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No. 63 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

No. 63 Squadron (RAF): Second World War

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No. 63 Squadron (RAF) during the Second World War

Aircraft - Locations - Group and Duty - Books

No. 63 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War. At the start of the war it was a training unit equipped with a mix of the Fairey Battle and the Avro Anson. It performed this duty until 8 April 1940 when it was redesignated as No. 12 Operational Training Unit.

The second incarnation could not have been more different. On 15 June 1942 a detachment from No. 239 Squadron became the new No.63 Squadron, equipped with the Mustang I. Over the next three years the squadron would fly the Mustang, the Hurricane and finally the Spitfire.

Despite being equipped with these fighter aircraft, the squadron spend much of its time cooperating with either the Army, taking part in training exercises, or with the Navy, providing spotter aircraft for the naval bombardment on D-Day and during the Walcheren landings. The squadron also performed some tactical reconnaissance. The second incarnation of No. 63 squadron disappeared in a similar way to the first, giving its aircraft to No.41 OTU before being disbanded.

May 1937-April 1940: Fairey Battle
March 1939-April 1940: Avro Anson
July 1942-May 1944: Mustang I and Mustang IA
March-May 1944: Hawker Hurricane IIC and Hurricane IV
May 1944-January 1945: Supermarine Spitfire VB

17 February-7 September 1939: Upwood
7-17 September 1939: Abingdon
17 September 1939-8 April 1940: Benson
15 June-16 July 1942: Gatwick
16 July-6 November 1942: Catterick
6-13 November 1942: Weston Zoyland
13-20 November 1942: Catterick
20 November-26 July 1943: Macmerry
6-17 December 1942: Detachment at Lossiemouth
31 December 1942-19 February 1943: Detachment at Odiham
6-14 June 1943: Detachment at Dalcross
21-28 June 1943: Detachment at Acklington
26 July-8 November 1943: Turnhouse
8-12 November 1943: Thruxton
12-30 November 1943: Sawbridgworth
30 November 1943-16 January 1944: North Weald
10 December 1943-21 January 1944: Detachment at Benson
16 January 1944-28 May 1944: Turnhouse
14-16 February 1944: Detachment at Peterhead
29-31 March 1944 : Detachment at Tealing
29-31 March 1944 : Detachment at Peterhead
9-21 April 1944 : Detachment at Dundonald
26 April-25 May 1944: Detachment at Ballyhalbert
27 April-26 May 1944: Detachment at Woodvale
28 May-3 July 1944: Lee-on-Solent
3 July-30 August 1944: Woodvale
4 July-29 August 1944: Detachment at Ballyhalbert
30 August-19 September 1944: Lee-on-Solent
10 September-1 November 1944: North Weald
1-4 November 1944: Manston
4 November 1944-30 January 1945: North Weald

Squadron Codes:

Group and Duty
26 September 1939: Pool bomber squadron with No. 6 Group
April 1940: Renamed No. 12 OTU
June 1942-January 1945: Reconnaissance and naval spotting duties
January 1945: Aircraft to No. 41 OTU and disbanded.


World War II Database

ww2dbase Aerial bombing against civilian cities was not a new phenomenon the British had already experienced such raids in WW1 conducted by German Zeppelins. However, the advance in aircraft technology brought bombing to a new level. Even Prime Minister Winston Churchill said "our supreme effort must be to gain overwhelming mastery in the air. The fighters are our salvation, but the bombers alone can provide the means to victory." As the war progressed heavy bombers such as the British Avro Lancaster bombers made their entrances in the war and carpet bombing entire industrial cities with their great payloads. The lack of accuracy for these bombing missions often inflicted damage to non-military areas the Allies knew it, but felt it was an inevitable part of war. Some precisely used this tactic against Germany, such as Royal Air Force Bomber Command's Air Marshal Arthur Harris. His area bombing campaigns were meant to demoralize the German population, but it became a matter of controversy immediately following the war as his campaigns were accused of being terror bombing.

ww2dbase Bombing of Münster

ww2dbase Münster, Germany saw its first large scale bombing on 5 Jul 1941 when 63 British Wellington bombers arrived shortly after midnight with 396 500-pound bombs, 50 250-pound bombs, and almost 6,000 4-pound incendiary bombs. The city was caught unprepared, with anti-aircraft weapons not arriving until 8 Jul. Prior to the bombing, historian Dr. Franz Weimers was hired by the city to chronicle the war, and he was given permission to wonder the streets to make observations and take photographs even during air raids. On 9 Jul, he wrote of what he had witnessed that morning after the British bombers had already left.

The poor people who stood at corners and in the squares with their few retrieved belongings but did not know where to go were a pitiful sight to behold. The authorities responsible for providing accommodation, such as the Red Cross, the security service, and deployed battalions, were all working at it at full speed, and consequently all homeless people could be accommodated in the evening, even if some of the solutions were only provisional.

ww2dbase The city continued to receive bombings throughout the war. By the end of the war, more than 90% of the Old City and more than half of the city overall were destroyed.

ww2dbase Bombing of Lübeck
28-29 Mar 1942

ww2dbase The first major bombing by the Royal Air Force Bomber Command was conducted against the port city of Lübeck. The city dated back to the Hanseatic days, thus many buildings were made of wood Harris said that Lübeck was built "more like a fire-lighter than a human habitation". 234 Wellington and Stirling bombers dropped about 400 tons of bombs. Though German defenses were light, 12 of the RAF bombers were still lost in the attack. The damage inflicted was heavy. The first of three waves of bombers used the new "blockbuster" bombs to blast over the building roofs and windows, allowing subsequent bombers and their incendiary bombs to contents inside of buildings on fire. 1,468 buildings were destroyed, 2,180 were seriously damaged, and 9,103 were lightly damaged together, this represented 62% of all buildings in Lübeck. Initial German reports showed 301 killed, 3 were missing, and 783 were wounded, but actual deaths might be as high as 1,000 15,000 people, or 10% of the city's population, was displaced. After seeing footage of the destruction, German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary "[t]he damage is really enormous, I have been shown a newsreel of the destruction. It is horrible. One can well imagine how such a bombardment affects the population".

ww2dbase Smaller scale raids were conducted against Lübeck subsequently. On 16 Jul 1942, 21 Stirling bombers were dispatched to bomb Lübeck 8 aircraft reached the city and 2 were lost. On 24-25 Jul 1943, 13 Mosquito aircraft bombed Lübeck as diversion for the main target of Hamburg (see Bombing of Hamburg later in this article). On 15-16 Sep 1943, 9 Mosquito aircraft bombed Lübeck as diversion for the main target of Kiel. On 2-3 Apr 1945, Lübeck was hit by RAF bombers manned by training crews.

ww2dbase Bombing of Augsburg
17 Apr 1942

ww2dbase Section Contributor: Alan Chanter

ww2dbase At 1400 hours on the 17th of April, twelve Lancaster bombers, six each from the RAF's Nos. 44 (Rhodesian) and 97 Squadrons in four sections of three aircraft, took off from their bases at Woodhall Spa and Waddington for a daring low-level attack on the MAN diesel engine factory at Augsburg deep in the heart of Bavaria, Germany. The Squadrons involved had only recently re-equipped with the new four engine bomber (in December 1941 and January 1942 respectively) and this raid was to be one of Sir Arthur Harris' early trials with the type prior to commencing his night bombing campaign against the Third Reich.

ww2dbase Led by experienced South African Squadron Leader John Nettleton, the aircrews had practiced extensively, in the days prior to the attack, on low level flying training (part of which included a simulated raid on Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom) which led many to speculate that their target would be the German naval facility at Kiel. They were therefore more than a little astonished to learn that their target was actually a single building the size of a football pitch located within a larger complex more than 500 miles beyond the French coast.

ww2dbase The operational plan was for the bombers to be over the target in the last light of day, thus allowing them to return under the cover of darkness. Further assistance was to be provided by a diversionary raid by thirty Boston bombers and more than 700 fighter sorties over north-eastern France with the intention of keeping the Luftwaffe's fighters occupied whilst Nettleton's force sped towards Augsburg. Unknown to the Lancaster bombers' crews however, the Boston bombers' raid had been brought forward by twenty minutes with the result that as they withdrew the German fighters were returning to base just as the Lancaster force appeared in the vicinity. Disaster struck when a Messerschmitt pilot spotted the low-flying formation. In a few minutes four of No. 44 Squadron's aircraft were shot down a third of the force had been lost and the remainder still had 300 miles to fly to reach their target area.

ww2dbase Regardless, Nettleton refused to turn back and the eight surviving aircraft pressed on. Over the target the two remaining No. 44 Squadron aircraft dropped their bombs, but only Nettleton's aircraft escaped the heavy flak to return home. When the two sections of No. 97 aircraft arrived over the factory heavy anti-aircraft fire quickly claimed one machine and, as the last section dropped its bombs, a second Lancaster bomber was seen to explode in mid-air. The five surviving aircraft now had to make the perilous return flight across an enemy territory patrolled by Luftwaffe night fighters. Fortunately none appeared and the Lancaster bombers landed in England at 2300 hours that night.

ww2dbase A reconnaissance flight on the following day revealed that serious damage had indeed been done to the factory, but on closer examination it was noted that of the seventeen bombs that had hit the important engine assembly shop within the factory complex, only twelve had exploded. The cost had been extremely heavy. Of the 85 aircrew involved 37 men had been killed and 12 taken prisoner by the Germans. Eight aircraft had been lost (seven during the raid and one so badly damaged that it had to be written off on returning).

ww2dbase Although the operation had great propaganda value to the British public (having proved that bomber command could reach distant targets within Germany) the implications were serious. Lord Selborne, the Minister of Economic Warfare wrote angrily to Sir Arthur Harris, furious that the target had not been one of those specified by his Ministry for attack. Harris replied that Augsburg had been on an approved list drawn up by the Chiefs of Staff, and there the matter ended. Harris himself had considerable doubts about the wisdom of further daylight attacks. Courageous men and valuable aircraft had been lost even though Bomber Command had already learned not to send unescorted bombers on such sorties. Another lesson was that the Lancaster bomber's rifle-calibre machine guns had proved quite inadequate against enemy fighters that were fitted with self sealing fuel tanks.

ww2dbase For his outstanding determination and leadership Squadron Leader Nettleton, who had nursed his crippled Lancaster aircraft back to England, would be awarded the Victoria Cross, only to be killed during a raid in the July of the following year. Many of the other officers and men who had survived the mission received recognition with the award of Distinguished Service Orders, Distinguished Flying Crosses and Distinguished Flying Medals.

ww2dbase Bombing of Köln
30-31 May 1942

ww2dbase The techniques for the carpet bombing strategy was probably perfected at Köln (commonly Anglicized as Cologne) on 30-31 May 1942 when 2,000 tons of high explosives were delivered by 1,046 bombers in a small 90-minute window The original target was supposed to be Hamburg, the that city was saved as it was shrouded in bad weather. Post-action reports claimed that 250 factories were destroyed, marking the mission a success. What the British report left out was the destruction to downtown Köln, which was clearly the center of the target countless civilians died, and 45,000 were left homeless. Official German reports noted the destruction of only 36 factories, while 3,300 residences German reports noted only 469 deaths.

ww2dbase Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring refused to believe such figures "[i]t's impossible! That many bombs cannot be dropped in a single night!" Author Daniel Swift noted that "Cologne was perfect ruin, and what survived, like the front of the great cathedral, stood only to mark the loss."

ww2dbase With the bombing of Köln, the RAF achieved a great propaganda success. With the magic number of 1,000 bombers on this raid, the RAF proved that the United Kingdom was able to put more bombers in the air against Germany than the Germany could against the United Kingdom.

ww2dbase Bombing of Bremen
25-26 Jun 1942

ww2dbase The British launched the third Thousand Bomber Raid against the German city of Bremen during the night of 25-26 Jun 1942. 1,067 aircraft, most of which from the Bomber Command but also with participation from Coastal Command and Army Cooperation Command, were launched against Bremen. Although only 696 successfully reached the city, they were able to damage the capacity of the Focke-Wulf factory and destroy 572 houses. 85 were killed on the ground, with a further 497 wounded, at a cost of 48 Bomber Command and 5 Coastal Command aircraft.

ww2dbase Bombing of the Ruhr Industrial Region

ww2dbase Essen, the center of the Krupp enterprise in the heart of the industrious Ruhr region, received their share of bombing as well. A Belgian chaplain who had been imprisoned there recalled the effect of British bombing on the region's women and children as "completely chaotic". In Essen, too, the target was the residential districts of the workers, not the factories themselves. Nearby cities of Dortmund, Bochum, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, and Hamm all received similar waves of destruction.

ww2dbase Bombing of Berlin

ww2dbase Berlin did not escape bombing, either. On 1 Mar 1943, Harris noted to his bomber crews that "[y]ou have an opportunity to light a fire in the belly of the enemy and burn his Black Heart out" and sent 302 aircraft, over half Lancaster bombers, over Berlin. Press officer Hans-Georg von Studnitz noted in his diary: [W]e came upon places through which it was impossible to pass by car. Craters filled with water, heaps of rubble, firehoses, . and convoys of lorries blocked the streets, where thousands of those rendered homeless were searching the ruins, trying to rescue some of their possessions, or were squatting on the pavements and being fed from field kitchens.

ww2dbase On 22 Nov, a major RAF raid struck Berlin again, sending 764 bombers that destroyed 3,000 buildings and killed 2,000 only 26 bombers were lost in the action. Total deaths due to bombings on Berlin in the month of Nov 1943 amounted to over 4,000. Just as the citizens of Berlin thought they had seen the worst, by the beginning of 1944 the Americans were able to send long range fighters to escort bombers all the way to Berlin. The German propaganda machine continuously denounced such attacks on German cities as terror bombing.

ww2dbase Bombing of Hamburg
24 Jul-2 Aug 1943

ww2dbase During the night of 23 Jul 1943, British bombers took off for the German city of Hamburg, which delivered 2,300 tons of bombs to the city between 0100 and 0200 in the early morning of 24 Jul. This began Operation Gomorrah, a bombing campaign against Hamburg. Once again, 8,000-pound "blockbuster" and 4,000-pound "cookie" bombs, both explosive bombs, knocked out roofs and windows, and subsequent waves of bombers dropped 350,412 incendiary bombs to start fires. Crews of the Halifax bombers of the RAF 6 Group, which were among the latter waves, reported "a mass of raging fires with black smoke rising to 19,000 feet".

ww2dbase RAF bombing practice called for lead bombers to drop markers so that the following bombers would know where to release bombs in the dark. Hamburg resident Johann Johannsen, who manned a flak battery that night, recalled being directly underneath one such marker.

High above us we could hear the drone of the enemy machines. Suddenly countless flares were above us, so that the whole city was lit up in a magically bright light. With incredible swiftness the disaster was suddenly upon us. Before and behind our battery heavy chunks of metal were striking. Howling and hissing, fire and iron were falling from the sky. The whole city was lit up in a sea of flames!

ww2dbase Paul Elingshausen, the deputy air raid warden of his block, remembered the frustration of not being able to fight the massive fires.

