Friday, March 13, 2015


Heinkel He 177 A-5 Greif - longe range bomber

 RLM Heinkel He-177 Greif KG 100 Luftfahrt-Kunstruck von Mark Postlethwaite

'We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide.' - Baron Gustav Braun von Sturm, 24 April 1942.

Luftwaffe retaliatory bombings of several small British cities. They were ostensibly carried out in accordance with tourist ratings listed in a famed German guide published by Baedeker. By the standards of World War II they were minor in physical damage caused and minuscule in strategic effect. Their main role was to serve German domestic propaganda and to please Adolf Hitler’s desire to retaliate for British raids on Lübeck and Rostock.

23 April to 3 May and 31 May to 6 June 1942
Theatre: Home Front
Location: England
Players: Britain: Air Marshal Arthur Harris's RAF Bomber Command. Germany: Luftwaffe Luftflotte 3 (Fliegerführer Atlantik).
Outcome: The destruction of over 50,000 buildings in five historic towns.

Air Marshal Arthur Harris was appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Bomber Command on 22 February 1942. Harris believed in bombing as a means of fighting and even winning the war; his preferred focus was to attack enemy 'morale' by targeting cities rather than specific industrial objectives.

On the night of 28 March, a 234 bomber raid against the Baltic port of Lübeck dropped high explosives and incendiaries on Lübeck's Old Town, largely composed of wooden buildings. The bombing and the subsequent fires caused 1,000 deaths and massive destruction.
Hitler, incensed, ordered reprisal raids against historic British towns. The first, against Exeter, took place on 23 April 1942, with 25 bombers causing widespread damage and 70 deaths.
The next day, Nazi propagandist Baron Gustav Braun von Sturm claimed that the Luftwaffe would work its way through the Baedeker tourist guide. That night Exeter was hit again; there were raids on Bath, York and Norwich over the next five nights, and a third raid on Exeter on 3 May.
Thousands of buildings were destroyed, including York's Guildhall and the Bath Assembly Rooms. The Baedeker tactic was briefly resumed after Bomber Command's devastating attack on Cologne on 30 May; three successive raids on Canterbury caused extensive damage to its medieval centre, but missed the Cathedral.

While the Baedeker Raids caused much damage and loss of life, they also served to demonstrate the relative weakness of the Luftwaffe as a bombing force.

The raids
The cities attacked were:

    First period
        Exeter (23 and 24 April; 3 May)
        Bath (25 and 26 April)
        Norwich (27 and 29 April)
        York (28 April)

    Second period, following the bombing of Cologne
        Canterbury (May 31; 2 June and 6 June)

Across all the raids on these five cities a total of 1,637 civilians were killed and 1,760 injured, and over 50,000 houses were destroyed. Some noted buildings were destroyed or damaged, including York's Guildhall and the Bath Assembly Rooms, but on the whole most escaped — the cathedrals of Norwich, Exeter and Canterbury included. The German bombers suffered heavy losses for minimal damage inflicted, and the Axis' need for reinforcements in North Africa and Russian Front meant further operations were restricted to hit-and-run raids on coastal towns by a few Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter-bombers. Deal, Kent was one of these towns and was hit hard, with over 30 civilian dead, including many women and children, most of whom are buried in the Hamilton Road Cemetery, Deal, Kent.

Several other raids are sometimes included under the Baedeker title, although only a few aircraft were involved in each, and damage was not extensive.[5] These raids were all on East Anglian locations. Among the British firefighters assigned to the scene in Bath was Harry Patch, who in the 2000s became the last surviving British veteran from the First World War.

    Bury St Edmunds
    Great Yarmouth

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