Monday, June 22, 2015

British and American Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities 28 Mar 1942 - 3 Apr 1945

Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities

28 Mar 1942 - 3 Apr 1945

Aerial bombing against civilian cities was not a new phenomenon; the British had already experienced such raids in WW1 conducted by German Zeppelins. However, the advance in aircraft technology brought bombing to a new level. Even Prime Minister Winston Churchill said "our supreme effort must be to gain overwhelming mastery in the air. The fighters are our salvation, but the bombers alone can provide the means to victory." As the war progressed heavy bombers such as the British Avro Lancaster bombers made their entrances in the war and carpet bombing entire industrial cities with their great payloads. The lack of accuracy for these bombing missions often inflicted damage to non-military areas; the Allies knew it, but felt it was an inevitable part of war. Some precisely used this tactic against Germany, such as Royal Air Force Bomber Command's Air Marshal Arthur Harris. His area bombing campaigns were meant to demoralize the German population, but it became a matter of controversy immediately following the war as his campaigns were accused of being terror bombing.
Bombing of Münster
Münster, Germany saw its first large scale bombing on 5 Jul 1941 when 63 British Wellington bombers arrived shortly after midnight with 396 500-pound bombs, 50 250-pound bombs, and almost 6,000 4-pound incendiary bombs. The city was caught unprepared, with anti-aircraft weapons not arriving until 8 Jul. Prior to the bombing, historian Dr. Franz Weimers was hired by the city to chronicle the war, and he was given permission to wonder the streets to make observations and take photographs even during air raids. On 9 Jul, he wrote of what he had witnessed that morning after the British bombers had already left.
The poor people who stood at corners and in the squares with their few retrieved belongings but did not know where to go were a pitiful sight to behold. The authorities responsible for providing accommodation, such as the Red Cross, the security service, and deployed battalions, were all working at it at full speed, and consequently all homeless people could be accommodated in the evening, even if some of the solutions were only provisional.
The city continued to receive bombings throughout the war. By the end of the war, more than 90% of the Old City and more than half of the city overall were destroyed.
Bombing of Lübeck
28-29 Mar 1942
The first major bombing by the Royal Air Force Bomber Command was conducted against the port city of Lübeck. The city dated back to the Hanseatic days, thus many buildings were made of wood; Harris said that Lübeck was built "more like a fire-lighter than a human habitation". 234 Wellington and Stirling bombers dropped about 400 tons of bombs. Though German defenses were light, 12 of the RAF bombers were still lost in the attack. The damage inflicted was heavy. The first of three waves of bombers used the new "blockbuster" bombs to blast over the building roofs and windows, allowing subsequent bombers and their incendiary bombs to contents inside of buildings on fire. 1,468 buildings were destroyed, 2,180 were seriously damaged, and 9,103 were lightly damaged; together, this represented 62% of all buildings in Lübeck. Initial German reports showed 301 killed, 3 were missing, and 783 were wounded, but actual deaths might be as high as 1,000; 15,000 people, or 10% of the city's population, was displaced. After seeing footage of the destruction, German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary "[t]he damage is really enormous, I have been shown a newsreel of the destruction. It is horrible. One can well imagine how such a bombardment affects the population".
Smaller scale raids were conducted against Lübeck subsequently. On 16 Jul 1942, 21 Stirling bombers were dispatched to bomb Lübeck; 8 aircraft reached the city and 2 were lost. On 24-25 Jul 1943, 13 Mosquito aircraft bombed Lübeck as diversion for the main target of Hamburg (see Bombing of Hamburg later in this article). On 15-16 Sep 1943, 9 Mosquito aircraft bombed Lübeck as diversion for the main target of Kiel. On 2-3 Apr 1945, Lübeck was hit by RAF bombers manned by training crews.
Bombing of Augsburg
17 Apr 1942
Section Contributor: Alan Chanter
At 1400 hours on the 17th of April, twelve Lancaster bombers, six each from the RAF's Nos. 44 (Rhodesian) and 97 Squadrons in four sections of three aircraft, took off from their bases at Woodhall Spa and Waddington for a daring low-level attack on the MAN diesel engine factory at Augsburg deep in the heart of Bavaria, Germany. The Squadrons involved had only recently re-equipped with the new four engine bomber (in December 1941 and January 1942 respectively) and this raid was to be one of Sir Arthur Harris' early trials with the type prior to commencing his night bombing campaign against the Third Reich.
Led by experienced South African Squadron Leader John Nettleton, the aircrews had practiced extensively, in the days prior to the attack, on low level flying training (part of which included a simulated raid on Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom) which led many to speculate that their target would be the German naval facility at Kiel. They were therefore more than a little astonished to learn that their target was actually a single building the size of a football pitch located within a larger complex more than 500 miles beyond the French coast.
The operational plan was for the bombers to be over the target in the last light of day, thus allowing them to return under the cover of darkness. Further assistance was to be provided by a diversionary raid by thirty Boston bombers and more than 700 fighter sorties over north-eastern France with the intention of keeping the Luftwaffe's fighters occupied whilst Nettleton's force sped towards Augsburg. Unknown to the Lancaster bombers' crews however, the Boston bombers' raid had been brought forward by twenty minutes with the result that as they withdrew the German fighters were returning to base just as the Lancaster force appeared in the vicinity. Disaster struck when a Messerschmitt pilot spotted the low-flying formation. In a few minutes four of No. 44 Squadron's aircraft were shot down; a third of the force had been lost and the remainder still had 300 miles to fly to reach their target area.
Regardless, Nettleton refused to turn back and the eight surviving aircraft pressed on. Over the target the two remaining No. 44 Squadron aircraft dropped their bombs, but only Nettleton's aircraft escaped the heavy flak to return home. When the two sections of No. 97 aircraft arrived over the factory heavy anti-aircraft fire quickly claimed one machine and, as the last section dropped its bombs, a second Lancaster bomber was seen to explode in mid-air. The five surviving aircraft now had to make the perilous return flight across an enemy territory patrolled by Luftwaffe night fighters. Fortunately none appeared and the Lancaster bombers landed in England at 2300 hours that night.
A reconnaissance flight on the following day revealed that serious damage had indeed been done to the factory, but on closer examination it was noted that of the seventeen bombs that had hit the important engine assembly shop within the factory complex, only twelve had exploded. The cost had been extremely heavy. Of the 85 aircrew involved 37 men had been killed and 12 taken prisoner by the Germans. Eight aircraft had been lost (seven during the raid and one so badly damaged that it had to be written off on returning).
Although the operation had great propaganda value to the British public (having proved that bomber command could reach distant targets within Germany) the implications were serious. Lord Selborne, the Minister of Economic Warfare wrote angrily to Sir Arthur Harris, furious that the target had not been one of those specified by his Ministry for attack. Harris replied that Augsburg had been on an approved list drawn up by the Chiefs of Staff, and there the matter ended. Harris himself had considerable doubts about the wisdom of further daylight attacks. Courageous men and valuable aircraft had been lost even though Bomber Command had already learned not to send unescorted bombers on such sorties. Another lesson was that the Lancaster bomber's rifle-calibre machine guns had proved quite inadequate against enemy fighters that were fitted with self sealing fuel tanks.
For his outstanding determination and leadership Squadron Leader Nettleton, who had nursed his crippled Lancaster aircraft back to England, would be awarded the Victoria Cross, only to be killed during a raid in the July of the following year. Many of the other officers and men who had survived the mission received recognition with the award of Distinguished Service Orders, Distinguished Flying Crosses and Distinguished Flying Medals.
Bombing of Köln
30-31 May 1942
The techniques for the carpet bombing strategy was probably perfected at Köln (commonly Anglicized as Cologne) on 30-31 May 1942 when 2,000 tons of high explosives were delivered by 1,046 bombers in a small 90-minute window The original target was supposed to be Hamburg, the that city was saved as it was shrouded in bad weather. Post-action reports claimed that 250 factories were destroyed, marking the mission a success. What the British report left out was the destruction to downtown Köln, which was clearly the center of the target; countless civilians died, and 45,000 were left homeless. Official German reports noted the destruction of only 36 factories, while 3,300 residences; German reports noted only 469 deaths.
Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring refused to believe such figures; "[i]t's impossible! That many bombs cannot be dropped in a single night!" Author Daniel Swift noted that "Cologne was perfect ruin, and what survived, like the front of the great cathedral, stood only to mark the loss."
With the bombing of Köln, the RAF achieved a great propaganda success. With the magic number of 1,000 bombers on this raid, the RAF proved that the United Kingdom was able to put more bombers in the air against Germany than the Germany could against the United Kingdom.
Bombing of Bremen
25-26 Jun 1942
The British launched the third Thousand Bomber Raid against the German city of Bremen during the night of 25-26 Jun 1942. 1,067 aircraft, most of which from the Bomber Command but also with participation from Coastal Command and Army Cooperation Command, were launched against Bremen. Although only 696 successfully reached the city, they were able to damage the capacity of the Focke-Wulf factory and destroy 572 houses. 85 were killed on the ground, with a further 497 wounded, at a cost of 48 Bomber Command and 5 Coastal Command aircraft.
Bombing of the Ruhr Industrial Region
Essen, the center of the Krupp enterprise in the heart of the industrious Ruhr region, received their share of bombing as well. A Belgian chaplain who had been imprisoned there recalled the effect of British bombing on the region's women and children as "completely chaotic". In Essen, too, the target was the residential districts of the workers, not the factories themselves. Nearby cities of Dortmund, Bochum, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, and Hamm all received similar waves of destruction.
Bombing of Berlin
Berlin did not escape bombing, either. On 1 Mar 1943, Harris noted to his bomber crews that "[y]ou have an opportunity to light a fire in the belly of the enemy and burn his Black Heart out" and sent 302 aircraft, over half Lancaster bombers, over Berlin. Press officer Hans-Georg von Studnitz noted in his diary: [W]e came upon places through which it was impossible to pass by car. Craters filled with water, heaps of rubble, firehoses, ... and convoys of lorries blocked the streets, where thousands of those rendered homeless were searching the ruins, trying to rescue some of their possessions, or were squatting on the pavements and being fed from field kitchens.
On 22 Nov, a major RAF raid struck Berlin again, sending 764 bombers that destroyed 3,000 buildings and killed 2,000; only 26 bombers were lost in the action. Total deaths due to bombings on Berlin in the month of Nov 1943 amounted to over 4,000. Just as the citizens of Berlin thought they had seen the worst, by the beginning of 1944 the Americans were able to send long range fighters to escort bombers all the way to Berlin. The German propaganda machine continuously denounced such attacks on German cities as terror bombing.
Bombing of Hamburg
24 Jul-2 Aug 1943
During the night of 23 Jul 1943, British bombers took off for the German city of Hamburg, which delivered 2,300 tons of bombs to the city between 0100 and 0200 in the early morning of 24 Jul. This began Operation Gomorrah, a bombing campaign against Hamburg. Once again, 8,000-pound "blockbuster" and 4,000-pound "cookie" bombs, both explosive bombs, knocked out roofs and windows, and subsequent waves of bombers dropped 350,412 incendiary bombs to start fires. Crews of the Halifax bombers of the RAF 6 Group, which were among the latter waves, reported "a mass of raging fires with black smoke rising to 19,000 feet".
