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Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary


Campaign Diary
October 1942

 

1 October 1942

3 Mosquitos; 2 aircraft attacked a chemical works at Sluiskil and an oil depot at Ghent. No aircraft lost.

1/2 October 1942

3 small raids were initiated in difficult weather conditions and without Pathfinders.

Wismar

78 Lancasters of 5 Group. Bombing was scattered. 2 aircraft lost.

Flensburg

27 Halifaxes of 4 Group. Good bombing results were claimed by 12 crews but 12 aircraft were lost, nearly half of the force.

Lübeck

25 Stirlings of 3 Group. Bombing was scattered. 3 aircraft lost.

Total effort for the night: 130 sorties, 17 aircraft (13.0 per cent) lost.

2 October 1942

6 Mosquitos attacked a steelworks at Liege without loss.

2/3 October 1942

Krefeld

188 aircraft - 95 Wellingtons, 39 Halifaxes, 31 Lancasters, 23 Stirlings. 7 aircraft - 3 Halifaxes, 2 Wellingtons, 1 Lancaster, 1 Stirling - lost, 3.1 per cent of the force.

The Pathfinders encountered dense haze and their marking was late. The raid which developed was dispersed and not expected to cause much damage. Only 3 streets in the northern part of the town are mentioned as being hit.

3 Wellingtons laid mines in the Frisians without loss.

5 October 1942

1 Mosquito to Frankfurt bombed a town believed to be Siegen and returned safely.

5/6 October 1942

Aachen

257 aircraft - 101 Wellingtons, 74 Lancasters, 59 Halifaxes, 23 Stirlings. 10 aircraft - 5 Halifaxes, 2 Stirlings, 2 Wellingtons, 1 Lancaster - lost, 3.9 per cent of the force. A further 6 aircraft crashed in England, possibly in thunderstorms.
The weather continued to be bad over Germany. There was little Pathfinder marking at Aachen and most of the bombing fell in other areas. Aachen reports that the raid was carried out by an estimated 10 aircraft and that the centre of the attack appeared to be in the southern suburb of Burtscheid. 5 people were killed and 39 injured.
Many of the bombs intended for Aachen fell in the small Dutch town of Lutterade, 17 miles away from Aachen, and it seems that most of the Pathfinder marking was over this place. More than 800 houses were seriously damaged; 83 people were killed, 22 were injured and 3,000 were made homeless.

6 October 1942

7 Mosquitos to a diesel-engine works at Hengelo in Holland and to Bremen, Essen and Trier. All 7 aircraft bombed, though not always at their designated targets; none were lost.

6/7 October 1942

Osnabrück

237 aircraft - 101 Wellingtons, 68 Lancasters, 38 Stirlings, 30 Halifaxes. 6 aircraft - 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings - were lost, 2.5 per cent of the force.

The Pathfinders succeeded in illuminating the Dummer See, a large lake north-east of the target which was used as a run-in point. The town of Osnabrück was then found and marked. The bombing was well concentrated, with most of the attack falling in the centre and the southern parts of the target. Osnabrück's report shows that 149 houses were destroyed, 530 were seriously damaged and 2,784 lightly damaged. 6 industrial premises were destroyed and 14 damaged. 65 people were killed - 45 civilians, 16 policemen or servicemen and 4 foreign workers - and 151 were injured.

8 October 1942

1 Mosquito to Saarbrücken bombed a factory believed to be in the nearby town of Bous.

8/9 October 1942

Minelaying: 57 aircraft to Lorient, St Nazaire, Brest, Ostend, Texel and the Frisians. 2 Wellingtons lost.

9 October 1942

5 Mosquitos to scattered targets in Germany. 1 aircraft lost.

9/10 October 1942

14 Wellingtons laid mines in the Frisian Islands without loss.

10/11 October 1942

Minelaying: 47 aircraft off Biscay ports and in the Frisians without loss.

11 October 1942

8 Mosquitos to Sluiskil, Hannover and Saarbrücken. 1 aircraft lost.

11/12 October 1942

Minelaying: 80 aircraft to many locations. 2 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling lost.

12/13 October 1942

Wismar

59 Lancasters of 5 Group encountered bad weather conditions but claimed to have started a large fire at the target. 2 aircraft lost.

13/14 October 1942

Kiel

288 aircraft - 100 Wellingtons, 82 Lancasters, 78 Halifaxes, 28 Stirlings. 8 aircraft - 5 Wellingtons, 1 each of other types - lost, 2.8 per cent of the force.

A decoy fire site was operating and at least half of the bombing was drawn away into open countryside, but the rest of the attack fell on Kiel and its immediate surroundings. Casualties were 41 killed and 101 injured.
Some of the bomber force attacked Hamburg, either as an alternative target or in error. 2 large fires were started; 8 people were killed and 43 injured.

