Halifaxes tow gliders over landings

April overview

A Boston light bomber All of the activities of the previous months were continued. British medium, light and fighter bombers of AEAF made bombing raids on 22 days of the month, attacking V-weapon sites, railways, communications, airfields and shipping. Twenty one small scale attacks were made on targets in Germany to keep the pressure on the strategic industrial targets without diverting significant numbers of aircraft from the invasion support operations. Most significant of these were during the last week of April where attacks on the rail yards seriously affected the transportation of military assets. A growing paralysis was being inflicted upon the rail system in the Region Nord. There was an increase in the supply operations to the French Resistance movement in April. Bomber Command assets were used in addition to the 2 Special Duties sqns (Nos 138 and 161) operating from Tempsford, Cambridge. Bomber Command dropped 33,000 tons of bombs on enemy targets during April; an increasing proportion of effort being directed against railways and other targets in NW France.

Between January and April of 1944 Bomber Command layed 6,877 mines to interdict Geman coastal shipping traffic and to maintain the central channel exclusion area for German U-boats, E-boats and shipping.

April 1944

A map of the Bomber Command 5/6 April - A delivery flight to the French Resistance – the Bir Hacheim Maquisards – by a 644 Sqn (2nd Tactical Air Force) Halifax from Tarrant Rushton in Dorset, piloted by Flt Lt R F W Cleaver DSO for whom that nights activities would earn him a DFC. His navigator, Flt Sgt Alan Matthews, joined the Bir Hacheim. To give an indication of the numbers of this type of operations being flown. the 644 Squadron Record Books advise that in April the Squadron flew the following Special Operations sorties dropping containers for the resistance:

43 Sorties flown
14 Successful
17 no signals received from the Drop Zones
Lille marshalling yards 2 failed due to unserviceable aircraft at the drop zone
10 could not identify the Drop Zone because of bad weather.

5-6 April - Bomber Command attacked aircraft factories and repair depots near Toulouse, France.

9-10 April - Bomber Command attacked railway targets at Lille near Paris.

9-10 April – Rail System Targets - Villeneuve and St Georges.

10-11 April – Rail System Targets - Aulnoye, Laon, Tergnier, Ghent and Tours (3,500 tons dropped).

Tours Marshalling Yards 14 April - Allied strategic bombing forces in the NW European theatre were placed under control of the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force, General Dwight D Eisenhower, for operations in support of the invasion of Europe (Operation Overlord).

15 April - The Transportation Plan was formalised. The British and American heavy bomber forces were given a new list of transport targets to be attacked. The 'Pointblank' directive issued to the heavy bomber forces on 10 June 1943 was temporarily suspended. During the invasion the strategic bombers were placed under the control of Eisenhower (SCEAF for the liberation of Europe). The new Transportation Plan was approved. It was designed to hamper the movement of enemy Lille yards again reinforcements by attacks on railways, roads, bridges and other transport targets.

18 April - Juvisy Marshalling Yards. Wg Cdr Cheshire led the raid on Juvisy Marshalling yards. 4 Mosquitoes marked the target for 19 Lancasters. The Woodhall Spa Base Commander, Air Commodore Sharp, who flew with Flying Officer Duffy in one of the Lancasters commented that; "The operation was outstandingly successful. The photographs in the national press emphasize the accuracy of the bombing."

18-19 April – Rail System Targets - Rouen, Tergnier and Noisy-le-Sec

20-21 April – Rail System Targets - Lens, Chambly, La Chappele and Otignies.

Before and after 22 April - Bomber Command attacks missile targets in N France.

22-23 April - Rail System Targets - Laon.

23 April - Allied Expeditionary Air Force attacked missile sites in N France.
US 8th AAF bombed airfields in France.

26-27 April – Rail System Targets - Villeneuve.

28 April - Bomber Command attacks missile targets in Pas de Calais.

27-28 April - Rail System Targets - Aulnoye and Montgen.

A V-1 launching site 30 April – Rail System Targets -Arras Marshalling Yard.

30 April - Bomber Command attacked an ammunition store at Maintenon and Rail System Targets in France.


A Boston light bomber photographed over its target, the fuel dump at Argentan.

A map of the Bomber Command minelaying offensive.

Lille marshalling yards on 10 April, much of the rolling stock is still burning hours after the raid.

Tours Marshalling Yards photographed on 12 April after the attack on 11th. Most of the support buildings have been damaged or destroyed.

Hey V-1 flying-bomb Lille yards again, but this time on 11 April. The arrow marks a large crater where it is believed an ammunition wagon exploded. The effectiveness of these raids gave rise to the Transportation Plan, formalised 15 April.

Before and after photographs of the Juvisy Marshalling Yards.

A V-1 launching site at St Philibert Ferme after a raid. Arrowed are the launching ramp (A) and the adjustment building (B) where the V-1s autopilot was set up.

Hey V-1 flying-bomb launching site showing damage from bombing and (A) the launching ramp and (B) a V-1 in the open.

See May overview

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