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Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary


Campaign Diary
April 1944

 

1/2 April 1944

35 Mosquitos bombed Hannover through thin cloud. No aircraft lost.

Mosquitos - 7 to Aachen, 6 to Krefeld and 2 to La Glacerie flying-bomb site, 1 RCM sortie, 4 Serrate patrols, 34 Halifaxes minelaying off the Dutch coast, 9 aircraft on Resistance operations. No aircraft lost.

4/5 April 1944

41 Mosquitos dispatched to Cologne; none lost.

16 other Mosquitos were dispatched: 5 to Aachen, 4 to Essen, 3 to Duisburg, 2 to Krefeld and 2 to La Glacerie. No losses.

5/6 April 1944

144 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of No 5 Group succesfully attacked an aircraft factory at Toulouse. 1 Lancaster exploded in the air over the target.

24 Stirlings minelaying off Biscay ports, 37 aircraft on Resistance operations. No losses.

6/7 April 1944

35 Mosquitos to Hamburg; 1 aircraft lost.

14 Mosquitos bombed 7 targets in the Ruhr and the Rhineland, and 3 aircraft flew RCM sorties. No losses.

7/8 April 1944

1 RCM sortie, 4 Mosquitos on Serrate patrols, 12 Halifaxes minelaying off the Dutch coast. No aircraft lost.

8/9 April 1944

40 Mosquitos attacked the Krupps works at Essen without loss.

3 Mosquitos to Duisburg and 3 to Osnabrück, 2 RCM sorties, 8 Halifaxes minelaying off Texel and Den Helder. No losses.

9/10 April 1944

239 aircraft - 166 Halifaxes, 40 Lancasters, 22 Stirlings, 11 Mosquitos of Nos 3, 4, 6 and 8 Groups - to railway yards at Lille. 1 Lancaster lost.

225 aircraft - 166 Lancasters, 49 Halifaxes, 10 Mosquitos to another railway target, this time at Villeneuve St Georges near Paris. No aircraft lost.

36 Mosquitos to Mannheim and 8 to four other targets, 16 Serrate patrols, 103 Lancasters of Nos 1 and No 5 Groups minelaying off Danzig, Gdynia and Pillau in the Baltic, 61 aircraft on Resistance operations, 9 OTU sorties. 9 Lancasters from the minelaying force and 1 Serrate Mosquito were lost.

Total effort for the night: 697 sorties, 11 aircraft (1.6 per cent) lost.

10/11 April 1944

Railways: 180 Lancasters of No 5 Group to Tours (1 aircraft lost); 157 Halifaxes of No 4 Group and 10 Pathfinder Mosquitos to Tergnier (10 Halifaxes lost); 148 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos to Laon (1 Lancaster lost); 132 Lancasters and 15 Pathfinder Mosquitos to Aulnoye (7 Lancasters lost); 122 Halifaxes of No 6 Group with 10 Pathfinder Mosquitos to Ghent in Belgium (No losses). With the exception of the raid at Laon, all the attacks inflicted heavy damage on their intended targets.

36 Mosquitos to Hannover and 2 to Duisburg, 17 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of No 617 Squadron to St Cyr signals depot, 8 RCM sorties, 9 Serrate patrols, 8 Stirlings minelaying off La Pallice, 46 aircraft on Resistance operations, 17 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 908 sorties, 19 aircraft (2.1 per cent) lost.

Tours
Railway yards at Tours after the highly successful attack by aircraft of No 5 Group during the night of 10/11 April.

11/12 April 1944

341 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 5 and 8 Groups despatched to Aachen. 9 Lancasters lost, 2.6 per cent of the force. This raid was accurate and caused widespread damage and fires in the centre of Aachen and in the southern part of the town, particularly in the suburb of Burtscheid. This was Aachen's most serious raid of the war. Control of the air-raid services was quickly lost when one of the first salvoes or "bombs cut communications between the main operations centre and outlying posts.

7 Mosquitos to bomb night-fighter airfields, 36 Mosquitos on diversion raid to Hannover and 3 each to Duisburg and Osnabrück, 7 RCM sorties, 7 Serrate patrols, 35 Halifaxes and 8 Stirlings minelaying off Brest and in the Kattegat, 26 aircraft on Resistance operations, 8 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 492 sorties, 9 aircraft (1.8 per cent) lost.