There was no running water, the Tommies had smashed the waterworks first. we had to abandon house after house. Finally Dr. Wilm's house caught fire, and I, as deputy air-raid warden, stopped fighting the fire since there was neither sand or water, and the flames were already licking the side of our roof. We started to save what could be saved. I had all of fourteen minutes to rescue the most important things, some clothes and other stuff. One cannot imagine how fast fire is, and how easily it can cut off your escape route this is why I also gave up, no matter how much I would have liked to have this or that. And so I stood below with what little stuff I had, and was forced to watch, full of impotent anger, as our beloved building burned.

ww2dbase The RAF bombers' entrance over German air was aided by "Window", code name for strips of paper coated with foil on one side, which successfully blinded German short-range radar and the anti-aircraft flak weapons that depended on radar. Once they completed their attack on Hamburg, however, German night fighters arrived in response and shot down a number of British bombers.

ww2dbase Only 12 aircraft were lost during the raid of 24 Jul 1943.

ww2dbase At 1440 in the afternoon on the next day, 25 Jul, United States Army Air Force bombers arrived during daylight. The Americans, operating under a separate command, chose to follow up the British bombing for military reasons. Top American commanders noted Hamburg's aircraft parts factories and submarine builders, and the chaos caused by the British bombing the day before might increase the rate of success for the raid. Brigadier General Frederick L. Anderson, Jr. gave the order that day to launch his B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, with the Blohm & Voß shipyards and the Klöckner aircraft engine factories as the primary objectives. When 109 bombers arrived at Hamburg, crews reported that the smoke rising from fires were so heavy that they were having trouble locating their targets. They thought the fires were caused by the first wave of American bombers little did they know, the fires had actually been burning since the first British raid.

ww2dbase German fighters inflicted a heavy toll on the American bombers. Even as the bombers were fleeing after unloading the bombs, fighters hovered on the edges of the flight groups, looking for bombers that were unable to stay with the group. German fighters were typically afraid of flying into a group of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, as the high concentration of defensive guns meant certain death. However, there were reports of fighters directly challenging bombers, with the most of them employing the strategy of flying from the direction of the sun to mask their attacks. The American bombers returned to Britain around 1930 in the evening, finding that they had lost 15 aircraft.

ww2dbase In the afternoon of Sunday, 25 Jul, Gauleiter of Hamburg Karl Kaufmann decided to seal the city. As the city continued to burn, he announced no one would be allowed leave, reasoning that it would maintain the manpower needed to fight fires and to help survivors. Little did he know that it was only the start of an entire bombing campaign on the city. Keeping the population in the city "ensured the deaths of thousands in the coming days", said Keith Lowe.

ww2dbase At dawn on 26 Jul, USAAF bomber crews gathered again for another mission. To their surprise, they found themselves staring at a map of Hamburg once again. They took off around 0900 that morning. When they arrived at Hamburg at noon time, they were once again blinded by smoke, but this time, the smoke was generated by German efforts to mask areas of the city. The attacking bombers released their 126 tons of bombs in a short one-minute window, scoring direct hits on the Blohm & Voß shipyards and MAN diesel engine works. Neuhof power station was hit by the 303rd Bomber Group, which disabled the power station for the coming two weeks. This precision bombing killed few civilians outside the intended military and infrastructure targets. Only two American bombers were lost on this raid.

ww2dbase The American bombings on 25 and 26 Jul did serious damage to the Blohm & Voß shipyards. Construction shops, ship fitters shops, engine shops, boiler house, power station, foundry, and tool stores were all seriously damaged, while two of the dry docks were also considerably damaged. The Howaldtswerke factory lost several furnaces, shipbuilding and machinery sheds, and the diesel engine shops. Oil stores near the Rosshafen rail station were hit. Putting the Neuhof power station out of commission was probably the most important achievement.

ww2dbase During the night of 26-27 Jul, 6 British Mosquito aircraft conducted a nuisance raid on Hamburg, just like the night before. They were not meant to cause much damage to the city. Instead, they were sent to keep the Hamburg residents on their toes. By depriving them of sleep, the RAF Bomber Commanded intended on destroying their morale bit by bit.

ww2dbase During the night of 27-28 Jul, 787 British bombers attacked Hamburg from the northeast. The direction was chosen so that creep-back would cause damage to a totally different part of town, thus systematically destroying the area from city center outwards. "Creep back" was the term used to describe the fact that, as subsequent bomber crews saw explosions and fires near the target caused by the first waves, they would grow more excited, which led them to release their bomb slightly early. Thus as each subsequent waves released their bombs earlier and earlier, the area of impact crept toward the direction that the bombers were coming from. As city center buildings were already damaged, the British Lancaster, Halifax, and Stirling bombers carried far more incendiary bombs tonight, instead of explosives. The 722 aircraft that reached Hamburg dropped more than 2,313 tons of bombs on Hamburg in the span of 50 minutes. The resulting fire destroyed 16,000 buildings and killed thousands of people. Trevor Timperley of 156 Squadron RAF, who flew two missions over Hamburg, recalled the city being "a sea of flames" on this night. Leonard Cooper, a British flight engineer aboard a 7 Squadron RAF Lancaster bomber, recalled smoke rising to the altitude of 20,000 feet, carrying the stink of burning human flesh. "It's not a thing I'd like to talk about", he told his interviewer emotionally. On the ground, the scene of destruction exactly mirrored what the RAF bomber crews imagined. Erich Titschak recalled his entire neighborhood engulfed in "one enormous sea of fire", while Hans Jedlicka expressed a similar experience, noting "[t]he whole of Hammerbrook was burning!" A 40-year-old survivor gave the following account, which without a doubt contributed to some of the awful smell that the RAF bomber crews took note of high above.

The stretch of road upon which we now travelled brought ever worsening scenes of horror. I saw many women with their children held in their arms running, burning and then falling and not getting back up. We passed masses of people made up of four or five corpses, each probably a family, visible only as a pile of burned substance no larger than a small child. Many men and women fell over suddenly without having caught fire. Silently and with the last of their force, women tried to save their children. They carried them pressed close. Many of these children were already dead, without their mothers knowing.

ww2dbase The British bombers that flew over Hamburg on the night of 27-28 Jul met a tougher defense. Realizing that "Window" took away their ability to use radar to direct flak, more stress was put on the use of night fighters. Particularly, Major Hajo Herrmann's Wilde Sau, or "Wild Boar", tactics were deployed Wilde Sau tactics called for flak to explode at a the particular altitude that enemy bombers traveled, while night fighters hovered at a safe distance higher above. As the fighters flew high above, the fires on the ground easily contrasted the outlines of bombers, and Wilde Sau fighters would sweep down against targets of opportunity. Over Hamburg and on the British bombers' return journey, Wilde Sau and conventional fighters claimed many hits.

ww2dbase The 27-28 Jul raid killed about 42,600 people and destroyed over 16,000 residential buildings. Goebbels called this raid "the greatest crisis of the war" in his diary a few days later. British newspaper The Daily Express published, on the front page, the headline "RAF blitz to wipe Hamburg off the war map".

ww2dbase During the night of 28-29 Jul, four Mosquito aircraft performed a nuisance raid on Hamburg.

ww2dbase On the following night, 29-30 Jul, 777 British aircraft attacked the northern areas of Hamburg. En route, the bombers flew straight into a huge storm, and almost all crew members who participated in this raid reported the St. Elmo's fire phenomenon as their aircraft became electrified. Pilot J. K. Christie of a Lancaster bomber of the 35 Squadron noted his "spectacular experience" in his diary:

There were huge luminous rings around the propellers, blue flames out of the wing-tips, gun muzzles and also everywhere else on the aircraft where its surface is pointed. For instance, the de-icing tube in front of my window had a blue flame around it. Electrical flowers were dancing on the windows all the time until they got iced up, when the flowers disappeared. The wireless operator told me afterwards that sparks were shooting across his equipment all the time and that his aerials were luminous throughout the lengths. I didn't feel a bit happy and tried to go down below the clouds.

ww2dbase The unexpected electrical storm was not the only danger the British bombers faced. With additional anti-aircraft weapons brought into the city, the density of flak at and below 4,500 meters altitude were far greater than during previous raids above that altitude, aside from the dangerous storm clouds, Wilde Sau fighters continued to sweep down from above on unsuspecting bombers. 28 aircraft were lost during this raid. They caused damage, but did not start another firestorm.

ww2dbase The final large scale raid conducted on Hamburg took place on the night of 2-3 Aug, where 740 aircraft launched for Hamburg, but bad weather prevented many of the bombers from reaching the target many of them were diverted to bomb secondary targets instead. 30 of the 740 bombers were lost.

ww2dbase In the mere ten days, Hamburg was utterly destroyed. Perhaps a personal correspondence from German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel to his wife dated 3 Aug 1943 captured the fear instilled in the German people after the bombings on the city:

Hamburg has been a catastrophe for us, and last night there was yet another heavy air raid on it. The same must be expected for Berlin as soon as the nights are long enough for the longer flying time involved. That is why I want you to leave Berlin as soon as possible in view of the enormous danger there now is of fires breaking out fires are far more dangerous than high explosive. I am afraid of vast conflagrations consuming whole districts, streams of burning oil flowing into the basements and shelters, phosphorus, and the like. It will be difficult to escape from the shelters then, and there is the danger of tremendous heat being generated. This will not be cowardice, but the sheer realization that in face of phenomena like these one is completely powerless in the heart of the city you will be quite powerless.

ww2dbase Although the bombings put a halt on Hamburg's war industries, production was recovered relatively quickly. By the end of 1943, the aircraft industry was operating at 91% of pre-bombing levels, while electrical goods, optics, and precision tools either returned or surpassed pre-bombing levels. The chemical industry, which suffered greatly during the ten days, returned to 71% of pre-bombing capacity by end of 1943 as well. Most importantly, the submarine-building industry, which the Allies targeted, returned to near pre-bombing capacity within two months. René Ratouis, a French worker who witness the destruction of the shipyards, recalled his surprise when he returned in Sep and saw nearly no sign of any attack by 28 Sep, submarine Wa 201 was completed and launched from the Blohm & Voß shipyards.

ww2dbase Bombing of Dresden
13-14 Feb 1945

ww2dbase Early in 1945, Allied commanders gathered to plan Thunderclap, a new plan to strategically bomb Germany, particularly to aid the advance of Soviet troops. They argued that carpet bombing of large cities in eastern Germany would allow Soviet troops to exploit the confusion that would ensue, hampering movement of German troops from west of the target cities. On 27 Jan 1945, Given the Allied Joint Intelligence Command's conclusion that the Germans could reinforce the Eastern Front with half a million men (up to 42 divisions), Sir Archibald Sinclair of the RAF sent Churchill the recommendation of bombing Berlin, Dresden, Chemnitz, Leipzig, or other large cities with available resources, in order to hinder efficient enemy movement should such a reinforcement be ordered by Berlin. Interception of Enigma-coded messages confirmed that such movements were likely. Documents dated 4 Feb revealed that RAF bombing priority list were, in specific order:

  1. Cities with oil production facilities, such as Politz, Ruhland, and Vienna
  2. Cities that were considered transportation hubs or with considerable industrial facilities, such as Berlin and Dresden.
  3. Cities with factories capable of producing tanks, self-propelled guns, and jet engines.

ww2dbase In sum, the official documents as well as the Yalta Conference discussions noted the goal of the strategic bombings was to disrupt enemy communications and other military or industrial goals, not to kill evacuees. However, rumors of "off the record" discussions ran rampant. For example, British Air Commodore Grierson was accused in saying that the (after the bombing of Dresden) that the aim of Thunderclap was the bomb large population centers to disrupt the logistics of relief supplies.

ww2dbase Dresden was the capital of the state of Saxony, situated on the Elbe River. It was a cultural center, containing famous landmarks as the Frauenkirche, and was dubbed the Florence of the Elbe. Population of the city was largely anyone's guess as refugees flooded into the city shortly prior to the bombing as Soviet troops advanced to the city's east, however common estimates put the population at the time of bombings at greater than 650,000.

ww2dbase The attacks were originally planned to start with a raid by the US Eighth Air Force, but weather prevented the American bombers from taking off. During the night of 13-14 Feb, 796 British Lancaster and 9 Mosquito aircraft were dispatched and dropped 1478 tons of high explosive and 1182 tons of incendiary bombs on the first bombing run and 800 tons of bombs on the second run. The incendiary bombs contained combustible chemicals such as magnesium, phosphorus, or petroleum jelly/napalm. There were claims that due to the extreme temperatures inside buildings caused by the tremendous fires, air currents were formed where people fleeing would be sucked into the burning buildings. 3 hours later, 529 Lancaster bombers dropped 1800 tons of bombs. On the next day, 311 American B-17 bombers dropped 771 tons of bombs while the escort Mustang fighters strafed traffic (no distinction between military and civilian) on the streets to cause further havoc. Some reports indicate that civilians fleeing the bombing were strafed by American fighter pilots, but these reports are largely without solid evidence. Margaret Freyer, a Dresden resident, recalled:

The firestorm is incredible, there are calls for help and screams from somewhere but all around is one single inferno. To my left I suddenly see a woman. I can see her to this day and shall never forget it. She carries a bundle in her arms, it is her baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire. Insane fear grips me and from then on I repeat one simple sentence to myself, 'I don't want to burn to death'.

ww2dbase Lothar Metzger, another Dresden resident who was only nine years old at the time, recalled:

We did not recognize our street anymore. Fire, only fire wherever we looked. Our 4th floor did not exist anymore. The broken remains of our house were burning. On the streets there were burning vehicles and carts with refugees, people, horses, all of them screaming and shouting in fear of death. I saw hurt women, children, old people searching a way through ruins and flames. (A)ll the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from. I cannot forget these terrible details. I can never forget them.

ww2dbase Prior to this bombing, Allied bombers had already bombed Dresden railways twice (7 Oct 1944 and 16 Jan 1945). After the massive bombings on 13-14 Feb 1945, American bombers once again bombed Dresden on 2 Mar 1945.

ww2dbase The bombing methods used by the Allied were to encourage total destruction of buildings: the high explosive bombs first expose the wood frames of buildings, then the incendiary bombs ignite the wood, and finally followed by various explosives to hamper the firefighting efforts. The results were devastating. 24,866 out of 28,410 houses in the inner city of Dresden were destroyed, many of them schools, hospitals, and churches. Estimate of deaths range from 25,000 to more than 60,000 (the official German report stated 25,000 estimated with 21,271 registered burials). Roy Akehurst, a wireless operator in a RAF bomber crew, was struck by the destruction that he had help caused.

