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Question about Dresden


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#1 FloydV

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:16 PM

This is definitely NOT a feel sorry about Dresden post.

The problem I have is reading differing accounts about the bombing.

At first I thought there was one raid. Now I'm reading there were two raids by the Brits in one night, and either 400 or 1400 B-17s the next day. I'm also reading that P-51 Mustangs strafed everything that moved after the B-17s were done.

So, how many raids the first night. Was there a raid the next day. Was it 400 or 1400 B-17s. Were P-51s ever used?

There are a lot of other war "facts" not about Dresden where numbers and such are all over the map. Is there a really good source of information?

#2 lwd

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 06:38 PM

Well wiki states:
Bombing of Dresden in World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Bombing of Dresden was a military bombing by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) as part of the allied forces between 13 February and 15 February 1945 in the Second World War. In four raids, 1,300 heavy bombers
...
The Dresden attack was to have begun with a USAAF Eighth Air Force bombing raid on 13 February 1945. The Eighth Air Force had already bombed the railway yards near the centre of the city twice in daytime raids: once on 7 October 1944 with 70 tons of high-explosive bombs killing more than 400,[39] then again with 133 bombers on 16 January 1945, ...

On 13 February 1945, bad weather over Europe prevented any USAAF operations, and it was left to RAF Bomber Command to carry out the first raid.
...
The first of the British aircraft took off at around 17:20 hours CET for the 700-mile (1,100 km) journey.[42] This was a group of Lancasters from Bomber Command's 83 Squadron, No. 5 Group, acting as the Pathfinders or flare force, whose job it was to find Dresden and drop magnesium parachute flares to light up the area for the bombers. The next set of aircraft to leave England were the twin-engined Mosquito marker planes who would identify the target areas and drop 1,000-pound target indicators (TIs),
...
The main bomber force, called "Plate Rack", took off shortly after the Pathfinders. This was a group of 254 Lancasters
...
On the morning of 14 February 431 bombers of the 1st Bombardment Division of the United States VIII Bomber Command were scheduled to bomb Dresden at around midday,
...
316 B-17 Flying Fortresses bombed Dresden,
...
The 303rd group arrived over Dresden 2 minutes after the 379th found that the their view was obscured by clouds so they bombed Dresden using H2X radar to target this location. The groups that followed the 303rd, (92nd, 306th, 379th, 384th and 457th) also found Dresden obscured by clouds and they too used H2X to locate the target. H2X aiming caused the groups to bomb inaccurately with a wide dispersal over the Dresden area. The last group to bomb Dresden was the 306th and they had finished by 12:30. ...

The use of H2X rather implies the visibity was hardly condusive to strafing but discussion of it follows the quote above.

On 15 February, the 1st Bombardment Division's primary target — the Böhlen synthetic oil plant near Leipzig — was obscured by cloud so the Division's groups diverted to their secondary target which was the city of Dresden.

The account there seems relativly balanced and reasonable.

#3 brndirt1

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:04 PM

In his book Armageddon Max Hastings quotes figures for the first RAF raid at 244 Lancaster's/800 tonnes of bombs whilst a second raid of 529 British bombers delivered 1800 tonnes. In both of which 75% were incendiary.

The USAAF's 311 B-17 fortresses then delivered a further 771 tonnes in their daylight raid between the two RAF raids. The figure quoted by Max Hastings is that at least 35,000 inhabitants perished, the discredited David Irving added a "0" to that number, and it was he who supplied the P-51 straffing claim and if I'm not mistaken he (Irving) took it from a propaganda release by Dr. Goebbels. I personally have never seen that straffing claim mentioned by a reputible source.
 
Here is a link to a pretty straight forward report on the USAAF’s Dresden campaign, with some mention of the tonnage dropped by the RAF as well.

Goto:

The Bombing of Dresden


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#4 Armeegruppenfuehrer u. Generalfeldmarshall der Waffen SS

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:22 PM

FloydV

I agree with IWD ... by all accounts it was 4 raids. Dresden is at the eastern frontier of Germany (Albeit in World War II this does not take into account Silesia and Pomerania provinces) - a long and dangerous air raid. For P-51s even equipped with drop tanks, I find it incredible, if not physically impossible, that they would even consider or entertain the idea of strafing as it would have not only taken away precious fuel and ammunition, it would have put their primary duty of Bomber Escort at risk (The return flight was no picnic either) Not to mention trying to get home ... Fuel is a finite comodity and air planes burn it by the bushloads.

Having visited the city of Dresden and seen the areas still not rebuilt and the structures still scarred with black suit from the fire storm, along with talking with the "locals" who endured that night, there was no mention of strafing just the terrible heat and unbearable lost of life and property.

