Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary
|WAAFs Play Their Part|
28 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of No 5 Group attacked the U-boat pens and shipping at Brest. Hits were claimed on the pens, on the hulk of an old French battleship, the Clémenceau, and on a medium-sized tanker. The object of the attacks on ships was to prevent the Germans using any of the large ships in Brest to block the harbour just before its capture by American troops. 1 Lancaster lost.
15 Lancasters of No 5 Group bombed an oil depot at Bordeaux accurately. 1 Lancaster lost.
8 Mosquito fighters and 1 RCM Wellington of No 100 Group flew operations without loss.
30 Mosquitos to Hannover, 22 RCM sorties, 15 Mosquito patrols, 10 Halifaxes and 5 Lancasters minelaying off Biscay ports, 4 Halifaxes on Resistance operations, 9 OTU sorties.No aircraft lost.
805 aircraft - 411 Lancasters, 352 Halifaxes, 42 Mosquitos - to attack 7 German troop positions facing the 3rd Canadian Division, which was advancing on Falaise. 2 Lancasters lost. A careful plan was prepared with Oboe and visual marking, and with a Master Bomber and a deputy at each of the 7 targets. Most of the bombing was accurate and effective but, about half-way through the raids, some aircraft started to bomb a large quarry in which parts of the 12th Canadian Field Regiment were positioned. This mistake may have been caused by the yellow identification flares which were ignited by the Canadians. It was unfortunate that the target indicators being used by the Pathfinders were also yellow. Bomber Command crews claimed that the Canadians used the yellow flares before any bombs fell in the quarry; the history of the Canadian units says the bombs fell first. The Master Bombers tried hard to stop further crews bombing in the wrong area but approximately 70 aircraft bombed the quarry and other nearby Allied positions over a 70-minute period. The Canadians took shelter in their slit trenches and most emerged unscathed though shaken, but 13 men were killed and 53 were injured and a large number of vehicles and guns were hit. This was believed to have been the first occasion on which Bomber Command aircraft had hit friendly troops during the Battle of Normandy. The Canadian artillery regiment was machine-gunned by RAF Spitfires and USAAF Mustangs the following day!
155 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitos of No 5 Group made two separate attacks on ships in Brest harbour. The Clemenceau and the cruiser Gueydon were both hit and were believed left sinking in 'safe' positions which would not hinder Allied use of the port when American troops took possession. The Allied forces were anxious to capture a good port to which supplies and reinforcements for the land battle could be brought in directly from the United States. 2 Lancasters were lost.
Details of the Canadian side of the bombing come from Into Action with the 12th Field by Captain TJ Bell (published privately in Canada} and from the personal reminiscences of former Lance-Corporal George R Carter of the 12th Canadian Field Regiment. George Carter's brother, Flying Officer Roy E Carter of No 431 Squadron, was a Bomber Command navigator whose Halifax had been shot down over Holland on the Sterkrade raid of 16/17 June 1944. Roy Carter baled out successfully but, while he was being hidden by Dutch civilians in a house at Tilburg, he was discovered by Germans on 8 July and shot, together with a Pathfinder pilot and an Australian airman. The bloodstained Dutch flag which covered the bodies after their death was brought to England in 1983 and placed in the No 83 Squadron Memorial Chapel in Coningsby parish church.
1 Wellington flew an RCM sortie.
Total effort for the day: 965 sorties, 4 aircraft (0.4 per cent) lost.
32 Mosquitos to Berlin, 2 to Sterkrade oil plant and 2 to St Trond airfield, 1 RCM sortie, 8 Halifaxes and 6 Lancasters minelaying off Biscay ports, 4 aircraft on Resistance operations, 7 OTU sorties. No losses.
1,004 aircraft - 599 Lancasters, 385 Halifaxes, 19 Mosquitos, 1 Lightning - attacked 9 airfields in Holland and Belgium in preparation for a renewed night offensive against Germany. Visibility was perfect and all raids were considered successful. 3 Lancasters lost.
1 Wellington flew an RCM sortie.
The invasion of Southern France started in the early hours of this day. The landings were only lightly opposed and the Allied troops advanced rapidly. The Allied break- out from Normandy was also taking place at this time.
|Belgian Airfield Attacks|
32 Mosquitos to Berlin, 8 to Venlo airfield and 9 to various Ruhr targets, 1 RCM sortie, 7 Mosquito patrols, 6 Halifaxes minelaying off La Pallice. No aircraft lost.
