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Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary


Campaign Diary
March 1945

 

1 March 1945

478 aircraft - 372 Lancasters, 90 Halifaxes, 16 Mosquitos - of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups to Mannheim in Bomber Command's last large-scale raid on the city. 3 Lancasters lost. This was a general attack on the city area. Skymarking was used because of the complete cloud cover. No details of the raid are available.

151 Lancasters of No 3 Group attacked an oil plant at Kamen through cloud.

1/2 March 1944

55 Mosquitos to Berlin, 40 to Erfurt and 3 on nuisance raids over Northern Germany, 32 RCM sorties, 13 Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.

2 March 1945

858 aircraft - 531 Lancasters, 303 Halifaxes, 24 Mosquitos - raided Cologne in 2 waves. 6 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes were lost and 1 Halifax crashed in Belgium. The first raid was carried out by 703 aircraft and the second by 155 Lancasters of No 3 Group. In the second raid, however, only 15 aircraft bombed, because the G-H station in England was not working correctly. The main raid was highly destructive, with the Pathfinders marking in clear weather conditions. This was the last RAF raid on Cologne, which was captured by American troops 4 days later.

Cologne
Lancaster over Cologne, 2 March. This aircraft was probably one of the raid leaders as no bombs are falling yet. A second image taken during this final attack on Cologne. Taken over the samearea as the previuos one, a 4,000lb-er (a number of smaller bombs such as 500lb-ers) can be seen falling towards an already devasted city. Six weeks after this final attack on what remained of Cologne, this picture was taken and shows the bombed-out remains of  the city.

2/3 March 1945

69 training aircraft on a sweep, 67 Mosquitos to Kassel and 3 to Berlin, 48 RCM sorties, 31 Mosquito patrols, 10 Halifaxes and Lancasters minelaying off Norway and 6 Mosquitos in the Kiel Canal, 21 aircraft on Resistance operations. No aircraft lost.

3/4 March 1945

234 aircraft - 201 Halifaxes of No 4 Group and 21 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitos of No 8 Group repeated the attack on Kamen. No aircraft lost over Germany. The synthetic-oil refinery at Bergkamen was severely damaged in this accurate raid and no further production of oil took place.

212 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked the Ladbergen aqueduct on the Dortmund-Ems Canal, breached it in 2 places and put it completely out of action. 7 Lancasters lost. The gunners in the No 619 Squadron Lancaster of Wing Commander SG Birch claimed to have shot down a V-1 flying bomb near the target area; the V-1 was probably aimed at the port of Antwerp.

95 training aircraft on a diversionary sweep, 64 Mosquitos to Berlin and 32 to Würzburg, 61 RCM sorties, 29 Mosquito patrols, 31 Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat and in Oslo Fjord, 17 aircraft on Resistance operations. 1 Lancaster lost - from the minelaying operation.

The Luftwaffe mounted Operation Gisella on this night, sending approximately 200 night fighters to follow the various bomber forces to England. This move took the British defences partly by surprise and the Germans shot down 20 bombers - 8 Halifaxes of No 4 Group, 2 Lancasters of No 5 Group, 3 Halifaxes, 1 Fortress and 1 Mosquito of No 100 Group and 3 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes from the Heavy Conversion Units which had been taking part in the diversionary sweep. 3 of the German fighters crashed, through flying too low; the German fighter which crashed near Elvington airfield was the last Luftwaffe aircraft to crash on English soil during the war.

Total effort for the night: 785 sorties, 8 aircraft lost over Germany and the sea, 20 aircraft shot down by Intruders over England, a total casualty rate of 3.6 per cent.

Dortmund-Ems canal
'X' marks the spot! The point of the breaching of the canal near Ladbergen.

4 March 1945

128 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out a G-H attack through cloud on Wanne-Eickel. No results were seen.

4/5 March 1945

31 Mosquitos to Berlin, 24 to Essen and 28 in small numbers to 5 ports in Northern Germany, 6 Mosquito patrols, 12 Halifaxes minelaying off Heligoland, 16 aircraft on Resistance operations. 2 Stirlings on Resistance operations were lost.

5 March 1945

170 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out a G-H attack on the Consolidation benzol plant at Gelsenkirchen. No results were seen. 1 Lancaster lost.

