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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/2/2017 8:11:19 AM
In July and August 1944, aircraft of this Group were equipped with G-H and maintained an all-weather daylight attacks against flying-bomb sites.

Throughout the D-Day build-up, the liberation of France and conquest of Germany, formations of No. 3 Group attacked railway junctions, marshalling yards, troop concentrations, etc.just inside Germany.Each flight of each Squadron having a GH Leader

During the week ending 25th March 1945, Bomber Command made numerous attacks to prepare for the crossing of the Rhine.These included towns in the Rhine area.

The final devastating blows before the crossing were delivered on the 23rd in two attacks on the little town of Wesel - which was the objective of the 1st Commando Brigade - the first attack, 100 per cent G-H, being delivered at 1530 hours by 77 Lancasters of No. 3 Group.

In the month of March 1945, this Group despatched a record of 2,791 sorties.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/2/2017 11:02:21 AM
Jim, the use of heavy bombers in a more tactical role was evident in the set piece attacks to take Caen and during the set piece operations before Falaise.

Allied commanders became more aware of the value of these sorties although there were mistakes made and soldiers died because of "friendly fire" mistakes.

On July 25, a US General was killed by friendly bombs in the preparation for Cobra. I can't remember whether that was a daylight raid.

Jim, just prior to Operation Veritable, Bomber Command destroyed the town of Cleve. Do you recall whether that was a daylight raid?

The BC raid took place on Feb. 7-8, 1945.


cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Posts: 6042
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Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/2/2017 12:50:33 PM
Hi George-Kleve suffered heavy bombing during the Second World War, with over 90% of buildings in the city severely damaged or destroyed entirely, most the result of a 1945 bombing raid requested by Lieutenant-General Brian Horrocks during Operation Veritable.

Horrocks later said that this (the decision to send in the bombers) had been "the most terrible decision I had ever taken in my life" and that he felt "physically sick" when he saw the bombers overhead during daylight.

As a result, relatively little of the pre-1945 City remains, although many historic villas built by wealthy German vacationers from the Ruhrgebiet during the heyday of Bad Kleve still stand along the B9 near the Tiergarten.

NB. My uncle's logbook for 90 Sqdn does not include Kleve; but there were 16 heavy bomber Sqdns in 3 Group. The Bomber Command War Diaries state that 285 Lancasters-BH!! bombed the town before an attack by 15th (Scottish)Inf. Division-this attack was held up by the near total destruction of this town.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/2/2017 6:54:10 PM
George, the raid on Kleve (Cleve) was a night raid. Typically, when RAF Bomber Command raids are dated a double date (such as Feb 7-8) indicates an op initiated on the evening of the first number and concluded on the second.

There were three major raids on that night, together with a number of minor ops:

GOCH: 464 aircraft total, from 4, 6 and Groups. 2 Halifaxes lost.
KLEVE: 305 aircraft total, from 1 and 8 Groups. 285 a/c bombed at Kleve. 1 Lancaster lost.
DORTMUND-EMS CANAL: 188 aircraft total, from 5 Group. 3 Lancasters were lost.

When added together (including minor ops), total effort for the night was 1,205 sorties. 10 aircraft lost.

I'm pulling these directly from Middlebrook and Everitt's Bomber Command War Diaries, an astounding reference volume.

You note
Quote:
... the use of heavy bombers in a more tactical role was evident in the set piece attacks to take Caen and during the set piece operations before Falaise.

Allied commanders became more aware of the value of these sorties although there were mistakes made and soldiers died because of "friendly fire" mistakes.

My understanding is that thee co-ordination between British ground forces and at least most of Bomber Command was not always that good when such operations were implemented. The difficulties went back to long before D-Day, and should IMHO have cost Bomber Harris his job. By early March, RAF BC was being directed towards targets Harris mocked as "panacea" targets: rail yards and communications links in Western Europe. He felt these were simply a misuse of Main Force capability. He may have been right. Long years of training and specialization had made Main Force almost a one-trick pony. But he was given direct orders to link his efforts with those required for D-Day, and continued to circumvent those orders whenever possible.

