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Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary


Campaign Diary
July 1942

 

1 July 1942

1 Mosquito bombed Kiel through cloud and returned safely. The Kiel diary has no entry.

1/2 July 1942

4 Lancasters laid mines in the Great Belt without loss.

2 July 1942

Flensburg

6 Mosquitos were dispatched to carry out a low-level raid on a U-boat construction yard at Flensburg but were intercepted by German fighters which shot down the Mosquito of Wing Commander A. R. Oakeshott, commander of 139 Squadron, who, with his navigator Flying Officer V. F. E. Treherne, was killed. This was 139 Squadron's first Mosquito operation. The other Mosquitos escaped from the German fighters by increasing speed and leaving the Germans behind but a second Mosquito was damaged by Flak over Flensburg and crashed in Germany.

These were the first Bomber Command daylight casualties for 3 weeks. Returning Mosquito crews claimed to have bombed the shipyard accurately.

2/3 July 1942

Bremen

325 aircraft - 175 Wellingtons, 53 Lancasters, 35 Halifaxes, 34 Stirlings, 28 Hampdens. 13 aircraft - 8 Wellingtons, 2 Hampdens, 2 Stirlings, 1 Halifax - lost.

265 aircraft claimed to have bombed in good visibility but it is probable that much of the attack fell outside the southern borders of the town. A brief Bremen report says that more than 1,000 houses and 4 small industrial firms were damaged. 3 cranes and 7 ships in the port were also hit; 1 of the ships, the 1,736-ton steamer Marieborg sank and is recorded as having become a danger to navigation. Only 5 people were killed and 4 injured.

Intruders: 24 Blenheims were dispatched and attacked many airfields without loss.

3/4 July 1942

6 Lancasters minelaying in the Great Belt; 2 aircraft lost.

4 July 1942

12 Bostons were dispatched in 4 flights of 3 aircraft each, in low-level attacks on 4 Dutch airfields: De Kooy, Bergen, Haamstede and Valkenburg. As it was American Independence Day, 6 of the planes were crewed by members of the Eighth Air Force. Intense light Flak was encountered at the Dutch coast and at the targets and 3 Bostons were shot down, all of the aircraft lost being crewed by Americans.

5/6 July 1942

14 Wellingtons minelaying off St Nazaire without loss.

6/7 July 1942

42 aircraft minelaying off Lorient and Verdon. 3 Wellingtons lost.

7/8 July 1942

Minelaying: 79 Wellingtons and 23 Stirlings of 1 and 3 Groups laid mines in the Frisian Islands without loss.

8/9 July 1942

Wilhelmshaven

285 aircraft - 137 Wellingtons, 52 Lancasters, 38 Halifaxes, 34 Stirlings, 24 Hampdens - to attack the dock areas. 5 aircraft - 3 Wellingtons, 1 Halifax, 1 Lancaster - lost.

Photographs showed that most of the bombing fell in open country west of the target. Wilhelmshaven reports damage to housing and a variety of other premises. 25 people were killed and 170 injured.

5 Halifaxes made leaflet flights to France without loss.

9 July 1942

1 Mosquito to Wilhelmshaven bombed through cloud. The local diary has no entry.

9/10 July 1942

Minelaying: 59 aircraft to Heligoland and the Frisian Islands. 1 Wellington lost.

10 July 1942

8 Wellingtons on cloud-cover raids to Duisburg and Düsseldorf were recalled. 1 Wellington did not return.

11 July 1942

Danzig

44 Lancasters were dispatched on another experimental raid. The plan called for the Lancasters to fly at low level and in formation over the North Sea, but then to split up and fly independently in cloud which was forecast to be present over Denmark and that part of the Baltic leading to Danzig (now Gdansk). The target was expected to be clear of cloud and the Lancasters were to bomb U-boat yards from normal bombing heights just before dusk and return to England during darkness. With a round trip of 1,500 miles, it was the most distant target Bomber Command had yet attempted to reach. It was also another attempt to utilize Lancasters in a semi-daylight role.
The plan worked well except that some of the Lancasters were late in identifying Danzig and had to bomb the general town area in the dark. 24 aircraft bombed at Danzig and returned; 2 more were shot down by Flak at the target. They were the only losses; the novel tactics and routeing prevented any German fighters making contact.

