Operation Catechism was the last of nine attempts to sink or sabotage the Kriegsmarine battleship Tirpitz during the Second World War. On 12 November 1944, RAF Bomber Command dispatched 30 Avro Lancaster heavy bombers from No. 9 Squadron RAF and No. 617 Squadron RAF (including a film unit aircraft from No. 463 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force) from RAF Lossiemouth to the Tirpitz's mooring in Tromsø, Norway. Each bomber carried a single 5-ton Tallboy bomb. At least two bombs hit the Tirpitz, which suffered a violent internal explosion. The battleship capsized and remained bottom upwards. Approximately 1,000 of the 1,900 men on board were killed or injured and one No. 9 Squadron RAF Lancaster was severely damaged by flak; it landed safely in neutral Sweden with its crew unhurt. The final sinking of the battleship Tirpitz is attributable to 617 Squadron and the bomb dropped by the Commanding Officer, Group Captain Willie Tait. On 12 November 2009 the attack was re-enacted in a competition between No. 9 and 617 Squadrons at Wainfleet Air Weapons Range, again 617 Squadron proved to be victorious.
The destruction of the Tirpitz meant that the threat from German surface ship attack against the Allied Arctic convoys supplying the Soviet Union was considerably lessened, and several British capital ships could therefore be moved from the Atlantic to support the war in the Pacific.
References and notes
- "Tirpitz, November 12, 1944". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/tirpitz.html. Retrieved 2007-05-24.
- "Campaign Diary". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/nov44.html. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- Operation "Catechism" - Bismarck-class.dk
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