Dresden Bombing 70 Years ago

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by researchingreg, Feb 13, 2015.

  1. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    If you look at the raid on Munchen Gladbach,it followed the start of the Blizkreig on 10 May and with it followed the 6 weeks that shook the world..ended with the defeat and destruction of the BEF and French Army.Nothing to do with any strategic response from the RAF.The sacred cow targets were the two opposing capitals which were not touched until events developed in August 1940.

    Muchen Gladbach was deemed to be a communications and railways centre which was feeding the Wehrmacht over the untouched bridges at Maastricht just over the border into Holland.Daylight strikes on these bridges had brought little success due to accurate flak and the night raid on Munchen Gladbach followed.It became increasingly obvious that the RAF aircraft such as the Blenheim,Battle, Whitley and Hampden were not adequate for daylight operations.

    Poor weather and inferior availability of aircraft prevented operations being mounted on 13 May and operations resumed on 14 May to attempt to stem the flow of German forces across the Meuse at Sedan but lost 35 aircraft of the 71 Blenheims and Battles put up on the day.

    After the Luftwaffe had bombed Rotterdam before a surrender deadline had expired,the RAF strategic offensive commenced against Germany on the night of 15 May,Churchill gave clearance to raid the heartland of Germany.111 Wellingtons,Hampdens and Whitleys raided targets in the Ruhr and communication centres in Belgium for the loss of one aircraft due to navigational error, the first time an air bomber fleet over 100 aircraft had been assembled.One important point was that these aircraft had been dispatched from English airfields and thus were not prone to air strikes or their bases being overrun as the RAF element in France had experienced.

    It took sometime for the RAF bombing offensive to be effective...inferior aircraft whose daylight operational losses along with valuable aircrew, forced their role to to that of night bombing...poor navigational and bombing aids.Bombing performance did not improve until the 4 engine heavies came into being with the huge aircrew training programme.By early1942,the RAF was a completely different force that had entered the war in September 1939.In the spring of 1942,the Lancaster started to appear on squadrons,bombing aids started to make a difference after the Butt Report had delivered an inadequate record of bombing performance.H2S and the Gee navigational system and the introduction of the Pathfinder principle in the summer of 1943 saw a continual improvement in bombing efficiency.By the new year of 1944,most 4 engined heavies had H2S installed as standard.Greater bomb loads were developed for the Lancaster and as production rates increased, more Lancaster dedicated squadrons came into being from late 1943 and early 1944.

    In the end the German air defence system was overwhelmed despite the ever extension of the "Hammhuber" early warning line.If there was an advantage to the RAF,it was that the investment in radar and electronic counter measures undertaken by the British exceeded that of the Germans...Hitler would only sanction investment in new technology if the payback was not more than one year.The British scientific philosophy was one of a quest for continual improvement.

    As for the RAF bombing offensive against the Germans,there was little the British air arm could do after the fall of France until the invasion of Normandy to take the battle to the German heartland.It was more than a thorn in Hitler's side, especially from June 1941 when he chose to fight on two fronts in pursuit of his ideology.As the RAF grew stronger and the USAAF came into the war,the working up of the USAAF saw the Germans being capable of being raided by night and day.Interestingly the USAAF at that time had little, if any, expertise of night flying and found the weather over Europe such,that they preferred daylight operations.

    There is no doubt that the RAF/USAAF bombing offensive had a severe impact on the German war economy despite the management of the German armament industry production by Speer.From November 1944,the German synthetic fuel oil production capacity had been damaged to such an extent that the Luftwaffe flying training was severely restricted. Further the Ardennes offensive in December 1944 depended largely on ground forces overrunning Allied fuel dumps.

    The cost of civilian lives has always been questioned but while the Allies made it clear that any resolution would be by unconditional surrender,Goebbels in October 1943 had the German population accept that Total War would be the only option for Germany.

