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DECLASIEf
SECURITY
The R.A.F. Mediterranean Review is an
and as such may be issued to Officers'

0. U.O.

document,

Mess and Station

Reference Libraries (K.R. and A.C.I. 882. 2236 (c), 2287). It is intended for the information of all Officers and flying crews under conditions of security approved by the Commanding
Officer, w ho will ensure that within these limits it has as wide a circulation as possible. No quotation or extract from the R.A.F. Mediterranean

Review may be made without the permission of the Deputy Air


Commander, Headquarters, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces.

Unauthorised quotation constitutes an offence under the Official


Secrets Acts, 1911 and 1920, and will be dealt wiih accordingly

(K.R. and A.C.I. 1071, 1072, 2238).


Copies not required for record purposes should be disposed of as Secret

Waste in accordance with

AM1.O. A.411/41.

DEC[AFIfl

OCTOBER TO

DECEMB

44

M EBITERRANEAN

-I

NO'9

HEADQUARTERS. MEDITERRANEAN ALLIED AIR FQRCES


:; i : ' , ! 1

SL '

Contents
Invasion Year A Short Review of European Events in 1944... Page 5 Thke Invasion of Italy (Part V)-lst

October . ............

31st December, 1944 ....... ...... ......... ..........


of

I. II. III. IV.


The

Introductory. Renewal of Enemy

Enemy Resistance......... Attacks........31


Air

13 17 25

i.A.T.A.F's Increased Commitments ... Counte'r


Aflied -Strategic

Mediterranean

Force-Trends

Activity, October to December, F he Balkan Theatre


R.A.F. Educational a : Greece and Yugoslavia

1944-.........
...........

41
.55

Operations in the Aegean-October


:Mobilising Nation. ................... ...................

to December, 1944 ............


in M.A.A.F..... ... ................. ......... . . . ... .1 ....... ...... ........... . ... ...

83
93 103 106 123

Service-Activities

Jet Propulsion.

Special Operation Against, the Brenner Route. Mining of the Danube by No. 205 Group ....

R.A.F. Medical Branch-Malaria Control in Corsica ...


No... 4 Naval Fighter Enemy The Ingenuity Wing in the Mediterranean-194 Interdiction.. :........... . Versus Allied .......

i1 ^ 1...
.

152 160 163

Magnetic

Sweeper.

From the 540s.


Acknowledgment. Map

.......
. .

..........................
. Areas-3lst ................ December, 1943, to Battle

.167
175

The European

31st December,
Tactical The Italian Battle

1944

......

...

......

.......
1944 to
,,

.4
14

Bombing Effort-October to December,


Area-30th S e p t e m b e r

31st December, Points of


Strategic

1944......................18
November, January, 1944 1945
,. .
,,

Points of Interdiction by Air at 13th interdiction by Air

22 39 43
'

at 2nd

Strategic Bombing Efffort-October and November, 1944 Bombing Effort-December, 1944

...

.....

52

Greece and Yugoslavia-Battle


Greece and the Athens Area ... The Dalmatian Coast .... The Aegean Sea Area....

Area ...
.. .

....
. ....

54 57
62 84

.............

Locations of Pdwer Stations


Railway.... .........

on

the Verona
........

Innsbruck
.

124 132

The Course of the Danube ... '

.....

...........

Malaria Control inl Corsica..........

.....

44

Foreword
iThe
Foreword

in

the preceding number a note

of the R.A.F. ilMediterranean Review ended oil a note of optinmism indicating that. possibly the end of the European wear sight.

with

Germaav 'was in

With, the passing of the year 1944 that end is not yet realised,

but nevertheless it

is

still in

sight.

The

events and trends of activity

-reviewed in this number show clearly, not only metiods by wchich the Hun

is being crushed and . strangled in. the air, on the grounLld, on

the

seq an.d

under the sea, but- also reveals [lie wider Vision airaadv, at work zWithin tle

Royal

Air

Force to ensure that Peace, when won, shall be retained, upheld

and enjoyed by those trained to take their place and shoulder' their respan-

sibilities in

civil life as thoroughly as "they were trained to take them in war.

