Battle of Berlin (air)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict= Battle of Berlin (Air)
partof= Strategic bombing during World War II


caption=The ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
date= November 18, 1943 - March 31, 1944
place= Berlin, Germany
result= British defeat

cite book |last= |first= |year= |title=The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=lXhnRJsXbGMC&pg=PA339&lpg=PA339&dq=%22the+Battle+of+Berlin+was+more+than+a+failure,+it+was+a+defeat%22&source=web&ots=wb3JtonMcu&sig=yftUyoPaxffJPlFPM6ekue-m3bE&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PPA339,M1 |format=html |accessdate=2008-07-26 |page=p193,206]
combatant1= flagicon|UK RAF Bomber Command
combatant2=
commander1= Arthur Harris (RAF officer)
commander2=
strength1=
strength2=
casualties1= Bomber Command
2,690 crewmen KIA "over Berlin"Clarifyme
nearly 1,000 POW
500 aircraft
casualties2= Nearly 4,000 killed
10,000 injured
450,000 homeless. [Rürup, 11]
notes=
The Battle of Berlin was a British bombing campaign on Berlin from November 1943 to March 1944, as well as other German cities to prevent concentration of defences in Berlin. It was launched by Arthur "Bomber" Harris, AOC of RAF Bomber Command in November 1943. Harris believed this could be the blow which broke German resistance: "It will cost us between 400 and 500 aircraft. It will cost Germany the war." [Grayling, 62 ] By this time he could deploy over 800 long-range bombers on any given night, equipped with new and more sophisticated navigational devices such as H2S radar. Between November 1943 and March 1944 Bomber Command made 16 massed attacks on Berlin.

It is generally accepted that the Battle of Berlin was a failure for the Royal Air Force (RAF) as it was not the knock out blow that Harris had predicted and during the battle, the RAF lost 1,047 bombers, with a further 1,682 damaged, and well over 7,000 aircrew, culminating in the raid on Nuremberg on 30 March 1944, when 94 bombers were shot down and 71 damaged, out of 795 aircraft. [ [http://www.sqa.org.uk/files/nq/c04413_sqp.pdf Advanced Higher History Specimen Question Paper] quotes SOURCE C From Martin Kitchen, A World in Flames, published in 1990] [ [http://www.dambusters.org.uk/harris.htm Dambusters Wartime Personalities:Harris] ] [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/86/a6378186.shtml Battle of Berlin] by AgeConcernShropshire]

There were many other raids on Berlin by the RAF and the USAAF Eighth Air Force in the strategic bombing campaign of 1940–1945 and this is reflected in the RAF battle honour which is for bombardment of Berlin by aircraft of Bomber Command 1940–1945. [ [http://www.raf.mod.uk/history/sqn_hons_ww2_1.html RAF Battle Honours including Berlin 1940-1945] ]

The battle

The first raid of the battle on the night of 18 November – 19 November 1943. Berlin, was the main target, and was attacked by 440 Avro Lancasters and four de Havilland Mosquitos. The city was under cloud and the damage was not severe. The second major raid was on the night of 22 November – 23 November 1943. This was the most effective raid on Berlin by the RAF of the war, causing extensive damage to the residential areas west of the centre, Tiergarten and Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and Spandau. Because of the dry weather conditions, several firestorms ignited. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was destroyed. Several other buildings of note were either damaged or destroyed, including the British, French, Italian and Japanese embassies, Charlottenburg Palace and Berlin Zoo, as were the Ministry of Munitions, the Waffen SS Administrative College, the barracks of the Imperial Guard at Spandau and several arms factories. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/dec43.html RAF Campaign Diary December 1943] ]

On 17 December, extensive damage was done to the Berlin railway system. By this time cumulative effect of the bombing campaign had made more than a quarter of Berlin's total living accommodation unusable. There was another major raid on 28 January - 29 January 1944, when Berlin's western and southern districts were hit in the most concentrated attack of this period. On 15 February – 16 February important war industries were hit, including the large Siemensstadt area, with the centre and south-western districts substaining most of the damage. This was the largest raid by the RAF on Berlin. Raids continued until March 1944. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/jan44.html RAF Campaign Diary January 1944] ] [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/feb44.html RAF Campaign Diary February 1944] ]

