Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary

Campaign Diary
May 1942


1 May 1942

12 Bostons attacked a parachute factory at Calais and the railway station at St Omer, both of which were bombed. No Bostons lost.

2/3 May 1942

Minelaying: 96 aircraft of 3 and 5 Groups carried out extensive minelaying from Germany to Brittany. 2 Manchesters lost. 11 aircraft made leaflet flights to France without loss.

3 May 1942

6 Bostons bombed Dunkirk docks without loss.

3/4 May 1942


On the 100th anniversary of a great fire in Hamburg, Bomber Command sent a comparatively small force of aircraft to attack this city after receiving an unfavourable weather forecast. 81 aircraft were dispatched: 43 Wellingtons, 20 Halifaxes, 13 Stirlings and 5 Hampdens. 3 Halifaxes and 2 Wellingtons were lost.
Hamburg was found to be completely cloud-covered and only 54 aircraft bombed on to its estimated position. Despite these unfavourable circumstances, a success out of all proportion to the numbers of aircraft involved was achieved. 113 fires were started in Hamburg, of which 57 were classed as large. The total casualty list in Hamburg on this night was 77 killed, 243 injured and 1,624 bombed out.

Minor Operations: 9 aircraft to St Nazaire, 4 Blenheim Intruders, 2 aircraft minelaying off Heligoland, 8 aircraft on leaflet flights to France. No losses.

4 May 1942

6 Bostons to Le Havre power-station, but the only hits were on nearby buildings. No Bostons lost.

4/5 May 1942


121 aircraft - 69 Wellingtons, 19 Hampdens, 14 Lancasters, 12 Stirlings, 7 Halifaxes - on the first large raid on this city. 1 Stirling lost.
As on the recent Rostock raids, a proportion of the force was detailed to attack a specific factory target, on this occasion the Robert Bosch factory, which made dynamos, injection pumps and magnetos. On this night, 10/10ths cloud covered the whole area and the raid was a failure. Bombs were scattered across a wide area of Stuttgart and the surrounding countryside. 13 people were killed and 37 injured in Stuttgart. The Bosch works were not hit. A decoy site near Lauffen, 15 miles north of Stuttgart, attracted many bombs.

Minor Operations: 9 aircraft to Nantes, 5 Stirlings to Pilsen, 8 aircraft minelaying off Heligoland, 6 aircraft on leaflet flights to France. 1 Stirling lost on the Pilsen raid.

This reconnaissance photo of Rostock was taken in November 1942. Such was the devastion to the historic city, that much of it was still a wasteland six months after this attack.

5 May 1942

12 Bostons to Zeebrugge coke ovens and Lille power-station; only the Zeebrugge target was bombed. No Bostons lost.

5/6 May 1942


77 aircraft - 49 Wellingtons, 13 Stirlings, 11 Halifaxes, 4 Lancasters - to the city and the Bosch factory. 3 Wellingtons and 1 Stirling lost.
There was no cloud but the ground was haze-covered. The Lauffen decoy again attracted much of the bombing. The nearest bombs to Stuttgart fell in woods west of the city.

Minor Operations: 19 aircraft to Nantes, 4 Blenheim Intruders to Schiphol, 10 aircraft on leaflet flights to France. No losses.

6 May 1942

18 Bostons to Boulogne docks, Calais parachute factory and Caen power-station. All targets 're bombed without loss to the Bostons.

6/7 May 1942


97 aircraft - 55 Wellingtons, 15 Stirlings, 10 Hampdens, 10 Lancasters, 7 Halifaxes - the city and the Bosch factory. 5 Wellingtons and 1 Halifax lost.
This third raid on Stuttgart was another failure, with crews again blaming ground haze for their inability to identify the city. Stuttgart's records show that no bombs fell in the city, though a few fell in woods to the west. The Lauffen decoy may have been responsible for a raid which developed on the large town of Heilbronn, only 5 miles from the decoy fire site but 20 miles from Stuttgart. More than 150 buildings were hit in Heilbronn and 7 people died there.

