17th August 1943
324 Lancasters, 218 Halifaxes and 54 Stirlings attacked Peenemunde losing 40 aircraft including 4 Lancasters from 61 Sqdn:- JA900 with crew, P/O R.J. Docker, P/O A.N. Vidler, Sgt L. Lucas, Sgt R. Laughton, Sgt E.G. Francis, Sgt S.W. James, Sgt P.W. Mitchell and Sgt R.R. Urquhart - W4934 with crew, F/O W. Hughes, Sgt T. Graham, Sgt L.H. Scholey, Sgt B.J. Brown, Sgt D. Easton, Sgt R.C. Walton and Sgt W.B. Ness - ED661 with crew, F/O F.D. Norton, P/O H.R. Madgett, P/O J.M. Lewis, P/O H. Robinson, P/O S.G. Palk, P/O R. Bradley, P/O A.W. Souter and P/O J.J. Wakefield and W4766 with crew, F/Sgt R.K. Buxton, Sgt J.C. Bradey, Sgt J.F. Trotter, Sgt N.W. Clark, Sgt L. Thompson and Sgt A.E. Harris, a serious loss for the squadron.
This was the first raid in which 6(Canadian)Group operated Lancaster aircraft. 426 Squadron despatched 9 Mark11 Lancasters, losing 2 aircraft including that of the squadron commander, Wing Commander L. Crooks, D.S.O, D.F.C., an Englishman who was killed.
This was a special raid which Bomber Command was ordered to carry out against the German research establishment on the Baltic coast where V-2 rockets were being built and tested. The raid was carried out in moonlight to increase the chances of success. There were several novel features. It was the only occasion in the second half of the war when the whole of Bomber Command attempted a precision raid by night on such a small target. For the first time there was a Master Bomber controlling a full scale Bomber Command raid. Group Captain J.H. Searby of 83 Squadron, 8 Group, carried out this task. There were three aiming points - the scientists' and workers' living quarters, the rocket factory and the experimental station - and the Pathfinders employed a special plan with crews designated as 'shifters' who attempted to move the marking from one part of the target to another as the raid progressed. Crews of 5 Group, bombing in the last wave of the attack, had practised the 'time and distance' bombing method as an alternative method for their part in the raid. The Pathfinders found Peenemunde without difficulty in the moonlight and the Master Bomber controlled the raid successfully throughout. A Mosquito diversion to Berlin drew off most of the German nightfighters for the first 2 of the raid's 3 phases. Unfortunately, the initial marking and bombing fell on a labour camp for forced workers which was situated 1 1/2 miles south of the first aiming point but the Master Bomber and the Pathfinders quickly brought the bombing back to the main targets which were all bombed successfully. 560 aircraft dropped nearly 1,800 tons of bombs. 85% of this tonnage was high explosive. The estimate appeared in many sources that this raid set back the V-2 experimental programme by at least 2 months and reduced the scale of the eventual rocket attacks. Approximately 180 Germans were killed at Peenemunde, nearly all in the workers' housing estate and 500-600 foreigners, mostly Polish, were killed in the workers' camp where there were only flimsy wooden barracks and no proper air raid shelters. The losses were considered an acceptable cost for the successful attack on this important target on a moonlit night. Most of the casualties were suffered by the aircraft of the last wave, which included 61 Sqdn, when the German night fighters arrived in force. The groups involved were 5 Group which lost 17 of its 109 aircraft on the raid (14.5%) and the Canadian 6 Group which lost 12 out of 57 aircraft (19.7%). This was the first night on which the Germans used their new schrage Musik weapons. These were twin upward-firing cannons fitted in the cockpit of Me110s. Two of these aircraft found the bomber stream flying home from Peenemunde and are believed to have shot down 6 of the bombers lost on the raid.
8 Mosquitoes carried out a successful diversionary raid on Berlin, 1 aircraft lost.
17 August 1943
GERMANY: The Regensberg / Schweinfurt Raid: On the one year anniversary of its first mission, the US VIII Bomber Command launched its most complex mission of the war. In an effort to destroy the production facilities of German fighters, over 350 bombers (formed into 2 divisions, the 1st and 3d BD) took to the skies in a dual effort to bomb both a Messerschmitt plant in Regensberg and the ball bearing plant at Schweinfurt. 376 B-17s were to make the initial penetration as one force then split with 230 B-17s attacking Schweinfurt and returning to England. The remaining 146 B-17s would attack Regensberg and then continue to Allied bases in Algeria. Timing was critical in an effort to divide the defending Luftwaffe forces.