It struck me at the time, the thought of the women and children down there. We seemed to fly for hours over a sheet of fire, a terrific red glow with thin haze over it. I found myself making comments to the crew 'Oh God, those poor people'. It was completely uncalled for. You can't justify it.

ww2dbase The civilian deaths at Dresden would be used by two political machines as propaganda. First, the Nazi Propaganda Ministry would attempt to use this to stir public resentment against the Allied invaders. Then during the Cold War, Soviet propaganda would describe this bombing as western cruelty, alienating the East Germans with the British and Americans. Churchill, too, started to feel guilty of the widespread destruction the western Allies had caused in Germany, even though he was an early proponent of bombing German cities. In a memorandum sent to Harris, Churchill noted that

It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing terror, should be reviewed. I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives. rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction.

ww2dbase Although Dresden did not see particularly more attacks when compared to other German cities, the ideal weather conditions and the common usage of wooden structure made the destruction more widespread. The lack of anti-aircraft fire also contributed to the higher level of destruction, as Germany did not defend her with anti-aircraft guns as Dresden was far from Allied bomber bases, at least earlier in the war. However, contrary to that statement, a study conducted by the United States Air Force indicated that Dresden was indeed defended by anti-aircraft guns, operated by the Combined Dresden and Berlin Luftwaffe Administration Commands.

ww2dbase In recent history German historian Joerg Freidrich suggested that the Dresden bombings might be considered a war crime. German sources often suggest Dresden, even during war time, was nothing more than a cultural center. However, Allied reports indicated the presence of the Zeiss-Ikon optical factory and Siemans glass factory (which produced gun sights), and other factories building radar, anti-aircraft shell fuses, gas masks, fighter engines, and various fighter parts. The proponents of the war crimes argument claimed that Dresden was bombed as a part of Allied terror bombing strategy, meanwhile prominent military historians such as B. H. Liddell Hart compared the bombing to the methods of the 13th century Mongols. For years to come, Air Marshal Arthur Harris was repeatedly challenged to justify the attacks he held fast to the belief that although it was near the end of the war, the military needs at that time warranted the bombing of this communications hub.

ww2dbase In 1969 Kurt Vonnegut, who witnessed the Dresden bombing, published the fictional work Slaughterhouse Five with this event as the backdrop. A film version of the work was released three years later.

ww2dbase Sources:
United States Air Force History Support Office
Walter Görlitz, In the Service of the Reich
Keith Lowe, Inferno
William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp
Anthony Read and David Fisher, The Fall of Berlin
Daniel Swift, Bomber County