RAF bombing practice called for lead bombers to drop markers so that the following bombers would know where to release bombs in the dark. Hamburg resident Johann Johannsen, who manned a flak battery that night, recalled being directly underneath one such marker.
High above us we could hear the drone of the enemy machines. Suddenly countless flares were above us, so that the whole city was lit up in a magically bright light.... With incredible swiftness the disaster was suddenly upon us. Before and behind our battery heavy chunks of metal were striking. Howling and hissing, fire and iron were falling from the sky. The whole city was lit up in a sea of flames!
Paul Elingshausen, the deputy air raid warden of his block, remembered the frustration of not being able to fight the massive fires.
There was no running water, the Tommies had smashed the waterworks first... we had to abandon house after house. Finally Dr. Wilm's house caught fire, and I, as deputy air-raid warden, stopped fighting the fire since there was neither sand or water, and the flames were already licking the side of our roof. We started to save what could be saved.... I had all of fourteen minutes to rescue the most important things, some clothes and other stuff.... One cannot imagine how fast fire is, and how easily it can cut off your escape route; this is why I also gave up, no matter how much I would have liked to have this or that. And so I stood below with what little stuff I had, and was forced to watch, full of impotent anger, as our beloved building burned.
The RAF bombers' entrance over German air was aided by "Window", code name for strips of paper coated with foil on one side, which successfully blinded German short-range radar and the anti-aircraft flak weapons that depended on radar. Once they completed their attack on Hamburg, however, German night fighters arrived in response and shot down a number of British bombers.
Only 12 aircraft were lost during the raid of 24 Jul 1943.
At 1440 in the afternoon on the next day, 25 Jul, United States Army Air Force bombers arrived during daylight. The Americans, operating under a separate command, chose to follow up the British bombing for military reasons. Top American commanders noted Hamburg's aircraft parts factories and submarine builders, and the chaos caused by the British bombing the day before might increase the rate of success for the raid. Brigadier General Frederick L. Anderson, Jr. gave the order that day to launch his B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, with the Blohm & Voß shipyards and the Klöckner aircraft engine factories as the primary objectives. When 109 bombers arrived at Hamburg, crews reported that the smoke rising from fires were so heavy that they were having trouble locating their targets. They thought the fires were caused by the first wave of American bombers; little did they know, the fires had actually been burning since the first British raid.
German fighters inflicted a heavy toll on the American bombers. Even as the bombers were fleeing after unloading the bombs, fighters hovered on the edges of the flight groups, looking for bombers that were unable to stay with the group. German fighters were typically afraid of flying into a group of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, as the high concentration of defensive guns meant certain death. However, there were reports of fighters directly challenging bombers, with the most of them employing the strategy of flying from the direction of the sun to mask their attacks. The American bombers returned to Britain around 1930 in the evening, finding that they had lost 15 aircraft.
In the afternoon of Sunday, 25 Jul, Gauleiter of Hamburg Karl Kaufmann decided to seal the city. As the city continued to burn, he announced no one would be allowed leave, reasoning that it would maintain the manpower needed to fight fires and to help survivors. Little did he know that it was only the start of an entire bombing campaign on the city. Keeping the population in the city "ensured the deaths of thousands in the coming days", said Keith Lowe.
At dawn on 26 Jul, USAAF bomber crews gathered again for another mission. To their surprise, they found themselves staring at a map of Hamburg once again. They took off around 0900 that morning. When they arrived at Hamburg at noon time, they were once again blinded by smoke, but this time, the smoke was generated by German efforts to mask areas of the city. The attacking bombers released their 126 tons of bombs in a short one-minute window, scoring direct hits on the Blohm & Voß shipyards and MAN diesel engine works. Neuhof power station was hit by the 303rd Bomber Group, which disabled the power station for the coming two weeks. This precision bombing killed few civilians outside the intended military and infrastructure targets. Only two American bombers were lost on this raid.
The American bombings on 25 and 26 Jul did serious damage to the Blohm & Voß shipyards. Construction shops, ship fitters shops, engine shops, boiler house, power station, foundry, and tool stores were all seriously damaged, while two of the dry docks were also considerably damaged. The Howaldtswerke factory lost several furnaces, shipbuilding and machinery sheds, and the diesel engine shops. Oil stores near the Rosshafen rail station were hit. Putting the Neuhof power station out of commission was probably the most important achievement.
During the night of 26-27 Jul, 6 British Mosquito aircraft conducted a nuisance raid on Hamburg, just like the night before. They were not meant to cause much damage to the city. Instead, they were sent to keep the Hamburg residents on their toes. By depriving them of sleep, the RAF Bomber Commanded intended on destroying their morale bit by bit.
During the night of 27-28 Jul, 787 British bombers attacked Hamburg from the northeast. The direction was chosen so that creep-back would cause damage to a totally different part of town, thus systematically destroying the area from city center outwards. "Creep back" was the term used to describe the fact that, as subsequent bomber crews saw explosions and fires near the target caused by the first waves, they would grow more excited, which led them to release their bomb slightly early. Thus as each subsequent waves released their bombs earlier and earlier, the area of impact crept toward the direction that the bombers were coming from. As city center buildings were already damaged, the British Lancaster, Halifax, and Stirling bombers carried far more incendiary bombs tonight, instead of explosives. The 722 aircraft that reached Hamburg dropped more than 2,313 tons of bombs on Hamburg in the span of 50 minutes. The resulting fire destroyed 16,000 buildings and killed thousands of people. Trevor Timperley of 156 Squadron RAF, who flew two missions over Hamburg, recalled the city being "a sea of flames" on this night. Leonard Cooper, a British flight engineer aboard a 7 Squadron RAF Lancaster bomber, recalled smoke rising to the altitude of 20,000 feet, carrying the stink of burning human flesh. "It's not a thing I'd like to talk about", he told his interviewer emotionally. On the ground, the scene of destruction exactly mirrored what the RAF bomber crews imagined. Erich Titschak recalled his entire neighborhood engulfed in "one enormous sea of fire", while Hans Jedlicka expressed a similar experience, noting "[t]he whole of Hammerbrook was burning!" A 40-year-old survivor gave the following account, which without a doubt contributed to some of the awful smell that the RAF bomber crews took note of high above.
The stretch of road upon which we now travelled brought ever worsening scenes of horror. I saw many women with their children held in their arms running, burning and then falling and not getting back up. We passed masses of people made up of four or five corpses, each probably a family, visible only as a pile of burned substance no larger than a small child. Many men and women fell over suddenly without having caught fire.... Silently and with the last of their force, women tried to save their children. They carried them pressed close. Many of these children were already dead, without their mothers knowing.
The British bombers that flew over Hamburg on the night of 27-28 Jul met a tougher defense. Realizing that "Window" took away their ability to use radar to direct flak, more stress was put on the use of night fighters. Particularly, Major Hajo Herrmann's Wilde Sau, or "Wild Boar", tactics were deployed; Wilde Sau tactics called for flak to explode at a the particular altitude that enemy bombers traveled, while night fighters hovered at a safe distance higher above. As the fighters flew high above, the fires on the ground easily contrasted the outlines of bombers, and Wilde Sau fighters would sweep down against targets of opportunity. Over Hamburg and on the British bombers' return journey, Wilde Sau and conventional fighters claimed many hits.
The 27-28 Jul raid killed about 42,600 people and destroyed over 16,000 residential buildings. Goebbels called this raid "the greatest crisis of the war" in his diary a few days later. British newspaper The Daily Express published, on the front page, the headline "RAF blitz to wipe Hamburg off the war map".
During the night of 28-29 Jul, four Mosquito aircraft performed a nuisance raid on Hamburg.
On the following night, 29-30 Jul, 777 British aircraft attacked the northern areas of Hamburg. En route, the bombers flew straight into a huge storm, and almost all crew members who participated in this raid reported the St. Elmo's fire phenomenon as their aircraft became electrified. Pilot J. K. Christie of a Lancaster bomber of the 35 Squadron noted his "spectacular experience" in his diary:
There were huge luminous rings around the propellers, blue flames out of the wing-tips, gun muzzles and also everywhere else on the aircraft where its surface is pointed. For instance, the de-icing tube in front of my window had a blue flame around it. Electrical flowers were dancing on the windows all the time until they got iced up, when the flowers disappeared. The wireless operator told me afterwards that sparks were shooting across his equipment all the time and that his aerials were luminous throughout the lengths. I didn't feel a bit happy and tried to go down below the clouds.
The unexpected electrical storm was not the only danger the British bombers faced. With additional anti-aircraft weapons brought into the city, the density of flak at and below 4,500 meters altitude were far greater than during previous raids; above that altitude, aside from the dangerous storm clouds, Wilde Sau fighters continued to sweep down from above on unsuspecting bombers. 28 aircraft were lost during this raid. They caused damage, but did not start another firestorm.
The final large scale raid conducted on Hamburg took place on the night of 2-3 Aug, where 740 aircraft launched for Hamburg, but bad weather prevented many of the bombers from reaching the target; many of them were diverted to bomb secondary targets instead. 30 of the 740 bombers were lost.
In the mere ten days, Hamburg was utterly destroyed. Perhaps a personal correspondence from German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel to his wife dated 3 Aug 1943 captured the fear instilled in the German people after the bombings on the city:
Hamburg has been a catastrophe for us, and last night there was yet another heavy air raid on it. The same must be expected for Berlin as soon as the nights are long enough for the longer flying time involved. That is why I want you to leave Berlin as soon as possible in view of the enormous danger there now is of fires breaking out; fires are far more dangerous than high explosive.... I am afraid of vast conflagrations consuming whole districts, streams of burning oil flowing into the basements and shelters, phosphorus, and the like. It will be difficult to escape from the shelters then, and there is the danger of tremendous heat being generated. This will not be cowardice, but the sheer realization that in face of phenomena like these one is completely powerless; in the heart of the city you will be quite powerless.
Although the bombings put a halt on Hamburg's war industries, production was recovered relatively quickly. By the end of 1943, the aircraft industry was operating at 91% of pre-bombing levels, while electrical goods, optics, and precision tools either returned or surpassed pre-bombing levels. The chemical industry, which suffered greatly during the ten days, returned to 71% of pre-bombing capacity by end of 1943 as well. Most importantly, the submarine-building industry, which the Allies targeted, returned to near pre-bombing capacity within two months. René Ratouis, a French worker who witness the destruction of the shipyards, recalled his surprise when he returned in Sep and saw nearly no sign of any attack; by 28 Sep, submarine Wa 201 was completed and launched from the Blohm & Voß shipyards.
Bombing of Dresden
13-14 Feb 1945
Early in 1945, Allied commanders gathered to plan Thunderclap, a new plan to strategically bomb Germany, particularly to aid the advance of Soviet troops. They argued that carpet bombing of large cities in eastern Germany would allow Soviet troops to exploit the confusion that would ensue, hampering movement of German troops from west of the target cities. On 27 Jan 1945, Given the Allied Joint Intelligence Command's conclusion that the Germans could reinforce the Eastern Front with half a million men (up to 42 divisions), Sir Archibald Sinclair of the RAF sent Churchill the recommendation of bombing Berlin, Dresden, Chemnitz, Leipzig, or other large cities with available resources, in order to hinder efficient enemy movement should such a reinforcement be ordered by Berlin. Interception of Enigma-coded messages confirmed that such movements were likely. Documents dated 4 Feb revealed that RAF bombing priority list were, in specific order:
  1. Cities with oil production facilities, such as Politz, Ruhland, and Vienna
  2. Cities that were considered transportation hubs or with considerable industrial facilities, such as Berlin and Dresden.