....But events went badly from the beginning. While the Regensberg bound 3d BD was taking off, the Schweinfurt bound 1st BD was grounded by fog and unable to take-off for 3 hours. This meant that the forces would be attacking seperately and German fighters, rather than being divided, could concentrate on each force, sequentially.
....Shortly after 10:00 hours the 3d BD crossed the Dutch coast and met the first of 3 Luftwaffe groups with about 60 fighters. The Fw 190s of II./JG 1 and JG 26 were the first to make contact and Major Borris, Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 26 destroyed the first bomber after a frontal attack. After this first encounter, 4 B-17s had been shot down and 2 more bombers fell to flak. Crossing into German airspace, the Luftwaffe waited until the escorts turned back and continued the attack. Over Wiesbaden, Major Graf's JG 50 sent 25 Bf 109s along with scores of Fw 190s and Bf 109s, some flown by instructors from training units in the area. Head-on attacks followed by attacks from the rear hit the 100th BG very hard. Oblt. Grislawski of 1./JG 50 downed 2 B-17s for his first victories in the west.
.....More Gruppen of German fighters joined in the attack, including Bf 110s from II./NJG 1 and after 90 minutes, 14 B-17s were shot down. But the bombers reached their target and dropped accruately. The bomber formation continued on to Algeria loosing 7 more planes for a total of 24 bombers lost from a force of 146.
.... Luftwaffe fighters landed and refueled and the OKL ordered more fighter Gruppen from the north and other areas to contact the Regensberg force on its return flight. But instead this mass of German fighters met the 1st BD on its way to Schweinfurt. Not waiting until the escorts left, the first fighters into the battle were from JG 11. Over 300 re-armed and refueled fighters from JG 1, JG 2, JG 11, JG 26, ZG 26 and 1./NJG 1 - twice as many fighters as those who flew against the morning bomber formations - met the Americans.
....Passing over Eupen, the worst fighter attacks occurred and 15 B-17s were lost. The air was full of blazing planes, cannon fire and rockets as the B-17s fought their way through, their formidable half-inch machine guns covering each other, closing up the formation as stricken aircraft staggered and fell out of position. The bombers suffered heavy casualties. The bombers made it to the target, released their bombs then turned for home, back through the cauldron of German fighters. Reaching Eupen, the first escorting P-47s arrived and tore into the German fighters. Fw 190s from II./JG 26 met the Thunderbolts of the US 56th FG and clashed over Lutych. Major Wilhelm-Ferdinand 'Wutz' Galland (55 kills), Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 26 was shot down and killed in a crash near Maastricht. Two more B-17s were shot down.
....III./JG 3 led by Hptm. Walther Dahl were in their first action since the Eastern Front and was attacked by Spitfires from RAf No. 222 Sqdrn., who had their best day since 1940. Five Bf 109s from JG 3 were shot down including Ritterkreuztrager Lt. Hans Schleef, who survived. Oblt. Dahl had to crash-land near Capperath. III./JG 1 claimed 12 bombers at a loss of 5 Bf 109s.
....The final loss to the American bombers was devastating. 60 B-17s were shot down and another 168 severely damaged. Most heavily hit were groups the 91st BG which lost 10 planes and the 381st BG which lost 11. Although the Allies claimed 288 German fighters destroyed, the Luftwaffe suffered 27 fighters lost. Heavy damage was caused at several of the Allied targets It took approximately 4 weeks to repair the damage at the Messerschmitt plant at Regensberg. Production of the Me 262 had to be relocated to Oberammergau near the Bavarian Alps. Delivering the tempermental Jumo 004 turbojets was even more troublesome.
The Peenemunde Raid: The RAF sent 324 Lancasters, 218 Halifaxes and 54 Stirlings to attack Peenemunde, the German research establishment on the Baltic coast where V-2 rockets were being built and tested, during the night. As a diversion, 20 Mosquitoes were sent over Berlin, dropping massive amounts of flares as if Berlin was the target. 148 twin-engined nightfighters and 55 single-engined fighters - the first night with the 'Wilde Sau' up in full strength - were dispatched. Searching the skies over Berlin, they found nothing except to be fired on by the city's flak batteries. After the first bombs fell on Peenemunde, the fighters raced to intercept the bomers. Pouncing on the final wave of British bombers, several pilots increased their scores. Lt. Dieter Musset of 5./NJG 1 destroyed 4 bombers out of a group of 8. Major Ehle of II./NJG 1 claimed 2 bombers.
....Along with the 'Wilde Sau' tactic, the 'Zahme Sau' tactic was also used for the first time. Another innovation used for the first time against the British bombers was the 'Schrage Musik' gun installation. Mounted on Bf 110s from II./NJG 5, 2 MK-108 cannon fired obliquely upward from behind the cockpit and were used to good effect. Uffz. Holker of 5./NJG 5 brought down 2 bombers using this arrangement.
.... In total the RAF lost 40 bombers with another 32 damaged. Although the grounds of the rocket center were damaged, neither the vital testing blocks nor the construction drawings were destroyed. But the attack did cause a delay in another Luftwaffe project. A group of 30 pilots were due to arrive there to begin training to fly the Me 163. Erprobungskommando 16 (EK 16), an operational training unit commanded by Major Spate was formed in July 1943 and had 8 Me 163s to work up. The unit had to move to Bad Zwischenahn before the pilots arrived as a result of the bombing.
MEDITERRANEAN: Operation 'Husky' Day 39: Patton’s 7th Army marched into Messina, followed closely by Montgomery’s 8th Army, thus completing the conquest of Sicily for the Allies. During the 39-day campaign, the Axis forces suffered 167,000 casualties (37,000 German, 130,000 Italian). Allied losses were 25,000. Most deemed this a great Allied victory, but in retrospective, it was a bitter one in that, had the Allied planning been more bold, they easily could have destroyed all of the forces on the island rather than allowing so many to escape. The Germans left in an orderly evacuation. The booty of captured weapons, fuel and ammunition was huge; but nothing could compensate for the sight of the civilian population emerging from cellars and other hiding places to see their beloved Messina almost flattened by not only Allied bombs and artillery but also, now, shells from the Italian mainland. The fall of Sicily paved the way for the stepped-up air offensive against Italy.
EASTERN FRONT: Lt. Erich Hartmann of 7./JG 52 met with American Lend-Lease aircraft when he destroyed 3 Russian P-39s during afternoon missions. Combined with a LaGG-5 that was brought down in the early morning, Hartmann's score now stood at 82 kills.
18th August 1943
30 Wellingtons went on leaflet raids to France without loss.
18 August 1943
EASTERN FRONT: Oblt. Walter Nowotny of JG 54 claimed his 150th victory and was now number 16 on the Experten list. Following close behind was JG 52's Lt. Erich Hartmann who had 3 kills to bring his total to 85 victories.
....The Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 5, Hptm. Heinrich Ehrler, flew to Petsamo to fly with his old Staffel, 6./JG 5. Under his leadership it had become the famed "Expertenstaffel", a nickname earned when half of its pilots had been credited with dozens of individual scores within a short time. Taking to the skies in a Bf 109G-6 marked "Gelbe 12", Hptm. Ehrler scored 3 victories over Russian aircraft to bring his score to 115. But 6./JG 5 lost Fw. Christian Stolz when he was shot down by flak in his Bf 109G-6 over Motovski.
GERMANY: In East Prussia, an early morning phone call from the chief of Luftwaffe operations staff, General Rudolf Meister to Generaloberst Hans Jeschonnek informed him that Peenemunde had been raided by the RAF. Jeschonnek called his personal adjutant Major Werner Leuchtenberg and ordered him to the rocket-testing ground. His secretary waited for the Generaloberst to join her at breakfast. After an hour, Frau Lotte Kersten called his room but recieved no answer. Going to his room, she found Jeschonnek dead of a pistol shot. A note found by Leuchtenberg stated in Jeschonnek's handwriting; "I can no longer work together with the Reichsmarschall. Long live the Fuhrer!" General Gunther Korten was named in Jeschonnek's place as the new chief of the general staff.
WESTERN FRONT: The US VIII Air Support Command in England flew Missions 25A and 25B against 2 Luftwaffe airfields without loss. 22 B-26B Marauders bombed the Vlamertinge Airfield at Ypres, Belgium and 32 B-26Bs attacked Woensdrecht Airfield in the Netherlands.
....The German submarine 'U-403' was sunk in the mid-Atlantic Ocean near Dakar, by depth charges from a French Wellington Mk XIII of the RAF's No 344 Squadron based at Quakram Airfield, Dakar, French West Africa. All hands, 49 men, on the U-boat were lost.
