Nazi Germany Unleashes Bombers on London

Germans Bomb London

Bomb damage to HMV (His Master’s Voice) gramophone shop, Oxford Street, London, 1940. The shop had been opened by Sir Edward Elgar in 1921Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum


The Blitz, London, 1942. A workman with a wheelbarrow clears up fallen debris from the roof of St Mary-le-Bow after its first bombing. Subsequently the church was completely destroyed. The church was rebuilt after the war. It was said that a genuine Cockney was a person born within the sounds of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow.  Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum


Bomb damage to the church of St Lawrence Jewry, Guildhall, London, 1940. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the church suffered major damage during the Blitz and was rebuilt to Wren’s original design in 1957.  Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum


London Blitz:  Young woman pulled alive from rubble of bombed building by London Air Raid Precaution emergency workers

Payback is a Bitch
Stuttgart after a visit from RAF Bomber Command in 1943

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (CL 3437) Low-level aerial photograph of the devastated city centre of Stuttgart from the south-west, after 53 major raids, most of them by Bomber Command, destroyed nearly 68 percent of its built-up area and killed 4,562 people. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:



Astounding Courage Dambusters Breach Critical German Dams

One of the Great Actions of World War Two

The breach in the Mohne Dam four hours after the Dambusters raid in May 1943. (courtesy Imperial War Museum, Foreign Office Political Intelligence Department, Classified Print Collection). 

It would be interesting to know who took this photograph and how soon after it was taken that the British had it. While not well known today, Polish Intelligence, which went underground after Poland’s defeat by the Nazis, provided the majority of the human intelligence which flowed to the Allies from occupied Europe in World War Two.


OPERATION CHASTISE (THE DAMBUSTERS’ RAID) 16 – 17 MAY 1943  reconnaissance photo of the Ruhr Valley at Froendenberg-Boesperde, some 13 miles south from the Moehne Dam, showing massive flooding. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


THE VISIT OF HM KING GEORGE VI TO NO 617 SQUADRON (THE DAMBUSTERS) ROYAL AIR FORCE, SCAMPTON, LINCOLNSHIRE, 27 MAY 1943 (TR 1002) Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, DSO and bar, DFC and bar, with members of his Squadron. In the front row are Gibson’s flight commanders, on his right Squadron Leader Dave Maltby, and on his left Squadron Leader Mick Martin. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who trained and led 617 Squadron known as Dambusters was an incredibly brave man although according to temporary accounts not a very likeable man. His crew disliked him and said he didn’t even know most of them by name just position in the crew. Gibson had a stormy marriage to put it mildly and was living with another woman instead of his wife when he died in 1944.

Gibson drank more than most pilots in a time when heavy drinking by pilots when they finished operations was normal and one of the few ways they had of relaxing. He often insulted other officers in the mess who didn’t have his decorations for bravery and no one could say anything because of who he was.

For leading the Dambusters mission, Gibson was awarded Great Britain’s highest honor, the Victoria Cross, the equivalent of the US Medal of Honor.That he deserved it cannot be questioned. Not only did he lead the squadron in and drop the first bouncing bomb, he circled the dam under a constant stream of ack-ack fire while the other bombers made their runs.

Gibson already held the Distinguished Service Order and Bar (which meant he was given the medal twice). The DSO was awarded for brave and meritorious service in combat. In addition, he also had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar, which was only given for bravery in operational flying against the enemy.


Dramatized on film and in print, the Dambusters raid has become one of the most well known small operations of World War Two in Europe. The raid was conceived of

617 SQUADRON (DAMBUSTERS) AT SCAMPTON, LINCOLNSHIRE, 22 JULY 1943 (TR 1129) Flight Lieutenant Dave Shannon, pilot of ED929/`AJ-L’ on the dams raid, with Flight Lieutenant R D Trevor-Roper, who flew as Gibson’s rear gunner on the dam’s raid; and Squadron Leader G W Holden. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


The King has a word with Flight Lieutenant Les Munro from New Zealand. Wing Commander Guy Gibson is on the right and Air Vice Marshal Ralph Cochrane, Commander of No 5 Group is behind Flight Lieutenant Munro and to the right.

