History Podcasts

17 July 1943

17 July 1943

17 July 1943

Eastern Front

Soviet South and Southwest Fronts join Operation Kutuzov, the counterattack that followed the German defeat at Kursk.

War in the Air

Eighth Air Force Heavy Bomber Mission No. 74: 332 aircraft sent to attack industrial targets in Amsterdam and across north west Germany. Two aircraft lost.

Italy

Allies attack towards Salamaua (Sicily)

Diplomacy

Hitler and Mussolini meet at Feltre

Pacific

Night of 17-18 July sees the only major Japanese counterattack at Munda, on New Georgia. Japanese troops get behind the American lines but the attack is broken up (Operation Toenails).



July 17, 1943

Post by Globalization41 » 27 Mar 2014, 18:43

July 17/18, 1943

Post by Globalization41 » 02 Apr 2014, 20:05

July 19, 1943

Post by Globalization41 » 04 Apr 2014, 06:11

July 19, 1943

Post by Globalization41 » 05 Apr 2014, 20:51

Note: Wikipedia: "The Hill District is a collection of neighborhoods that is considered by many to be the cultural center of African-American life in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."

July 19, 1943

Post by Globalization41 » 07 Apr 2014, 18:57

July 19, 1943

Post by Globalization41 » 09 Apr 2014, 05:02

Note: According to the Wiki Answers website, 10,000 French francs in 1943 equaled about $119. Therefore, 100 francs equaled $1.19. At 880,000,000 francs per day, the cost for occupying France in daily 1943 dollars would have been $10,472,000. . The Bureau of Labor Statistics website shows one dollar in 1943 equaling $13.57 in 2014. Thus, the daily cost for occupying France in 2014 dollars would have been $142,105,040. If the Germans made the French pay for occupation, then the cost could be considered somewhat like a trade deficit for France. . For the purpose of a math navigational illustration, the U.S. trade deficit in February 2014 was 42.3-billion dollars, which converts to one-and-a-half billion dollars daily. Therefore, the cost for occupying of France in 1943 would equal about one-tenth of the current U.S. trade deficit. . Furthermore, the effect of the outflow of wealth away from a country can be illustrated in the following example: one dollar of U.S. trade deficit equals two dollars of Federal budget deficit. In effect, subtracting wealth from a taxable base equals less revenue collected. The U.S. trade deficit since about 1998 has been roughly a half trillion per year. This equals eight-trillion dollars in 16 years. The budget deficit currently equals 16 trillion. Thus the multiplier effect for the outflow of wealth in this example is three, or 24 trillion (eight trillion times three or eight trillion plus 16 trillion). Consequently, the 880,000,000-franc cost for the German occupation of France would have greatly attenuated the French economy during WWII. The propaganda effect on France would have been negative because the French (due to their chauvinistic prejudice against the Nazis) would have been aware of their wealth being incrementally deleted.

Note: I could not find Elizabeth Island on any maps. The reference to Elizabeth Island was reported from New Delhi. I would assume the island would be somewhere near Burma, in the Bay of Bengal. . Also, I could not find Thaungdara either, but there was one reference on the net saying Thaungdara was a major Japanese Headquarters area north of Rangoon.


Design and development

Work on the prototype, Project V-139, began in September 1942 by converting the second production B-17F-1-BO (serial number 41-24341) built. Conversion work was done by Lockheed’s Vega company.

The aircraft differed from the standard B-17 in that a second manned dorsal turret was installed in the former radio compartment, just behind the bomb bay and forward of the ventral ball turret’s location. The single .50-caliber light-barrel (12.7 mm) Browning machine gun at each waist station was replaced by two of them mounted side-by-side as a twin-mount emplacement, with a mount for each pair of these being very much like the tail gun setup in general appearance. The bombardier’s equipment was also replaced with two .50-caliber light-barrel Browning AN/M2 machine guns in a remotely operated Bendix designed “chin”-location turret, directly beneath the bombardier’s location in the extreme nose.

The existing “cheek” machine guns (on the sides of the forward fuselage at the bombardier station), initially removed from the configuration, were restored in England to provide a total of 16 guns, and the bomb bay was converted to an ammunition magazine. Additional armor plating was installed to protect crew positions.

The aircraft’s gross weight was some 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) greater than a fully armed B-17. An indication of the burden this placed on the YB-40 is that while the B-17F on which it was based was rated to climb to 20,000 ft in 25 minutes, the YB-40 was rated at 48 minutes. Part of the decreased performance was due to the weight increase, and part was due to the greater aerodynamic drag of the gun stations.

The first flight of the XB-40 was on 10 November 1942. The first order of 13 YB-40s was made in October 1942. A follow-up order for 12 more was made in January 1943. The modifications were performed by Douglas Aircraft at their Tulsa, Oklahoma center, and the first aircraft were completed by the end of March 1943. Twenty service test aircraft were ordered, Vega Project V-140, as YB-40 along with four crew trainers designated TB-40.

Because Vega had higher priority production projects, the YB-40/TB-40 assembly job was transferred to Douglas. A variety of different armament configurations was tried. Some YB-40s were fitted with four-gun nose and tail turrets. Some carried cannon of up to 40 mm in caliber, and a few carried up to as many as 30 guns of various calibers in multiple hand-held positions in the waist as well as in additional power turrets above and below the fuselage.

Externally, the XB-40 had the symmetrical waist windows of the standard B-17F and the second dorsal turret integrated into a dorsal fairing. In contrast, most of the YB-40s had the positions of the waist windows staggered for better freedom of movement for the waist gunners, and the aft dorsal turret was moved slightly backwards so that it stood clear of the dorsal fairing.


April 18-October 23, 1983: Beirut Bombings Begin Era of Suicide Attacks

The October 1983 bombing of US Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. [Source: US Marine Corps.] In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon and US Marines were sent to Lebanon as a peacekeeping force in September 1982. On April 18, 1983, the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, is bombed by a suicide truck attack, killing 63 people. On October 23, 1983, a Marine barracks in Beirut is bombed by another suicide truck attack, killing 241 Marines. In February 1984, the US military will depart Lebanon. The radical militant group Islamic Jihad will take credit for both attacks (note that this is not the group led by Ayman al-Zawahiri). The group is believed to be linked to Hezbollah. Prior to this year, attacks of this type were rare. But the perceived success of these attacks in getting the US to leave Lebanon will usher in a new era of suicide attacks around the world. The next two years in particular will see a wave of such attacks in the Middle East, many of them committed by the radical militant group Hezbollah. [US Congress, 7/24/2003 US Congress, 7/24/2003 ] The Beirut bombings will also inspire Osama bin Laden to believe that the US can be defeated by suicide attacks. For instance, he will say in a 1998 interview: “We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions.” [ABC News, 5/28/1998] In 1994, he will hold a meeting with a top Hezbollah leader (see Shortly After February 1994) and arrange for some of his operatives to be trained in the truck bombing techniques that were used in Beirut. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 48]


390th Bomb Group

Staff-Sergeant Louis Kiss, a tail gunner of the 390th Bomb Group in position inside bis B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-30713) nicknamed "Phyllis Marie". First handwritten caption on reverse: 'S. Sgt Louis Kiss.' Second handwritten caption on reverse: '8-10-43.'

Photographic officers of the 390th Bomb Group develop combat rolls of film. Image stamped on reverse: ‘Keystone Press.’ [stamp], ‘Passed for publication 27 Aug 1943.’ [stamp] and ‘281033.’ [Censor no.] Printed caption on reverse: ' PHOTO MEN SERVE WITH FLYING FORTRESSES. When it comes to bombing, pictures tell the story. Skilled photographers serving with the U.S. 8th Air Force Flying Fortress Group are trained to get the pictures, process them and send prints and negatives to higher Headquarters - all on split-second schedule. Automatic cameras are installed in the Forts before take-off, each equipped with an intervalometer. Over the target the 'plane's radio operator merely flick a switch . the camera does the rest, swapping consecutive shots at predetermined intervals. On return, photo men are on hand to meet the Forts. Films are rushed by Jeep to the Photo Laboratory, processed at high speed, then dispatched to Wing H by special courier. But mission shots are only . of the photo section. It also handles everything from public relations and engineering to battle damage and identification pictures. This series of pictures shows the men of the Photo section of a Flying Fortress Group at work . U.S. Pool/F.KEYSTONE SG. Developing combat rolls of film. US POOL/ Keystone.'

First Lieutenant Steve C. Owen Jr. of the 390th Bomb Group practices the violin. Image stamped on reverse: ‘Fox.’ [stamp], ‘passed for publication 25 Oct 1943.’ [stamp] and ‘289777.’ [Censor no.] Printed caption on reverse: ‘THE FORTRESSES KEEP UP THE ATTACK. EH/MoH. In spite of all weathers, the Flying Fortress of the 8th A.F. Bomber Command keep up their attacks on important targets over Germany and other enemy occupied countries. These pictures were taken at an 8th A.F. bomber command station in England. Photo shows – 1st/Lt Steve C. Owen Jr . (Woodbury, Georgia) attached to Ordnance, whose hobby is the violin, practises in his room during off duty spells. FOX October 43. 30.'

First Lieutenant Fitzsimmons, First Lieutenant Boettcher and Captain Row of the 390th Bomb Group with their B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-30713) nicknamed "Phyllis Marie", after being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Handwritten caption on reverse: '1st Lt Fitzsimmons,1st Lt Boettcher, Capt. Row Afternoon of day received distinguished flying cross from Gen Curtis Le May Left Squadron following day headed back to USA Mid-Feb 1944 Co-Pilot Missing in Action Emden Dec 11, 1943'


American Airmen In Britain During The Second World War

Over two million American servicemen passed through Britain during the Second World War. In 1944, at the height of activity, up to half a million were based there with the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Their job was to man and maintain the vast fleets of aircraft needed to attack German cities and industry. Working with the Royal Air Force (RAF), their aim was to severely weaken Germany's ability to fight. This was a central part of the Allied strategy for winning the war. American women also served, working for the American Red Cross or as members of the Women's Army Corps.

Over 200 airfields were occupied or newly-built by the USAAF. Each one would house around 2,500 American men – many times the population of the nearest village. Thousands more were based at smaller sites. Halls and country houses became headquarters for commanders and planners. Some were converted to hospitals or rest-homes for combat-weary fliers. Barns and outbuildings would house teams of truck drivers and their vehicles. Even specialist bakery units were dotted around the UK, providing fresh bread for the airmen.

No wonder, then, that the Americans' arrival was known as the 'friendly invasion' – their impact on British life was huge and they profoundly changed the places they inhabited.

The majority of the Americans left Britain in 1945. They left an enduring legacy and are fondly remembered by those they met. Hundreds of volunteers across East Anglia still help preserve these memories. They look after memorials in village squares, on corners of former airfields, or at crash sites. They manage museums in former control towers, or preserve precious collections in pubs or farm buildings. They run websites and contribute to our growing interactive archive, helping present and future generations understand the enormous impact that these servicemen had.

One man did more than most to safeguard this legacy: Roger Freeman, the boy from Essex who was so fascinated by the base near where he grew up that it turned into a lifetime of research, writing and sharing. 'They were to leave a considerable impression on those who knew them, which did not easily fade when they departed', he wrote.

Roger amassed thousands of photographs of this momentous period, which IWM acquired for the nation in 2012. The following is a selection of photographs from his collection. They also feature, alongside many others, in IWM's new book Somewhere in England, which has been published to coincide with the reopening of IWM Duxford's American Air Museum.

The vast majority of the 15,000 photographs in the Roger Freeman Collection are also available on IWM's American Air Museum website. If you know something more about the people, aircraft and places depicted, or if you would like to try your hand at a bit of historical detective work, we would love for you to add your stories.


17 Images of Damaged B-17 Bombers That Miraculously Made It Home

The B-17 Flying Fortress was famous for being able to take a lot of damage and still make it back to base. We have collected some incredible images of damaged B-17 Flying Fortresses that made it home.