  3. Cities with factories capable of producing tanks, self-propelled guns, and jet engines.
In sum, the official documents as well as the Yalta Conference discussions noted the goal of the strategic bombings was to disrupt enemy communications and other military or industrial goals, not to kill evacuees. However, rumors of "off the record" discussions ran rampant. For example, British Air Commodore Grierson was accused in saying that the (after the bombing of Dresden) that the aim of Thunderclap was the bomb large population centers to disrupt the logistics of relief supplies.
Dresden was the capital of the state of Saxony, situated on the Elbe River. It was a cultural center, containing famous landmarks as the Frauenkirche, and was dubbed the Florence of the Elbe. Population of the city was largely anyone's guess as refugees flooded into the city shortly prior to the bombing as Soviet troops advanced to the city's east, however common estimates put the population at the time of bombings at greater than 650,000.
The attacks were originally planned to start with a raid by the US Eighth Air Force, but weather prevented the American bombers from taking off. During the night of 13-14 Feb, 796 British Lancaster and 9 Mosquito aircraft were displaced and dropped 1478 tons of high explosive and 1182 tons of incendiary bombs on the first bombing run and 800 tons of bombs on the second run. The incendiary bombs contained combustible chemicals such as magnesium, phosphorus, or petroleum jelly/napalm. There were claims that due to the extreme temperatures inside buildings caused by the tremendous fires, air currents were formed where people fleeing would be sucked into the burning buildings. 3 hours later, 529 Lancaster bombers dropped 1800 tons of bombs. On the next day, 311 American B-17 bombers dropped 771 tons of bombs while the escort Mustang fighters strafed traffic (no distinction between military and civilian) on the streets to cause further havoc. Some reports indicate that civilians fleeing the bombing were strafed by American fighter pilots, but these reports are largely without solid evidence. Margaret Freyer, a Dresden resident, recalled:
The firestorm is incredible, there are calls for help and screams from somewhere but all around is one single inferno. To my left I suddenly see a woman. I can see her to this day and shall never forget it. She carries a bundle in her arms, it is her baby. She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire.... Insane fear grips me and from then on I repeat one simple sentence to myself, 'I don't want to burn to death'.
Lothar Metzger, another Dresden resident who was only nine years old at the time, recalled:
We did not recognize our street anymore. Fire, only fire wherever we looked. Our 4th floor did not exist anymore. The broken remains of our house were burning. On the streets there were burning vehicles and carts with refugees, people, horses, all of them screaming and shouting in fear of death. I saw hurt women, children, old people searching a way through ruins and flames.... (A)ll the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from. I cannot forget these terrible details. I can never forget them.
Prior to this bombing, Allied bombers had already bombed Dresden railways twice (7 Oct 1944 and 16 Jan 1945). After the massive bombings on 13-14 Feb 1945, American bombers once again bombed Dresden on 2 Mar 1945.
The bombing methods used by the Allied were to encourage total destruction of buildings: the high explosive bombs first expose the wood frames of buildings, then the incendiary bombs ignite the wood, and finally followed by various explosives to hamper the firefighting efforts. The results were devastating. 24,866 out of 28,410 houses in the inner city of Dresden were destroyed, many of them schools, hospitals, and churches. Estimate of deaths range from 25,000 to more than 60,000 (the official German report stated 25,000 estimated with 21,271 registered burials). Roy Akehurst, a wireless operator in a RAF bomber crew, was struck by the destruction that he had help caused.
It struck me at the time, the thought of the women and children down there. We seemed to fly for hours over a sheet of fire, a terrific red glow with thin haze over it. I found myself making comments to the crew 'Oh God, those poor people'. It was completely uncalled for. You can't justify it.
The civilian deaths at Dresden would be used by two political machines as propaganda. First, the Nazi Propaganda Ministry would attempt to use this to stir public resentment against the Allied invaders. Then during the Cold War, Soviet propaganda would describe this bombing as western cruelty, alienating the East Germans with the British and Americans. Churchill, too, started to feel guilty of the widespread destruction the western Allies had caused in Germany, even though he was an early proponent of bombing German cities. In a memorandum sent to Harris, Churchill noted that
It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing terror, should be reviewed.... I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives..., rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction.
Although Dresden did not see particularly more attacks when compared to other German cities, the ideal weather conditions and the common usage of wooden structure made the destruction more widespread. The lack of anti-aircraft fire also contributed to the higher level of destruction, as Germany did not defend her with anti-aircraft guns as Dresden was far from Allied bomber bases, at least earlier in the war. However, contrary to that statement, a study conducted by the United States Air Force indicated that Dresden was indeed defended by anti-aircraft guns, operated by the Combined Dresden and Berlin Luftwaffe Administration Commands.
In recent history German historian Joerg Freidrich suggested that the Dresden bombings might be considered a war crime. German sources often suggestion Dresden, even during war time, was nothing more than a cultural center. However, Allied reports indicated the presence of the Zeiss-Ikon optical factory and Siemans glass factory (which produced gun sights), and other factories building radar, anti-aircraft shell fuses, gas masks, fighter engines, and various fighter parts. The proponents of the war crimes argument claimed that Dresden was bombed by Allied terror bombing strategy, meanwhile prominent military historians such as B. H. Liddell Hart compared the bombing to the methods of the 13th century Mongols. For years to come, Air Marshal Arthur Harris had been again and again under challenge to justify the attacks. He held fast to the belief that although it was near the end of the war, the military needs at that time warranted the bombing of this communications hub.
In 1969 Kurt Vonnegut, who witnessed the Dresden bombing, published the fictional work Slaughterhouse Five with this event as the backdrop. A film version of the work was released three years later.
United States Air Force History Support Office
Walter Görlitz, In the Service of the Reich
Keith Lowe, Inferno
William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp
Anthony Read and David Fisher, The Fall of Berlin
Daniel Swift, Bomber County
Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities Interactive Map
Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities Timeline
21 Jun 1938 The British Minister of Parliament for Derby P. J. Noel-Baker spoke at the House of Commons against aerial bombing of German cities based on moral grounds. "The only way to prevent atrocities from the air is to abolish air warfare and national air forces altogether."
4 Sep 1939 30 RAF bombers attacked the German Navy at Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven, and Shillig Roads in Germany. Seven of thirty aircraft were shot down and the handful of bombs that hit their targets failed to explode. No.107 Squadron from Wattisham lost four out of five Blenheim bombers, which was the RAF's first fatalities.
5 Apr 1940 British RAF aircraft attacked German shipping at Wilhelmshaven.
15 May 1940 The British War Cabinet decided to attack the German oil industry, communications centers, and forests and crops; attacks on industrial areas were to focus on the Ruhr region. Also, due to the costly daylight bombings, attacks were to be launched at nights. On the same day these directives were issued, the RAF began attacking industrial targets in the Ruhr, with 99 bombers flying the first mission. The decision to begin bombing civilian property outside of combat zones was the direct result of the German bombing of Rotterdam on the previous day.
17 May 1940 German oil storage facilities in Bremen and Hamburg were destroyed by the RAF.
7 Jun 1940 The French Air Force bombed Berlin, Germany.
5 Jul 1940 RAF launched night bombing raids on Kiel and Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
14 Jul 1940 British RAF Bomber Command launched raids against two Luftwaffe bases in Germany, with 9 Whitley bombers of No. 102 Squadron hitting Paderborn and 12 Whitley bombers of No. 10 Squadron and No. 51 Squadron hitting Diepholz.
18 Jul 1940 British bombers attacked the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Germany.
19 Jul 1940 British bombers attacked Bremen, Gelsenkirchen, Kassel in Germany.
20 Jul 1940 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf and Wismar, Germany.
21 Jul 1940 3 bombers of No. 51 Squadron RAF attacked Hamm, Germany; the rail marshalling yard was the primary target. 10 bombers of No. 77 Squadron RAF and 10 bombers of No. 102 Squadron RAF attacked Kassel, Germany; the aircraft factory was the primary target. Finally, 5 bombers of No. 78 Squadron RAF attacked Soest, Germany; the rail marshalling yard was the primary target.
22 Jul 1940 Whitley bombers of 4 Group of British RAF Bomber Command attacked various targets in Germany; 8 bombers of No. 10 Squadron and 8 bombers of No. 58 Squadron attacked the aircraft factory at Bremen (3 of No. 58 Squadron attacked alternate targets), and 7 bombers of No. 51 Squadron attacked industrial targets in the Ruhr region.
1 Aug 1940 RAF bombers attacked the Krupp factory in Essen, Germany.
23 Aug 1940 The British RAF flew a retaliation strike against Berlin, Germany.
25 Aug 1940 81 British Hampden bombers of No. 49 and No. 50 Squadrons attacked Berlin, Germany in the first retaliation attack for the raid on London, England. Clouds led to bombs falling largely in suburban lawns and gardens, killing only 6. Nevertheles, Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring was shocked and embarrassed that the British bombers were able to get through in such great numbers.
28 Aug 1940 Overnight, British bombers attacked Berlin, Germany, damaging Görlitzer railway station, killing 8 and wounding 21.
30 Aug 1940 RAF Bomber Command aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany.
31 Aug 1940 RAF bombers attacked targets in Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, and Emden, Germany.
23 Sep 1940 The British RAF Bomber Command sent 129 bombers for a night raid against Berlin, Germany, causing minimal damage.
25 Oct 1940 British bombers attacked Hamburg and Berlin in Germany, causing heavy casualties.
29 Oct 1940 The British RAF conducted the 25th raid on Berlin, Germany.
8 Nov 1940 RAF bombed Munich, Germany, narrowly missing Hitler.
15 Nov 1940 A heavy British air raid on Hamburg, Germany caused extensive damage.
16 Nov 1940 RAF bombers attacked Hamburg, Germany again for the second day in a row.
17 Nov 1940 Overnight, RAF bombers raided Hamburg, Germany for the second consecutive night.
18 Nov 1940 Overnight, RAF bombers raided Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr region of Germany, bombing the Scholven/Buer hydrogenation plant, which made aviation fuel, and Gelsenberg-Benzin-AG plant, which converted bituminous coal to synthetic oil.
16 Dec 1940 134 RAF bombers attacked Mannheim, Germany in retaliation for German raids on British cities; 34 civilians were killed, 81 were injured, and 1,266 homes destroyed by 100 tons of high explosive bombs and 14,000 incendiary bombs. This was the first Allied area bombing raid of the war against a populated target, as opposed to targets of military or industrial value.
21 Dec 1940 Berlin, Germany suffered minor damage from a British RAF bombing raid.
31 Dec 1940 RAF bombers attacked the bridge over the Rhine River at Emmerich, Germany and Köln, Germany.
3 Jan 1941 RAF bombers attacked Bremen and the Kiel Canal in Germany. The Kiel Canal Bridge suffered a direct hit and collapsed on Finnish ship Yrsa.