.14jr

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Invasion Yea
A Short Review of European Evenis 1944
_~

in

WE HAVE REACHED the Sixth War Christmas, and reached it through a year of accomplishment Industry German in History. unparalleled has been disrupted and the German Armies Our power to strike the defeated in the field. enemy on land and sea and in the air has been demonstrated in its full might and to its full

purpose. We are inside the Siegfried Line. In a recent speech to the German People, Hitler said that the fight now was no longer for victory or defeat, but for survival or annihilation. Although not distinguished for his intuition, who shall say that Corporal Schickeigruber Is not right?

nO i:i
South of the Somme, the French Army reinforced by two British divisions is opposed to 120 German divisions. Dunkirk-250,000 British, troops abandoning arms and equipment are evacuated; 80,000 do not return. France capitulates. Italy, declaring war on Great Britain, launches an offensive in Africa which in six months carries her troops Into Egypt, the Sudan and Kenya. The Mediterraneanis closed. Battle of Britain. In three months a handful of R.A.F. squadrons oppose and defeat the full weight of the Luftwaffe, destroying 2,375 German aircraft. Italy invades Greece. Eighth Army attacks the Italians in the Western Desert and forces them to retire from Egypt in one week. Eighth 1941 Italians driven out of Cyrenalca. Army offensive halts on the German menace to Greece. Expeditionary Force from Middle East despatched to Greece. Germans send the Afrika Korps to reinforce the The Eighth Army is Italians in Tripolitania driven back .through Cyrenalca into Egypt. Germany invades Yugosiavia and Greece, and the.

1933 Hitler comes to power. Germany withdraws from the League of Nations. 1935 Conscription is introduced into Germany. 1938 Hitler, demanding that Sudeten Germans be restored to the Reich, masses Armies on Czech frontier. Great Britain mobilizes her Chamberlain goes to Munich. Navy and Mr.

British Government persuades Czechoslovakia to agree to cede all. territory with more than fifty return per cent. Sudeten- Germans, and in guarantees with France the future boundaries of Czechoslovakia. German troops Czechoslovakia. march u nopp oaosed Into

1939 Without warning and in defiance of Munich agreement, Nazi tanks enter Prague. Czechoslovakia is overrun. British Government gives undertaking to Poland "... that in the event of any action which clearly His Majesty's Government threatens Poland ... would, feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish. Government all support in their power." Announced in the House of Comnons that since 1933 Germany hao spent a sum : estimated at 6,000,000,000 on war preparations. Hitler invades Poland and Great.,Britain declares war. 1940 German troops enter Norway and overrun the country in a week. divisions and immense Headed by nine arioured air power, the German Army crashes through Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg to cross the Meuse into. France. Allied forces are split and north to the Channel Ports. the enemy dries

British Expeditionary' Force is withdrawn to


Germans invade Crete by air and force Crete. the evacuation of British troops. Coup d'etat in Iraq threatens oil supplies. Position restored by British intervent' mpt British. rance from , h action in. Syria~,

Germany at thel zent of- her strength, unab defeat the .t.A.F. and, invade Britain, decid eliminate the Soviet Army before returning to the :final struggle in the West. The invasion of Russia begins. -German Army 500 miles into Russia on a 1,000 mile front is halted at the gates of Moscow. Reinforced Eighth Army opens second offensive in Western Desert. Following Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, America declares war on the Axis. 1942 Russians counter-attack on 500..-mile front and push the enemy back 80 miles. Eighth Army, having advanced to El Agheila, prepares to meet German counter-attack. New German offensive in Russia now forward 250' miles on a 1,200 mile -front from Orel to the Caucasus. As a result of the German counter-attack in Libya the Eighth Army is now back at Gazala. Enemy, launches abortive attack at Gazala; Eighth Army counter-attacks and is checked. Enemy opens offensive and forces Eighth Army back to El Alamein. Germans make three abortive attempts to destroy the R.A.F. in Malta.