Last Major Update: May 2008

Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities Interactive Map

Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities Timeline

21 Jun 1938 The British Minister of Parliament for Derby P. J. Noel-Baker spoke at the House of Commons against aerial bombing of German cities based on moral grounds. "The only way to prevent atrocities from the air is to abolish air warfare and national air forces altogether."
4 Sep 1939 30 RAF bombers attacked the German Navy at Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven, and Shillig Roads in Germany. Seven of thirty aircraft were shot down and the handful of bombs that hit their targets failed to explode. No.107 Squadron from Wattisham lost four out of five Blenheim bombers, which was the RAF's first fatalities.
9 Sep 1939 Two Wellington bombers from No. 99 (Madras Presidency) Squadron RAF based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, England, United Kingdom recorded the first operational mission to Germany when they undertook a "Nickel" (leaflet dropping) sortie over Hannover.
5 Apr 1940 British RAF aircraft attacked German shipping at Wilhelmshaven.
15 May 1940 The British War Cabinet decided to attack the German oil industry, communications centers, and forests and crops attacks on industrial areas were to focus on the Ruhr region. Also, due to the costly daylight bombings, attacks were to be launched at nights. On the same day these directives were issued, the RAF began attacking industrial targets in the Ruhr, with 99 bombers flying the first mission. The decision to begin bombing civilian property outside of combat zones was the direct result of the German bombing of Rotterdam on the previous day.
17 May 1940 German oil storage facilities in Bremen and Hamburg were destroyed by the RAF.
7 Jun 1940 A French Navy NC.223 aircraft became the first Allied bomber to bomb Berlin, Germany.
10 Jun 1940 A French Navy NC.223 aircraft bombed Berlin, Germany.
5 Jul 1940 RAF launched night bombing raids on Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
14 Jul 1940 British RAF Bomber Command launched raids against two Luftwaffe bases in Germany, with 9 Whitley bombers of No. 102 Squadron hitting Paderborn and 12 Whitley bombers of No. 10 Squadron and No. 51 Squadron hitting Diepholz.
18 Jul 1940 British bombers attacked the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Germany.
19 Jul 1940 British bombers attacked Bremen, Gelsenkirchen, Kassel in Germany.
20 Jul 1940 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf and Wismar, Germany.
21 Jul 1940 3 bombers of No. 51 Squadron RAF attacked Hamm, Germany the rail marshalling yard was the primary target. 10 bombers of No. 77 Squadron RAF and 10 bombers of No. 102 Squadron RAF attacked Kassel, Germany the aircraft factory was the primary target. Finally, 5 bombers of No. 78 Squadron RAF attacked Soest, Germany the rail marshalling yard was the primary target.
22 Jul 1940 Whitley bombers of 4 Group of British RAF Bomber Command attacked various targets in Germany 8 bombers of No. 10 Squadron and 8 bombers of No. 58 Squadron attacked the aircraft factory at Bremen (3 of No. 58 Squadron attacked alternate targets), and 7 bombers of No. 51 Squadron attacked industrial targets in the Ruhr region.
1 Aug 1940 RAF bombers attacked the Krupp factory in Essen, Germany.
23 Aug 1940 The British RAF flew a retaliation strike against Berlin, Germany.
25 Aug 1940 81 British Hampden bombers of No. 49 and No. 50 Squadrons attacked Berlin, Germany in the first retaliation attack for the raid on London, England. Clouds led to bombs falling largely in suburban lawns and gardens, killing only 6. Nevertheles, Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring was shocked and embarrassed that the British bombers were able to get through in such great numbers.
26 Aug 1940 The British RAF bombed Leipzig, Leuna, Hanover, Nordhausen in Germany.
28 Aug 1940 Overnight, British bombers attacked Berlin, Germany, damaging Görlitzer railway station, killing 8 and wounding 21.
30 Aug 1940 RAF Bomber Command aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany.
31 Aug 1940 RAF bombers attacked targets in Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, and Emden, Germany.
23 Sep 1940 The British RAF Bomber Command sent 129 bombers for a night raid against Berlin, Germany, causing minimal damage.
25 Oct 1940 British bombers attacked Hamburg and Berlin in Germany, causing heavy casualties.
29 Oct 1940 The British RAF conducted the 25th raid on Berlin, Germany.
8 Nov 1940 RAF bombed Munich, Germany, narrowly missing Hitler.
15 Nov 1940 A heavy British air raid on Hamburg, Germany caused extensive damage.
16 Nov 1940 RAF bombers attacked Hamburg, Germany again for the second day in a row.
17 Nov 1940 Overnight, RAF bombers raided Hamburg, Germany for the second consecutive night.
18 Nov 1940 Overnight, RAF bombers raided Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr region of Germany, bombing the Scholven/Buer hydrogenation plant, which made aviation fuel, and Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG plant, which converted bituminous coal to synthetic oil.
16 Dec 1940 134 RAF bombers attacked Mannheim, Germany in retaliation for German raids on British cities 34 civilians were killed, 81 were injured, and 1,266 homes destroyed by 100 tons of high explosive bombs and 14,000 incendiary bombs. This was the first Allied area bombing raid of the war against a populated target, as opposed to targets of military or industrial value.
21 Dec 1940 Berlin, Germany suffered minor damage from a British RAF bombing raid.
31 Dec 1940 RAF bombers attacked the bridge over the Rhine River at Emmerich, Germany and Köln, Germany.
3 Jan 1941 RAF bombers attacked Bremen and the Kiel Canal in Germany. The Kiel Canal Bridge suffered a direct hit and collapsed on Finnish ship Yrsa.
15 Jan 1941 Overnight, Wellington bombers of No. 57 Squadron RAF attacked Emden, Germany while 76 RAF bombers attacked Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
4 Feb 1941 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
10 Feb 1941 222 British aircraft attacked Hannover, Germany.
11 Feb 1941 British RAF bombed Hannover, Germany.
24 Mar 1941 The RAF conducted its first bombing raid on Berlin, Germany for the year.
10 Apr 1941 Overnight, RAF aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany, destroying the historical Opera House. It would be restored by 1943, but would again be bombed in Feb 1945.
28 Apr 1941 British Stirling bombers of No. 7 Squadron RAF attacked Emden, Germany during the day.
8 May 1941 359 British RAF bombers attacked Hamburg and Bremen in Germany.
10 May 1941 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Hamburg, Germany.
11 May 1941 RAF bombers attacked Hamburg and Bremen in Germany.
15 May 1941 RAF aircraft conducted raids on Berlin, Cuxhaven, and Hannover in Germany.
16 May 1941 RAF aircraft conducted raids on Köln (Cologne) and Bramsfield in Germany at the latter target the Atlantik rubber works was damaged.
17 May 1941 British bombers attacked Bramsfeld, 12 kilometers northwest of Köln, Germany the Atlantik rubber plant was hit with 2 high explosive and 44 incendiary bombs.
11 Jun 1941 After dark, British bombers conducted the first of 20 consecutive nightly raids on the Ruhr and Rhineland industrial areas in Germany. Several German port cities such as Hamburg and Bremen were also hit.
24 Jun 1941 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
27 Jun 1941 British bombers attacked Bremen, Germany.
3 Jul 1941 British bombers attacked Essen, Germany.
5 Jul 1941 63 British Wellington bombers attacked Münster, Germany at between about 0050 hours and 0250 hours local time with 396 500-pound bombs, 50 250-pound bombs, and almost 6,000 4-pound incendiary bombs. The railway station was the intended main target. German authorities at Münster estimated 240 high explosive bombs and 3,000 incendiary bombs were dropped. 21 were killed and several fires were started. It was the first time Münster was subjected to large scale bombing.
7 Jul 1941 British bombers attacked Münster, Germany.
8 Jul 1941 Before dawn, British bombers attacked Münster, Germany. During the day, German anti-aircraft guns began arriving at the city in response to the recent successive night bombings.
9 Jul 1941 The British Air Ministry instructed Bomber Command to concentrate its efforts against the German transportation system and breaking the morale of the civilian population. At about 0130 hours, British bombers attacked Münster, Germany the reading room of the state archive, warehouse of the state theater, the post office at the Domplatz, and the eastern wall of the cathedral were destroyed.
25 Jul 1941 British bombers took off at 2230 hours on the previous day, reaching Kiel, Germany at about 0145 hours on this date bombs were dropped on the Deutsche Werke shipyard facilities surviving attacks landed at their bases in Britain at about 0600 hours. On the same day, Bombers of British No. 102 Squadron RAF attacked Hanover, Germany after sundown.
7 Aug 1941 After dark, 84 British aircraft were launched to attack Essen, Germany (108 tons of high explosive bombs and 5,720 incendiary bombs were dropped, damaging the Krupp coke oven batteries), 31 launched against Hamm (damaging rail marshalling yard), 32 launched against Dortmund, 88 launched against Kiel (104 tons of high explosive bombs and 4,836 incendiary bombs were dropped, damaging Deutsche Werke Shipyards), and a number of bombers were launched against Hamburg (poor visibility and results were not observed).
8 Aug 1941 During the night, the first Soviet air attack was made on Berlin, Germany by naval Ilyushin Il-4 twin-engine bombers.
12 Aug 1941 Before dawn, British bombers attacked railway yards at Hanover, Germany. After sundown, 78 British bombers, escorted by 485 fighters, conducted the heaviest daylight attack against Germany to date, targeting the powerplants near Köln (Fortuna Power Station in Knapsack and Goldenburg Power Station in Quadrath) and other targets in a wide area. The Germans were only able to scramble few fighters, but anti-aircraft fire was heavy. The Germans suffered four fighters shot down (plus five likely shot down) and heavy damage to both powerplants the British suffered 12 British Blenheim bombers shot down and 10 British fighters shot down.
14 Aug 1941 Overnight, British bombers attacked railway yards at Hanover, Germany.
17 Aug 1941 Overnight, British bombers attacked the rail station at Duisburg, Germany. Air crews reported poor visibility due to bad weather.
18 Aug 1941 British War Cabinet member Mr. Butt wrote a report to the RAF Bomber Command, noting "[o]f those aircraft recorded as attacking their target, only one in three got within five miles" of the intended targets. The conclusion was reached after studying post-bombing reconnaissance photos taken between 2 Jun and 25 Jul 1941.
5 Sep 1941 British bombers attacked chemical works at Hüls, Germany.
15 Sep 1941 British bombers attacked the rail station at Hamburg, Germany.
29 Sep 1941 After sundown, 10 bombers of British No. 102 Squadron were launched from RAF Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom for an attack on Stettin, Germany the anti-aircraft fire was reported to be heavy. Another group of bombers took off to attack Hamburg, Germany.
30 Sep 1941 British bombers attacked Stettin and Hamburg in Germany after sundown for the second consecutive night.
12 Oct 1941 After dark, 118 British bombers took off to attack Hüls and Bremen, Germany.
7 Nov 1941 After dark, 160 British RAF bombers attacked Berlin, Germany. 20 bombers were shot down. The Germans reported minimal damage.
13 Nov 1941 The British Air Ministry instructed Sir Richard Pierse, the Commander-in-Chief Bomber Command, to curtail drastically the scale of sorties against Germany, especially in bad weather. The War Cabinet stated the instruction "having stressed the necessity to conserve our resources in order to built a strong force to be available by the spring of next year".
10 Jan 1942 Wilhelmshaven, Germany was bombed for the first time by main force aircraft of British RAF Bomber Command the raid would last through the early hours of the next date. Wilhelmshaven would ultimately be bombed on nine occasions, destroying 13% of the city.
14 Jan 1942 Hamburg, Germany was bombed for the first time by mainforce aircraft of RAF Bomber Command this raid conducted by aircraft of No. 207 Squadron would last until the early hours of the next date. Altona railway station and other targets were hit. Hamburg would ultimately be bombed on seventeen occasions, destroying 75% of the city.
28 Jan 1942 Münster, Germany was bombed for the first time during the night of 28-29 Jan 1942 by mainforce aircraft of RAF Bomber Command. It would ultimately be bombed on six occasions, destroying 65% of the city.
14 Feb 1942 British Deputy Chief of Air Staff informed the RAF Bomber Command that "the primary object of your operations should be focused on the morale of the enemy civilian population."
25 Feb 1942 A two-day debate in British House of Commons ended with many being critical of the policy of bombing German cities.
8 Mar 1942 The British Royal Air Force dispatched 211 bombers to attack Essen, Germany, some equipped with the new GEE navigational system. The results were less than hoped for as only a few homes and a church were destroyed, killing 29 civilians, while the industrial centers, the primary targets, were untouched.
9 Mar 1942 A second British air raid to Essen, Germany, again using the new GEE navigational system, had similar dismal results as the first raid on the previous day, as the haze made the target difficult to spot.
10 Mar 1942 Overnight, 62 RAF bombers attacked Essen, Germany, damaging railways leading to Krupp factories, killing 6 civilians and wounding 12.
13 Mar 1942 Overnight, 135 RAF bombers attacked Köln, Germany, killing 62 and wounding 84.
24 Mar 1942 The British House of Commons began a two-day debate on the conduct of the war in Germany bombing of German cities was to be a focal point.
25 Mar 1942 254 RAF Bomber Command aircraft (192 Wellington, 26 Stirling, 20 Manchester, 9 Hampden, and 7 Lancaster aircraft) attacked Krupp iron works and factories at Essen, Germany 5 civilians were killed, 11 were wounded. The British lost 5 Manchester, 3 Wellington, and 1 Hampden aircraft.
26 Mar 1942 British bombers (104 Wellington and 11 Stirling) attacked Essen, Germany, destroying two homes and killing six civilians 11 bombers were lost in this attack.
29 Mar 1942 Between 2318 hours on the previous date until about 0300 hours on this date, 234 RAF bombers attacked Lübeck, Germany, killing 320, injuring 784, and destroying 30% of the city. The Lübeck Cathedral, among other buildings, were destroyed in the city's historical center.The new "Gee" navigation systems were used by the British bombers on this attack. 12 bombers were shot down by German anti-aircraft defenses.
5 Apr 1942 263 British bombers (179 Wellington, 44 Hampden, 29 Stirling, and 11 Manchester aircraft) attacked the Humboldt Engineering Works Company at Kalk near Köln, Germany most of the bombs fell far from the Humboldt factories. The British lost 5 aircraft one of the aircraft shot down crashed in Köln, killing 16 and wounding 30.
6 Apr 1942 157 British bombers (110 Wellington, 19 Stirling, 18 Hampden, and 10 Manchester aircraft) attacked Essen, Germany most of them were turned back by a storm. 5 aircraft were lost in this mission.
8 Apr 1942 272 RAF bombers (177 Wellington, 41 Hampden, 22 Stirling, 13 Manchester, 12 Halifax, and 7 Lancaster aircraft) conducted a raid on Hamburg, Germany 4 Wellington and 1 Manchester aircraft were lost in this attack.
10 Apr 1942 254 British bombers (167 Wellington, 43 Hampden, 18 Stirling, 10 Manchester, 8 Halifax, and 8 Lancaster) attacked Essen, Germany most bombs fell on the nearby residential areas instead, destroying 12 houses, killing 7 civilians, and wounding a further 30. During this attack, an 8,000-pound bomb was used for the first time, dropped by a Halifax bomber of No. 76 Squadron. 7 Wellington, 5 Hampden, 1 Halifax, and 1 Manchester aircraft were lost.
12 Apr 1942 251 British bombers (171 Wellington, 31 Hampden, 27 Stirling, 13 Halifax, and 9 Manchester) attacked Essen, Germany, damaging the Krupp factory and destroying 28 homes 36 civilians were killed, 36 were injured. The British lost 10 bombers on this attack.
14 Apr 1942 208 British bombers (142 Wellington, 34 Hampden, 20 Stirling, 8 Halifax, and 4 Manchester) attacked Dortmund, Germany, damaging 6 buildings and killing 4 civilians. 9 bombers were lost in this attack.
15 Apr 1942 152 British bombers (111 Wellington, 19 Hampden, 15 Stirling, and 7 Manchester) attacked Dortmund, Germany for a second night in a row, destroying 1 home and killing 1 civilian. 4 bombers were lost on this attack.
17 Apr 1942 12 Lancaster bombers from No. 44 Squadron RAF and No. 76 Squadron RAF attempted a low level daylight attack on the MAN diesel engine factory in Augsburg, Germany. 7 of the 12 aircraft were shot down by German fighters, while the remaining 5 accurately dropped the bombs on the target, though the damage caused was smaller than desired. This costly raid reinforced British Air Marshal Arthur Harris' feelings that daylight missions should be avoided. Elsewhere, 173 British bombers (134 Wellington, 23 Stirling, 11 Halifax, and 5 Manchester) attacked Hamburg, Germany 23 civilians were killed, 66 were wounded 8 bombers were lost during this attack.
22 Apr 1942 64 British Wellington bombers and 5 Stirling bombers attacked Köln (Cologne), Germany using the new Gee radio transmitter system for blind navigation and bombing. About 15 aircraft were able to bomb accurately, killing 4 civilians and wounding 8, while a few bombers released their bombs as far as 10 miles from Köln. Two Wellington bombers were lost during this raid.
23 Apr 1942 161 RAF aircraft (93 Wellington, 31 Stirling, 19 Whitley, 11 Hampden, 6 Manchester, and 1 Lancaster bombers) conducted a raid on Rostock, Germany 143 of them attacked the town while 18 attacked the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory, both with extremely poor results. Four bombers were lost during this attack.
24 Apr 1942 91 British bombers attacked Rostock, Germany for the second night in a row, causing damage in the town, but the aircraft attacking the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory again failed to do much damage. One Hampden bomber was lost during this attack.
25 Apr 1942 110 British bombers attacked Rostock, Germany for the third night in a row, causing damage in the town and the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory.
26 Apr 1942 106 British bombers attacked Rostock, Germany for the fourth and final night in a row, causing damage in the town and the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory. 1 Stirling, 1 Wellington, and 1 Whitley bombers were lost during this attack. At the end of the four-day attack, Rostock suffered 1,765 buildings destroyed, 204 civilians killed, and 89 civilians injured.
27 Apr 1942 RAF conducted a 100-bomber raid on Rostock, Germany it was the fourth consecutive nightly raid on Rostock. Over Köln (Cologne), 97 British bombers (76 Wellington, 19 Stirling, 2 Halifax) dropped bombs and damaged 1,520 homes and killed 11 7 bombers were lost.
28 Apr 1942 88 British bombers (62 Wellington, 15 Stirling, 10 Hampden, 1 Halifax) attacked Kiel, Germany, destroying all three main shipyard facilities and killing 15 6 bombers were destroyed in his mission.
3 May 1942 81 British bombers (43 Wellington, 20 Halifax, 13 Stirling, 5 Hampden) attacked Hamburg, Germany. The attack killed 77 civilians and wounded 243 at the cost of 5 bombers destroyed.
4 May 1942 121 British bombers (69 Wellington, 19 Hampden, 14 Lancaster, 12 Stirling, 7 Halifax) attacked Stuttgart, Germany, targeting the Bosch factory. All bombs missed the factory buildings but killed 13 civilians and wounded 37. One Stirling bomber was lost during the attack.
5 May 1942 British bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany for the second consecutive night.
6 May 1942 British bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany for the third consecutive night.
8 May 1942 193 British bombers (98 Wellington, 27 Stirling, 21 Lancaster, 19 Halifax, 19 Hampden, 9 Manchester) attacked Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany the primary target was the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory 19 British bombers were destroyed during this attack.
18 May 1942 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Mannheim, Germany.
19 May 1942 198 British bombers (105 Wellington, 31 Stirling, 29 Halifax, 15 Hampden, 13 Lancaster, and 4 Manchester aircraft) attacked Mannheim, Germany most bombs would miss the target. 11 bombers were lost on this attack.
30 May 1942 By adding 367 training aircraft, British Air Marshal Harris managed to mount the first thousand-plane raid against Germany (the actual count was 1,046), Operation Millennium. Originally targeted for Hamburg, it was switched to Köln due to weather. Over 1,400 tons of explosives were dropped on that city during the night of 30-31 May 1942, killing 500, injuring 5,000, and making nearly 60,000 homeless. 40 British bombers failed to return. The German government estimated that Köln received 900 tons of high explosive and 110,000 incendiary bombs, and about 400 were killed.
1 Jun 1942 956 British bombers (545 Wellington, 127 Halifax, 77 Stirling, 74 Lancaster, 71 Hampden, 33 Manchester, 29 Whitley) attacked Essen, Germany, causing little damage 31 bombers were lost on this attack. This attack was billed as a 1,000-bomber raid.
2 Jun 1942 195 British bombers (97 Wellington, 38 Halifax, 27 Lancaster, 21 Stirling, 12 Hampden) attacked Essen, Germany, causig little damage 14 bombers were lost on this attack.
3 Jun 1942 170 British bombers attacked Bremen, Germany, killing 83 at the cost of 11 bombers lost.
6 Jun 1942 233 British bombers (124 Wellington, 40 Stirling, 27 Halifax, 20 Lancaster, 15 Hampden, 7 Manchester) attacked Emden, Germany, destroying 300 houses, killing 17 civilians, and wounding 49 9 bombers were lost on this mission.
8 Jun 1942 170 British bombers (92 Wellington, 42 Halifax, 14 Stirling, 13 Lancaster, 9 Hampden) attacked Essen, Germany, killing 13 and wounding 42 19 bombers were lost on this mission.
16 Jun 1942 106 British bombers (40 Wellington, 39 Halifax, 15 Lancaster, and 12 Stirling) were launched to bomb Germany 16 attacked Essen, 45 attacked Bonn, and others attacked other targets 8 British bombers were lost on this night.
19 Jun 1942 194 British bombers (112 Wellington, 37 Halifax, 25 Stirling, 11 Hampden, and 9 Lancaster) attacked Emden and Osnabrück in Germany 9 bombers were lost.
20 Jun 1942 185 British bombers attacked Emden, Germany, causing little damage 7 bombers were lost.
22 Jun 1942 227 British RAF aircraft (144 Wellington, 38 Stirling, 26 Halifax, 11 Lancaster, and 8 Hampden) attacked Emden, Germany, destroying 50 houses, damaging harbor facilities, and killing 6 civilians (further 40 were injured) 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