15 Jan 1941 Overnight, Wellington bombers of No. 57 Squadron RAF attacked Emden, Germany while 76 RAF bombers attacked Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
4 Feb 1941 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
10 Feb 1941 222 British aircraft attacked Hannover, Germany.
11 Feb 1941 British RAF bombed Hannover, Germany.
24 Mar 1941 The RAF conducted its first bombing raid on Berlin, Germany for the year.
10 Apr 1941 Overnight, RAF aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany, destroying the historical Opera House. It would be restored by 1943, but would again be bombed in Feb 1945.
28 Apr 1941 British Stirling bombers of No. 7 Squadron RAF attacked Emden, Germany during the day.
8 May 1941 359 British RAF bombers attacked Hamburg and Bremen in Germany.
10 May 1941 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Hamburg, Germany.
11 May 1941 RAF bombers attacked Hamburg and Bremen in Germany.
15 May 1941 RAF aircraft conducted raids on Berlin, Cuxhaven, and Hannover in Germany.
16 May 1941 RAF aircraft conducted raids on Köln (Cologne) and Bramsfield in Germany; at the latter target the Atlantik rubber works was damaged.
17 May 1941 British bombers attacked Bramsfeld, 12 kilometers northwest of Köln, Germany; the Atlantik rubber plant was hit with 2 high explosive and 44 incendiary bombs.
11 Jun 1941 After dark, British bombers conducted the first of 20 consecutive nightly raids on the Ruhr and Rhineland industrial areas in Germany. Several German port cities such as Hamburg and Bremen were also hit.
24 Jun 1941 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
27 Jun 1941 British bombers attacked Bremen, Germany.
3 Jul 1941 British bombers attacked Essen, Germany.
5 Jul 1941 63 British Wellington bombers attacked Münster, Germany at between about 0050 hours and 0250 hours local time with 396 500-pound bombs, 50 250-pound bombs, and almost 6,000 4-pound incendiary bombs. The railway station was the intended main target. German authorities at Münster estimated 240 high explosive bombs and 3,000 incendiary bombs were dropped. 21 were killed and several fires were started. It was the first time Münster was subjected to large scale bombing.
7 Jul 1941 British bombers attacked Münster, Germany.
8 Jul 1941 Before dawn, British bombers attacked Münster, Germany. During the day, German anti-aircraft guns began arriving at the city in response to the recent successive night bombings.
9 Jul 1941 The British Air Ministry instructed Bomber Command to concentrate its efforts against the German transportation system and breaking the morale of the civilian population. At about 0130 hours, British bombers attacked Münster, Germany; the reading room of the state archive, warehouse of the state theater, the post office at the Domplatz, and the eastern wall of the cathedral were destroyed.
25 Jul 1941 British bombers took off at 2230 hours on the previous day, reaching Kiel, Germany at about 0145 hours on this date; bombs were dropped on the Deutsche Werke shipyard facilities; surviving attacks landed at their bases in Britain at about 0600 hours. On the same day, Bombers of British No. 102 Squadron RAF attacked Hanover, Germany after sundown.
7 Aug 1941 After dark, 84 British aircraft were launched to attack Essen, Germany (108 tons of high explosive bombs and 5,720 incendiary bombs were dropped, damaging the Krupp coke oven batteries), 31 launched against Hamm (damaging rail marshalling yard), 32 launched against Dortmund, 88 launched against Kiel (104 tons of high explosive bombs and 4,836 incendiary bombs were dropped, damaging Deutsche Werke Shipyards), and a number of bombers were launched against Hamburg (poor visibility and results were not observed).
8 Aug 1941 During the night, the first Soviet air attack was made on Berlin, Germany by naval Ilyushin Il-4 twin-engine bombers.
12 Aug 1941 Before dawn, British bombers attacked railway yards at Hanover, Germany. After sundown, 78 British bombers, escorted by 485 fighters, conducted the heaviest daylight attack against Germany to date, targeting the powerplants near Köln (Fortuna Power Station in Knapsack and Goldenburg Power Station in Quadrath) and other targets in a wide area. The Germans were only able to scramble few fighters, but anti-aircraft fire was heavy. The Germans suffered four fighters shot down (plus five likely shot down) and heavy damage to both powerplants; the British suffered 12 British Blenheim bombers shot down and 10 British fighters shot down.
14 Aug 1941 Overnight, British bombers attacked railway yards at Hanover, Germany.
17 Aug 1941 Overnight, British bombers attacked the rail station at Duisburg, Germany. Air crews reported poor visibility due to bad weather.
18 Aug 1941 British War Cabinet member Mr. Butt wrote a report to the RAF Bomber Command, noting "[o]f those aircraft recorded as attacking their target, only one in three got within five miles" of the intended targets. The conclusion was reached after studying post-bombing reconnaissance photos taken between 2 Jun and 25 Jul 1941.
5 Sep 1941 British bombers attacked chemical works at Hüls, Germany.
15 Sep 1941 British bombers attacked the rail station at Hamburg, Germany.
29 Sep 1941 After sundown, 10 bombers of British No. 102 Squadron were launched from RAF Topcliffe, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom for an attack on Stettin, Germany; the anti-aircraft fire was reported to be heavy. Another group of bombers took off to attack Hamburg, Germany.
30 Sep 1941 British bombers attacked Stettin and Hamburg in Germany after sundown for the second consecutive night.
12 Oct 1941 After dark, 118 British bombers took off to attack Hüls and Bremen, Germany.
7 Nov 1941 After dark, 160 British RAF bombers attacked Berlin, Germany. 20 bombers were shot down. The Germans reported minimal damage.
13 Nov 1941 The British Air Ministry instructed Sir Richard Pierse, the Commander-in-Chief Bomber Command, to curtail drastically the scale of sorties against Germany, especially in bad weather. The War Cabinet stated the instruction "having stressed the necessity to conserve our resources in order to built a strong force to be available by the spring of next year".
10 Jan 1942 Wilhelmshaven, Germany was bombed for the first time by main force aircraft of British RAF Bomber Command; the raid would last through the early hours of the next date. Wilhelmshaven would ultimately be bombed on nine occasions, destroying 13% of the city.
14 Jan 1942 Hamburg, Germany was bombed for the first time by mainforce aircraft of RAF Bomber Command; this raid conducted by aircraft of No. 207 Squadron would last until the early hours of the next date. Altona railway station and other targets were hit. Hamburg would ultimately be bombed on seventeen occasions, destroying 75% of the city.
28 Jan 1942 Münster, Germany was bombed for the first time during the night of 28-29 Jan 1942 by mainforce aircraft of RAF Bomber Command. It would ultimately be bombed on six occasions, destroying 65% of the city.
14 Feb 1942 British Deputy Chief of Air Staff informed the RAF Bomber Command that "the primary object of your operations should be focused on the morale of the enemy civilian population."
25 Feb 1942 A two-day debate in British House of Commons ended with many being critical of the policy of bombing German cities.
8 Mar 1942 The British Royal Air Force dispatched 211 bombers to attack Essen, Germany, some equipped with the new GEE navigational system. The results were less than hoped for as only a few homes and a church were destroyed, killing 29 civilians, while the industrial centers, the primary targets, were untouched.
9 Mar 1942 A second British air raid to Essen, Germany, again using the new GEE navigational system, had similar dismal results as the first raid on the previous day, as the haze made the target difficult to spot.
10 Mar 1942 Overnight, 62 RAF bombers attacked Essen, Germany, damaging railways leading to Krupp factories, killing 6 civilians and wounding 12.
13 Mar 1942 Overnight, 135 RAF bombers attacked Köln, Germany, killing 62 and wounding 84.
24 Mar 1942 The British House of Commons began a two-day debate on the conduct of the war in Germany; bombing of German cities was to be a focal point.
25 Mar 1942 254 RAF Bomber Command aircraft (192 Wellington, 26 Stirling, 20 Manchester, 9 Hampden, and 7 Lancaster aircraft) attacked Krupp iron works and factories at Essen, Germany; 5 civilians were killed, 11 were wounded. The British lost 5 Manchester, 3 Wellington, and 1 Hampden aircraft.
26 Mar 1942 British bombers (104 Wellington and 11 Stirling) attacked Essen, Germany, destroying two homes and killing six civilians; 11 bombers were lost in this attack.
29 Mar 1942 Between 2318 hours on the previous date until about 0300 hours on this date, 234 RAF bombers attacked Lübeck, Germany, killing 320, injuring 784, and destroying 30% of the city. The Lübeck Cathedral, among other buildings, were destroyed in the city's historical center.The new "Gee" navigation systems were used by the British bombers on this attack. 12 bombers were shot down by German anti-aircraft defenses.
5 Apr 1942 263 British bombers (179 Wellington, 44 Hampden, 29 Stirling, and 11 Manchester aircraft) attacked the Humboldt Engineering Works Company at Kalk near Köln, Germany; most of the bombs fell far from the Humboldt factories. The British lost 5 aircraft; one of the aircraft shot down crashed in Köln, killing 16 and wounding 30.
6 Apr 1942 157 British bombers (110 Wellington, 19 Stirling, 18 Hampden, and 10 Manchester aircraft) attacked Essen, Germany; most of them were turned back by a storm. 5 aircraft were lost in this mission.
8 Apr 1942 272 RAF bombers (177 Wellington, 41 Hampden, 22 Stirling, 13 Manchester, 12 Halifax, and 7 Lancaster aircraft) conducted a raid on Hamburg, Germany; 4 Wellington and 1 Manchester aircraft were lost in this attack.
10 Apr 1942 254 British bombers (167 Wellington, 43 Hampden, 18 Stirling, 10 Manchester, 8 Halifax, and 8 Lancaster) attacked Essen, Germany; most bombs fell on the nearby residential areas instead, destroying 12 houses, killing 7 civilians, and wounding a further 30. During this attack, an 8,000-pound bomb was used for the first time, dropped by a Halifax bomber of No. 76 Squadron. 7 Wellington, 5 Hampden, 1 Halifax, and 1 Manchester aircraft were lost.
12 Apr 1942 251 British bombers (171 Wellington, 31 Hampden, 27 Stirling, 13 Halifax, and 9 Manchester) attacked Essen, Germany, damaging the Krupp factory and destroying 28 homes; 36 civilians were killed, 36 were injured. The British lost 10 bombers on this attack.
14 Apr 1942 208 British bombers (142 Wellington, 34 Hampden, 20 Stirling, 8 Halifax, and 4 Manchester) attacked Dortmund, Germany, damaging 6 buildings and killing 4 civilians. 9 bombers were lost in this attack.
15 Apr 1942 152 British bombers (111 Wellington, 19 Hampden, 15 Stirling, and 7 Manchester) attacked Dortmund, Germany for a second night in a row, destroying 1 home and killing 1 civilian. 4 bombers were lost on this attack.
17 Apr 1942 12 Lancaster bombers from No. 44 Squadron RAF and No. 76 Squadron RAF attempted a low level daylight attack on the MAN diesel engine factory in Augsburg, Germany. 7 of the 12 aircraft were shot down by German fighters, while the remaining 5 accurately dropped the bombs on the target, though the damage caused was smaller than desired. This costly raid reinforced British Air Marshal Arthur Harris' feelings that daylight missions should be avoided. Elsewhere, 173 British bombers (134 Wellington, 23 Stirling, 11 Halifax, and 5 Manchester) attacked Hamburg, Germany; 23 civilians were killed, 66 were wounded; 8 bombers were lost during this attack.