' c on enemy supplies, ports and air bases, reinforced Eighth Army opens offensive at El Alamein. The German rout begins. Strong British and American Forces land in French North Africa. Russians open winter offensive and regain much of the, lost ground. 1943 Germans, surrendering 248,000 prisoners, defeated and driven from North Africa at Tunis. Mediterranean re-opened to Allied shipping.

Following abortive German attack, Russians launch full-scale offensive on 1,000 mile front. Allied Forces from North Africa capture Sicily. in 38 days, inflicting 165,000 casualties on the enemy. British and American troops land at Salerno. Italy capitulates. Stated in Parliament that since September, 1939, the R.A.F. alone has made 1,147 attacks and dropped 283,000 tons of bombs on Germany, in addition to an ever increasing U.S.A.A.F. effort; that Allied aircraft production is now more than -four time that of Germany; and that credit balance of new building over shipping losses has reached 6,000,000 tons per year.

___

__

At the Lord Mayor's Days Luncheon, 10th ,November, 1942, Mr. Winston Churchill said, " This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." The Prime Minister had been speaking of the Battle .for Egypt. Rommel, conclusively defeated at Alamein, was on the run,: Strong Allied forces had landed in French North .Africa and the R.A.F. was already in action there against the enemy. In the East, the German drive had been held at Stalingrad and in the Caucasus, and the Russians were ready for their counter-attack. October, 1942, marked the Turn of the Tide. Spring, 1943, saw the Germans expelled from Tunisia, and in the summer Sicily was captured and the Mediterranean, which had been closed to Allied shipping since March, 1941, was re-opened. On 9th September, British and American troops landed at Salerno and Italy capitulated. Three weeks later the Foggia airfields fell to the Eighth Army, and the Allied Air Forces stood at 500 miles range from Munich. Far-reaching in. effect, these successes were reflected in two events of outstanding importance. The first was that defeat in Africa delayed by three months the opening of the new German push in the East and permitted the Russians not only to -check their. thrust in one week but to counter-attack immediately on a 1,000 mile front. The second, which came late , fi vas

even greater significence. On 28th December, an official statement from London announced the appointment of Allied Commanders for the Invasion of Europe. It was faithfully celebrated on New Year's Eve by a full-scale raid on Berlin to bring the total of bombs unloaded on the German capital to a round 10,000 tons. Stalemate in Italy Although for some weeks after the Salerno crisis the Allied Armies made good progress, they were. slowed in October through difficulties of terrain and weather hampering air activity, and by the end of the year faced a position of stalemate on a line south of Cassino to the Sangro river. This was an unsatisfactory situation. The full. and continuous deployment of maximum German forces in Italy being vital to our Master Plan for the Invasion of France, it was essential that the initiative be regained forthwith and the enemy prevented from stabilizing his position. Supreme Command decided, therefore, that if the line was impregnable to frontal assault, a diversionary movement would have to be engineered from the side. Anzio was launched. The object of this " leap-frog" was to accelerate the capture of Rome and establish a line north of the capital; this to be accomplished by occupation of the high ground around Colli Laziali ' my's communications to the f i co ro . be dominated. It was a

3/

'ii::