5/6 March 1945

Chemnitz; 760 aircraft - 498 Lancasters, 256 Halifaxes, 6 Mosquitos - to continue Operation Thunderclap. The operation started badly when 9 aircraft of No 6 Group crashed near their bases soon after taking off in icy conditions. No 426 Squadron, at Linton-on-Ouse, lost 3 out of their 14 Halifaxes taking part in the raid in this way, with only 1 man surviving. 1 of the Halifaxes crashed in York, killing some civilians. 22 further aircraft were lost in the main operation - 14 Lancasters and 8 Halifaxes.

248 Lancasters and 10 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked the synthetic-oil refinery at Böhlen. The target area was covered by cloud but some damage was caused to the refinery. 4 Lancasters lost.

75 Mosquitos to Berlin, 15 to Gelsenkirchen and 36 in small numbers to 6 other targets, 52 RCM sorties, 27 Mosquito patrols. 5 aircraft lost - 2 Mosquito bombers from the Berlin raid, 1 Mosquito lost from a small raid to Hallendorf, 2 RCM aircraft (1 Halifax and 1 Stirling, of which the latter was believed to have been shot down over France by an American artillery unit).

Total effort for the night: 1,223 sorties, 31 aircraft (2.5 per cent) lost and 10 more crashed in England.

Operation Thunderclap: Chemnitz
An area of the town of Chemnitz in Eastern Germany in ruins after 760 aircraft of Bomber Command attacked as part of Operation Thunderclap.

6 March 1945

119 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out a G-H attack through cloud on the Wintershall oil refinery at Salzbergen. 1 lost.

48 Mosquitos of No 8 Group attacked Wesel, which was believed to contain many German troops and vehicles. The target had been cloud-covered for several days. Oboe Mosquitos provided the marking. 1 aircraft lost.

6/7 March 1945

191 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked the port of Sassnitz on the island of Rügen, in the Baltic. Considerable damage was caused to the northern part of the town and 3 ships were sunk in the harbour. 1 Lancaster lost.

87 Lancasters of No 3 Group and 51 Mosquitos of No 8 Group continued the attack on Wesel with two separate raids. No aircraft lost.

42 Mosquitos to Berlin, 2 RCM sorties, 5 Mosquito patrols, 15 Lancasters minelaying off Sassnitz.

7/8 March 1945

526 Lancasters and 5 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups raided Dessau. 18 Lancasters lost, 3.4 per cent of the force. This was another devastating raid on a new target in Eastern Germany with the usual town centre, residential, industrial and railway areas all being hit.

256 Halifaxes and 25 Lancasters of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attempted to attack the Deutsche Erdoel refinery at Hemmingstedt, near Heide, with little success. 4 Halifaxes and 1 Lancaster lost.

234 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos of No 5 Group carried out an accurate attack on the oil refinery at Harburg. 14 Lancasters lost. No 189 Squadron, from Fulbeck, lost 4 of its 16 Lancasters on the raid. One local report states that a rubber factory was seriously damaged as well as the oil targets.

80 Mosquitos to Berlin, 10 to Frankfurt, 9 to Münster and 5 to Hannover, 56 RCM sorties, 43 Mosquito patrols, 15 Halifaxes and 5 Lancasters minelaying off Eckemforde and Flensburg. 4 aircraft were lost - 2 Halifaxes and 1 Fortress of No 100 Group and 1 Mosquito from the Berlin raid.

Total effort for the night: 1,276 sorties, 41 aircraft (3.2 per cent) lost.

Harburg oil refinery attack
This was one of many attacks on oil and petroleum related targets carried out by Bomber Command in an effort to starve the German forces of much needed fuel.

8/9 March 1945

312 aircraft - 241 Halifaxes, 62 Lancasters, 9 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attacked Hamburg. 1 Halifax lost. The purpose of this raid was to hit the shipyards which were now assembling the new Type XXI U-boats, whose parts were prefabricated in many parts of inland Germany. Thanks to the Schnorkel breathing tube and a new type of battery-driven electric engine, the Type XXI could cruise under water for long periods and was capable of bursts of high speed. Its development in numbers would have posed great problems for Allied convoy defence if the war had lasted longer. The Hamburg area was found to be cloud-covered and the bombing was not expected to be accurate enough to cause much damage to the shipyards.