Minor Operations: 7 Hampdens flew 'roving commissions' in the Bremen area but only 1 of these dropped bombs. 6 Mosquitos attacked a U-boat yard at Flensburg but 1 was lost, possibly crashing into the ground because of flying so low; a second aircraft struck the chimney of a house but returned safely with pieces of chimney pot in its cockpit. Both the Hampden and Mosquito operations were intended to divert German attention from the Lancasters flying to Danzig.

11/12 July 1942

41 Wellingtons and 8 Stirlings minelaying off Heligoland, in the Frisians and in the Langeland Belt. 2 Wellingtons lost.

12 July 1942

12 Bostons bombed an airfield near Abbeville but results were not seen because of cloud. No aircraft were lost.

American crews flew in 6 of the Bostons, their last introductory flight with the Bostons of 2 Group. The Americans, from the 15th (Light) Bomb Squadron, had flown 13 sorties with the R.A.F.'s 226 Squadron but had lost 3 crews.

12/13 July 1942

Minelaying: 55 aircraft to Lorient, St Nazaire and the Frisians. 1 Hampden and 1 Wellington lost.

1 Lancaster made a leaflet flight to France and returned safely.

13 July 1942

12 Bostons bombed Boulogne railway yards without loss.

13/14 July 1942

Duisburg

194 aircraft - 139 Wellingtons, 33 Halifaxes, 13 Lancasters, 9 Stirlings - on the first of a series of raids on this industrial city on the edge of the Ruhr. 6 aircraft - 3 Wellingtons, 2 Stirlings, 1 Lancaster - were lost and 4 more aircraft crashed in tons England.
The force encountered cloud and electrical storms and reported that their bombing was well scattered. Duisburg reports only housing damage - 11 houses destroyed, 18 seriously damaged - and 17 people killed.

Minor Operations: 10 Blenheim Intruders, 6 aircraft on leaflet flights. 1 Intruder lost.

14/15 July 1942

Minelaying: 52 aircraft to Lorient, St Nazaire, Verdon, the Frisians and the River Elbe. No aircraft were lost.

4 aircraft made leaflet flights to France without loss.

16 July 1942

Lübeck

21 Stirlings in a raid using similar tactics to the cloud-cover approach and dusk attack as had been used on the recent raid to Danzig. Only 8 aircraft reported bombing the main target; 2 Stirlings were lost.

Other Operations: 2 Wellingtons on cloud-cover raids to Essen, 4 Mosquitos - 2 to Ijmuiden, 1 to Vegesack and 1 to Wilhelmshaven. The only loss was the Mosquito to Wilhelmshaven whose local diary says that it dropped 2 bombs in dockyard installations, wounding 4 people, but was then shot down.

17 July 1942

16 Wellingtons on cloud-cover raids to Emden (9 aircraft) and Essen (7 aircraft). Only 3 aircraft from the Essen force bombed and machine-gunned a convoy off the Dutch coast. Only near misses were achieved by the bombs. No aircraft lost.

18 July 1942

10 Lancasters to Essen but only 3 aircraft bombed, by Gee, through thick cloud and another aircraft attacked a ship in the East Scheldt river. No aircraft lost.

19 July 1942

20 Bostons in pairs to hunt for targets of opportunity at low level, a new form of operation. On this day some were frustrated by bad weather but 14 aircraft bombed various targets. 7 Wellingtons and 3 Lancasters were sent to Essen but none bombed and 5 Hampdens had 'roving commissions' over Germany. 4 aircraft - 2 Bostons, 1 Hampden, 1 Wellington - were lost.

19/20 July 1942

Vegesack

99 4-engined aircraft - 40 Halifaxes, 31 Stirlings, 28 Lancasters. 3 Halifaxes lost.

The force had orders to bomb the Vulkan U-boat yard visually or, if that was not possible, to bomb the town by Gee. The target area was found to be cloud- covered and all the aircraft bombed by Gee. Later photographs showed that no bombs fell in Vegesack. A report from Bremen, a few miles up river from Vegesack, describes how 2 storehouses of military equipment were bombed and completely burnt out. Further damage in Bremen included a wooden-hutted military camp. The number of casualties is not mentioned.

19 Wellingtons were minelaying off Lorient, St Nazaire and La Pallice. 1 aircraft lost.

20 July 1942

12 Wellingtons on a cloud-cover raid to Bremen; only 3 aircraft bombed scattered locations. 4 Bostons bombed targets at Lille. No aircraft lost.

