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Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary


Campaign Diary
September 1943

 

1 September 1943

30 OTU Wellingtons with 6 Mosquitos and 5 Lancasters of the Pathfinders successfully bombed an ammunition dump in the Forêt de Mormal, 8 Mosquitos were sent to Cologne and Duisburg, 89 aircraft were minelaying in the Frisians, near Texel and off Brittany and Biscay ports. 1 Stirling minelayer lost.

3/4 September 1943

316 Lancasters and 4 Mosquitos despatched to Berlin. Because of the high casualty rates among Halifaxes and Stirlings in recent Berlin raids the heavy force was composed only of Lancasters. 22 Lancasters were lost, nearly 7.0 per cent of the force. The Mosquitos were used to drop 'spoof' flares well away from the bombers' route to attract German night fighters. The raid approached Berlin from the north-east but the marking and bombing were, once again, mostly short of the target. That part of the bombing which did reach Berlin's built-up area fell in residential parts of Charlottenburg and Moabit and in the industrial area called Siemensstadt. Several factories were hit and suffered serious loss of production and among 'utilities' put out of action were major water and electricity works and one of Berlin's largest breweries.

32 OTU Wellingtons, 6 Mosquitos and 6 Halifaxes to an ammunition dump in the Forêt de Raismes, near Valenciennes; 44 Stirlings and 12 Halifaxes minelaying off Denmark, in the Frisians and off the Biscay coast; 4 Mosquitos to Düsseldorf and 7 OTU Whitleys on leaflet raids. 1 Wellington, 1 Stirling and 1 Whitley were lost.

4/5 September 1943

8 Mosquitos to Cologne and Duisburg, 25 Wellingtons and 13 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians, in the River Gironde and off Lorient and St Nazaire. No aircraft lost.

5/6 September 1943

605 aircraft - 299 Lancasters, 195 Halifaxes, 111 Stirlings - ordered to carry out a second 'double' attack, this time against Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. 34 aircraft - 13 Halifaxes, 13 Lancasters, 8 Stirlings - lost, 5.6 per cent of the force. The target area for this double attack was clear of cloud and the Pathfinder marking plan worked perfectly. Ground-markers were placed on the eastern side of Mannheim so that the bombing of the Main Force - approaching from the west - could move back across Mannheim and then into Ludwigshafen on the western bank of the Rhine. The creepback did not become excessive and severe destruction was caused in both targets.

4 Mosquitos to Düsseldorf, 25 aircraft minelaying in the German Bight, near Texel and off Brest and Lorient. No aircraft lost.

6/7 September 1943

Munich: 257 Lancasters and 147 Halifaxes.

The Pathfinders found that Munich was mostly covered by cloud and neither their ground-markers nor their skymarkers were very effective. Most of the Main Force crews could do no more than bomb on a timed run from the Ammersee, a lake situated 21 miles south-west of the target. The bombing was mostly scattered over the southern and western parts of the city. 16 aircraft - 13 Halifaxes, 3 Lancasters - lost, 4.0 per cent of the force.

8/9 September 1943

Boulogne gun positions: 257 aircraft - 119 Wellingtons, 112 Stirlings, 16 Mosquitos, 10 Halifaxes. OTU aircraft formed part of this force and 5 B-17s also flew the first American night-bombing sorties of the war with Bomber Command. Nos 4 and No 5 Groups did not take part in the raid. The target was the site of a German long-range gun battery and the marking was mainly provided by Oboe Mosquitos, some of whom were experimenting with a new technique. But the raid was not successful; the marking and the bombing were not accurate and the battery does not appear to have been damaged. No aircraft lost.

13/14 September 1943

5 Oboe Mosquitos to Cologne and 5 to Duisburg. No losses.

14/15 September 1943

8 Lancasters of 617 Squadron set out with the new 12,000lb bomb (not the 12,000lb Tallboy 'earthquake' bomb developed later) to attack the banks of the Dortmund-Ems Canal near Ladbergen. While the force was over the North Sea, however, a weather reconnaissance Mosquito reported that there was fog in the target area and the Lancasters were recalled. The aircraft of Flight Lieutenant DIH Maltby, one of the original members of the squadron that had attacked the Ruhr dams, crashed into the sea and the crew were all killed. Maltby's body was washed ashore and is buried at Wickhambreux, near Canterbury in Kent; the names of the other 6 crew members are on the Runnymede Memorial for the Missing.

8 Mosquitos made a nuisance raid on Berlin. 1 aircraft lost.

15/16 September 1943

Montluçon: 369 aircraft of Nos 3, 4, 6 and No 8 Groups - 209 Halifaxes, 120 Stirlings, 40 Lancasters. 5 American B-17s also took part. 2 Halifaxes and 1 Stirling lost. This was a moonlit raid on the Dunlop rubber factory at Montluçon in Central France. The Pathfinders marked the target accurately and the Master Bomber, Wing Commander DFEC Deane, brought the Main Force in well to carry out some accurate bombing. Every building in the factory was hit and a large fire was started.

8 Lancasters of 617 Squadron took off to carry out the postponed raid on the Dortmund-Ems Canal but the area was misty and 5 aircraft were lost, including those of Pilot Officer LG Knight, another of the Dams Raid survivors, and the new squadron commander, Squadron Leader G Holden. These heavy losses, and the losses of the Dams Raid, confirmed that low-level attacks on German targets, even when away from major defended areas, were not viable with heavy bombers and this type of operation was not repeated. 617 Squadron now started retraining as a specialist high-altitude-bombing unit.