262 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups carried out the first large raid on Kassel since October 1943; it was also the last large RAF raid on this target. 1 Mosquito lost. This target was also covered by cloud.

39 Mosquitos to Berlin, 33 to Hannover, 7 to Hagen and 5 each to Bremen and Osnabrück, 50 RCM sorties, 36 Mosquito patrols, 23 Halifaxes and 14 Lancasters minelaying in the Rivers Elbe and Weser, 5 aircraft on Resistance operations. 1 RCM Halifax lost. The 5 Stirlings of No 161 Squadron, which were carrying supplies to Resistance units at unrecorded destinations, but probably in Denmark and Norway, were the last Resistance operations flights of the war.

Total effort for the night: 805 sorties, 3 aircraft (0.4 per cent) lost.

9 March 1945

159 Lancasters of No 3 Group bombed the North and South plants of the Emscher Lippe benzol plant near Datteln. The target area was cloud-covered and G-H was used. The bombing appeared to be accurate but no results were seen. 1 Lancaster lost.

21 Lancasters and 2 Mosquitos of No 5 Group set out to bomb the Bielefeld Viaduct but the raid was abandoned because of low cloud.

9/10 March 1945

92 Mosquitos to Berlin and 16 Mosquitos on nuisance flights over Bremen, Hannover, Osnabrück and Wilhelmshaven, 29 RCM sorties, 12 Mosquito patrols, 21 Halifaxes minelaying in the Kattegat and off Oslo. No aircraft lost.

10 March 1945

155 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out a G-H attack on the oil refinery at Scholven/Buer. Photographs taken later showed this to have been a very accurate and effective raid. No aircraft lost.

10/11 March 1945

60 Mosquitos to Berlin, 4 each to Gotha, Jena and Weimar, 35 RCM sorties, 10 Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.

11 March 1945

1,079 aircraft - 750 Lancasters, 293 Halifaxes, 36 Mosquitos - of all bomber groups attacked Essen. This was the largest number of aircraft sent to a target so far in the war. 3 Lancasters lost. 4,661 tons of bombs were dropped on Oboe-directed skymarkers through complete cloud cover. The attack was accurate and this great blow virtually paralysed Essen until the American troops entered the city some time later. This was the last RAF raid on Essen, which had been attacked so many times, though often in the early years of the war with such disappointing and costly results. Most of the city was now in ruins. 7,000 people had died in air raids. The pre-war population of 648,000 had fallen to 310,000 by the end of April 1945; the rest had left for quieter places in Germany.

11/12 March 1945

90 Mosquitos to Berlin and 6 each to Brunswick, Hannover and Magdeburg, 4 Mosquito patrols, 22 Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat and off Oslo. No aircraft lost.

12 March 1945

1,108 aircraft - 748 Lancasters, 292 Halifaxes, 68 Mosquitos attacked Dortmund. This was another new record to a single target, a record which would stand to the end of the war. 2 Lancasters lost. Another record tonnage of bombs - 4,851 - was dropped through cloud on to this unfortunate city. The only details available from Dortmund state that the attack fell mainly in the centre and south of the city. A British team which investigated the effects of bombing in Dortmund after the war says that, 'The final raid stopped production so effectively that it would have been many months before any substantial recovery could have occurred'.

12/13 March 1945

81 Mosquitos to Berlin and 3 each to Halle, Magdeburg and Stendal, 2 RCM sorties, 16 Lancasters and 3 Halifaxes minelaying in the Kattegat. 3 Lancaster minelayers lost.

13 March 1945

354 aircraft - 319 Halifaxes, 24 Lancasters, 20 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups to Wuppertal and Barmen. No aircraft lost. This attack also took place over a cloud-covered target and the bombs fell slightly east of the area intended, covering the eastern half of the Barmen district and extending into Schwelm.

Bomber Command had now dispatched 2,541 sorties by daylight to Ruhr targets in a 3-day period. Approximately 10,650 tons of bombs had been dropped through cloud with sufficient accuracy to cripple 2 cities and 1 town. The bomber losses were only 5 aircraft, a casualty rate of 0.2 per cent. These results show the great power now wielded by Bomber Command, its technical efficiency and the weakness of the German defences.

38 Lancasters of No 5 Group to bomb the Arnsberg and Bielefeld viaducts encountered bad weather. 1 aircraft bombed at Arnsberg and 2 further aircraft bombed alternative targets. No aircraft lost.

13/14 March 1945

195 Lancasters and 32 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups attacked benzol plants at Herne and Gelsenkirchen. The Gelsenkirchen attack was successful but not the Herne raid, 1 Lancaster lost from the Gelsenkirchen raid.

50 Mosquitos to Berlin, 26 to Bremen and 6 to Erfurt, 58 RCM sorties, 37 Mosquito patrols. 1 Mosquito from the Berlin raid crashed in Belgium and 1 Halifax RCM aircraft in France.

14 March 1945

169 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out G-H attacks through cloud on oil plants at Datteln and Hattingen (near Bochum). Both attacks appeared to be accurate but no results were seen. 1 Lancaster lost from the Hattingen raid.

32 Lancasters and 1 Mosquito of No 5 Group, with 4 Oboe Mosquitos of No 8 Group, to attack the Bielefeld and Arnsberg viaducts. 28 Lancasters dropped Tallboy bombs and the No 617 Squadron Lancaster of Squadron Leader CC Calder dropped the first 22,000lb 'Grand Slam' bomb at Bielefeld. The Arnsberg viaduct, No 9 Squadron's target, was later found to be undamaged but more than 100 yards of the Bielefeld viaduct collapsed through the 'earthquake effect' of the Grand Slam and 'Tallboys' of No 617 Squadron. No aircraft lost.

Bielefeld viaduct
The viaduct at Bielefeld stands despite many attacks by Bomber Command to bring it down. This was fianlly achieved on this day when No 617 Squadon and its Lancasters equipped with 12,000lb Tallboy and 22,000lb Grand Slam deep penetration bombs attacked. The scene after about 100 yards of the viaduct had collapsed due to the 'earthquake' effect of the huge bombs.

14/15 March 1945

244 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked the Wintershall synthetic-oil refinery at Lützkendorf. Photographic reconnaissance showed that 'moderate damage' was caused. 18 Lancasters were lost, 7.4 per cent of the Lancaster force.

230 aircraft - 121 Lancasters, 98 Halifaxes, 11 Mosquitos - of Nos 6 and 8 Groups to Zweibrücken. No aircraft lost. This attack was directed on to the town area to block the passage through it of German troops and stores to the nearby front line, The raid took place in good visibility and was very effective. The local report shows that every public building and inn and 80 per cent of the houses in the town were destroyed or damaged. Most of the civilian population had been evacuated; those remaining took shelter in 2 large caves in the north and south of the town or in the normal basement shelters of their houses.

161 aircraft - 127 Halifaxes, 23 Lancasters, 11 Mosquitos - of 4 and 8 Groups on the same task as the Zweibrücken raid proceeded to Homburg. No local report is available but it is believed that this attack was equally successful. 2 Halifaxes lost.

75 Mosquitos to Berlin and 6 each to Bremen and Brunswick, 52 RCM sorties, 27 Mosquito patrols. No 100 Group lost 2 Mosquitos and 1 Fortress.

The last Stirling operation of Bomber Command was flown on this night when Stirling LJ516, from No 199 Squadron at North Creake, flew a Mandrel screen operation; Squadron Leader JJM Button, the Australian pilot, and his crew landed safely.

Total effort for the night: 812 sorties, 23 aircraft (2.8 per cent) lost.

15 March 1945

188 aircraft - 150 Halifaxes, 24 Mosquitos, 14 Lancasters - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attacked oil plants at Bottrop and Castrop-Rauxel. Both raids were believed to have been successful. 1 Halifax of No 4 Group lost from the Bottrop raid.

16 Lancasters of Nos 9 and 617 Squadrons attacked the viaduct at Arnsberg. Two aircraft of No 617 Squadron each carried a Grand Slam; the 14 aircraft of No 9 Squadron carried Tallboys. The viaduct was not cut. No aircraft lost.

