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