14/15 October 1942

5 Wellingtons minelaying in the Frisian Islands without loss.

15 October 1942

Le Havre

23 Bostons, with fighter escort, attempted to bomb a large German merchant ship in Le Havre docks. The intended target had moved from its berth but a 5,000 ton ship near by was bombed instead and so badly damaged that she was later seen aground and later still seen in dry dock. No Bostons lost.

4 Mosquitos bombed a factory at Hengelo and 1 Mosquito bombed the docks at Den Helder, all without loss.

Bombs fall close to the target vessel at Le Havre.

15/16 October 1942

Cologne

289 aircraft - 109 Wellingtons, 74 Halifaxes, 62 Lancasters, 44 Stirlings. 18 aircraft - 6 Wellingtons, 5 Halifaxes, 5 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings - lost, 6.2 per cent of the force.

This was not a successful raid. Winds were different from those forecast and the Pathfinders had difficulty in establishing their position and marking the target sufficiently to attract the Main Force away from a large decoy fire site which received most of the bombs. Cologne reports 1 'Luftmine' (out of 71 4,000 pounders carried by the bombing force), 3 other high-explosive bombs (out of 231) and 210 incendiary bombs (out of 68,590). 226 houses were damaged but only 2 of these received what was classed as 'serious damage'; 4 people were injured.

16 October 1942

6 Mosquitos bombed a factory at Hengelo. 6 Bostons attempted to reach Le Havre but were turned back by bad weather. No aircraft lost.

16/17 October 1942

Minor Operations: 23 Wellingtons and 11 Stirlings minelaying off Biscay ports, 5 OTU sorties. 2 Wellingtons and 2 Stirlings lost from the minelaying force.

17 October 1942

Le Creusot

The Schneider factory at Le Creusot was regarded as the French equivalent to Krupps and produced heavy guns, railway engines and, it was believed, tanks and armoured cars. A large workers' housing estate was situated at one end of the factory. Bomber Command had been given this as the highest priority target in France for a night attack but only in the most favourable of conditions. Harris decided to attack by day, at low level.
The task was given to Air Vice-Marshal Coryton's 5 Group and its 9 Lancaster squadrons carried out a series of low-level practice flights over England.
After a favourable weather report, 94 Lancasters set out on the afternoon of 17 October. The force was led by Wing Commander L. C. Slee of 49 Squadron. 88 aircraft were to bomb the Schneider factory; the other 6 were to attack a nearby transformer station which supplied the factory with electricity. The Lancasters flew in a loose formation over the sea around Brittany, and crossed the coast of France between La Rochelle and St Nazaire without any fighter escort. For 300 miles the Lancasters flew at tree-top level across France. No German fighters attacked the bombers during this flight. The greatest danger was from birds; 4 aircraft were damaged and 2 men injured in bird strikes.
After a fine piece of work by Wing Commander Slee's navigator, Pilot Officer A. S. Grant, the force reached its last turning-point near Nevers and gained height for bombing. There was practically no Flak at the target and bombing took place in clear conditions at heights of between 2,500 and 7,500 ft. Nearly 140 tons of bombs were dropped. The Lancasters returned home safely as darkness closed in. The only casualty was one aircraft of 61 Squadron which bombed the nearby transformer power station at such a low level that it crashed into a building.
The 5 Group crews claimed a successful attack on the Schneider factory but photographs taken later showed that much of the bombing had fallen short and had struck the workers' housing estate near the factory. Some bombs had fallen into the factory area but damage there was not extensive. It has not been possible to obtain a report from France on the casualties suffered by the local people in this raid. 11 Bostons sent to Le Havre had to turn back but 6 other Bostons carried out a sweep to create a diversion for the Le Creusot force. No Bostons lost.

The Scheider Factory, Le Creusot
A swarm of low-level Lancasters en-route to Le Creusot. Photo-recce picture of the Scheider factory after Bomber Command's visit. Photo-recce picture of the  Scheider factory after Bomber Command's visit. Photo-recce picture of the  Scheider factory after Bomber Command's visit.

17/18 October 1942

7 Stirlings minelaying in the Baltic off Bornholm and Sassnitz without loss.

20 October 1942

6 Mosquitos to individual German targets; 2 aircraft bombed at Bremen and 1 at Minden. 1 Mosquito lost.

21 October 1942

3 Mosquitos to Germany but only 2 were able to bomb targets in Holland, a factory at Hengelo and the airfield at Leeuwarden. No losses.

21/22 October 1942

7 Stirlings and 7 Wellingtons were dispatched to lay mines off Denmark and in the Frisians but the Wellingtons were recalled. 1 Stirling lost.

22 October 1942

22 Wellingtons on cloud-cover raids to Essen, the Ruhr and the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Lingen. 13 aircraft bombed estimated positions through cloud. One of the Wellington's came down low and machine-gunned a train near Lingen, setting some of the carriages alight. No aircraft were lost.