MEDITERRANEAN: US cruisers and destroyers bombarded Palmi and Gioai Taura. P-40s attack motor transport between Scilla and Bagnara, and bombed shipping off Scilla. Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) fighters and medium bombers hit barracks and railroad at Gonnesa, sank a small vessel in the Golfo di Sant' Eufemia and bombed and strafed a railway station, bridge, and tracks at Soverato, bridges and a road junction at Angitola, and highway and road junction at Staletti. Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) air-planes hit gun positions and road and rail transport in S Italy.
19th August 1943
8 Mosquitoes went to Berlin, 1 aircraft lost.
19 August 1943
EASTERN FRONT: After three days of heavy fighting, the Soviet Southwest Front broke through the German defenses on the Mius River line.
....A Ju 88D-1 belonging to 4(F)./122 was shot down by a fighter in the Kuban bridgehead area.
....A Bf 109G-2 from 9./JG 5 was shot down by friendly fire north of Kirkenes. The pilot, Fw. Hans Thomann, was killed.
....Hptm. Max Stotz of II./JG 54 (189 kills) baled out of his damaged fighter over Vitebsk and was never seen again. At JG 53, Jens Bahnsen (18 kills) was killed in action against the Russians.
....At Kutanikowo, Lt. erich hartmann of 7./JG 52 destroyed 3 more Russian aircraft including a Lend-lease P-39.
....Ofw. Rudolf Trenkel of Erganzung-Jagdgruppe Ost was awarded the Ritterkreuz for achieving 76 victories. The Staffelkapitaen of 12./JG 5. Hptm. Friedrich-Wilhelm Strakeljahn (9 kills), recieved the Ritterkreuz for his outstanding leadership.
WESTERN FRONT: The US Eighth Air Force's VIII Air Support Command and VIII Bomber Command in England both fly missions. The US VIII Air Support Command flew Missions 27A, 27B and 28 against 3 Luftwaffe airfields in France without loss. 36 B-26B Marauders bombed Glisy Airfield at Amiens, 35 B-26s attacked Nord Airfield at Poix and 36 B-26s were dispatched to Bryas Sud Airfield but the target was obscured by cloud and the mission was aborted. Fighters from 4./JG 26 intercepted the escorting Typhoons and shot down 3 of the planes without loss.
....The US VIII Bomber Command flew Mission 85 against 3 Luftwaffe airfields in The Netherlands. 38 B-17s attacked Gilze-Rijen and 55 hit Flushing, losing 4 B-17s. Escort was provided by 175 P-47 Thunderbolts of the 4th, 78th, 56th and 353d FGs who claimed 9-2-4 Luftwaffe aircraft but 1 P-47 was lost. 45 B-17s were dispatched to Woensdrecht Airfield but weather prevented them hitting the target. Luftwaffe fighters from JG 26 went sent to intercept but the escorts gave them a rough time. 3 Fw 190s were shot down before reaching the bombers.
....Aircraft of Composite Squadron Twenty Five (VC 25) from the escort aircraft carrier USS 'Croatan' (CVE-25) attacked the German submarine 'U-134', northwest of the Azores, but the sub escaped.
....U.S. General Bedell Smith, Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, and British General Kenneth Strong arrived in Lisbon to continue discussions with the Italians about surrender negotiations. General Giuseppe Castellano heads the Italian delegation. Castellano wanted an agreement that would allow Italy to join the Allies and fight the Germans. He's shocked when the Allies insist on unconditional surrender.
MEDITERRANEAN: The US Ninth Air Force in North Africa sent about 70 B-24s to bomb the marshalling yard at Foggia, Italy. The Northwest African Strategic Air Force dispatched 150+ B-17s to bomb the Foggia marshalling yard, while almost 100 medium bombers hit marshalling yards at Sapri and Salerno. The bombers, and escorting P-38 Lightnings claimed 34 enemy planes shot down, against 8 losses.
ENGLAND: German bombs were scattered widely over the country, some falling in Yorkshire.
20 August 1943
EASTERN FRONT: The Soviet encirclement of Kharkov continued. Red Army forces captured Libedin, west of Kharkov. A Soviet Army spearhead in northern Ukraine plunged 75 miles (120,7 kilometres) beyond Kharkov and threatened to trap German forces in the wrecked city. Hitler ordered Kharkov to be held at all costs. Since losing 3,000 panzers and 1,200 planes during last month's disastrous Battle of Kursk, the outnumbered and outgunned Germans were unable to contain Soviet offensives along a 600-mile (965,6 kilometer) front from central Russia to the Black Sea.