During WWII 12,732 B-17’s were produced between 1935 and May 1945. Of these 4,735 were lost in combat, a staggering 37 percent.

Each image could and should be an article in itself, and wherever possible we’ve added some descriptive text.

B-17G 43-38172 of the 8th AF 398th BG 601st BS which was damaged on a bombing mission over Cologne, Germany, on 15 October 1944 the bombardier was killed. [via]

A B-17 of the 100th Bomber Squadron of the USAAF rests in an English airfield after being severely damaged by flak over Frankfurt. She was eventually repaired and returned to regular duty, 1944. [via] Two shots of a B-17 from the 379th Bomb Group with most of the nose missing [via] On the second one it seems the Pilot is looking up at the damage [via]

B-17 Eager Beaver Tail Damage (C. 1942). Serial No. 124393 full of holes. The entry in the pilot’s diary, dated Feb 18th, 1943, says, “New waist gunner shot hell out of tail today. Ship out for a week.” “For the full story and all entries from dad’s diary, see my book on Amazon.com “A WWII Journal” by Randy Graham.” [via]

Boeing B-17F-5-BO (S/N 41-24406) “All American III” of the 97th Bomb Group, 414th Bomb Squadron, in flight after a collision with an ME-109 over Tunis. The aircraft was able to land safely at her home base in Biskra, Algeria. [via] 4th of February, 1944, Boeing B-17F-90-BO Flying Fortress, 42-30188, “Temptation” of the 413th Bomb Squadron, 96th Bomb Group, during take off for a mission, suffers runaways on Nos. 1 and 2 propellers. Lt. Joseph Meacham attempts landing at a nearby – as yet unfinished – base, but crash lands at East Shropham, Norfolk, All eleven crew survive, but the aircraft is damaged beyond repair and is written off, fit only for parts salvage. [via] This is 42-107040, Shirley Jean of the 324th Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group. [via] 6th November 1944, B17G Rackheath – Close-up view showing the enormous hole from the flak-damaged B17 of the 91st BG that returned safely to Rackheath. [Via] B-17 Little Miss Mischief after an emergency landing in Bassingbourn [via]

B-17 damaged in collision with Fw190 in head-on attack [via]

Waist gunner killed, ball turret gunner killed, radio operator blown out of the airplane completely, but this Fort still managed to get home and land without cracking in half. [via] 401st Bomb Group B-17G Belly Landed in England, October 29th, 1944.

B-17 91 Bomb Group 324 Bomb Squadron with heavy flak damage [via] The “Belle of Liberty” Lockheed/Vega B-17G-15-VE s/n 42-97479 327th BS, 92nd BG, US 8th AF. Damaged on the 6th of March 1944 mission to bomb the ball-bearing plant at Erkner, in the outskirts of Berlin. This aircraft was repaired and went back into service. [via] This B-17 took a direct flak hit in the waist over Debrecen, Hungary, which killed three crewmen and wounded two others. Threatening to come apart in mid-air the pilot nursed it home to a safe landing, but the weakened fuselage collapsed on touchdown. [via]

The only information that came with this photograph was B-17F – 97 Bomb group

This B-17G-75-BO (s/n 43-38071) landed at Brustem Airfield in Belgium on March 17, 1945, after a mid-air collision with another B-17G (s/n 43-38046). Both aircraft were from the 490th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force. This plane took off with its standard crew of 10 but landed with 11 aboard…one dead. The body of radio operator (Sgt. George Devlin) from the other B-17 was somehow thrown into the nose of this aircraft during the collision. [Via / Via] A ground-launched rocket missile caused this damage to 388BG’s “Panhandle” during an attack on a V-weapon site, June 15, 1944. The missile struck number 3 engine, ricocheted into the fuselage and exploded, leaving Sgt Biggs, the top turret gunner, with nasty burns. Despite extensive damage to various control lines, Lt McFarlane brought the bomber down safely at Manston.[Via]


WWII’s B-17 “All American” Separating Fact and Fiction

Stricken B-17 "All American" miraculously flying after collision with a German fighter, photographed by the crew of another bomber in her formation.


Stricken B-17 “All American” miraculously flying after collision with a German fighter,
photographed by the crew of another bomber in her formation.