    Coming to civilian casualties,I saw a figure of 650.000 German civilians killed during the war....later from German sources saw this figure at 500000 casualties.The British civilian casualties have been put at 65000...then compare it to the millions of Russian civilians killed during the occupation of Russian territory and the numbers of civilians, who lost their lives in concentration camps from 1933 and those millions who were the victim of NS ideology in extermination camps.

    Of course there were some, such as senior clergymen who thought despite what was at stake,the British should abide by what might be regarded as Queensbury rules in their air offense against Germany.However those British civilians experiencing Luftwaffe raids had a different observation and could not care less for the welfare of German civilians,they saw retribution as appropriate for the German nation.

    As has been said ,the Germans continued with Hitler's indiscriminate V weapons until the end...still firing V2 rockets at London from The Haque as late as late March 1945.Then there was the V3 super gun complex at Mimoyecques,designed to shell London,delivering 55lb HE shells at the rate of 600 shells/hour...envisaged as a retaliatory weapon by Hitler for the July 1943 raid on Hamburg.....intended by Hi to destroy London and force British capitulation.A raid by the US 9th Air Force in November 1943 resulted in one gun complex of 25 guns being abandoned. A decision by the Germans to continue to complete the remaining battery of 25 guns remained a threat.Before the remaining battery could be commissioned,the site was overrun in September 1944 and Churchill issued instructions for the site to be destroyed.This gun specification could have caused a high level of casualties in London and the south east had it not been allowed to come to fruition.

    Overall Bomber Command demonstrated a high level of commitment through its leadership and those individuals who unceasingly took the battle to the evil of Hitler's totalitarian Third Reich night after night.
    Smudger Jnr, geoff501 and Joe Brown like this.
  2. jonheyworth

    jonheyworth Senior Member

    If I may be forthright, Fuck Dresden and all the post war bleating, one night in a very long worldwide war that had six months left to run and at the time no one knew when it was going to end.

    Bored, bored, bored with post war, hand wringing Dresden shite
    Markyboy and dbf like this.
  3. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I have always felt that the backlash against Bomber Command about Dresden was Goebbels finest Propaganda coup, one that has lasted to this very day. His Dept's assertions that Dresden was a peaceful city that constituted no viable target is still held up as proof of Bomber Command's guilt. It's well documented that Churchill was responsible for Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig being placed on the target list. On 30th January 1945 Churchill asked "whether Berlin, and no doubt other large cities in East Germany (my italics), should not now be considered especially attractive targets. I am glad that this is 'under consideration', Pray report to me tomorrow what is going to be done". (Bomber Command, Max hastings). He further asserts that The Soviets requested, at Yalta, that Eastern Communications centres, such as Dresden and Chemnitz. So Bomber Command hit Dresden and then Chemnitz, the following night. My final quote from Hastings is one that I wholeheartedly agree with, "To the staff at High Wycombe, Dresden was simply another German town." If it had happened 2 years previous, we wouldnt be having this discussion as it would have gone down as another heavy raid, perhaps talked about in the same breath as Hamburg in 1943, or the 1000 bomber raid on Cologne in 1942. But the changing political climate, coupled with Goebbels work, ensured that the words Bomber Command and Dresden would be forever entwined. The 8th Air Force's legacy never suffered over Dresden the way that Bomber Command's did, even though they also bombed the town the next day. The results of the raid were horrific. But a war crime? I dont think so.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  5. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    There was an interview on BBC Breakfast this morning. Actually quite a good summary in my mind with a British Veteran who had been there as a POW at the time and Dan Snow. Quite well balanced until it got to the 'why' part of the conversation when all sorts of words were bandied around - War Crime, atrocity, etc etc. It was a Total War started by the Nazis. Total War is horrible - there are no true 'winners'. .....and Coventry wasn't mentioned once. Two wrongs don't make a right but it was Total War: hindsight is, well, hindsight.