15/16 March 1945

267 aircraft - 134 Lancasters, 122 Halifaxes, 11 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups attacked Hagen. 6 Lancasters and 4 Halifaxes lost. This area attack took place in clear visibility and caused severe damage; the local report estimated that the bomber force was 800 aircraft strong! The main attack fell in the centre and eastern districts. There were 1,439 fires, of which 124 were classified as large.

257 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups attacked the Deurag refinery at Misburg, on the outskirts of Hannover. Visibility was good and some fires were started but the main weight of the raid fell south of the target. 4 Lancasters lost.

54 Mosquitos to Berlin, 27 to Erfurt, 16 to Mannheim and 5 each to Jena and Weimar, 53 RCM sorties, 37 Mosquito patrols. 1 RCM Fortress lost.

Total effort for the night: 729 sorties, 14 aircraft (1.9 per cent) lost.

Jena Misburg
An industrial site at Jena. Although only two small forces of Mosquitos had recently attacked the town of Jena, a large amount of damage was inflicted. With attacks on oil facilities continuing, this one at Misburg will have further reduced Germany's ability to provide fuel to its forces and population.

16/17 March 1945

Raid on Nuremburg by 231 Lancasters of No 1 Group and 46 Lancasters and 16 Mosquitos of No 8 Group. 24 Lancasters, all from No 1 Group, lost, 8.7 per cent of the Lancaster force and 10.4 per cent of the No 1 Group aircraft involved. Most of these losses were due to German night fighters, which found the bomber stream on its way to the target. A local report states that the southern and south-western districts were hit as well as the ruins of the Altstadt which was destroyed in a previous raid. A serious fire was established in the Steinbuhl district. The main railway station was also on fire and the city's gasworks were so badly damaged that they did not resume production before the end of the war. This was the last heavy Bomber Command raid on Nuremberg.

225 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked Würzburg. 6 Lancasters lost. This was another dramatic and devastating blow by No 5 Group. 1,127 tons of bombs were dropped with great accuracy in 17 minutes. According to a post-war survey, the old cathedral city with its famous historic buildings suffered 89 per cent of its built-up area destroyed. Würzburg contained little industry and this was an area attack.

56 Mosquitos to Berlin, 24 to Hanau and 6 each to Brunswick and Osnabrück, 32 RCM sorties, 40 Mosquito patrols, 12 Halifaxes and 12 Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat and off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 717 sorties, 30 aircraft (4.2 per cent) lost.

17 March 1945

167 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out G-H attacks through cloud on benzol plants at Dortmund and Hüls. Both raids appeared to be accurate. No aircraft lost.

17/18 March 1945

66 Lancasters and 29 Halifaxes from training units on a sweep over Northern France to draw up German fighters, 39 Mosquitos to Nuremberg, 38 to Berlin and 2 each to Mannheim and Stuttgart, 6 RCM sorties, 15 Mosquito patrols. 1 Intruder Mosquito of No 100 Group lost.

18 March 1945

100 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out G-H attacks on oil plants at Hattingen and Langendreer. Both raids appeared to be accurate. No aircraft lost.

18/19 March 1945

324 aircraft - 259 Halifaxes, 45 Lancasters, 20 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups dispatched to Witten. 8 aircraft - 6 Halifaxes, 1 Lancaster, 1 Mosquito - lost. This was an area raid carried out in good visibility. 1,081 tons of bombs were dropped, destroying 129 acres, 62 per cent of the built-up area (according to the post-war British Bombing Survey Unit).

277 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups bombed Hanau. 1 Lancaster lost. This was another accurate area raid. 0 industrial buildings and 2,240 houses were destroyed. The Altstadt was completely devastated and, says the report, all of the town's churches, hospitals, schools and historic buildings were badly hit.

Support and 70 aircraft on a sweep over France, 30 Mosquitos to Berlin, 24 to Kassel and 18 to Nuremberg, 40 RCM sorties, 53 Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 844 sorties, 9 aircraft (1.1 per cent) lost.

19 March 1945

79 Lancasters of No 3 Group attacked the Consolidation benzol plant at Gelsenkirchen. Smoke and dust from the bombing prevented observation of the results. No aircraft lost.