16/17 September 1943

340 aircraft of 3, 4, 6 and No 8 Groups - 170 Halifaxes, 127 Stirlings, 43 Lancasters - to attack the important railway yards at Modane on the main railway route from France to Italy. 5 American B-17s also took part. The marking of the target, situated in a steep valley, was not successful and the bombing was not accurate. No report is available from France. 2 Halifaxes and 1 Stirling lost.

12 Lancasters - 8 from 617 Squadron and 4 from 619 Squadron - attempted to bomb the railway viaduct at Anthéor Cannes on the coastal railway line leading to Italy, but no direct hits were scored. 1 Lancaster of 619 Squadron was lost; it came down in the sea off Portugal, possibly while trying to reach Gibraltar.

5 Mosquitos to Berlin, 3 OTU sorties. No losses.

17/18 September 1943

6 Mosquitos to Berlin, 8 Wellingtons minelaying off Brest. No losses.

18/19 September 1943

5 Mosquitos to Cologne, 49 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off Biscay ports. No losses.

20/21 September 1943

8 Mosquitos to Berlin, 20 Wellingtons minelaying off Brest, Lorient and St Nazaire, 21 OTU sorties. No losses.

21/22 September 1943

26 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off Brest, 3 OTU sorties. No losses

22/23 September 1943

711 aircraft - 322 Lancasters, 226 Halifaxes, 137 Stirlings, 26 Wellingtons - on the first major raid to Hannover for 2 years; this was the first of a series of 4 heavy raids on this target. 5 American B-17s also took part in the raid, their first night raid on Germany. 26 aircraft - 12 Halifaxes, 7 Lancasters, 5 Stirlings, 2 Wellingtons - lost, 3.7 per cent of the force. Visibility in the target area was good but stronger winds than forecast caused the marking and the bombing to be concentrated between 2 and 5 miles south-south-east of the city centre.

21 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid at Oldenburg, dropping much 'Window' and many flares and target indicators to simulate the arrival of a larger force. The losses on the Hannover raid, lower than the recent average, may indicate that this tactic was partially successful. No aircraft were lost on the diversionary raid.

12 Mosquitos on a further diversion to Emden, 4 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians, 7 OTU sorties. No losses.

23/24 September 1943

Manheim: 628 aircraft - 312 Lancasters, 193 Halifaxes, 115 Stirlings, 8 Mosquitos. 5 B- 17s also took part. 32 aircraft - 18 Lancasters, 7 Halifaxes, 7 Wellingtons - lost, 5.1 per cent of the force. The Pathfinder plan worked well and concentrated bombing fell on the intended area, although later stages of the raid crept back across the northern edge of Ludwigshafen and out into the open country.

21 Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid on Darmstadt without loss. The diversionary purpose of this raid was not achieved because Darmstadt was too close to Mannheim and the German night fighters could see the main attack only 20 miles away quite clearly. But the small force of bombers caused much damage in this university town which had little industry and which had not been seriously bombed before.

6 Mosquitos to Aachen, 28 OTU sorties. 1 OTU Wellington lost.

24/25 September 1943

4 Mosquitos to Duisburg, 39 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and south of Texel, 2 OTU sorties. 1 Stirling minelayer lost.

25/26 September 1943

8 Mosquitos to Cologne and Düsseldorf, 10 Stirlings minelaying in the Frisians, 11 OTU sorties. No losses.

Crew completes tour
This crew could at last smile - having completed the required number of missions to fulfil a tour, they could look forward to a few months out of front-line action to recover. Sokme pilots however, found life on the operational training units and heavy conversion squadrons teaching raw pilots just as stressful.

26/27 September 1943

5 Mosquitos to Aachen and 4 each to Cologne and Hamborn, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.

The 5 Mosquitos attacking Aachen were carrying out the first trials of Mark II Oboe but the equipment failed and bombs were released visually or on dead reckoning.

27/28 September 1943

Hannover: 678 aircraft - 312 Lancasters, 231 Halifaxes, 111 Stirlings, 24 Wellingtons. 5 B-17s also took part. 38 Bomber Command aircraft - 17 Halifaxes, 10 Lancasters, 10 Stirlings, 1 Wellington - lost, 5.6 per cent of the force, and 1 B-17 also lost. The use by the Pathfinders of faulty forecast winds again saved the centre of Hannover. The bombing was very concentrated but fell on an area 5 miles north of the city centre. No details are available from Germany but RAF photographic evidence showed that most of the bombs fell in open country or villages north of the city.

21 Lancasters and 6 Mosquitos of No 8 Group carried out a diversionary raid on Brunswick which was successful in drawing off some night fighters. 218 people were killed in Brunswick - 51 Germans and 167 foreigners. 1 Lancaster lost.

9 Mosquitos on another diversion to Emden, 5 Mosquitos on Oboe tests to Aachen (3 were successful), 19 aircraft minelaying in the Kattegat and the Frisian Islands, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.

97 Squadron, 27 September 1943
Members of No 97 Squadron pose for a photograph on this day. The squadron was probably in action over Hannover during the night..

28/29 September 1943

8 Mosquitos attacked Cologne and Gelsenkirchen without loss.

29/30 September 1943

352 aircraft - 213 Lancasters, 130 Halifaxes, 9 Mosquitos - ordered to Bochum. 9 aircraft - 5 Halifaxes and 4 Lancasters - lost, 2.6 per cent of the force. The Oboe-assisted Pathfinder plan worked perfectly and led to accurate and concentrated bombing.

11 Mosquitos to Gelsenkirchen, 14 Lancasters minelaying off Danzig, Gdynia and Pillau in the Baltic. No aircraft lost.


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