    Anyway: time to reflect on War - it's still happening - Mankind (there's an oxymoron if ever there was one) stlll hasn't learnt - Peace should be natural; everyone surely wants that.
    Roy Martin likes this.
  6. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Ron et all,
    I was born six weeks later in Chemnitz and lucky to grow up in a free Germany and 20 years later started my career in England and other parts of the world.
    Terrible it was for the folks in Dresden, but without Harry it might have killed me as well.
  7. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Log book entries for 4 of the Bomber Command lads from that day, a necessary evil in my opinion



    I've visited Dresden a couple of times in the last 3-4 years and its a beautiful city, I'd recommend it and hope to go back, a few images below - wandering the old town wasn't what I expected, a great rebuild job on lots of the old places and still ongoing in places, there is also a lovely park out past the Dynamo Dresden stadium that is very peaceful for a wander. The 2nd & 3rd last pictures are taken in the old square where the bodies were burned after the raids, it seems odd now to be there with people sitting out at cafes and bars enjoying a summer drink - even stranger was the beach volleyball tournament going on. The last image is a reminder of a few of the Dresden residents who perished in the Holocaust.

    IMG_4281.JPG IMG_4323.JPG IMG_4389.JPG IMG_4388.JPG IMG_4411.JPG IMG_4415.JPG IMG_4426.JPG IMG_4433.JPG P1120231.JPG P1120246.JPG P1120255.JPG P1120252.JPG P1120316.JPG P1120317.JPG P1120320.JPG
    Harry Ree and CL1 like this.
  8. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Owen's revisiting the thread made me think about this raid again.The reference above reflects the views of the veterans of Nos 150 and 170 Squadrons at Hemswell who took part in the raid as recorded in the RAF Hemswell Association's,"The Ermine Link".I am sure without looking for a reference that Max Hastings would have talked to many RAF veterans who took part in the raid.The "terror raid" assertion had been around for some time but the event and the data of its toll of life was corrupted by David Irving,a known apologist and Holocaust denier of the Third Reich.He elevated the civilian casualties in his "Destruction of Dresden" with political direction aided by some in the GDR as purporting the raid as unnecessary.Only after the fall of the GDR were historians able to search the archives and address the accurate numbers of civilian lives lost and reveal a true account of the event.

    I think that the other crucial point was that for 6 months before the Dresden raid,the Luftwaffe entered what might be termed its death throe phase.This arose from the Allied air forces concentrated target offensive against Hitler oil industry in preparation for D Day which deprived the Luftwaffe of fuel to maintain maximum aircraft availability by November 1944.It also adversely affected the Wehrmacht for armoured warfare operations from January 1945 in the defence of Germany as the regime started to collapse following the ill fated Ardennes gamble.

    As to the Dresden and Chemnitz raids,there was little opposition from the Luftwaffe and losses were hardly 1% although the Luftwaffe put up 200 sorties.Even for the Magdeburg daylight operation on 14 February,the Luftwaffe opposition amounted to 130 sorties at the maximum but as low as 100 as a lower assessment.There was one other important point contributing to the success of these raids and that was the Luftwaffe were unable to keep pace with the development of Allied air force electronic countermeasures, particularly the involvement of the RAF No 100 Group.The Luftwaffe simply could not handled the long penetration into Germany conducted by RAF night operations due to an inability to counter British ECMs. These raids had a completely different outcome to the disastrous raid on Nuremburg less than 12 months previously.

    The Luftwaffe did hit back with the intruder raids of 3-4 March 1945 when they launched 140 night fighters against Bomber Command aircraft returning to their airfields after German raids.About 100 aircraft penetrated into British airspace and shot down 22 aircraft and 20 aircraft the following night but the policy was short lived as Hitler declared that the raids were unprofitable.He directed that it was better for German morale to witness Allied aircraft being shot down over Germany....a little too late and remote from reality.

    Correction,looking at my post from 5 years ago,I immediately saw a typing error,"Hammhuber" should be "Kammhuber"...I must have been thinking about a sandwich at the time.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  9. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    They sowed the wind and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.

    Nice balanced view from me

    Along with many millions killed by the nazis


    Died 29/06/1944

    Civilian War Dead

    Aged 7 hours; of 3 Kenton Lane, Kenton. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Railton Michaelis. Injured 28 June 1944, at 3 Kenton Lane; died at Harrow and Wealdstone Hospital.
    Civilians killed and wounded in London - test finished


    Died 14/10/1940

    Civilian War Dead

    Aged 4 months; of 33 Culver Grove, Stanmore. Son of John Veugen, and of Winifred Veugen. Died at 33 Culver Grove.

    Died 20/10/1940

    Civilian War Dead

    Aged 2 months; of 16 Roxeth Hill. Son of William and Joan Smith. Died at 16 Roxeth Hill.

    Died 07/05/1941

    Civilian War Dead

    Aged 7 hours. Daughter of R. Burrows, of 107 Dovehouse Street. Died at 107 Dovehouse Street.

    Died 15/10/1940

    Civilian War Dead

    Aged 11 hours. Son of Pte. Charles Leonard Holt, The Wiltshire Regiment, and Edna Holt, of 1 Council Houses, Font Hill, West Coker. Died at 1 Council Houses. Font Hill.

    Civilian GROVES, ARTHUR
    Died 04/05/1942

    Civilian War Dead

    Aged 12 hours. Son of A. G. and Doris Groves
    Roy Martin and Dave55 like this.
  10. Markyboy

    Markyboy Member

    Just watched the latest BBC report. Would have been nice if they'd given a bit of contrast with a few concentration camp shots at the end. It's always annoyed me that Dresden is seen as some sort of individual terror attack, not one night in a six year war.
  11. High Wood

    High Wood Well-Known Member

    My personal feeling is that the events at Dresden have given the German nation a sense of shared victim hood that can be used to offset the terrible evil done in their name.

    We may be remembering Dresden today, the 13th January, but let us not forget that only 17 days ago we were remembering the Liberation of Auschwitz.

    Back on this day in 1945, thousands of human beings were being starved to death at Belsen and would continue to do so until the 15th April 1945.

    The Nazi Regime was unspeakably evil. The German people were unable or unwilling to stop them creating hell on earth. Thank God that decent people were prepared to pay the price in blood and suffering to stop Nazi barbarism.

    Unfortunately, good people sometimes have to do bad things in order to stop evil people doing worse things.

    Even more so than the Great War, WW2 was a war for civilisation and the price paid by the free peoples of this world would have been a thousand times higher if the Nazis had won.
    Rich Payne and Chris C like this.
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    One witness was Eva Libitzky who was in a slave labour camp overlooking the city having survived the Łódź Ghetto and Auschwitz. She exhibited scant sympathy for the city and its inhabitants. The raid was to her and the other camp inhabitants a sort of pre liberation firework display that helped boost her to struggle on until liberated in Theresastadt.
    Eva Libitzky and Fred Rosenbaum, Out on a Ledge – Enduring the Lodz Ghetto, Auschwitz, and Beyond, Wicker Park Press, River Forest Il, 2010
  13. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    History does not entrust freedom to the weak or timid seize the day live now at some point you wont have a tomorrow :

    From the ether
  14. Trackfrower

    Trackfrower Member

    Far too many "armchair experts".
    They don't make much fuss about Hamburg and Cologne's firestorms.... or one at The Elephant and Castle
    War is hell.
  15. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Who are "they"?
  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Who They Are". Unleash the breath that damned wicked soul. Make the sacrifice for good. An omen passed the flame through the night. Benefit the figures face ...
    from the internet

  17. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Definitely being overdoing the brocolli (which the Romans regarded as an emetic and a poison). What are you talking about?
  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Bob no idea mate I let you tell me what I am talking about its a lot easier
    Harry Ree likes this.
  19. JDKR

    JDKR Member Patron

    CL1 likes this.
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Five years on I still like Ron's post(s).
    "Just another target." indeed.

    War's nasty.
    The war we're interested in was one of the nastiest.
    Dresden's a hobby horse.
    researchingreg, CL1, SDP and 4 others like this.

Share This Page