Operation Overlord Air Power
The Contribution of Air Power to Operation Overlord
August 1943 Air Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory appointed C-in-C of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force.
6 December 1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed as Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces for Operation Overlord the Allied invasion of north-west Europe. "The End of the Beginning"
17 January 1944 Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder appointed Deputy Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force.
Between March and May 1944 bomber squadrons were tasked to bomb more key transporttargets in support of the forthcoming invasion. A key part of this wastargeting of the railways in Franceand Belgium. The aim was to slow down the Nazis as they advanced towards Normandy to defend themselves against theAllies, post invasion.
During May1944 the bombing intensified and Allied forces started to focus theirefforts on routes that linked to Normandy.
On the 1st and 2nd of May 1944 a total of 252 aircraft from 4, 6 and 8 Groups setout to bomb key railway targets in Malines and Chambly damaging locomotivesheds at Malines. At Chamblythey were more successful, dropping 500 high explosives on the railway areacausing damage in all areas and putting the depot out of order for ten days.
Both raids incurred significant losses, at Malines a total of 132 aircraft werelost, 110 of those were Halifax.At Chambly 120 aircraft went down, 96 of which were Lancasters.
Other smaller raids, such as the attack on Berliet motorworks, involving75 Lancastersfrom 1 Group, none of which were lost, were also highly successful. The factoryreceived significant damage, as did anearby railway and factories. At Tours 46 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitoesfrom 5 Group completely destroyed aircraft repair workshops.
Throughout the rest of the month the transport links remained key targets forBomber Command.
Bombing of Mailly-de-Camp
German Military Camps and Airfields also made up a significant number oftargets.
On the 3rd and 4th of May1944 346 Lancasters, 14 Mosquitoes of 1 and 5 Groups setout to bomb a German Military Camp near the French village of Mailly.
On this occasion, the raid did not go according to plan. While the MarkerLeader Wing Commander Cheshire ordered the main force in, the Main ForceController, Wing Commander L.C Dean, was unable to transmit the order because hisincorrectly tuned radio was drowned out by an American Forces Broadcast. As aresult German Bombers had time to arrive on the scene and the following battleresulted in heavy casualties.
Eventually 1500 bombs were dropped on 114 barrack buildings and 47 transportsheds and some ammunition buildings. Intotal 102 vehicles were destroyed, including 37 tanks.
However, as a result of the confusion 42 Lancasterswere shot down, which amounted to 11.6 per cent of the entire force. The mostsignificant losses were suffered by 1 Group who made up the majority of thesecond wave of bombers.
A further raid on an airfield at Montdidier, involving 84 Lancastersand eight Mosquitoes, caused significant damage to buildings and installationson the north of the airfield. Only four Lancasterswere lost during the bombing.
(There is a great account from FL Lt Russell Rusty Waughman RAF on the bombing of Mailluy found the Raunds War Memorial site. http://www.raundswarmemorials.org/2826/85601.html Itmight be worth linking to this or getting permission to publish part of it onthe website.)
Mont Couple - Radar Station
In order for the D-Day plans to be successful, radar stations along the coastof France had to be neutralised in order to prevent them from picking up theoncoming invasion.
On the 19th and 20th of May 1944 39 Lancasters andfive Mosquitoes from 8 Group attacked a radar station at Monte Couple. One Lancasterwas lost during the raid.
RAF Commits over 1111 aircraft to pre-Overlord Bombing Effort
On the night of the 27th/28th of May 1944 Bomber Command committed over 1111aircraft to the campaign, bombing arange of targets including military camps, airfields and railway yards.
On that night 162 Lancasters and eight Mosquitoes from 1,3 and 8 Groupsattacked the Rothe Erde Railway yard causing severe damage and significantlyaffecting all through traffic which had to be halted.
During the raid 12 Lancasters were lost. However, it was not just the British thattook casualties that night. German night fighters also suffered losses at thehands of the gunners defending the bombers. As the following account describes:
One aircraft F-Freddie piloted by F/SgtCoole, 166 Squadron on their return from the raid encountered an attack fromand ME110. The aircraft was damaged by the attack and the rear gunner, SgtAshworth was hit in the leg by cannon fire. However, as the attacking aircraftflew overhead the mid-upper gunner fired several rounds into the under belly ofthe M110 which caused it to dive vertically. The crew of the Lancastercrash landed at Woodbridge, with the crewsreceiving only minor injuries.
6 June 1944 D Day
September 1944 Liberation of Paris (RAF Regiment)