Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Operation Gisela



JU 88G-6 from 7.NJG 2 and was based at Kassel-Rothwesten. Walter Briegleb and crew flew this aircraft on the raid into the UK and were sucessful in shooting down Allied bombers as they returned to their bases after a raid into Germany.


On the night of March 3/4, 1945, Heinz Rökker and his crew were also involved with Operation Gisela, which would be the last large scale Luftwaffe night fighter intrusion over Great Britain of the war. They would not score a victory that evening.

From Ju-88G pilot Leutnant Arnold Döring - “It was to be a long range night fighting and bombing raid over England. With a British night bombing raid in progress, our night fighters and bombers should cross the North Sea at very low level and intrude on the British over their aerodromes while landing."

For this mission, 142 Ju-88G's of NJG2, NJG3 and NJG4 were committed to Gisela. Seventy to eighty crews operated over England in several waves. They were to intercept 234 RAF bombers returning from a raid on Kamen, and another 222 bombers returning from a raid on Ladbergen. However, the High Command did not commit enough fighters to the operation and only minimal damage was inflicted upon the RAF. Never again would the Nachtjagd operate in such numbers.

Despite the crippling fuel shortage, the Luftwaffe was able to mount Operation Gisela on 3rd March 1945 when 100 Junkers Ju88 and Heinkel He219 night fighters followed the main force back and attacked 27 airfields in UK as the returning bombers prepared to land at their bases. Out of 48 RAF planes attacked 22 were shot down and 8 more were damaged at a cost to the Luftwaffe of 6 aircraft.

The tactic was tried again a fortnight later on a smaller scale but only one aircraft was destroyed - an RAF plane on a training flight. This was the last offensive action by the Luftwaffe in World War 2.

During the early morning darkness of 4 March 1945 a force of 450 Lancaster's, Halifax's and Mosquito raided Kamen and Ladbergen in western Germany. After completing their attacks for the loss of seven aircrafts, the bombers turned home. As they did so, a large force of German night fighters roared into the air and headed west in pursuit. This was Operation "Gisella", the long-planned intruder operation against Bomber Command bases. During previous weeks individual German night fighters had followed the bombers back to their bases, their crews with strict orders to note the enemy approach and landing procedures but on no account were they to engage. Now the constraints were lifted and more than a hundred Junkers Ju 88 and Heinkel He 219 night fighters swept over the North Sea making for the Bomber Command airfields in Norfolk, Suffolk, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Twenty-seven of the bases came under attack as well as the bombers returning from Germany. The intruders caught several planes on training flights. Twenty bombers were shot down over England, bringing Bomber Commandos total loss that night to 27 - the heaviest for a long time. German losses are not known, but were probably between three and six aircrafts. From the Luftwaffe's viewpoint Operation Gisella was a success, but the operation would never be repeated on the same scale.

Two weeks later, on the night of the 17 March, eighteen Junkers Ju 88's took off from Holland for a follow-up attack. But the RAF bombers were not operating in force that night and the intruders shot down only one Lancaster that had been on a training flight. The action was of historical significance, however, for it was to be the last offensive action by the Luftwaffe over Britain. 

1 comment:

  1. You mention that the Lancaster shot down two weeks later on a training flight. Where was this? On March 17 there was a Lancaster shot down at Sunk Island, East Yorkshire. The official time being 18:00, but this does not seem to be borne out by the evidence. It would seem more likely that it was shot down about 22:00 by a JU88 that had recently hit Hull with anti-personnel bombs.

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