Intense RAF daylight bombing raids on Germany

A view of the raid in progress on one of Cologne's two power stations.

The continued need to put pressure on the Luftwaffe and divert resources from Russia saw the RAF stepping up their attacks:

The heaviest daylight bombing raid against Germany since the outbreak of war was carried out with considerable success on the 12th August. In this major operation 78 bombers and 485 fighters were employed; the targets were two of the main power stations in the Rhineland—the Goldenburg at Cologne-Knapsack and the Quadrath Fortuna at Cologne.

The day’s operations began with a sweep by 84 fighters escorting 6 Hampdens in an attack on St. Omer aerodrome, the object being to draw off the enemy force based in the district ; it is estimated that 150 Me. 109s were engaged in the combats which ensued.

While this operation was in progress 54 Blenheims, escorted by Whirlwinds of Fighter Command, left the coast and, flying low over the sea, penetrated through the mouth of the Scheldt to Antwerp, where the covering Whirlwinds returned to base. Simultaneously, a Fortress bombed De Kooy aerodrome from 32,000 feet, to keep enemy fighters in that area employed.

Meanwhile the Blenheims, flying close to the ground, located and attacked, under favourable weather conditions, the two power stations at Cologne. From reports received, both power stations appear to have been severely damaged in most determined attacks ; 24 tons of bombs were dropped on the turbine and boiler houses and the targets were left with fires blazing.

Heavy A.A. fire was encountered, but only three Me. 109s were seen; further diversions by Fortresses over Cologne and the naval base at Emden assisted in drawing off enemy fighters, which might otherwise have attacked. These Fortresses released their bombs from 35,000 and 37,000 feet respectively.

The Blenheims were met at Antwerp on their homeward journey by formations of Spitfires and, during this withdrawal, a further diversion was carried out by 144 fighters escorting 6 Hampdens to attack Gosnay Power Station, near Bethune; bursts were seen on or around the target. Later, 4 Blenheims with fighter escort bombed the shipyards at Le Trait, near Rouen, hits being obtained on slipways and on a ship alongside.

In this series of co-ordinated operations we lost 12 Blenheims and 10 fighters. Four enemy aircraft were destroyed, 5 probably destroyed and 10 damaged.

From the Air Situation Report for the week see TNA CAB 66/18/17

The view from a Blenheim bomber as it finishes its bomb run over the other Cologne power station with bombs exploding on target.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Fiona Cox January 5, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Hello John Cooper
Graham Rolland was my uncle. It was his first mission. The Blenheim crashed on the way out to Cologne with your cousin, Hugh Clark. It may have hit some ducks or been shot down, there are conflicting descriptions. The historical society in Strijen has done some research regarding servicemen who are buried there and sent us some photos a few years ago of the burial. The burgomaster tended the graves and his daughter lived with us for a while when I was a child.
Best wishes, Fiona Cox nee Rolland

Ian Mitchell April 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

My dad Leslie Charles Mitchell was the gunner in one of the Blenheims that day. I think it was his 14th sortie. Their plane was shot down over the North Sea on the way home by a 109. All three crew were rescued and spent the rest of the war as prisoners, including time at Stalag Luft iii. Dad was 19 at the time. I have just read Max Hastings’ and Anthony Beevor’s books on WWII but these early bombing raids by Blenheims do not get a mention. Shame. All brave lads. Both excellent books though.

Ian Jenkins January 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Thank you , Martin, for the photograph. Brave boys indeed.

Regards,

Ian

John Cooper July 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm

A cousin of mine P/O Hugh Maxwell Clark was navigator in an 82 Squadron Blenheim lost on this raid. Their target was the Quadrath Fortuna power station at Cologne. His pilot was 18 yr old Graham Cooper Rolland and third crew member Sgt Ernest Bainbridge. All buried at Strijen Protestant Cemetery, south of Rotterdam. I presume they were on the way home, but possibly hit on way over. Official record does not specify. Any experts tell me how to get more precise info.?

Editor July 10, 2012 at 10:28 am

Hi Ian

I did find Low-level oblique aerial photograph taken during a major daylight raid on the docks at Rotterdam, Holland, by Bristol Blenheim Mark IVs of No. 2 Group. Blenheims of No. 21 Squadron RAF approach the target at low-level.

-Low-level oblique aerial photograph taken during a major daylight raid on the docks at Rotterdam, Holland, by Bristol Blenheim Mark IVs of No. 2 Group. Blenheims of No. 21 Squadron RAF approach the target at low-level.-

although I can’t immediately find the date of this raid. Hopefully somebody else will have more.

regards

Martin

Ian Jenkins July 9, 2012 at 9:00 pm

My Uncle, Sgt Thomas Parkinson was navigating one of the Blenheims on this day. If anybody has any other photographs or memories of him or 21 Sqn I’d love to hear from you.
Regards,
Ian

Dr Mivart Thomas September 7, 2011 at 12:34 am

My uncle, Sgt WEST JL, RAF (VR), (983201), was the navigator of one of the Blenheims lost in this raid. His plane was last seen by others in the returning squadron losing height over the coast of Holland. He now lies in a war grave in Germany.

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