Minor Operations: 19 aircraft to Nantes, 4 Blenheim Intruders, 9 aircraft on leaflet flights to France. 1 Intruder lost.

7 May 1942

12 Bostons to Ostend power-station and Zeebrugge coke ovens; direct hits were scored at Zeebrugge, near misses at Ostend. No Bostons lost.

7/8 May 1942

Minelaying: 81 aircraft of 3 and 5 Groups to Copenhagen, the Great Belt, Kiel and Heligoland. 1 Hampden and 1 Wellington lost.

Minor Operations: 5 aircraft to St Nazaire, 1 Halifax on leaflet flight to France. No losses.

8 May 1942

6 Bostons to Dieppe port and railway yards; none were lost.

Bombs falling on a section of the railway yards at Dieppe.

8/9 May 1942


193 aircraft - 98 Wellingtons, 27 Stirlings, 21 Lancasters, 19 Halifaxes, 19 Hampdens, 9 Manchesters - to the town and the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory. 19 aircraft - 8 Wellingtons, 4 Lancasters, 3 Hampdens, 2 Halifaxes, 1 Manchester, 1 Stirling - lost.
No details are available from Warnemünde but Bomber Command's own records say 'the attack was only moderately successful'.

Minor Operations: 3 Blenheim Intruders to Leeuwarden, 3 aircraft minelaying off Heligoland. No losses.

9 May 1942

12 Bostons to an oil depot at Bruges and railway yards at Hazebrouck. Only 'near misses' could be achieved at both targets. No Bostons lost.

9/10 May 1942

Minelaying: 20 aircraft to Danish coasts, Kiel and the German Bight. No losses.

13 May 1942

4 Wellingtons on cloud-cover raids to Essen but this target was not found. 3 aircraft bombed , Mülheim and 2 unidentified places. No aircraft lost.

15/16 May 1942

Minelaying: 50 aircraft to the Western Baltic. 2 Hampdens and 2 Wellingtons lost.

17 May 1942

12 Bostons to Boulogne docks which were accurately bombed without loss to the Bostons.

Bombs falling during the attack on Boulogne.

16/17 May 1942

7 Lancasters and 7 Manchesters of 5 Group minelaying off Heligoland and Kiel without loss.

17/18 May 1942

Minelaying: 32 Stirlings and 28 Wellingtons of 3 Group to the Frisians and the Heligoland area. German night fighters were active and 5 Stirlings and 2 Wellingtons were lost.

Minor Operations: 27 aircraft to Boulogne, 1 Stirling on a leaflet flight to France. 1 Wellington lost on the Boulogne raid.

19/20 May 1942


197 aircraft - 105 Wellingtons, 31 Stirlings, 29 Halifaxes, 15 Hampdens, 13 Lancasters, 4 Manchesters. 11 aircraft - 4 Halifaxes, 4 Stirlings, 3 Wellingtons - lost.
155 aircraft reported hitting Mannheim but most of their bombing photographs showed forests or open country. A concentrated group of about 600 incendiaries in the harbour area on the Rhine burnt out 4 small industrial concerns. Only light damage was caused elsewhere. The only fatal casualties were 2 firemen.

Minor Operations: 65 'freshmen' crews to St Nazaire but bombing results were poor, 9 aircraft minelaying off Lorient and near Heligoland, 13 aircraft on leaflet flights to France. 1 Wellington lost on the St Nazaire raid.

Total effort for the night: 284 sorties, 12 aircraft (4.2 per cent) lost.

21/22 May 1942

Minelaying: 33 Wellingtons and 15 Stirlings of 3 Group to the Biscay ports but poor weather allowed only 18 aircraft to lay mines. No aircraft lost.

22/23 May 1942

Minor Operations: 27 Halifaxes to St Nazaire but cloud prevented all but 3 from bombing, 31 aircraft minelaying to St Nazaire and off German Baltic ports. No aircraft lost.