Taking into consideration biases (we all have) and documentation (still left in the archives -Bundesarchiv) there were no major German Troop concentrations in or around Dresden to have justified the bombing. This is not to say there were no Wehrmact Troops but none to justify the devastation unleashed. The replacement units for the Grossdeutschland division did have Dresden as their home base but this would be akin to a MEP station that received replacements to proces them before passing on the Feldersatz Abteilungs (Division Field Replacement Battalion).

v/r

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Edited by Armeegruppenfuehrer u. Generalfeldmarshall der Waffen SS, 22 October 2010 - 07:30 PM.


#5 Stitchy

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:38 PM

Best book I've read about Dresden so far is "Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden", by Marshall De Bruhl.
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#6 FloydV

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:38 PM

Wow, I like this forum. I thought the claim about P51s was bogus too.

There was a good video on the Military Channel. In it a woman historian explained that the Germans had caused fear of war and two wars screwing up about half of the 20th century.

She said that one of the reasons Dresden was bombed was because the Allies wanted to show that Germany could be hit all over and that we weren't going to put up with anymore. If we had to be brutal, then we would be brutal.

#7 Armeegruppenfuehrer u. Generalfeldmarshall der Waffen SS

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:43 PM

FloydV

A side note; the infamous Generalfeldmarshall Friedrick Paulus of the 6. Armee and Stalingrad fame, when returned to Germany from Russia took up residence in Dresden (1953 to 1956) where he worked as the civilian chief of the East German Military History Research Institute and not as often wrongly described as an inspector of police.

Why do I say infamous? During the Nuremberg trials, Paulus was asked about the Stalingrad prisoners by a journalist. Paulus told the journalist to tell the wives and mothers that their husbands and sons were well (You can imagine how well that went over when few returned from the Gulags of Siberia).

Of the 91,000 German prisoners taken at Stalingrad, half had died on the march to Siberian prison camps, nearly as many died in captivity; only about 6,000 returned home.

v/r

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#8 brndirt1

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 08:03 PM


She said that one of the reasons Dresden was bombed was because the Allies wanted to show that Germany could be hit all over and that we weren't going to put up with anymore. If we had to be brutal, then we would be brutal.


Another reason that Dresden was hit was that it was done at the request of the Soviets at the Yalta Conference. That is mentioned in that USAF report I posted the link to. The Soviets wished to close off the rain links between the west and east so that re-enforcements couldn't be moved from the west and north to the eastern front with as much speed.

They also requested at the time that a north/south line be decided upon that wouldn't be attacked by the western bomber commands without specific Soviet permission. This was to reduce the chances of the western allied bombing their Red Army comrades by mistake.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#9 Armeegruppenfuehrer u. Generalfeldmarshall der Waffen SS

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 10:56 PM

FloydV

You may hear reports from numerous books citing American POWs confirming strafing by P-51s. There were confirmed dogfights overhead, although the number of German A/C involved was minimal (The Luftwaffe by this time was a hallow shell of its former self). The old saying “what goes up must come down” is more likely the cause. A common practice to break contact in an air duel was to "dive" to the deck. So if pursued by I wannabe an "Ace" P-51 pilot the angle of the shot is "terre bound". Again, if the #1 mission of the P-51s was Bomber Escort this makes sense. Although Targets of opportunities were a secondary mission, loiter time and heavy smoke/clouds over the target seems to me to be the litmus test for any “happy hunting safaris”. Eyewitness testimony is often flawed as I have experienced firsthand in "combat". No one is trying to give false witness; it is rather a misinterpretation of the events happening.

For example the rocket attacks on the Green Zone in 2004 that struck the two Major Hotels killing and wounding many Iraqis and US Service member was described by witnesses and media alike as a precision attack. Having personally done the investigation, it was determined that a "Donkey Cart" full of improvised rockets was launched while still attached to the Donkey who subsequently kicked wildly and launched in two separate directions trying to get loose from the cart. I lost a good and close friend during this attack – so the humor part does not garnish a smile from me. It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The actual insurgent who came in with the cart was caught later and said after igniting the rockets he got scared and ran. He assumed he hit nothing because the donkey kicked so violently. And now you know the rest of the story (Paul Harvey)

However with that said and done, NOT BEING THERE I am being a Monday Morning ARMCHAIR GENERAL.

v/r

Armgruf u. GenFld der Waffen SS

Edited by Armeegruppenfuehrer u. Generalfeldmarshall der Waffen SS, 22 October 2010 - 11:02 PM.