22/23 October 1942

Genoa

112 Lancasters of 5 Group and the Pathfinders were dispatched to recommence the campaign against Italy to coincide with the opening of the Eighth Army offensive at El Alamein. It was a perfectly clear moonlight night and the Pathfinder marking was described as 'prompt and accurate'. The bombing by this comparatively small force of aircraft, carrying only 180 tons of bombs, could hardly have been carried out under more ideal conditions. No Lancasters were lost.

Details from Genoa are not precise but very heavy damage was caused in the city centre and in the eastern districts. Provisional estimates of casualties were 39 dead and 200 injured but the actual figures may have been higher.
Local reports mention the severe effect on the morale of the people of Genoa.

12 Stirlings laid mines off the southern Biscay coast without loss.

23 October 1942

The Ruhr

26 Wellingtons, 15 to Krefeld and 11 to Essen. 11 aircraft bombed estimated positions through cloud without loss.

4 Mosquitos to Hengelo and 1 to Oldenburg; 1 aircraft from the Hengelo force was lost.

23/24 October 1942

Genoa

122 aircraft - 53 Halifaxes, 51 Stirlings, 18 Wellingtons. These aircraft were provided by 3 and 4 Groups and the Pathfinders. 2 Halifaxes and 1 Stirling lost.

The target area was found to be almost completely cloud-covered and it was later discovered that the raid had actually fallen on the town of Savona, 30 miles along the coast from Genoa. It has not been possible to obtain a report from Savona. Several aircraft bombed Turin where 2 people were killed and 10 injured.

17 Wellingtons of 1 Group minelaying off La Pallice and the Danish coast. 1 aircraft lost.

24 October 1942

Milan

88 Lancasters of 5 Group in another risky daylight operation. The aircraft proceeded independently by a direct route across France, using partial cloud cover, to a rendezvous at Lake Annecy. The Alps were then crossed and Milan bombed in broad daylight. Defences were weak and accurate bombing took place.
The raid came as a complete surprise in Milan. 135 tons of bombs fell in 18 minutes and 30 large fires were started. 441 houses were destroyed or damaged. R.A.F. reconnaissance photographs later discovered that a number of commercial and industrial buildings were also hit, including the Caproni aircraft factory. At least 171 people were killed.

3 Lancasters were lost, 1 near Milan and 2 over Northern France and the Channel: A further Lancaster crashed in England and its crew were all killed.

RAF Waddington, October 1942
This crew of No 44 Sqn go over the final details of their imminent mission, 17 October 1942 Crw from No 106 Squadron look happy as they walk to their aircraft, 24 October 1942

24/25 October 1942

Milan

71 aircraft of 1 and 3 Groups and the Pathfinders - 25 Halifaxes, 23 Stirlings, 23 Wellingtons - continued the attack on Milan. 4 Wellingtons and 2 Stirlings were lost, 8.5 per cent of the force.

Storms en route dispersed the bomber force; some aircraft flew over Switzerland and were 'warned' by anti-aircraft fire. Only 39 aircraft claimed to have bombed Milan and local reports say that little further damage was caused there.

Minor Operations: 25 Wellingtons of 1 Group minelaying in several areas between La Pallice and Denmark, 11 OTU sorties. 2 Wellington minelayers lost.

25 October 1942

12 Bostons were again dispatched to Le Havre to attack the large merchant ship there but had to turn back because of lack of cloud cover. 3 Mosquitos to Germany also turned back. There were no aircraft losses.

26/27 October 1942

Minelaying: 24 Stirlings and Wellingtons of 3 Group to the Frisian Islands and to Biscay ports without loss.

27 October 1942

8 Mosquitos to Flensburg, Belgium and Holland. 2 Mosquitos bombed a shipyard at Flensburg; 4 Mosquitos bombed other unidentified targets. No aircraft lost.

27/28 October 1942

Minor Operations: 36 aircraft minelaying between St Nazaire and the Frisians, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.

28/29 October 1942

9 Wellingtons minelaying off St Nazaire and Denmark. 1 aircraft lost.

29 October 1942

7 Mosquitos to Holland and the German Frisian Islands, 6 Wellingtons on 'roving commissions' of the Ruhr. 6 Mosquitos and 1 Wellington bombed various targets but 3 Wellingtons and 2 Mosquitos were lost.

30 October 1942

9 Mosquitos dispatched but none reached their designated targets. 7 aircraft bombed targets of opportunity at mostly unidentified places. 1 aircraft lost.

30/31 October 1942

4 Wellingtons minelaying in the Frisians without loss.

31 October 1942

17 Bostons in low-level cloud-cover raids on power stations in France. Cover was sparse and 10 aircraft attacked mostly minor targets. 1 Boston lost.

8 Wellingtons to Emden and 6 to Essen. 9 aircraft bombed; 1 lost.

31 October/1 November 1942

Minelaying: 22 Wellingtons and Stirlings to Biscay ports. 1 Wellington lost.


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