12/13 April 1944

39 Mosquitos carried out a harassing raid on Osnabrück without loss.

Minor operations: 2 Mosquitos on Serrate patrols, 40 Halifaxes and 10 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians and off Heligoland, 21 aircraft on Resistance operations, 11 OTU sorties. 2 Stirlings lost on Resistance operations.

13/14 April 1944

29 Mosquitos were dispatched to Berlin but observation of bombing results was not possible because of the glare of massed searchlights. No aircraft lost.

6 Mosquitos to Düren and 3 to Dortmund, 10 Stirlings and 6 Halifaxes minelaying off Cherbourg, Le Havre and La Pallice. No losses.

17/18 April 1944

26 Mosquitos to Cologne; none lost.

2 Mosquitos to Le Mans railway yards, 2 Serrate patrols, 14 Halifaxes and 6 Stirlings minelaying in Kiel Bay and the Frisians, 4 OTU sorties. 1 Halifax minelayer lost.

18/19 April 1944

273 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3 and 8 Groups to Rouen. No aircraft lost. Bomber Command claimed a concentrated attack on the railway yards, with much destruction.

202 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitos of No 5 Group with 3 Oboe Mosquitos of No 8 Group to railway targets at Juvisy. 1 Lancaster lost. The attack appeared to be completely successful.

181 aircraft - 112 Halifaxes, 61 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos of Nos 6 and 8 Groups to railway yards at Noisy-Le-Sec. The Mosquitos also operated against Tergnier. 4 Halifaxes lost. The local report describes results which were typical of these railway-target raids. The marshalling yards, the engine-sheds and the railway workshops suffered great damage. Approximately 200 delayed-action bombs continued to explode in the week after the raid. A through line was established several days later but the marshalling yards were not completely repaired until 6 years after the war. In addition to this railway damage, however, the bombing area was measured as 6km long and 3km wide. 750 houses were destroyed and more than 2,000 damaged. 464 French people were killed and 370 injured.

171 aircraft - 139 Halifaxes, 24 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos of Nos 3, 4 and 8 Groups - to Tergnier. 6 Halifaxes lost. 50 railway lines were blocked but most of the bombing fell on housing areas south-west of the railway yards.

Minelaying Operation: 168 aircraft - 88 Halifaxes, 44 Stirlings, 36 Lancasters - to Swinemünde, Kiel Bay and to the Danish coast. 2 Stirlings and 1 Halifax lost.

Mosquitos - 24 to Berlin, 2 to Osnabrück and 2 to Le Mans, 9 RCM sorties, 32 Serrate patrols, 46 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 1,125 sorties, 14 aircraft (1.2 per cent) lost. The total number of sorties on this night was a new Bomber Command record.

Paris/Juvisy Marshalling Yards
An illustration of how destructive Bomber Command raids had become can be seen from the two larger pictures here. This one is of the Juvisy yards before the attack of 18/19 April. While this was the scene after the night's attack. The remains of the marshalling yards at Juvisy after the raid of 18/19 April.

20/21 April 1944

Cologne: 357 Lancasters and 22 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups. 4 Lancasters lost. This concentrated attack fell into areas of Cologne which were north and west of the city centre and partly industrial in nature. 192 industrial premises suffered various degrees of damage, together with 725 buildings described as 'dwelling-houses with commercial premises attached'. 7 railway stations or yards were also severely damaged.

A raid on railway yards at La Chapelle just north of Paris was the first major test for the new No 5 Group marking method, with the group employing not only No 617 Squadron's low-level markers but the three Pathfinder squadrons recently transferred from No 8 Group. A few regular No 8 Group Mosquitos were also used to drop markers by Oboe to provide a first indication of the target's location for the main No 5 Group marking force. 247 Lancasters of No 5 Group and 22 Mosquitos from 5 and 8 Groups dispatched. 6 Lancasters lost. The bombing force was split into two parts, with an interval between them of 1 hour, and each part of the force aimed at different halves of the railway yards. There were a few difficulties at the opening of the attack, with the markers of the Oboe Mosquitos being a fraction late and with communications between the various controlling aircraft being faulty, but these difficulties were soon overcome and both parts of the bombing force achieved extremely accurate and concentrated bombing.

