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Thread: Bomber Command's objectives on D-day

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    Default Bomber Command's objectives on D-day

    Gentlemen,

    My interest in D-day has always been the weather conditions rather than anything else, but I've just found a wide-ranging document that may (will) be of interest to others. It's the first draft of the RAF Narrative "The Liberation of North West Europe; Vol III; The landings in Normandy". The volume was prepared by the AHB and published in 1949; the first sentence of the Preface reads:

    'This is the third Volume of the Overlord Narritive and deals for the most part with the assauit on the coast of Normandy, known by the code-name Neptune.'

    Apart from the fact it contains a lot of useful information in respect of the conditions forecast (pages 58-59) and encountered (page 67) which is of interest only to me, there is a huge amount of other data, and in particular it explains why some of the operations were mounted.

    I, and I suspect, very many others, have always assumed the attacks by Bomber Command on the gun batteries between about midnight and about 0430 DBST on 6 June, were an attempt to destroy the guns - and I've certainly read accounts in which writers have bemoaned the fact that the guns were not put out of action.

    But it appears that was never the intention. The section 'Night operations by RAF Heavy Bombers' (pages 63-64) includes the following:

    'The main objective of the night bombing was to send the gun crews to their shelters, but it was hoped that the large numbers of relatively small bombs might disorganise the batteries by damaging buildings, communications, dumps and ancillary installations. Personnel might also suffer from temporary shock as a rsult of such heavy and concentrated bombing.'

    My apologies if the experts are already aware of this, but for those who aren't the document is huge (including appendices it runs to 314 pages) and I think it will be of interest to those specialising in Coastal and Fighter Commands, as well as Bomber Command.

    (Pleease don't tell me this has been posted previously.)

    Brian

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    Far be it for me to disagree with Lyffe, but I suspect that the following excerpt from his post:-

    'The main objective of the night bombing was to send the gun crews to their shelters, but it was hoped that the large numbers of relatively small bombs might disorganise the batteries by damaging buildings, communications, dumps and ancillary installations. Personnel might also suffer from temporary shock as a rsult of such heavy and concentrated bombing.'

    is no more, in my opinion, than AHB double-speak to indicate that the majority of the BC Main Force still (despite the Butt Report, and subsequent improvements) could not hit ‘a cow’s bum with a banjo’. They could, by this stage in the war, shovel a fair amount of high explosive into a reducing AREA. But this was not pin-point precision bombing – only a few Sqns could do this. Not, I suggest, that there were enough of those Sqns to destroy all the beach defence guns in Normandy. Harris' allocations of his Sqns abilities, and their efforts, may be worthy of further research. He, I think, and by this time in the war was somewhat of the opinion that D-Day could be circumvented by Harris' BC reducing the whole of Germany, entirely, to smoking rubble. There are, clearly, those who are "pro", and those who are "con". Still an interesting debate, but I think that the suggestions mooted above have more than a ring of truth. Naysayers pse pronounce!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Default Bomber Command's objectives on D-Day

    Hi Brian

    Thanks for the heads-up on this document - is it available on line, or did you obtain a copy of the draft document personally?

    My personal interests are the D-Day bombing of the Le Chaos battery at Longues-sur-Mer, and anything on the nearby B.11 Longues-sur-Mer ALG, which came in to operation in late June, and in August '44 B.19 Lingevres, near Tilly-sur-Seulles, both occupied by 125 Wing before the breakout.

    This is what I already know about the bombing of the batteries, but I am always on the lookout for more!

    A series of raids were made on gun batteries in the invasion area over the night of 5/6 June - H-Hours for the targets were:

    Crisbecq (Fontenay) 23:35
    St Martin de Varreville 23:50
    Merville 00:30
    La Pernelle 03:20
    Houlgate 03:50
    Maisy 03:35
    Mont Fleury 04:35
    Longues 04:40
    Pointe du Hoc (St. Pierre du Mont) 04:50
    Ouisterham 05:05

    The Oboe crews had a window from 1 minute early to 30 seconds after H-Hour to drop their markers. Sometimes Oboe ground stations ran a little early or late getting things going when calling in the Oboe Markers to do their target run.

