Bomber Command Losses - 31 March 1945

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by Tom OBrien, Sep 4, 2021.

  1. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Thanks, that seems obvious once you pointed it out to us! :D

    Hi Itdan,

    That could be right although I'd assumed that if the bomber stream approached from the SW on a course of about 030 degrees they would continue to the NE once over the target area and then turn north to get them out over the sea as soon as possible. I guess there may be planning documents in the Group records that would give more information about planned routes out and back, but there doesn't seem to be anything like that at the squadron level.

    Is the target area you marked the site of the Blohm and Voss submarine yards? I've seen reports (can't remember where now!:blush:) that the bombing was relatively scattered so is it possible that the two "clumps" are just down to the width of the bomber stream as it passed in a north easterly direction over the southern suburbs of the city?


  2. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And here are the details from the ORB of 170 Squadron RAF:

    No.170 Squadron R.A.F.

    31 March 1945 R.A.F. HEMSWELL

    The target laid down for today was HAMBURG. The briefing was laid down for the early hour of 0330. The take off of the fifteen aircraft detailed was made in poor weather conditions and these conditions did not greatly improve en route. When the target area was reached there was 10/10ths cloud cover.

    The target was marked with red and blue Wanganui smoke puffs. Most of the crews report that these puffs were bursting rather higher than expected. The strong winds tended to disperse them rather quickly and move them rapidly.

    The marking was a little late but the Master Bomber seemed to have the attack well in hand. His instructions were clear and easily understood. No results of the attack could be observed as the cloud was too thick.

    The ground defences put up a slight barrage, scattered from 13-20,000 ft mostly at 17-19,000 ft. L/170, P/O JOHNSON, was slightly damaged in the elevator fin and tail planes by this heavy flak.

    With the exception of W/170, F/L CLOSE, no crews report fighters. This aircraft had a damaged port inner propeller and port fuselage, from a cannon shell believed to have been fired by a JU 88 at 5330N to 0200E.

    The photographs show cloud and no ground detail.


    [Aircraft were 15 Lancaster (7 Lancaster III and 8 Lancaster I); take off @ 0620; back down @ 1150; bombed from 17,000 – 18,000 ft at 0846-0853 hrs].

    Could a bomber crew mistake a ME 262 for a JU 88? I suppose it's possible - I suspect aircraft recognition was incredibly difficult in the circumstances especially if you are in a plane which has just been hit by a cannon shell.;)


  3. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Hi Tom

    Target was Blohm&Voss shipyards, located in the black circle

    As far as the actual route is concerned, the two of us here could still hypothesize ad infinitum. But with a little luck you will find something in the archives.

    A Ju 88 at daylight in April ´45??
    That seems like a pretty bold assumption to me. On the other hand, what I know about complete insanity orders from that time...

    Last but not least - (very) small map with the heavy AA-batteries for Hamburg:

  4. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Thank you, that looks like a pretty impressive AA defence - I suppose the 10/10 clouds hindered them on 31 March.

    Only a limited amount of detail in the ORB of 300 (Polish) Squadron:

    No. 300 (Polish) Squadron (AIR27/1658/34)

    31 March 1945 RAF Station FALDINGWORTH, Lincolnshire
    Operations were ordered early in the morning; 10 crews were allotted and all were primary. Target was HAMBURG.
    Visibility was good and the bombs were released on the red smoke PUFFS. Clouds over target 10/10 and smoke was rising above the clouds.


    [Aircraft were 10 x Lancaster I; time of take off @ 0635; time down @ 1140; bombing from @ 18,000 feet at 0847; no details of opposition]


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  5. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    But a little more information in the ORB of another escorting Mustang squadron:

    No. 118 Squadron R.A.F. (AIR27/908/29)

    31 March 1945 BENTWATERS

    Squadron was airborne at 07.20 hrs to escort 400 Lancs bombing U boat pens at Hamburg. Just before reaching target a Me 262 flew down the starboard side of the bomber stream and attacked a bomber half way down. Bomber blew up. Blue section gave chase but could not close with the e/a which flew off to the east. Another 262 appeared below the bombers but flew into cloud when Flycatch section gave chase. Bombing results appeared to be good. This months operational flying totalled over 800 hours which is the most the squadron has ever done in a month.


