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Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary


Campaign Diary
October 1943

 

1 October 1943

Hagen

Hagen: 243 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos. This raid was a complete success achieved on a completely cloud-covered target of small size, with only a moderate bomber effort and at trifling cost. The Oboe skymarking was perfect and severe damage was caused.2 Lancasters lost, 0.8 per cent of the force.

At the same time as the main attack on Hagen was ending, 12 Oboe Mosquitos were dispatched to attack a steelworks at Witten, north-west of Hagen, for training purposes. 8 Mosquitos bombed at Witten and 2, whose Oboe equipment failed, dropped their bombs on the fires burning in Hagen. No aircraft lost.

2/3 October 1943

294 Lancasters of 1, 5 and No 8 Groups and 2 B-17s - to Munich. 8 Lancasters lost, 2.7 per cent of the force. Visibility over the target was clear but the initial marking was scattered. Heavy bombing developed over the southern and south-eastern districts of Munich but later stages of the raid fell up to 15 miles back along the approach route. Most of this inaccurate bombing was carried out by No 5 Group aircraft, which were again attempting their 'time-and-distance' bombing method independently of the Pathfinder marking. The No 5 Group crews were not able to pick out the Wurmsee lake, which was the starting point for their timed run.

8 Mosquitos to Cologne and Gelsenkirchen, 117 aircraft minelaying at various places from Lorient to Heligoland, 21 OTU sorties. 1 Halifax minelayer lost.

3/4 October 1943

Kassel: 547 aircraft - 223 Halifaxes, 204 Lancasters, 113 Stirlings, 7 Mosquitos. The H2S 'blind marker' aircraft overshot the aiming point badly and the 'visual markers' could not correct this because their view of the ground was restricted by thick haze. German decoy markers may also have been present. The main weight of the attack thus fell on the western suburbs and outlying towns and villages. 24 aircraft - 14 Halifaxes, 6 Stirlings, 4 Lancasters - lost, 4.4 per cent of the force.

A number of Mosquito operations took place; 10 aircraft on a diversion to Hannover, 12 Oboe aircraft to Knapsack power-station near Cologne and 4 on Mark II Oboe trials to Aachen. No losses.

7 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians, 7 OTU sorties. No losses.

4/5 October 1943

406 aircraft - 162 Lancasters, 170 Halifaxes, 70 Stirlings, 4 Mosquitos raided Frankfurt. 3 B-17s also took part. 10 aircraft - 5 Halifaxes, 3 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings - lost, 2.5 per cent of the force. 1 B-17 was also lost. This was the last RAF night-bombing raid in which American aircraft took part, but individual B-17s occasionally carried out bombing flights in following weeks Clear weather and good Pathfinder marking produced the first serious blow on Frankfurt so far in the war, with extensive destruction being caused in the eastern half of the city and in the inland docks on the River Main.

6 Lancasters of 1 and No 8 Groups carried out a diversionary raid to Ludwigshafen without loss but the marking and bombing were scattered.

12 Mosquitos to Knapsack power-station, 1 Mosquito to Aachen, 5 Stirlings minelaying in the River Gironde, 8 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost. The Mosquito attacking Aachen was carrying out the first operational trial of the G-H blind bombing equipment but the trial was not successful.

7/8 October 1943

343 Lancasters despatched to Stuttgart. The first aircraft to be equipped with ABC, (night-fighter communications jamming known bybthe crews as 'Airborne Cigar'), from 101 Squadron operated on this night. The German night-fighter controller was confused by the Mosquito diversion on Munich and only a few night fighters reached Stuttgart at the end of the attack; 4 Lancasters were lost, 1.2 per cent of the force. The target area was cloud-covered and the H2S Pathfinder marking developed in 2 areas.

16 Lancasters of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid without loss and claimed hits on the Zeppelin factory at Friedrichshafen.

10 Mosquitos to Munich, 7 to Emden, 5 to Aachen, 79 aircraft minelaying from Brest to Heligoland, 14 OTU sorties. 1 Stirling minelayer lost.

8/9 October 1943

Hannover: 504 aircraft - 282 Lancasters, 188 Halifaxes, 26 Wellingtons, 8 Mosquitos. This was the last Bomber Command raid in which Wellingtons took part. 300 (Polish) and 432 (Canadian) Squadrons provided the 26 Wellingtons which operated on this night; they all returned safely. The German controller guessed correctly that Hannover was the target and many night fighters arrived before the attack was over. 27 aircraft - 14 Lancasters and 13 Halifaxes - were lost, 5.4 per cent of the force. Conditions over Hannover were clear and the Pathfinders were finally able to mark the centre of the city accurately; a most concentrated attack followed with a creepback of only 2 miles, all within the built-up area. This was probably Hannover's worst attack of the war.

119 aircraft - 95 Stirlings, 17 Halifaxes, 7 Lancasters of 3 and No 8 Groups to Bremen. This was a diversionary raid on a larger scale than ever before. The bombing was scattered but this was a subsidiary aim of the operation. 3 Stirlings were lost, 2.5 per cent of the force.

