Tag Archive for '22/03/1944'

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]

Soul destroying!

A German city and 1184 lives destroyed.

On the evening of 22nd March 1944 RAF Bomber Command sent 816 aircraft to bomb industrial targets in Frankfurt am Main.

620 Lancasters, 184 Halifaxes and 12 Mosquitos took off from bases along the east coast of England between 18:25 and 19:29.  They were engaged by 266 single- and twin-engined aircraft of the German night fighter force.  The allied bombers returned to their bases between 23:35 and 01:28 the next morning.  Thirty one allied bombers did not make it back to base and eight German night fighters were lost.  Including civilians over 1184 people were killed, my uncle, a 19 year old RAF flight engineer was one of them.

This Blog recreates the events of that night.

22:10 Last of the main force bomb the target

22:10 101 Sqn. Lancaster SR-X2 (DV275) piloted by Flying Officer Hall bombs the target from 22,000ft on bearing 100 with an indicated air speed of 155 mph.

22:12 100 Sqn. Lancaster HW-T (JB289) piloted by Sergeant Fairbairn is the last to bomb.
He bombs the centre of a group of red target indicators and reports that the target area is well ablaze and building could be distinguished.

21:18 Nachtjagd claim their first victory of the night

21:18 Lancaster shot down

Ofw. Rudolf Frank of 3./NJG 3  shoots down a 4-motor Fluzg at GR-2 from 6.000m.

It was Lancaster ME578 VN-K of 50 Squadron.  6 were killed and 2 PoW.  It crashed near Campemoor not far from Neuenkirchen-Vörden in Lower Saxony, Germany.

ME578 was probably the first aircraft claimed by enemy action that night. Interestingly it had an 8 man crew that night 18% (6/33) of a/c lost that night had 8-man crews. Most were in the first wave, either Path Finder Force (PFF), PFF supporters or special duties e.g. reporting wind conditions. German night fighter tactics were to disrupt the front of the bomber stream as much as possible.

At the time 3/NJG3 were flying Bf 110G-4s and it was while flying the Bf110 that Rudolf Frank claimed most of the 45 night victories with which he was credited.

 

19:29 A 4 Group Halifax is the last RAF bomber to take off

At 19:29 the last of the RAF bombers takes off.   Delayed by an electrical problem in their usual Halifax J-Jig pilot Flight Sergeant Roy Crockett and crewof 640 squadron had to switch to the spare Halifax S-Sugar  LW650.  The switch delays them by 20 minutes and they are the last of the bombers to take off.  This would not be last of the bad luck they would get on this operation.

18:25 First RAF bombers take off

RAF Lancasters from 1 Group 12 and 101 squadrons are the first to take off at 18:25

16:30 American bombers return from Berlin

16:30 American bombers return from Berlin to base

09:00 Morning planning meeting – RAF Bomber Command headquarters

SECRET SIGNAL

From: Headquarters, Bomber Command.

A/C. 828

Confirming telephone conversations. the following are for operations night 22nd March 1944.  Targets and aircraft allotted thereto are given under the usual headings.

Grp. (1)

No. of A/C.

(2)

Primary Target.

(3)

Alt. Target.

(4)

Last

Resort

Target.

(5)

P/T

Area

No. 2.

(6)

Alt. T.

Area

No. 2.

(7)

Last

Resort T.

Area No. 2.

1

194

FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

3

71

FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

4

100

FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

5

215

FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

6

24

FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

6

70

FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

8

49

Markers on FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

8

26

Markers on FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

8

37

FRANKFURT A.M. ‘C’

8

12

BERLIN

8

12

FRANKFURT A.M.

8

7

HANNOVER

8

20

Enemy fighter airfields

8

2

DORTMUND (Blast Furnace & Steel Wks)

8

2

BRERHAUSEN

 

Note 1. Waves.

1st 34 of 1 Gp. 14 of 3 Grp. 20 of 4 Gp. 37 of 5 Gp. 14 Hx. and 5 L of 6 Gp. TOT Z to Z + 3M
2nd

Ditto

TOT Z + 2M to Z + 5M
3rd

TOT Z + 5M to Z + 8M
4th

TOT 8 + 2M to Z + 11M
5th

34 of 1 Gp. 15 of 3 Grp. 20 of 4 Gp. 37 of 5 Gp. 14 Hx. and 4 L of 6 Gp.

TOT Z + 10M to Z + 13M

Note 2.

Bomb load: Arson

Note 3.

Route: Base – 5405N 0400E – 52220N 0845E – Target – 4948N 0830E – 4945 0710E – 0240E – Base.

Note 4.

Zero hour: 2150 hrs.

Note 5.

30 A/C of 5 Gp. to act as supporters to the P.F.F. Bomb load 100% H.E. Details of TOT etc., to be arranged direct between A.O.C. 5 Gp. and A.O.C. P.F.F.

Note 6.

An analysis of the last attack on this target shows that the planned times over target were very greatly exceeded. Crew to be warned at briefing of the vital importance of adhering strictly to the times over target laid down in the orders.

07:30 American bombers take off for Berlin

07:30 American bomber force take off for Berlin