These raids caused immense devastation and loss of life in Berlin. The 22 November 1943 raid killed 2,000 Berliners and rendered 175,000 homeless. The following night 1,000 were killed and 100,000 made homeless. During December and January regular raids killed hundreds of people each night and rendered between 20,000 and 80,000 homeless each time. [Grayling, 309-310] Overall nearly 4,000 were killed, 10,000 injured and 450,000 made homeless. [Rürup, 11]

Despite the devastation they caused, however, these raids failed to achieve their objectives. German civilian morale did not break, the city's defences and essential services were maintained, and war production in greater Berlin did not fall: in fact German war production continued to rise until the end of 1944. Area bombing consistently failed to meet its stated objective, which was to win the war by bombing Germany until its economy and civilian morale collapsed.

The 16 raids on Berlin cost Bomber Command more than 500 aircraft, with their crews killed or captured, which was a loss rate of 5.8%, well above the 5% threshold that was considered the maximum sustainable operational loss rate by the RAF. [Grayling, Page 332, footnote 58] Daniel Oakman makes the point that "Bomber Command lost 2,690 men over Berlin, and nearly 1,000 more became prisoners of war. Of Bomber Command’s total losses for the war, around seven per cent were incurred during the Berlin raids. In December 1943, for example, 11 crews from No. 460 Squadron RAAF alone were lost in operations against Berlin; and in January and February, another 14 crews were killed. Having 25 aircraft destroyed meant that the fighting force of the squadron had to be replaced in three months. At these rates Bomber Command would have been wiped out before Berlin." Daniel Oakman " [http://www.awm.gov.au/wartime/25/article.asp Wartime Magazine: The battle of Berlin] " on the Australian War Memorial website]

Although the Battle of Berlin, as part of the Bomber Command strategic bombing campaign, did serve to divert German military resources away from the land war, and had an economic effect — in terms of both physical damage and worker fatalities and injuries, and through the enforced requirement to relocate and fortify industrial buildings and other infrastructure in an effort to protect it from Allied attacks — it is generally accepted that the battle was a failure for the RAF, in the sense that the bombing Berlin did not did force the eventual German capitulation (as Harris and other had hoped); and in words of the official RAF history "in an operational sense the Battle of Berlin was more than a failure, it was a defeat".