25 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of No 5 Group to attack the U-boat pens at La Pallice found the target was cloud-covered and only 3 aircraft bombed. 1 Wellington RCM sortie was flown. No aircraft lost.
461 Lancasters to attack the port and industrial areas at Stettin. 5 Lancasters lost. Bomber Command claimed an accurate attack, with much damage in the port and factory area.
348 aircraft - 195 Lancasters, 144 Halifaxes, 9 Mosquitos - to Kiel. 3 Halifaxes and 2 Lancasters lost. This raid was only partially successful.
Support and 145 aircraft from training units on diversionary sweep over the North Sea, 23 Mosquitos to Berlin, 5 to Deelen airfield and 3 each to Dortmund, Kamen and Sterkrade, 33 RCM sorties, 47 Mosquito patrols, 89 aircraft minelaying in the Baltic and in Kiel Bay and 4 in the River Gironde, 24 OTU sorties. 6 aircraft lost - 3 Halifaxes minelaying in Kiel Bay and 2 Lancasters off Swinemünde, and 1 OTU Wellington.
Total effort for the night: 1,188 sorties, 16 aircraft (1.3 per cent) lost.
79 Halifaxes of No 4 Group were sent to bomb shipping in the port area of Brest but the target area was covered by 7-10/10ths cloud. Only 54 aircraft bombed and no results were observed. No aircraft lost.
55 OTU Wellingtons and 14 RCM aircraft carried out a sweep over the North Sea without loss. This type of operation was now being flown on some nights when no major raid was being carried out, in order to draw up the German fighters and cause them to waste fuel. These sweeps were, therefore, part diversionary to confuse the German controllers but also part of the campaign against German oil supplies.
37 Mosquitos to Mannheim and 3 each to Dortmund, Kamen and Sterkrade, 15 RCM sorties, 14 Mosquito patrols, 12 Halifaxes minelaying off Biscay coasts, 4 aircraft on Resistance operations, 2 OTU leaflet sorties. No aircraft lost.
158 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked a German supply depot at L'Isle-Adam near Paris. 2 Lancasters lost.
64 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos to oil-storage depots at Bordeaux and Ertvelde Rieme, near Ghent, 16 Halifaxes and 16 Lancasters to 7 small flying-bomb sites, 23 Lancasters to La Pallice U-boat pens. 2 Lancasters lost on the flying-bomb site raid.
Bremen: 288 aircraft - 216 Lancasters, 65 Halifaxes, 7 Mosquitos. 1 Lancaster lost. Visibility over the target was clear and the Pathfinders provided perfect marking throughout the raid. Bremen's own records show this to have been the most destructive raid of the war, although only 274 aircraft attacked, dropping just over 1,100 tons of bombs. The whole of the centre and the north-western parts of Bremen, including the port area, were devastated.
234 aircraft - 210 Halifaxes, 14 Mosquitos, 10 Lancasters - mainly from No 4 Group, to attack the synthetic oil plant at Stekrade. 1 Halifax and 1 Lancaster lost. Bomber Command documents state that the raid was successful and that the plant was seriously damaged.
144 aircraft - 122 Halifaxes, 18 Lancasters, 4 Mosquitos of Nos 6 and 8 Groups attacked Connantre (between Paris and Reims). No aircraft lost. The target here was a railway station and yards 70 miles east of Paris. The Pathfinder marking was accurate and much damage was caused. This raid marked the end of the long series of attacks on the French and Belgian railway systems.
108 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups attacked and caused severe damage to the oil depot and storage tanks at Ertvelde Rieme to the north of Ghent. No aircraft lost.
Support and 139 training aircraft on a diversionary sweep to the Normandy area, 21 Mosquitos to Berlin and 19 to five other targets, 33 RCM sorties, 62 Mosquito patrols, 11 Halifaxes minelaying off Biscay ports, 5 aircraft on Resistance operations. 1 Mosquito lost on a raid to Harburg.
Total effort for the night: 1,069 sorties, 4 aircraft (0.4 per cent) lost.
|Oil storage facilities at Ghent destroyed|
52 Lancasters of No 5 Group attempted to bomb two groups of oil-storage tanks at La Pallice but the targets were difficult to identify and the effects of the bombing could not be seen. No aircraft lost.
1 Wellington of No 100 Group carried out a 'signals watch' flight.
3 Mosquitos on Ranger patrols and 1 Wellington on 'signals watch'. No aircraft lost.
7 aircraft minelaying off La Pallice without loss.
