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Thread: Assistance with weather and sorties over operational areas in Normandy

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    Default Assistance with weather and sorties over operational areas in Normandy

    Hi All,


    I am new to the forum. I am a historian, living in Normandy, and currently writing a book on Operations Martlet, Epsom, Jupiter, Greenline and Express. The book is from both the British and German angles.


    My reason for contacting your forum is to overcome a stumbling block, re: the weather, both in Britain and Normandy, which allowed or prevented bombers and fighter bombers to operate over these specific operational battlefields between the 25th June, up to the end of the 22nd July, 1944.


    What I am specifically looking for is the daily weather conditions, from 25th June to 22nd July 1944 inclusive, together with the daily sorties flown over these operational areas by bombers and fighter bombers.


    I know it is a big ask, but could any of you assist me (with recognition in the book of course) or point me in the right direction? Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated.


    Kind Regards


    Allan

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    Allan

    As you probably know which squadrons were involved I suggest you download their ORBs, or a selection of ORBs, from the National Archives. Some, but not all, provide an indication of conditions over the targets and, occasionally, a brief summary of the daily weather at base. You will appreciate that heavy bombers and fighter-bombers operated to different parameters, in that the former did not require visual identification of a target (they could bomb through cloud), whereas the latter did.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 27th February 2016 at 19:35.

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    So far as I can ascertain from Martin Middlebrook's Bomber Command War Diaries, Alan, the vast majority of Bomber Command operations over France between 25 June and 22 July, were directed against either flying-bomb sites or railway yards. The only June exception was on the 30th when 266 aircraft attacked a road junction at Villers-Bocage.

    There were two operations specifically supporting Army operations in the vicinity of Caen in July:

    a. 467 aircraft attacked the northern suburbs of Caen in clear conditions during the evening of the 7 July.
    b. 942 aircraft attacked five fortified villages east of Caen in clear conditions at dawn on 18 July.

    The book does not include fighter-bomber operations, nor does it list the Bomber Command squadrons.
    Last edited by Lyffe; 27th February 2016 at 19:38.

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    Thank you both very much for your replies.

    My expertise is ground war fare in Normandy. I have never tackled the role of the RAF in the operations I have studied/written about. However, I feel that I would be doing them an injustice if they were not included. Consider me a novice when it comes to researching the RAF, the weather etc. Could you please tell me where is the best place to go to find this information and the search criteria that I should be using (for example the National Archives).

    Kind Regards

    Allan
    Last edited by Normandy Research; 28th February 2016 at 17:09.

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    Allan

    78 Squadron operated in direct support of ground forces on 18th July 1944 with a record 28 aircraft from the Squadron taking part. The majority of the crews bombed in clear conditions reporting no cloud and some slight haze over the target, visibility being between 3 and 6 miles. All crews bombed successfully and all returned to base without incident. Bombing commenced for the Squadron at 0602 hrs and was completed by 0608 hrs.

    The Station Operational Record Book recorded the following:

    "For the first time on record 78 Squadron were able to get 28 A/C airborne. This was especially gratifying as the target was probably the most important one for a long period. The object of the attack was to saturate the area held in strength by the Hun south and south east of Caen with bombs in preparation for a large scale attack by General Dempsey's 2nd British Army. This target was just what the crews had been waiting for and everyone was highly delighted at the prospects in view."

    The Squadron had a great deal of operations during the period you are interested in cancelled due to poor weather conditions,, both at base and over the target area.

    HTH

    Daz
    Last edited by 78SqnHistory; 28th February 2016 at 19:18.

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    Allan,

    I suspect that you are seeking a general overview rather than an in-depth analysis of aerial support for army operations. If I'm correct I suggest you access The Times digital archives as this provides pretty good day by day reports about military operations in the Caen area. Some extracts:

    Report for 25th June; published 26th. With dawn came the fighter-bombers to add their weight of destruction on German positions. Another page includes a photo of the Caen Steel Works shrouded by smoke and flames.
    Report for 26th; published 27th. Caen front - Bad weather with dense cloud and driving rain prevented the allied air forces giving support to the push.
    Report for the 27th; published on 28th includes: Caen front .... A clear sky after yesterday's heavy clouds allowed far greater local air support ..... .
    Report for 28th, pub 29th. Adverse weather this morning restricted air operations over the battle area to a limited number of fighter patrols.

    Use of this source involves some reading in that the references to air support are usually little more than single sentences in often lengthy reports, but if the above examples meet your needs, then The Times archives is very useful.

    I realised while reading the reports that 2nd Tactical Air Force was the main contributor of air support, many units of which were already operating from Normandy landing strips.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 28th February 2016 at 20:34. Reason: Add ref to Normandy landing strips - Times report dated 30 June

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    Hello Brian,

    The Times Digital Archives from the extracts you have shown looks really good for me. I tried to do a search for the site, but several sites are displayed. Would you please post the link to the correct site and location for the days you have shown. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

    Kind Regards

    Allan
    Last edited by Normandy Research; 28th February 2016 at 21:00.

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    Anyone who is a member of a UK library can access the TDA through the library service. Do you have a UK relation who uses the library service?

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    Hi Brian,

    Sadly no. Is it possible to access the information online?

    Kind Regards

    Allan

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    Allan, Hi,
    You might (rpt, might!) be able to access the TDA via the Library at Caen University. Local Authority Libraries and Universities in UK have some sort of access into the organisation that actually runs the TDA - which is how most of us access it (usually for a few BMDs, or a/c crash reports). But I don't know if that (legally?) extends to locations outside UK. And I have no idea about quoting the TDA in a book! However, you can't lose anything by just asking at Caen Uni Lib!!
    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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