Battle timeline

# Night of 18 November /19 November 1943: Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 440 Avro Lancasters and 4 de Havilland Mosquitos. They bombed the city, which was under cloud. Diversionary raids on Mannheim and Ludwigshafen by 395 other aircraft. Mosquitos attacked several other towns. In all 884 sorties, 32 aircraft (3.6%) lost. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/nov43.html RAF Campaign Diary DNovember 1943] ]
#* Night of 19 November / 20 November 1943: Leverkusen was the main target. A number of other towns were bombed.
# Night of 22 November / 23 November 1943: Berlin the main target. 469 Lancasters, 234 Handley Page Halifaxes, 50 Short Stirlings, 11 Mosquitos. Total 764 aircraft. 26 aircraft lost, 3.4% of the force. This was the most effective raid on Berlin of the war. Most of the damage was to the residential areas west of the centre,Tiergarten and Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and Spandau. Because of the dry weather conditions, several 'firestorms' ignited. 175,000 people were made homeless and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church ("Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche") was destroyed. The ruins of the old church are now a monument to the horrors of war. Several other buildings of note were either damaged or destroyed, including the British, French, Italian and Japanese embassies, Charlottenburg Castle and Berlin Zoo. Also the Ministry of Weapons and Munitions, the Waffen SS Administrative College, the barracks of the Imperial Guard at Spandau, as well as several factories employed in the manufacture of material for the armed forces.
# Night of 23 November / 24 November 1943: Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 365 Lancasters, 10 Halifaxes, 8 Mosquitos (383 aircraft).
#* Night of 24 November / 25 November 1943: Berlin, in a small raid, was attacked by 6 Mosquitos (1 lost). The only other action that night was 9 Vickers Wellingtons dropping leaflets in France.
#*Night of 25 November / 26 November 1943: Frankfurt the main target. Also 3 Mosquitos to Berlin and other aircraft to other targets.
# Night of 26 November / 27 November 1943: Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 443 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos. Most of the damage in Berlin was in the semi-industrial suburb of Reinickendorf. Stuttgart was a diversion, attacked by 84 aircraft. The total sorties for the night was 666 with 34 aircraft (5.1%) lost.
#* Night of 28 November / 29 November 1943: Essen, in small raid, was attacked by 10 Mosquitos.
#* Night of 29 November / 30 November 1943: Bochum, Cologne and Düsseldorf, attacked by 21 Mosquitos.
#* Night of 30 November / 1 December 1943: Essen, in small raid, attacked by 4 Mosquitos.
#* Night of 1 December / 2 December 1943: only minelaying.
# Night of 2 December / 3 December 1943: Berlin, the main target, was attacked by 425 Lancasters, 18 Mosquitos, 15 Halifaxes. The Germans correctly identified that Berlin was the target. Unexpected cross winds had scattered the bomber formations and so German fighters shot down a total of 40 bombers — 37 Lancasters, 2 Halifaxes, 1 Mosquito (8.7% of the force). Due to the cross winds the bombing was inaccurate and to the south of the city, but two more of the Siemens factories, a ball-bearing factory and several railway installations were damaged.
#* Night of 3 December / 4 December 1943: Leipzig, the main target, was attacked by 307 Lancasters, 220 Halifaxes (527 aircraft).
#* Night of 4 December / 5 December 1943: Duisburg attacked by 9 Mosquitos.
#* Night of 10 December / 11 December 1943: Leverkusen attacked by 25 Mosquitos.
#* Night of 11 December / 12 December 1943: Duisburg attacked by 18 Mosquitos.
#* Night of 12 December / 13 December 1943: Essen attacked by 18 Mosquitos and Düsseldorf by 9 more.
#* Night of 15 December / 16 December 1943: 16 Mosquitos to Düsseldorf.
# Night of 16 December / 17 December 1943: Berlin was the main target. It was attacked by 483 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos. German night fighters were successfully directed to intercept the bombers. 25 Lancasters, 5.2% of the Lancaster force, were lost over enemy occupied territory, with a further 29 aircraft lost on landing in England due to very low cloud. The damage to the Berlin railway system was extensive. 1000 wagon-loads of war material destined for the Eastern Front were held up for 6 days. The National Theatre and the building housing Germany's military and political archives were both destroyed. The cumulative effect of the bombing campaign had now made more than a quarter of Berlin's total living accommodation unusable. 2 Beaufighters and 2 Mosquitos of No. 141 Squadron RAF using Serrate radar detector managed to damage a Me 110, the first time these hunter killers had been on a successful Serrate patrol. On the same night there was other raid on Tilley-le-Haut and Flixecourt, 2 flying-bomb sites near Abbeville. The raid failed to destroy the sites and no aircraft were lost.
#* Night of 19 December / 20 December 1943: leafleting over French towns without loss
#* Night of 20 December / 21 December 1943: Frankfurt was the main target. It was attacked by 390 Lancasters, 257 Halifaxes, 3 Mosquitos (650 aircraft). German night fighters were successful in intercepting the bomber stream. 27 Halifaxes, 14 Lancasters were lost, 6.3% of the force. Damage was more than the RAF at the time thought because they knew that the Germans had managed to light decoy fires which were partially successful. There was also a decoy raid on Mannheim by a further 54 aircraft and a precision attack by 8 Lancasters of 617 Squadron and 8 Pathfinder Mosquitos on an armaments factory near Liege which failed to hit its target.
#* Night of 21 December / 22 December 1943: Mannesmann factory at Düsseldorf attacked by 9 Mosquitos and a number of other small raids.
#* Night of 22 December / 23 December 1943: 51 aircraft attacked 2 flying-bomb sites between Abbeville and Amiens. One was destroyed, but the other was not located. 2 small Mosquitos raids on Frankfurt and Bonn.
# Night of 23 December / 24 December 1943: Berlin was attacked by 364 Lancasters, 8 Mosquitos and 7 Halifaxes. German fighters encountered difficulty with the weather and were able to shoot down only 16 Lancasters, 4.2% of the force. Damage to Berlin was relatively small. Several other German towns were attacked by Mosquitos.
#* Night of 24 December / 25 December 1943: there was only mine laying.
