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Britain's Bombers Hit Back With A Vengeance

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by Jim, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    As if to prove that Britain has energy enough and to spare even at the height of the Nazi air onslaught on her shores, bombers of the R.A.F. delivered smashing attacks on military objectives in Germany and also in Italy. Thrice in one week Italy's most vital aircraft works at Milan and Turin were attacked, and in the same week great industrial plants in Germany were subjected to tremendous bombardment.

    Milan and Turin were first attacked by British aircraft when the war was but a few hours old. That attack took the Italian defences by surprise and much damage was done, but that damage was as nothing compared with that wreaked on the night of August 13th. As the raiders made for home across the Alps in the early hours of the following morning they left behind them smashed factories, many of them on fire, and even when high above the mountains the dull glare from the blazing Caproni works could still be seen reflected in the southern sky.
    Flying some 1,600 miles from their bases in England, the raiders had to climb up to three miles high to surmount the snow-capped peaks “From south-eastern Franceâ€￾ said one of the pilots on his return, “we could, from our great height, see Switzerland in the distance like a fairyland of bright neutrality in a pool of ink" But they had little time to admire the glorious spectacle of the Jungfrau and Mont Blanc, whose snowy flanks glittered superbly in the moonlight. Shortly before midnight they appeared above Italy's industrial north, and soon their bombs were raining down on the Fiat aviation works at Turin. Here several direct hits were scored, and through the holes in the roof incendiary bombs were dropped, which at once engendered a fierce blaze, followed by several explosions. The pilots who took up the attack at 1 o'clock had no need to be told that they were over their targets. From 10.000 feet they dropped fresh salvos of high explosive and more incendiary bombs, which spread still further the blazing area.
    Railway sidings some distance to the west of the aircraft works were also hit, and a road and railway junction to the south of Turin was attacked. Simultaneously, the Caproni works at Milan, which turn out Italy's bombing aircraft, were badly damaged. All the British raiders reported seeing bursts on the target. One salvo of incendiary bombs fell in a line down the length of the buildings, and as heavy bombs followed them there came a series of large explosions. A stick of high explosive was dropped across the hangars on the adjoining aerodrome, and others played havoc with the seaplane station at the south end of a large reservoir. By 1 o'clock several fires were raging in the target area, but many more direct hits were scored before the raiders made for home. The Italian defences were apparently taken completely by surprise, and the anti-aircraft fire was scanty and ineffective. As dawn was breaking all the aircraft engaged on the flight flew back across the Alps and the slowly awakening French countryside and arrived back safely, with the exception of one machine which came down in the sea near our coast. But even here the crew were picked up and landed in safety. All the crews were, as one observer put it, “begrimed but hale, hearty and full of good cheer. They all had had a good go at the targets, and know that their bombs found their mark."

    Havoc in the Junkers Factory

    On the same night the vast Junkers factory at Dessau, one of Germany's main centres of aircraft production, was bombed time and again by planes of the R.A.F. Bomber Command. The raiders attacked in relays for over an hour, and although high clouds obscured the moon parachute flares electively illuminated the target. The crew of one aircraft reported that one of their bombs had hit and destroyed the main power house. Other bombs had severely damaged the airframe assembly sheds and a large sheet-metal shop. In the course of another attack, delivered from only 1,000 feet up, one of the experimental shops was directly hit and blew up. Coincidently with this attack, other British raiders were bombing a subsidiary Junkers factory at Bernburg where the airframes for Junkers dive-bombers and troop transports are produced. Munitions factories at Lunen, north-west of Dortmund, and in the neighbourhood of Dusseldorf were also attacked, and in every case fires were started by incendiary bombs. Among other targets found in Western Germany were a blast furnace near Cologne, and a large oil refinery at Hanover.
    On August 15 the R.A.F. struck at the industrial region of the Ruhr; amongst their victims was the great Krupps armament factory at Essen. The same night R.A.F. bombers again crossed the Alps to attack the Caproni factory in Milan and the Fiat works at Turin, and blast furnaces at Genoa also received their attention. One of the crew remarked: “the blast furnace was much more blasted when we left."
    The next night the great J.G. synthetic oil plant at Leuna, north-east of Leipzig the works where in normal times 400,000 tons of oil are produced each year was attacked in force by R.A.F. bombers for the first time. An intense barrage from heavy and light anti-aircraft guns, pom-poms and machine-guns, all working in close co-operation with batteries of searchlights, met the attackers, but failed to prevent them from making a series of devastating assaults. Oil storage tanks were left ablaze. One of the high smoke-stacks of the factory collapsed and the hundreds of bombs dropped left a chain of fires from which columns of dense smoke poured. Other new targets attacked on that night were the benzine oil plant at Bohlen, the Carl Zeiss plant at Jena, and a Messerschmitt factory at Augsburg. in every case they came in for severe punishment. On the 19th the famous yards at Hamm were bombed for the 52nd time.
    The raiders were back again in force over Italy on the night of Sunday, August 18th when for the third time in a week the workers in the Caproni and Fiat concerns scurried to shelter as planes were reported overhead. Yet the next morning, no doubt, they and the German workers at the great aluminium works at Rheinfelden on the German-Swiss frontier, which in the course of the same night was struck by salvo after salvo of heavy bombs so that the fires from its blazing sheds could be seen 20 miles away read that Britain was staggering under the hammer blows of Goering's air force, and was certainly in no position to hit back!

    News Paper Report August 1940

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