bombing

Jun

29

1940

Baptism of fire in the western desert

A 3-inch mortar crew of the 2nd Cameron Highlanders training at Mena Camp near Giza, Egypt, 4 June 1940.

We parked by the side of the road and the officer in charge of the party went off in search of orders. I decided to have a closer look at the damage and so I dismounted and wandered off a little way down the street. I heard the noise of aircraft very high in the sky and I saw people running for cover and then suddenly there was a succession of tremendous explosions and it seemed as if the whole world had gone mad all around me. The noise was ear-splitting, the ground shook and the air was filled with flame and smoke.

Jun

17

1940

The Lancastria bombed and sunk, thousands dead

HMT Lancastria at sea

Although I had a lifejacket on, I still had my doubts about being in the water as I was a non-swimmer. We were all saturated with oil. I kicked off from the side of the Lancastria on my back. I kept thinking “got to escape the suction of the ship”. The Lancastria continued to roll over to port. Hundreds of men were now clinging to the upturned hull. Some of those standing on the turning hull started to sing “Roll out the Barrel”.

Jun

16

1940

Civilians continue to flee the War

French refugees flee

Half conscious, but curiously alert to danger, I flung myself into ditches all through the day. It is impossible to judge the trajectory of machine-gun bullets striking from the air; sometimes when the aircraft seemed overhead they went wide, sometimes inexplicably close and once, I felt them thudding into the earth a few inches from my head.

Jun

15

1940

The RAF bomb Italy

A high level RAF aerial reconnaissance flight photograph of Genoa taken June 1940.

On the 15th/16th June eight Wellingtons were despatched from aerodromes in Southern France to bomb Genoa. Heavy local thunderstorms were encountered and only one aircraft bombed the target; several hits were registered.

May

25

1940

Norfolks fight on as bombing fails to halt Germans

Pontoon bridge over La Bassee Canal. German PzKpfw 38(t) crossing. probably on 27th May, from Rommel's personal collection, later captured by the British.

‘Great enemy air activity today. Had orders to move back to Festubert. Sent Cameron on billeting, then arrived self with 1 Pl. Got settled in and was going to look for Camerons in War Cemetery when we were called back to Estaires. Lot of enemy air bombing along roads. Then had orders to move back to Violaines. Later in afternoon Coy Comdrs went on to meet Queens Regt, who we were to relieve in L.B. and recce area there. The usual defences of a canal in a town. Mortar shelling. ‘

May

14

1940

Rotterdam bombed, RAF suffer major losses

Bombing damage to the medieval city of Rotterdam

The Dutch were in the process of negotiating with Germans when they were subjected to a massive air raid. The incident continues to attract controversy. The German commander had intended to make a combined assault supported by dive bombers to hit specific targets but Heinkel III general bombers were allotted to the raid, and the German land forces were unable to call them off whilst their negotiations continued.

Apr

23

1945

Seventeen year olds hold defences in burning Berlin

T-34-85 tanks of the 7th Guards Tank Corps in the suburbs of Berlin. In the foreground is the burning skeleton of a German car.

The roaring resumes and we throw ourselves down, pressing tight against the brick wall and wait, wait as we have already done so often. Then come the bangs and splintering as the bombs strike the stone colossus next to us. Splinters and masonry shower down around us, falling on our steel helmets and our bodies. The explosions in the street go on and on. The lights in the stairwell of the building across the street suddenly come on. We shout, and it goes dark again, except for the fires burning everywhere, lighting up the street.

Mar

21

1945

‘Maximum effort’ to ‘soften up’ the Rhine

Boston Mark III, AL775 ‘RH-D’, of No. 88 Squadron RAF based at Attlebridge, Norfolk, in flight.

The next morning, 21 March, Bocholt was again listed as the target. On the bombing run No. 1 in the box was badly damaged and an air gunner’s leg was almost shot away but the pilot retained control and made an emergency landing at Eindhoven. No. 2 in the box received a direct hit as the bombs fell away and virtually disintegrated, taking down No. 3, an all-Australian crew, from which one parachute was seen to emerge. This belonged to an air gunner who although captured on landing was freed eight days later by advancing British troops.

Mar

14

1945

‘Ace in a Day’ as P-51 pilot downs five FW-190s

Lt. Gordon H. McDaniel is presented with an Ace by his commanding officer.

We were headed east.  We were in an area where anything could happen.  Over the radio … I told the rest of the men to hold their fire until we positively identified the planes below us.  You see, I thought they might be Russian planes.  I certainly didn’t want to get in a fight if they were.  So… we dropped in behind them.  They never knew we were there.  They were flying a pretty sloppy formation.  Sort of strung out in a long uneven line.  I closed up behind the last plane … about 150 feet from him.  There was no doubt about it … they were Jerry planes.

Mar

9

1945

Tokyo firestorm – deadliest bombing raid ever

Charred remains of Japanese civilians after the firebombing of Tokyo on the night of 9–10 March 1945.

The wind and flames became terrific. We were in Hell. All the houses were burning, debris raining down on us. It was horrible. Sparks flew everywhere. Electric wires sparked and toppled. Mother, with my little brother on her back, had her feet swept out from under her by the wind and she rolled away. Father jumped after her. “Are you all right?” he screamed. Yoshiaki shouted, “Dad!” I don’t know if his intention was to rescue Father or to stay with him, but they all disappeared instantly into the flames and black smoke. Everything was buming. In front of us were factories, red flames belching from windows.