# Night of 28 December / 29 December 1943: Berlin was the main target. 457 Lancasters, 252 Halifaxes and 3 Mosquitos (712 aircraft), RAF losses were light, at 2.8% of the force. Heavy cloud cover frustrated the RAF and damage was light.
#* Night of 30 December / 31 December 1943: 10 Lancasters of 617 Squadron and 6 Pathfinder Mosquitos failed to destroy a V1 site.
#* Night of 31 December 1943/1 January 1944: there was only mine laying.
# Night of 1 January / 2 January 1944: Berlin was the main target. 421 Lancasters despatched to Berlin. German night fighters were effective and 6.7% of the bombers were shot down. A small raid on Hamburg by 15 Mosquitos and smaller raids on other towns did not divert the night fighrers.
# Night of 2 January / 3 January 1944: Berlin was the main target. 362 Lancasters, 12 Mosquitos, 9 Halifaxes (383 aircraft). The night fighters did not catch up to the Bombers until they were over Berlin and managed to shoot down 27 Lancasters, 10% of the force. There were minor raids on other cities.
#* Night of 3 January / 4 January 1944: Solingen and Essen attacked by 8 Mosquitos. No losses.
#* Night of 4 January / 5 January 1944: Two flying bomb sites attacked effectively by 80 aircraft. Small raid on Berlin by 13 Mosquitos. Other small raids on other targets. Also Special Operations flights flown to deliver supplies and agents to resistance forces.
#* Night of 5 January / 6 January 1944: Stettin main target for the first times since September 1941. Attacked by 348 Lancasters and 10 Halifaxes. A diversionary raid by 13 Mosquitos on Berlin and 25 to four other targets fooled the German night fighters and RAF losses were only 16 aircraft lost, 4.5% of the force.
#* Night of 6 January / 7 January 1944: Small raids on Duisburg, Bristillerie, Dortmund and Solingen by 19 Mosquitos.
#* Night of 7 January / 8 January 1944: Small raids on Krefeld and Duisbur by 11 Mosquitos. 10 men were killed when an SOE support flight crashed shortly after takeoff.
#* Night of 8 January / 9 January 1944: Small raids on Frankfurt, Solingen, Aachen and Dortmund by 23 Mosquitos. 2 aircraft were lost.
#* Night of 10 January / 11 January 1944: Small raids on Berlin, Solingen, Koblenz and Krefeld by 20 Mosquitos. No aircraft were lost.
#* Night of 13 January / 14 January 1944: Small raids on Essen, Duisburg, Aachen, and Koblenz by 25 Mosquitos. One aircraft was lost.
#* Night of 14 January / 15 January 1944: Major raid on Brunswick, the first of the war, by 496 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes. 38 Lancasters were lost to effective night fighter attacks. 11 of the lost aircraft were Pathfinders so the targeting of the city was poor. German authorities reported only 10 houses destroyed and 14 people killed in Brunswick with some further damage and loss of life in villages to the south of the town. 82 aircraft attacked flying bomb sites at Ailly,Bonneton and Bristillerie without loss. 17 Mosquitos launced small raids on Magdeburg and Berlin.
# Night of 20 January / 21 January 1944: Berlin was the main target. 495 Lancasters, 264 Halifaxes, 10 Mosquitos (769 aircraft) despatched to Berlin. Night fighter attacks were pressed home successfully. 22 Halifaxes and 13 Lancasters were lost, 4.6% of the force. The damage could not be assessed due to low cloud cover the next day.
#* Night of 21 January / 22 January 1944: Magdeburg main target. Its first major raid of the war.
#*...
# Night of 27 January / 28 January 1944: Berlin was the main target. 515 Lancasters and 15 Mosquitos (530 aircraft) despatched to Berlin. The RAF records state that the bombing appeared to have been spread well up and down wind. The diversionary raids were only partially successful in diverting German night fighters because 33 Lancasters were lost, which was 6.4 per cent of the heavy force. A further 167 sorties were flown against other targets, with one aircraft lost.
# Night of 28 January / 29 January 1944:Berlin was the main target. 432 Lancasters, 241 Halifaxes, 4 Mosquitos (677 aircraft) despatched to Berlin. Western and Southern districts, covered by partial cloud, were hit in what the RAF recordes state was the most concentrated attack of this period. German records record do not fully support this mentioning that were 77 places outside the city were hit. A deception raids and routing over Northern Denmark did not prevent the German air defences shooting down 46 aircraft, 6.8 per cent of the force. Just over 100 other aircraft attacked a number of other targets.
#* Night of 29 January / 30 January 1944: Small raids on Duisburg and Herbouville flying-bomb site, by a total of 22 Mosquitos. No aircraft were lost.
# Night of 30 January / 31 January 1944: Berlin was the main target. 440 Lancasters, 82 Halifaxes, 12 Mosquitos (534 aircraft), despatched to Berlin. There RAF losses were 33 aircraft, 6.2% of the total. A further 76 sorties were flown against other targets, with no aircraft lost.
#*...
# Night of 15 February / 16 February 1944: Berlin main target. 561 Lancasters, 314 Halifaxes, 16 Mosquitos (891 aircraft), despatched to Berlin. Despite cloud cover most important war industries were hit, including the large Siemensstadt area, with the centre and south-western districts substaining most of the damage. This was the largest raid by the RAF on Berlin. A diversionary raid 24 Lancasters of No. 8 Group on Frankfurt-on-the-Oder failed to confuse the Germans and the RAF lost 43 aircraft - 26 Lancasters, 17 Halifaxes which was 4.8 per cent of the force. A further 155 sorties were flown against other targets.
#*...
# Night of 24 March / 25 March 1944: Berlin main target. The bomber stream was scattered and those which reached Berlin bombed well out to the south-west of the city. The RAF lost 72 aircraft, 8.9% of the attacking force. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/mar44.html RAF Campaign Diary March 1944] ]
#*...
#* Night of 30 March / 31 March 1944 Nuremberg, the main target was attacked by 572 Lancasters, 214 Halifaxes and 9 Mosquitos (795 aircraft). The Germans correctly identified that Nuremberg was the target. The first fighters appeared just before the bombers reached the Belgian border and over the next hour 82 bombers were lost on the approaches to Nuremberg. Another 13 bombers were shot down by the Germans on the return flight. In all the RAF lost 11.9% of the force dispatched. It was the biggest RAF Bomber Command loss of the war and ended the Battle of Berlin. It was during this final raid that Pilot Officer Cyril Barton, a Halifax pilot of 578 Squadron, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

