Thursday, August 6, 2009

Strategic Air Offensive

In 1942 the strategic bombing offensive against Germany was substantially increased. The 1941 Butt report, which showed just how inaccurate night bombing actually was, encouraged the introduction of area bombing of German cities. Sir Arthur Harris took over as Commander-in-Chief of the RAF's Bomber Command in February. He quickly ordered fire-storm raids on Rostock and Lübeck, and then, in May, mobilized his second line and training aircraft to mount the first thousand-bomber raid, on Cologne. RAF armourers are seen fusing bombs (above) prior to loading them aboard a Short Stirling at RAF Waterbeach, near Cambridge, April 30, 1942.

The caption to this German photograph of the gutted Lübeck cathedral described the raid on the city as “a new crime against civilization.” It helped inspire the German Baedeker raids, so called because the official announcing them declared that the Germans would attack all building marked with three stars in the Baedeker guidebook.

On the night of May 30, the first thousand-bomber raid was launched on Cologne. The top picture shows a rubber factory at Deutz, on the east bank of the Rhine, before the raid, and the lower picture shows it afterwards.

The four-engined Avro Lancaster came into service in early 1942. Although it was generally used at night, this
photograph shows a low-level daylight raid on the Schneider armament works at Le Creusot on October 17.

Another daylight attack, this by Lockheed Venturas, Douglas Bostons and de Havilland Mosquitos on the Philips radio valve works in the Dutch town of Eindhoven, December 6.

German flak and fighters imposed a steady toll on bombers. Here a Vickers Wellington of the Polish 301 (Pomeranian) Squadron, lies in the mud of a Dutch estuary.

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