196 aircraft - 175 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters, 7 Mosquitos from Nos 4 and 8 Groups despatched to Ottignies, some 35 miles south-west of Brussels. No aircraft lost. The southern half of the railway yards was severely damaged.

175 aircraft - 154 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters, 7 Mosquitos of Nos 6 and 8 Groups in an accurate attack on railways at Lens. 1 Halifax lost.

14 Stirlings, using the G-H blind-bombing device, to bomb a railway depot at Chambly but only 4 aircraft bombed and 1 was lost.

8 Mosquitos to Berlin, 14 RCM sorties, 25 Serrate and 8 Intruder patrols, 30 Stirlings and 8 Halifaxes minelaying off French ports, 2 aircraft on Resistance operations, 27 OTU sorties. 2 Serrate Mosquitos and 1 OTU Wellington lost.

Total effort for the night: 1,155 sorties, 15 aircraft (1.3 per cent) lost. The number of sorties flown was a new record. Small jumps in record efforts will no longer be recorded in the diary.

21/22 April 1944

24 Mosquitos bombed the Cologne area through complete cloud cover. No aircraft lost.

4 RCM sorties, 40 Halifaxes and 18 Stirlings minelaying off Brest and Lorient and in the Frisians, 9 aircraft on Resistance operations, 11 OTU aircraft and 4 Stirlings on leaflet flights to France. No aircraft lost.

22/23 April 1944

Düsseldorf: 596 aircraft - 323 Lancasters, 254 Halifaxes, 19 Mosquitos - of all groups except No 5. 29 aircraft - 16 Halifaxes and 13 Lancasters - lost, 4.9 percent of the force. 2,150 tons of bombs were dropped in this old-style heavy attack on a German city which caused much destruction but also allowed the German night-fighter force to penetrate the bomber stream. The attack fell mostly in the northern districts of Düsseldorf. Widespread damage was caused.

238 Lancasters and 17 Mosquitos of No 5 Group and 10 Lancasters of No 1 Group despatched to Brunswick. Few German fighters were attracted to this raid and only 4 Lancasters were lost, 1.5 per cent of the force. This raid is of importance to the history of the bombing war because it was the first time that the No 5 Group low-level marking method was used over a heavily defended German city. The raid was not successful. The initial marking by No 617 Squadron Mosquitos was accurate but many of the main force of bombers did not bomb these, partly because of a thin layer of cloud which hampered visibility and partly because of faulty communications between the various bomber controllers. Many bombs were dropped in the centre of the city but the remainder of the force bombed reserve H2S-aimed target indicators which were well to the south.

Laon railway yards: 181 aircraft - 69 Halifaxes, 52 Lancasters, 48 Stirlings, 12 Mosquitos - of Nos 3, 4, 6 and 8 Groups. 9 aircraft - 4 Lancasters, 3 Stirlings, 2 Halifaxes - lost, 5.0 per cent of the force. The attack was carried out in 2 waves and severe damage was caused. The aircraft of one of the Master Bombers, Wing Commander AGS Cousens of No 635 Squadron, was shot down; Wing Commander Cousens was killed.

17 Mosquitos on diversion raid to Mannheim and 2 more to a flying-bomb store at Wissant, 10 RCM sorties, 19 Serrate and 7 Intruder patrols, 19 aircraft on leaflet flights. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 1,116 sorties, 42 aircraft (3.8 per cent) lost.

23/24 April 1944

Minelaying: 114 aircraft - 70 Halifaxes, 30 Stirlings, 14 Lancasters - to lay mines in 5 areas of the Baltic. 4 Halifaxes and 1 Stirling lost.

25 Mosquitos carried out a harassing raid on Mannheim without loss.

12 G-H Stirlings bombed a signals depot at Brussels without loss.

2 RCM sorties, 4 Serrate patrols, 10 aircraft on Resistance operations, 6 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.

WAAFs in Bomber Command
Many of the support tasks on Bomber Command stations were in the hands of WAAFs. Here one is seen fixing an air engineers panel.

24/25 April 1944

Karlsruhe: 637 aircraft - 369 Lancasters, 259 Halifaxes, 9 Mosquitos - of all groups except No 5 Group. 19 aircraft - 11 Lancasters, 8 Halifaxes - lost, 3.0 per cent of the force. Cloud over the target and a strong wind which pushed the Pathfinders too far north spoiled this attack. Only the northern part of Karlsruhe was seriously damaged and most of the bombs fell outside the city. Mannheim, 30 miles to the north, recorded a raid by approximately 100 aircraft on this night and Darmstadt, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg were also hit by aircraft which failed to find the main target.

Munich: 234 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitos of No 5 Group and 10 Lancasters of No 1 Group in another No 5 Group method raid on a major German target. 9 Lancasters were lost, 3.5 per cent of the force. The marking and controlling plan worked well and accurate bombing fell in the centre of the city. The intense flak and searchlight defences did not prevent the low-flying Mosquito markers from carrying out their task properly and none was seriously damaged.

165 OTU aircraft carried out a diversionary sweep over the North Sea to a point 75 miles off the German coast. 23 Mosquitos bombed Düsseldorf; 6 Lancasters of No 617 Squadron dropped flares and target indicators over Milan as a diversion for the Munich raid; No 100 Group flew 11 RCM, 21 Serrate and 8 Intruder sorties. 2 Wellingtons were lost from the OTU sweep.

4 G-H Stirlings to Chambly railway depot, 18 Halifaxes minelaying off Channel ports and in the Frisians, 7 aircraft on Resistance operations. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 1,160 sorties, 30 aircraft (2.6 per cent) lost.

25/26 April 1944

4 Mosquitos to Cologne, 25 Stirlings minelaying off the French coast, 9 OTU sorties. No losses.

26/27 April 1944

493 aircraft - 342 Lancasters, 133 Halifaxes, 18 Mosquitos - from all groups except No 5 despatched to Essen. 7 aircraft - 6 Lancasters, 1 Halifax - lost, 1.4 per cent of the force. The Bomber Command report states that this was an accurate attack, based on good Pathfinder ground-marking.

206 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of No 5 Group and 9 Lancasters of No 1 Group to Schweinfurt. 21 Lancasters lost, 9.3 per cent of the force. This raid was a failure. The low-level marking provided for the first time by Mosquitos of No 627 Squadron was not accurate. Unexpectedly strong head winds delayed the Lancaster marker aircraft and the main force of bombers. German night fighters were carrying out fierce attacks throughout the period of the raid. The bombing was not accurate and much of it fell outside Schweinfurt.

A Victoria Cross was awarded after the war to Sergeant Norman Jackson, a flight engineer in a Lancaster of No 106 Squadron which was shot down near Schweinfurt. The Lancaster was hit by a German night fighter and a fire started in a fuel tank in the wing near the fuselage. Sergeant Jackson climbed out of a hatch with a fire extinguisher, with another crew member holding the rigging lines of Jackson's parachute which had opened in the aircraft. Sergeant Jackson lost the fire extinguisher and, as both he and his parachute rigging were being affected by the fire, the men in the aircraft let the parachute go. Sergeant Jackson survived, though with serious burns and a broken ankle received on landing with his partially burnt parachute. The remainder of the crew baled out soon afterwards.

217 aircraft - 183 Halifaxes, 20 Lancasters, 14 Mosquitos of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups to Villeneuve St Georges. 1 Halifax lost.

Support and 16 Mosquitos to Hamburg, 10 Stirlings to Chambly, 12 RCM sorties, 20 Serrate and 13 Intruder patrols, 16 Halifaxes and 6 Stirlings minelaying off the Dutch coast and in the Frisians, 10 aircraft on Resistance operations, 21 OTU flights. 1 Serrate Mosquito lost.

Total effort for the night: 1,060 sorties, 30 aircraft (2.8 per cent) lost.

27/28 April 1944

Friedrichshafen: 322 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups. This was a raid with some interesting aspects. The Air Ministry had urged Bomber Command to attack this relatively small town in moonlight because it contained important factories making engines and gearboxes for German tanks. But the flight to this target, deep in Southern Germany on a moonlit night, was potentially very dangerous; the disastrous attack on Nuremberg had taken place only 4 weeks previously in similar conditions. However, Friedrichshafen was further south and on the fringe of the German night-fighter defences; because of this and the various diversions which confused the German controllers, the bombers reached the target without being intercepted. However, the German fighters arrived at the target while the raid was taking place and 18 Lancasters were lost, 5.6 per cent of the force. 1,234 tons of bombs were dropped in an outstandingly successful attack based on good Pathfinder marking; Bomber Command later estimated that 99 acres of Friedrichshafen, 67 per cent of the town's built-up area, were devastated. Several factories were badly damaged and the tank gearbox factory was destroyed. When the American bombing survey team investigated this raid after the war, German officials said that this was the most damaging raid on tank production of the war.

