed his commanders on the three main tasks of Coastal Command in the run up to D-Day. These were, to prevent the enemy U-boat flotilla from reaching the beachhead, to prevent enemy light surface forces from interrupting the operation and to interrupt enemy sea-based logistics where possible. To read more about Coastal Command's roles, click here.

2 March - Allied aircraft attacked missile sites in the Pas de Calais.

5 March - Allied aircraft attacked missile sites in the Pas de Calais.

6/7 March - Rail System Targets - Trappes. Air Marshal Harris’s assertions that Bomber Command would be incapable of executing precision attacks demanded by the Transportation Plan were invalidated when RAF strategic bombers successfully attacked Trappes in one of a series of experimental raids ordered by Air Chief Marshal Portal (the Chief of Air Staff). RAF Bomber Command commenced a series of attacks on French rail centres (in particular the repair shops), in preparation for the A wrecked locomotive invasion, with a raid by 261 Handley Page Halifaxes and 6 de Havilland Mosquitoes (using the 4000lb 'Cookie' bomb for the first time) on the marshalling yard at Trappes. Railway tracks, rolling stock and buildings were all heavily damaged and no aircraft were lost. Whilst repairs to the rail system were effected quite quickly by the Germans, the aim of these early attacks was to reduce the capacity to repair and maintain the rail system. The attacks were thus focused upon repair yards, sheds, locomotives and servicing sheds. The attacks were thus repeated in April and May.

7/8, March – Rail System Targets. Le Mans.

8 and 9 March - Allied aircraft attacked missile sites in the Pas de Calais.

9-10 March - Bomber Command attacks aircraft factory at Marignane, near to Marseilles.

11 and 12 March - Allied aircraft attacked missile sites in the Pas de Calais.

Reconnaissance aircraft watch V-weapon sites 13/14 March – Rail System Targets. Le Mans.

15/16 March – Rail System Targets. Amiens.

16/17 March – Rail System Targets. Amiens.

19 March - Allied aircraft attacked missile sites in the Pas de Calais.

20/21 March - Bomber Command attacks explosives factory at Angouleme France.

23/24 March – Rail System Targets. Laon.

Daylight bombers 25 March - A German U-boat was sunk in the Bay of Biscay by two Mosquitoes of No 248 Squadron, Coastal Command, based at Portreath in Cornwall.

25/26 March – Rail System Targets. Aulnoye.

26 March - Allied aircraft attacked missile sites in the Pas de Calais and the Cherbourg area.

26/27 March – Rail System Targets. Courtrai.

Aulnoye Marshalling Yards 29/30 March - Rail System Targets. Vaires.

Pictures:

Coastal Command Beaufighters attacking shipping off the Dutch coast.

On the morning of 6 June at RAF Coastal Command HQ as Air Chf Mshl Sholto Douglas, AOC-in-C Coastal Command directs the air protection of the invasion fleet. L-R: Sholto Douglas, Air Vice Mshl AB Ellwodd, Capt D Peynton-Ward, Lt Sabieski.

A wrecked locomotive at Trappes marshalling yards after raids by Bomber Command.

Varies rail yard Reconnaissance aircraft keep a careful watch on the development of the V-weapon sites, like this one in Pas de Calais.

Typical of the medium daylight bombers was the B-25 Mitchell, used by both the USAF and RAF and seen here on a raid over northern France.

The Aulnoye Marshalling Yards after the attack.

Varies was one of the major rail centres in Paris, seen here after the first raid.

See April overview

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