bombing

Aug

15

1943

Time to relax as bombers are heard overhead


15th August 1943: Time to relax as bombers are heard overhead

As I lay in bed the other night I heard the Deep Purr of our bombers winging their way to Hamburg… This is a comfortable feeling. I turned lazily in bed and glowed at the thought, going back in my mind to those awful months when to hear that noise overhead was to know the Germans were going to pour death and destruction on us. It meant in those days a readjustment of the mind to the fact that this might be one’s last night on earth — or that by the morning one might be homeless and possessionless.

Aug

12

1943

Flight Sergeant Aaron dies saving his crew


12th August 1943: Flight Sergeant Aaron dies saving his crew

A bullet struck Flight Sergeant Aaron in the face, breaking his jaw and tearing away part of his face. He was also wounded in the lung and his right arm was rendered useless. As he fell forward over the control column, the aircraft dived several thousand feet. Control was regained by the flight engineer at 3,000 feet. Unable to speak, Flight Sergeant Aaron urged the bomb aimer by signs to take over the controls. Course was then set southwards in an endeavour to fly the crippled bomber, with one engine out of action, to Sicily or North Africa.

Aug

4

1943

The horror of Hamburg resounds around Germany


4th August 1943: The horror of Hamburg resounds around Germany

The news from Hamburg is simply beyond the grasp of the imagination – streets of boiling asphalt into which the victims sank and were boiled alive, veritable cities of ruins, which cover the dead and surround those still alive like some jagged stone martyr’s crown. The talk is of 200,000 dead. I am not one who believes everything he is told. I much prefer seeing the thing for myself. And I think that in this case what I have seen with my own eyes suffices.

Aug

1

1943

USAAF long distance, low level raid on Ploesti oil fields


1st August 1943: USAAF long distance, low level raid on Ploesti oil fields

I looked out to the right for a moment and saw a sheet of raw gasoline trailing Pete’s left wing. He stuck right in formation with us. He must have known he was hard hit because the gas was coming out in such volume that it blinded the waist gunners in his ship from our view. Poor Petel Fine religious, conscientious boy with a young wife waiting for him back in Texas. He was holding his ship in formation to drop his bombs on the target, knowing if he didn’t pull up he would have to fly through a solid room of fire with a tremendous stream of gasoline gushing from his ship. I flicked the switch intermittently to fire the remote-control, fixed fifty caliber machine guns specially installed for my use. I watched my tracers dig the ground. Poor Pete. How I wished he’d pull up a few hundred feet and drop from a higher altitude.

Jul

29

1943

Germany is stunned by the impact of the Hamburg raids


29th July 1943: Germany is stunned by the impact of the Hamburg raids

A city of a million inhabitants has been destroyed in a manner unparalleled in history. We are faced with problems that are almost impossible of solution. Food must be found for this population of a million. Shelter must be secured. The people must be evacuated as far as possible. They must be given clothing. In short, we are facing problems there of which we had no conception even a few weeks ago.

Jul

28

1943

Hamburg is devastated by a firestorm


28th July 1943: Hamburg is devastated by a firestorm

We were all deeply shocked by this.Our situation at this point was almost hopeless. We were surrounded by fire and would probably die from hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning. Gradually despair spread around us, and we had to give some thought to our position. Apart from the firestorm stemming from incendiary bombs, phosphorous, and liquid canisters (Flüssigkeitskanister), and the hurricane that raged through the streets, there stood opposite our apartment building a big timber business that would provide additional violence in the hell of fire.

Jul

24

1943

Operation Gomorrah – German night-fighters are duped

hamburg bombing


24th July 1943: Operation Gomorrah – and the German night-fighters are duped

What was to be done? The uncertainty of the ground stations was communicated to the crews. Since this game of hide-and-seek went on for some time I thought: To hell with them all, and flew straight to Amsterdam. By the time I arrived over the capital the air position was still in a complete muddle. No one knew where the British were, but all the pilots were reporting pictures on their screens. I was no exception.

Jul

22

1943

The Red Army goes on to the offensive after Kursk


22nd July 1943: The Red Army goes on to the offensive after Kursk

A grayish yellow cloud arose in front of us, as if created by a hurricane. Heavy rounds whistled overhead and crashed into the artillery positions behind us. It sounded like a frog concert, except with a lot of horrible tones. Shrapnel, tree limbs and clumps of earth hissed through our fruit orchard. Wounded cried out in a way that went to the marrow of your bones: “Meddicccc!” During all of this, we were only on the outskirts, better said, we were between two storms of iron and gunpowder.

Jul

3

1943

A new bomber pilot encounters the skies over Germany

Lancaster engines


3rd July 1943: A new bomber pilot encounters the skies over Germany

The bombs dropped. McLaughlin swung the wheel to port as the bomb-doors closed. Gradually the searchlights and the barrage fell behind us. A sense of relief pervaded me; elated phrases bubbled in my thoughts, and I put my hand to the microphone switch on my mask to utter them. I turned to McLaughlin. His posture was unchanged, his eyes looked back serenely, pale blue, slightly bloodshot. I left the mike switch off, the thoughts unspoken, and bent to take the readings on the fuel gauges.

Jun

25

1943

Guyanian navigator blasted into the sky over Holland


25th June 1943: Bomber navigator blasted into the sky over Holland

The German fired a long volley and a jet of tracer spat out towards us. Addison, from his tail turret, returned fire immediately. The fighter climbed a little and veered off to the right, bringing him into the field of fire of the mid-upper gunner, Sergeant Geoffrey Wallis, who immediately opened fire. Everything was happening very fast. All hell had broken loose.