Britain celebrates Bomber Offensive against Germany

The anniversary of three years of war presented the opportunity to review Britain’s progress. Yet on the face of it there was little to celebrate. Britain had been pushed out Europe, first in France then in Norway then in Greece. The ‘Second Front’ looked a long way off. The disasters of early 1942 in the Far East had been a humiliation for the British Empire. In the desert of North Africa it still looked very much as if British Forces were on the back foot. Whatever plans were afoot for the future there was little to celebrate. The Ministry of Information did the best it could.

The one substantive area of progress were the operations of Bomber Command, the one area where Britain was hitting back, apparently effectively.

The War Cabinet were presented with statistics on the growing power of Bomber Command during the weekly review ending on 30th September:

Sept. 3,1939, to Aug. 31, 1940 : 11,094 aircraft sorties 6,765 tons bombs dropped

Sept. 1,1940, to Aug. 31, 1941 : 30,947 aircraft sorties 28,427 tons bombs dropped

Sept. 1, 1941, to Aug. 31, 1942 : 30,184 aircraft sorties 40,592 tons bombs dropped

From the Air Situation Report for the week as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB 66/29/23

For roughly the same number of sorties about 25% more bombs were being dropped. It was all down to the new heavy bombers, principally the Lancaster.

The seven man crew of an Avro Lancaster bomber wait near the crew room at Waddington, Lincolnshire for transport out to their aircraft. The pigeons seen in boxes in the foreground are homing pigeons carried for communication purposes in case of ditching or radio failure.

Three Avro Lancaster B Mark Is of No 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force based at Waddington, Lincolnshire, flying above the clouds on 29 September 1942. Left to right: W4125, `KM-W’, being flown by Sergeant Colin Watt, Royal Australian Air Force; W4162,`KM-Y’, flown by Pilot Officer T G Hackney, (later killed while serving with No 83 Squadron); and W4187, `KM-S’, flown by Pilot Officer J D V S Stephens DFM, who was killed with his crew two nights later during a raid on Wismar.

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