#10 Erich

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 01:17 AM

sorry guys but P-51's and P-47's strafed during the Dresden raid/Chemnitz and others during the week in February, the orders were to break German moral, have interviewed several that were there this was also in coverage of other spots not even associated with the eastern part of Germany during that week, my own relatives were shot out while working in the fields in the Pfalz.

bummer eh ?
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#11 Armeegruppenfuehrer u. Generalfeldmarshall der Waffen SS

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 01:35 AM

Erich

I default to you ... The three couples I spoke to near the little Imbiss across the "Blue Bridge" said they heard and saw no "strafing". They went on in great detail about the suffering caused by the fire. They were again in the kellers so ... Since you family was in "fact" strafed then I must withdraw my hypothesis.

Humbly (Pie) yours

#12 Erich

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 02:13 AM

Familie and friends got out of Dresden before the firebombing during the day and in so doing took any road system they could find to get out of the Allied air armada, taking weeks to get to the west due to strafes by both US, and Soviet aircraft during the horrid week in February of 45. Trains were shot to hell, carts plainly seen moving along were shot to pieces, actually anything moving was a target with the mentions that I gave earlier - to crush the will of the German populace. Remember and for good reason the Wehrmacht traveled by horse, cycle's even with motor columns plugging gaps at crossroads with retreating civilians, do you think Allied fighter pilots are going to let the ripe plum go un-noticed ?

will not mention names but know of a couple P-51 pilots in the 8th AF that took part

war is hell
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#13 menright

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 06:36 AM

Best book I've read about Dresden so far is "Firestorm: Allied Airpower and the Destruction of Dresden", by Marshall De Bruhl.



Another book to consider might be: Paul Addison and Jeremy A. Crang (eds). Firestorm: The Bombing of Dresden, 1945. Pimlico, London, 2006.

This book has contributions to both broad sides of the debate over the morality of the bombing.

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#14 Martin Bull

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 07:15 AM

The RAF's element of Dresden was in fact two raids. This was in part due to the internal RAF politics of the time ; the first raid was an all-5 Group affair, using their own low-level marking methods. This was partly frustrated by low-level cloud. When the Main Force ( 1,3,6 and 8 Groups ) arrived three hours later the cloud had cleared. This Force used 8 Group's standard Pathfinder marking technique.

What is striking about talking to veterans of Dresden is that, at the time, it was viewed as nothing 'special' at all - just another heavy raid albeit rather a long way from home.
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#15 CAC

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Posted 07 December 2010 - 01:54 AM

Some bloody good posts here! I was wondering though, pilots, particularly at the end of the war became a little...unprofessional lets say. Some stories of men going off, trailing a fighter to "get a kill" against the order to regroup for example...Many young pilots wanted a peice of the action before the whole show was wrapped up. So, given the diference in opinion here, could it be possible that the "straffing pilots" were acting as individuals and not under orders?

#16 Biak

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Posted 07 December 2010 - 02:50 AM

Strafing was just one more tactic and was used extensively. The P-47 was used more often that not in the SWPA in just such a role. Barges, Convoys, Ground forces or any targets of opportunity "probably" received more .50 cal. ammunition than any air-to-air expenditure. Not a nice thought but like it's been said "War is Hell".

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#17 lwd

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Posted 07 December 2010 - 01:45 PM

... So, given the diference in opinion here, could it be possible that the "straffing pilots" were acting as individuals and not under orders?

It's possible and even probable that it occured. However there's pretty clear evidence that "strafe everything" orders were given. It's possible though the intent was to "strafe everything military" and the pilots didn't pick up on it. Or not, given that any vehicle could and probably was to some extent aiding the war effort. On the otherhand given the danger of strafing and the cost of munitons expended it wouldn't make sense to go after farmers working their fields.

#18 CAC

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 01:32 AM

Good answer. I was thinking about this last night and thought that if the intention was to destroy anything that can carry or transport, then wagons, carts and bikes are all legit targets. And then realised that even people can carry or transport, so technically, even people are legit targets also.
I would have thought farmers were a GOOD target in terms of damaging the war effort, however, doing this at the end of the war is only going to make the "re-build" more difficult than it should be.
Really chuffed i get to have these conversations with vets.

#19 lwd

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 03:33 PM

.... I would have thought farmers were a GOOD target in terms of damaging the war effort, ...

If you look at it from a cost, benefit, risk standpoint I doubt it. Look at how much ammo needs to be expended to hit one. Strafing isn't sniping after all. Then there's the risk to the plane and pilot both of which represent a considerable investment. Hitting vehicles has almost the same risk and requires almost the same or perhaps even less ammo expenditure but with greater probability of success and greater impact if successful.




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