hazardous move, for the Germans had thirteen divisions, with a further eight in reserve, to the Allies eleven and a half committed in the field. Anzio did not achieve its object. The initial assault, on 22nd January, took the enemy by surprise, but he reacted swiftly and although persistent attacks failed to dislodge the invaders he succeeded in pinning them down and preventing any breakthrough. It became necessary for us to think again, and think quickly. In an effort to breach the battle line and link up with the forward bridgehead, it was now decided to try an all-out air offensive against the stronghold of Cassino. On 15th March, 1,000 tons went down and in a matter of hours the fortress became a heap of rubble. Instead of achieving its object-the destruction of the garrison-, excessive demolition provided numerous road blocks and strong points and turned the scale in favour of the defenders. Again the enemy line stood firm. The Cracking of the Nut War is ever a matter of trial and error, and with two failures recorded the Allies dropped back on the lesson of Al'amein-that of causing weakness and attrition to the enemy by cutting by air his lines of supply and communication, while at the same time assembling a force with which to hit him on the ground at a moment when he is unable to sustain a defensive effort. On 19th March, the first stage of the plan went into effect, the main air offensive opening with the land offensive on the night 11/12th By 22nd June, 137,949 sorties had been May. flown and 84,603 tons of bombs dropped on marshalling yards, bridges, road transport and lines of communication. The effect was paralysing. Transport was forced from the railways to the roads where fighter-bombers made hay and compelled the enemy to restrict movement to the hours of darkness. Vehicles had to be withdrawn from the forward areas in order to maintain a skeleton supply line, and in consequence combat units were left with insufficient transport to continue the battle. At once it became a vicious and entirely destructive circle. Before the operation had been completed the whole front broke open and British, Canadian, American, French and Polish troops surged forward. Rome fell on 4th June, and in six weeks the enemy, although not yet driven back to the Pisa-Rimini line, had lost 80,000 casualties and upward of 15,000 vehicles. Allied Bombing Policy The essential need for the retention of the initiative in Italy, the reason for this, and its relative importance to the Master Invasion Plan have been mentioned. Before and during the period of the operations referred to above, forces in considerable strength were assembling in Great Britain and, in April, 1944, as a security
wr

measure, all Foreign Diplomats and Couriers were stopped from leaving the country. These two aspects of pre-invasion activity rested on a third. No effective land campaign could succeed against Germany unless the enemy's essential war potential was rigorously restricted and unless the Allies could command the sky both during the landings and through the period of subsequent operations. From the outset it was realized that the key to modern warfare lay in oil-a fact which, naturally, had not escaped the enemy eye. Twenty-four enormous synthetic oil plants had been built in Germany at the beginning of the war, and these provided about .40 per cent. of the country's needs. She had also the Rumanian supplies and several new fields on her own soil. From all sources the total annual yield was about enough for Germany's 1,250,000 tons-just immediate requirements. In: 1942, aiming to increase supplies, she launched an offensive in the Caucasus. Fortunately, by a hair's breadth, it failed to achieve its object. The problem facing the Allied Bomber Force Firstly to restrict was therefore twofold. production in the German aircraft industry and reduce activity in the Luftwaffe in order that invasion forces in France and bomber formations over the Reich could operate undisturbed by fighter interference, and secondly to carry out a concentrated air offensive against the enemy's entire oil resources. The Assault gn the Fighter Factories For nine months, from July, 1943, to March, 1944, the Eighth and Fifteenth United States Air Forces, tackling first-things first, went for the fighter assembly and aero-engine factories -a struggle which culminated in the last seven days of February when almost every one of these plants was bombed in, single week. The result a showed itself on D-Day. Whereas in 1942 the G.A.F. had planned to increase production to 2,500/3,000 single-engined aircraft per month--. an output which would not ,only have made possible effective protection of the Reich but would have seriously interfered with invasiontheir first-line strength on all fronts in June was less than 1,500 aircraft, only half of which were serviceable. Complementary to the effort against FW.190 and ME.109 output, systematic strikes were directed at plants producing Germany's latest and most cherished aircraft-the ME.262 jet-propelled Messerschmitt's parent factory at fighter. Leipham was smashed; the research stations at Peenemunde and Rechlin, along with numerous airfields used for experimental work, were attacked; and repeated raids were made on the and at Peenemunde jet-fuel plants Holsriegelskreuth. In spite of the faith pinned on this type of aircraft, the total number operating by the end of the year was not more than 150.
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The offensive against oil opened in April and was still in progress when the year closed. It should perhaps be called the second offensive, because in 1940 and 1941 Bomber, Command attempted the ,task and found it beyond their then-available power and capability. . Two great American Air Forces, the Eighth and Fifteenth, now undertook the major share of the job, aircraft from Britain concentrating on the synthetic plants, principally those at Leuna, Brux and Politz, and the Mediterranean force tackling Ploesti. Night, and later day, attacks on the Ruhr fell to the R.A.F. Figures tell the story more vividly than words. In May, 1944, a 20 per, cent. reduction had been effected; in September the loss to the enemy was 77 per cent. and his supplies only 23 per cent. of their pre-attack level. By December, only thirteen but of Germany's 24 synthetic oil plants remained -five only of these within M.A.A.F. range. Fighters had been grounded, industry hampered, naval and U-boat activity reduced to impotence, and road transport and Panzer Divisions forced to a policy of strict fuel economy. A recovery had been given priority over programme everything including aircraft and U-boat production. That was the measure of success in December. While the final lap of the race between repair and attack remains yet to be decided, (the value of the reduction which has been achieved is indisputable. This concentration of effort against oil necessitated a let-up on the fighter-factory offensive and enabled the industry, in large part, to recover. That was inevitable. Nevertheless, underground and dispersal by although manufacture the G.A.F. had rebuilt their frontline single-engined fighter strength to about 2,300 by December, the recovery came too late. The fighters were needed over France to repel the landings and check the advance through the summer and autumn of 1944, and at that time they were not available. Now, their usefulness is. but a fraction of what it could have been. The Allies have the bases and they have the aircraft. The roof over Germany is off. Confusion to Industry Although the offensives against fighter factories and oil were the main and most effective airstrikes delivered at any one class-group in the German war machine in 1944, wide-scale attacks were undertaken on other industrial targets and against whole sections of the communications
system.