10 Mosquitos to Castrop-Rauxel, 7 to Berlin, 1 to Düren, 17 Stirlings minelaying in the River Gironde and off La Pallice, 2 OTU sorties. No losses.

9/10 October 1943

6 Mosquitos attacked Berlin without loss.

13/14 October 1943

4 Mosquitos to Cologne and 4 to Duisburg without loss.

16/17 October 1943

9 Mosquitos to Dortmund, 11 OTU sorties. No losses. One of the Mosquitos was carrying out a G-H trial but its equipment failed and it had to bomb by dead reckoning.

17/18 October 1943

8 Mosquitos to Berlin, 2 to Aachen, 2 to Hamborn, 54 Stirlings and Wellingtons minelaying in the Frisians and off Biscay ports, 16 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.

18/19 October 1943

360 Lancasters ordered to attack Hannover. 18 Lancasters lost, 5.0 per cent of the force. The target area was covered by cloud and the Pathfinders were not successful in marking the position of Hannover. The raid was scattered, with most bombs falling in open country north and north-west of the city. This raid concluded the current series of raids on Hannover. Bomber Command had dispatched 2,253 sorties in 4 raids and 10 American B-17 sorties had also been flown. 1,976 aircraft claimed to have bombed in the target area. Only 1 raid had been completely successful but that had caused severe damage. 11O bombers were lost on the raids, 4.9 per cent of those dispatched.

30 Mosquitos to Duisburg (11 aircraft), Berlin (8 aircraft) and to 4 other targets, 6 Wellingtons minelaying off Texel, 12 OTU sorties. No aircraft lost.

One of the Lancasters lost on the Hannover raid was the 5,000th Bomber Command aircraft lost on operations since the start of the war. By the end of this night, the bombers had flown approximately 144,500 sorties - 90 per cent of them by night - and lost 5,004 aircraft - 4,365 by night and 639 by day - over enemy territory, crashed in the sea or shot down over England by German Intruders or 'friendly' defences.

Lancaster III on air test
Prior to the night's mission, aircraft were air-tested during the afternoon to check the various systems. Pictured is a  Lancaster III of No 207 Squadron. The pilot of this 207 Squadron Lancaster brings his mount alongside his formation leader.

20/21 October 1943

Leipzig: 358 Lancasters of 1, 5, 6 and No 8 Groups. 16 Lancasters lost, 4.5 per cent of the force. This was the first serious attack on this distant German city. Weather conditions were very difficult - Bomber Command records describe them as 'appalling' - and the bombing was very scattered.

28 Mosquitos to Berlin, Cologne, Brauweiler and Emden, 12 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians, 26 OTU sorties. 2 Mosquitos lost.

21/22 October 1943

11 Mosquitos to Emden, the Bruderich steelworks at Düsseldorf and Dortmund. All targets bombed without loss.

22/23 October 1943

569 aircraft - 322 Lancasters, 247 Halifaxes - to Kassel. The German controller was again successful in assessing the target and 43 aircraft - 25 Halifaxes, 18 Lancasters - were lost, 7.6 per cent of the force.

The initial 'blind' H2S marking overshot the target but 8 out of the 9 'visual' markers correctly identified the centre of Kassel and placed their markers accurately. Although German decoy markers may have drawn off part of the bomber force, the main raid was exceptionally accurate and concentrated. The result was the most devastating attack on a German city since the firestorm raid on Hamburg in July and the results at Kassel would not be exceeded again until well into 1944. The fires were so concentrated that there was a firestorm, although not as extensive as the Hamburg one.

28 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid to Frankfurt. Bombing was scattered. 1 Lancaster lost.

12 Oboe Mosquitos to Knapsack power-station and 1 to Dortmund, 17 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off Texel, 10 OTU sorties. 1 Mosquito lost.

It was on this night that an RAF ground radio station in England, probably the one at Kingsdown in Kent, started its broadcasts with the intention of interrupting and confusing the German controllers' orders to their night fighters. The Bomber Command Official History describes how, at one stage, the German controller broke into vigorous swearing, whereupon the RAF voice remarked, 'The Englishman is now swearing'. To this, the German retorted, 'It is not the Englishman who is swearing, it is me'.

Waving off a Halifax
A ritual carried out nightly on every Bomber Command station was the waving off of the crews as the began the night's operation over enemy territory. For many crews, this was their last sight of home.

24/25 October 1943

13 Mosquitos to 5 targets in the Ruhr area and 6 Mosquitos to Emden, 30 Stirlings and Wellingtons minelaying in the Frisians and off Texel. No aircraft lost.

25/26 October 1943

23 Stirlings minelaying in the Kattegat without loss.

27/28 October 1943

22 OTU Wellingtons on leaflet flights to France without loss.

31 October/1 November 1943

11 Mosquitos to the Ruhr and 6 Mosquitos to Emden. All targets were bombed but 1 aircraft was lost from its sortie to the Ruhr.


1943 September  1943 November
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