Operation Crossbow

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Lieutenant Colonel
Apr 1, 2004
Operation Crossbow was the Allied bombing offensive against the German V-weapon sites; it began on the 5th of November, 1943. I have a lot of information concerning the U.S 9th Air Force, 2nd TAF and RAF 2 Group - but any extra information on those, and information about the other RAF Group raids and U.S 8th bomber raids against these targets would be much appreciated.

5th November, 1943:

A combined raid by the U.S 9th Air Force and 2nd TAF against the Hochdruckpumpe at Mimoyecques. Hochdruckpumpe was the codename for the V-weapon sites; to the pilots they were "ski-sites" or "excavations".

The RAF component of the raid was 24 Boston IIIAs of 88 and 107 Sqdns; 24 Mitchells of 98 and 180 Sqdn; 14 Mitchells of 226 Sqdn; 4 Mitchells of 205 Sqdn. and 6 Mitchells of 320 Sqdn. all of RAF 2 Group, 2nd TAF.

The attacking force took off around mid-afternoon, when flying over Guildford the leader of the Boston formation, Wg. Cdr. Spencer, decided the weather was still too poor to operate and turned back. The Mitchells carrying Gee navigation equipment continued in two waves of 24. Sqn. Ldr. R.K.F. Bell-Irving led Nos. 98 and 180 Sqdn. while the second wave of Nos. 226, 305 and 320 Sqdn. was led by Wg. Cdr. C.E.R Tait D.S.O. Eighteen Fighter Command squadrons gave escort with Spitfire Vs, VIIs, IXs and XIIs.

The Mitchells encountered increasingly heavy flak leading to the target which started over Desvres area; nevertheless 187 500-lb bombs were placed on No.8 excavation. All Mitchells returned.

Now the problem in the information regards the U.S 9th Air Force contribution. In 2 Group R.A.F. - A Complete History 1936 - 1945 it mentions that B-26s took part in the raid, but never mentions them bombing the actual target. In 2nd Tactical Air Force Vol. 1 it mentions the U.S 9th Air Force B-26 "Marauders" joined the 2 Group bombers but states, as 2 Group R.A.F. does that only the Mitchells continued. However, the The 9th Air Force in World War II says "..."construction works" at Mimoyecques, France, was hit on 5th November and two B-26s were lost."

One of those losses was a 322nd BG B-26 piloted by 1st Lt. H.M. Price.

Any extra information regarding this raid; especially the U.S contribution? I am going to try to put together an accurate picture of the Allied bombing offensive against the V-weapon ; or Noball sites which they would be named.
8th November, 1943

Mimoyecques was again made the target for 2 Group. Mitchells opened the attack, followed by Bostons and then finally more Mitchells. The defences had already been increased and the formation was under constant anti-aircraft fire from the coast to the target.

Over target Mitchell II (FV927:R) piloted by Fl. Lt. K.M. Smith of 226 Sqdn. was shot down by the intense flak at approximately 0930 hours, all the crew were killed. Mitchell II (FV939:B) piloted by Wg. Cdr. C.E.R Tait of 226 Sqdn. was hit by flak at approximately 1000 hours which cut out an engine; but he continued.

Despite the intense flak hits were scored on No.5 and No.8 workings at the target but aim had been disrupted. Wg. Cdr. Tait nursed his Mitchell back to England to attempt a landing at RAF Manston but could not make it; he crash-landed in a field with only Sgt. L.C. Hayden suffering minor injuries. The Mitchell was a write-off.
9th November, 1943

24 Bostons and 24 Mitchells were set to raid Mimoyecques once again but the action was called off due to weather.

10th November, 1943

2nd TAF, Typhoons of 124 Airfield set off on their first Noball fitted with bombs. Flg. Off. Van Zuilecom of 247 Sqdn. was late off and shortly after take-off one of the 500-lb bombs fell from the aircraft and exploded; taking down the Typhoon (JP544) and killing the pilot at approximately 1445.

Bostons and Mitchells set out against the Todt HQ at Audinghen. Due to 10/10 cloud the Bostons returned without bombing, but the Mitchells continued with Gee and got an average spread over target.

