Retaliation

The RAF plan foresaw the use of Bomber Command’s ”learner crews … on security patrols over easily identified enemy night bomber aerodromes”, Eindhoven, Schiphol and Soesterberg. It was suggested that “Jericho Gear” (whistles) should be attached to the bombs dropped on military targets in the German city selected for the Cold Water treatment. Whitleys assigned to Italian targets would still go there, weather permitting, as the opportunities for such attacks were expected to be few during the winter.

Although the initial discussions had envisaged “cats eye” Hurricanes patrolling the German beacon at Fécamp (where returning bombers switched on their navigation lights) and the use of Battles, Swordfish and Albacores against aerodromes near the coast, these ideas were not put into practice. Also dropped at an early stage was the idea of sending Blenheim night fighters on intruder missions to German bomber bases since that would have meant removing their onboard A.I. sets, whose exposure to the enemy could not be risked. Reinstalling the gear in the aircraft would have kept at least one squadron out of action “possibly for a number of days [which, the Prime Minister was advised] was not considered worthwhile.” The inference here is that no one relished the prospect of getting these temperamental early radar sets working again, once they had been disturbed.

NOTE: While the Luftwaffe was still weeks away from even ordering the development of an airborne radar the RAF had achieved its first night A.I. kill back in July.

Coastal Command

Ofw. Wolff’s crew of 6./KG 2 was due to make two trips to Coventry. Their aircraft was bombed-up and ready to take off when a British bomber dropped three flares over the already moonlit airfield at St. Léger, 12 km. south of Arras. Bombs fell, the Flak opened up and men ran for shelter. There was a brief lull before the next attack and Wolff thought five or six passes were made in all but many of the bombs were directed at fires on a nearby decoy site and the Germans were able to fly their assigned mission. The RAF reported that eight Coastal Command Blenheims had been sent to St. Léger. One had returned with its load and one failed to find the aerodrome while the remainder dropped 32 bombs on the target without observing the results.

Eight Hudsons of No. 206 Squadron were dispatched, four apparently bringing their bombs home. The other four attacked the aerodromes at Rosendäel and Gravelines and the jetty at Calais. At Rosendäel a Bf 110 thought to be taking off to engage the bombers was claimed shot down.

No. 59 Squadron (Blenheims) dropped 32 H.E. bombs and six incendiaries on KGr. 100’s base at Vannes. They reported some large fires and several small ones, plus bombs bursting on runways and dispersal areas. Soon afterward, Ultra was able to augment these assessments. Hauptmann Hoferer, base Kommandant, reported two attacks between 01.48 and 02.15, GMT; three from 02.47–03.17; and another from 03.42–03.48 hours. Three or four aircraft “of an unknown type” had bombed and machine-gunned the aerodrome and an 8.8 cm. Flak battery. None of the attackers had been brought down but the wireless station had been damaged and would be out of action from 22.30 GMT on the 15th.

Another fragmentary report, thought probably to originate from Vannes, referred to eight or ten 50 kg. bombs being dropped of which one was an incendiary, four were delayed-action and two were duds. One man was slightly wounded and a Meteorological Post hut had burnt down. Telephone and other communications had been interrupted and in part destroyed, while two aircraft were damaged. The alert had sounded promptly and both light and heavy Flak had opened intense fire.

No Coastal Command aircraft were lost on these operations.

Bomber Command

Some 53 aircraft were assigned to attack German aerodromes (43 carried out their assigned missions). The balance of the Command’s 122 sorties comprised 49 despatched to Berlin (30 apparently reaching the city) and 17 to oil refineries at Hamburg, while three laid mines. Large fires “which could be seen from a considerable distance” were started in the German capital.

Results against the aerodromes were held to be good, Blenheims making the following attacks:

German base

Unit

Sorties

Amiens/Glisy

II./KG 26

4

Étaples

 

3

Cambrai-Nierguise

III./KG 2

2

Douai

 

2

Beauvais

KG 76

2

Vendeville

 

2

Le Culot

KG 3

2

Dunkirk

 

2

Lendeville & Flers

 

1

One Blenheim was dispatched to each of Melun, Orly (both KG 51), Béthune-la-Buissière, Estrée, St. Pierre, Corbel, Rennes, Chartres (KG 55) and Knocke. Another attacked Ivry-la-Cataille, Chartres (KG 55) and Châteaudun (LG 1).

The crew attacking Melun reported fires started in the hangars and bursts close to 14 aircraft on the ground. At Chartres an enemy aircraft was reported set alight on the flare path. From 21.16–23.01 GMT, 13 bombers were heading home under control from Chartres when a raid warning was given and they were first diverted to Dreux before being told that Chartres was now clear. Some landed but there was a second alert and the remainder were again directed to Dreux. In coping with these emergencies, the Germans’ security lapsed, revealing the “G1” code of KG 55. The Y-Service also heard how two aircraft were ordered to land at Le Culot since St. Trond was under attack (KG 3 was using both these aerodromes).

Three other Blenheims attacked targets of opportunity: Ostend, Dunkirk and Boulogne; Flak positions at Le Touquet; and a flare path, canal locks and four ships (presumably on a canal) near Brussels.

In Holland, 15 Wellingtons attacked Schiphol and Soesterberg (III./KG 4 and III./KG 30 respectively). At the former, three large white explosions occurred, followed by a large red fire which was seen from 40 miles away. Bursts were also reported on hangars, runways and transport showing lights, while buildings were machine-gunned. The fires at Soesterberg were also visible from some distance.

Over Berlin “a heavy attack … was delivered against military objectives” with 17 tons of H.E., 4,000 incendiaries, and six 1,500 lb. land mines.

Twelve Wellingtons struck the Schlesischer Bahnhof (Ostbahnhof) and:

Incendiaries were seen to burst on and around the station and marshalling yards, with 12 explosions alongside a train. 3 large explosions caused extensive red fires which in turn caused green explosions. 3 fires seen on the SW edge of the target were seen for 20 minutes by circling aircraft.

Eight Whitleys bombed the Putlitzstraße marshalling yard with “many large and small fires seen in target area”; one attacked the marshalling yard at Tempelhof; and another the Anhalter Bahnhof. The final aircraft bombed an airframe factory.

A force of Hampdens had also been dispatched (presumably to Berlin and Hamburg) but their reports were not received in time for inclusion in the briefing paper. All the Blenheims got home but 13 other bombers had been lost. One Wellington had ditched in the sea and Navy vessels and aircraft were searching for its crew. Another Wellington crew had bailed out over enemy territory. Five Whitleys were missing; one crew had ditched and was safe; and one aircraft had crashed at Kings Lynn on its return, with injuries to its crew. Four Hampdens were missing.

continued on next page …

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