Heroes & Villains
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Transcript: Source1

Extracts from secret reports to Bomber Command headquarters on the attack on Dresden, 14 February 1945
(Catalogue ref: AIR 14/3080)

Source 1a

FROM HEADQUARTERS. PATHFINDER FORCE (NO.8 GROUP) 1020A
TO HEADQUARTERS, BOMBER COMMAND – A.M. (WAR ROOM) – 100 GROUP
SECRET QQXBT

SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS NO 899 NIGHT 13/14 FEBRUARY 1945

(I) TARGET DRESDEN (2ND ATTACK) T.O.T.0121 HRS TO 0745 HRS.
(MARKING FOR 1 AND 3 GROUPS)

(II) A/C DETAILED 61 LANCS (45 MARKERS 16 NON-MARKERS)

(III) TOOK OFF 61 LANCS

(IV) SUCCESSFUL ‘A’ 59 LANCS

(V) ABORTIVE N.O.E.T. 1 LANC

(VI) MISSING 1 LANC

(X) WEATHER-

    Clear to 4/10ths cloud with smoke from previous attack. On approach to the target large fires were visible from the previous attack and despite illuminating flares the smoke from these fires made it impossible to identify the aiming point with certainty. The master bomber therefore instructed the blind markers to drop their green T.I. and after assessing these ordered the main force to overshoot them by 2 secs. Later bombing was directed on to red T.I. and finally the centre of the fires. Bombing was very well concentrated with some tendency to undershoot the area, covered by the first attack. A large area of fires was left burning visible for many miles on the return journey and all crews were enthusiastic at results achieved.

DEFENCES
    Slight H.F. No fighter activity.

Source 1b

FROM HG 3 GROUP 141015A
INFO HQ NO’S 8 100 GROUPS

SECRET QQX BT

AI/458 SECRET 14/FEB.

SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS NIGHT 13/14 FEBRUARY.

PRIMARY TARGET. DRESDEN 0125-55

1 . 169 DETAILED
  7 WITHDRAWN
  148 ATTACKED PRIMARY TARGET
  1 ATTACKED LAST RESORT TARGET
  9 ABORTIVE
  3 MISSING
  1 OUTSTANDING (JUVINCOURT).

Clear patch over target with good visibility made visual identification of town and river possible, aided by fires from earlier attack. Both red and green markers were clearly seen and reported generally well placed with one or two scattered. Bombing was ably controlled by the master bomber who gave good and clear instructions directing bombing on markers or fires.

Many new fires were stared and the whole city, particularly the old town south of the river, is reported well ablaze towards the end of the attack with a number of smaller fires in other parts of the town.

Several large explosions were reported and one particularly large fire just east of marshalling yards, giving off much black smoke.

Smoke was reported up to 15,000 ft and all crews report and excellent attack with fires visible for 100 miles. Flak was right and no S/L’s were reported. There was slight fighter activity, and two combats were reported.

Missing aircraft X/186, D/115, J/218 bomb load included in total. One aircraft attacked last report Chimnitz, dropping 1X500 AM.M64 and 10 No 15 clusters.

Source 1c

FROM HEADQUARTERS NO XQ GROUP 141440A

TO HQBC AIR MINISTRY WAR ROOM
INFO HQ NOS 5 7 8 100 GROUPS
SECRET QQX BT

A1595 14/FEB.

NO 1 GROUP SUMMARY OF OPERATIONS NIGHT 13/14TH FEBRUARY, 1945

TARGET – DRESDEN

DETAILED 265 LANCASTERS (INCLUDING 15 GROUP PHOTOGRAPHIC A/C)
TOOK OFF 261 LANCASTERS (INCLUDING 15 GROUP PHOTOGRAPHIC A/C)
SUCCESSFUL A 244 LANCASTERS (INCLUDING 15 GROUP PHOTOGRAPHIC A/C)
SUCCESSFUL B 1 LANCASTERS (INCLUDING 15 GROUP PHOTOGRAPHIC A/C)
ABORTIVE N.O.E.T. 10 LANCASTERS (INCLUDING 15 GROUP PHOTOGRAPHIC A/C)
MISSING 4 LANCASTERS (INCLUDING 15 GROUP PHOTOGRAPHIC A/C)
OUTSTANDING 2 LANCASTERS (INCLUDING 15 GROUP PHOTOGRAPHIC A/C)

SUCCESSFUL A. T.O.T. 0123 – 0152 HRS. 14,500 – 20,000 FT.

Weather en route was clear until approximately 3 degrees east where a front was passed with cloud tops to 16,000 ft. From this point until 12 degrees east there were large areas of broken cloud with tops to 12-18000 ft. Here the cloud dispersed entirely and conditions were again clear when the target was reached. Although there was a thick bank of cloud with tops to 8000 ft. just to the east.

Crews report that the results of 5 Group’s attack were visible 20 minutes flying time from the target, and supporting aircraft bombing before the main attack commenced reported that the fires by 5 Group were still burning well and that the main concentration was situated in the area south of the River Elbe between the marshalling yard and our aiming point with a few smaller fires burning to the north. The marking commencedxcpunctually with illuminating AX flares which were reported as being hardly necessary as the built up area was clearly visible in the light of fires. Green T.I.S. were dropped and at the commencement the master bomber’s instructions were to overshoot these markers by two seconds. Later the master bomber instructed crews to bomb the red T.I.S. which had been dropped in the centre of fires. Towards the end of the attack the fires had reached such intensity that it became difficult to distinguish the markers, and the controller’s final instructions which were given from 0142 onwards were to bomb the centre of the fires. By the end of the attack the whole built up area to the south of the river was a mass of fires with another smaller area to the north. There are only a few reports of incendiaries being dropped short. Among several explosions a particularly impressive one at 0137 hours is reported. All reports indicate a most successful attack and some crews compare it favourably with that on Nuremburg on the night 2/3rd January. The results of the attack were clearly visible for over 100 miles on the return journey. Ground defences were very weak with only a small amount of heavy flak and no searchlights. One aircraft sustained damage from heavy flak in the target area and 3 other aircraft which strayed off track on return sustained damage from heavy flak, one at Augsburg, one at Nuremburg and the third at Stuttgart. There was little evidence of enemy night fighter activity and only 3 of our aircraft were engaged in combat, one with a single engined aircraft in the target area which did not return fire, one with a JU.88 near Nordlingen on return and the third with an ME.410 south west of Stuttgart. In each of the two latter our aircraft claim strikes on the enemy aircraft, which returned fire. No damage was sustained by our aircraft. In the combat with the JU.88 the pilot momentarily lost control of our A/C and gave orders to abandon. Before he could regain control the M/U/G had baled out.