11th November, 1943

U.S 9th Air Force dispatched 162 medium bombers with the support of 2nd TAF Typhoons in an attack against the Noball site at Martinvast. One Typhoon was lost when a bomb hung up and exploded upon landing at RAF Merston; killing the pilot, Plt. Off. Waugh of 247 Sqdn. and destroying the Typhoon (JP675).

Another raid was made on Audinghen by 2 Group and 2nd TAF. Ramrod 312 was a large operation; 47 Typhoons preceded the 2 Group bombers to soften up the defences. Once again Bostons of 88 and 107 Sqdn. and Mitchells of 2 Group attacked which achieved good results. There was a large escort of Spitfire Vs, IXs, VIIs and XIIs.

The escort claimed two Fw 190s; Cpt. T. Johnsen of 122 Sqdn. in Spitfire IX (MA846) shot down Fw Peter Ahrens of 3./JG 26. Meanwhile F/L T.H. Drinkwater of 19 Sqdn. in Spitfire IX (MH355) brought down Uffz Arthur Spiegel of the same unit; Spiegel was killed.
23rd November,1943

The winter weather had halted all operations against the V-weapon sites until the 23rd when 2 Group with the support of 2nd TAF Typhoons attacked Audinghen with some bursts witnessed in the village through the cloud.

24th November,1943

The Noball at La Clacerie was hit for the first time. Fw 190s attempted to interfere but dived away before the escort could intercept them.

25th November,1943

A large assault was made on Audinghen by 2nd TAF and 2 Group on this day. Two attacks were made, the first by 72 aircraft and the second by 66. Both attacks were led in by Typhoons of 2nd TAF. As usual the formations were escorted closely by Spitfire Vs and roaming escort was provided by the Spitfire IXs and XIIs.

The village was completely destroyed in the assault and only one bomber was lost, although almost all were hit by flak. The aircraft, Mitchell II (FL196), was hit by flak over the target area and was nursed back to the Channel by Flt. Sgt. W.M. Thomas of 226 Sqdn. Unfortunately all control was lost over Dover and the aircraft hit the ground killing all the crew.

88 Sqdn. suffered heavily due to flak and most were damaged. The Plt. Off. Gibson of 88 Sqdn. was injured by the flak in his collar bone and face but managed to fly his Boston IIIA (BZ217) back to RAF Hawkinge after pulling it out of a dive over France. 88 Sqdn. also lost Boston IIIA ( BZ278 ) when is crashed near Hartford Bridge after being hit by flak over target; all the crew survived but were injured.

During the afternoon attack, Ramrod 333 some enemy fighters were encountered. 122 Sqdn. was astonished to see two Bf 109s form up with them over Béthune in error; upon realising their mistake they quickly broke away. Plt. Off. Gilbert fired upon one but his cannons jammed, he emptied his machine gun ammo but only claimed the enemy as damaged.
Flt. Sgt. Bostock of 122 Sqdn. in Spitfire IX (MA764) called up to announce high glycol temperature. Bostock fell away to 10 000 feet and disappeared; he evaded capture.

Over Lille 332 Sqdn. were bounced by six enemy fighters; the Norweigen pilots reacted and 2nd Lt. Aanjersen shot down one Bf 109. In the confusion the enemy fighters opened up on their own destroying a Fw 190.
26th November,1943

The U.S 9th Air Force sent B-26s from 323rd, 386th and 387th Bomb Groups to finish off Audinghen in the morning. They reported good, fair and fair results for the respective groups.

2 Group dispatched seven squadrons in the morning for Martinvast but these were recalled only to be dispatched again in the afternoon for the same target.
98, 180 and 320 Sqdn. Mitchells attacked first with 180 Sqdn. leading. The heavy flak encountered over the target area brought down three 180 Sqdn. Mitchells (FV912, FL205, FL707) and one 320 Sqdn. Mitchell (FR146). The crews of all four perished except Sgt. R. Overwijn who evaded capture and Cpl. D. J. Konig who became PoW - both men were in Mitchell II (FR146).
The Bostons which followed the initial attack were hit hard and seven crews decided on the secondary target. All Bostons returned. The top cover was provided by three squadrons of Typhoons and two squadrons of Spitfires; they claimed a single Fw 190.

Users who are viewing this thread