25 Jun 1942 Sir Arthur Harris of the RAF Bomber Command launched the third Thousand Bomber Raid, this time sending 1,067 aircraft (including some aircraft from Coastal Command and Army Cooperation Command) to attack Bremen, Germany only 696 reported successfully reaching the city. The RAF Bomber Command lost 48 aircraft, half of which had inexperienced crews recruited from training squadrons flying worn out aircraft the RAF Coastal Command lost 5 aircraft. 572 houses were destroyed, 6,108 were damaged. 85 were killed, while 497 were wounded and 2,378 were made homeless. An assembly shop at the Focke-Wulf factory was destroyed, while the Bremer Vulkan shipyard and nearby docks and warehouses were also damaged.
27 Jun 1942 144 British bombers (55 Wellington, 39 Halifax, 26 Stirling, 24 Lancaster) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging the Atlas Werke and the Korff refinery, killing 7, and wounding 80 9 bombers were lost on this mission.
29 Jun 1942 253 British bombers (108 Wellington, 64 Lancaster, 47 Stirling, and 34 Halifax) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory and the A. G. Weser submarine shipyard 11 bombers were lost on this mission.
2 Jul 1942 325 British bombers (175 Wellington, 53 Lancaster, 35 Halifax, 34 Stirling, and 28 Hampden) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging 1,000 houses and 4 small industrial facilities, damaging 3 cranes in the port area, damaging 7 ships, and sinking transport ship Marieborg. The Germans suffered 5 deaths and 4 wounded while the British lost 13 bombers.
4 Jul 1942 British RAF's third 1,000-plane raid targeted Bremen, Germany, causing considerable damage to the city and the Focke-Wulf plant.
8 Jul 1942 285 British bombers (137 Wellington, 52 Lancaster, 38 Halifax, 34 Stirling, 24 Hampden) attacked the docks at Wilhelmshaven, Germany, causing little or no damage to the docks, killing 25 civilians, and wounding 170 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
11 Jul 1942 24 British Lancaster bombers (of 44 launched for this mission) bombed the German submarine yards at Danzig, Germany, losing two aircraft in the attack this was the longest mission by British bombers to date.
13 Jul 1942 194 British bombers (139 Wellington, 33 Halifax, 13 Lancaster, and 9 Stirling aircraft) attacked Duisburg, Germany, destroying 11 houses and killing 17 without causing damage to the intended industrial targets 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
16 Jul 1942 8 (of 21 launched) British Stirling bombers attacked Lübeck, Germany at dusk 2 were lost on this mission. Elsewhere, small groups of bombers attacked various targets in the Ruhr region in Germany.
19 Jul 1942 99 British bombers (40 Halifax, 31 Stirling, and 28 Lancaster) were launched to attack the Vulkan submarine yard at Vegesack district of Bremen, Germany most bombs missed the shipyard 3 bombers were lost on this mission.
26 Jul 1942 403 British bombers (181 Wellington, 77 Lancaster, 73 Halifax, 39 Stirling, and 33 Hampden) attacked Hamburg, Germany, destroying 823 houses, damaging 5,000 houses, killing 337, wounding 1,027, and making 14,000 homeless 14 bombers were lost on this mission.
28 Jul 1942 256 British bombers (161 Wellington, 71 Stirling, and 24 Whitley) were launched to attack Hamburg, Germany, but bad weather forced most of them to turn back before reaching the city the 68 aircraft that reached Hamburg killed 13 and wounded 48 at the cost of about 30 bombers shot down.
29 Jul 1942 291 British bombers attacked Saarbrücken, Germany, destroying 396 buildings, damaging 324 buildings, and killing 155 civilians 9 bombers were lost on this attack.
31 Jul 1942 630 British bombers (308 Wellington, 113 Lancaster, 70 Halifax, 61 Stirling, 54 Hampden, and 24 Whitley) attacked Düsseldorf, Germany with 900 tons of bombs, destroying 453 buildings, damaging 15,000 buildings, killing 276 civilians, and wounding 1,018 civilians 29 bombers were lost on this attack.
6 Aug 1942 216 British bombers attacked Duisburg, Germany, destroying 18 buildings and killing 24 civilians 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
9 Aug 1942 192 British bombers (91 Wellington, 42 Lancaster, 40 Stirling, and 19 Halifax) attacked Osnabrück, Germany, destroying 206 houses, killing 62, and wounding 107 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
11 Aug 1942 154 British bombers (68 Wellington, 33 Lancaster, 28 Stirling, and 25 Halifax) attacked Mainz, Germany, killing 162 and destroying many buildings in the city center 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
12 Aug 1942 138 British bombers attacked Mainz, Germany, hitting the rail station, industrial areas (at least 40 were killed), and the nearby villages of Kempten (130 houses were damaged) and Gaulsheim (97 houses were damaged) 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
15 Aug 1942 131 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf, Germany in poor weather one stray 4,000-pound bomb hit the town of Neuss, killing 1 civiliand and wounding 13 4 bombers were lost on this mission.
17 Aug 1942 139 British bombers attacked Osnabrück, Germany, destroying 77 houses and 4 military buildings, killing 7 people, and wounding 15 people 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
18 Aug 1942 31 bombers of the British Path Finder Force conducted their first combat operation since the unit's formation on 15 Aug, dropping flares over Flensburg in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany for the 87 bombers following behind them most of the bombers targeting Flensburg missed and hit the towns of Sønderborg and Abenra to the north, destroying 26 houses, damaging 660 houses, and wounding 4 Danish civilians 4 bombers were lost on this mission.
24 Aug 1942 226 British bombers (104 Wellington, 61 Lancaster, 53 Stirling, and 8 Halifax) attacked Frankfurt, Germany most bombs missed their targets and fell on the villages of Schwalbach and Eschborn 16 bombers were lost on this mission.
27 Aug 1942 306 British bombers attacked Kassel, Germany, destroying 144 buildings, damaging 3 Henschel aircraft factories, killing 28 military personnel and 15 civilians, and wounding 64 military personnel and 187 civilians 31 bombers were lost on this mission. On the same day, Soviet bombers attacked Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia).
28 Aug 1942 159 British RAF bombers attacked Nürnberg, Germany another group of 113 bombers attacked Saarbrücken, Germany.
29 Aug 1942 In Germany, 100 Soviet Pe-8, Il-4, and Yer-2 bombers attacked Berlin while 7 Pe-8 bombers attacked Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia).
1 Sep 1942 231 British bombers launched to attack Saarbrücken, Germany but instead hit Saarlouis 13 miles to the northwest by mistake, killing 52 civilians 4 bombers were lost on this mission.
2 Sep 1942 200 British bombers attacked Karlsruhe, Germany, destroying many buildings and killing 73 civilians 8 bombers were lost on this mission.
4 Sep 1942 251 British bombers (98 Wellington, 76 Lancaster, 41 Halifax, and 36 Stirling) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging or destroying 71 industrial buildings and 1,821 houses 12 bombers were lost on this mission.
8 Sep 1942 249 British bombers attacked Frankfurt, Germany most bombs missed and fell in Rüsselsheim 15 miles southwest of the city 7 bombers were lost on this mission.
11 Sep 1942 479 British bombers (242 Wellington, 89 Lancaster, 59 Halifax, 47 Stirling, 28 Hampden, and 14 Whitley) attacked Düsseldorf and Neuss in Germany, damaging or destroying 52 industrial targets and 2,417 houses 148 civilians were killed 33 bombers were lost on this mission.
13 Sep 1942 446 British bombers attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging Lloyd dynamo works, Focke-Wulf factory, 7 historical buildings, 6 schools, and 2 hospitals 70 civilians were killed 21 bombers were lost on this mission.
14 Sep 1942 202 British bombers attacked Wilhelmshaven, Germany 77 civilians were killed.
16 Sep 1942 369 British bombers attacked the Ruhr industrial region of Germany, damaging buildings in Essen (damaging a Krupp factory in Essen 47 civilians killed), Bochum, Wuppertal, Heme, and Cochem 39 bombers were lost during this night.
19 Sep 1942 118 British bombers (72 Wellington, 41 Halifax, 5 Stirling) attacked Saarbrücken, Germany, generally missing military targets and instead destroying 13 houses and killing 1 civilian 5 bombers were lost on this mission. 68 Lancaster bombers and 21 Stirling bombers attacked München, Germany 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
21 Sep 1942 RAF bombers conducted a raid on München, Germany.
23 Sep 1942 In northern Germany, 83 British Lancaster bombers attacked Wismar (4 were lost), 28 Halifax bombers attacked Flensburg (5 were lost), and 24 Stirling bombers attacked Vegesack (1 was lost).
16 Jan 1943 British bombers attacked Berlin, Germany.
17 Jan 1943 Journalist Richard Dimbleby flew in a British No. 106 Squadron Lancaster bomber over Berlin, Germany during a raid to record a live report, which was broadcast by the BBC on the following day.
21 Jan 1943 Allied leadership issued the directive to RAF and USAAF commanders "[y]our primary objective will be the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally wounded."
27 Jan 1943 The USAAF struck Germany proper for the first time as B-17 and B-24 bombers attacked Emden and Wilhelmshaven.
30 Jan 1943 The British RAF's first daylight raid on Berlin, Germany was completed by No. 105 and No. 139 Squadrons' Mosquito aircraft.
26 Feb 1943 USAAF heavy bombers made a daylight attack on Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
28 Feb 1943 712 RAF aircraft (457 Lancaster, 252 Halifax, and 3 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany 20 aircraft were lost.
5 Mar 1943 British bombers attacked Krupp works at Essen, Germany this was the Allies' first attack on this industrial region, which started what the Allies called the Battle of the Ruhr. This attack also saw the first successful use of Oboe, an aerial blind bombing targeting system.
11 Mar 1943 British Secretary of State for Air Sir Archibald Sinclair spoke at the House of Commons, noting that "[t]he past 12 months have been marked by striking changes in the conduct and effectiveness of. the pulverising offensive of Bomber Command. The monster raids saturating the enemy's active and passive systems of defence is one example. A second example is the success achieved in finding, marking and illuminating targets which has contributed enormously to the recent triumphs of Bomber Command. Praise the men who are striking these hammer blows at German might. fearless young men flying through storm and cold and darkness higher than Mont Blanc, through the flak, hunted by the night fighters, but coolly and skillfully identifying and bombing these targets." Some Members of Parliament, such as Mr. Montague, representing West Islington, voiced concerns for the "wanton destruction" delivered by the Bomber Command.
12 Mar 1943 RAF bombers attacked Krupp steel plants in Essen, Germany, causing heavy damage.
14 Mar 1943 Aircraft of the US 8th Air Force bombed Kiel, Germany.
18 Mar 1943 USAAF aircraft bombed the Vegesack district of Bremen, Germany. Most of the bombs missed the Bremer Vulkan shipyard, striking civilian facilities instead. 108 were killed and over 100 were wounded.
23 Mar 1943 In its heaviest bombing raid to date, the British RAF Bomber Command attacked Dortmund, Germany with 2,000 tons of explosives.
24 Mar 1943 The British RAF Bomber Command had by this date dropped 100,000 tons of explosives on Germany.
31 Mar 1943 Replying to a question from Member of Parliament Richard Stokes, the Air Minister, Sir Archibald Sinclair, told the British House of Commons that Bomber Command's targets were always of a military nature, but that bombing of military targets would necessarily involve bombing areas in which they were situated.
1 Apr 1943 12 British Mosquito aircraft destroyed a power station and a railways yard at Trier, Germany without any losses local reports recorded 21 deaths. On the same date, RAF Squadron Leader C. O'Donoghue of 103 Squadron commanded a lone Lancaster bomber on a bombing attack on Emmerich, Germany the aircraft was shot down, killing the entire crew.
4 Apr 1943 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Kiel, Germany during the night.
12 Apr 1943 Joseph Stalin informed Winston Churchill his delight to see German industry in shambles.
26 Apr 1943 RAF bombers conducted a raid against Duisburg, Germany.
2 May 1943 The RAF Bomber Command reported to the British Air Ministry that it currently had 725 ready crews for operations the number included 129 crews of Wellington bombers and 250 crews for Lancaster bombers.
4 May 1943 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Dortmund, Germany late in the night and into the next day, killing almost 700. Log book of pilot J. H. Searby noted there were "considerable flak" and that he "took ciné (35mm) film hoping to get pictures to convince the 'public' that we do bomb Germany."
13 May 1943 26 B-24s of USAAF 44th Bomb Group launched from Benina Airfield in Libya at 0400 hours. 20 of them reached their target, the Wiener Neustadter Air Frame Works in occupied Austria. They encountered 40% cloud coverage. They dropped 159 500-pound bombs between 8,000 to 15,000 feet in altitude. The rear flight observed flame and smoke in the target area, with large buildings on fire accompanied by large explosions. The Germans had 16 anti-aircraft guns at the target area, and the firing was reported to be inaccurate. 5 to 10 Fw 190 fighters and 10 to 15 Me 109 fighters attempted to intercept during the bombers' flight back to Libya, to little effect. The bombers experienced anti-aircraft fire at Bokaloloraska in Yugoslavia and at the west end of Lake Balaton in Hungary. 1 B-24 bomber became missing, and the Germans lost 1 Me 109 and 1 Fw 190 aircraft from this action. 21 of the surviving US bombers landed at Tunis in Tunisia, and 5 landed in Sicily, Italy, all without damage. B-24 "Wing and a Prayer" piloted by 1st Lieutenant Robert J. Lehnhausen of US 68th Squadron ran out of fuel and successfully landed his B-24 on a small landing strip with many craters in Sicily, causing only minor damage to his aircraft.
16 May 1943 Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary that Kiel, Germany was heavily damaged in an Allied bombing.
24 May 1943 British bombers attacked East Frisian Islands (Ostfriesische Inseln) in northwestern Germany.
25 May 1943 Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary that the industrial and residential districts in Dortmund, Germany were heavily damaged by Allied bombing.
26 May 1943 759 British heavy bombers attacked Düsseldorf, Germany starting at about 0200 hours.
27 May 1943 Fourteen Mosquito bombers from RAF Marham led by Wing Commander R. Reynolds DSO, DFC conducted a daylight raid on the Zeiss optical instrument plant at Jena, some 45 miles from Leipzig, Germany. Despite losing three aircraft over the target and two others written off whilst attempting to land on their return, the operation had caused serious damage to the works.
29 May 1943 RAF bombers attacked Wuppertal, Germany with 1,900 tons of explosives. The Ruhr region city housed an I. G. Farben chemical plant and a G. & J. Jaeger ball-bearing factory.
10 Jun 1943 USAAF and RAF began a coordinated air offensive with the RAF over Europe, conducting area bombing at night and the USAAF flying precision bombing raids by day. The British Assistant Chief of the Air Staff noted that the primary objective of bombing campaign was "the destruction of German air-frame, engine and component factories and the ball-bearing industry on which the strength of the German fighter force depend" and the secondary objective was "the general disorganization of those industrial areas associated with the above industries".
11 Jun 1943 In Germany, 200 B-17 bombers of US 8th Air Force bomb Wilhelmshaven, while RAF aircraft bombed Münster and Düsseldorf.
11 Jun 1943 Roberts Dunstan flew his first mission as a rear gunner aboard a Lancaster bomber out of RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom, attacking Düsseldorf, Germany.
12 Jun 1943 RAF aircraft bombed Bochum, Germany.
20 Jun 1943 The RAF initiated shuttle bombing, where planes departed home fields to bomb Germany, re-armed in Africa, then bomb Italian targets en route back to Britain. The first of these raids targeted Friedrichshafen, Germany.
21 Jun 1943 RAF bombers attacked Krefeld in the Ruhr region of Germany.
24 Jun 1943 RAF bombers attacked Elberfeld in the Ruhr region of Germany.
28 Jun 1943 Köln, Germany was bombed by British aircraft, heavily damaging the cathedral. About 4,000 were killed and 1,500 were wounded.
3 Jul 1943 Köln, Germany suffered a heavy air raid.
22 Jul 1943 British Joint Intelligence Committee reported that the Allied Combined Bomber Offensive had successfully prevented the Germans from deploying more than half of its fighter strength to other fronts of the European War.
24 Jul 1943 The first operational use of "Window" radar jamming took place during Operation Gomorrah when 746 RAF planes drop 2,300 tons of explosive on Hamburg, Germany, losing 12 aircraft. Hamburg burned in a major firestorm that killed a significant number of civilians.
25 Jul 1943 109 USAAF bombers attacked Hamburg, Germany in the afternoon as a follow up to the night raid by British bombers on the previous day 15 bombers were lost. Elsewhere, Essen was also targeted with 2,000 tons of bombs.
27 Jul 1943 After nightfall, a repeated bombing of Hamburg, Germany by 787 RAF aircraft created a fire storm in which an estimated 42,000 people perished, most of them by carbon monoxide poisoning when all the air was drawn out of their basement shelters. The fire storm, in which the heat and humidity of the summer night was a contributory factor, raged for three hours until there was nothing left to burn.
29 Jul 1943 Joseph Goebbels' diary entry of this date noted that Hamburg, Germany had been devastated and about 800,000 were made homeless.
30 Jul 1943 Hamburg, Germany was bombed again before dawn by 777 RAF bombers.
2 Aug 1943 Overnight, Hamburg, Germany suffered its ninth and final raid in eight days as 740 RAF bombers attacked 30 of the bombers were shot down. By this time Hamburg had lost as many civilians as Britain had in the entire air war.
13 Aug 1943 US 9th Air Force bombed the Messerschmitt factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Planners of the attack thought they were conducting a strike on a factory producing fighter aircraft, but in actuality it was manufacturing parts for V-2 rockets.
17 Aug 1943 The US 8th Army Air Force lost 59 heavy bombers during daylight raids upon Regenburg and Schweinfurt, Germany, which was about 25% of the attacking force.
17 Aug 1943 British bombers launched to attack German rocket research site at Peenemünde at 2100 hours London time. At 2230 hours London time or 2330 hours Berlin time, air raid sirens went off at Peenemünde, but many ignored it, thinking it was to be yet another false warning as Allied bombers flew over the region to bomb German cities further inland. At 2317 hours London time or 0017 hours Berlin time on the next day, the first of the British bombers struck Peenemünde.
18 Aug 1943 Between 0017 and 0043 hours Berlin time (2317 and 2343 hours London time, on 17 Aug 1943), three waves of British Lancaster, Halifax, and Stirling bombers (227, 113, and 180 aircraft, respectively) struck the German rocket research site at Peenemünde, dropping a total of 1,600 tons of high explosive bombs and 250 tons of incendiary bombs. Initially the damage appeared to be extensive, especially considering that 180 German scientists and engineers were killed, but the site returned to operation within four to six weeks. Strategically, however, this attack did retarded the eventual rocket attack on Britain by some months. Many buildings would remain unrepaired and craters unfilled in order to trick the British into thinking that the site was abandoned after the raid. The British Royal Air Force lost 40 bombers during this successful mission. Over 500 Polish forced laborers were also killed during this attack.
23 Aug 1943 727 RAF bombers dropped 1,700 tons of explosives on Berlin, Germany.
31 Aug 1943 British RAF aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany.
15 Sep 1943 To combat the growing strength of Allied bombing attacks the Luftwaffe reorganised its air defences into two territorial fighter commands one in then Reich and the other in western occupied territories.
22 Sep 1943 To outwit the German Luftwaffe's fighter reaction, British RAF Bomber Command launched its first "spoof raid" the main force attacked Hannover, while a feint heads for Osnabrück.
23 Sep 1943 Air Marshal Arthur Harris despatched a bomber raid to Berlin, Germany to test the effectiveness of the H2S navigation system over the city and to probe German defences before the first major operation was undertaken.
2 Oct 1943 RAF aircraft bombed München, Germany.
7 Oct 1943 RAF aircraft bombed Stuttgart, Germany.
8 Oct 1943 17 US bombers attacked Vegesack, Bremen, Germany. Two B-24 bombers were lost, with pilot William Clifford's crew lost entirely and pilot John Buschman's crew mostly captured.
9 Oct 1943 US bombers attacked Mariensburg, Germany.
14 Oct 1943 US 8th Air Force launched 291 B-17 bombers and 60 B-24 bombers to attack the Schweinfurt ball bearing plants in Germany the 60 B-24 bombers were diverted to another target. 77 American bombers and 1 escorting fighter were lost, while 38 Luftwaffe fighters were shot down the defense. 122 American bombers returned to base in bad condition but they were able to be repaired.
22 Oct 1943 During an RAF raid on Kassel, Germany, the RAF began Operation Corona to jam German night-fighter communications.
22 Oct 1943 Over Kassel, Germany, the Lancaster bomber aboard which Roberts Dunstan was a crew member was damaged by two incendiary bombs dropped by a friendly Lancaster bomber flying higher above although the bomber was further damaged by German nightfighters, it was able to return to Britain, crash landing at Bisham, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom.
26 Oct 1943 RAF bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany before dawn during the day, USAAF bombers bombed Bremen, Germany.
2 Nov 1943 The US 15th Air Force made its operational debut when 139 B-17 and B-24 bombers operating from Tunisian bases (and escorted on part of the route by P-38 Lightning aircraft) attacked the Messerschmitt subsidiary at Wiener-Neustadt in occupied Austria. The attack caused heavy damage to the plant and deprived the Luftwaffe of an estimated 250 Bf 109G-6 deliveries over the next two months.
3 Nov 1943 Overnight, 400 US bombers, escorted by 600 fighters, bombed Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Later in the same night, the RAF bombed Düsseldorf, Germany.
