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Bombing of Bremen
Part of Strategic bombing during World War II
U-Boat Pen Grand Slammed.jpg
U-bootbunker Valentin, a U-boat shelter built on the River Weser, after RAF bombing March 1945.
Western Allies (USAAF, RAF) Germany

The Bombing of Bremen in World War II by the British Royal Air Force and US Eighth Air Force targeted strategic targets in the state Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, which had heavy anti-aircraft artillery but only 35 fighter aircraft in the area.[1]:186 In addition to Wesermünde/Bremerhaven, targets were also in Farge and Vegesack. Bremen also included concentration camps such as Bremen-Farge and Bremen-Vegesack. The city of Bremen was captured in April 1945.

Targets in Bremen during World War II
Atlas Werke shipbuilding company

Bremen-Oslebshausen railway station
Bremer Vulkan shipyard
DeSchiMAG (AG Weser) shipyard
Focke-Wulf aircraft factory
Borgward motor transport plants
Korff AG oil refinery[2]
Norddeutsche Hütte AG steel mill
Valentin submarine pens, - protective shelters built for building U-boats

In June 1942, Bremen was the target for the RAF's third "thousand bomber raid".[3]

Timeline of bombing raids

Bombing of Bremen during World War II
Date Bomber Command Notes
May 17/18, 1940 RAFRAF roundel.svg 24 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers attacked Bremen oil installations.
December 21/22, 1940 RAF No. 15 Squadron RAF used converted Wellingtons for the first time to bomb the dockyards at Bremen[4]
1941-01-01January 1/2 2/3 3/4, 1941 RAF 141 aircraft bombed the aircraft factory in the south of the city. Smaller Bremen attacks are made on the following 2 nights.[5]
1941-03-12March 12/13, 1941 RAF Heavy bombing raids were conducted on Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin
1941-07-04July 4, 1941 RAF 12 Bristol Blenheim bombed an aircraft factory and a minesweeper.[6]
January 17/18, 1942 RAF 8 of 83 dispatched aircraft bombed the primary target at Bremen. Some of the aircraft attacking alternative targets reached Hamburg, which reports 11 fires and casualties of 5 dead and 12 injured. 3 Wellingtons were lost and 1 Stirling crashed England after being fired at and damaged by a British convoy.
January 21/22, 1942 RAF During the Bremen raid, Wing Commander Ken Wallis experimented with marker flares later used by Pathfinder Forces (PFF).[7]
1942-04-08April 8/9, 1942 RAF Following a Hamburg raid, Bremen reports a load of incendiaries dropped very accurately on the Bremer Vulkan shipyard where 4 U-boats and several surrounding buildings were damaged by fire.
1942-06-04June 3/4, 1942 RAF 170 aircraft attacked on the first large raid to Bremen since October 1941. 11 aircraft - 4 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 2 Stirlings, 1 Manchester - lost. Bremen recorded this as a heavy attack, the results of which exceeded all previous raids. Housing areas were heavily hit with 6 streets affected by serious fires. Damage to the U-boat construction yards and the Focke-Wulf factory is described as 'of no importance' but there were hits in the harbour area which damaged a pier, some warehouses and the destroyer Z-25.[Clarification needed] 83 people dead, 29 seriously and 229 slightly injured (Bremen's third heaviest casualty toll in the war).
1942-06-26June 25/26, 1942 RAF Using every available aircraft in RAF Bomber Command and some of other commands, a thousand bomber raid was mounted against Bremen. 1,067 aircraft (472 Wellingtons, 124 Halifaxes, 96 Lancasters, 69 Stirlings, 51 Blenheims, 50 Hampdens, 50 Whitleys, 24 Bostons, 20 Manchesters and 4 Mosquitos), 102 Hudsons and Wellingtons of RAF Coastal Command, and 5 RAF Army Cooperation Command. Those of No. 5 Group RAF - 142 aircraft – bombed the Focke-Wulf factory; 20 Blenheims were allocated to the AG Weser shipyard; the RAF Coastal Command aircraft were to bomb the DeSchiMAG shipyard; all other aircraft were to carry out an area attack on the "town and docks". The limited success was entirely due to the use of GEE, which enabled the leading crews to start marker fires through the cloud cover. 696 Bomber Command aircraft were able to claim attacks on Bremen.
572 houses were completely destroyed and 6,108 damaged. 85 people were killed, 497 injured and 2,378 bombed out. At the Focke-Wulf factory, an assembly shop was completely flattened, 6 buildings were seriously damaged and 11 buildings lightly so. The Atlas Werke, the Bremer Vulkan shipyard, the Norddeutsche Hütte, the Korff refinery, and two large dockside warehouses were also damaged. 48 Bomber Command aircraft were lost (a new record[Clarification needed] 5% of those dispatched), including 4 which came down in the sea near England from which all but 2 crew members were rescued. This time, the heaviest casualties were suffered by the OTUs of No. 91 Group RAF, which lost 23 of the 198 Whitleys and Wellingtons provided by that group, a loss of 11.6 per cent. 5 of the 102 Coastal Command aircraft were also lost.
1942-06-28June 27/28, 1942 RAF 144 aircraft - 55 Wellingtons, 39 Halifaxes, 26 Stirlings, 24 Lancasters. 9 aircraft - 4 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes, 2 Lancasters, 1 Stirling - lost. 119 aircraft bombed blindly through cloud after obtaining GEE fixes. Bremen records that two of the large firms hit in the recent Thousand raid - the Atlas Werke and the Korff refinery - were damaged again, as well as several smaller firms and dockside warehouses. A hospital and an unrecorded number of houses were also hit. Seven people were killed and eighty injured.
November 19, 1942 Bremen was added to the USAAF target list.[8]
1943-04-17April 17, 1943 VIII8th Air Force.png Mission Number 52:[3] 115 B-17's were dispatched on the Eighth Air Force's largest mission to that date. 63-15-17 Luftwaffe aircraft claimed; 15 B-17s downed by fighters, 1 by flak, 39 damaged; 2 killed in action, 4 wounded in action and 159 missing in action. Bombs destroyed at least half of the Focke-Wulf factory buildings.[9]
1943-10-08October 8, 1943 VIII The 381st Bombardment Group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance for bombing the Bremen shipyards accurately in spite of persistent Luftwaffe fighter attacks and extremely heavy and accurate flak.[4][5] One B-17 had two bombs that failed to release and received a flak hit which caused them to explode (8 KIA, 2 POW).[6] 30 bombers were lost.[1]:280
1943-11-17November 13, 1943 VIII Mission 130: 79 of 159 B-17's, 61 of 109 B-24's and 3 of 4 B-17 PFF aircraft hit the port area at Bremen and targets of opportunity in the Kiel-Flensburg area at 1120–1145 hours; 100+ aircraft abort the mission due to weather; they claim 20-14-13 Luftwaffe aircraft; 3 B-17's and 13 B-24's are lost; 3 B-17's and 3 B-24's are damaged beyond repair and 12 B-17's and 10 B-24's are damaged; casualties are 21 KIA, 26 WIA and 162 MIA. The bombers are escorted by 45 P-38's (all the way to the target) and 345 P-47's; they claim 10-3-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; 7 P-38's and 3 P-47's are lost; 2 P-38's are damaged beyond repair; 5 P-38's and 2 P-47's are damaged; casualties are 9 MIA.
1943-11-26November 26, 1943 VIII Mission 138: 350 of 390 B-17's, 77 of 101 B-24's and 13 of 14 B-17 PFF aircraft attack the port area of Bremen at 1145–1228 hours; they claim 16-3-10 Luftwaffe aircraft; 22 B-17's and 3 B-24's are lost; 3 B-17's and 1 B-24 are damaged beyond repair and 139 B-17's, 19 B-24's and 7 PFF B-17's are damaged; casualties are 10 KIA, 35 WIA and 215 MIA.
1943-11-29November 29, 1943 VIII Mission 140: 154 of 360 B-17's hit the port of Bremen and targets of opportunity in the area at 1429–1450 hours; unfavorable cloud conditions and malfunction of blindbombing equipment cause 200+ B-17's to abort; they claim 15-11-10 Luftwaffe aircraft; 13 B-17's are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 43 damaged; casualties are 2 KIA, 13 WIA and 131 MIA. The B-17's are escorted by 38 P-38's and 314 P-47's; they claim 15-4-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; 7 P-38's and 9 P-47's are lost; 1 P-47 is damage beyond repair and another damaged; casualties are 1 WIA and 16 MIA.
1944-06-18June 18, 1944 VIII Mission 421: 18 B-17 Flying Fortresses hit Bremen-Oslebshausen; 107 B-24 Liberators bomb Bremerhaven
1944-06-24June 24, 1944 VIII Mission 438: Of 340 B-17s, 213 hit oil industry targets in Bremen, 53 hit an aircraft factory at Wesermünde and 40 attack Bremen; 1 B-17 is lost and 105 damaged; 2 airmen are WIA and 9 MIA. Escort is provided by 6 fighter groups (185 P-38s and 85 P-47s); 1 group strafes an airfield and rail transport in the Munster and Hamm areas and claims 2-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground; no losses.
1944-06-29June 29/30, 1944 RAF 253 aircraft - 108 Wellingtons, 64 Lancasters, 47 Stirlings, 34 Halifaxes - dispatched, the first time that 4-engined bombers provided more than half of the force on a major raid. 11 aircraft - 4 Stirlings, 4 Wellingtons, 3 Halifaxes - were lost. Bremen reported that 48 houses were destroyed and 934 damaged, mostly lightly. Extensive damage occurred in 5 important war industries, including the Focke-Wulf factory and the AG Weser U-boat construction yard, and at the local gasworks, a museum and a merchant-navy college, mostly fire.
1944-07-29July 29, 1944 RAF During Mission 503 to the Bremen/Oslebshausen oil refinery, Torpedo boat T2 (type 35) was bombed and sunk at Bremen
September 16, 1944 VIII As part of Mission 635, P-47s and 149 P-51s bomb and strafe the Bremen area.[8]
1944-09-18September 18/19, 1944 RAF Of a force of 213 dispatched, 208 Lancasters of No. 5 Group and a number of Mosquitoes dropped 863 tons of bombs, including 420,000 4 lb incendiaries, on Bremerhaven, destroying 297 acres of the port's total built up acreage of 375. One Lancaster and one Mosquito were lost[10]
September 26, 1944 VIII As part of Mission 648, 381 B-17s bomb the armoured vehicle factories at Bremen, another 13 bombed Bremerhaven and one hit another target. Of the 420 B-17 sent on the mission four B-17s were lost and 208 damaged. 10 airmen were wounded and a further were 21 were reported as missing in action. The escort was provided by 133 P-51s, one was lost with the pilot reported missing in action and two were damaged beyond repair.[8] Schichau Seebeckwerft Unterseeboot 3509 was damaged during a Bremerhaven bombing raid.[7]
1944-10-12October 12, 1944 VIII Mission 674: 262 Eighth Air Force B-17s bomb two Karl Borgward plants producing armored fighting vehicles and the Focke-Wulf 190 components plant.[11] 267 bombing visually; 1 other hits a target of opportunity; 1 B-17 is lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 59 damaged. 7 airmen are KIA, 1 WIA and 9 MIA. Escort is provided by 273 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 17-2-1 aircraft; 5 P-51s are lost (pilots MIA).[12]
February 24, 1945 VIII As part of Mission 845, 200 B-17s were sent to bomb the Deschimag U-boat yards at Bremen and another 134 to bomb the Bremen W rail bridge. Of the total of 383 sent on the mission one B-17 was lost, one damaged beyond repair and a further 162 damaged; seven airmen were wounded and nine were reported missing in action. The bombers were escorted by 93 P-51s. The fighters claim they destroyed one and damaged three German aircraft on the ground, for the loss of two P-51s with their pilots missing in action.[13]
March 11, 1945 VIII As part of Mission 881, 406 of 413 B-17s bombed the Deschimag U-boat yard at Bremen. Nine B-17s were damaged, and one of the 255 P-51 escorting fighters was lost.[14]
1945-03-27March 27, 1945 RAF 115 Lancasters of No. 5 Group RAF attacked an oil-storage depot (95 aircraft) and a U-boat shelter (20 aircraft of No. 617 Squadron RAF) at Farge. Two Grand Slam bombs penetrated two metres and detonated,[15] which rendered the shelter unusable. No aircraft were lost.
1945-03-30March 30, 1945 VIII 303rd BG (H) Combat Mission No. 348: 38 aircraft were dispatched to bomb Bremen. The submarine building yards were the first priority target[16]

World War II Bombs over Bremen

Bremen mission photo

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Coffey, Thomas M. (1977). "Decision over Schweinfurt: The U.S. 8th Air Force Battle for Daylight Bombing". New York: David McKay Company. pp. p186,280. 
  4. "No. 15 Squadron". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  5. "Campaign Diary". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 
    1940: May-June (Battle of France) July-December June-October (Battle of Britain)
    1941: January-April May-August September- December
    1942: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
    1944: January 1944, February 1944 March 1944, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
    1945 January 1945, February 1945 March 1945, April 1945
  6. [1]
  7. Hancock, Ian (tbd - Fourth Edition). The Lives of Ken Wallis. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-9541239-4-9. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Jack McKillop, U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II:Combat Chronology November 1942,Federal Depository Library Program Electronic Collection of the United States Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "McKillop-September" defined multiple times with different content
  9. [2]
  10. Apocalypse 1945 - Irving, p66
  11. Gurney, Gene (Major, USAF) (1962). "The War in the Air: a pictorial history of World War II Air Forces in combat". New York: Bonanza Books. pp. p220. 
  12. McKillop, Jack. "Combat Chronology of the USAAF". Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
    1942: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
    1943: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
    1944: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
    1945: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September
  13. Jack McKillop, U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II:Combat Chronology February 1945,Federal Depository Library Program Electronic Collection of the United States
  14. Jack McKillop, U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II:Combat Chronology March 1945,Federal Depository Library Program Electronic Collection of the United States
  15. Grube, Christel (February 28, 2006). "Submarine-Valentin, Bremen-Farge". Interessengemeinschaft für historische Militär-, Industrie- und Verkehrsbauten. Retrieved 2008-05-13. 
  16. (PDF)

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