THIS WEEK IN WORLD WAR II

U.S. Eighth Air Force Bombs Berlin

If you enjoy reading about the second world war, may I suggest my other website USS Hornet (CV-12) – A Father’s Untold War Story.  I also have several posts about the war in the A to Z Challenge from 2015.

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Eighth Air Force pass through a flak-filled sky on a raid over Berlin, 6 March 1944.

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Eighth Air Force pass through a flak-filled sky on a raid over Berlin, 6 March 1944.

On March 4, 1944, the U.S. Eighth Air Force launched the first American bombing raid against the German capital of Berlin.  The British Royal Air Force (RAF) suffered heavy losses since it began conducting night raids against Berlin and other German cities in November 1943.  The British inflicted significant damage against their targets but the German defenses were effective.

The crew of a Short Stirling B Mark III of No. 622 Squadron RAF report their experiences to an intelligence officer at Mildenhall, Suffolk, after returning from the major raid on Berlin of 22/23 November 1943. 764 aircraft took part in the attack, of which 50 were Stirlings, it being the last time they were sent to Germany. Those shown are (left to right): Flight Lieutenant R D Mackay (navigator), Flying Officer G Dunbar (interrogating officer), Sergeant J Towns (rear gunner, partly hidden by Dunbar), Pilot Officer K Pollard (wireless operator), Flight Sergeant C Stevenson (second pilot, standing), Squadron Leader J Martin (captain and flight commander), Sergeant W Rigby (mid-upper gunner), Flying Officer Grainger (bomb aimer) and Sergeant H Fletching (flight engineer). Label The crew of a Short Stirling bomber of No. 622 Squadron RAF being debriefed by the intelligence officer at Mildenhall, Suffolk, after returning from the major raid on Berlin of 22/23 November 1943. CH 11641 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION Subject period Second World War Alternative Names object category: Black and white Creator Goodchild A (Fg Off) Royal Air Force official photographe

The crew of a Short Stirling B Mark III of No. 622 Squadron RAF report their experiences to an intelligence officer at Mildenhall, Suffolk, after returning from the major raid on Berlin of 22/23 November 1943. 764 aircraft took part in the attack, of which 50 were Stirlings, it being the last time they were sent to Germany. Those shown are (left to right): Flight Lieutenant R D Mackay (navigator), Flying Officer G Dunbar (interrogating officer), Sergeant J Towns (rear gunner, partly hidden by Dunbar), Pilot Officer K Pollard (wireless operator), Flight Sergeant C Stevenson (second pilot, standing), Squadron Leader J Martin (captain and flight commander), Sergeant W Rigby (mid-upper gunner), Flying Officer Grainger (bomb aimer) and Sergeant H Fletching (flight engineer). The crew of a Short Stirling bomber of No. 622 Squadron RAF being debriefed by the intelligence officer at Mildenhall, Suffolk, after returning from the major raid on Berlin of 22/23 November 1943. CH 11641 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION Subject period Second World War Alternative Names object category: Black and white Creator Goodchild A (Fg Off) Royal Air Force official photographer

  • 35 RAF major raids between November 1943 and March 1944
  • RAF lost 1,047 aircraft and an even greater number damaged.

The Americans had been cautious in pursuing night raids because of their losses in the industrial centers during the day. In March, with the RAF exhausted, the U.S. Eighth Air Force finally pursued night bombing and made Berlin its primary target. Fourteen U.S. bomber wings took off for Germany from England on the evening of March 4; only one plane reached Berlin (the rest dropped their loads elsewhere; few planes were lost to German defenses). In retrospect, the initial American attack was considered “none too successful” (as recorded in the official history of U.S. Army Air Force). Subsequent attacks in March were more effective.

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the Eighth Air Force Over Europe during World War II

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the Eighth Air Force Over Europe during World War II

 

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