Low level attack on Rotterdam

The view from the dorsal turret of a Blenheim bomber as bombs explode in the docks of Rotterdam during the raid on 16th July 1941.

Attacks against enemy shipping were particularly successful and the destruction caused was very great, vessels totalling over 155,000 tons being hit.

A number of these ships are known to have been destroyed, and others were damaged so severely that they are likely to be out of service for a considerable time.

The greater part of these successes was obtained during an attack by thirty-six Blenheims of Bomber Command during the afternoon of the 16th July. These aircraft, for which fighter protection was provided on their homeward flight, were despatched against a concentration of shipping at Rotterdam, the majority of wdiich were vessels of 4,000 tons and upwards, and which had been previously located by air reconnaissance.

Our bombers proceeded at mast height to the objectives, complete surprise being achieved. A total of seventeen vessels, amounting to 97,000 tons, are claimed as destroyed, while a further five ships, totalling an additional 43,000, were hit and probably severely damaged.

The Blenheims passed over Rotterdam, where two warehouses and a factory were set alight, so low that one aircraft severed the cable of a derrick. Heavy anti-aircraft fire was encountered and four of our bombers were lost, two of these having scored direct hits before being shot down.

From the Air Situation Report for the week see TNA CAB 66/17/39

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