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Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary


Campaign Diary
April 1942

 

1 April 1942

12 Bostons to Boulogne to attack an armed cargo ship. Cloud was encountered and the dock area was bombed instead. 1 Boston lost.

1/2 April 1942

Le Havre

34 Wellingtons and 22 Hampdens. Successful bombing was claimed. 1 Wellington lost.

Hanau, Lohr

35 Wellingtons and 14 Hampdens to carry out low-level attacks on railway targets. 22 aircraft reported that they had carried out this task but 12 Wellingtons and 1 Hampden were lost. 57 Squadron, based at Feltwell, lost 5 of the 12 Wellingtons it sent on this raid and 214 Squadron, from Stradishall, lost 7 of its 14 Wellingtons.

Paris/Poissy

24 Whitleys and 17 Wellingtons to attack the Ford motor factory. Crews claimed accurate bombing but this was not confirmed by a later photographic flight. 1 Wellington lost.

Minor Operations: 3 Blenheim Intruder flights to Holland turned back, 15 aircraft minelaying off Lorient and in the mouth of the River Gironde, 5 aircraft on leaflet flights to France. No losses. This was the first night of minelaying by Wellingtons of 3 Group.

2/3 April 1942

Paris/Poissy

40 Wellingtons and 10 Stirlings carried out successful bombing of the motor factory . 1 Wellington lost.

Photo-recce picture of the motor factory at Poissy after Bomber Command's raids.

Le Havre

49 aircraft; crews claimed accurate bombing of harbour targets. No losses. 23 Hampdens and 7 Wellingtons minelaying in Quiberon Bay. 1 Hampden and 1 Wellington lost.

4 April 1942

St Omer

12 Bostons and 4 Wellingtons on escorted raid to St Omer railway yards but their bombs fell in fields near the town. No losses.

Cloud-Cover Raids

4 Wellingtons to Germany. 3 turned back early but 1 aircraft, although dispatched to Emden, turned south when its cloud cover ran out and dropped its bombs in the Essen area. 21 Hampdens attempted to use cloud cover to lay mines in the Frisians but only 2 aircraft did so successfully. There were no losses.

5/6 April 1942

Cologne

263 aircraft - 179 Wellingtons, 44 Hampdens, 29 Stirlings, 11 Manchesters - another new record for a force sent to a single target. 4 Wellingtons and 1 Hampden lost.
The main target was the Humboldt works in Cologne. 211 aircraft claimed good bombing results but the nearest bombing photographs developed were 5 miles from the Humboldt works. The Cologne report lists just 1 industrial building hit, a mill in the Deutz area, with 90 houses destroyed or seriously damaged and other buildings, including a hospital, hit. 7 people were killed and 9 injured in the bombing. There were further casualties among a crowd who were watching a burning bomber which had crashed in the middle of Cologne; the bomb load exploded killing 16 people and injuring 30 more. The bomber's crew had been killed in the original crash.

Paris/Gennevilliers

20 Whitleys to bomb the Gnome & Rhone engine factory. 14 aircraft bombed but the main target was not hit. Local records show 1 house destroyed and 4 damaged, with no casualties. No aircraft were lost.

Minor Operations: 18 aircraft to Le Havre, 6 Blenheims Intruders to Holland, 11 Hampdens and Wellingtons minelaying off the French coast. No losses.

Total effort for the night: 318 sorties, 5 aircraft (1.6 per cent) lost.

6/7 April 1942

Essen

The campaign against Essen continued, with 157 aircraft - 110 Wellingtons, 19 Stirlings, 18 Hampdens and 10 Manchesters. The crews encountered severe storms and icing and there was complete cloud cover over Essen. Only 49 aircraft claimed to have reached the target area. Essen reports only a few bombs, with light damage; no casualties are recorded. 5 aircraft - 2 Hampdens, 1 Manchester, 1 Stirling, 1 Wellington - lost.

8 April 1942

4 Bostons on a sweep off the Dutch coast. A ship was bombed but not hit. No aircraft were lost.

8/9 April 1942

Hamburg

272 aircraft - 177 Wellingtons, 41 Hampdens, 22 Stirlings, 13 Manchesters, 12 Halifaxes, 7 Lancasters - on yet another record raid for aircraft numbers to 1 target. 4 Wellingtons and 1 Manchester lost.
Icing and electrical storms were again encountered. Although 188 aircraft reported bombing in the target area, the raid was a failure. 17 people were killed and 119 injured. Bremen reports a load of incendiaries dropped very accurately on the Vulkan shipyard where 4 U-boats and several surrounding buildings were damaged by fire.

Minor Operations: 13 Wellingtons to Le Havre, 3 Blenheims Intruders to Holland, 24 aircraft minelaying near Heligoland, 16 aircraft on leaflet flights to Belgium and France. 1 Manchester on a leaflet flight was lost in the sea.

Total effort for the night: 328 sorties, 6 aircraft (1.8 per cent) lost.

9 April 1942

7 Wellingtons on cloud-cover raids to Essen; only 1 aircraft bombed a village north of Essen. No aircraft lost.

10/11 April 1942

Essen

254 aircraft - 167 Wellingtons, 43 Hampdens, 18 Stirlings, 10 Manchesters, 8 Halifaxes, 8 Lancasters. 14 aircraft - 7 Wellingtons, 5 Hampdens, 1 Halifax, 1 Manchester - lost.
Crews were given a forecast of clear weather over Essen but cloud was met instead. The bombing force became scattered and suffered heavily from the Ruhr Flak defences. Bombing was poor. Essen reports 12 houses destroyed, no serious industrial damage, 7 people killed and 30 injured. Total bombs in Essen were approximately 6 aircraft loads from the 172 aircraft claiming to have bombed there.
Bomber Command's first 8,000lb bomb was dropped during this raid by the 76 Squadron Halifax of Pilot Officer M. Renaut, whose aircraft was badly damaged by Flak. It is not known where Renaut's bomb fell.

Minor Operations: 40 'freshmen' crews to Le Havre, 3 Blenheim Intruders to Holland, 3 aircraft minelaying off Heligoland, 5 leaflet flights to France. 1 Manchester on the Le Havre raid and 1 Hampden minelayer lost.

Total effort for the night: 305 sorties, 16 aircraft (5.2 per cent) lost.

12 April 1942

9 Bostons carried out accurate bombing at Hazebrouck railway yards but 1 aircraft was lost.

12/13 April 1942

Essen

251 aircraft - 171 Wellingtons, 31 Hampdens, 27 Stirlings, 13 Halifaxes, 9 Manchesters. 10 aircraft - 7 Wellingtons, 2 Hampdens, 1 Halifax - lost.
173 aircraft claimed to have bombed Essen but their bombing photographs showed a wide area of the Ruhr. Essen's records show a slight improvement in the bombing. 5 high-explosive and 200 incendiary bombs hit the Krupps factory and a large fire was started there. 28 private dwellings were destroyed and 50 seriously damaged. 27 people were killed, 36 injured and 9 were missing.
This raid concluded a disappointing series of raids on this target, which was judged to be the heart of the German armaments industry. There had been 8 heavy raids since the first Gee raid on 8/9 March.

These are the conclusions:

Aircraft dispatched: 1,555
Crews reported bombing Essen: 1,006
Aircraft lost: 64
Aircraft bombing photographs within 5 miles of Essen: 22

Essen's records show that industrial damage was caused on only 2 occasions - a fire in the Krupps factory and a few bombs on some nearby railway lines - that 63 civilians were killed and that a modest amount of residential property had been hit.

Minor Operations: 27 aircraft to Le Havre, 18 Whitleys to Genoa (the target was cloud covered), 4 Blenheim Intruders to Holland, 20 aircraft minelaying in the German Bight, 7 leaflet flights to France. No losses.

Total effort for the night: 327 sorties, 10 aircraft (3.1 per cent) lost.

13/14 April 1942

Minor Operations: 4 Wellingtons to Boulogne, 47 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and the German Bight, 3 leaflet flights. 1 Stirling minelayer was lost.

