bombing

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.

Feb

28

1945

Churchill – on the ‘terror’ bombing of Germany

An overview of the widespread destruction in the centre of Dresden.

Attacks on cities like any other act of war are intolerable unless they are strategically justified. But they are strategically justified in so far as they tend to shorten the war and preserve the lives of Allied soldiers. To my mind we have absolutely no right to give them up unless it is certain that they will not have this effect. I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier.

The feeling, such as there is, over Dresden, could be easily explained by any psychiatrist. It is connected with German bands and Dresden shepherdesses. Actually Dresden was a mass of munitions works, an intact government centre, and a key transportation point to the East. It is now none of these things.

Feb

21

1945

Fatal error at 18,000 feet over Germany

Vertical photographic-reconnaissance aerial showing water pouring through a breach in the western channel of the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen, Germany, following a daylight attack by aircraft of No. 5 Group, Bomber Command. This was the fourth time that Bomber Command had put the canal out of action, following repairs by the Germans.

He had made the fatal mistake of picking up his parachute pack by the shiny handle, the ripcord, and it had opened in the aircraft. He had, however clipped it to his harness and gathered the canopy in his arms. I watched him jump and saw the canopy which was torn from his grasp by the slipstream pass over the top of the tail-plane and his body beneath. His body was found later on the ground, still attached to his parachute: he had been killed by the impact when dragged back into the tail by his entangled canopy.

Feb

16

1945

Bombs and shells pound the surface of Iwo Jima

The entire,  tiny, eight-square-mile island of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Group, halfway between Saipan and Tokyo, is seen under attack by U.S. Army 7th Air Force Consolidated B-24 Liberators. A cross-like airfield is directly in the center of the island, beneath the smoke of bombs, and the triangular field is clearly visible to its right. 7th Air Force Liberators have pounded Iwo Jima since August.

Black smoke covered the island, and shrapnel was flying all over the place with a shrieking sound. Trees with trunks one meter across were blown out of the ground, roots uppermost. The sound was deafening, as terrible as a couple of hundred thunderclaps coming down at once. Even in a cave thirty meters underground, my body was jerked up off the ground. It was hell on earth.

Feb

15

1945

Shot down and in the hands of the SS

Berlin, February 1945.

Three SS officers proceeded to question me for several hours, then stripped me of all my clothing, wrapped me in a blanket and took me about 16 kilometres by horse and wagon to a point somewhere west of the Rhine. We arrived at a German evacuation hospital, where there were about 300 wounded Germans and where they left me for a day and a night with no medical attention. Then we started on another trip further into Germany, to the finest hospital one could ask for anywhere — large, modern and shining. Here at last, I thought, was a chance to have my wounds dressed.

Feb

14

1945

Ash Wednesday in burning Dresden

An overview of the widespread destruction in the centre of Dresden.

At the beginning people had got hold of a little tea somewhere and distributed it by the mouthful. Soon there was nothing at all, not a drop of water, not even for the wounded and dying. The medical orderlies complained that they could not help anyone. The vigorous Waldmann felt tormented by thirst to such a degree that he literally began to fade away. He fell asleep, started up in a wretched state, he had been dreaming of drinking. New medical orderlies came. One put a bottle to Waldmann’s mouth.

Feb

3

1945

Maximum Effort: USAAF send a 1000 B-17s to Berlin

The first bombs fall on Berlin on 3rd February.

And how about those endless hours strapped up in heavy flying gear, under a flak suit, Mae West life preserver and chute harness, pulling your breath through five yards of hose, wondering where the next wall of flak will appear. Or enduring the endless throb of engine sound . . . . not daring to give in to fatigue . . . . or even hunger . . . . or the anticipation and dread of injury at altitude, hours away from medical attention . . . . or bailing out into that fifty-below-zero gale outside.

Jan

4

1945

V2 rockets bring sudden death to London

The mobile launchers for the V2 were extremely hard to track down - and would continue firing to the end of the war.

I suppose the incident that really topped the lot was 4 January 1945 when the Lambeth Baths received a direct hit from a V2 rocket; 37 people were killed. Amazingly enough our little back room was not damaged at all but the white tiled wall adjoining it in the square of the flats was leaning at a very peculiar angle. I’d been in bed, was awoken by my Aunt Kit and Mum lifting me out very gingerly because once again the windows had blown in and my bed was full of broken glass! I was cut on the face etc and got taken to relatives along the Kennington Road for the rest of the night.

Jan

2

1945

Nuremberg – ‘a near-perfect example of area bombing’

RAF reconnaissance picture for post raid evaluation.

The drama that happened during the air raid was explained to me by a surviving POW: A petroleum incendiary bomb fell on the center of the trench badly burning some POWs. A number of them ran towards one end of the shelter, the others towards the other end. This is where the most unexpected happened. It does not occur once in a million times, two explosive bombs falling so close to one another and in a straight line. One bomb fell on one end of the shelter, the second bomb falling on the other end of the trench, leaving an horrible carnage of mangled bodies. The following day the valid and the wounded were forced to come to work escorted by their guards pushing them along. It was a vision of hell: Men walking with self-made crutches, some of them had their wounds covered with filthy rags soaked with blood, the valid helping the wounded.