46 Mosquitos attacked Cologne, whose local report mentions the heavy damage caused by 13 4,000lb bombs which fell in residential areas with 721 domestic and 64 commercial or industrial buildings being destroyed or damaged, though 571 of them were only slightly damaged. 1 gasometer was blown up.
8 other Mosquitos attacked Homberg, Castrop-Rauxel and Venlo airfield. Not aircraft lost.
53 Halifaxes of No 4 Group attacked shipping in Brest harbour. 22 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of No 5 Group bombed E-boat pens at Ijmuiden. Both raids were successful and no aircraft were lost.
6 Halifaxes minelaying off La Pallice without loss.
161 aircraft - 140 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters, 5 Mosquitos - attacked 5 launching or storage sites in the Pas de Calais with varying results. 2 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost.
412 Lancasters of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups attacked the Opel motor factory at Rüsselsreim. 15 Lancasters were lost, 3.6 per cent of the force. The Pathfinder marking was accurate and the raid was successfully completed in 10 minutes. An official German report. says that the forge and the gearbox assembly departments were put out of action for several weeks, but 90 per cent of the machine tools in other departments escaped damage. The assembly line and part of the pressworks were able to recommence work 2 days later and lorry assembly was unaffected because of considerable stocks of ready-made parts.
190 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitos of No 5 Group to Darmstadt which had not been seriously attacked by Bomber Command before. 7 Lancasters lost. This 'No 5 Group method' raid was a failure. The Master Bomber had to return early; his 2 deputies were shot down; the flares were dropped too far west and the low-level Mosquito marker aircraft could not locate the target. 95 buildings were hit and 8 people were killed by the scattered bombs which did hit Darmstadt. 33 of the Lancasters bombed other targets, including at least 13 aircraft which joined in the successful raid on nearby Rüsselsheim.
334 aircraft - 284 Halifaxes, 32 Lancasters, 18 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attacked 8 coastal battery positions near Brest. Most of the bombing was accurate. 1 Halifax and 1 Lancaster lost.
Support and 2 Mosquitos in preliminary reconnaissance of targets, 182 training aircraft on a diversionary sweep over the North Sea, 36 Mosquitos to Berlin and 22 to five other targets, 47 RCM sorties, 68 Mosquito patrols, 6 Halifaxes minelaying off La Pallice, 6 aircraft on Resistance operations. This was the first occasion on which No 100 Group dispatched more than 100 aircraft. 1 RCM Fortress lost.
Total effort for the night: 1,311 sorties, 25 aircraft (1.9 per cent) lost and 8 more aircraft crashed in England, including 3 OTU Wellingtons from the diversionary sweep. The total effort for this night was a new record for Bomber Command, exceeding by exactly 100 the number of aircraft dispatched on 5/6 June, the eve of D-Day.
372 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3 and 8 Groups despatched to Kiel. 17 Lancasters lost, 4.6 per cent of the Lancaster force. The Pathfinder marking was hampered by smoke-screens but the local report tells of a very serious raid with heavy bombing in the town centre and surrounding districts and widespread fires fanned by a strong wind. The Rathaus was completely burnt out and many other public buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged.
174 Lancasters of No 5 Group to Königsberg, which was an important supply port for the German Eastern Front. The route to the target was 950 miles from the No 5 Group bases. Photographic reconnaissance showed that the bombing fell in the eastern part of the town but no report is available from the target, now Kaliningrad in Lithuania. 4 Lancasters lost.
Support and 108 training aircraft on a diversionary sweep to Normandy, 21 Mosquitos to Berlin, 13 to Hamburg and 12 to five other targets, 19 RCM sorties, 70 Mosquito patrols, 30 Lancasters and 15 Halifaxes minelaying off Danzig and Kiel. 7 aircraft lost - 5 Lancaster minelayers, 1 Mosquito RCM aircraft and 1 Mosquito Serrate aircraft.
Total effort for the night: 844 sorties, 28 aircraft (3.3 per cent) lost.
243 aircraft - 216 Halifaxes of No 4 Group and 14 Mosquitos and 13 Lancasters of No 8 Group - were dispatched on a historic raid to Homberg, the first major raid by Bomber Command to Germany in daylight since 12 August 1941, when 54 Blenheims had attacked power-stations near Cologne for the loss of 10 aircraft. This raid was escorted by 9 squadrons of Spitfires on the outward flight and 7 squadrons on the withdrawal. 1 Me110 was seen; the Spitfires drove it off. There was intense flak over the target but no bombers were lost. The target was the Rheinpreussen synthetic-oil refinery at Meerbeck. The bombing was based on Oboe marking but 5-8/10ths cloud produced difficult conditions, though some accurate bombing was claimed through gaps in the clouds.