7 Nov 1943 Alfred Jodl met with Nazi party Gauleiters in Munich, Germany he noted that the Allied terror raids on German cities must be stopped, otherwise morale of the German people would be overly damaged, and it would be fertile grounds for subversive activities.
18 Nov 1943 RAF Bomber Command launched a concerted series of attacks on the Berlin, Germany dubbed "Operation Berlin". During the first attack, more than 700 tons of bombs were dropped. Over a five-month period, Berlin is attacked 32 times and hit by 25,000 tons of bombs, killing more than 6,000 and leaving 1.5 million homeless RAF lost 1,047 aircraft during the five-month bombing campaign.
22 Nov 1943 Berlin, Germany was heavily bombed by 764 RAF aircraft (469 Lancaster, 234 Halifax, 50 Stirling, and 11 Mosquito), dropping over 2,300 tons of explosives 26 bombers were lost. 175,000 Germans were made homeless and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was destroyed.
22 Nov 1943 The Kroll Opera House in Berlin, Germany was damaged by British bombers.
23 Nov 1943 383 RAF aircraft (365 Lancaster, 10 Halifax, and 8 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany.
24 Nov 1943 6 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany one aircraft was lost.
25 Nov 1943 RAF bombers attacked Frankfurt, Germany 3 Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany as diversion.
26 Nov 1943 USAAF launched its heaviest raid on Bremen, Germany, while the RAF hit Berlin, Germany for the fifth night in a row with 443 Lancaster and 7 Mosquito aircraft. Stuttgart, Germany was attacked in diversion by 84 aircraft. 34 RAF aircraft were lost during this night.
28 Nov 1943 10 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Germany.
29 Nov 1943 21 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Bochum, Cologne, and Düsseldorf in Germany.
30 Nov 1943 4 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Germany.
2 Dec 1943 458 RAF aircraft (425 Lancaster, 15 Halifax, and 18 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany, dropping 1,500 tons of bombs 40 bombers were lost (37 Lancaster, 2 Halifax, and 1 Mosquito). Two Siemens factories, a ball-bearing factory, and several railway installations were damaged.
3 Dec 1943 527 RAF aircraft (307 Lancaster and 220 Halifax) attacked Leipzig, Germany.
4 Dec 1943 9 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Duisburg, Germany.
10 Dec 1943 25 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Leverkusen, Germany.
11 Dec 1943 The USAAF bombed Emden, Germany, while 18 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Duisburg, Germany.
12 Dec 1943 18 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Germany while 9 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
15 Dec 1943 16 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
16 Dec 1943 498 RAF aircraft (483 Lancaster and 15 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany 25 Lancaster bombers were lost in combat and 29 more were lost while landing in bad weather. Berlin rail system was disrupted heavily, while the National Theater and the national archives buildings were destroyed.
20 Dec 1943 RAF made the heaviest raid of the war on Frankfurt, Germany, with 650 aircraft (390 Lancaster, 257 Halifax, and 3 Mosquito) dropping over 2,000 tons of explosives less than an hour later, RAF Mosquito aircraft followed up in order to hamper firefighting efforts. 14 Lancaster and 27 Halifax bombers were lost.
21 Dec 1943 9 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked the Mannesmann factory at Düsseldorf, Germany.
22 Dec 1943 A small number of RAF Mosquito bombers attacked Frankfurt and Bonn in Germany.
23 Dec 1943 379 RAF aircraft (364 Lancaster, 7 Halifax, and 8 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany 16 Lancaster bombers were lost.
29 Dec 1943 British RAF dropped 2,000 tons of bombs on Berlin, Germany.
1 Jan 1944 421 RAF Lancaster bombers attacked Berlin, Germany 28 aircraft were lost. 15 Mosquito aircraft attacked Hamburg in diversion.
2 Jan 1944 383 RAF aircraft (362 Lancaster, 9 Halifax, and 12 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany 27 aircraft were lost.
3 Jan 1944 8 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Solingen and Essen in Germany.
4 Jan 1944 13 British Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany.
5 Jan 1944 358 RAF aircraft (348 Lancaster and 10 Halifax) attacked Stettin, Germany, while 28 Mosquito aircraft attacked five other cities (13 against Berlin) in diversion 16 aircraft were lost.
6 Jan 1944 19 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Duisburg, Bristillerie, Dortmund, and Solingen in Germany.
7 Jan 1944 11 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Krefeld and Duisburg in Germany.
8 Jan 1944 23 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Frankfurt, Solingen, Aachen, and Dortmund in Germany 2 aircraft were lost.
10 Jan 1944 20 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Solingen, Koblenz, and Krefeld in Germany.
11 Jan 1944 US 8th Air Force launched over 600 bombers against Ascherleben, Braunschweig, and Magdeburg in Germany.
13 Jan 1944 25 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Duisburg, Aachen, and Koblenz in Germany 1 aircraft was lost.
14 Jan 1944 498 RAF aircraft (496 Lancaster and 2 Halifax) attacked Braunschweig, Germany, with 49 aircraft lost German reports noted only 10 homes destroyed and 14 killed. As a diversion, 17 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Magdeburg and Berlin.
16 Jan 1944 Returning from a raid on Oschersleben, Germany on two engines, a severely damaged USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress bomber of the 322nd Squadron of the 91st Bomber Group piloted by 1st Lieutenant Eldridged V. Greer flew as low as possible and flew over towns and villages using trees as cover from pursuing enemy fighters, whilst the gunners strafed the houses and any troops they saw. On reaching the coast Greer said he was so low that German flak towers were firing down at them and enemy fighters were not engaging as they would be strafing their own towns. The bomber "Spirit of ཨ" was credited with ten enemy fighters destroyed. When they landed in England the ship's nose had been shot to pieces and gaping holes were all over the fuselage and wings. Somehow none of the crew were injured. The enemy fighters were shot down on the way to the target in what was thought to be the greatest air battle of the war.
20 Jan 1944 The heaviest RAF raid on Berlin to date was launched, with 769 aircraft (495 Lancaster, 264 Halifax, 10 Mosquito) dropping over 2,300 tons of explosives on the German capital. 13 Lancaster and 22 Halifax bombers were lost. Damage on Berlin was thought to be extensive, but this could not be confirmed due to bad weather on the next day.
21 Jan 1944 648 RAF aircraft attacked Magdeburg, Germany 55 British aircraft and 4 German fighters were destroyed during the engagement. It was the first time Magdeburg was raided by the Allies.
27 Jan 1944 515 Lancaster and 15 Mosquito aircraft of the RAF attacked Berlin, Germany 33 Lancaster bombers were lost.
28 Jan 1944 677 RAF aircraft (432 Lancaster, 241 Halifax, and 4 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany 46 aircraft were lost.
29 Jan 1944 In Germany, the Duisburg and Herbouville flying bomb site were bombed by 22 Mosquito aircraft of the RAF. Meanwhile, RAF bombers attacked Berlin and USAAF bombers attacked Frankfurt am Main and Ludwigshafen.
30 Jan 1944 534 RAF aircraft (440 Lancaster, 82 Halifax, and 12 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany 33 aircraft were lost.
9 Feb 1944 George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, in a speech in the House of Lords in Britain openly criticised the Government over the bombing of German cities.
15 Feb 1944 891 RAF aircraft (561 Lancaster, 314 Halifax, and 16 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany, dropping over 2,500 tons of bombs in what was the heaviest raid to date. The industrial Siemensstadt area was damaged. 26 Lancaster and 17 Halifax bombers were lost.
19 Feb 1944 RAF bombers attacked Leipzig, Germany.
20 Feb 1944 USAAF launched the "Big Week", sending 970 bombers against Braunschweig, Hamburg, and Leipzig in Germany. The RAF followed through by hitting Stuttgart.
24 Feb 1944 USAAF (day) and RAF (night) bombings were conducted on the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany.
24 Feb 1944 USAAF 453rd Bomber Group based at Old Buckenham Airfield (US Station 144) in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom attacked aircraft factories at Gotha in central Germany without losses.
3 Mar 1944 29 USAAF bombers attacked Berlin, Germany the attack was "accidental", as it was actually called off, but the aircraft failed to receive the order.
4 Mar 1944 USAAF launched its first major bombing raid on Berlin, Germany.
6 Mar 1944 The US 8th Army Air Force journeyed all the way to Berlin, Germany for the first time. In all 474 bombers and their Mustang escort fighters flew to the German capital, facing a barrage of heavy flak and many Luftwaffe fighters. A total of 53 B-17 bombers and 16 fighters were lost.
8 Mar 1944 USAAF bombers attacked Berlin, Germany.
15 Mar 1944 RAF bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany, dropping over 3,000 tons of bombs from 863 bombers, of which 36 were lost.
18 Mar 1944 RAF bombers attacked Hamburg, Germany with approximately 3,000 tons of bombs.
18 Mar 1944 USAAF 453rd Bomber Group based at Old Buckenham Airfield (US Station 144) in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom attacked Friedrichshafen in southern Germany.
22 Mar 1944 RAF bombers attacked Frankfurt, Germany, killing 948 and leaving 120,000 homeless.
24 Mar 1944 810 RAF aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany 72 aircraft were lost. After sundown, Frankfurt was bombed by the RAF for the third time in four nights.
25 Mar 1944 811 RAF bombers raided Berlin, Germany 122 aircraft were lost.
30 Mar 1944 A 795-plane air raid (572 Lancaster, 214 Halifax, and 9 Mosquito) against Nürnberg, Germany 82 aircraft were lost on the way to the attack, and a further 12 were lost on the return flight nearly 700 lives were lost by the RAF. This was Bomber Command's heaviest single loss of the war. German casualties included 69 civilians and 59 foreign slave laborers.
1 Apr 1944 US bombers unintentionally hit Schaffhausen, Switzerland, leading to official protests and reparation payments.
8 Apr 1944 USAAF bombers attacked a Volkswagen factory near Hannover, Germany.
8 Apr 1944 USAAF 453rd Bomber Group based at Old Buckenham Airfield (US Station 144) in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom lost 7 B-24 bombers around Braunschweig in central Germany.
18 Apr 1944 Aircraft of No. 466 Squadron RAAF conducted bombing operations against Helgoland, Germany.
21 Apr 1944 Operation Chattanooga: Allied aircraft destroyed German rail and other transportation targets.
22 Apr 1944 The RAF used of the new liquid incendiary device, J-Bomb, for the first time against Brunswick, Germany.
24 Apr 1944 British bombers attacked München, Germany. During this attack, the Spinosaurus fossil specimen BSP 1912 VIII 19 was destroyed at the Paläontologische Staatssammlung München (Bavarian State Collection of Paleontology).
7 May 1944 1,500 bombers of the US 8th Air Force attacked Berlin, Germany.
12 May 1944 The German synthetic fuel plants at Brüx in southern Germany (post-war Most, Czechoslovakia) and Lüna-Merseburg, Lützkendorf, and Zeitz in eastern Germany were hit by 800 US bombers.
19 May 1944 The 492nd Bomber Group of USAAF 8th Air Force were part of the 2nd Air Division's raid on Waggum airfield and its attached assembly plant in Braunschweig, Germany. Twenty-six B-24 Liberator bombers were dispatched from their base at North Pickenham in Norfolk County on England's east coast. In all 888 bombers assembled for the raid being protected by 700 fighters. As the separate wings flew into the bombing zone some had to circle to avoid missing the target with the result that many bombers had to leave the target to avoid colliding with each other. Marshalling yards of Braunschweig were targeted instead. With the scattering of the various wings the 492nd lost fighter protection and in all lost eight aircraft. The B-24J Liberator bomber "Lucky Lass" flown by Lieutenant Wyman Bridges had its tail severely damaged in collision with an enemy fighter that lost a wing and crashed. Bridges managed to get the aircraft back to base, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He and his crew completed their tour of 31 missions. The results of the raid were classed as fair.
28 May 1944 USAAF again bombed the synthetic oil plant at Lüne-Merseburg in eastern Germany.
29 May 1944 Taking advantage of their range, US bombers began hitting Marienburg and Posen in eastern Germany.
21 Jun 1944 More than 1,300 US 8th Air Force bombers took off from airfields in Britain to attack Berlin, Lüne-Merseburg, and the hydrogenation plant at Ruhland in the Gau of Mark Brandenburg. The 163 that attacked Ruhland went on to Ukraine instead of returning to Britain, and this was noticed by the German Luftwaffe, which had plans to counter such an attempt for a shuttle bombing operation. He 111 bombers from various units of KG 4 (pathfinders), KG 53, and KG 55 took off for Poltava and Mirgorod (Myrhorod) Airfields in Ukraine.
7 Jul 1944 A large raid to attack targets in the Leipzig, Germany area by the US 8th Air Force with 1,129 B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers and more than 700 escorts was met by a Gefechtsverband, led by Major Walther Dahl. Among the total of about ninety Luftwaffe fighters committed was the newly raised IV (Sturm)/JG3, an elite unit of volunteer pilots flying Fw 190A-8 aircraft armed with 30mm cannon, firing high explosive shells, and with additional armour protection to enable them to get within close range of their target. The Fw 190 fighters would attack the rear of the bomber bomber stream while two Bf 109 Gruppen kept the American fighters at bay. The tactic proved successful with eleven B-24 bombers of the low squadron destroyed within a minute and, by the end of the day, the 2nd Air Division had suffered 28 Liberators lost at a cost of nine IV/JG3 fighters shot down and three damaged.
16 Jul 1944 A total of 1,087 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers USAAF Eighth Air Force attacked Germany in three waves (407, 238, and 407 bombers, respectively), escorted by 240, 214, and 169 fighters, respectively, with most of the bombers targeting Munich, Stuggart, Augsburg, and Saarbrucken a total of 11 bombers and 3 fighters were lost.
18 Jul 1944 In Germany, 291 American B-17 bombers, escorted by 48 P-38 and 84 P-51 fighters, attacked the port facilities at Kiel and oil refineries at Cuxhaven. To the east, 377 American B-17 bombers, escorted by 294 fighters, attacked Peenemünde, Zinnowitz, and Stralsund. In southern Germany, B-17 and B-24 bombers of US Fifteenth Air Force attacked Memmingen Airfield and the Dornier factories at Manzell 20 aircraft were lost.
18 Jul 1944 US Eighth Air Force attacked Peenemünde Army Research Center in Germany to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production.
19 Jul 1944 1,082 B-17 and B-24 bombers, escorted by 670 P-38, P-47, and P-51 fighters attacked factories (hydrogen peroxide, chemical, aircraft, and ball bearing), six rail marshalling yards, a dam, and four airfields in western and southwestern Germany 17 bombers and 7 fighters were lost. From Italy, US 15th Air Force launched 400 B-17 and B-24 bombers attacked an ordnance depot, an aircraft factory, an automobile factory, and an airfield in the München (Munich) area 16 US aircraft were lost.
20 Jul 1944 Bombers of US 8th Air Force in Britain and US 15th Air Force in Italy attacked Dessau, Kothen, Leipzig, Nordhuasen, Rudolstadt, Merseburg, Bad Nauheim, Koblenz, and many other targets across Germany.
21 Jul 1944 1,110 bombers of US 8th Air Force were launched from England, United Kingdom against Germany, hitting München (Munich), Saarbrücken (targeting rail marshalling yards), Oberpfeffenhofen, Walldrun (targeting rail marshalling yards), Regensburg, Stuttgart, Schweinfurt, and other locations a total of 31 bombers and 8 escorting fighters were lost.
23 Jul 1944 After dark, a large group of British bombers attacked Kiel, Germany the attack lasted through midnight into the next date. The German fighters summoned to intercept went after the decoy force rather than the main force.
24 Jul 1944 The British bombing of Kiel, Germany that began on the previous date ended before dawn. The damage was extensive, causing the city to have no running water for 3 days, the trains and buses were out of commission for 8 days, and gas service was out for nearly 3 weeks.
4 Aug 1944 US Eighth Air Force attacked Peenemünde Army Research Center in Germany to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production.
25 Aug 1944 US Eighth Air Force attacked Peenemünde Army Research Center in Germany to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production.
29 Aug 1944 11 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and 34 B-24 Liberator bombers attacked Helgoland, Germany, escorted by 169 P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang fighters 3 Liberator bombers were damaged.
3 Sep 1944 A B-17 Flying Fortress bomber was mistakenly directed to Düne Island, Helgoland, Germany its original target was a German submarine pen.
11 Sep 1944 Carl Spaatz ordered large raids on German synthetic oil plants, dispatching 1,136 aircraft the German Luftwaffe lost heavily in air battles.
11 Sep 1944 36 B-17 bombers of 100th Bomber Group of US 8th Air Force, en route to attack the Schwarzheide synthetic fuel factory in eastern Germany, were intercepted by 60 Fw 190A and Bf 109 fighters of German Jagdgeschwader 4. In the first attack wave, 14 US bombers were shot down uncontested by American fighter escort, which had not yet arrived. In the second attack wave, US fighters were able to shoot down 32 German fighters (29 pilots killed). The air battle took place roughly over the village of Oberwiesenthal in southern Germany. Surviving bombers were able to drop 53 tons of bombs on the Schwarzheide synthetic fuel factory.
12 Sep 1944 Carl Spaatz ordered large raids on German synthetic oil plants, dispatching 888 aircraft the German Luftwaffe lost heavily in air battles.
13 Sep 1944 Carl Spaatz ordered large raids on German synthetic oil plants, dispatching 748 aircraft the German Luftwaffe lost heavily in air battles.
28 Sep 1944 RAF bombers dropped 909 tons of bombs on Kaiserslautern, Germany, destroying 36% of the town.
29 Oct 1944 The Köln, Germany archive noted that, overnight, British bombers dropped about 4,000 high explosive bombs and 200,000 incendiary bombs on the city.
2 Nov 1944 Bombers of the No. 550 Squadron RAF attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
4 Nov 1944 Bombers of the No. 550 Squadron RAF attacked Bochum, Germany. Airman John Riley Bryne noted in his diary that "the target was a blazing inferno".
6 Nov 1944 Bombers of the No. 550 Squadron RAF attacked Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Airman John Riley Bryne noted in his diary that "[i]t was really wonderful experience to see hundreds of kite's [sic] attacking the hun".
17 Dec 1944 British bombers attacked Ulm, Germany.
29 Dec 1944 USAAF 453rd Bomber Group based at Old Buckenham Airfield (US Station 144) in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom was tasked with destroying the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, Germany, but poor weather caused the mission to be a failure.
31 Dec 1944 One B-17 Flying Fortress bomber of USAAF 8th Air Force attacked Helgoland, Germany.
2 Jan 1945 British bombers attacked Nürnberg, Germany.
17 Jan 1945 H. C. Stülcken Sohn shipyard in Hamburg, Germany was heavily damaged by Allied bombing.
13 Feb 1945 Allied firebombing raid started massive firestorms in Dresden, Germany.
23 Feb 1945 A raid of 379 British bombers attacked the German town of Pforzheim, killing 17,000 people and destroying 80% of the town's buildings.
2 Mar 1945 The RAF conducted its last major raid on Köln (Cologne), Germany with 858 aircraft also on this date, one USAAF B-17 bomber attacked Köln as a target of opportunity.
8 Mar 1945 1,200 Allied heavy bombers struck 6 benzol plants in Germany.
11 Mar 1945 H. C. Stülcken Sohn shipyard in Hamburg, Germany was heavily damaged by Allied bombing.
12 Mar 1945 1,108 RAF bombers attacked Dortmund, Germany, dropping 4,851 tons of bombs.
14 Mar 1945 A British No. 617 Squadron RAF Lancaster bomber commanded by Squadron Leader C. C. Calder dropped a 22,000-pound Grand Slam bomb on the Bielefeld viaduct, breaking two spans. It was the first time the Grand Slam bomb was used in combat.
17 Mar 1945 1,260 Allied heavy bombers hit 2 synthetic oil plants in Germany while 650 medium bombers attacked the rail system.
22 Mar 1945 Four aircraft from No. 617 Squadron RAF (one carrying a "Grand Slam" bomb) attacked and destroyed the Nienburg Bridge in Germany.
30 Mar 1945 Over 1,250 heavy bombers of US 8th Air Force bombed German ports of Hamburg, Bremen, and Wilhelmshaven. Submarines U-96, U-429, and U-3308, as well as schnellboote S-186, S-194, and S-224 were destroyed at Wilhelmshaven. U-72, U-230, U-430, U-870, U-884, and U-886 were destroyed at Bremen. U-2340, U-348, U-350, and U-1167 were destroyed at Hamburg.
12 Apr 1945 USAAF 453rd Bomber Group based at Old Buckenham Airfield (US Station 144) in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom flew its final mission before returning to the United States for re-equipping with B-29 bombers.
16 Apr 1945 The Allied Chiefs of Staff formally decreed the ending of the area bombing campaign against Germany. In one of British Bomber Command's last major operations of the war, 900 bombers were despatched to attack the German island fortress of Helgoland.
17 Apr 1945 Thirty three British Lancaster bombers of 5 Group, six carrying Grand Slam bombs and the remainder carrying Tall Boy bombs attacked Helgoland, Germany they reported that the centre of the island was still ablaze from the previous day's attack.
19 Apr 1945 617 Lancaster, 332 Halifax, and 20 Mosquito aircraft attacked Helgoland, Germany 3 Halifax bombers were lost. The attack prompted Germany to evacuate civilians from the island to the mainland.
21 Apr 1945 During the night (with the Red army already entering the suburbs) RAF Bomber Command attacked Berlin, Germany for the last time during the war.
23 Apr 1945 British bombers attacked Lübeck, Germany.
25 Apr 1945 British bombers attacked Berchtesgaden, Germany. The US 8th Air Force conducted its last heavy bomber raid on Germany.
12 Mar 1946 Regarding the countless German civilian deaths as the result of Allied bombing, Wing Commander Millington, MP of Chelmsford, said at the House of Commons "We want - that is, the people who served in Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force and their next-of-kin - a categorical assurance that the work we did was militarily and strategically justified."