22 Apr 1942 64 British Wellington bombers and 5 Stirling bombers attacked Köln (Cologne), Germany using the new Gee radio transmitter system for blind navigation and bombing. About 15 aircraft were able to bomb accurately, killing 4 civilians and wounding 8, while a few bombers released their bombs as far as 10 miles from Köln. Two Wellington bombers were lost during this raid.
23 Apr 1942 161 RAF aircraft (93 Wellington, 31 Stirling, 19 Whitley, 11 Hampden, 6 Manchester, and 1 Lancaster bombers) conducted a raid on Rostock, Germany; 143 of them attacked the town while 18 attacked the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory, both with extremely poor results. Four bombers were lost during this attack.
24 Apr 1942 91 British bombers attacked Rostock, Germany for the second night in a row, causing damage in the town, but the aircraft attacking the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory again failed to do much damage. One Hampden bomber was lost during this attack.
25 Apr 1942 110 British bombers attacked Rostock, Germany for the third night in a row, causing damage in the town and the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory.
26 Apr 1942 106 British bombers attacked Rostock, Germany for the fourth and final night in a row, causing damage in the town and the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory. 1 Stirling, 1 Wellington, and 1 Whitley bombers were lost during this attack. At the end of the four-day attack, Rostock suffered 1,765 buildings destroyed, 204 civilians killed, and 89 civilians injured.
27 Apr 1942 RAF conducted a 100-bomber raid on Rostock, Germany; it was the fourth consecutive nightly raid on Rostock. Over Köln (Cologne), 97 British bombers (76 Wellington, 19 Stirling, 2 Halifax) dropped bombs and damaged 1,520 homes and killed 11; 7 bombers were lost.
28 Apr 1942 88 British bombers (62 Wellington, 15 Stirling, 10 Hampden, 1 Halifax) attacked Kiel, Germany, destroying all three main shipyard facilities and killing 15; 6 bombers were destroyed in his mission.
3 May 1942 81 British bombers (43 Wellington, 20 Halifax, 13 Stirling, 5 Hampden) attacked Hamburg, Germany. The attack killed 77 civilians and wounded 243 at the cost of 5 bombers destroyed.
4 May 1942 121 British bombers (69 Wellington, 19 Hampden, 14 Lancaster, 12 Stirling, 7 Halifax) attacked Stuttgart, Germany, targeting the Bosch factory. All bombs missed the factory buildings but killed 13 civilians and wounded 37. One Stirling bomber was lost during the attack.
5 May 1942 British bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany for the second consecutive night.
6 May 1942 British bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany for the third consecutive night.
8 May 1942 193 British bombers (98 Wellington, 27 Stirling, 21 Lancaster, 19 Halifax, 19 Hampden, 9 Manchester) attacked Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany; the primary target was the nearby Heinkel aircraft factory; 19 British bombers were destroyed during this attack.
18 May 1942 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Mannheim, Germany.
19 May 1942 198 British bombers (105 Wellington, 31 Stirling, 29 Halifax, 15 Hampden, 13 Lancaster, and 4 Manchester aircraft) attacked Mannheim, Germany; most bombs would miss the target. 11 bombers were lost on this attack.
30 May 1942 By adding 367 training aircraft, British Air Marshal Harris managed to mount the first thousand-plane raid against Germany (the actual count was 1,046), Operation Millennium. Originally targeted for Hamburg, it was switched to Köln due to weather. Over 1,400 tons of explosives were dropped on that city during the night of 30-31 May 1942, killing 500, injuring 5,000, and making nearly 60,000 homeless. 40 British bombers failed to return. The German government estimated that Köln received 900 tons of high explosive and 110,000 incendiary bombs, and about 400 were killed.
1 Jun 1942 956 British bombers (545 Wellington, 127 Halifax, 77 Stirling, 74 Lancaster, 71 Hampden, 33 Manchester, 29 Whitley) attacked Essen, Germany, causing little damage; 31 bombers were lost on this attack. This attack was billed as a 1,000-bomber raid.
2 Jun 1942 195 British bombers (97 Wellington, 38 Halifax, 27 Lancaster, 21 Stirling, 12 Hampden) attacked Essen, Germany, causig little damage; 14 bombers were lost on this attack.
3 Jun 1942 170 British bombers attacked Bremen, Germany, killing 83 at the cost of 11 bombers lost.
6 Jun 1942 233 British bombers (124 Wellington, 40 Stirling, 27 Halifax, 20 Lancaster, 15 Hampden, 7 Manchester) attacked Emden, Germany, destroying 300 houses, killing 17 civilians, and wounding 49; 9 bombers were lost on this mission.
8 Jun 1942 170 British bombers (92 Wellington, 42 Halifax, 14 Stirling, 13 Lancaster, 9 Hampden) attacked Essen, Germany, killing 13 and wounding 42; 19 bombers were lost on this mission.
16 Jun 1942 106 British bombers (40 Wellington, 39 Halifax, 15 Lancaster, and 12 Stirling) were launched to bomb Germany; 16 attacked Essen, 45 attacked Bonn, and others attacked other targets; 8 British bombers were lost on this night.
19 Jun 1942 194 British bombers (112 Wellington, 37 Halifax, 25 Stirling, 11 Hampden, and 9 Lancaster) attacked Emden and Osnabrück in Germany; 9 bombers were lost.
20 Jun 1942 185 British bombers attacked Emden, Germany, causing little damage; 7 bombers were lost.
22 Jun 1942 227 British RAF aircraft (144 Wellington, 38 Stirling, 26 Halifax, 11 Lancaster, and 8 Hampden) attacked Emden, Germany, destroying 50 houses, damaging harbor facilities, and killing 6 civilians (further 40 were injured); 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
25 Jun 1942 Sir Arthur Harris of the RAF Bomber Command launched the third Thousand Bomber Raid, this time sending 1,067 aircraft (including some aircraft from Coastal Command and Army Cooperation Command) to attack Bremen, Germany; only 696 reported successfully reaching the city. The RAF Bomber Command lost 48 aircraft, half of which had inexperienced crews recruited from training squadrons flying worn out aircraft; the RAF Coastal Command lost 5 aircraft. 572 houses were destroyed, 6,108 were damaged. 85 were killed, while 497 were wounded and 2,378 were made homeless. An assembly shop at the Focke-Wulf factory was destroyed, while the Bremer Vulkan shipyard and nearby docks and warehouses were also damaged.
27 Jun 1942 144 British bombers (55 Wellington, 39 Halifax, 26 Stirling, 24 Lancaster) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging the Atlas Werke and the Korff refinery, killing 7, and wounding 80; 9 bombers were lost on this mission.
29 Jun 1942 253 British bombers (108 Wellington, 64 Lancaster, 47 Stirling, and 34 Halifax) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging the Focke-Wulf aircraft factory and the A. G. Weser submarine shipyard; 11 bombers were lost on this mission.
2 Jul 1942 325 British bombers (175 Wellington, 53 Lancaster, 35 Halifax, 34 Stirling, and 28 Hampden) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging 1,000 houses and 4 small industrial facilities, damaging 3 cranes in the port area, damaging 7 ships, and sinking transport ship Marieborg. The Germans suffered 5 deaths and 4 wounded while the British lost 13 bombers.
4 Jul 1942 British RAF's third 1,000-plane raid targeted Bremen, Germany, causing considerable damage to the city and the Focke-Wulf plant.
8 Jul 1942 285 British bombers (137 Wellington, 52 Lancaster, 38 Halifax, 34 Stirling, 24 Hampden) attacked the docks at Wilhelmshaven, Germany, causing little or no damage to the docks, killing 25 civilians, and wounding 170; 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
11 Jul 1942 24 British Lancaster bombers (of 44 launched for this mission) bombed the German submarine yards at Danzig, Germany, losing two aircraft in the attack; this was the longest mission by British bombers to date.
13 Jul 1942 194 British bombers (139 Wellington, 33 Halifax, 13 Lancaster, and 9 Stirling aircraft) attacked Duisburg, Germany, destroying 11 houses and killing 17 without causing damage to the intended industrial targets; 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
16 Jul 1942 8 (of 21 launched) British Stirling bombers attacked Lübeck, Germany at dusk; 2 were lost on this mission. Elsewhere, small groups of bombers attacked various targets in the Ruhr region in Germany.
19 Jul 1942 99 British bombers (40 Halifax, 31 Stirling, and 28 Lancaster) were launched to attack the Vulkan submarine yard at Vegesack district of Bremen, Germany; most bombs missed the shipyard; 3 bombers were lost on this mission.
26 Jul 1942 403 British bombers (181 Wellington, 77 Lancaster, 73 Halifax, 39 Stirling, and 33 Hampden) attacked Hamburg, Germany, destroying 823 houses, damaging 5,000 houses, killing 337, wounding 1,027, and making 14,000 homeless; 14 bombers were lost on this mission.
28 Jul 1942 256 British bombers (161 Wellington, 71 Stirling, and 24 Whitley) were launched to attack Hamburg, Germany, but bad weather forced most of them to turn back before reaching the city; the 68 aircraft that reached Hamburg killed 13 and wounded 48 at the cost of about 30 bombers shot down.
29 Jul 1942 291 British bombers attacked Saarbrücken, Germany, destroying 396 buildings, damaging 324 buildings, and killing 155 civilians; 9 bombers were lost on this attack.
31 Jul 1942 630 British bombers (308 Wellington, 113 Lancaster, 70 Halifax, 61 Stirling, 54 Hampden, and 24 Whitley) attacked Düsseldorf, Germany with 900 tons of bombs, destroying 453 buildings, damaging 15,000 buildings, killing 276 civilians, and wounding 1,018 civilians; 29 bombers were lost on this attack.
6 Aug 1942 216 British bombers attacked Duisburg, Germany, destroying 18 buildings and killing 24 civilians; 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
9 Aug 1942 192 British bombers (91 Wellington, 42 Lancaster, 40 Stirling, and 19 Halifax) attacked Osnabrück, Germany, destroying 206 houses, killing 62, and wounding 107; 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
11 Aug 1942 154 British bombers (68 Wellington, 33 Lancaster, 28 Stirling, and 25 Halifax) attacked Mainz, Germany, killing 162 and destroying many buildings in the city center; 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
12 Aug 1942 138 British bombers attacked Mainz, Germany, hitting the rail station, industrial areas (at least 40 were killed), and the nearby villages of Kempten (130 houses were damaged) and Gaulsheim (97 houses were damaged); 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
15 Aug 1942 131 British bombers attacked Düsseldorf, Germany in poor weather; one stray 4,000-pound bomb hit the town of Neuss, killing 1 civiliand and wounding 13; 4 bombers were lost on this mission.
17 Aug 1942 139 British bombers attacked Osnabrück, Germany, destroying 77 houses and 4 military buildings, killing 7 people, and wounding 15 people; 5 bombers were lost on this mission.
18 Aug 1942 31 bombers of the British Path Finder Force conducted their first combat operation since the unit's formation on 15 Aug, dropping flares over Flensburg in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany for the 87 bombers following behind them; most of the bombers targeting Flensburg missed and hit the towns of Sønderborg and Abenra to the north, destroying 26 houses, damaging 660 houses, and wounding 4 Danish civilians; 4 bombers were lost on this mission.