operations and reaching peak through SeptemberOctober. Loss of output varied in most cases from a few weeks to several months. Weather naturally proved a controlling factor and on occasions it was necessary to concentrate on an industrial area rather than on a specific target. Berlin became a favourite centre, but many other towns suffered recurring attacks. Interdiction of Traffic SWhile the offensive against communications was no less important than that directed at industrial targets, overall results have been more difficult to assess, and a full appreciation will probably not be possible until the Allies get into Germany. At the beginning of 1944 the vast rail-network, strung out from Brest to the Russian border, was, in spite of repeated attack, not overtaxed. On D-Day, 6th June, however, as a result of pre-invasion strategical and tactical bombing, only half the normal quantity of locomotives and cars were available in France, coal was in six-days' supply, one-fifth of repair facilities were unserviceable, and 74. bridges and tunnels had been rendered impassable. By the attack on bridges alone, the area west of the Seine and north of. the Loire was virtually isolated; later, prior to the invasion of Southern France, attacks on the Rhone bridges cut the German forces in half and at a critical time held German armour on the west bank out of the immediate battle area.

,well

In the case of Normandy, the pre-occupation of the enemy's forces in land fighting coupled with the continuous bombing and fighter straffing, allowed no recovery; he was forced to accept things as they were and make the best of it. In Southern France, the position, although slightly different, was 'equally hopeless; labour for repair work was -just not available. The effect of the traffic interdiction operation in Italy which made possible the breaching of the Gustave Line, has been indicated earlier. These operations go on. Some are concentrated in time and space and produce a quick result; others are long-term and less spectacular. All count. Over Two Million Tons of Bombs While complete statistics are not available, an indication of the scale of air effort in 1944 is given in the records of Bomber Command, the Eighth U.S.A.A.F. and M.A.A.F. During the year Bomber Command and the Eighth U.S.A.A.F. dropped 1,395,000 tons of bombs on German targets-more than twice the weight unloaded in the first four and a quarter years of the war. In addition, M.A.A.F. dropped 590,358 tons, mostly on oil installations and Fighters and fighter-bombers communications. from all three air forces, . frequently beating their own recoE $ umbers of sorties per day, h 'ds of enemy locomotives, dest od . . .. vehicles. . ... , jpl .

