70 years tonight...

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Alex ., Mar 29, 2014.

  1. Alex .

    Alex . Active Member

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    Tonight is the 70th anniversary of the raid on Nuremberg that was the single most costly in the war with Bomber Command losing 106 aircraft and 545 aircrew. PO Cyril Barton was awarded the Victoria Cross for bringing his Halifax back on three engines and crash landing saving his crew but dying himself.

    I am so annoyed that I wouldn't have known myself, had I of not seen a thread on another forum. It seems Bomber Command are still forgotten by many today, despite them finally gaining official recognition.

    Still we insult their sacrifice: Exactly 70 years ago, the RAF suffered its worst night ever, losing 106 bombers and 545 men in a raid on Nuremberg. So why is it going unmarked? | Mail Online

    :salute:
     
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    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  4. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #4 parsifal, Mar 29, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
    There are some differing accounts of this terrible night. This would normally have been the moon stand-down period for the Main Force of BC, but a raid to the distant target of Nuremberg was planned on the basis of an early forecast that there would be protective high cloud on the outward route, when the moon would be up, but that the target area would be clear for ground-marked bombing. A Meteorological Flight Mosquito carried out a reconnaissance and reported that the protective cloud was unlikely to be present and that there could be cloud over the target, but the raid was not cancelled. Winds over the target and on the return flight steadily built up, and a number of aircraft were belived lost because of this.

    795 aircraft were dispatched - 572 Lancasters, 214 Halifaxes and 9 Mosquitos. The German controller ignored all the diversions and assembled his fighters at 2 radio beacons which happened to be astride the route to Nuremberg. His GCI was near perfect. The first fighters appeared just before the bombers reached the Belgian border and a fierce battle in the moonlight lasted for the next hour. 82 bombers were lost on the outward route and near the target. The action was much reduced on the return flight, when most of the German fighters had to land, but 95 bombers were lost in all - 64 Lancasters and 31 Halifaxes, 11.9 per cent of the force dispatched. It was the biggest Bomber Command loss of the war. There were additional loses making the total up to 106, due to unknown causes, but most likley to the high wind shift that affected the return flight. Approximately half the losses were due to the attentions of Flak.

    Most of the returning crews reported that they had bombed Nuremberg but subsequent aerial recon research showed that approximately 120 aircraft had bombed Schweinfurt, 50 miles north-west of Nuremberg. This mistake was a result of badly forecast winds causing navigational difficulties. 2 Pathfinder aircraft dropped markers at Schweinfurt. Much of the bombing in the Schweinfurt area fell outside the town and only 2 people were killed in that area. The main raid at Nuremberg was a near total failure. The city was covered by thick cloud and a fierce cross-wind which developed on the final approach to the target causing many of the Pathfinder aircraft to mark too far to the east. A 10-mile-long creepback also developed into the countryside north of Nuremberg. Both Pathfinders and Main Force aircraft were under heavy fighter attack throughout the raid. Little damage was caused in Nuremberg. In some respects this failure and the heavy losses sustained in securing the mission, was payback for the success of the hamburg raids. Losses rivalled those that had been suffered over berlin over the winter. In daylight, the Reich air defences were crumbling, but at night there were some months to go before BC turned the corner.

    49 Halifaxes were used in minelaying in the Heligoland area, 13 Mosquitos to night-fighter airfields, 34 Mosquitos on diversions to Aachen, Cologne and Kassel, 5 RCM sorties, 19 Serrate patrols. No aircraft lost. 3 Oboe Mosquitos to Oberhausen (where 23 Germans waiting to go into a public shelter were killed by a bomb) and 1 Mosquito to Dortmund, 6 Stirlings minelaying off Texel and Le Havre. 17 aircraft on Resistance operations, 8 OTU sorties. 1 Halifax shot down dropping Resistance agents over Belgium.
    Total effort for the night: 950 sorties, 96 aircraft (10.1 per cent) lost.

    As reported above, Pilot Officer Cyril Barton, a Halifax pilot of No 578 Squadron, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for carrying on to the target in the Nuremberg operation after his bomber was badly damaged in a fighter attack and 3 members of his crew baled out through a communication misunderstanding. Although the navigator and wireless operator were among the men who had parachuted, Barton decided to attempt the return flight to England in spite of the fact that only 3 engines were running. An unexpected wind took the Halifax steadily up the North Sea and it was short of fuel when the English coast was reached near Sunderland. Barton had to make a hurried forced landing when his engines failed through lack of fuel and he died in the crash, but his 3 remaining crew members were only slightly hurt. Pilot Officer Barton's Victoria Cross was the only one awarded during the Battle of Berlin, which had now officially ended.

    These men were very brave, and they deserved better. they deserved a better result on the night, and they deserved to be remebered better by us.
     
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    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    106?!?! Good Lord!
     
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