We got this email in our inbox the other day, purporting to tell the story of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, “All American.” The story, accompanied with some incredible pictures, told of the plane, mortally wounded, getting her crew home safely. We were pretty sure we had seen this email, sent from a friend (who got it from a friend, who got it from a friend, ad infinitum) before at some time in the past, but reading it over, some things about the chain email just didn’t make sense, so we decided to do some research.

We’ve decided to reproduce the email, as it’s certainly compelling prose, however it’s fiction.

——————————————

B-17 “All American”
(414th Squadron, 97BG) Crew:
Pilot- Ken Bragg Jr.
Copilot- G. Boyd Jr.
Navigator- Harry C. Nuessle
Bombardier- Ralph Burbridge
Engineer- Joe C. James
Radio Operator- Paul A. Galloway
Ball Turret Gunner- Elton Conda
Waist Gunner- Michael Zuk
Tail Gunner- Sam T. Sarpolus
Ground Crew Chief- Hank Hyland

B-17 in 1943
A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of WWII. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Flying Fortress named “All American”, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through, connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunner’s turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still miraculously flew! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the “All American” as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the appendage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane to land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear. When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed. This old bird had done its job and brought the crew home and all in one piece.
I love these old war stories especially the ones with a happy ending!
Maybe pass this on to someone who will also appreciate this amazing story.

Well it is an amazing story, that much is certain. Though in reading it, the damage pictured didn’t seem to align with the damage described, a bombing mission to Tunis in northern Africa, dispatched from England is an impossibility (not to mention having to overfly the entirety of Axis-occupied Europe to do it), and the plane appears to be on the ground in a desert, which to the best of our knowledge, England is most decidedly not. There are several other problems within the story both large and small, but to completely dissect it would take forever and it would time away from the REAL story of the “All American.”

The “All American” was actually based near Biskra, Algeria, a much more reasonable +/- 300 miles from Tunis. On the fateful day in question, the All American was part of a formation of bombers attacking the German-controlled seaport. Braving heavy flak and German fighters on the way in, the “All American” and her crew managed to drop their bombs and were on their way back to base when the German fighter planes began attacking again, pursuing them to the fighters’ maximum return range, when the attacks ended. However, two more Messerschmitts appeared and came in for the attack.

One of the fighters went straight for the nose of the lead bomber of the formation and the other came for the nose of “All American.” The crew of “All American” fired at the plane coming for them from their nose turret while firing at the fighter heading for the lead bomber from the right side nose gun. Between the fire of All American and the lead bomber, the fighter going after that plane was disabled and sent down, smoke pouring from it as it descended. The fighter that was attacking the “All American,” head-on and guns blazing, began a roll to pull away, but halfway through the maneuver, gunfire from either “All American” or the lead bomber must have killed or incapacitated the fighter pilot and the plane never completed the collision-avoiding maneuver.

The fighter passed over ‘All American,” to say with inches to spare would be inaccurate as the plane tore a significant hole in the rear of the fuselage and removed the left horizontal stabilizer. The remaining parts of the tail section, the vertical and right stabilizer seemed like they could shake loose at any moment. Miraculously, none of the B-17’s crew were injured and the men all donned their parachutes, ready to abandon the plane should the tail break off.

The other crews in the formation, seeing that the B-17 was crippled, but remaining aloft, slowed to a speed the injured bird could maintain and formed a formation around her until they were out from enemy territory. Once the formation was outside of the maximum range for the German fighter planes, the rest of the formation went on ahead and “All American” limped on alone. The Flying Fortress landed safely, though without her tail wheel which unsurprisingly was inoperative.

As one would imagine making it safely to the ground was an emotional experience for both the flight and ground crews, a testament to the bravery of her crew, her compatriots and the legendary robustness of the Boeing B-17, that stands quite well all on its own without the additional fantastical embellishments.

There is an excellent article with an interview with Ralph Burbridge, the bombardier on “All American” in which you can read his first person account of this mission, as well as his other wartime experiences, though the article incorrectly introduces a bit of misinformation of its own.* Sadly, Burbridge passed away earlier this year at the age of 93.

*The Harold Adamson and Jimmy McHugh song “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer” was not written about “All American.” The hit song, released in 1943, recounted the amazing survival of another 97th Bomb Group B-17, “Thunderbird.” The plane had been given up as lost on a January 12, 1943 mission to Tripoli but her pilot, Lieutenant John Cronkhite managed to get her back to Biskra though thoroughly shot up, with both starboard engines out and fuel tanks nearly dry. He landed with no brakes and ground-looped the plane when he ran out of runway, but that’s a story for another day.


Thunder at Prokhorovka : A Combat History of Operation Citadel, Kursk, July 1943

After the defeat at Stalingrad, Hitler had lost his momentum and was looking for a way to regain it. Operation Citadel was the intended means to fulfill that objective. If successful, a number of Soviet armies would be destroyed and the front line shortened, allowing for a better disposition of troops and a chance to rebuild Germany's exhausted reserves.

This book provides comprehensive coverage of the operational events on both salients. It also includes critical analysis of both sides that points out errors of judgment or application that collectively had an important impact on campaign results. The book is highly annotated to give the reader additional sources to study and to provide additional perspectives to gain as complete an understanding of this critical campaign as possible.

Besides an extensive text, the book's key strength is its mapping - 32 full-page color maps are accompanied by 7 large foldout sheets of maps, also in color. Together these specially commissioned maps provide a remarkably detailed guide to the combat operations. Thunder at Prokhorovka is destined to become an important reference to the Battle of Kursk.


17 July 1943 - History

At 9am on the 17th August the preliminary order is sent from Bomber Command HQ at High Wycombe to all group commanders warning them that the attack on Peenemünde is to take place that night.

The operation has three requirements: a full or nearly full moon no cloud over the target and clear weather over the UK for the bomber's return. It had been given a special code name&hellipOperation Hydra.
A diversionary raid on Berlin by Mosquitoes was codenamed &hellipOperation Whitebait.

While the aircraft are being prepared, squadron and flight commanders are busy compiling lists of crews that are to fly that night. Most units find this reasonably easy as they were not flying the previous night. There is no record as to the thoughts of the crew of JA691 who had just returned from Milan the previous night and were "very tired."

There was high security surrounding the briefing that evening and the crews were made well aware that they would have to return the following evening if insufficient damage was done to the target. Even the briefing officers did not know what was to be found at Peenemünde.

The cover story first used about five weeks earlier was that it was the location where the Germans were producing countermeasures against RAF attacks, particularly a new form of radar. At 2146 Lancaster JA691 with its crew roared down the 2000yd main runway on a heading of 263°. The photograph on the right (taken on the 17th August 1998), shows what remains of the runway today. Its full width of 50m is only visible where a chicken farm is built astride the runway about halfway down its length.


Many a Fiskerton veteran remembers that the main runway was directly in line with Lincoln Cathedral and the sight of this majestic building over five miles away silhouetted by the setting sun never failed to impress them. Sadly, on this day, it was a sight that 23 Fiskerton aircrew would never see again.Today, cornfields cover much of the Fiskerton site and all traces of the airfield to the west of the Fiskerton/Reepham road are lost. The photograph shows this area with the Cathedral in the background.


The route to Peenemünde crossed the North Sea and then over the narrow neck of Jutland before crossing Funen and Zeeland. A short leg over the Baltic brought the bomber stream to the Arkona Peninsula from where they began their approach run on the target.


The vast majority of the 596 bombers reached the target area with little or no interference from the German nightfighters. The probable reason is that most of the nightfighters were on their way to Berlin, which had been identified by the Germans as being the most likely target of the bomber stream.

The Lancasters of 5 Group were in the third wave designated to attack the experimental works at the northern end of the target area at between 00:43hrs and 00:55hrs. There are no records which indicate the success of JA691's bombing run but it must be assumed that they successfully bombed their target and at around 1am on Wednesday 18th August turned North West away from Peenemünde and headed for home.


Watch the video: Сериал про войну 1943. Все серии 2013 Русские сериалы (January 2022).