King George VI visited the survivors of 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force, Bomber Command on 27 May 1943. The successful raid had taken place on the night of 16/17 May 1943.


WING COMMANDER GUY GIBSON, VC, DSO AND BAR, DFC AND BAR, COMMANDER OF 617 SQUADRON (DAMBUSTERS) AT SCAMPTON, LINCOLNSHIRE, 22 JULY 1943 (TR 1127) Wing Commander Guy Gibson with members of his crew. Left to right: Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar; Pilot Officer P M Spafford, bomb aimer; Flight Lieutenant R E G Hutchinson, wireless operator; Pilot Officer G A Deering and Flying Officer H T Taerum, gunners. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


AIRCRAFT OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE, 1939-1945: AVRO 683 LANCASTER. (ATP 11384B) Type 464 (Provisioning) Lancaster, ED825/G, at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, during handling trials with the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment. One of some twenty aircraft specially built to carry the ‘Upkeep’ weapon on Operation CHASTISE, ED825/G was delivered to No 617 Squadron RAF at Scampton as a spare aircraft on 15 May 1943, but was subsequently flown on the raid by Flight Lieut… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (IWM FLM 2360) Operation CHASTISE: the attack on the Moehne, Eder and Sorpe Dams by No. 617 Squadron RAF on the night of 16/17 May 1943. No. 617 Squadron practice dropping the ‘Upkeep’ weapon at Reculver bombing range, Kent. Third launch sequence (1): Flight Lieutenant J L Munro in Avro Lancaster ED921/G drops his bomb from below 60 feet. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

133 RAF aircrew participated in the Dambusters attack.

Of those, 53 lost their lives–a casualty rate of almost 40 percent. The dead were all young men in the prime of their lives.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

From the poem Here Dead We Lie

by A.E. Housman


All photos courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

movie poster courtesy of Wikipedia

Canadian Built Lancasters Bomb Nazi Germany

Given its relatively small population, Canada made an immense contribution to Allied victory in WW Two. Canadian troops, most of whom were volunteers, fought all over Europe although mainly in the Italian campaign and the battles in Northwest Europe. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Divison comprised a part of the Allied forces on D-Day.


Lest We Forget
44,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen lost their lives in World War Two.


British built R5727, the pattern Lancaster, in Gander 23 August 1942.

photo courtesy of Bomber Command Museum of Canada

“On September 18, 1941, a decision was made to build Lancasters in Canada and the first drawings arrived in January 1942. For a country still largely agrarian and just recovering from a decade of depression, the challenge was immense. 500,000 manufacturing operations were involved in building a Lancaster which was made up of some 55,000 separate parts even when engines and turrets were only considered as one and small items such as rivets, nuts, and bolts were not included. A Lancaster from England was flown across the Atlantic in August 1942 to act as a “pattern” and a Crown Corporation named Victory Aircraft was formed to do the work in Malton, Ontario.”

More than 130,000 Allied pilots trained in Canada which also “hosted” tens of thousands of German prisoners of war. Famed U-Boat ace Otto Kretschmer was held in a Canadian POW camp.

KB-882 is one of over 400 Mk-10 Lancasters built in Canada.


Workers at the Victory Aircraft Plant in Malton, Ontario
celebrating the rollout of KB799, the one-hundredth Canadian built Lancaster.


Lancaster R-5727 over Montreal 24 Aug. 1942

The first Canadian-built Avro Lancaster B Mark X, KB700 “The Ruhr Express”, taxying after landing at Northolt, Middlesex, following a delivery flight across the Atlantic. KB700 was the first of 300 aircraft built by Victory Aircraft of Malton, Ontario, and flew operationally with Nos. 405 and 419 Squadrons RCAF.
CH 11041
Part of
Royal Air Force official photographer
Crouch F W (F/O)


11 Jan 1945
Moose – Ghost Sqn
Snow’s snow and fun’s fun, but when snow hits the stations of the Canadian Bomber Group, it just means a lot of work for all personnel, air crew and ground crew types alike. Up a-top the starboard wing of a Canadian-built Lancaster on the station where the Moose and Ghost squadrons are based, four of the boys scrape off the stubborn snow. They are, left to right, LAC F.J. Chapioniere, a fitter from Champion, Alta.; LAC B. Holiday, Elgin, Ont.; LAC J.G. Chagnon, St. Hyacinthe, P.Q., and LAC W. Van Norman, Guleph, 90 Nottingham St., Ont.