24 Aug 1942 226 British bombers (104 Wellington, 61 Lancaster, 53 Stirling, and 8 Halifax) attacked Frankfurt, Germany; most bombs missed their targets and fell on the villages of Schwalbach and Eschborn; 16 bombers were lost on this mission.
27 Aug 1942 306 British bombers attacked Kassel, Germany, destroying 144 buildings, damaging 3 Henschel aircraft factories, killing 28 military personnel and 15 civilians, and wounding 64 military personnel and 187 civilians; 31 bombers were lost on this mission. On the same day, SOviet bombers attacked Königsberg, East Prussia, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia).
28 Aug 1942 159 British RAF bombers attacked Nürnberg, Germany; another group of 113 bombers attacked Saarbrücken, Germany.
29 Aug 1942 In Germany, 100 Soviet Pe-8, Il-4, and Yer-2 bombers attacked Berlin while 7 Pe-8 bombers attacked Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia).
1 Sep 1942 231 British bombers launched to attack Saarbrücken, Germany but instead hit Saarlouis 13 miles to the northwest by mistake, killing 52 civilians; 4 bombers were lost on this mission.
2 Sep 1942 200 British bombers attacked Karlsruhe, Germany, destroying many buildings and killing 73 civilians; 8 bombers were lost on this mission.
4 Sep 1942 251 British bombers (98 Wellington, 76 Lancaster, 41 Halifax, and 36 Stirling) attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging or destroying 71 industrial buildings and 1,821 houses; 12 bombers were lost on this mission.
8 Sep 1942 249 British bombers attacked Frankfurt, Germany; most bombs missed and fell in Rüsselsheim 15 miles southwest of the city; 7 bombers were lost on this mission.
11 Sep 1942 479 British bombers (242 Wellington, 89 Lancaster, 59 Halifax, 47 Stirling, 28 Hampden, and 14 Whitley) attacked Düsseldorf and Neuss in Germany, damaging or destroying 52 industrial targets and 2,417 houses; 148 civilians were killed; 33 bombers were lost on this mission.
13 Sep 1942 446 British bombers attacked Bremen, Germany, damaging Lloyd dynamo works, Focke-Wulf factory, 7 historical buildings, 6 schools, and 2 hospitals; 70 civilians were killed; 21 bombers were lost on this mission.
14 Sep 1942 202 British bombers attacked Wilhelmshaven, Germany; 77 civilians were killed.
16 Sep 1942 369 British bombers attacked the Ruhr industrial region of Germany, damaging buildings in Essen (damaging a Krupp factory in Essen; 47 civilians killed), Bochum, Wuppertal, Heme, and Cochem; 39 bombers were lost during this night.
19 Sep 1942 118 British bombers (72 Wellington, 41 Halifax, 5 Stirling) attacked Saarbrücken, Germany, generally missing military targets and instead destroying 13 houses and killing 1 civilian; 5 bombers were lost on this mission. 68 Lancaster bombers and 21 Stirling bombers attacked München, Germany; 6 bombers were lost on this mission.
21 Sep 1942 RAF bombers conducted a raid on München, Germany.
23 Sep 1942 In northern Germany, 83 British Lancaster bombers attacked Wismar (4 were lost), 28 Halifax bombers attacked Flensburg (5 were lost), and 24 Stirling bombers attacked Vegesack (1 was lost).
16 Jan 1943 British bombers attacked Berlin, Germany.
17 Jan 1943 Journalist Richard Dimbleby flew in a British No. 106 Squadron Lancaster bomber over Berlin, Germany during a raid to record a live report, which was broadcast by the BBC on the following day.
21 Jan 1943 Allied leadership issued the directive to RAF and USAAF commanders "[y]our primary objective will be the progressive destruction and dislocation of the German military, industrial and economic system, and the undermining of the morale of the German people to a point where their capacity for armed resistance is fatally wounded."
27 Jan 1943 The USAAF struck Germany proper for the first time as B-17 and B-24 bombers attacked Emden and Wilhelmshaven.
30 Jan 1943 The British RAF's first daylight raid on Berlin, Germany was completed by No. 105 and No. 139 Squadrons' Mosquito aircraft.
26 Feb 1943 USAAF heavy bombers made a daylight attack on Wilhelmshaven, Germany.
28 Feb 1943 712 RAF aircraft (457 Lancaster, 252 Halifax, and 3 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany; 20 aircraft were lost.
5 Mar 1943 British bombers attacked Krupp works at Essen, Germany; this was the Allies' first attack on this industrial region, which started what the Allies called the Battle of the Ruhr. This attack also saw the first successful use of Oboe, an aerial blind bombing targeting system.
11 Mar 1943 British Secretary of State for Air Sir Archibald Sinclair spoke at the House of Commons, noting that "[t]he past 12 months have been marked by striking changes in the conduct and effectiveness of... the pulverising offensive of Bomber Command.... The monster raids saturating the enemy's active and passive systems of defence is one example. A second example is the success achieved in finding, marking and illuminating targets which has contributed enormously to the recent triumphs of Bomber Command.... Praise the men who are striking these hammer blows at German might... fearless young men flying through storm and cold and darkness higher than Mont Blanc, through the flak, hunted by the night fighters, but coolly and skillfully identifying and bombing these targets." Some Members of Parliament, such as Mr. Montague, representing West Islington, voiced concerns for the "wanton destruction" delivered by the Bomber Command.
12 Mar 1943 RAF bombers attacked Krupp steel plants in Essen, Germany, causing heavy damage.
14 Mar 1943 Aircraft of the US 8th Air Force bombed Kiel, Germany.
18 Mar 1943 USAAF aircraft bombed the Vegesack district of Bremen, Germany.
23 Mar 1943 In its heaviest bombing raid to date, the British RAF Bomber Command attacked Dortmund, Germany with 2,000 tons of explosives.
24 Mar 1943 The British RAF Bomber Command had by this date dropped 100,000 tons of explosives on Germany.
31 Mar 1943 Replying to a question from Member of Parliament Richard Stokes, the Air Minister, Sir Archibald Sinclair, told the British House of Commons that Bomber Command's targets were always of a military nature, but that bombing of military targets would necessarily involve bombing areas in which they were situated.
1 Apr 1943 12 British Mosquito aircraft destroyed a power station and a railways yard at Trier, Germany without any losses; local reports recorded 21 deaths. On the same date, RAF Squadron Leader C. O'Donoghue of 103 Squadron commanded a lone Lancaster bomber on a bombing attack on Emmerich, Germany; the aircraft was shot down, killing the entire crew.
4 Apr 1943 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Kiel, Germany during the night.
12 Apr 1943 Joseph Stalin informed Winston Churchill his delight to see German industry in shambles.
26 Apr 1943 RAF bombers conducted a raid against Duisburg, Germany.
2 May 1943 The RAF Bomber Command reported to the British Air Ministry that it currently had 725 ready crews for operations; the number included 129 crews of Wellington bombers and 250 crews for Lancaster bombers.
4 May 1943 RAF bombers conducted a raid on Dortmund, Germany late in the night and into the next day, killing almost 700. Log book of pilot J. H. Searby noted there were "considerable flak" and that he "took ciné (35mm) film hoping to get pictures to convince the 'public' that we do bomb Germany."
16 May 1943 Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary that Kiel, Germany was heavily damaged in an Allied bombing.
24 May 1943 British bombers attacked East Frisian Islands (Ostfriesische Inseln) in northwestern Germany.
25 May 1943 Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary that the industrial and residential districts in Dortmund, Germany were heavily damaged by Allied bombing.
26 May 1943 759 British heavy bombers attacked Düsseldurf, Germany starting at about 0200 hours.
29 May 1943 RAF bombers attacked Wuppertal, Germany with 1,900 tons of explosives. The Ruhr region city housed an I. G. Farben chemical plant and a G. & J. Jaeger ball-bearing factory.
10 Jun 1943 USAAF and RAF began a coordinated air offensive with the RAF over Europe, conducting area bombing at night and the USAAF flying precision bombing raids by day. The British Assistant Chief of the Air Staff noted that the primary objective of bombing campaign was "the destruction of German air-frame, engine and component factories and the ball-bearing industry on which the strength of the German fighter force depend" and the secondary objective was "the general disorganization of those industrial areas associated with the above industries".
11 Jun 1943 In Germany, 200 B-17 bombers of US 8th Air Force bomb Wilhelmshaven, while RAF aircraft bombed Münster and Düsseldorf.
11 Jun 1943 Roberts Dunstan flew his first mission as a rear gunner aboard a Lancaster bomber out of RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire, England, United Kingdom, attacking Düsseldorf, Germany.
12 Jun 1943 RAF aircraft bombed Bochum, Germany.
20 Jun 1943 The RAF initiated shuttle bombing, where planes departed home fields to bomb Germany, re-armed in Africa, then bomb Italian targets en route back to Britain. The first of these raids targeted Friedrichshafen, Germany.
21 Jun 1943 RAF bombers attacked Krefeld in the Ruhr region of Germany.
24 Jun 1943 RAF bombers attacked Elberfeld in the Ruhr region of Germany.
28 Jun 1943 Köln, Germany was bombed by British aircraft, heavily damaging the cathedral. About 4,000 were killed and 1,500 were wounded.
3 Jul 1943 Köln, Germany suffered a heavy air raid.
24 Jul 1943 The first operational use of "Window" radar jamming took place during Operation Gomorrah when 746 RAF planes drop 2,300 tons of explosive on Hamburg, Germany, losing 12 aircraft. Hamburg burned in a major firestorm that killed a significant number of civilians.
25 Jul 1943 109 USAAF bombers attacked Hamburg, Germany in the afternoon as a follow up to the night raid by British bombers on the previous day; 15 bombers were lost. Elsewhere, Essen was also targeted with 2,000 tons of bombs.
27 Jul 1943 After nightfall, a repeated bombing of Hamburg, Germany by 787 RAF aircraft created a fire storm in which an estimated 42,000 people perished, most of them by carbon monoxide poisoning when all the air was drawn out of their basement shelters. The fire storm, in which the heat and humidity of the summer night was a contributory factor, raged for three hours until there was nothing left to burn.
29 Jul 1943 Joseph Goebbels' diary entry of this date noted that Hamburg, Germany had been devastated and about 800,000 were made homeless.
30 Jul 1943 Hamburg, Germany was bombed again before dawn by 777 RAF bombers.
2 Aug 1943 Overnight, Hamburg, Germany suffered its ninth and final raid in eight days as 740 RAF bombers attacked; 30 of the bombers were shot down. By this time Hamburg had lost as many civilians as Britain had in the entire air war.
13 Aug 1943 US 9th Air Force bombed the Messerschmitt factory at Wiener Neustadt, Austria. Planners of the attack thought they were conducting a strike on a factory producing fighter aircraft, but in actuality it was manufacturing parts for V-2 rockets.
17 Aug 1943 British bombers launched to attack German rocket research site at Peenemünde at 2100 hours London time. At 2230 hours London time or 2330 hours Berlin time, air raid sirens went off at Peenemünde, but many ignored it, thinking it was to be yet another false warning as Allied bombers flew over the region to bomb German cities further inland. At 2317 hours London time or 0017 hours Berlin time on the next day, the first of the British bombers struck Peenemünde.