37 Lancasters of No 5 Group attacked the railway viaduct at Arnsberg and the bridge at Vlotho, near Minden. The attack at Arnsberg by No 617 Squadron using 6 Grand Slams, was successful and a 40-foot gap was blown in the viaduct. No 9 Squadron's attack at Vlotho was not successful.

19/20 March 1945

34 Mosquitos to Berlin. No losses.

20 March 1945

153 aircraft - 125 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitos - of Nos 4 and No 6 Groups attempted to hit the railway yards at Recklinghausen but cloud and a strong wind spoiled the Pathfinder marking and the bombing was well scattered. No aircraft lost.

99 Lancasters of No 3 Group attacked the railway yards at Hamm and 14 Lancasters of No 9 Squadron attacked the railway bridge at Arnsberg. Bombs were seen to explode in the target area at both targets. No aircraft lost.

20/21 March 1945

224 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked the synthetic-oil plant near Böhlen. This accurate attack put the plant out of action and it was still inactive when captured by American troops several weeks later. 9 Lancasters lost.

166 Lancasters of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups carried out an equally effective attack upon the oil refinery at Hemmingstedt. 1 Lancaster lost.

Support and 70 training aircraft on a diversionary sweep over France, 12 Lancasters in a feint raid on Halle, 38 Mosquitos to Berlin, 27 to Bremen and 16 to Kassel, 47 RCM sorties, 55 Mosquito patrols, 9 Lancasters minelaying off Heligoland. 3 aircraft lost - 1 Lancaster from the Halle raid and 1 Fortress and 1 Liberator RCM aircraft.

Total effort for the night: 675 sorties, 13 aircraft (1.9 per cent) lost.

Böhlen
The scene after another successful attack on an oil target. This was one such facility near Bohlen.

21 March 1945

178 aircraft - 150 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups carried out an accurate attack upon the railway yards and the surrounding town area at Rheine. 1 Lancaster lost.

160 Lancasters of No 3 Group attacked the railway yards at Münster and a nearby railway viaduct. 3 Lancasters lost. The only information available from Münster is that 17 people were killed.

133 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups attacked the Deutsche Vacuum oil refinery at Bremen .This appeared to be an accurate raid in clear weather conditions. No aircraft lost.

20 Lancasters of No 617 Squadron attacked the Arbergen railway bridge just outside Bremen. 2 piers of the bridge were destroyed. 1 Lancaster lost.

Total effort of the day: 497 sorties, 5 aircraft (1.0 per cent) lost.

Bremen Railway yards at Rheine Arbergen railway bridge
Small numbers of Mosquitos had attacked Bremen throughout the month but 133 Lancasters, aided by 6 Mosquitos, carried out an attack on an oil refinery at Bremen during this day. One of the attacking Lancasters is pictured during the attack. Judging by the concentration of bomb holes at the left of the picture, this was one of the aiming points for this attack aimed at reducing the German transport system. A LAncaster of No 617 Squadron over the railway bridge at Arbergen as bombs explode on the target. The lack of defensive gun turrets on this aircraft mark it out as a B1 (Special), one of a number specially modified for the squadron to carry outsize bombs such as 22,00lb Grand Slams.

21/22 March 1945

151 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of No 5 Group attacked Hamburg. 4 Lancasters lost. The target for this raid was the Deutsche Erdölwerke refinery .The attack was accurate; 20 storage tanks were destroyed and the plant was still out of action at the end of the war.

131 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups carried out an accurate attack on the benzol plant at Bochum. 1 Lancaster lost.

142 Mosquitos in 2 attacks on Berlin (with some aircraft making 2 sorties), 3 Mosquitos to Bremen, 26 RCM sorties, 56 Mosquito patrols, 7 Mosquitos of No 5 Group minelaying in Jade Bay and the River Weser. 1 Mosquito from the Berlin raid and 1 RCM Fortress lost.

Total effort for the night: 536 sorties, 7 aircraft (1.3 per cent) lost.

22 March 1945

227 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of Nos 1 and 8 Groups to Hildesheim. 4 Lancasters lost. The target was the railway yards; these were bombed but the surrounding built-up areas also suffered severely in what was virtually an area attack. This was the only major Bomber Command raid of the war on Hildesheim and the post-war British survey found that 263 acres, 70 per cent of the town, had been destroyed.

