Bomber Command

Attack on Amiens Prison, 18th February 1944

Attack on Amiens Prison, 18th February 1944

Mosquitoes running in over the prison Nineteen Mosquito Mk.VI aircraft (6 aircraft of No 487 (RNZAF) Squadron, 6 aircraft of No 464 (RAAF) Squadron, 6 aircraft of No 21 Squadron and one aircraft of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU)) were detailed to attack the north and east walls and buildings of Amiens Prison.

Three Mosquitos of No 487 Squadron attacked the eastern wall at 1203 hours, just clearing the wall on a heading 250 degrees 12 bombs. The leaders were bombs were seen to hit the wall five feet from the ground, while other bursts were seen adjacent to the west wall and overshoot in fields to the north. Two aircraft of no 487 Squadron attacked the northern wall at 1203 hours just clearing the wall on a heading of 150 degrees with 12 bombs. These attacks were directed at places later reported breached by reconnaissance aircraft. One bomb seen to hit the large building, and northern side of the eastern building was also reported hit.


Overhead view of the prison, showing the breaches made in the outer walls Two Mosquitos of No 464 Squadron bombed the eastern wall at 1206 hours from 50 feet heading 150 degrees and 250 degrees with 8 x 500lb bombs. The wall appeared unbreached before the attack. Results were unobserved.

Two Mosquitos of No 464 Squadron bombed the main building at 1206 hours from 100 feet heading 150 and 250 degrees with 8 x 500lb bombs. The north wall appeared to be already damaged. One of these aircraft was seen to bomb and has not returned.

The breach in the eastern wall One Mosquito of the PRU circled the target three times between 1203 and 1210 hours from 400 to 500 feet using a cine film camera but carrying no bombs. He reported a large breach in the eastern centre of the north wall and considerable damage to the extension building at west of main building as well as damage to western end of main building. A number of men were seen in the courtyard near the separate building which appeared to be workshops and three men running into fields from large breach in northern wall.

The four aircraft of No 21 Squadron received VHF messages from 'F' of No 464 Squadron (Gp Capt Pickard) and PRU aircraft when between 2 and 4 miles from the target, instructing them not to bomb. Target was seen covered with smoke and they brought their bombs back.


The target was obscured by smoke, so later aircraft were instructed not to bomb Two aircraft were missing from this operation; one was last seen circling the target and heard giving VHF messages not to bomb and the other after attacking the target, was seen at Freneuville at 1210 hours at 50 feet leading his formation. It attacked a gun position and shortly afterwards dropped to starboard and was not seen again. One aircraft of No 467 Squadron was hit by light flak near Albert, starboard nacelle holed and starboard wheel collapsed on landing. One aircraft of No 21 Squadron landed at Ford - aircraft damaged. One aircraft of No 487 Squadron abandoned task south of Oisemont - pilot slightly wounded and aircraft damaged. Two aircraft of No 21 Squadron abandoned before leaving English Coast owing to technical failure.

There were 700 prisoners detained at the time of the attack and of this number 102 were killed, 74 wounded and 258 escaped. Among those who escaped were important members of the Resistance movement.


Aircraft involved in the attack (all Mosquito Mk.VI)

Crews attacking the target
No 487 Squadron
'R' Wg Cdr Smith, DFC (Pilot) / Flt Lt Barnes, DFM (Navigator)
'C' Plt Off Powell / Plt Off Stevenson
'H' Flt Sgt Jennings / WO Nichols
'J' Plt Off Fowler / WO Wilkins
'T' Plt Off Sparkes / Plt Off Dunlop
No 464 Squadron
'F' Wg Cdr Iredale, DFC / Flt Lt McCaul, DFC
'O' Fg Off Monghan, DFM / Fg Off Dean, DFM
'A' Sqn Ldr Sugden / Fg Off Bridger
'V' Flt Lt McPhee, DFM / Flt Lt Atkins
PRU
'C' Flt Lt Wickam, DFC / Plt Off Howard
Missing
No 464 Squadron
'F' Gp Capt P C Pickard, DSO, DFC / Flt Lt J A Broadley, DSO, DFC, DFM
'T' Sqn Ldr A I McRitchie / Flt Lt R W Samson
Crews instructed not to attack the target
No 21 Squadron
'U' Wg Cdr Dale / Fg Off Gabites
'O' Flt Lt Wheeler, DFC / Fg Off Redington
'J' Flt Lt Benn, DFC / Fg Off Roe
'D' Flt Lt Taylor, DFC / Sqn Ldr Livry DFC
Abortive Sorties
No 487 Squadron
'Q' Flt Lt Hanafin / Plt Off Redgrave
No 21 Squadron
'P' Flt Lt Hogan / Flt Sgt Crowfoot
'F' Flt Sgt Steadman / Plt Off Reynolds

Below is a copy of the secret planning signal for the raid as sent by No 2 Group on the morning of the attack giving final details of the attack.