14 April 1942

12 Bostons carried out accurate bombing at Mondeville power-station without loss.

14/15 April 1942

Dortmund

208 aircraft - 142 Wellingtons, 34 Hampdens, 20 Stirlings, 8 Halifaxes, 4 Manchesters - a force which was several times greater than any previously sent to this city. 5 Wellingtons and 4 Hampdens lost.
132 aircraft claimed to have bombed Dortmund but bombing photographs showed that bombs fell across a 40-mile stretch of the Ruhr. Dortmund reports 1 unspecified industrial building destroyed, 1 military establishment severely damaged, 4 dwelling-houses destroyed and 31 damaged with 4 people killed and 27 injured.

Minor Operations: 23 aircraft to Le Havre (all bombs fell in open country), 5 Blenheim Intruders to Soesterberg airfield, 1 Stirling minelaying near Heligoland. 1 Wellington lost on the Le Havre raid.

Total effort for the night: 237 sorties, 10 aircraft (4.8 per cent) lost.

15 April 1942

9 Bostons bombed harbour and railway targets at Cherbourg without loss.

15/16 April 1942

Dortmund

152 aircraft - 111 Wellingtons, 19 Hampdens, 15 Stirlings, 7 Manchesters. 3 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling lost.
Thick cloud and icing were encountered. Only 88 aircraft claimed to have bombed Dortmund which reports 1 house destroyed and 13 seriously damaged, 2 people killed and 6 injured. Bombs falling in Dortmund were equivalent to eight aircraft loads.

Minor Operations: 18 Whitleys to St Nazaire, 8 Wellingtons to Le Havre, 4 Blenheim Intruders, 11 aircraft minelaying off St Nazaire, 4 leaflet flights to France. No aircraft lost.

16 April 1942

12 Bostons bombed Le Havre power-station and docks accurately and without loss.

16/17 April 1942

Minor Operations: 21 aircraft to Le Havre and Lorient, 21 aircraft minelaying off French ports, 11 leaflet flights to France. 1 Manchester and 1 Wellington lost from the minelaying operation.

17 April 1942

The Augsburg Raid

This was another of Sir Arthur Harris's experimental raids, an attempt to achieve accurate bombing of a vital target using a small force of the new Lancaster bombers flying at low level in daylight. The target selected by Bomber Command was the diesel-engine manufacturing workshop building in the M.A.N. factory at Augsburg, 500 miles from the French coast. Harris had earlier considered attacking one of the ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt but preferred the Augsburg target for tactical reasons. After a week of low-flying practice, 12 Lancasters - 6 each from 44 and 97 Squadrons - carried out this famous raid. 30 Bostons and a large Fighter Command effort were dispatched to targets in Northern France to divert German fighter attention from the Lancaster force but were not completely successful in this. 1 Boston was lost. 4 of the Lancasters were shot down en route to Augsburg and 3 more near the target. The 8 crews which did reach the target carried out accurate bombing but the casualties were too heavy and this type of operation was not repeated. Squadron Leader J. D. Nettleton of 44 Squadron, who returned in a badly damaged aircraft, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his leadership of the raid.

17/18 April 1942

Hamburg

173 aircraft - 134 Wellingtons, 23 Stirlings, 11 Halifaxes, 5 Manchesters. 7 Wellingtons and 1 Manchester lost.
107 crews claimed to have bombed the target but the German estimate was that no more than 50 aircraft had attacked Hamburg. There were 75 fires in Hamburg - 33 classed as large - 23 people were killed and 66 injured.

Minor Operations: 22 Whitleys to St Nazaire, 4 aircraft to Le Havre, 6 Blenheim Intruders to Holland, 9 aircraft minelaying off Heligoland. 1 Intruder and 1 minelaying Manchester lost.

Total effort for the night: 214 sorties, 10 aircraft (4.7 per cent) lost.

19/20 April 1942

Minelaying: 51 aircraft to the Frisian Islands; 1 Hampden and 1 Wellington lost.