WESTERN FRONT: A state of siege was proclaimed throughout Norway. Army officers were rounded up for deportation to PoW camps in Germany, and the Oslo police commissioner was shot dead. Gunnar Eilifsen, the police commissioner, repeatedly disobeyed an order to provide men to arrest Norwegian women for compulsory labour in war industries. There was now widespread defiance of German rule. Of the 35,000 new workers demanded by the Germans only 4,000 were found.
....At Peenemunde, the head of rocket research was found dead, shot by an unknown assassin.
....Uffz. Karl Mayerhofer of II./JG 5 was injured when he had a landing accident in his Bf 109G-2 at Svartnes.
.... The 'Wilde Sau' units, formerly known as JG Hermann were given a permanent unit designation, JG 300.
MEDITERRANEAN: US Ninth Air Force B-24s attacked a railroad station, marshalling yard, and air depot at Cancello Arnone. US Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) B-26 Marauders and B-17s bombed marshalling yards at Villa Literno and Aversa. The P-38 escort also attacked Aversa. NASAF aircraft claimed 20+ enemy fighters shot down. Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) B-26 Marauders hit the Capua and Aversa marshalling yards, while B-25 Mitchells bombed the Benevento marshalling yard.
ENGLAND: The air echelon of the 22d Antisubmarine Squadron (Heavy), 479th Antisubmarine Group, arrived at Dunkeswell, England from the US with B-24s. The ground echelon remained in the US, then moved to Utah in Sep 43 where it was inactivated.
21 August 1943
EASTERN FRONT: Soviet forces captured Zmiev, south of Kharkov. Field Marshal von Manstein warned Adolf Hitler that the Soviet Army's crunching offensives may overwhelm out-numbered German forces in the Ukraine. Wehrmacht intelligence determined 287 Soviet divisions were battering 52 German divisions.
....Oblt. Walter Nowotny of JG 54 scored 7 kills over Russian aircraft.
WESTERN FRONT: Riots, strikes and sabotage paralyzed Copenhagen and other Danish cities and towns. The Germans rushed 40,000 troops from Norway to quell the disturbances.
....'U-134' was attacked by Wildcat and Avenger aircraft from the escort-carrier USS 'Croatan' escorting convoy UGS 14. The boat escaped.
....The Allies, while building up for Overload (D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944) established a new troopship convoy route called UT. This was a fast and heavily escorted convoy route averaging 15 knots.
MEDITERRANEAN: US Ninth Air Force B-24s attacked a railroad station, marshalling yard, and air depot at Cancello Arnone. US Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) B-26 Marauders and B-17s bombed marshalling yards at Villa Literno and Aversa. The P-38 escort also attacked Aversa. NASAF aircraft claim 20+ enemy fighters shot down. NATAF fighter-bombers hit traffic on the Bovalino-Bagnara road.
....In Algeria, Maj. André Gilbert Kempster (b.1916), Duke of Wellington's Regiment, threw himself on a grenade which had rolled into his trench, he died instantly.
....The 'Lily' was sunk by 'U-596' with eight shells from her deck gun about 20 miles north-northwest of Beirut. At 12.42 hours, the 'Panikos' was sunk by 'U-596' with 25 rounds from the deck gun. And at 15.00 hours the 'Namaz' was sunk by 'U-596' with 13 rounds from the deck gun.
22nd August 1943
257 Lancasters, 192 Halifaxes and 13 Mosquitoes attacked Leverkusen. 3 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes were lost. Lancaster DV228 of 61 Sqdn, which had survived the Peenemunde raid, was one of the losses with the crew of P/O J.A. Spencer, Sgt S.J. Banting, Sgt R. Horwood, Sgt E. Johnson, Sgt J. Punter and Sgt T.F. Watkins.
The I.G. Farben factory at Leverkusen was chosen as the aiming point for this raid and it was hoped that some of the bombs would hit this important place. But the raid was not successful. There was thick cloud over the target area and there was a partial failure of the Oboe signals. Bombs fell over a wide area. At least 12 other towns in and near the Ruhr recorded bomb damage. Dusseldorf was the hardest hit of these other places. 132 buildings were destroyed and 644 seriously damaged. Solingen rported 40 people killed and 65 injured. Only a few bombs fell in Leverkusen where 4 people were killed. The I.G.Farben factory received only superficial damage in the acid department. 5 Germans were injured in the factory and 1 foreign worker was killed.