17 Aug 1943 The US 8th Army Air Force lost 59 heavy bombers during daylight raids upon Regenburg and Schweinfurt, Germany, which was about 25% of the attacking force.
18 Aug 1943 Between 0017 and 0043 hours, three waves of British bombers (227, 113, and 180 bombers, respectively) struck the German rocket research site at Peenemünde, dropping a total of 1,600 tons of high explosive bombs and 250 tons of incendiary bombs. Initially the damage appeared to be extensive, but the site returned to operation within four to six weeks. Many buildings would remain unrepaired and craters unfilled in order to trick the British into thinking that the site was abandoned after the raid.
23 Aug 1943 727 RAF bombers dropped 1,700 tons of explosives on Berlin, Germany.
31 Aug 1943 British RAF aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany.
15 Sep 1943 To combat the growing strength of Allied bombing attacks the Luftwaffe reorganised its air defences into two territorial fighter commands; one in then Reich and the other in western occupied territories.
22 Sep 1943 To outwit the German Luftwaffe's fighter reaction, British RAF Bomber Command launched its first "spoof raid"; the main force attacked Hannover, while a feint heads for Osnabrück.
2 Oct 1943 RAF aircraft bombed München, Germany.
7 Oct 1943 RAF aircraft bombed Stuttgart, Germany.
8 Oct 1943 17 US bombers attacked Vegesack, Bremen, Germany. Two B-24 bombers were lost, with pilot William Clifford's crew lost entirely and pilot John Buschman's crew mostly captured.
9 Oct 1943 US bombers attacked Mariensburg, Germany.
14 Oct 1943 US 8th Air Force launched 291 B-17 bombers and 60 B-24 bombers to attack the Schweinfurt ball bearing plants in Germany; the 60 B-24 bombers were diverted to another target. 77 American bombers and 1 escorting fighter were lost, while 38 Luftwaffe fighters were shot down the defense. 122 American bombers returned to base in bad condition but they were able to be repaired.
22 Oct 1943 During an RAF raid on Kassel, Germany, the RAF began Operation Corona to jam German night-fighter communications.
22 Oct 1943 Over Kassel, Germany, the Lancaster bomber aboard which Roberts Dunstan was a crew member was damaged by two incendiary bombs dropped by a friendly Lancaster bomber flying higher above; although the bomber was further damaged by German nightfighters, it was able to return to Britain, crash landing at Bisham, Berkshire, England, United Kingdom.
26 Oct 1943 RAF bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany before dawn; during the day, USAAF bombers bombed Bremen, Germany.
2 Nov 1943 The US 15th Air Force made its operational debut when 139 B-17 and B-24 bombers operating from Tunisian bases (and escorted on part of the route by P-38 Lightning aircraft) attacked the Messerschmitt subsidiary at Wiener-Neustadt in occupied Austria. The attack caused heavy damage to the plant and deprived the Luftwaffe of an estimated 250 Bf 109G-6 deliveries over the next two months.
3 Nov 1943 Overnight, 400 US bombers, escorted by 600 fighters, bombed Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Later in the same night, the RAF bombed Düsseldorf, Germany.
7 Nov 1943 Alfred Jodl met with Nazi party Gauleiters in Munich, Germany; he noted that the Allied terror raids on German cities must be stopped, otherwise morale of the German people would be overly damaged, and it would be fertile grounds for subversive activities.
18 Nov 1943 RAF Bomber Command launched a concerted series of attacks on the Berlin, Germany dubbed "Operation Berlin". During the first attack, more than 700 tons of bombs were dropped. Over a five-month period, Berlin is attacked 32 times and hit by 25,000 tons of bombs, killing more than 6,000 and leaving 1.5 million homeless; RAF lost 1,047 aircraft during the five-month bombing campaign.
22 Nov 1943 Berlin, Germany was heavily bombed by 764 RAF aircraft (469 Lancaster, 234 Halifax, 50 Stirling, and 11 Mosquito), dropping over 2,300 tons of explosives; 26 bombers were lost. 175,000 Germans were made homeless and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was destroyed.
23 Nov 1943 383 RAF aircraft (365 Lancaster, 10 Halifax, and 8 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany.
24 Nov 1943 6 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany; one aircraft was lost.
25 Nov 1943 RAF bombers attacked Frankfurt, Germany; 3 Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany as diversion.
26 Nov 1943 USAAF launched its heaviest raid on Bremen, Germany, while the RAF hit Berlin, Germany for the fifth night in a row with 443 Lancaster and 7 Mosquito aircraft. Stuttgart, Germany was attacked in diversion by 84 aircraft. 34 RAF aircraft were lost during this night.
28 Nov 1943 10 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Germany.
29 Nov 1943 21 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Bochum, Cologne, and Düsseldorf in Germany.
30 Nov 1943 4 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Germany.
2 Dec 1943 458 RAF aircraft (425 Lancaster, 15 Halifax, and 18 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany, dropping 1,500 tons of bombs; 40 bombers were lost (37 Lancaster, 2 Halifax, and 1 Mosquito). Two Siemens factories, a ball-bearing factory, and several railway installations were damaged.
3 Dec 1943 527 RAF aircraft (307 Lancaster and 220 Halifax) attacked Leipzig, Germany.
4 Dec 1943 9 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Duisburg, Germany.
10 Dec 1943 25 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Leverkusen, Germany.
11 Dec 1943 The USAAF bombed Emden, Germany, while 18 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Duisburg, Germany.
12 Dec 1943 18 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Germany while 9 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
15 Dec 1943 16 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
16 Dec 1943 498 RAF aircraft (483 Lancaster and 15 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany; 25 Lancaster bombers were lost in combat and 29 more were lost while landing in bad weather. Berlin rail system was disrupted heavily, while the National Theater and the national archives buildings were destroyed.
20 Dec 1943 RAF made the heaviest raid of the war on Frankfurt, Germany, with 650 aircraft (390 Lancaster, 257 Halifax, and 3 Mosquito) dropping over 2,000 tons of explosives; less than an hour later, RAF Mosquito aircraft followed up in order to hamper firefighting efforts. 14 Lancaster and 27 Halifax bombers were lost.
21 Dec 1943 9 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked the Mannesmann factory at Düsseldorf, Germany.
22 Dec 1943 A small number of RAF Mosquito bombers attacked Frankfurt and Bonn in Germany.
23 Dec 1943 379 RAF aircraft (364 Lancaster, 7 Halifax, and 8 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany; 16 Lancaster bombers were lost.
29 Dec 1943 British RAF dropped 2,000 tons of bombs on Berlin, Germany.
1 Jan 1944 421 RAF Lancaster bombers attacked Berlin, Germany; 28 aircraft were lost. 15 Mosquito aircraft attacked Hamburg in diversion.
2 Jan 1944 383 RAF aircraft (362 Lancaster, 9 Halifax, and 12 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany; 27 aircraft were lost.
3 Jan 1944 8 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Solingen and Essen in Germany.
4 Jan 1944 13 British Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany.
5 Jan 1944 358 RAF aircraft (348 Lancaster and 10 Halifax) attacked Stettin, Germany, while 28 Mosquito aircraft attacked five other cities (13 against Berlin) in diversion; 16 aircraft were lost.
6 Jan 1944 19 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Duisburg, Bristillerie, Dortmund, and Solingen in Germany.
7 Jan 1944 11 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Krefeld and Duisburg in Germany.
8 Jan 1944 23 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Frankfurt, Solingen, Aachen, and Dortmund in Germany; 2 aircraft were lost.
10 Jan 1944 20 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Berlin, Solingen, Koblenz, and Krefeld in Germany.
11 Jan 1944 US 8th Air Force launched over 600 bombers against Ascherleben, Braunschweig, and Magdeburg in Germany.
13 Jan 1944 25 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Essen, Duisburg, Aachen, and Koblenz in Germany; 1 aircraft was lost.
14 Jan 1944 498 RAF aircraft (496 Lancaster and 2 Halifax) attacked Braunschweig, Germany, with 49 aircraft lost; German reports noted only 10 homes destroyed and 14 killed. As a diversion, 17 RAF Mosquito aircraft attacked Magdeburg and Berlin.
20 Jan 1944 The heaviest RAF raid on Berlin to date was launched, with 769 aircraft (495 Lancaster, 264 Halifax, 10 Mosquito) dropping over 2,300 tons of explosives on the German capital. 13 Lancaster and 22 Halifax bombers were lost. Damage on Berlin was thought to be extensive, but this could not be confirmed due to bad weather on the next day.
21 Jan 1944 648 RAF aircraft attacked Magdeburg, Germany; 55 British aircraft and 4 German fighters were destroyed during the engagement. It was the first time Magdeburg was raided by the Allies.
27 Jan 1944 515 Lancaster and 15 Mosquito aircraft of the RAF attacked Berlin, Germany; 33 Lancaster bombers were lost.
28 Jan 1944 677 RAF aircraft (432 Lancaster, 241 Halifax, and 4 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany; 46 aircraft were lost.
29 Jan 1944 In Germany, the Duisburg and Herbouville flying bomb site were bombed by 22 Mosquito aircraft of the RAF. Meanwhile, RAF bombers attacked Berlin and USAAF bombers attacked Frankfurt am Main and Ludwigshafen.
30 Jan 1944 534 RAF aircraft (440 Lancaster, 82 Halifax, and 12 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany; 33 aircraft were lost.
9 Feb 1944 George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, in a speech in the House of Lords in Britain openly criticised the Government over the bombing of German cities.
15 Feb 1944 891 RAF aircraft (561 Lancaster, 314 Halifax, and 16 Mosquito) attacked Berlin, Germany, dropping over 2,500 tons of bombs in what was the heaviest raid to date. The industrial Siemensstadt area was damaged. 26 Lancaster and 17 Halifax bombers were lost.
19 Feb 1944 RAF bombers attacked Leipzig, Germany.
20 Feb 1944 USAAF launched the "Big Week", sending 970 bombers against Braunschweig, Hamburg, and Leipzig in Germany. The RAF followed through by hitting Stuttgart.
24 Feb 1944 USAAF (day) and RAF (night) bombings were conducted on the ball bearing plants at Schweinfurt, Germany.
3 Mar 1944 29 USAAF bombers attacked Berlin, Germany; the attack was "accidental", as it was actually called off, but the aircraft failed to receive the order.
4 Mar 1944 USAAF launched its first major bombing raid on Berlin, Germany.
6 Mar 1944 The US 8th Army Air Force journeyed all the way to Berlin, Germany for the first time. In all 474 bombers and their Mustang escort fighters flew to the German capital, facing a barrage of heavy flak and many Luftwaffe fighters. A total of 53 B-17 bombers and 16 fighters were lost.
8 Mar 1944 USAAF bombers attacked Berlin, Germany.
15 Mar 1944 RAF bombers attacked Stuttgart, Germany, dropping over 3,000 tons of bombs from 863 bombers, of which 36 were lost.
18 Mar 1944 RAF bombers attacked Hamburg, Germany with approximately 3,000 tons of bombs.
22 Mar 1944 RAF bombers attacked Frankfurt, Germany, killing 948 and leaving 120,000 homeless.
24 Mar 1944 810 RAF aircraft attacked Berlin, Germany; 72 aircraft were lost. After sundown, Frankfurt was bombed by the RAF for the third time in four nights.