223 aircraft - 191 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters, 16 Mosquitos despatched to Aulnoye. 1 Halifax lost. Bombing was concentrated and much damage was caused to the railway yards.

144 aircraft - 120 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos - to attack railway yards at Montzen on the Belgian-German border. The bombing force, particularly the second of the 2 waves, was intercepted by German fighters and 14 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster were shot down. Only one part of the railway yards was hit by the bombing.The only Lancaster lost was that of Squadron Leader EM Blenkinsopp, a Canadian pilot of No 405 Squadron who was acting as Deputy Master Bomber. Blenkinsopp managed to team up with a Belgian Resistance group and remained with them until captured by the Germans in December 1944. He was taken to Hamburg to work as a forced labourer and later died in Belsen concentration camp 'of heart failure'. He has no known grave.

159 OTU aircraft on a diversionary sweep over the North Sea, 24 Mosquitos on diversion raid to Stuttgart, 11 RCM sorties, 19 Serrate and 6 Intruder patrols, 8 Halifaxes minelaying off Brest and Cherbourg, 44 aircraft on Resistance operations. 1 Serrate Mosquito lost.

Total effort for the night: 961 sorties, 35 aircraft (3.6 per cent) lost.

28/29 April 1944

88 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitos of No 5 Group to attack an explosives factory near at St Médard En Jalles near Bordeaux. Only 26 aircraft bombed the target. Because of haze and smoke from fires started by flares in woods near the factory, the Master Bomber ordered the remainder of the force to retain their bombs. No aircraft lost.

51 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitos of No 5 Group were dispatched and bombed an airframe factory near Oslo. Visibility was clear; the bombing was accurate and no aircraft were lost.

26 Mosquitos to Hamburg, 2 RCM sorties, 40 aircraft on Resistance operations. No aircraft lost.

29/30 April 1944

68 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of No 5 Group returned to the explosives factory at St Médard En Jalles and carried out concentrated bombing on it without loss.

54 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked the Michelin tyre factory at Clermont-Ferrand accurately and without loss.

8 Mosquitos to Oberhausen and 4 to Achéres railway yards, 5 RCM sorties, 6 Serrate patrols, 34 Halifaxes and 4 Stirlings minelaying off French ports and in the Frisians. 20 aircraft on Resistance operations, 9 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.

30 April/1 May 1944

143 aircraft - 114 Halifaxes, 20 Lancasters, 9 Mosquitos - of Nos 6 and 8 Groups despatched to Somain, south-east of Lille. 1 Halifax lost.The initial Oboe marking was inaccurate and the Master Bomber ordered the bombing force to wait. Most of the Halifaxes making up the Main Force either did not hear or ignored his orders and their bombs missed the target. Some damage was caused to the railway yards by the remainder of the force.

128 aircraft - 107 Halifaxes, 13 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos - of Nos 4 and 8 Groups attacked the railway yards at Achères, near Paris without loss.The Mayor of this small town reports that the bombing completely destroyed the railway yards and that there were no civilian victims, the Mayor attributing this to the fact that the bombers flew at comparatively low level.

116 Lancasters of No 1 Group attacked the largest Luftwaffe bomb and ammunition dump at Maintenon in Northern France. The marking for this raid appears to have been provided by the No 1 Group Marking Flight, based at Binbrook; the Bomber Command records do not mention any other group taking part. The raid was entirely successful and a spectacular series of explosions were seen on the ground. French houses near by were not hit.

28 Mosquitos to Saarbrücken and 5 to Düren, 14 RCM sorties, 9 Serrate and 5 Intruder patrols, 48 Halifaxes minelaying off the French coast, 36 aircraft on Resistance operations, No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 532 sorties, 1 aircraft (0.2 per cent) lost.

Railway yards in Paris
Although the location of these marshalling yards in Paris is not known, they are a very good example of the accuracy with with Bomber Command could now attack. These are the yards before a raid in April 1944. And these are what remained after the Bomber Command attack.

1944 March  1944 May
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