20/21 July 1942

1 Stirling on a leaflet flight to Belgium returned safely.

21 July 1942

6 Mosquitos were dispatched on single flights to different targets in the Ruhr and Northern Germany but only 3 aircraft bombed targets of opportunity seen through gaps in the cloud. One of the places bombed was believed to be the inland docks at Duisburg. No aircraft lost.

21/22 July 1942

Duisburg

291 aircraft - 170 Wellingtons, 39 Halifaxes, 36 Stirlings, 29 Lancasters, 17 Hampdens. 12 aircraft - 10 Wellingtons, 1 Halifax, 1 Hampden - lost.

 

253 returning crews reported that they had bombed and started many fires but photographs showed that the flares of the leading aircraft, dropped by Gee, were not accurate and part of the bombing fell in open country over the Rhine to the west.
This large raid was possibly sent on a moonless night to avoid the German night fighters. It is interesting to note that bombing results were better than on many moonlit raids but the bomber casualties, at 4.1 per cent, were heavier than normal. Returning crews reported that Duisburg's Flak and searchlight defences were not as fierce as in recent raids to that target because of the haze and most of the bomber losses were suffered in the coastal fighter belt.
Duisburg reports much damage in housing areas, 94 buildings being destroyed and 256 seriously damaged, with 49 people killed. What Bomber Command documents describe as 'ground sources' later stated that the Thyssen steelworks and 2 other important war industries were hit.

Minor Operations: 8 Blenheim Intruders to St Trond, Venlo and Vechta airfields, 9 aircraft minelaying off Texel and in the Frisians, 6 aircraft on leaflet flights to France. 1 Intruder lost.

22 July 1942

8 Bostons in pairs attacked various targets. 2 aircraft bombed Sluiskil power-station and then machine-gunned barges near Ghent and 2 aircraft bombed Langenbrugge power-station. 1 Wellington was sent to Essen and 1 Mosquito to Münster but these aircraft turned back because of lack of cloud. No aircraft lost.

23 July 1942

4 Mosquitos on cloud-cover raids to Germany. 3 turned back but 1 aircraft bombed a factory in the area south of Grevenbroich. No aircraft lost.

23/24 July 1942

Duisburg

215 aircraft - 93 Wellingtons, 45 Lancasters, 39 Stirlings, 38 Halifaxes. 7 aircraft - 3 Wellingtons, 2 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings - lost.

Much cloud was present over the target and the flares dropped by the leading aircraft were scattered. Those bombs which did fall in Duisburg again caused some housing damage and 65 people were killed.

Minor Operations: 8 Blenheim Intruders, 13 aircraft minelaying. 2 Intruders lost.

25 July 1942

12 Bostons were dispatched in low-level pairs but only 2 aircraft bombed Sluiskil power-station. Later in the day, 12 further Bostons were sent out in an attempt to bomb an open air 'Quisling meeting' at Lunteren in Holland but they had to turn back because of lack of cloud cover. 2 Mosquitos were dispatched and both reached and bombed their targets, Frankfurt and Mannheim. No aircraft lost.

25/26 July 1942

Duisburg

313 aircraft - 177 Wellingtons, 48 Stirlings, 41 Halifaxes, 33 Lancasters, 14 Hampdens. 12 aircraft - 7 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 1 Stirling - lost.

Thick cloud covered the target area. Duisburg again reports property damage, though not as heavy as on the last two raids. 6 people were killed.

Minor Operations: 21 Blenheim Intruders, 8 aircraft minelaying off St Nazaire and Verdon, 7 Halifaxes on leaflet flights. 3 Intruders and 1 Lancaster minelayer lost.

Total effort for the night: 349 sorties, 16 aircraft (4.9 per cent) lost.

26 July 1942

3 Mosquitos to Cologne, Duisburg and Essen all reached and bombed their targets without loss

26/27 July 1942

Hamburg

403 aircraft - 181 Wellingtons, 77 Lancasters, 73 Halifaxes, 39 Stirlings, 33 Hampdens dispatched in what was probably a full 'maximum effort' for the regular Bomber Command squadrons. 29 aircraft - 15 Wellingtons, 8 Halifaxes, 2 Hampdens, 2 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings - were lost, 7.2 per cent of the force.

