The RAF continues the attack on Brest

More and more Squadrons were now being equipped with the modern four engined bombers, including the Halifax, and the tonnage of bombs dropped started to increase markedly.

The German capital ships at Brest continued to be a prime target for RAF bombers, as they had been for most of the last year. There was some confidence that the repeated attacks had caused sufficient damage to the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau to disable them but the absence of a clear ‘knockout out’ blow meant that they remained high on the target list:

Bomber Command despatched 508 sorties, compared with 424 last week, and lost only three aircraft. A total of 514 tons of H.E. bombs (including 17 of 4,000 lbs. and 52 of 2,000 lbs.), and 24,000 incendiaries were dropped. Unsuitable weather prevented operations on two nights. The principal effort was directed against the Gneisenau, Scharnhorst and Prinz Eugen, which were attacked on each of the remaining nights of the week.

On the night of the 5th, 140 aircraft dropped 203 tons of H.E. bombs and 7,200 incendiaries on the dock area at Brest, and, on four other nights, a total of 126 aircraft dropped a further 186 tons of H.E. bombs and 12,680 incendiaries on the same objective. Visibility was generally poor, but, during the heaviest raid, occasional gaps in the cloud enabled the crews to observe bomb bursts in the dock and dry-dock areas and along the torpedo boat quay. They also saw large fires followed by explosions in the town and Port Militaire.

St. Nazaire and Cherbourg docks were bombed on two nights, several large fires resulting at each of the targets. The submarine pens at St. Nazaire are believed to have been straddled.

From the Air Situation Report for the week as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB66/20/46

The U-Boat bunkers, also at Brest, were immense concrete structures built in autumn 1941. There were no bombs yet available to the RAF to deal with them.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dassie Macleod December 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Finished reading the book “Fiasco” by J.D.Potter, about the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen sailing from Brest to German waters. Although dating from 1970, it is a well written book and recommended reading.

Bill Truscott May 5, 2014 at 5:44 am

My Father was on HMCS Thunder and said he watched the raids on the sub pens he described them as “Thousand Plane Raids” He said there would be one squadron bombing and others lined up as far as he could see. It seemed to go on forever. He tells a story of a Battleship bombarding the coast and a British Destroyer had the misfortune to sail under the guns as the BB let off a Broadside. As a sig. Dad was asked to flash a signal to the Brit DD ” how goes the war” The Brit replied ” not bad but the novelty soon wears off.”

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