Bombing raid on a German village 22 March 1945

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Martin Kösters, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. Hi all,

    I hope that some of you can provide some info about a bombing raid on my hometown in Germany. It is the vilage of Legden and it is located appr. 12km north of Coesfeld and 8km esst of Ahaus.

    It was a twinengined unit, I suggest 266 Sqdn because the city of Rhede near Bocholt was bombed by a box of this unit to the same time. Rhede was bombed by 9 aircraft at 10.30hrs, Legden at 10.45..

    Map Reference A5682. 56 Bombs were dropped so suggest it must been a box of 6- 8 aircraft.

    Amother solution can be that it was the same Sqdn, that bombed Alstätte at the dutch border. This job was done by mitchells under eskort of No 41 Sqdn Spitfires.

    Hope for some clues ;)
  2. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Only thing I can offer is it was probably a pre-operation raid as the Rhine crossing took place 2 days later. I'm no RAF expert but I guess the mission list is available somewhere.
    stolpi likes this.
  3. Yes it was without vain. I m lookin for years for this squadron.
  4. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Hi Martin, don't know if this is helpful but -

    I've had a look at the ORBs for 266 (Rhodesian) Sqdn. On this day it was engaged in the interdiction of railway lines and there's no direct mention of Legden or Rhede in these particular records. The times given are whatever time zone the Allies were using at this point: I believe German time differed by maybe an hour? Anyway:

    A Flight (7 a/c) took off at 11.15, attacked the line AMERSFOORT - BARNWELT without cutting it, and returned at 11.55.

    B Flight (8 a/c) took off at 14.10, cut the line either side of the bridge at RAALTE which they were unable to hit, and returned at 15.05.

    I checked the record for the 21st and 23rd March just in case of inaccurate record-keeping: the squadron attacked targets at BUSSUM, ZWOLLE and DEVENTER on the 21st, and on the 23rd an unidentified ammunition factory in the morning, and ENSCHEDE airfield in the afternoon - that was the nearest target I could find to the location of Legden near the date in question.

    Cheers, Pat.
  5. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    If this mission was at 10:30 it might be Americans. I'm just working on the thought of RAF at night and USAAF during the day.
    Late in the war though.
  6. stolpi

    stolpi Well-Known Member

    During the run up to operation Plunder, the Rhine Crossing of 21st Army Group, almost every town of importance - whether German or Dutch - in a wide stretch north of the Rhine between Emmerich and Duisburg, was attacked from the sky.

    See for example Anholt: RHINE CROSSING 1945: The Rees bridgehead (30 Corps in operation 'Turnscrew')

    Martin - I recommend the BAOR study of 12 Corps in Operation Plunder, it has a special chapter on the Air plan of the operation. If you send me a PM with your email address I can forward it to you. Though probably not as detailed as you wish, it at least provides some context.

    It also contains some detailed maps of the air plan :

    and medium bomber targets :
    map medium bombers.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
    canuck and Dave55 like this.
  7. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    266 Sqdn were on daylight operations at this time, as far as I can see from the ORBs, though the heavies were still operating at night. But that doesn't mean the attack on Legden couldn't have been American, of course.

  8. dawallace

    dawallace Junior Member

    There was a Bomber Command raid on Bocholt on the 22nd.
    "BOCHOLT - 100 Lancasters of 3 Group carried out a G-H attack on the town area, probably with the intention of cutting communications. The town was seen to be on fire. No aircraft lost." 15 Squadron and 218 Squadrons were involved, possibly others. These would likely have been in formations.
  9. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Martin, it might be worthwhile posting your query over on RAFCommands forum as well as here.

    Cheers, Pat.
  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Bomber Command recorded Mosquitos supporting main force bombers in the daylight raids and surrounding areas on 22 March 1945.

    To Hildesheim......Lancasters and 8 Mosquitos

    To Dulmen and Dorsten....... both Halifaxes,(predominately) and Lancasters with 12 Mosquitos on each raid

    There was also a raid on Rheine on 21 March 1945 with Halifaxes (predominately),Lancasters and 12 Mosquitos.