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No. 63 Squadron (RAF): Second World War - History







The precursor of the Sri Lankan Air Force were the elements of the Royal Air Force based in Sri Lanka. The history of these elements of the RAF is a run-up to the history of the SLAF.

On 07 December 1941, Japan entered the war with the bombing of the Pearl Harbour. By Christmas day of that year they had occupied Malaya, Guam, Wake Island and Hong Kong. BY 23 March 1942, the Japanese were at Sri Lanka's doorstep in the East with the capture of the Andaman and the Nicobar Islands and they had Philippines, Burma and Singapore under their control.

With the fall of Singapore, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, Commander-in-Chief of the British Far Eastern Fleet, set up headquarters in Sri Lanka with power over the civilian administration as well. The invasion of Sri Lanka by Japan was imminent and Admiral Layton realised that Sri Lanka with hardly an Air Force or an Air Defence system to speak of would be easy prey to the Japanese. He lost no time in taking remedial action. In March that year an air-strip was built at the Colombo racecourse and the Ratmalana airport was taken over by the RAF and extended. Two squadrons of Hurricanes flew in from North Africa and was based in China Bay and the racecourse. A squadron of Blenheim medium bombers detached from Greece, Crete and the Middle East was based in Ratmalana. Also based in Ratmalana were two squadrons of Fleet Air Arm ' Fulmars.' In Koggala Layton deployed an element of Catalina aircraft.

Spotting of Japanese Fleet

By 02 April 1942, Admiral Nagumo's fleet was heading towards Sri Lanka in search of what remained of British'sea power in the East. On 04 April 1942, Sqn. Ldr. L J. Birchall, a Canadian, was in his Catalina on a reconnaissance mission, patrolling an area 250 miles South East of Sri Lanka, when, about two hours before dusk, he spotted a speck on the Southern horizon. This was the vanguard of Nagumo's fleet. Spotting Birchall's aircraft six Japanese zeros, flying twice as fast as the Catalina, were soon in hot pursuit. Under attack by the Japanese fighters, the reconnaissance aircraft disintegrated but not before Birchall had got the message of the presence of the Japanese fleet in Sri Lankan waters.

With darkness setting in, the courageous crew of the Catalina kept afloat in the Indian Ocean, about three hundred and fifty miles from land. Three of the crew were badly injured and before long a Japanese destroyer picked them up. Anxious to obtain intelligence about the country's defences and to find out whether the Catalina had been able to alert the Sri Lankan forces of the presence of the Japanese fleet the helpless crew were subjected to physical violence. Ignorance and denials were all that the Japanese could obtain.

On Easter Sunday, 05 April 1942, all hell broke loose in Colombo. A Japanese force of about 125 aircraft, screaming and whining and led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida of Pearl Harbour fame, attacked strategic targets in Colombo. While Ratmalana came under heavy attack the racecourse went unscathed, with Japanese intelligence unaware of its existence. This lapse on the part of Japanese intelligence cost them dearly. Unable to achieve the air superiority that they had hoped to achieve, the Japanese met stiff resistance and lost twenty seven aircraft in the air battle and the British too lost the same number. On Wednesday 08 April 1942, the Japanese fleet, as expected, attacked Trincomalee.

The airfield in China Bay came under heavy bombardment but again due to the timely , warning by Birchall and the effective measures taken by Layton, the attack was repulsed. In March 1946, many months after victory over Germany and Japan had been won, and Sir Winston Churchill had been voted out of office, the architect of the British victory was asked, according to author Michael Tomlinson, what he considered was the most dangerous moment of the war. Churchill had replied that it was when news was received that the Japanese fleet was heading for Sri Lanka's port of Trincomalee. He went on to say that "Britain was saved from disaster by an airman on reconnaissance flight who though shot down was able to warn Ceylon of the impending attack and eliminate the element of surprise." Sir Winston Churchill Prime Minister of Britain during the World War II According to Canada's Foreign Minister of 1950, Lester Pearson, it was Churchill's opinion that Birchall-later Air Commodore in the Canadian Air Force -had made one of the most singular contributions to victory in World War II.

Air Operations by the British

Between the late 1930's and the early 1950's a great deal of military flying activities took place in, and from, Ceylon. These activities were conducted by the Royal Air Force (RAF), and the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm(FAA). The following airfields were established during these years and used by the RAF and FAA. RAF Airfields Colombo Racecourse, Ratmalana, Katukurunda, Negombo, China Bay, Minneriya, Vavyniya, Kankesanthurai, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Mawanella, Koggala, Kalametiya and Puttalam.

The Royal Navy's establishments on land were given names of ships, and a similar practice applied to bases of the Fleet Air Arm. The FAA bases were mostly given names of birds, with the exception such as "Bambara" (which means "hornet" in Sinhala). The "Bherunda" is a mythical two-headed bird. The following are Royal Navy shore bases, all of which except HMS Monara had airfields and operated aircraft HMS Bambara ( China Bay , Trincomalee) HMS Bherunda ( Colombo Racecourse) HMS Seruwa(Ratmalana) HMS Ukussa ( Katukurunda) HMS Lanka/HMS Rajaliya ( Puttalam) HMS Monara (teaching establishment in Maharagama, no airfield)

World War II Mission Symbols

What are mission symbols? Learning about mission symbols painted on aircraft during World War II has proved to be somewhat difficult but interesting research. Mission symbols, also known as mission marks, kill markings and victory decals, are the small symbols painted on the sides of planes, usually near the cockpit or nose, which are used to show the successes of the crews that had flown that particular aircraft. During World War II, these marks or symbols appear not to have been official military markings but rather were given meaning through their repetitive use by the airmen. The markings may be varied in appearance and more than one marking may have similar meanings. Mission symbols were used by all of the Allied and Axis countries participating in the war.

Mission symbols on a B-26 bomber. Capt. James “Jim” C. Brown, pilot from the 557th Bomb Squadron of the 387th Bomb Group standing in front of “Ole Smokey.”

The following chart includes examples of the types of symbols seen on the U.S. Army Air Force planes. Though initially seen on bombers, mission symbols later were also used on fighter aircraft.

Mission symbols on a P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft. Capt. Merle B. Nichols of the 79th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, sitting atop “Wilda.”

Here are just a few additional interesting facts concerning World War II mission symbols:

  1. When the camel in symbol #25 is facing in reverse, it indicates that the aircraft had to turn around due to engine trouble
  2. Symbols of ships were used to indicate enemy ships destroyed. The markings varied according to the type of ship destroyed
  3. Mission symbols were also used on other military equipment, such as tanks and submarines, to denote the accomplishments of these groups
  4. On Royal Air Force (RAF) planes, one might see a mission symbol of an ice cream cone. What does that mean? An ice cream cone was used by the British to denote Italy. The British associated Italians with those running ice cream (gelato) shops in Britain prior to the war. Another explanation for the symbol of the ice cream cone is that a mission to Milan or Turin was considered to be a “milk run” by the RAF crews. The term “milk run” was generally used to indicate an easy mission

In my next blog, I will change gears and discuss selected activities of the American Red Cross during World War II.

The images in this blog were selected from the William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection, one of the permanent collections preserved by the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs. Mr. Willis of Dover, Del. served as a photographic technician with the Army Air Force during the Second World War. A display of items from the collection, “World War II Through the Lens of William D. Willis,” was on view at Legislative Hall in Dover from March 4, 2015 to Feb. 21, 2016.

Go to the following for Carolyn Apple’s earlier blogs exploring the subjects of images from the state’s William D. Willis World War II Photographic Collection:

No. 63 Squadron (RAF): Second World War - History

Part of the PRICE PAID (Parts 50-55)


22nd April - 12th June 1982

Starting with just 20 Sea Harriers, a further eight joined the Task Force by mid-May. A total of six were lost by accident or ground fire, and not one in air-to-air combat.