    [Aircraft were 12 x Mustang III; take off 07.20; time down 10.35 hrs]


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  6. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    According to the ORB of 576 Squadron (AIR27/2047/32):

    The route taken was:-

    BASE – SKEGNESS - 53°13 N 02° 30E - 53° 15 N 04° 00 E - 52°45N 08°50E - 53°43N 10°12E - 54°10N 09°40E - 54°00N 08°00E - 54°00N 05°00E – SKEGNESS – BASE.

    576's base was at Fiskerton; so I make this:

    Fiskerton - Skegness - point level with Skegness and midway across North Sea towards Dutch Coast - point about level with Skegness and just off Dutch Coast to NW of Den Helder - a point about 50 km south of Bremen - to a point about 25 km NE of Hamburg - then north up to a point just south of Rendsburg about 100 km north of Hamburg - then turning directly west out over the North Sea north of Bremerhaven - and directly back west across the North sea - crossing the English coast at Skegness - before returning to Fiskerton.



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  7. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Hi Tom
    I'm afraid I can't contribute much more than that
    But thank you very much:
    This research was really FUN!

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  8. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    No problem, thanks for all the interest and informative postings on this thread. I'll keep posting up details from the British/Canadian perspective as I get the time.

    Here is the ORB for 460 Sqn RAAF:

    No. 460 Squadron R.A.A.F. (AIR27/1910/5)

    31 March 1945 BINBROOK

    Weather:- Cloudy with cold strong wind continuing. OPERATIONS – 13 aircraft were detailed for a bombing attack against HAMBURG. Skymarkers were rather scattered so we can only hope that a fair concentration of bombs fell in the HAMBURG DOCKS AREA. All returned safely to Base.



    Thirteen of our aircraft attacked the above target. Unexpected cloud obscured the target – 10/10 tops 8000 ft. Skymarkers were rather scattered so we can only hope that a fair concentration of bombs fell in the Hamburg docks area. Only slight H/F. A few enemy fighters appeared but were duly chased away by escorting Mustangs. 1 Group led the attack and suffered no loss, but 6 Group following on in two last phases lost 8 A/C and P.F.F. 3 A/C.

    The Group Column was laid on. Wispy patches of cloud up to 11000 feet over Skegness made initial formation impossible either at Skegness or the Group rendezvous 0230 E (ordered height 8/9000 ft), but after emerging from medium cloud before the Dutch coast a/c closed up to form a satisfactory column throughout the rest of the trip until after leaving the German coast. The M.B. gave rather too frequent changes in his aiming instructions and so there was a certain amount of jostling over the target. After leaving the German coast homeward the leaders drifted north of track and so the column soon broke up.

    All our aircraft returned safely.

    The following bomb load was carried by the Squadron:- 156 x 1000 lb bombs and 39 x 500 lb bombs. Total tonnage 78¼ tons.

    Bomb or incendiary load carried by aircraft on abortive sorties – NIL.

    Bombs or incendiaries brought back as a result of technical failure to release – NIL.

    Bombs or incendiaries jettisoned – NIL.

    [Aircraft were 13 x Lancaster; Take off @0635; back down @ 1120; Bombed red smoke puffs at 0845 - 0850 hours from 17,000 – 17,500 - 19,000 feet; no further details.]


  9. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And for 550 Sqn RAF:

    No. 550 Squadron R.A.F. (AIR27/2037/33)

    31 March 1945 NORTH KILLINGHOLME

    16 aircraft with crews took off at approximately 06.20 hours to attack Hamburg. The weather conditions were bad – 10/10th cloud all the way and over the target. The bombing on sky markers, which were rather scattered, was not considered to be concentrated and the results are awaited. Flak was moderately heavy and two of our aircraft were damaged with casualties. All aircraft returned safely to base just before mid-day to enjoy a good luncheon.


    [Aircraft were 16 x Lancaster; Bombed at 17,000 – 18,000 feet at 0846 – 0854; one aircraft (Lancaster PB.514 “Y”) recorded as “Abortive – starboard outer u/s”.]