12 Mosquitoes went to the Ruhr and 6 to Hamburg. 47 aircraft went minelaying in the Frisians and off Texel without loss.
22 August 1943
EASTERN FRONT: German forces, threatened with encirclement at Kharkov begin to withdraw from Kharkov. Manstein has persuaded Hitler to relax his "stand firm" policy.
....A Ju 88D-1 from 4(F)./122 was damaged in combat and belly landed at Fp.Bagerovo.
WESTERN FRONT: The US VIII Air Support Command in England flew Missions 30A and 30B against 2 Luftwaffe airfields in France. 35 B-26B Marauders attacked Beaumont-le-Roger Airfield and 36 B-26's were dispatched to Nord Airfield at Poix. They all returned early when they were unable to contact the escort fighters, RAF Spitfires.
....Short S.25 Sunderland Mk. III, s/n DD848 assigned to No. 201 Squadron based at Castle Archdale, County Fermanagh, Ireland, crashed on the lower slopes of Mount Brandon on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry at 0530 hours. This aircraft had taken off at 0330 hours in a flight of four Sunderlands to fly ASW patrols in the South Atlantic. The aircraft was flying off course, below the minimum safety altitude and in low clouds when it crashed. Three of the 11 crewmen aboard survived.
....Albert Speer reported to Adolf Hitler on the damage to the rocket research facilities at Peenemünde. The extensive damage resulted in Germans moving the rocket testing to Poland, and production to central Germany. Hitler ordered that mass production of rockets be relocated to Blizna near Debice in Poland. The damaged buildings were successfully used as camoflage for continued work. An estimated two months of V-2 rocket output was lost, about 720 rockets, potentially saving 3600 lives.
....A V-1 was fired from a He 111 for testing purpose and landed the Danish island of Bornholm, northwest of Bodilsker church at 13:05 hours. The yellow painted V-1 touched down in a grass field and bounced across a small road to end up in a turnips field belonging to Klippedam farm. This was reported to the police in Nexø and Constable Johs. Hansen and Explosive expert Lt. Captain Hasager Christiansen prepared to drive to the location. Not until they were ready to go did Hansen inform the Wehrmacht as was his duty. This gave them a 15 minute advantage which was used to take several pictures of the V-1 and to put down a very detailed description in writing. By 15:00 hours the wreck had been removed by the Wehrmacht. This material was soon after sent to London via Sweden.
MEDITERRANEAN: Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) B-26s, with an escort of Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) A-36 Apaches, bombed the marshalling yard at Salerno, Italy; they claimed 26 enemy fighters destroyed.
....The German submarine 'U-458' was sunk southeast of Pantelleria, Italy, by depth charges from the RN destroyer HMS 'Easton' and the Greek destroyer HHMS 'Pindos'. 39 of the 47 U-boat crewmen survived.
....All fighter and medium bomber groups of the US Ninth Air Force were transferred to the US Twelfth Air Force.
ENGLAND: In an incident very similar to that of August 12th this year , yet another Hurricane operating from Milfield airfield, in Northumberland, crashed in a field at Kimmerston Farm, near Wooler at 17.00, owing to engine trouble. The aircraft damaged a fence on crashing and in turn suffered damage to its propeller and undercarriage.
23rd August 1943
335 Lancasters, 251 Halifaxes, 124 Stirlings and 17 Mosquitoes attacked Berlin, 56 aircraft were lost. The Mosquitoes were used to mark various points on the route to Berlin in order to help keep the Main Force on the correct track. A Master Bomber was used. He was Wing Commander K.H. Burns of 97 Squadron. Wing Commander Burns was blown out of his Lancaster when it was shot down near Berlin a week later and lost a hand. Bomber Command suffered its greatest loss of aircraft in one night so far in the war. The raid was only partially successful. The Pathfinders were not able to identify the centre of Berlin by H2S and marked an area in the southern outskirts of the city. The Main Force arrived late and many aircraft cut a corner and approached from the south west instead of using the planned south south east approach. This resulted in more bombs falling in open country than would otherwise have been the case. The German defences, both flak and night fighters were extremely fierce. Much of the attack fell outside Berlin. 25 villages reported bombs with 6 people killed there and in the sparsely populated southern suburbs of the city. Despite this, Berlin reported the most serious raid of the war so far with a wide range of industrial, housing and public properties being hit. 2,611 individual buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged. The worst damage was in the residential areas of Lankwitz and Lichterfelde and the worst industrial damage was in Mariendorf and Marienfelde. These districts are all well south of the city centre. More industrial damage was caused in the Tempelhorf area, nearer the centre, and some of those bombs which actually hit the centre of the city fell by chance in the 'government quarter', where the Wilhelmstrasse was recorded as having not a building undamaged. 20 ships on the city's canals were sunk. Casualties in Berlin were heavy considering the relatively inaccurate bombing. 854 people were killed. 684 civilians, 60 service personnel, 6 air raid workers, 102 foreign workers (89 of them women) and 2 prisoners of war. 83 more civilians were classified as missing. The city officials who compiled the reports found out that this high death rate was caused by an unusually high proportion of the dead not having taken shelter, as ordered, in their allocated air raid shelters. Our excellent advisor from Berlin, Arno Abendroth, who was living in the city at this time until evacuated in September 1943, said that when Doktor Goebbels, who as well as being Minister of Propaganda was also Berlin's Gauleiter, received the report on the number of people killed outside the shelters, Goebbels 'nearly went nuts'.