    It could have been aircraft of the 2nd Tactical Air Force...No 140 Squadron was based at Melsbroek at the time,equipped with Mosquitos Marks 1X and XV1.

    Also No 219 Squadron,equipped with the Mosquito XXX and based at Amiens Glisy had an detachment to Gilze- Rijen........cannot have been 2nd TAF, No 266 Squadron for their aircraft were the Typhoon Mark 1b throughout the invasion of Europe.

    USSAF 8th Air Force British based bombers had the usual single engine fighter....... long range P51 Mustang escorts...which rules out the witness of a twin engined aircraft being

    USAAF 9th AF medium bomber element, operating from British bases had standard equipment as twin engine bombers and is a possibility but ops not known.
    alieneyes likes this.
  11. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Do you know, for some reason I hadn't even considered 266 flying Typhoons and I hadn't bothered to look the squadron up - thanks Harry. I had just assumed they were mediums of some sort, maybe Bostons or some such. Certainly makes more sense of some of the detail in the ORBs about attacking things on their way home, etc.

    Cheers, Pat.
  12. My mistake. Rhede was bombed by Mitchells of No 226 Sqdn. So I quess that a second box was detailed to Legden. I have a series of RAF-Pr-Pics. Taken on 24/03/45 by 541Sqdn. The surrounding cities were bombed by RAF/Sqdns. USAAF followed a day later.
  13. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Do these pictures show any of the drop / landing zones from the Rhine crossing that same day?
  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    At the time No 226 Squadron was operating out of Vitry en Artois with the Mark 111 Mitchell.

    It had been a squadron within Bomber Command No 2 Group which was transferred to the 2nd Tactical Air Force in preparation for the invasion of Europe. Vitry was its first base on the continent from 17 October 1944.
  15. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    The 8th also had some P-61s that they were using as daytime bombers by then.
  16. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member


    I was looking at the 8th Air Force operations for 22 March 1945 from their diary,I could not find that type operating....only fighters as escorts.

    The 8th Air Force had on its inventory the other twin boom fighter.the P38 Lightning.I would think that the P 61 Black Widow,essentially a night fighter was more prominent in the 9th Air Force. although its service career in wartime Europe was relatively short.
  17. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for the correction. It makes more sense that they would have been with the 9th. I thought I had read somewhere that they were being used for ground attack and day bombing by the 8th in 1945
  18. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    Martin, have you downloaded the squadron ORBs for March 1945? They're available for a small fee (£3.50) from The National Archives here. The Summary of Events document details an attack on Rhede as you say, but there's no indication of any attack on Legden (or a target nearby). Rhede was attacked by two boxes of aircraft and the Record of Events specifically states that they operated together, which I guess rules out the possibility of the second box attacking Legden. Anhalt was attacked in the afternoon. The accuracy wasn't particularly high for either attack, but as I believe Legden is 40km away from Rhede accidental damage (from aircraft overshooting target, bomb 'creep', etc.) can be ruled out in this case.

    So it looks to me as if it wasn't 226 Squadron who bombed Legden that morning. I don't know enough about the air campaign at this time to say, but I'm sure others on this forum do - is it possible that navigational error could result in an attack on the wrong target? Or should we be looking elsewhere?

    Cheers, Pat.
  19. Cornelia Waymouth

    Cornelia Waymouth New Member

    Hi - I don't know if this will reach you as it's nearly 11 months later, but I've just found this.
    I have my father's wartime logbook and he was flying Bostons with 88 squadron, with bombing raids in the area every day between the 18th and 26th March 1945.
    He has a photo stuck into the logbook of an exploding ammunition train which happened to be passing at the time they dropped their bombs on the 19th March. His comments are :"Formation sortie over Coesfeld railway yards. 4 x 500lbs. Visual from 13,500' - Bang on."
    On the 22nd he reports "Abortive formation sortie Brunen area. Meagre flak - returned with bombs."

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