ground crew of a Canadian Lancaster


Untitled, 4/23/04, 1:34 PM, 8C, 9590×6580 (1650+8275), 150%, A.I. Basic, 1/60 s, R83.9, G77.6, B95.0

Let’s Go Canada! by Henri Eveleigh 1939–1945

(Issued by the World War Two agency, Canadian Bureau of Public Information)

U-Boat Bunker St. Nazaire



Vizeadmiral Dönitz during the opening (photo courtesy


U-Boat Bases and Bunkers: Saint Nazaire: The U-Boat Bunker suffered thirty major raids through the war with three being extremely heavy. The 28 February 1943 raid consisted of 430 bombers, the 22 March 1943 raid consisted of 350 bombers, and the 28 March raid consisted of 320 bombers. The town was almost completely destroyed in these raids while the bunker saw minimal damage.


“The construction work started in February 1941. The bunker, built on the western side of the basin at Saint-Nazaire, was 295m wide, 130m long and 18m high and contained 14 U-boat pens.

After only 4 months the first pens were ready and so Vizeadmiral Dönitz opened on the 30th June 1941 the bunker. U-203 under Kptlt. Rolf Mützelburg was the first boat to use one section of the newly completed shelter.

Later a sluice bunker was also built, which the U-boats used to reach the sea.”

Nazi Flak Towers

Many an Allied bomber was shot down in flames by anti-aircraft fire from one of the handful of Nazi Germany’s Flak Towers

(If you have forgotten: the technique of firebombing used so successfully against many German cities was developed by the German Luftwaffe for their long campaign or aerial firebombing of London in the early years of the war)


Reichsgebiet, Alarm auf Flakturm

Fliegeralarm! Running to their action posts on the Zoo Tower 1944.

Most of these young gunners were fifteen or sixteen and were known as the kinderflak



This is one of the surviving towers in Vienna. You can clearly see how massive these buildings were.

The main function of the towers was less shooting down individual Allied bombers, although that was important, but more to put up such a mass of anti-aircraft fire as to hinder bombing attacks on the area immediately around them. Flak, a word used by both sides, is the abbreviation of the German word “Fliegerabwehrkanone,” which translates as “air defense cannon”.

The batteries fired pre-set “box barrages” to create a curtain of flak which British Royal Air Force or US Army Air Force bombers would have to fly through on their bomb run. Shells were set to explode at different heights usually above 20,000 feet. The strategy was to force the bombers higher since the higher they were when they dropped their bombs the less accurate the bombing. (Although under the best conditions bombing was rarely accurate).

Additionally, while these photographs were all taken in daylight, the British Royal Air Force bombed at night. So the other reason to force the bombers above 20,000 or so feet was to put them in the path of German night fighters. When a spotlight caught a bomber, the point was to illuminate the bomber for the night fighters. Nonetheless, various anti-aircraft batteries in Berlin, for example, would open up. This often led to German flak batteries shooting down their own night-fighters.

German Fighter Command made regular complaints to the anti-aircraft command to stop doing this and toward the end of the war demanded that the gun captain of any battery which fired above its mandated ceiling be tried and shot.

Exterior of flak tower in Vienna now used as a climbing wall.

Three such towers were built in Berlin, three in Vienna, and two in Hamburg. Each tower actually consisted of two towers: the very large gun tower known as the ‘G-Tower’ and a smaller fire-control tower located nearby known as the ‘L Tower’. The fire control tower transmitted the targeting values to the gun tower by wire – that is telephone/telegraph wire – that was buried deep below ground in a concrete tunnel to protect the wires from being severed.

Another of the surviving towers in Vienna.

In addition to serving as platforms for anti-aircraft guns, each G Tower had a large bomb shelter for civilians. These shelters were designed to accommodate thousands of civilians, a hospital, workshops of various sorts, and Wehrmacht command posts. Each tower had an independent supply of electricity and water as well as barracks and offices for the Luftwaffe personnel who operated the tower and the guns. In the Third Reich, all anti-aircraft defense was the responsibility of the Luftwaffe.