    Longues 04:40

    Plan of attack: Oboe ground marking with emergency H2S ground marking, Oboe Mosquitoes were to release red TIs and PFF Emergency Blind Markers were to release green TIs if no Oboe markers were visible but to hold them if markers were visible. Backers up were to aim their greens at the reds, or the AP itself, if it were visible. 99 aircraft were dispatched and 96 attacked. 6 Group sent 7 Lancaster Xs and 18 Lancaster IIs, 8 Group sent 69 Lancaster III, almost all equipped with bombs instead of target indicators. Oboe marking was done by 3 Mosquito XVIs of 109 Squadron and 1 Mosquito XVI and 1 Mk. IX of 105 Squadron – 4 of the 5 Oboe Crews marked successfully, the other had an Oboe equipment failure. Bombing was reported as concentrated. 1 Aircraft missing

    The US Army Air Force sent 127 bombers on D-Day morning to drop another 600 tons of bombs. The net effect of this havoc was that the guns were still operational as was the command bunker. The bombing did, however, sever telecommunications lines and this caused coordination problems in aiming the guns.

    Each of the four casemates contained a 155mm rapid-firing naval gun, and although 1,500 tons of bombs had been dropped around the weapons, they were totally protected by the thick concrete and the battery was still 100% operational on 6 June. With the original 155mm guns still in place, one can even stand where the German gunners peered from behind the armour plating at the massed armada out to sea.

    I have visited the Le Chaos battery on numerous occasions, and once back in 1991 I met the daughter of the farmer on whose land B.11 was built, and she remembered the Spitfires operating from there.

    If you wish to take this off board I am happy to hear from you via allan(dot)hillman(at)btinternet(dot)com

    cheers

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Blast, apologies Allan, I meant to include it. The document is on-line at http://www.airpowerstudies.co.uk/NWEUROPE3.pdf ; be warned, it's 17 mb and takes a while to download.

    The lack of success of USAAF operation just before the American troops touched down was partly due to technique adopted (bombs were released en masse when the leader unloaded), but more importantly in this case, the weather. The targets were overcast (8/8 top 12000 ft), and to avoid bombing their own troops the leader delayed the drop by 10 seconds and, of course, missed.

    Thanks for the offer, but weatherwise I'm content with what I have.

    Peter,

    I only quoted a minute part of the whole document (obviously), but the clue is really in the composition of the bombloads each aircraft carried. A search through the ORBs (see for example http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/467ORBS/Images006/DSC02047.jpg or http://www.467463raafsquadrons.com/463ORBS/Images002/DSC01049.jpg) shows the loads cosisted of 1000 lb and 500 lb bombs, hardly sufficient to penetrate the gun position casings.

    In fact the narrative later states:

    'No bombs heavier than the 1000 lb type were used, so extensive damage to protected guns was not expected ....... .'

    I think your comments about navigation are unwise; by this time of the war there were several aids including as Allan notes, H2S, which was ideal for this type of operation (water/land boundary).

    Brian

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    Default Bomber Command's objectives on D-Day

    Hello Brian

    Thanks for the link - worked immediately as I am on BT Infinity 2, so in the blink of an eye (almost) - well, with 314 pages to go through that sorts out the bedtime reading for a day or two!!

    I hope others on here find it of as much interest as I have - on a very brief look!!

    Many thanks

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    I've just discovered this file is one of several directly accessible on-line; the selection may be found at http://www.airpowerstudies.co.uk/historicalsources.htm.

    I'll also place this on Useful Books and Resources Forum as well.

    Brian

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    Sorry, it's me again.

    The American contribution, to which I referred in post 4, is described in detail from page 210 onwards. Bombs types ranged from 100 lb to 500 lb, so the intention was to keep the defemders' heads down, rather than destroy batteries.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 16th June 2013 at 16:54.

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    Hello Brian

    I have already downloaded them all - as soon as the first worked from your link I went to the source of them, and what a find, including the Far East as well.

    Thanks for this - this now covers bedtime reading up to next weekend!!

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Default AP numbers

    Just a quick up-date on this topic for anyone who might wish to include a reference in a publication.

    I assumed that as the document to which I first referred was a draft, that the final version had been published as an Air Publication (AP). However, have contacted the Military Library Research Services Ltd, I find this was not the case; the company advises:

    'These papers are stand alone narrative accounts and were never given AP numbers as far as I am aware - partly because they have never been published before we were given access to them.'

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 17th June 2013 at 11:10. Reason: Spelling

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    Brian

    FWIIW as a retired swivel servant I recall that we used to call these types of documents "quarries". An individual or a group were charged with researching, as far as possible, the complete story on an issue. Subsequently somebody else would edit the document down into something that was intended for publication or quite often into several different documents used for different purposes. These unpublished histories were used as the "quarry" for the three volume official history "Royal Air Force 1939-45" by Dennis Richards and Hilary St G Saunders (HMSO) comparisons show quite a few similarities especially the maps and appendices.

    By the way the unpublished histories on the airpowerstudies site and a lot more can all be found in AIR 41 at Kew.

    Steve

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