‘Circus’ raids are stepped up

A daylight raid on Comines power station in north east France by Blenheim bombers on 28th June scored a direct hit on the turbine hall and caused much damage. Six workers were killed.

Daylight raids and fighter sweeps over northern France, known as ‘Circus’ raids, had been under way all year. The invasion of Russia had seen the greater part of the Luftwaffe transferred to the east. Now the RAF stepped up their attacks in an attempt to force the Germans to maintain stronger air defences in the west.

Aircraft of Bomber Command continued their offensive operations against targets in North-East France and Germany, in the course of which hits were registered on Steel Works at Lille, Power Stations, at Comines and Pont-a- Vendin nearby, a crowded railway yard near Oldenburg, runways and buildings at Merville Aerodrome and the seaplane base at Borkum.

The attacks by bombers on objectives in France were made with fighter escort, and fighter sweeps were also carried out over these total of 124 squadrons being employed. We lost 11 bombers and 24 fighters, but the pilots of 2 Spitfires were rescued. Ten aircraft were destroyed by our bombers, who probably destroyed 3 more and damaged 7. Our fighters shot down a total of 39 Messerschmitts, including a number of Me. 109 Fs, probably destroyed 15 more and damaged 18.

The increase in German defensive patrols noted last week was maintained, the average being 290: per day over the Straits area, though on the 27th June these reached the exceptional figure of 590 sorties.

From the Air Situation Report for the week see TNA CAB 66/17/24

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Glen Towler June 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm

I do wonder what was the true loses on the German side. I know the losses where pretty awful on the RAF side and lots of pilots did think the Circus offensive was a waste of pilots and aircraft

Jason Pilalas June 28, 2016 at 10:53 pm

Victory claims by the RAF over France and Belgium in 1941-42 were very overstated. The reality was a ratio of 3-2 in favor of the Germans, and of course most of the surviving pilots became POWs. All the advantages which had accrued to Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain reversed when Leigh-Mallory “leaned into France.” The raids were pinpricks, but the political need to be seen as helping the Russians held sway. If some of the Spitfires had been deployed to Malta, North Africa and Singapore earlier a lot of history might have turned out better for the Empire.

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