Crews encountered a mixture of cloud and icing at some places on the route but clear weather at the target. Good bombing results were claimed. Hamburg reports show that severe and widespread damage was caused, mostly in housing and semi-commercial districts rather than in the docks and industrial areas. At least 800 fires were dealt with, 523 being classed as large. 823 houses were destroyed and more than 5,000 damaged. More than 14,000 people were bombed out. 337 people were killed and 1,027 injured.

12 Bostons and 10 Blenheims carried out Intruder flights to airfields. 1 Boston of 226 Squadron was lost while attacking Jever; this was the first Boston Intruder casualty.

27 July 1942

8 Wellingtons on cloud-cover raids to Northern Germany bombed blindly through clouds in the Bremen and Emden areas. 2 aircraft lost.

Damage to the Focke-Wulf factory near Bremen after the recent series of raids against the city.

28 July 1942

6 Mosquitos on cloud-cover raids to widely separated targets. 5 aircraft bombed; 1 lost.

28/29 July 1942

Hamburg

256 aircraft - 165 from 3 Group and 91 OTU aircraft - dispatched. A much larger force had been detailed for this raid but bad weather over the bases of 1, 4 and 5 Groups prevented their participation. The force which took off comprised 161 Wellingtons, 71 Stirlings and 24 Whitleys. The weather worsened and the OTU aircraft were recalled, although 3 of them went on to bomb Hamburg. The remaining bomber force became very scattered; many more aircraft turned back and only 68 bombed in the target area. Hamburg suffered 13 people killed and 48 injured with 56 fires, 15 of them large.
Bomber casualties were heavy. 16 Wellingtons and 9 Stirlings were lost from 3 Group, 15.2 per cent of those dispatched by the group. 4 OTU Wellingtons were lost and a Whitley crashed in the sea.

30 Bostons and 13 Blenheim Intruders were dispatched. 2 Bostons and 1 Blenheim lost.

29 July 1942

3 Mosquitos to Düsseldorf, Münster and the village of Oberlahnstein in the Westerwald where a railway traffic centre was the target. All 3 aircraft could only bomb approximate positions through cloud. No Mosquitos lost.

29/30 July 1942

Saarbrücken

291 aircraft of 5 types on the first large raid to this target. 9 aircraft - 3 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings - lost.

The defences at the target were not expected to be strong and crews were urged to bomb at lower than normal altitudes. 248 aircraft reported accurate bombing, three quarters of them doing so from below 10,000 ft. Bomber Command claimed severe damage to 2 industrial targets, an ironworks and an engineering works. Saarbrücken's records show severe damage and casualties in the centre and north-western districts. 396 buildings were destroyed and 324 seriously damaged, with 155 people being killed.

30 July 1942

6 Bostons sent to Abbeville had to turn back. 4 Mosquitos on cloud-cover raids to Frankfurt, Hamborn, Hannover and Lübeck. No aircraft lost.

30/31 July 1942

6 Blenheims on Intruder flights were recalled but one did not hear the signal and went on to bomb Rheine airfield. There were no losses.

31 July 1942

24 Bostons to Abbeville airfield and St Malo harbour; all bombed accurately and without loss. Mosquito bombed the dock area of Duisburg.

31 July/1 August 1942

Düsseldorf

630 aircraft - 308 Wellingtons, 113 Lancasters, 70 Halifaxes, 61 Stirlings, 54 Hampdens, 24 Whitleys. This was another raid in which Bomber Command's training units provided aircraft, though it was not an attempt to reach the 1,000-aircraft figure. It was the first occasion when more than 100 Lancasters took part in a raid. 484 aircraft claimed successful bombing although their photographs showed that part of the force bombed open country. More than 900 tons of bombs were dropped.
453 buildings in Düsseldorf and Neuss, the suburb town over the Rhine, were destroyed and more than 15,000 damaged (12,192 only lightly). 954 fires were started, of which 67 were classed as large. 279 people were killed - 245 in Düsseldorf and 34 in Neuss; 1,018 people were injured and 12,053 were bombed out. (The British Official History, p. 487, gives 379 deaths but this is believed to be an error.)
The casualties of the bomber force were again heavy. 29 aircraft - 16 Wellingtons, 5 Hampdens, 4 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Whitleys - were lost; this was 4.6 per cent of those dispatched. 92 (OTU) Group lost 11 of its 105 aircraft on the raid, a casualty rate of 10.5 per cent.

6 Blenheim Intruder sorties were flown; 1 Blenheim lost.


 


Date Last Updated : Wednesday, April 6, 2005 2:40 AM

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