Bomber Command target Dusseldorf

Vertical aerial photograph taken over the centre of Dusseldorf at 11 pm on 10 September 1942, at the height of the major night raid by 479 aircraft of Bomber Command. Most of the area photographed is covered with widespread incendiary fires, from which flame and smoke are rising to obscure the target.

The operations of RAF Bomber Command were still subject to a number of variables, including the weather. The Pathfinder target marking force was just getting established and was developing its techniques. When the weather and moon conditions were right, the target was marked correctly and the bomber stream was concentrated on the target in a short period of intense bombing the results could be devastating.

All of these factors came together for the raid on the 10/11th September, causing more destruction than had ever been achieved before, apart from one of the experimental 1000 bomber raids. Bomber Command was beginning to have the impact that was hoped for:

At Dusseldorf, 360 aircraft dropped 700 tons of bombs. Though a large part of the attacking force concentrated its effort on the main objective, starting a number of extensive fires (see Appendix VII [below]). scattered fires were also seen west of the target, and some bombs fell at Krefeld, Munchen-Gladbach and adjacent towns. Thirty bombers are missing, five crashed and three came down in the sea.


Assessment of damage from photographs taken the day after the attack on the 10th/11th is rendered difficult as parts of the town are wholly obscured by the smoke of fires still burning.

It is at present only possible to give some idea of the extensive damage that has actually been caused. In the centre of the town there are six noteworthy areas of damage, the three largest of which are 3/4 mile long, varying in-width from 90 yards to 1/4 mile, 1/2 long by about 180 yards wide, and nearly 1/4 mile long and 250 yards wide.

The damage to residential and industrial property on both banks of the Rhine is severe, and
evacuation will be hindered by a direct hit on the main station, which appears to have been heavily damaged.

From the Air Situation Report for the week as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB 66/28/48

The later post raid assessment was also seen by the War Cabinet:

Dusseldorf (10th/11th September).

It is now apparent that, measured by the extent of destruction to industries and communications, this attack was the most profitable of all our bombing raids, with the exception of that on Cologne on 30th/31st May.

Large areas were devastated in both Rostock and Lubeck but this did not result in more
than a fraction of the industrial damage done in Dusseldorf.

In Dusseldorfs 380 acres of complete devastation no less than 30 factories and important works were either completely destroyed or so damaged that output must be seriously curtailed.

Among them were six factories making steel products or machinery, two factories making steel tubes, one making machine tools and magnetic mines, two chemical works and many other factories producing a variety of commodities such as enamel, paper, boilers, wire, insulating materials, railway wagons and harvesting machinery.

This formidable list of destroyed or seriously damaged factories is additional to the 24 factories damaged in the raid of the last night of August.

The estimate of 380 acres of complete devastation mentioned above does not include innumerable isolated incidents of bomb and blast damage throughout the city and its suburbs.

NB: the numbers of aircraft involved vary between different official accounts.

Armourers make final checks on the bomb load of an Avro Lancaster B Mark I of No. 207 Squadron RAF at Syerston, Nottinghamshire, before a night bombing operation to Bremen, Germany. The mixed load (Bomber Command executive codeword ‘Usual’), consists of a 4,000-lb HC bomb (‘cookie’) and small bomb containers (SBCs) filled with 30-lb incendiaries, with the addition of four 250-lb target indicators (TI).

The forward section of an Avro Manchester Mark I of No. 207 Squadron RAF, while running up the port Rolls-Royce Vulture II engine at Waddington, Lincolnshire, showing the nose with the bomb-aimer’s window, the forward gun-turret and the pilot’s cockpit.

Vickers Wellington Mark IV, Z1407 ‘BH-Z’, “Zośka”, of No. 300 Polish Bomber Squadron RAF on the ground at Ingham, Lincolnshire, having lost most of its rear fuselage fabric through battle damage sustained on 4/5 September 1942 when raiding Bremen, Germany. In spite of a damaged wireless set, a badly working rudder, damaged flaps and no navigational instruments, the pilot, Pilot Officer Stanisław Machej, with the cooperation of his whole crew, brought the aircraft safely home.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anita MacCutcheon September 9, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I lived in Dusseldorf,and our Apartment bld.that belonged to my Grandparents 6 floors up was completely destroied half the street was only rubble,it was a horrible time.I myself did not know any better for me that was just the way it was,however my big sister knew what life was like before the war.The city is now so beautyful,it was destoied between 80&85% there where over 200000 homeless people in the city and when the refugees from east Germany came it went from bad to worse.No one can immagine what it was like no food,no cloth,we only had the cloth on our back when we got bombed and there was nothing in the stores to buy,we where lucky my Mother knew how to sew so she pieced scaps together to make a dress etc.

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: