Bombers Over Berlin
William Kimber.......... by Alan Cooper.........ISBN
Alan Cooper examines the 16 raids on Berlin during the winter of 1943/4 which became known as the 'Battle of Berlin.
I can add little or nothing to the words of former Bomber Command airman Ken Batchelor whose words are reprinted below.
Berlin, 'The Big City' as it was always known to the crews of Bomber Command was a prime target, not only containing the seat of government and it's ministries, but also home to a wide variety of war production industries. 25% of the army's tanks were built in Berlin along with 50% of it's field artillery. There were also the massive factories of Siemens, AEG and BMW.
|This book gives a
series of short, but graphic accounts of the trials and
tribulations of the bomber crews involved, their stories,
derived from their own post raid reports and a great
number of interviews with the survivors. They give an
authentic picture of what crews went through in raids on
many other targets during WWII.
Bombers over Berlin is unique in it's compilations of such a large number of personal anecdotes covering the hazards of sustained fighter and flak attacks, nursing crippled aircraft, bailing out, ditching and crashing. The weather could also intervene with with fog on return and icing of guns at critical moments.
The Battle of Berlin cost Bomber Command over 560 bombers (including 70 which crashed on return) and 3,000 aircrew.
Post war, german reports revealed the wholesale destruction wrought and the telling effects of the dislocation of services, industries and communications.
"I can vouch for the Berlin receptions, having flown there three times in a twin engined bomber in 1941 at half the height that foue engined bombers were able to achieve.Being coned by searchlights across that huge city, while the natives filled the apex with ironmongery was only to be expected"
We tend to forget that the combined British and American bomber offensive forced the Germans to man their fighter, flak and searchlight defences with over 1,000,000 able-bodied men who might otherwise have been deployed in their armies and war industries. Another 1,500,000 were required for air raid precautions and the skilled repair of industrial damage in places like Berlin. Those Berlin raids stirred up hornet's nests both there and all along the routes to and from the targets. Routes were rarely direct, sometimes approaching over Denmark, the Baltic and back out south across France
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