  10. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And this is another one of the escorting Mustang squadrons:

    No. 122 Squadron R.A.F. (AIR27/915/91)

    31 March 1945 ANDREWS FIELD, Essex.

    At 06.55 hrs. S/Ldr. Jackson D.F.C. led the Squadron on Ramrod 1523, as escort to 300 Lancasters and 100 Halifaxes to Hamburg. When bombers were 40 miles S.W. of the target they were attacked by approximately 15 ME.262’s which dived at great speed and zoomed up from below shooting down 5 Lancasters. The Squadron was the only escort to this straggling box and made several attacks on the ME.262’s but were unable to close nearer than 700 yards.


    Ramrod 1523, Escort to 300 Lancasters & 100 Halifaxes bombing Hamburg. Wing escorted rear half of stream on starboard side. One box of 80 – 100 Lancasters straggled behind main gaggle and approx. 15 ME.262’s attacked this box about 40 miles S.W. of target, shooting down 5 Lancasters. 122 Squadron were the only escort to this box and made several attacks on the ME.262’s but were unable to close beyond 700 yards. Attacks ceased before the other Wing could assist – no escort on port side.

    [Aircraft were 10 x Mustang III (one aborted and back down at 08.25 hrs); take-off @ 06.55 hrs; back down 11.10 – 11.45 hrs.]

    That adds some useful details about the Me. 262 attack - I've seen that tactic described elsewhere I think. This extract suggests that one of the Canadian gaggles had lagged behind the rest of the column and were only being escorted by 9 Mustangs, which explains why this appears to have been one of the more successful Me. 262 engagements.


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  11. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And pushing on with the RAF ORB's. here are the details from the ORB of 626 Sqn RAF:

    No. 626 Squadron R.A.F. (AIR27/2145/33)

    31 March 1945 WICKENBY
    WEATHER: Cloudy, intermittent rain late afternoon. Vis. Good. Wind SWly 20-30 mph.

    13 aircraft detailed yesterday were airborne by 0631 hours. The following took off: F/L EAMES, F/O DRIVER, F/L TREMBLAY, F/O WILSON, F/O HYAM, F/O SCREEN, F/L BENNEE, F/O RAINEY, F/L WHITE, F/O REID, F/L GILMORE, F/O HOWLETT and F/O ENCISCO. All aircraft returned safely by 1222 hours. F/O HYAM made an early return, having aborted due to aircraft losing height. The target was HAMBURG which was bombed by the aid of markers through 10/10 cloud. Moderate heavy flak was encountered over the target. No fighters seen over the target although some were observed along the route.


    [Aircraft were 13 Lancaster I & III; over target between 0946 - 0949 hours; height 16, 500 - 18,000; heading 020 - 042 deg.; speed 160 – 180 m.p.h.; The target was obscured with cloud with tops 10-11,000 feet, so no results were visible. The raid was moderately successful, I would say, as the marking was a trifle scattered. There were no fighters in evidence and the flak was moderate heavy flak in barrage form bursting in salvoes of ten to twelve bursts. To the Dutch Coast there was broken layered cloud up to about 12,000 with considerable haze. Over the target, cloud was 10/10 with visibility above moderate to good. The route chosen seemed a good one.]


  12. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And another of the escort squadrons which saw at least one of the ME. 262 attacks:

    No. 129 Squadron R.A.F. (AIR27/934/83)

    31 March 1945 BENTWATERS

    We were out early today, escorting a large force of Heavies bombing Hamburg. There was a little excitement at last when two ME.262’s attacked the bombers, but were chased off. Three pilots of this Squadron fired, but the range was too great to be effective, and the enemy aircraft escaped. Chasing the jet jobs meant that we had to drop our tanks rather sooner than had been anticipated, and caused a shortage of petrol, so the Squadron landed at EINDHOVEN and returned to Base later.


    The Wing escorted the port side of 300 Lancasters and 100 Halifaxes bombing HAMBURG. R/V was made according to plan. In the target area, two ME.262’s attacked the bombers, and were chased off, three of our pilots fired, but the range was too great to be effective, and the enemy aircraft escaped. One bomber was seen to go down, but it is not known whether due to enemy aircraft or flak.

    F/O. Brown landed on the continent with the engine giving trouble, the rest of the Squadron landed at EINDHOVEN with very little petrol. All aircraft returned to Base during the morning. Meagre inaccurate H.A.A. was met in the target area, and there was 10/10 layered cloud with tops at 15,000 feet, with breaks in the r/v area.

