bombing

Jan

30

1944

London tense as the bombing starts again

The Home Guard: Photograph contrasting a 1940 Local Defence volunteer with a 1944 Home Guard. Both were members of 32 Surrey Battalion.

The recent night in which London underwent two air raids was certainly the noisiest in months. Plenty of citizens, as their beds quaked, must have wondered if this was the answer to everyone’s question whether heavy raiding is to be expected again. The damage turned out to be nothing much, but the racket from the ground defenses was quite up to standard.

Jan

27

1944

Luftwaffe night fighter scores four RAF Lancasters

Avro Lancaster B Mark I, R5729 'KM-A', of No 44 Squadron, Royal Air Force runs up its engines in a dispersal at Dunholme Lodge, Lincolnshire, before setting out on a night raid to Berlin. This veteran aircraft had taken part in more than 70 operations with the Squadron since joining it in 1942. It was finally shot down with the loss of its entire crew during a raid on Brunswick on the night of 14-15 January 1944.

But there still remained the darkness and the impenetrable cloud bank around us. The altimeter showed 6,000 feet, but not until 12,000 did we catch a glimpse of the stars. God be praised – we had won through. Now, above us, was a cloudless sky with bright stars such as one only sees on clear winter nights. I skimmed the clouds, heading for the Baltic coast and waited for further orders.

Jan

2

1944

US Marines at Cape Gloucester are dive bombed

Marine mortar in action. Supporting the attack on Cape Gloucester, Marine mortarmen behind their riflemen buddies, form a bucket brigade line to pass the ammunition as they fire into Japanese positions with their 81mm mortar.

Navar and I had been a little way from the gun position when we got the condition: “RED”. Our radar had picked up some incoming dive-bombers. You could always tell the Japanese bombers as they had a different sound to their engines and we ran over to our gun section. Everyone was in the slit trench and Navar and I couldn’t get in for lack of space. The bombs were starting to fall very close.

Jan

1

1944

Hope and dread for the New Year in Berlin

Berliners now knew that the air defences could not prevent the widespread destruction of their city.

We said goodbye by the light of our torches and I was walking home alone when suddenly a ruined house collapsed, just behind me, with a terrifying crash. My hat was blown off, and if it had happened a second earlier I should have been buried. All the same I was not at all frightened, I don’t know why.

Dec

8

1943

The trials of a new USAAF Bomber Group in England

The con trails of USAAF  B-17 Flying Fortresses  on their way to bomb Germany.

Vulnerability to German fighters. The early planners had so admired the B-17, which, when first designed, could defend itself quite well, by its speed and altitude, that fighter escort was assumed to be unnecessary. They forgot that fighters could improve too. During the first year of combat, American bomber forces took tragic losses. Available fighters were too “short-legged” to follow the bombers all the way in to far away targets that had to be destroyed.

Dec

3

1943

‘Orchestrated Hell’ – Murrow reports from over Berlin

Lancaster B Mark III, LM449 ‘PG-H’, of No. 619 Squadron RAF based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, in flight.

I looked down, and the white fires had turned red. They were beginning to merge and spread, just like butter does on a hot plate. Jock and Buzz, the bomb-aimer, began to discuss the target. The smoke was getting thick down below. Buzz said he liked the two green flares on the ground almost dead ahead. He began calling his directions. And just then a new bunch of big flares went down on the far side of the sea of flame and flare that seemed to be directly below us. He thought that would be a better aiming point. Jock agreed and we flew on.

Dec

2

1943

Mustard Gas disaster in Bari harbour

Firefighters were not warned that of the toxic smoke which engulfed the area,

We were not left long in doubt. Bombs began to rain down: the chatter of 20mm guns and the louder booming of the 40mm and 4.7’s joined the cacophony. Outside our door a pom-pom opened up and all hell seemed to be let loose. Occasionally the old ship would shudder as a near miss shook the water. Then a bomb fell just off the starboard bow to be followed up by an incredible welter of noise as one landed just off the port quarter. The Cypher Office collapsed on top of us, flames shot up where a second before had been steel plating.

Nov

26

1943

Troopship Rohna sunk – over 1000 US troops lost

The troopship Rohna, sunk on the 26th November 1943 in the Mediterranean by German radio guided glider bombs.

What with the swells pushing me around, and doing the same to the others nearby, it wasn’t long before we were becoming separated. The calls for help were faint and shouts for assistance were becoming fainter as the distances widened. My attention was focused on that ship I was trying to get to, and as the darkness became deeper, I was beginning to wonder if I would make it before she moved away.

Nov

25

1943

Goebbels alarmed as Berlin struggles to recover

An aerial (oblique) photograph taken from a De Havilland Mosquito of the RAF Film and Photographic Unit showing badly damaged buildings in the area between Friedrich Hain and Lichtenberg, Berlin. Undated - probably taken later in the war.

The English therefore got away pretty cheaply with this attack. Conditions in the city are pretty hopeless. The air is filled with smoke and the smell of fires. The Wilhelmplatz and the Wilhelmstrasse present a gruesome picture. There was nothing to be done except to press everybody available into service and wait for rain, which came later in the day.

Nov

23

1943

Terror of devastating air raid on Berlin

One of the attacking RAF Avro Lancaster bombers over the target area during the night raid on Berlin on 22-23 November 1943

We had hardly got there when we heard the first approaching planes. They flew very low and the barking of the flak was suddenly drowned by a very different sound – that of exploding bombs, first far away and then closer and closer, until it seemed as if they were falling literally on top of us. At every crash the house shook. The air pressure was dreadful and the noise deafening. For the first time I understood what the expression Bombenteppich [‘bomb carpet’] means – the Allies call it ‘saturation’ bombing.