25 May 1942

4 Bostons on uneventful sweep off the Dutch coast.

26/27 May 1942

4 Lancasters minelaying in the Great Belt without loss.

29/30 May 1942


77 aircraft - 31 Wellingtons, 20 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters, 9 Stirlings, 3 Hampdens - to the Gnome & Rhone factory, 4 Wellingtons and 1 Halifax lost.
Later photographic cover showed little or no damage to the factory, A local report says that 38 houses were destroyed and 49 damaged, with 34 French people being killed and 167 injured.

Minor Operations: 31 aircraft to Cherbourg, 17 aircraft to Dieppe. 21 aircraft minelaying in the Frisians and off Copenhagen, 3 aircraft on leaflet flights to France, 1 Stirling minelayer lost.

Composite photo-recce picture of the widespread damage to the Gnome and Rhone factory.

30/31 May 1942

The Thousand Bomber Raid, Cologne

1,047 aircraft were dispatched, this number being made up as follows:

1 Group - 156 Wellingtons
3 Group - 134 Wellingtons, 88 Stirlings = 222 aircraft
4 Group - 131 Halifaxes, 9 Wellingtons, 7 Whitleys = 147 aircraft
5 Group - 73 Lancasters, 46 Manchesters, 34 Hampdens = 153 aircraft
91 (OTU) Group - 236 Wellingtons, 21 Whitleys = 257 aircraft
92 (OTU) Group - 63 Wellingtons, 45 Hampdens = 108 aircraft
Flying Training Command - 4 Wellingtons.

Aircraft totals: 602 Wellingtons, 131 Halifaxes, 88 Stirlings, 79 Hampdens, 73 Lancasters, 46 Manchesters, 28 Whitleys = 1,047 aircraft

The exact number of aircraft claiming to have bombed Cologne is in doubt; the Official History says 898 aircraft bombed but Bomber Command's Night Bombing Sheets indicate that 868 aircraft bombed the main target with 15 aircraft bombing other targets. The total tonnage of bombs was 1,455, two-thirds of this tonnage being incendiaries.
German records show that 2,500 separate fires were started, of which the local fire brigade classed 1,700 as large. Property damage in the raid totalled 3,330 buildings destroyed, 2,090 seriously damaged and 7,420 lightly damaged. More than 90 per cent of this damage was caused by fire rather than high-explosive bombs. Among the above total of 12,840 buildings were 2,560 industrial and commercial buildings, though many of these were small ones. However, 36 large firms suffered complete loss of production, 70 suffered 50-80 per cent loss and 222 up to 50 per cent.
The estimates of casualties in Cologne are, unusually, quite precise. Figures quoted for deaths vary only between 469 and 486. The 469 figure comprises 411 civilians and 58 military casualties, mostly members of Flak units. 5,027 people were listed as injured and 45,132 as bombed out.
The RAF lost 41 aircraft which were: 29 Wellingtons, 4 Manchesters, 3 Halifaxes, 2 Stirlings, 1 Hampden, 1 Lancaster, 1 Whitley, 3.9 per cent of the bombing force.
Bomber Command later estimated that 22 aircraft were lost over or near Cologne - 16 shot down by Flak, 4 by night fighters and 2 in a collision; most of the other losses were due to night-fighter action in the radar boxes between the coast and Cologne.

Intruder Operations

In a major effort to help the bomber force attacking Cologne, 34 Blenheims of 2 Group, 15 Blenheims of Army Co-Operation Command and 7 Havocs of Fighter Command attempted to attack German night-fighter airfields alongside the bomber route. No particular success was gained by these Intruders and 2 of the Blenheims were lost.

Total effort for the night: 1,103 sorties, 43 aircraft (3.9 per cent) lost.

31 May 1942

5 Mosquitos of 105 Squadron were dispatched to take photographs of bomb damage at Cologne and drop a few more bombs there. These were Bomber Command's first Mosquito operations of the war but 1 aircraft was hit by Flak and later crashed into the North Sea.

31 May/1 June 1942

2 Wellingtons were dispatched to Cologne but the area was found to be cloud-covered and no bombing results were seen. The Wellingtons both returned safely.

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Date Last Updated : Wednesday, April 6, 2005 2:40 AM

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