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Saumur Tunnel, 9th June 1944

The huge craters caused by 617 Squadron's 12,000 pound bombs which blocked the Saumur railway tunnel and held up the Panzer division moving towards the Normandy battlefield483 aircraft - 286 Lancasters, 169 Halifaxes, 28 Mosquitoes - attacked railways at Alencon, Fougeres, Mayenne, Pontabault and Rennes to prevent German reinforcements from the south reaching Normandy. All of the raids appear to have been successful. 4 aircraft were lost, 2 Lancasters from the Pontabault raid and 1 Lancaster and 1 Mosquito from the Rennes raid.

The rubble was cleared from the craters in the tunnel, just in time for the Allies to take it over. The RAF Officer standing on the edge of the crater gives scale to the power of the Tallboy bombThe first 12,000-lb Tallboy bombs developed by Barnes Wallis were used on this night by 617 Squadron in a raid on a railway tunnel near Saumur, 125 miles south of the battle area. The raid was prepared in great haste because a German Panzer unit was expected to move by train through the tunnel. The target area was illuminated with flares by 4 Lancasters of 83 Squadron and marked at low level by 3 Mosquitoes. 25 Lancasters of 617 Squadron then dropped their Tallboys with great accuracy. The huge bombs exploded under the ground to create miniature `earthquakes'; one actually pierced the roof of the tunnel and brought down a huge quantity of rock and soil. The tunnel was blocked for a considerable period and the Panzer unit was badly delayed. No aircraft were lost from this raid.

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