[b1, b2] - Two Wessex HU.5's of C Flt, No.845 NAS, RFA Tidespring crashed on Fortuna Glacier, South Georgia in bad weather. All crew rescued.

[b3] - Sea King HC.4 of No.846 NAS embarked on HMS Hermes crashed into the Atlantic at night in bad weather south west of Ascension (8.15 pm). Pilot rescued but PO Aircrewman Casey lost.

[b4] - Sea Harrier of No.800 NAS, HMS Hermes shot down over Goose Green by radar-controlled, 35mm Oerlikon fire (1.10 pm). Lt Taylor RN killed.

[b5, b6] - Two Sea Harriers of No.801 NAS, HMS Invincible lost in bad weather, presumably by collision, south east of Falklands (9.00 am). Lt Curtiss and Lt Cmdr Eyton-Jones RN lost.

[b7] - Sea King HAS.5 of No.826 NAS, HMS Hermes ditched in sea with engine failure east of Falklands (2.35 pm). All crew rescued.

[b8] - Sea King HAS.5 of No.826 NAS, HMS Hermes, then to the east of Falklands, hit the sea late at night because of altimeter problems (10.30 pm). All crew rescued.

[b9] - Sea King HC.4 of No.846 NAS deliberately destroyed by its crew near Punta Arenas, southern Chile around this date.

[b10] - Sea King HC.4 of No.846 NAS, then embarked on HMS Hermes crashed into sea north east of Falklands, believed at the time due to a bird strike although this is now open to doubt (7.15 pm). Of 30 men on board, the aircrewman, 18 men of the SAS, a member of the Royal Signals and the only RAF man killed in the war are all lost. The two pilots were saved.

[b11, b12] - Two Gazelles of C Flt, 3 CBAS shot down by small arms fire near Port San Carlos (c8.45 am). Pilot Sgt Evans RM killed in the first incident and pilot Lt Francis RM and crewman L/Cpl Griffin RM in the second.

[b13] - Harrier GR.3 of 1(F) Sqdn RAF shot down over Port Howard, West Falkland probably by Blowpipe SAM (9.35 am). Flt Lt Glover ejected and injured, was taken prisoner-of-war.

[b14] - Lynx HAS.2 of No.815 NAS destroyed in bombing attack on HMS Ardent in Grantham Sound by Daggers of FAA Grupo 6 (2.40 pm).

[b15] - Sea Harrier of No.800 NAS, HMS Hermes crashed into sea north east of Falklands shortly after take-off and exploded (7.55 pm). Lt Cmdr Batt RN killed.

[b16] - Lynx HAS.2 of No.815 NAS lost when HMS Coventry sunk north of Pebble Island in bombing attack by A-4B Skyhawks of FAA Grupo 5 (3.20 pm).

[b17 - b22] - Six Wessex HU.5's of No.848 NAS D Flt [b23 - b25] - Three Chinook HC.1's of 18 Sqdn RAF [b26] - Lynx HAS.2 of No.815 NAS, all destroyed by fire when "Atlantic Conveyor" hit to the north east of Falklands by Exocet from Super Etendard of CANA 2 Esc.

[b27] - Harrier GR.3 of 1(F) Sqdn RAF shot down over Goose Green probably by 35mm Oerlikon fire (1.35 pm). Sqdn Ldr Iveson ejected to the west, hid up and later rescued.

[b28] - Scout of B Flight, 3 CBAS shot down near Camilla Creek House, north of Goose Green by Pucaras of FAA Grupo 3 (11.55 am). Pilot Lt Nunn RM was killed.

[b29] - Sea Harrier of No.801 NAS, HMS Invincible ready for take-off, slid off the deck as the carrier turned into wind to the east of Falklands (3.50 pm). Lt Cmdr Broadwater RN ejected and was safely picked up.

[b30] - Harrier GR.3 of 1(F) Sqdn RAF damaged near Stanley by small arms fire from Argentine troops. Ran out of fuel short of "Hermes" and Sqdn Ldr Pook RAF ejected to be picked up to east of the Falklands (12.20 pm).

[b31] - Sea Harrier of No.801 NAS, HMS Invincible shot down south of Stanley by Roland SAM (2.40 pm). Flt Lt Mortimer RAF ejected and was later rescued from the sea.

[b32] - Gazelle of 656 AAC Sqdn accidentally shot down west of Fitzroy by Sea Dart SAM fired by HMS Cardiff (1.10 am). Pilot, Staff Sgt Griffin, crewman L/Cpl Cockton and two Royal Signals passengers killed.

[b33] - Harrier GR.3 of 1(F) Sqdn RAF landed heavily at Port San Carlos with partial engine failure, and was damaged beyond repair (12.00 pm). Wing Cmdr Squire escaped unhurt.

[b34] - Wessex HAS.3 of No.737 NAS destroyed when HMS Glamorgan hit by land-based Exocet off Stanley (3.35 am).

Commonwealth Air Forces (1 Viewer)

Brothers Leo and Vivian Walsh built and flew a Howard Wright biplane in 1910 and flew it on 5 February 1911. When in August the aircraft crashed it was rebuilt by the brothers into what was in reality an entirely new aircraft, with a streamlined nacelle between the wings, which now had swept outer bay, while the canard was replaced by a conventional tailplane. During 1914 they began construction of a two place flying boat similar to a Curtiss design. After the war broke out, the brothers founded the New Zealand Flying School in October 1915 to train men for the Royal Flying Corps. The Curtiss based design was modified with dual controls to become a trainer and first flown 1 January 1915. The first class of three included the fighter ace, Keith Caldwell. Classes were always small but - in contrast to overseas training - comprehensive.

Due to the difficulties obtaining suitable training aircraft, the Walsh brothers decided to build their own trainers, initially based on this pattern. Over the next four years they produced a series of four flying boat designs, evolved from, but bearing little resemblance to the original Curtiss model. The last of the Walsh Brothers designs, the Type D of 1919 was an aerodynamically and hydrodynamically advanced machine, with a powerful Beardmore engine. The flying school struggled to gain clients after the war, and all assets of the flying school were acquired for the NZPAF in 1924. All Walsh brothers flying boats had been made for the use of the school, not for sale. The NZPAF had a landplane based training programme using the Avro 504K and had no use for the flying boats. The survivors are believed to have been burnt on the Auckland waterfront, however there are "lost treasure" stories that these and some of the other machines used by the flying school are stored on a defence force base at Devonport in tunnels bricked up after the Second World War.



Master Sergeant

The Supermarine Walrus was a single-engine amphibious biplane reconnaissance aircraft designed by R. J. Mitchell and operated by the Fleet Air Arm. It also served with the Royal Air Force, RAAF, RNZN, RCAF, and RNZAF.The Walrus was initially developed for service from cruisers at the request of Australia, and was called the Seagull V although there was little resemblance to the earlier Supermarine Seagull III. It was designed to be launched from ship-borne catapults, and was the first amphibious aircraft in the world to be launched by catapult with a full military load.

The lower wings of this biplane were set in the shoulder position with a stabilising float mounted under each one, and its horizontal tail-surfaces were positioned high on the tail-fin. The single Bristol Pegasus VI radial engine was housed in a nacelle slung from the upper wing and powered a four-blade propeller in pusher configuration. The wings could be folded on ship, giving a stowage width of 17 ft 11 in (5.5 m). One of the more unusual characteristics of the aircraft was that the control column was not a fixed fitting in the usual way, but could be unplugged from either of two sockets at floor level. It became a habit for only one column to be in use and when control was passed from the pilot to co-pilot or vice-versa, the control column would simply be unplugged and handed over.As the Walrus was stressed to a level suitable for catapult-launching, rather surprisingly for such an ungainly-looking machine, it could be looped and bunted, whereupon any water in the bilges would make its presence felt. This usually discouraged the pilot from any future aerobatics on this type.

Armament usually consisted of two Vickers K machine guns, with the capability of carrying 760 lb (345 kg) of bombs or depth charges mounted beneath the lower wings.The Royal Australian Air Force ordered 24 examples directly off the drawing boards, under the Seagull V A2 designation, which were delivered for service from cruisers from 1935 followed by orders from the Royal Air Force with the first production Walrus, K5772, flying on 16 March, 1936. It was also hoped to capitalise on the aircrafts successful exports to Japan, Spain, etc.A total of 740 Walrus were built in three major variants: the metal-hulled Seagull V and Walrus I, and the wooden-hulled Walrus II. The Walrus was affectionately known as the Shagbat or sometimes Steam-pigeon the latter name coming from the steam produced by water striking the hot Pegasus engine.

The first Seagull V, A2-1, was handed over to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1935, with the last, A2-24 delivered in 1937 and served aboard the HMA Ships Australia (MTO [Mediterranian Theatre of Operations]), Canberra (MTO, SWPA, lost at Guadalcanal in 1942), Sydney (MTO, SWPA, lost off the coast of Western Australia 1942), Perth and Hobart.Walrus deliveries started in 1936 when the first example to be deployed was with the New Zealand division of the Royal Navy, on HMS Achilles (later a victor of the Battle of the River Plate). By the start of World War II the Walrus was in widespread use, and saw service in home waters, the Mediterranean and the Far East. Walrus are credited with sinking or damaging at least five enemy submarines, while RAF use in home waters was mainly in the air-sea rescue role. One Walrus, HD874, (Restored and exhibited at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria) was still in service in 1947 with the Australian Antarctic Expedition.The Irish Air Corps used the Walrus as a maritime patrol aircraft during World War II. One of the Walrus aircraft formerly flown by the Air Corps is preserved, albeit in Royal Navy colours. The aircraft was bought back by the Fleet Air Arm after the war as a training aircraft, and now resides in the RNAS museum in Yeovilton.


Wayne Little

Chief of the Air Staff


1st Lieutenant

Great pictures and very informative text, as usual. The third pic of the RAAF Vengeance is actually a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm F6F Hellcat. The Chesapeake is shown in Armee de L Air colours. The first military aircraft in New Zealand was only one Bleriot XI-2 two-seater, not two this was named 'Britannia' and had formerly been used by Hendon based 'stunt' pilot Gustav Hamel to fly from Dover in England to Cologne in April 1913.

Only four of the 48 PV-2 Harpoons arrived in NZ before the order was cancelled and the aircraft were sent back to the US in April to May 1945. They were not flown in New Zealand apart from their delivery flights.

The middle picture of a Hastings shows TG603 this is an RAF aircraft ended its life in a crash at Luqa, Malta. One of the RNZAF Hastings nose sections survives at MoTaT. The lower Hastings image was taken at Mildenhall at the start of the 1953 England to New Zealand (Harewood, Christchurch) air race, which was won by an RAF Canberra. The tail of the handicap winner, a KLM DC-6 is visible. There's a neat story about that aircraft in that it was carrying a bunch of women from Europe who had settled on embarking on a new life in New Zealand. Like the KLM DC-2 in the 1934 MacRobertson air race from England to Australia, the KLM flight was considered a fare paying passenger flight by the airline. The RNZAF Hastings was forced out of the race due to engine trouble.

The RNZAF never operated the Lancastrian, nor the Hurricane.


Master Sergeant

When the Second World War broke out on 3 September 1939, the Commonwealth had no spare aircraft to sell and aircraft which were purchased or built in South Africa were obsolete, with only six Hurricane Mk1's, a Fairey Battle and a Blenheim Mk1 being current operational types. On top of this, the 1936 plan for expansion had not materialised. The SAAF still only consisted of 160 permanent force officers, 35 cadets and 1 400 other ranks. No effort was made to procure modern aircraft from any other source. Technical knowledge was limited to fabric covered biplanes. The SAAF consisted of a Central Flying School at Zwartkop, two light bomber squadrons which were equipped with Hartbees and based at Waterkloof, the Aircraft and Artillery Depot at Roberts Heights (Voortrekkerhoogte), and a number of detached flights operating at the out stations.

The inclusion of the entire South African Airways fleet of Junkers aircraft and the technical staff with experience in metal covered monoplanes was a boost to the SAAF, as were the civil aircraft taken over. The Junkers had been bought with a possible war in mind and the Ju-52s were used for transport and the Ju-86s as medium bombers, hastily converted for the purpose. The Ju-86s were pressed into service immediately in a maritime role and their first success was the interception of a German ship trying to run for home in December 1939. In October 1939, Chief of the General Staff, Sir Pierre van Ryneveld, approved a plan known as the Peace Expansion Scheme, under which a total of 720 aircraft were acquired - 336 of which were fighters. When Italy entered the war in 1940, SAAF squadrons were deployed to East Africa with the aircraft available at the time, later to be supplemented by more modern aircraft. The SAAF played a tremendous part in the conquest Mussolini's African Empire. Without air superiority, it may have taken months to move the Italians from their positions in the mountains. They were simply blasted out of their positions, impregnable from the ground, by bombs let loose upon them by the SAAF. Conditions were far from ideal, operations were from makeshift desert airfields or hacked out of bush. Then there was the tropical sun and the fine dust that got into motors, machine guns and food.

Nearer to home the SAAF supported the RAF in the British invasion on Vichy held Madagascar in May 1942. Two flights, equipped with Marylands and Beauforts, operated in ground support and reconnaissance roles. The SAAF played a vital role in photographing the island prior to the invasion. The operation ended in November 1942. The SAAF did not enter into the Empire Air Training Scheme, but on 1 August 1940, a Joint Air Training Scheme was adopted and proved such a brilliant success throughout the British Commonwealth that it ultimately became a nemesis for the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica. The scheme provided for the establishment of 24 flying schools with a target of 3 000 and at least 2 000 observers by 1942. By the end of 1944 SAAF strength had reached 44 417 inclusive of 2 349 pilots, some 1 535 observers and gunners, 9 661 artisans and 6 595 basic trainees. As a result of the Joint Air Training Scheme, a total of 33 347 aircrews had been trained by thirty six Air Schools by 1945. There was little doubt that the 'Battle of training' as it became known, was being well and truly won.

SAAF squadrons moved on to Northern Africa in April 1942, now equipped with the latest aircraft. The SAAF was represented in the invasion of Sicily by 1, 12, 21 and 24 Squadrons operating from Malta. The SAAF supported the British Eighth Army and the American 5th Army, of which 6 Division was part. 25 and 30 Squadrons were part of the Balklands Air Force and operated in support of partisans in Yugoslavia. 60 Squadron, operating Mosquitoes, carried out strategic reconnaissance for the whole of the Mediterranean theater. While based in Italy 31 and 34 Squadrons, as part of 205 Group RAF, undertook 181 sorties during August and September 1944 dropping supplies to the Polish patriots who were fighting desperately for their lives on the ground. Although very little was accomplished by these operations, they nevertheless represent one of the most outstanding achievements in the history of the SAAF.

The SAAF was at its peak strength at the end of the North African Campaign. There were 26 squadrons in North Africa, the personnel strength numbering 8 976. This included 2 789 Non-European Auxiliary Service and 83 Womens Auxiliary Air Force personnel. The SAAF made up a third of the RAF Operational Command in the theater. Approximately another 9 000 SAAF personnel served in other allied Air Forces. Including personnel in the Union and elsewhere, the total SAAF strength was 45 000. At the start of the war 33 squadrons were envisaged. At the end of the war there were 35 squadrons.

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