22/23 April 1942

Cologne

64 Wellingtons and 5 Stirlings, all equipped with Gee, were dispatched on an experimental raid, with orders to use Gee as a blind-bombing aid. Some bombs were dropped accurately into Cologne but others were up to 10 miles from the target. 2 Wellingtons lost.
Cologne records show that 44 high-explosive and 1,200 incendiary bombs fell in the city, perhaps 12 to 15 aircraft loads. 4 people were killed and 8 injured and minor property damage was caused, although 6 industrial buildings are shown as having been damaged.

Minor Operations: 23 aircraft to Le Havre, 63 aircraft minelaying off Germany and Denmark, 1 leaflet flight to France. 1 Wellington on the Le Havre raid and 1 Hampden minelayer lost.

23/24 April 1942

Rostock

161 aircraft - 93 Wellingtons, 31 Stirlings, 19 Whitleys, 11 Hampdens, 6 Manchesters, 1 Lancaster. 4 aircraft - 2 Wellingtons, 1 Manchester, 1 Whitley - lost.
This was the first of a series of 4 raids on this Baltic port town. These raids had many of the characteristics of the successful raid on nearby Lübeck 1 month earlier - a concentrated, incendiary, area-bombing attack of a town with only light defences. An added feature on each night, however, was the inclusion of a small force of bombers, from 5 Group on the first 3 nights, to attempt a precision attack on the Heinkel aircraft factory on the southern outskirts of Rostock. On this first night, 143 aircraft were sent to bomb the town and 18 the Heinkel factory. Bombing conditions were good but the results of the raid were disappointing. The Heinkel factory was not hit and most of the main bombing intended for the Altstadt fell between 2 and 6 miles away.

24 April 1942

12 Bostons bombed Flushing docks: 6 further Bostons to Abbeville were recalled. No Bostons lost.

24/25 April 1942

Rostock

125 aircraft of 6 types, 91 to the town and 34 to the Heinkel factory .1 Hampden lost. The centre of the town was bombed heavily on this night but the Heinkel factory buildings were not hit, although some bombs did fall in the general factory area.

Minor Operations: 39 aircraft to Dunkirk, 4 Blenheim Intruders, 3 leaflet flights. 1 Intruder lost.

25 April 1942

36 Bostons on Circus operations to Abbeville railway yards, Morliax airfield and harbour targets at Cherbourg, Le Havre and Dunkirk. 29 aircraft bombed; 2 Bostons lost.

25/26 April 1942

Rostock

128 aircraft of 6 types, 110 to the town and 18 to the Heinkel factory. No aircraft were lost although crews reported that Rostock's Flak defences had been strengthened. Heavy bombing of the town and many fires were achieved. Some aircraft also hit the Heinkel factory for the first time; the crews achieving this were flying Manchesters from 106 Squadron, which was commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson.

Minor Operations: 6 Stirlings carried out a long-range attack on the Sköda armaments factory at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia. Cloud covered the target on arrival but at least 5 Stirlings bombed. 32 aircraft to Dunkirk, 2 Blenheim Intruders, 5 leaflet flights to France. 1 Stirling lost from the Pilsen raid.

26 April 1942

12 Bostons carried out accurate bombing of St Omer and Hazebrouck railway yards without loss.

26/27 April 1942

Rostock

106 or 109 aircraft (there are conflicting figures) of 7 different types, approximately half to the town and half to the Heinkel factory. 3 aircraft - 1 Stirling, 1 Wellington, 1 Whitley - lost. Successful bombing was recorded by both parts of the force.

The 4 raids in this series resulted in the destruction of 1,765 buildings and serious damage to 513 more buildings in Rostock. Bomber Command estimated that 130 acres were destroyed, 60 per cent of the main town area. Casualties were 204 people killed and 89 injured.

Minor Operations: 24 aircraft to Dunkirk, 2 Blenheim Intruders to Leeuwarden, 4 aircraft minelaying, 7 OTU sorties. No losses.