Even as long as a year later problems seemed to arise with too much reuglarity. Again drawing from Bomber Command War Diaries, the following is a short commentary added after the data concerning the raid on Kleve you raised:
"The British [ground] attack, led by the 15th (Scottish) Division, made a successful start a few hours ... [after the Bomber Command raid] ... but quickly ground to a halt because of a thaw, which caused flooding on the few roads available for the advance, and also because of the ruins which blocked the way through Kleve. Lieutenant-General B.C. Horrocks, the corps commander in charge of the attack, later claimed that he had requested that Kleve should only be subjected to an incendiary raid but Bomber Command dropped 1,384 tons of high explosive on the town and no incendiaries."

What-ifs are rife, of course. Kleve considered itself one of the most bombed cities of its size in Germany. Was it so burned out by Feb 7/8 1945 that incendiaries would have found little to ignite? Did the city still need HE to open buildings to incendiaries? If so, why no incendiaries in the last wave of a/c carrying those 1,384 tons? If Horrocks' request was indeed sent and acknowledged, who countermanded his request? Why?

So many questions! So much red tape surrounding the answers!

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Posts: 1404

Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/2/2017 7:58:37 PM
Jim, do you find it as difficult as I do to follow the shifts in assignments, responsibilities and the like that took place in Bomber command throughout the war? Or the special consideration 5 Group seems to have received?

After the securement of the Normandy sites (which took a painfully long time, IMHO), RAF daylight attacks became much more prevalent. A lot of that came from 2TAF, which was drawn from BC 2 Group as early as 1943 but became more impactful with better a/c, more effective weapons and possible bases on European soil after the German withdrawal from Normandy. But I had missed somehow that 3 Group was entirely a daylight force.

I do know that even 6 (RCAF) Group was flying daylight ops as the war drew to a close. My father-in-law's last op was a day raid against Heligoland on 18 April, 1945. Here's how Middlebrook and Everitt describe the raid:
"969 aircraft – 617 Lancasters, 332 Halifaxes, 20 Mosquitoes – of all groups attacked the naval base, the airfield and the town on this small island. Th bombing was accurate and the target areas were turned almost into crater-pitted moonscapes. The present-day Bürgermeister was unable to supply any local details; it is probable that the civilian population had been evacuated long before this raid. 3 Halifaxes were lost."

Here's what my father-in-law self-published about that raid in a small-run edition called My Last Op in 1999, shortly before he died. I offer excepts only, in the interests of brevity. What I omit is his continued support of Air Vice Marshall Harris and his goals. He was a Gun Leader at the time, but he chose to take the mission as a tail gunner, where he flew on his first mission:
"It was a fine clear sunny day when the bombers set off across the east coast in a long straggling line. Not in formation like the U.S. Air Force flew their missions or the twenty-four Wellingtons flying in formation on their way to Welhelmshaven five years earlier. Each plane on this day made its own way to arrive over the target at its designated time, course and height to drop its bombs, as in a night operation.
About half way to the target at about 15,000 ft. we overtook another Halifax on the port side and slightly below us. As I turned the rear turret to have a look at it, the plane slowly lifted its starboard wing and went into a slow spin for no apparent reason. The Halifax was a fine airplane, but had a bad reputation for spins. If you went into a spin it was very difficult if not impossible to get out of it. I watched amazed as it spun down and down, and no parachutes emerged as we flew on out of sight. I reported this to the rest of the crew. Should we break radio silence and report to base? No use: by the time a rescue came it would be too late for any survivor. You lived about ten minutes in the cold North Sea.
When we came up to the target, I was able to get a good look at it before we turned in for our bombing run. It was not often I could see the target and what we were flying into until we had dropped our bombs, passed over the target and turned for home. I always admired the pilots and bomb aimers who could see the target ahead, fires, smoke, bomb flashes, searchlights, burst of flack and anti-aircraft fire coming up from the ground . The pilot had to fly into it and the bomb aimer had to calmly direct the pilot on a straight and level course to the aiming point and waif for the right moment to drop the bombs.

This was a daylight raid and I could see all this as we passed over the town, our target. In the midst of all this, floating down was a parachute. A bomber had obviously been hit by anti-aircraft fire and at least one of the crew had bailed out. I couldn't see where he landed as we were soon out of sight. Not in the target area or in the sea, I hoped.
German fighters had not been intercepting our bombers in recent daylight raids, hence our switching to daylight for better target finding and bombing accuracy. ... No fighters appeared on this raid, which made flak our only danger.
So, I knew of three crews who made Heligoland their last operation. The Halifax that I had seen spinning down to its destruction in the North Sea. The plane hit over the target from which I saw only one parachute. My own safe last trip to finish my second tour.
Luck as usual played its part that day. I had it, the others did not."