Ball-bearing factories, ranking 'in importance next to oil, suffered continuously and were producing at the end of the year only 45 per cent. of their pre-attack output. Systematic raids were also carried out on plants manufacturing armour, motor transport and ordnance, this effort increasing in intensity in relation to land front

Opening of the Second Front In spite of the wave of rising impatience which characterised a section of the British Press in the spring of 1944, stony silence reigned supreme within the Cabinet and no taunt extracted the one word needed to confirm or deny the significence of the large-scale exercises that had being going on for some time over the southern half of England. Evaluation of the importance of that silenceit is difficult to overpraise the skill with which it was maintained-and the confusion which the surprise of the Normandy Invasion caused the German High Command, is now possible. On 9th June, three days after the first landings, Rommel, Commanding Army Group B, after directing that Cherbourg be held at all cost, intimated to General Dollman of the Seventh Army that he could provide no reinforcements nor share the anxiety felt over the port, because the German Supreme Command fully expected a big landing to be attempted higher up the coast, and for this all available airborne forces would be committed. Hle explained furthermore, in reply to a request for immediate air support, that units of the Luftwaffe were " changing stations " and might not be available for several days. Events that followed are now history. In Berlin on 20th July, an unsuccessful attempt was made to assassinate Hitler and effect a coup d'etat. Gestapo intervention restored "order " and in due course eight Generals and a number of lesser fry paid with their lives. Evidence at the trial showed that the 'conspirators had planned to arrest all those directing food and armament production, open concentration camps, and make immediate contact with the Allies. Although the purge failed, it was refreshing to find such enlightened thinking within the Reichswehr. Meteoric Progress in Normandy Allied progress through July and August, after the situation of stalemate on the Caen-Tilly front had been broken by an air attack that sent down 5,000 tons of bombs on the perimeter defences in 49 minutes, was metedric. The pocket west of Argentan which the Germans allowed to be drawn round three flanks while they obstinately tried to drive west to Avranches was closed on 18th August by British, Dominion and American forces with loss to the enemy of 30,000 killed and 45,000 prisoners, and four days later a Maquis uprising in Paris overran the city and paved the way for its occupation by the Americans coming eastward from Chartres and Dreux. The position for the enemy by mid-August had become critical. All the German Commanders in C-in-C West, Von the north had disappeared. Rundstedt, had been relieved; Rommel and, arlly1000,000 Dollman killed. The Allies, wtln O troops and more than 2,500,000 tons

calamity. 'irican and French ashore on-~Southern France. Invasion of the French Riviera

troops

were

The conquest of Southern France by General Patch's forces and the link up of this Second Invasion Army with General Patton's troops at Sombernon and Chatillon took exactly 26 daysapproximately one-half of the time scheduled. It yielded 80,000 prisoners to swell the total to 400,000 taken since the landings in Normandy. .Systematic pre-invasion bombing had followed the pattern of the June adventure, and security plus a carefully engineered deception programme effected the necessary degree of surprise. Only ten poor quality divisions met the landing; air opposition was virtually non-existent. Everywhere ahead of the advancing army Forces of the French Interior sabotaged communications and took command of territory. The German Nineteenth pulled back with considerable skill, and by the Devil's luck managed to evacuate most of its fighting troops before the Belfort Gap could be closed. But it was touch and go.

'Army

Broadly speaking, France was clear of Nazi occupation by, the end of August. A few strongholds in the east, on the English Channel and the Frenie Atlantic coast had not been overcome, but th ir value to the enemy and their effect on the main campaign was now negligible. That which had been accomplished in less than three months supplied a pert answer to the message sent by Hitler to all units in Calvados on the /morning of 6th June-"The Fuehrer desires the annihilation of the Allies by the evening." Failure of the Secret Weapons Although Mr. Chamberlain's famous " Missed the Bus " comment of 1940 proved almost immediately to be singularly inappropriate, no phrase could more fairly represent Germany's strategic position when, almost exactly four years later, the long promised retaliatory weapons, the flying bomb and long-range rocket, were launched against England. The potential menace which the flying bomb offered was a real one and one that was recognised from the outset and not underrated. Reconnaissance had pin-pointed a considerable number of static ramp sites, and from this and other information a fair assessment of the danger had been calculated. It was far from inconsiderable-particularly in view of the forthcoming invasion. bombing, during which over 100,000 tons went down on some hundreds of launching sites and storage depots, and on communications, the of the flying bomb was quantitive plott4. t vly reduced and its debut postponed until :de pre-mvasion period had passed. c
BrI y v r p ovmv f v.i+ cs a l o-/r Itto ,y i e Ct
,rd a4-w