27 April 1942

18 Bostons to Ostend and Lille; 1 Boston lost.

27/28 April 1942

Cologne

97 aircraft - 76 Wellingtons, 19 Stirlings, 2 Halifaxes. 6 Wellingtons and 1 Halifax lost.
Bombing conditions were favourable and this small force claimed good results. Cologne reports 9 industrial premises and 1,520 houses hit or damaged, and 19 other premises affected. 11 people were killed, 52 injured and 1,683 bombed out. A considerable number of bombs, however, fell outside the city to the east. 150 hectares of the Tannenwald destroyed by fire.

Trondheim

31 Halifaxes and 12 Lancasters to attack the Tirpitz and other German warships in Trondheim Fjord. The Tirpitz was found and bombed but no hits were scored. 4 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost.
One of the lost Halifaxes was piloted by Wing Commander D. C. T. Bennett, later the commander of the Pathfinders; Bennett escaped to neutral Sweden and returned to England 5 weeks later.
Another Halifax lost on this raid, W1048 of 35 Squadron, was damaged by Flak and its pilot, Pilot Officer Donald Mclntyre, crash-landed it on the frozen surface of a nearby lake, Lake Hoklingen. The crew all survived and the Halifax, a new aircraft on its first operational flight, sank gently. In 1973 this aircraft was salvaged from the bed of the lake and, after restoration by airmen at R.A.F. Wyton, was placed on public display in the R.A.F. Museum at Hendon.

Minor Operations: 12 aircraft to Dunkirk, 8 aircraft minelaying off Gennan coasts, 3 Lancasters from 5 Group and 5 OTU Wellingtons on leaflet flights. 2 Halifaxes from the Dunkirk raid, 1 Stirling and 2 OTU Wellingtons were lost to make the casualties for this night 17 aircraft, 10.1 per cent of the forces dispatched. The 2 Whitleys dispatched by 58 Squadron to Dunkirk represent the last Whitley operations flown by a front-line Bomber Command squadron; their last operation to Germany had been by 5 aircraft against Rostock the previous night. OTUs would continue to use small numbers of Whitleys on leaflet flights for some time.

28 April 1942

6 Bostons bombed St Omer railway yards accurately and without loss.

28/29 April 1942

Kiel

88 aircraft - 62 Wellingtons, 15 Stirlings, 10 Hampdens, 1 Halifax. 5 Wellingtons and 1 Hampden lost.
54 aircraft claimed good bombing results in bright moonlight but against strong Flak and fighter defences. Post-raid photographs reported 'no new damage' but the Kiel records show that damage was caused at all 3 shipyards, to the hospital of the Naval Academy and to the university library as well as to private housing. 15 people were killed and 74 injured.

Damage to vessels in harboured in Kiel after the raid of the 28/29th.

Trondheim

23 Halifaxes and 11 Lancasters to attack the Tirpitz. Hits were claimed but these were not confirmed. 2 Halifaxes lost.

Minor Operations: 6 Blenheims to Langenbrugge power-station, 4 Blenheim Intruders, 6 aircraft minelaying off Kiel and Heligoland. 1 Blenheim lost from the Langenbrugge raid.

29 April 1942

6 Bostons bombed Dunkirk docks without loss.

29/30 April 1942

Paris/Gennevilliers

88 aircraft - 73 Wellingtons, 9 Hampdens, 6 Stirlings - to the Gnome & Rhone aero-engine factory. 3 Wellingtons lost.
The main factory was not hit but other industrial buildings in the nearby Port de Paris on the Seine were. The local report says that 1 industrial building was destroyed and 3 more damaged with no casualties being suffered by French people.

Minor Operations: 20 aircraft to Ostend, 6 Blenheim Intruders, 5 Manchesters minelaying off Kiel and the Danish coast. 1 Wellington and 1 Whitley from the 'freshmen' raid on Ostend and 1 minelaying Manchester were lost.

30 April 1942

24 Bostons on escorted raids to Le Havre and Flushing docks, Abbeville railway yards and Morlaix airfield. All targets were bombed without loss.


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