40 Wellingtons went minelaying in the Frisians and off Lorient and St Nazaire without loss.
24th August 1943
8 Mosquitoes went to Berlin and 66 aircraft went minelaying in the Heligoland, Frisian and Texel areas, without loss.
23 August 1943
EASTERN FRONT: Red Army forces entered Kharkov, the fourth, and last time the city would change hands in this war. The Germans attempted to launch a spoiling attack, but this was met by the newly reconstituted 5th Guards Tank Army and beaten back. Troops of General Konev's Steppe front took the city after Field Marshal von Manstein pulled his XI Corps out in defiance of Hitler's orders that Kharkov had to be held at all costs. Von Manstein had no alternative. His soldiers were about to be cut off by immensely superior Russian forces sweeping round the city, and he knew that the men of XI Corps were of more value to him than the shattered ruins of Kharkov. In the south, General Tolbhukin had broken the German line at the river Mius and was driving for the Donets bason with the aim of recovering the area's mineral riches and cutting off the German forces still in the Crimea and the Kuban bridgehead. The Germans admitted that a "Soviet spring flood" was pouring through a gap smashed in their lines at Mius.
....The fall of the city effectively ended the Battle of Kursk. A massive 224-gun salute by the Red Army thundered out in Moscow in celebration of the recapture of the principal city of the Ukraine.
....The Soviet motor torpedo boat TK 94 sank the Finnish minelayer 'Riilahti' in the Baltic Sea. 24 men, including commander, Knight of the Mannerheim Cross, Lt.-Cdr Osmo Kivilinna were lost.
....The crews of III./JG 52 moved yet again, leaving Kutanikowo for the airbase at Makejewka.
GERMANY: The Battle of Berlin: RAF bombers once again took to the night skies over Berlin sending 727 planes carrying 1700 tons of bombs. The raid was badly scattered but still managed to kill over 900 people. This was the opening of a new Bomber Command terror campaign which would come to be known as “The Battle of Berlin”. With the first of the Berlin raids, the 'Wilde Sau' concept was fully realized. Every available night-fighter including all servicable 'Wilde Sau' fighter became airbourne to intercept the Berlin raiders. On the ground, searchlights brilliantly lit up the sky and gun batteries had been issued incandescent rockets to launch, providing even more illumination. With the raiders illuminated by all this, the night-fighters destroyed 56 of the attacking bombers.
....The fate of one Halifax lost on the Berlin Raid: Halifax V DK261 crashed near the island of Mandø on 24/8 1943
MEDITERRANEAN: US Ninth Air Force B-24 Liberators hit a marshalling yard at Bari and Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) B-26 Marauders bombed the Battipaglia marshalling yard.
CANADA: Quebec: The "Quadrant" conference between Mr. Churchill, President Roosevelt and the Canadian prime minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, and their staffs ended with a decision to press for a "second front" against Germany in France. This invasion, to be codenamed "Overlord", would be the top priority.
....The communiqué issued today said that "the whole field of world operations" had been surveyed, and the "necessary decisions have been taken to provide for the forward action" of Allied forces. Mr. Churchill had favoured a number of operations, against Norway and in southern Europe by continuing the offensive in Italy; the Americans wanted a frontal assault in France. A study was to be made of a landing in southern France.