Attack on Dülmen by 130 aircraft - 106 Halifaxes, 12 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitos - of Nos 4 and 8 Groups. No aircraft lost. This was an area attack and the town was soon burning after a concentrated raid in clear weather conditions. No other details are available.

124 aircraft - 100 Halifaxes, 12 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitos - of Nos 6 and 8 Groups bombed Dorsten. Dorsten was a rail and canal centre and also the location of a Luftwaffe fuel dump. All these targets were believed to have been hit but the town probably suffered as well. No aircraft were lost.

100 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out a G-H attack on the town of Bocholt, probably with the intention of cutting communications. The town was seen to be on fire. No aircraft lost.

102 Lancasters of No 5 Group attacked bridges at Bremen (82 aircraft) and Nienburg (20 aircraft of No 617 Squadron). The bridge at Nienburg was destroyed; the bombing at the Bremen bridge appeared to be accurate but no results were seen. No aircraft lost.

Total effort for the day: 708 sorties, 4 aircraft (0.6 per cent) lost.

Dülmen
This target was only attacked on 2 occasions during the whole of the war (by forces of 115 and 1130 aircraft). Such was the concentration of the bombing in these relatively small raids, that large parts of the town were completely destroyed.

22/23 March 1944

56 Mosquitos to Berlin, 8 to Paderborn and 6 to Bochum, 39 RCM sorties, 30 Mosquito patrols, 21 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos minelaying in Oslo Fjord. 2 Intruder Mosquitos of No 100 Group lost.

23 March 1944

128 Lancasters of Nos 1 and 5 Groups attacked bridges at Bremen (117 aircraft) and Bad Oeynhausen (11 aircraft). Both bridges were hit. 2 Lancasters were lost from the Bremen raid.

80 Lancasters of No 3 Group attacked Wesel, which was an important troop centre behind the Rhine front in an area about to be attacked by British troops. The raid was accurate and no aircraft were lost.

23/24 March 1944

195 Lancasters and 23 Mosquitos of Nos 5 and 8 Groups carried out the last raid on the unfortunate town of Wesel. No aircraft lost. Wesel claims to have been the most intensively bombed town, for its size, in Germany. 97 per cent of the buildings in the main town area were destroyed. The population, which had numbered nearly 25,000 on the outbreak of war, was only 1,900 in May 1945.

Support and 78 training aircraft on a sweep across France and as far as Mannheim, 65 Mosquitos to Berlin and 23 to Aschaffenburg, 41 RCM sorties, 39 Mosquito patrols. 2 Mosquitos lost from the Berlin raid.

24 March 1945

The final phase of the land war opened on this day, with the amphibious crossing of the Rhine on the Wesel sector and the airborne landings among the enemy defences a few hours later. British Commandos captured Wesel in the early hours, just after the Bomber Command raid had left the defenders dead or too dazed to fight properly. The weather remained good for further Bomber Command operations. It is interesting to observe that the Ruhr was still supplying fuel and munitions for the fighting front which was now only 15 miles away and that tactical bombing and strategic bombing were taking place almost side by side.

177 aircraft - 155 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters, 6 Mosquitos - of 4 and 8 Groups attacked the railway yards at Sterkrade so successfully that, according to Bomber Command, there was 'complete destruction of a well packed marshalling yard'. No aircraft lost.

175 aircraft - 153 Halifaxes, 16 Lancasters, 6 Mosquitos - of 6 and 8 Groups attacked Gladbeck situated on the northern edge of the Ruhr and not far from the new battle area. The target was 'devastated'. 1 Halifax lost.

173 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups attacked the Harpenerweg plant at Dortmund and the Mathias Stinnes plant at Bottrop. 3 Lancasters were lost on the Dortmund raid.

Total effort for the day: 537 sorties, 4 aircraft (0.7 per cent) lost.

24/25 March 1945

67 Mosquitos to Berlin, 8 to Nordheim and 2 which bombed both Berlin and Magdeburg on nuisance flights, 38 RCM sorties, 33 Mosquito patrols. No aircraft lost.

