22 March 1944 Target: Frankfurt-am-Main

Frankfurt: 816 aircraft – 620 Lancasters, 184 Halifaxes, 12 Mosquitos. Again, an indirect route was employed, this time crossing the Dutch coast north of the Zuider Zee and then flying almost due south to Frankfurt. This, and the Kiel minelaying diversion, confused the Germans for some time; Hannover was forecast as the main target. Only a few fighters eventually found the bomber stream. 33 aircraft – 26 Lancasters, 7 Halifaxes – were lost, 4.0 per cent of the force.

The marking and bombing were accurate and Frankfurt suffered another heavy blow; the city’s records show that the damage was even more severe than in the raid carried out 4 nights earlier. Half of the city was without gas, water and electricity ‘for a long period’. All parts of the city were hit but the greatest weight of the attack fell in the western districts. The report particularly mentions severe damage to the industrial areas along the main road to Mainz. 162 B-17s of the Eighth Air Force used Frankfurt as a secondary target when they could not reach Schweinfurt 36 hours after this RAF raid and caused further damage. The Frankfurt diary has this entry: “The three air raids of 18th, 22nd and 24th March were carried out by a combined plan of the British and American air forces and their combined effect was to deal the worst and most fateful blow of the war to Frankfurt, a blow which simply ended the existence of the Frankfurt which had been built up since the Middle Ages.”

20 Mosquitos bombing night-fighter airfields, 128 Halifaxes and 18 Stirlings minelaying in Kiel Bay and off Denmark, 22 Mosquitos on diversion and harassing raids to Berlin, Dortmund, Hannover and Oberhausen, 16 RCM sorties and 16 Serrate patrols. 1 Halifax minelayer lost.

20 OTU Wellingtons carried out leaflet flights to France without loss.

Total effort for the night: 1,056 sorties, 34 aircraft (3.2 per cent) lost.

[Source:  RAF Bomber Command campaign diary 1944]

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