226 aircraft - 176 Halifaxes, 40 Lancasters, 10 Mosquitos - of 6 and 8 Groups carried out an accurate attack on a flying-bomb site at Mimoyecques without loss.
24 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of No 5 Group bombed 2 ships in Brest harbour and claimed hits on both. No aircraft lost.
30 Mosquitos to Mannheim, 66 OTU Wellingtons on a diversionary sweep, 19 RCM sorties, 26 Mosquito patrols, 7 aircraft on Resistance operations. 2 Mosquitos from the Mannheim raid and 1 Intruder Mosquito lost.
150 aircraft - 77 Halifaxes, 48 Lancasters, 25 Mosquitos - carried out small 'Oboe leader' raids on 12 flying bomb sites. Most of the targets were satisfactorily hit. This was the last of the long series of raids on the German flying-bomb launching and storage sites in the Pas de Calais area, which was captured by Allied ground troops a few days later. There was 1 aircraft casualty. A No 550 Squadron Lancaster, which had just bombed the Wemars/Cappel launching site near Amiens, received a direct hit from a flak battery near Dunkirk. The Lancaster went down in flames and exploded. The pilot, Pilot Officer SC Beeson, and 3 other members of the crew escaped by parachute, but the wireless operator and the 2 gunners were killed. Sergeants JK Norgate, HS Picton and JA Trayhorn were thus the last fatal casualties in Bomber Command's campaign against the V-1 flying bomb.
30 aircraft of 6 and 8 Groups bombed a German battery on the Île de Cezembre, near St Malo, and 23 Halifaxes of No 6 Group bombed ships in Brest harbour. No aircraft lost.
35 Mosquitos to Essen, 4 to Leverkusen, 3 each to Le Culot and Venlo and 2 to Cologne, 13 Mosquito patrols, 6 Halifaxes minelaying off La Pallice, 19 aircraft on Resistance operations. 1 Halifax lost flying on a Resistance operation.
402 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of Nos 1,3, 6 and 8 Groups ordered to Stettin. 23 Lancasters lost, 5.7 per cent of the force. This was a successful raid, hitting parts of Stettin which had escaped damage in previous attacks.
189 Lancasters of No 5 Group carried out one of the most successful No 5 Group attacks of the war on Königsberg at extreme range. Only 480 tons of bombs could be carried because of the range of the target but severe damage was caused around the 4 separate aiming points selected. This success was achieved despite a 20 minute delay in opening the attack because of the presence of low cloud; the bombing force waited patiently, using up precious fuel, until the marker aircraft found a break in the clouds and the Master Bomber, Wing Commander J Woodroffe, probably No 5 Group's most skilled Master Bomber, allowed the attack to commence. Bomber Command estimated that 41 per cent of all the housing and 20 per cent of all the industry in Königsberg were destroyed. There was heavy fighter opposition over the target and 15 Lancasters, 7.9 per cent of the force, were lost.
Support and 93 training aircraft on a diversionary sweep over the North Sea, 53 Mosquitos bombing Berlin, Hamburg and 4 other targets, 35 RCM sorties, 49 Mosquito patrols, 31 Lancasters and 12 Halifaxes minelaying off Baltic ports, 8 aircraft on Resistance operations. 2 OTU Wellingtons from the sweep and 1 Lancaster minelayer lost.
Total effort for the night: 873 sorties, 41 aircraft (4.7 per cent) lost.
36 Mosquitos to Frankfurt, 6 RCM sorties, 6 Mosquito patrols, 4 Halifaxes minelaying off La Pallice. No aircraft lost.
601 aircraft - 418 Lancasters, 147 Halifaxes, 36 Mosquitos - to attack 9 sites in Northern France where the Germans were believed to be storing V-2 rockets. 8 of the sites were found and bombed. 6 Lancasters lost.
165 Halifaxes of No 6 Group and 5 Pathfinder Mosquitos bombed the Île de Cezembre battery near St Malo. 1 photographic Mosquito accompanied the raid. The bombing force flew at 3,000ft or less over the undefended targets and achieved a good bombing concentration. 1 Halifax lost.
42 Mosquitos to Düsseldorf, 6 to Cologne and 6 to Leverkusen, 3 RCM sorties, 21 Mosquito patrols, 24 aircraft on Resistance operations. 2 Mosquitos lost, 1 each from the Cologne and Leverkusen raids.
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