25 March 1945

The Bomber Command operations on this day were directed to towns on the main reinforcement routes into the Rhine battle area. Heavy attacks were made on the railway routes through these towns and on the surrounding built-up areas.

Hannover attacked by 267 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups. The bombing was observed to fall in the target area. 1 Lancaster lost.

175 aircraft - 151 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters, 10 Mosquitos - of Nos 4, 6 and 8 Groups raided Münster. 3 Halifaxes lost. Few results were seen by the bombers because the target area rapidly became smoke-covered. Münster reports a large number of bombs but only 2 people dead.

156 aircraft - 132 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters, 10 Mosquitos - of Nos 4 and 8 Groups to Osnabrück. No aircraft lost. Osnabrück reports extensive property damage throughout the town.

Total effort for the day: 606 sorties, 4 aircraft (0.7 per cent) lost.

25/26 March 1945

8 Mosquitos to Berlin and 1 Lancaster dropping leaflets over The Hague. No losses.

26/27 March 1945

86 Mosquitos to Berlin, 2 each to Erfurt and Paderborn, and 2 which bombed both Berlin and Magdeburg on a 'siren tour'. No aircraft lost.

27 March 1945

268 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos to attack Paderborn where American troops were attempting to complete the encirclement of the Ruhr. No aircraft lost. The was covered by cloud but the raid was still carried out with almost perfect accuracy and this old town was virtually destroyed in less than a quarter of an hour.

150 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out G-H raids on 2 benzol plants in the Hamm area. No results were seen, because of cloud, but dense black smoke rose through the cloud from both targets. No aircraft lost.

115 Lancasters of No 5 Group attacked an oil-storage depot (95 aircraft) and a U-boat shelter (20 aircraft of No 617 Squadron) at Farge on the River Weser north of Bremen. Both attacks appeared to be successful. The results of the raid on the oil depot were not known because this target was attacked with delayed-action bombs so that clouds of smoke would not obscure the target. The U-boat shelter was a particularly interesting target. It was a huge structure with a concrete roof 23 ft thick. It was almost ready for use when No 617 Squadron attacked it on this day and penetrated the roof with 2 Grand Slams which brought down thousands of tons of concrete rubble and rendered the shelter unusable. No aircraft were lost in these attacks.

Total effort for the day: 541 sorties, no aircraft lost.

27/28 March 1945

82 Mosquitos to Berlin, 7 to Bremen, 4 to Erfurt and 3 each to Hannover and Magdeburg, 46 RCM sorties, 23 Mosquito patrols, 8 Mosquitos of No 5 Group minelaying in the River Elbe. 4 Mosquitos lost - 3 from the Berlin raid and 1 from the minelaying operation.

29 March 1945

130 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out a G-H raid on the Hermann Goering benzol plant at Salzgitter. No results were seen through the cloud. No aircraft were lost.

Lancaster veteran of No 550 Squadron
'The Vulture Strikes', a Lancaster of No 550 squadron based at North Killingholme reaches 100 operational missions. This aircraft, PA955, is a close relative of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Lancaster, PA474.

29/30 March 1945

48 Mosquitos to Berlin, 7 to Harburg and 3 each to Bremen and Hannover. No aircraft lost.

30/31 March 1945

43 Mosquitos to Berlin, 43 to Erfurt, 4 to Nordingen and 3 each to Hamburg and Kiel, 36 RCM sorties, 31 Mosquito patrols, 6 Mosquitos minelaying in Jade Bay and the River Weser. 1 Mosquito was lost from the Berlin raid.

31 March 1945

Hamburg: 469 aircraft - 361 Lancasters, 100 Halifaxes, 8 Mosquitos - of Nos 1, 6 and 8 Groups attempted to attack the Blohm & Voss shipyards, where the new types of U-boats were being assembled, but the target area was completely cloud-covered. The local report describes 'considerable damage' to houses, factories, energy supplies and communications over a wide area of southern Hamburg and Harburg. 8 Lancasters and 3 Halifaxes were lost, a number being victims of an unexpected intervention by the Luftwaffe day-fighter force. This was Bomber Command's last double-figure aircraft loss of the war from a raid on one city.


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