25 Mar 1944 811 RAF bombers raided Berlin, Germany; 122 aircraft were lost.
30 Mar 1944 A 795-plane air raid (572 Lancaster, 214 Halifax, and 9 Mosquito) against Nürnberg, Germany; 82 aircraft were lost on the way to the attack, and a further 12 were lost on the return flight; nearly 700 lives were lost by the RAF. This was Bomber Command's heaviest single loss of the war. German casualties included 69 civilians and 59 foreign slave laborers.
1 Apr 1944 US bombers unintentionally hit Schaffhausen, Switzerland, leading to official protests and reparation payments.
8 Apr 1944 USAAF bombers attacked a Volkswagen factory near Hannover, Germany.
18 Apr 1944 Aircraft of No. 466 Squadron RAAF conducted bombing operations against Helgoland, Germany.
21 Apr 1944 Operation Chattanooga: Allied aircraft destroyed German rail and other transportation targets.
22 Apr 1944 The RAF used of the new liquid incendiary device, J-Bomb, for the first time against Brunswick, Germany.
24 Apr 1944 British bombers attacked München, Germany. During this attack, the Spinosaurus fossil specimen BSP 1912 VIII 19 was destroyed at the Paläontologische Staatssammlung München (Bavarian State Collection of Paleontology).
7 May 1944 1,500 bombers of the US 8th Air Force attacked Berlin, Germany.
12 May 1944 The German synthetic fuel plants at Brüx in southern Germany (post-war Most, Czechoslovakia) and Lüna-Merseburg, Lützkendorf, and Zeitz in eastern Germany were hit by 800 US bombers.
28 May 1944 USAAF again bombed the synthetic oil plant at Lüne-Merseburg in eastern Germany.
29 May 1944 Taking advantage of their range, US bombers began hitting Marienburg and Posen in eastern Germany.
21 Jun 1944 More than 1,300 US 8th Air Force bombers took off from airfields in Britain to attack Berlin, Lüne-Merseburg, and the hydrogenation plant at Ruhland in the Gau of Mark Brandenburg. The 163 that attacked Ruhland went on to Ukraine instead of returning to Britain, and this was noticed by the German Luftwaffe, which had plans to counter such an attempt for a shuttle bombing operation. He 111 bombers from various units of KG 4 (pathfinders), KG 53, and KG 55 took off for Poltava and Mirgorod (Myrhorod) Airfields in Ukraine.
7 Jul 1944 A large raid to attack targets in the Leipzig, Germany area by the US 8th Air Force with 1,129 B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers and more than 700 escorts was met by a Gefechtsverband, led by Major Walther Dahl. Among the total of about ninety Luftwaffe fighters committed was the newly raised IV (Sturm)/JG3, an elite unit of volunteer pilots flying Fw 190A-8 aircraft armed with 30mm cannon, firing high explosive shells, and with additional armour protection to enable them to get within close range of their target. The Fw 190 fighters would attack the rear of the bomber bomber stream while two Bf 109 Gruppen kept the American fighters at bay. The tactic proved successful with eleven B-24 bombers of the low squadron destroyed within a minute and, by the end of the day, the 2nd Air Division had suffered 28 Liberators lost at a cost of nine IV/JG3 fighters shot down and three damaged.
16 Jul 1944 A total of 1,087 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers USAAF Eighth Air Force attacked Germany in three waves (407, 238, and 407 bombers, respectively), escorted by 240, 214, and 169 fighters, respectively, with most of the bombers targeting Munich, Stuggart, Augsburg, and Saarbrucken; a total of 11 bombers and 3 fighters were lost.
18 Jul 1944 In Germany, 291 American B-17 bombers, escorted by 48 P-38 and 84 P-51 fighters, attacked the port facilities at Kiel and oil refineries at Cuxhaven. To the east, 377 American B-17 bombers, escorted by 294 fighters, attacked Peenemünde, Zinnowitz, and Stralsund. In southern Germany, B-17 and B-24 bombers of US Fifteenth Air Force attacked Memmingen Airfield and the Dornier factories at Manzell; 20 aircraft were lost.
19 Jul 1944 1,082 B-17 and B-24 bombers, escorted by 670 P-38, P-47, and P-51 fighters attacked factories (hydrogen peroxide, chemical, aircraft, and ball bearing), six rail marshalling yards, a dam, and four airfields in western and southwestern Germany; 17 bombers and 7 fighters were lost. From Italy, US 15th Air Force launched 400 B-17 and B-24 bombers attacked an ordnance depot, an aircraft factory, an automobile factory, and an airfield in the München (Munich) area; 16 US aircraft were lost.
20 Jul 1944 Bombers of US 8th Air Force in Britain and US 15th Air Force in Italy attacked Dessau, Kothen, Leipzig, Nordhuasen, Rudolstadt, Merseburg, Bad Nauheim, Koblenz, and many other targets across Germany.
21 Jul 1944 1,110 bombers of US 8th Air Force were launched from England, United Kingdom against Germany, hitting München (Munich), Saarbrücken (targeting rail marshalling yards), Oberpfeffenhofen, Walldrun (targeting rail marshalling yards), Regensburg, Stuttgart, Schweinfurt, and other locations; a total of 31 bombers and 8 escorting fighters were lost.
23 Jul 1944 After dark, a large group of British bombers attacked Kiel, Germany; the attack lasted through midnight into the next date. The German fighters summoned to intercept went after the decoy force rather than the main force.
24 Jul 1944 The British bombing of Kiel, Germany that began on the previous date ended before dawn. The damage was extensive, causing the city to have no running water for 3 days, the trains and buses were out of commission for 8 days, and gas service was out for nearly 3 weeks.
29 Aug 1944 11 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers and 34 B-24 Liberator bombers attacked Helgoland, Germany, escorted by 169 P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustang fighters; 3 Liberator bombers were damaged.
3 Sep 1944 A B-17 Flying Fortress bomber was mistakenly directed to Düne Island, Helgoland, Germany; its original target was a German submarine pen.
11 Sep 1944 36 B-17 bombers of 100th Bomber Group of US 8th Air Force, en route to attack the Schwarzheide synthetic fuel factory in eastern Germany, were intercepted by 60 Fw 190A and Bf 109 fighters of German Jagdgeschwader 4. In the first attack wave, 14 US bombers were shot down uncontested by American fighter escort, which had not yet arrived. In the second attack wave, US fighters were able to shoot down 32 German fighters (29 pilots killed). The air battle took place roughly over the village of Oberwiesenthal in southern Germany. Surviving bombers were able to drop 53 tons of bombs on the Schwarzheide synthetic fuel factory.
11 Sep 1944 Carl Spaatz ordered large raids on German synthetic oil plants, dispatching 1,136 aircraft; the German Luftwaffe lost heavily in air battles.
12 Sep 1944 Carl Spaatz ordered large raids on German synthetic oil plants, dispatching 888 aircraft; the German Luftwaffe lost heavily in air battles.
13 Sep 1944 Carl Spaatz ordered large raids on German synthetic oil plants, dispatching 748 aircraft; the German Luftwaffe lost heavily in air battles.
28 Sep 1944 RAF bombers dropped 909 tons of bombs on Kaiserslautern, Germany, destroying 36% of the town.
29 Oct 1944 The Köln, Germany archive noted that, overnight, British bombers dropped about 4,000 high explosive bombs and 200,000 incendiary bombs on the city.
2 Nov 1944 Bombers of the No. 550 Squadron RAF attacked Düsseldorf, Germany.
4 Nov 1944 Bombers of the No. 550 Squadron RAF attacked Bochum, Germany. Airman John Riley Bryne noted in his diary that "the target was a blazing inferno".
6 Nov 1944 Bombers of the No. 550 Squadron RAF attacked Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Airman John Riley Bryne noted in his diary that "[i]t was really wonderful experience to see hundreds of kite's [sic] attacking the hun".
17 Dec 1944 British bombers attacked Ulm, Germany.
31 Dec 1944 One B-17 Flying Fortress bomber of USAAF 8th Air Force attacked Helgoland, Germany.
2 Jan 1945 British bombers attacked Nürnberg, Germany.
13 Feb 1945 Allied firebombing raid started massive firestorms in Dresden, Germany.
23 Feb 1945 A raid of 379 British bombers attacked the German town of Pforzheim, killing 17,000 people and destroying 80% of the town's buildings.
2 Mar 1945 The RAF conducted its last major raid on Köln (Cologne), Germany with 858 aircraft; also on this date, one USAAF B-17 bomber attacked Köln as a target of opportunity.
8 Mar 1945 1,200 Allied heavy bombers struck 6 benzol plants in Germany.
12 Mar 1945 1,108 RAF bombers attacked Dortmund, Germany, dropping 4,851 tons of bombs.
14 Mar 1945 A British No. 617 Squadron RAF Lancaster bomber commanded by Squadron Leader C. C. Calder dropped a 22,000-pound Grand Slam bomb on the Bielefeld viaduct, breaking two spans. It was the first time the Grand Slam bomb was used in combat.
17 Mar 1945 1,260 Allied heavy bombers hit 2 synthetic oil plants in Germany while 650 medium bombers attacked the rail system.
22 Mar 1945 Four aircraft from No. 617 Squadron RAF (one carrying a "Grand Slam" bomb) attacked and destroyed the Nienburg Bridge in Germany.
30 Mar 1945 USAAF bombers bombed German ports of Hamburg, Bremen, and Wilhelmshaven.
16 Apr 1945 The Allied Chiefs of Staff formally decreed the ending of the area bombing campaign against Germany. In one of British Bomber Command's last major operations of the war, 900 bombers were despatched to attack the German island fortress of Helgoland.
17 Apr 1945 Thirty three British Lancaster bombers of 5 Group, six carrying Grand Slam bombs and the remainder carrying Tall Boy bombs attacked Helgoland, Germany; they reported that the centre of the island was still ablaze from the previous day's attack.
19 Apr 1945 617 Lancaster, 332 Halifax, and 20 Mosquito aircraft attacked Helgoland, Germany; 3 Halifax bombers were lost. The attack prompted Germany to evacuate civilians from the island to the mainland.
21 Apr 1945 During the night (with the Red army already entering the suburbs) RAF Bomber Command attacked Berlin, Germany for the last time during the war.
23 Apr 1945 British bombers attacked Lübeck, Germany.
25 Apr 1945 British bombers attacked Berchtesgaden, Germany. The US 8th Air Force conducted its last heavy bomber raid on Germany.
12 Mar 1946 Regarding the countless German civilian deaths as the result of Allied bombing, Wing Commander Millington, MP of Chelmsford, said at the House of Commons "We want - that is, the people who served in Bomber Command of the Royal Air Force and their next-of-kin - a categorical assurance that the work we did was militarily and strategically justified."

Lancaster bomber of No 1 Group, RAF Bomber Command over Hamburg, Germany, night of 30-31 Jan 1943B-17F Flying Fortress bombers in flight over Schweinfurt, Germany, 17 Aug 1943Hitler Youth firefighters in action, Düsseldorf, Germany, 25 Aug 1943Schweinfurt, Germany during Allied bombing, 1943
See all 30 photographs of Bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, and Other Cities

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