ee also

*Flakturm
*The Berlin Raids (book)

Notes

References

*cite book | last = Grayling | first = A. C. | authorlink = A. C. Grayling | year = 2006
chapter = | title = Among the Dead Cities | publisher = Bloomsbury | location = London | id = ISBN 978-0-7475-7671-6

*cite book | last = Rürup | first = Reinhard | authorlink = Reinhard Rürup | year = 1995 | chapter = | edition= 3. revised Edition 2003 | title = Berlin 1945: A Documentation | publisher = Verlag Willmuth Arenhövel | location = Berlin | id = ISBN 3-922912-33-8
*cite book| last = Taylor| first = Frederick | authorlink = Frederick Taylor | year = 2004 | chapter = | edition= Paperback 2005 | title = Dresden: Tuesday 13 February 1945 | publisher = Bloomsbury | location = London | id = ISBN 0-7475-7084-1
*Staff. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/nov43.html November 1943] , Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary, Retrieved 2008-07-27
*Staff. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/dec43.html December 1943] , Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary, Retrieved 2008-07-27
*Staff. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/jan44.html January 1944] , Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary, Retrieved 2008-07-27
*Staff. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/feb44.html February 1944] , Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary, Retrieved 2008-07-27
*Staff. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/mar44.html March 1944] , Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary, Retrieved 2008-07-27
*Staff. [http://www.raf.mod.uk/history%5Fold/sqn_hons_ww2_1.html RAF Battle Honours including Berlin 1940-1945] , Retrieved 2008-07-27

Further reading

* [http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=wehrwulf1945 Available parts of the film ASCHE-DEUTSCHLAND-1945 to view (on the destruction of Dresden and other German cities)]

* Joseph Goebbels, a contemporary propaganda speech on [http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb67.htm The Battle of Berlin] . The website cites the source as "Die Schlacht um Berlin," Das Reich, 13 February 1944, pp, 1, 3.


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