ADN-Zentralbild/Archiv II. Weltkrieg 1939-1945 Schwere Flak in Feurebereitschaft auf dem Flakturm des Berliner Zoo-Bunkers, eine der wenigen großen Schutzanlagen aus Eisenbeton. Aufnahme: Pilz April 1942

April 1942. One of the main gun platforms of the Zoo Tower, most famous of all the flak towers. Shells were kept in the heavy steel ready-use ammunition locker at right and carried to guns by a squad of men as seen above and right. Because the gunners were out in the open on the platforms without protection from bomb splinters or the shrapnel from their own anti-aircraft shells casualties were often heavy.

The Zoo Tower was the first one to be built and was located by the Berlin Zoo in the center of city and was meant to protect the key government buildings. The tower was destroyed by the British in 1946. It was located in what is now the aviary section of the Berlin Zoo.

Although the zoo was destroyed during the war with most of the animals being shipped to other cities or shot by the army, it was rebuilt in its original location which is very close to where the Kurfürstendamm ends at the Tiergarten.

(Photo from: German National Archive.  Schwere Flak in Feurebereitschaft auf dem Flakturm des Berliner Zoo-Bunkers, eine der wenigen großen Schutzanlagen aus Eisenbeton. Aufnahme: Pilz April 1942)


The towers were almost indestructible with the walls on each tower being 2.5 meters thick or 8 1/2 feet of solid concrete. The towers could – and often did – survive direct hits by Allied bombs. Because these were such massive structures, many of them remain since no one can figure out how to dismantle them without wrecking an entire neighborhood. I think the surviving towers are an important part of the history of WW Two and should be preserved.


Flak tower in Hamburg

The best, and to my knowledge, the only book devoted to the towers is The Flak Towers: In Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna 1940-1950 by Michael Foedrowitz. The book was translated from the original German. The research is impeccable. The author worked almost exclusively from primary sources as well as interviewing the leading expert on the towers. Four stars.

Lancaster Bomber

A Lancaster bomber swoops over Derwent dam to mark the 70th anniversary of the raids on German dams...A Lancaster bomber swoops over Derwent dam to mark the 70th anniversary of the raids on German dams in May 16 and 17, 1943, at Derwent Reservoir in central England May 16, 2013. The fly over on Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the raids on German dams, of one of the most memorable operations of the Second World War, in which 617 Squadron flew in Operation Chastise, using the famous bouncing bomb to attack the industrial region of Germany,  and are now best known by the name of the film that dramatised these events - The Dambusters. REUTERS/Darren Staples   (BRITAIN - Tags: TRANSPORT ANNIVERSARY MILITARY)
A Lancaster bomber swoops over Derwent dam to mark the 70th anniversary of the raids on German dams in May 16 and 17, 1943, at Derwent Reservoir in central England May 16, 2013. The fly over on Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the raids on German dams, of one of the most memorable operations of the Second World War, in which 617 Squadron flew in Operation Chastise, using the famous bouncing bomb to attack the industrial region of Germany, and are now best known by the name of the film that dramatised these events – The Dambusters. REUTERS/Darren Staples (BRITAIN – Tags: TRANSPORT ANNIVERSARY MILITARY)

Britain’s last Dambuster launches attack on David Cameron for failure to mint Bomber Command medal.




19th May 1967: Members of the original Dam Busters crew stand in front of Lancaster bomber of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

from London Daily Telegraph

Britain’s last Dambuster launches attack on David Cameron for failure to mint Bomber Command medal. 

George “Johnny” Johnson says decision to award only a clasp to Bomber Command veterans, rather than full medal, is an “insult”

Britain’s last Dambuster has launched an extraordinary attack on David Cameron’s refusal to acknowledge fully the veterans of Bomber Command.

George “Johnny” Johnson said the Government’s belated decision to award a clasp to veterans of the Second World War bombing campaign rather than minting a campaign medal was such an “insult” that he has not even taken his out of the box.

Veterans of Bomber Command, which suffered the highest casualty rate of any military unit during the war, have campaigned for decades for the medal that was denied them by Winston Churchill.

The rest of the story is here: