Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary
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.
6 Mosquitos bombed a factory at Hengelo. 6 Bostons attempted to reach Le Havre but were turned back by bad weather. No aircraft lost.
Minor Operations: 23 Wellingtons and 11 Stirlings minelaying off Biscay ports, 5 OTU sorties. 2 Wellingtons and 2 Stirlings lost from the minelaying force.
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
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|
7 Stirlings minelaying in the Baltic off Bornholm and Sassnitz without loss.
6 Mosquitos to individual German targets; 2 aircraft bombed at Bremen and 1 at Minden. 1 Mosquito lost.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
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.
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.
Minelaying: 24 Stirlings and Wellingtons of 3 Group to the Frisian Islands and to Biscay ports without loss.
8 Mosquitos to Flensburg, Belgium and Holland. 2 Mosquitos bombed a shipyard at Flensburg; 4 Mosquitos bombed other unidentified targets. No aircraft lost.
Minor Operations: 36 aircraft minelaying between St Nazaire and the Frisians, 4 OTU sorties. No losses.
9 Wellingtons minelaying off St Nazaire and Denmark. 1 aircraft lost.
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.
9 Mosquitos dispatched but none reached their designated targets. 7 aircraft bombed targets of opportunity at mostly unidentified places. 1 aircraft lost.
4 Wellingtons minelaying in the Frisians without loss.
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.
Minelaying: 22 Wellingtons and Stirlings to Biscay ports. 1 Wellington lost.
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