    [Aircraft were 11 Mustang III; mission was Ramrod 1523.]


  13. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    The other reports confirm that
    In short: One formation hung back and had practically no fighter protection - which then also bore the brunt of the attacks.

    All too often, the legend is put forward that the 262 did not have to worry about fighter protection at all. However, if you read the sparse mission reports of JG 7 carefully, you will see that effectively operating fighter protection was able to successfully repel 2 out of 3 attacks.

    But even with insufficient defensive weapons (*) and without fighter protection, the result is somehow demystifying:
    Of 9 combat losses, probably 5-6 were caused by the 262s, possibly one of them it R4M....with 25 attacking awe-inspiring result <cough>

    (*) Referring to a thread a bit back (chipm): Here, the difference between .303 and .50 would probably have been noticeable as well...

    Which means for the friends of what-if Endsieg-fantasies: The 262, even deployed earlier/ in larger numbers/ with R4M/ with better engines/(insert something), would have made little difference to the outcome of the Allied air offensive.

    Thanks again Tom:
    this gives me excellent FACTS for some vigorous discussions on this topic:D

    best regards
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  14. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    And another bomber ORB (now moving onto the Canadian squadrons):

    No. 408 Squadron R.C.A.F. (AIR27/1798/29)

    31 March 1945 LINTON-ON-OUSE

    Sixteen of our aircraft were detailed for operations and they all took off about sunrise. The target to-day was the HAMBURG SUB YARDS. Fifteen of our aircraft claimed to have attacked the primary between 0852.5 and 0904.5 hours from between 17,600 and 19,000 feet. One of our aircraft (NP 806 “Q” Pilot:- F/O. K.K. BLYTH J.39627) failed to return and nothing has been heard from this aircraft since take-off time. (See Appendix A.4476 & D.37 in Form 541).

    Weather consisted of 10/10ths cloud with tops at 8-10,000 feet. Horizontal visibility was good. The skymarkers, Red smoke puffs were numerous but were scattered over a wide area. The M/B was heard on time and quite clear throughout and varied his instructions in an endeavour to centre the attack. No results were seen, but bombing was reported as scattered. Ground defences consisted of slight to moderate heavy flak in barrage form bursting between 16 and 20,000 feet. One aircraft was reported damaged by flak. Five ME 262’s were reported seen in the target area. No combats were reported. Seven aircraft were reported shot down.

    Flying training consisted only of an Air-Test. No ground training was reported.


    [Aircraft were 16 x Halifax VII; reported as “Second Wave”; Bombing reported as being carried out on a heading of approx. 030 T with an T.A.S. of 200-210; more details of marking, gaggle and concentration of bombing; no further details of hostile activity.]


  15. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    No reports of fighter activity in the ORB of 415 Squadron R.C.A.F. (which lost one Halifax III (Halifax III MZ922 ‘C’ – F/O G.A. Hyland – crew all recorded as missing – believed collided mid-air over sea with Lancaster KB761 of 419 Sqn RCAF after leaving the target area) but some evidence of flak damage to aircraft:

    No. 415 Squadron R.C.A.F. AIR27/1813/19

    31 March 1945 R.C.A.F. Station, East Moor, Sutton-on-Forest, Yorkshire.
    Operations scheduled for today; 17 aircraft [Halifax] detailed.
    From this attack against Hamburg 1 of our aircraft is missing – CAN/J.39503 F/O G.A. Hyland and Crew. – Results considered fair.

    AIR 27/1813/20
    [Take off around 0630; bombed around 0845; back down around 1230; Evidence of Flak:
    Halifax NK146 ‘E’:
    ‘Camera run affected by evasive action taken due to flak’.
    Halifax NZ474 ‘K’: One small hole in starboard inner Naculs [sic]. Hit by heavy flak over the target at 0852.6 hrs.
    Halifax PN236 ‘J’: Several shell holes in both inner engines nacells [sic] and in fuselage hit by heavy flak over target.]