....There were also strategic differences over the conduct of the war in South-east Asia, where the US generals want to invade Burma, while Mr. Churchill wants to attack Sumatra. Again the Americans won the argument, although the new South-east Asia Command (SEAC) to direct operations in Burma would likely be headed by a Briton. Preparations for a new offensive in Burma would now proceed, along with a second campaign behind Japanese lines by Brigadier Wingate's Chindits. Britain also approved US plans for the next stages of the Pacific War.
WESTERN FRONT: The 40th Escort Group, consisting of sloops HMS 'Landguard', 'Bideford', 'Hastings' and frigates HMS 'Exe', 'Moyola' and 'Waveney' were deployed on a U-boat hunt off Cape Ortegal. Light cruiser HMS 'Bermuda' covered the whole operation. On the 25th, the Canadian 5th Support Group, consisting of frigates HMS 'Nene', 'Tweed' and corvettes HMCS 'Calgary', 'Edmundston' and 'Snowberry' were deployed to relieve the 40th Escort Group. While this was in progress the ships were attacked by 14 Dornier Do-217's and 7 Ju-88's with the new German weapon, the Henschel Glider Bombs, (the "Hs293 A-1"). Designed by the German Professor Herbert Wagner. HMS 'Landguard' and 'Bideford' were the first of the Allied and RN ships to be attacked and damaged by them. Several sailors were injured on 'Bideford' and one sailor was killed.
IRELAND: On the slopes above Slieveglass, above Brandon village, Dingle Penninsula, a Short S.25 Sunderland III of RAF No. 201 Sqn crashed at about 06:00 on a hill side. Several crewmen were killed. The wreckage was completely burned out except for the tail but was abandoned where it was after the recovery of some ordinance.
24 August 1943
GERMANY: SS Chief Heinrich Himmler was promoted to Reichminister of the Interior by Hitler. Neurath resigned as Protector of Bohemia and Moravia with Frisch as his replacement.
WESTERN FRONT: The USAAF's VIII Air Support Command and VIII Bomber Command in England flew missions to France. US VIII Air Support Command Missions 33A and 33B: B-26B Marauders flew 2 diversions for the VIII Bomber Command B-17s. An air depot and airfields in France were targeted by the US VIII Bomber Command in Mission 86 Part I. 110 B-17s were dispatched to the Villacoublay Air Depot. 86 hit the target at 1800-1805 hours and claimed 1-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft. 42 B-17s were dispatched to the Conches and Evreux/Fauville Airfields and a B-17 was lost. US VIII Bomber Command Mission 86 Part II had 85 B-17s, which had flown to North Africa after attacking Regensburg, Germany on 17 August, dispatched to the Merignac Airfield at Bordeaux. 58 hit the target at 1157-1200 hours and claimed 3-3-10 Luftwaffe aircraft. 3 B-17s were lost. Nine B-17s returned to North Africa after encountering difficulties.
....There were several bomb incidents in Copenhagen, Denmark and strikes in shipyards, courtesy of the Danish resistance.
....A Bf 110G-2 of 8./ZG 26 collided with another Bf 110G-2 from 8./ZG 26 north of the Frisian islands and crashed into the North Sea with the loss of both crews.
....The US Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command was redesignated I Bomber Command and reassigned to the First Air Force after the USAAF and US Navy reached an agreement under which the USAAF withdrew from antisubmarine operations.
....Two German submarines were sunk. 'U-134' was sunk in the North Atlantic near Vigo, Spain by 6 depth charges from an RAF Wellington Mk XIV of No 179 Squadron based at Gibraltar. All 48 men on the U-boat were lost. 'U-185' was sunk in the mid-Atlantic, by depth charges from 3 USN TBF Avengers of Composite Squadron Thirteen (VC-13) in the escort aircraft carrier USS 'Core' (CV-13). 22 of the 51 crewmen in the U-boat survived.
MEDITERRANEAN: Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) fighter-bombers hit a railroad tunnel and a cruiser offshore at Sibari, tracks and buildings at Castrovillari, and the town area at Sibari. RAF Desert Air Force airplanes strafed motor transport north of Reggio di Calabria and provided withdrawal cover for the NATAF fighter-bombers.
EASTERN FRONT: On the first mission of the day, Hptm. Erich Rudirffer of II./JG 54 shot down 5 Russian aircraft. On the second mission he downed another 3 Russian aircraft to bring his total for the day to 8 kills. Uffz. Georg Kauper of 10./JG 5 went missing and was presumed killed.
25th August 1943
6 Mosquitoes went to Berlin and 42 aircraft went minelaying off Brest and the Biscay ports without loss.