I'll admit that I like my father-in-law's version better Sorry it was so long.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 5566

Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/2/2017 8:42:44 PM
Very good stuff Brian. I always enjoy reading accounts of the men who were there.

So let me get this straight. 3 Group of BC, from some period in the war was designated for daylight missions as needed.

But other groups could also be called upon to fly daylight missions.


Did these daylight missions coincide with the demise of the Luftwaffe as an effective force to attack bombers?


Cheers,

George

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6042
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Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/3/2017 4:31:03 AM
I stand corrected George- I took the 8 for 3 as the Group.I realised that it was the second raid of the date; and therefore was an early morning raid- as Horrocks said he could see the bombers overhead. However I respect Brian's very fulsome reply and accept his judgement. Brian is really into RAF Bomber Command.

I think the rise in daylight bombing by all Groups-had to do with -as you suggest -with the demise of the Luftwaffe in 1945.3 Group's speciality was the use of the GH blind bombing device for altitudes not exceeding 18000 ft.They were used independently for bombing oil installations-as I said each flight section had a GH leader which pinpointed the target by radio-GH meant Ground Home.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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E-9 Sergeant Major
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Posts: 1404

Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/3/2017 9:09:19 PM
George, its a bit less cut and dried than that. !POOF! I've just erased lines of post I've written, because this is complex to any one hooked on Bomber Command. What I'm going to write might sound like rather staccato, unrelated arguments.

RAF Bomber Command was driven by a single mandate: to attack the war-making capability of the enemy in a strategic manner and so render his capabilities so compromised that he might sue for peace. Bomber Command couldn't do that in 1939, and it couldn't do that in 1945 (though it was closer in 1945 than it imagined, I think).

But RAF Bomber Command was also never an entirely separate unit of British war making, of which the the Air Ministry sometimes lost track, and Arthur Harris simply never accepted. Harris was not the top gun, of course, and I think it's important to remember that. He didn't make policy; he implemented it. At the same time, Arthur Harris did have to a large extent such matters as target selection and bomb load, for every major operation enacted by RAF Bomber Command.

The main function of the vast majority of a/c under RAF Bomber Command was to area bomb targets chosen for various reasons.

Hell, I've just had a friend ishow up for a glass of wine on my deck. No complaints about the friend, and no criticism of the wine, but I'd rather have taken this a bit further. If any one is interested, I'll pick it up manana.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Posts: 6042
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Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/4/2017 5:18:32 AM

Quote:
RAF Bomber Command was driven by a single mandate: to attack the war-making capability of the enemy in a strategic manner and so render his capabilities so compromised that he might sue for peace.


From the above Brian- you mean this:-


Quote:
The Area Bombing Directive (General Directive No.5 (S.46368/111. D.C.A.S) was a 14 February 1942[1][2][3] amendment to General Directive No.4 (S.46368 D.C.A.S), issued by the British Air Ministry on 5 February 1942, that had informed RAF Bomber Command that it had "Priority over all other commitments",[4] and directed RAF Bomber Command to bomb factories in occupied France. General Directive Number 5 amended Number 4 to make targets in Germany the priority for RAF Bomber Command.


Brian are you now saying that any deviation or tactical development- eg.617 Squadron/Operation Overlord and sfter in July 44/3 Group RAF -late 1944- from this mandate could be seen as a departure from the laid down directive.???? In the long run however each of these "deviations" must have been sanctioned by the same authority which issued the bombing mandate ???

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
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Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/5/2017 8:55:54 PM
Jim, sorry but a reply to you yesterday seems to have disappeared.

My comment was not meant to be confused with any directive from the Air Ministry, though I don't think there is a lot of difference. My comment was based on the general principles of strategic bombing as understood from early in the 1920's. Call it Douhetism or call it simple evaluation of the potential of a new weapon, a large group of air visionaries believed that strategic bombing could win wars. Arthur Trenchard, after his "conversion" which led him to support an independent air force, became a staunch supporter of strategic bombing. Many of his junior officers, including Charles Portal and Arthur Harris, were part of the choir.

IMHO, the various bombing directives controlling RAF Bomber Command were a necessary pretext behind which the War Cabinet could hide. Portal, initially as Commander-in-Chief Bomber Command and later as Chief of Air Staff, had some leeway in determining how such directives would be understood and executed. Air Vice-Marshall Richard Peirse probably lost his job in Bomber Command in late 1941 because he was uncomfortable with the ambiguity of Ministerial directives, and of course he was replaced (in Feb 1942) with one Arthur Harris, who understood ambiguity only too well.

This comment is fragmenting, because the topic is so huge. Sorry. What I am saying is that deviation from any of the general directives was implied in the lack of direction the directives gave! And, keeping in mind the topic of this thread, that changes in approach, discipline, skill sets, capability and the like were left in the hands of those somewhat down the chain of command from Churchill or even Portal.

If Arthur Harris had a major weakness, IMHO, it was that the had no imagination. I may regret saying that some time in the future, but right now that's how I feel. He worked best with set goals and accepted practices. Think about issues brought before him (and I'm not creating a complete list by any means):
• Barnes Wallis mines. He fought their use for some time. They worked. He also fought the creation of 617 Sqn. It worked
• Pathfinders. He fought against them for some time. Big success.
• Precision air strikes, particularly by Mosquitoes. He was wary, but they often worked. As they did with various "heavy" a/c.
• Time-on-target bombing. He allowed 5 Group a kick or two at trying it but went back to Pathfinders and target markers.
Some might argue that his attitude was simply "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Could be right. But others might argue that if you don't know whether it's broke or not, see if you can find a better way to deal with the problem.

I keep in mind that RAF Bomber Command was a huge organization with much of the war wealth of Britain invested in its mere existence. Not just a/c, but bombs, bases, personnel, ancillary services and the like. The HUGE (I so want to write YUGE) BCATP was churning out air crew according to a cookie-cutter formula. This didn't leave Harris any recognizable pool of fliers who might support new or innovative concepts.

I've missed some of the issues begun on this thread. But my argument would be that such things as daylight raids, variations in night attacks or a host of other activities by Bomber Command never appeared on any official transmission.

Sorry. Gotta go again. Folks demanding my attention.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 6042
http:// 82.44.47.99
Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 7/6/2017 3:23:35 AM
Brian -you fascinate me-your manner of putting things over are very easy reading, Your argument would be that such things as daylight raids, variations in night attacks or a host of other activities by Bomber Commandoccurred but never appeared on any official transmission. and understandably so-they were deviations from the rule.

I remember the fuss Harris made when ordered to switch his Main force from Area Bombing to tactical support of Operation Overlord and it's initial backup and more fuss when his bombers failed to hit their targets on Normandy's battlefields.However as 1944 crept into 1945 he was fairly sanguine about deviations -his Command had become almosr gigantic eg 3 Group's sort of independence in daylight bombing although they were used at Dresden and Chemnitz.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
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Posts: 495

Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 8/27/2017 7:07:27 AM

Quote:
On July 25, a US General was killed by friendly bombs in the preparation for Cobra. I can't remember whether that was a daylight raid.
--George


That was Lieutenant General Lesley McNair and it was a daylight raid by the US Eighth Air Force.

Don't let Lieutenant General fool you. With the US reluctance to appoint to high grades, McNair at the time was the 9th highest ranking officer in the US Army at the time, after Marshall (Chief of Staff), MacArthur (Allied SW Pacific Area), Craig (Secretary of War's Personnel Board), Eisenhower (Allied Expeditionary Force), Arnold (Army Air Forces), Lear (Army Ground Forces), Emmons (Alaska), and Krueger (6th Army). McNair was 4th of 33 3-stars-- 8 Air, 21 Ground, 4 Service forces--and had commanded Army Ground Forces prior to this assignment in command of First Army Group. Marshall was a 4-star on the regular army list, MacArthur and Craig were 4-stars on the retired list recalled for active duty. Eisenhower and Arnold were 4-stars on the Army of the United States list (Eisenhower was a 1-star on the regular army list and Arnold a 2-star on that list).

The point is, McNair was very senior in the US Army hierarchy. Don't see Lieutenant General and think corps commander. US Corps commanders at the time were major generals (Eichelberger, Patton, and Bradley had received their 3rd stars while commanding corps, but in all three cases, they were the senior US field commander in a larger allied force and all moved on to command armies soon enough thereafter). One deployed army commander (Patch with SEVENTH ARMY preparing for the landings in southern France) was still a major general.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Posts: 2889

Re: 3 Group RAF Bomber Command-the Daylight Boys
Posted on: 8/27/2017 9:00:56 AM
RAF Bomber Command deserves a tribute!

[Read More]

Cheers,
MD
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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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