FEBRUARY 18th, 1944
EMERGENCY FORM "B" (Copy)
HNO T 140 A/F
UGI T 11 GROUP
V GPB GPB 5/18 'O' FORM 'B'

FROM 2 GROUP 180940A
TO 140 WING/AIRFIELD
INFO 11 GROUP, HQ T A F MAIN, HQ A D G B, HQ A E A F
SECRET QQX BT

AO,241 18th Feb.
Information: Mosquitos of 140 Airfield are to attack the prison at AMIENS in an attempt to assist 120 prisoners to escape. These prisoners are French patriots condemned to death for assisting the Allies. This air attack is only part of the plan as other assistance will be at hand at the time.
Date and Time: 18th February, 1944.
Zero 1200 hours.
Route: Base - LITTLEHAMPTON - Via appropriate lattice to TOCQUEVILLE - SENARPONT - BOURDON - One mile South DOULLENS - BOUZINCOURT - 2 miles west south west ALBERT - Target - Turn right - ST. SAVEUR - SENARPONT - TOCQUEVILLE - HASTINGS - Base.
Bomb Load: 2 x 500lb M C Mk.IV fused T.D. 11 secs.
2 x 500lb S A P fused T.D. 11 secs.
Method of Attack: All aircraft to attack at low level.
1st Attack: Six Mosquitos as detailed by O.C. 140 Airfield.
Intention: To break the outer wall in at least two places.
Method: Leading three aircraft to attack eastern wall using main road as lead in. Second section of three aircraft when ten miles from target will break away to the right at sufficient height to allow them to watch leading three aircraft and then attack northern wall on a North-South run, immediately following the explosion of the bombs of the leading section.
Timing: Attacks to be made at Zero hours.
2nd Attack: Six Mosquitos as detailed by O.C. 140 Airfield.
Intention: To bomb the main prison buildings.
Method: Leading three aircraft to attack south eastern end of main building and second section of three aircraft to attack the north western end of building. Attacks to be carried out in a similar manner to first attack above.
Timing: Attack to be made at Zero plus 3 mins.
3rd Attack: Six Mosquitos as detailed by O.C. 140 Airfield.
Intention: This force is a reserve, and will approach the target as in the previous two attacks, one section from east and one from north, but will only bomb if it is seen that one of the previous attacks has failed.
Method: As in 1st attack. Target will be decided by leader on approach.
Timing: Attack to be made at Zero plus 13 mins.
Fighter Support: Each formation of six Mosquitos will have one squadron of Typhoons as close escort. Fighters will rendezvous with Mosquitos as follows:-
1st Attack: 1 mile east of LITTLEHAMPTON at Zero minus 45 mins.
2nd Attack: 1 mile west of LITTLEHAMPTON at Zero minus 42 mins.
3rd Attack: LITTLEHAMPTON at Zero minus 32 mins.
Signals:
1st Attack: Bomber call sign: D Y P E G.
Ground control call sign: A I L S O M E on 2 Group guard 1.
Bomber leader may call escort direct in emergency on 11 Group guard 1.
2nd Attack: Bomber call sign: C A N O N.
Ground control call sign: B E L L F I E L D on 2 Group guard 1.
Bomber leader may call escort direct in emergency on 11 Group guard 1.
3rd Attack: Bomber call sign: B U C K S H O T.
Ground control call sign: G R E E N S H I P on 2 Group guard 1.
Bomber leader may call escort direct in emergency on 11 Group guard 1.
Fighter call sign: D U N L O P.
General: Emergency homing to FRISTON on 2 Group guard.
A.S.R. on 2 Group guard.
Special V.H.F. codeword: RENOVATE.
Notes: (1) Following each attack sections of three aircraft of each formation are to endeavour to regain close company as soon as possible.
BT 180940A.
XS
BARON AS FOR K WITH R +


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