    Once I'm done posting up details for 31 March 1945, I'll have a look back at escort squadron ORBs for other references to ME 262s. :bandit:


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  16. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Attached Files:

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  17. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    Thank you, that’s brilliant! There are some combat reports in the on-line Canadian archives, it would be great if that crew submitted one. I’ll have a look tomorrow.

    Is there an explanation of the codes in the “Damaged by Fighters” column? (AC)? 1d and 1e?

    It’s interesting that 6 Group suffered more heavily from damage owing to flak as well as to the fighters.


  18. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member

    Yes, PA226 "H" had an exciting day!!

    No. 429 Squadron R.C.A.F. (AIR27/1854/6)

    Lancaster III “H” PA226 (Can.J.41441 F/O S.F. Avis Captain)

    Took off 0608; Back down 1224: HAMBURG. Attacked primary at 0905.2 hrs from 19,000 ft heading 029 deg. true at 165 TAS. 10/10th cloud, tops 10-12,000 ft. fair visibility above. Bombed one red smoke puff which still remained. M/B had left before arrival. Nothing could be seen of the target. A very uncertain effort which could not have been good. 1 x 500 lb. bomb was hung up and jettisoned safe at 5405N 0430E at 1039 hrs from 12,000 ft.

    Aircraft was attacked 4 times in the target area by enemy fighters. Three ME262’s attacked at 0903 hrs. Corkscrew was ordered and both gunners opened fire. Two E/A/C/ broke away but one followed through and fired, damaging the M/U turret. At 0904 hrs another ME262 attacked. Both gunners opened fire as did the ME262. It then broke away at 150 yards. At 1908 hrs still another ME262 attacked and at 800 yds opened fire and gunners gave corkscrew port. At 600 yds both gunners fired until the ME262 broke away to port, up. Another attack ensued at 0910 when a ME262 came in from astern below. Corkscrew was ordered and the fighter opened fire. Both gunners fired at 600 yards and the fighter broke away at 75 yards. It destroyed the starboard aileron and left a large hole in the starboard wing. No one was injured. No claims are made from any of these attacks. The bomb load was the same as aircraft “C” ref. P.1.

    The Combat Reports are on-line here: Royal Canadian Air Force operations record book... - Héritage

    Unfortunately they are not great copies:

    C-12304 - 649 - 429 Sqn RCAF - Mar 45 ORB.JPG
    C-12304 - 650 - 429 Sqn RCAF - Mar 45 ORB.JPG
    C-12304 - 651 - 429 Sqn RCAF - Mar 45 ORB.JPG
    C-12304 - 652 - 429 Sqn RCAF - Mar 45 ORB.JPG


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  19. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    Buchner wrote that he was at the bomber formation around 0900h. That suggests at least the suspicion that PA 226 has made acquaintance with the entire III./JG 7 from Parchim.
    As an air war nerd such seemingly small details are very interesting for me, because they lift the veil over the attack techniques of the jets.
    And even if my honors for your efforts seem a bit inflationary by now, Tom:
    Thanks again - once more!

  20. Tom OBrien

    Tom OBrien Senior Member


    And a little more from another of the escorting Mustang squadron's records:

    No. 165 (Ceylon) Squadron R.A.F. (AIR27/1087/67)

    31 March 1945 BENTWATERS

    Eleven operation sorties were flown by the Squadron as escort to 459 heavy bombers which were attacking enemy submarine pens at HAMBURG. The bombing was not observed by our pilots due to cloud over target. It was noticed, however, that this cloud was “humped” over the target. Four Me.262s were seen in the target area. F/Lt Richardson dived at one of them but unfortunately, lost it in cloud at 10,000 feet. There was intense heavy and accurate flak over the target. Weather was slightly hazy and there were patches of cloud en route.


    Ramrod 1523 – 459 heavies to HAMBURG

    [Aircraft were Mustang III (only 10 noted on Form 541]

    The Squadron provided escort to a force of 459 heavy bombers (Lancasters and Halifaxes). The purpose of the mission was to bomb U-Boat pens at HAMBURG. Pilots did not observe bombing as the target was obscured by thick cloud. Intense heavy and accurate flak was encountered over the target area. Four Me.262s were seen in the target area. One pilot dived at one of the machines but it was lost in cloud at 10,000 feet. Weather was hazy, cloud was patchy en route.



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