in Normandy, had already taken ovpf


prisoners.

0o0

?'?

missile fell on England on 13th June,

And that was not the tMotal of the

1944--a week after the Normandy landings had

been securely la e to the German fighl launched over the -d be effective. Of 80 days main offensive against Southern England, only one-third reached the Greater London area. An indication of the peak efficiency of the combined defences is provided by the record of 28th August. On that day, of 101 flying bombs known to have been launched, 97 were destroyed. Terror-weapon No. 2, the long-range. rocket, came into the picture three months after its predecessor; since when, until the end of the occurred year, approximately 350 incidents in England, considerably more in Belgium and a few in Northern France,Holland and Luxembourg. The sites, widely dispersed and at much greater range, have been more difficult to attack systematically, although good results are credited in an increasing number of cases. Fortunately, the rocket is an inaccurate and strictly limited weapon; so far it has proved its nuisance value but nothing more. The Russian Steam Roller success which, has attended Allied The co-ordination of Eastern and Western theatre offers last year the through operations indisputable proof of the suicidal idiocy of Hitler's decision to attack Russia in 1941. Winter 'of the 1941-2 campaign cost the Germans in killed alone more than the whole of the four and a quarter years of the last war. It also probably cost them this war, for a victory in the' Caucasus at that crucial time might well have proved catastrophic to the Allies. Things, however; did not turn out that way. Over 165 Nazi Divisions were held and defeated by the Russian 'Army and the Russian Winter, and after a short offensive in November-March, 1942-3; and an abortive one-week counter-attack by the Germans in the following summer, the Soviets had the situation in complete control and were able to launch a full-scale drive in July, 1943, that by mid-May, 1944, brought the line forward into Rumania and Poland up to Vitebsk and the Estonian border. The pattern then changed its shape. Movement ceased in White. Russia, to flare up a few weeks later in the Finnish sector, where in 24 hours the Red Army breached the Mannerheim Line-a task that had taken them four months in 1940-and pushed on beyond the Sistra river; the thrust being accompanied by a complementary operation between Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega. In spite of the pressure, however, Finland held out and the Russians did not achieve the quick victory on which they had banked. As it happened, this was relatively unimportant because a bigger opportunity now offered on the Central Front where, with our second front in Normandy well launched, it was unlikely the enemy could afford reinforcement.

-lThe Gates of Warsaw ' Russia struck, therefore, at the Vitebsk positions, and struck with such force that within a month the line moved westward 350 miles, liberating Bialystok, Brest Litovsk, Deblin, Lublin, Jaroslavl and Przemysl and bringing Soviet troops within shelling distance of Warsaw. Here again the offensive rested to permit a re-grouping and allow the supply position time to catch up. Within Warsaw itself, the Polish Patriots had risen and there was intense fighting. Elsewhere the front became quiet-but only for a matter of hours. On 19th August the Carpathian-Black Sea Front broke into life, and two days later the Russians had stormed the Galatz Gap and were fanning out towards Bucharest. On the 24th Rumania capitulated and on the 26th Bulgaria asked for an armistice. September brought the Red Army forard to Belgrade and the first week of November saw most of Hungary in Russian hands and Budapest under fire. By the time the year closed, the line had received further indents and ran from the East Prussian border to Warsaw, thence through Czechoslovakia to north-west of Budapest, and from Lake Balaton down across Yugoslavia to the Adriatic. It contained approximately 150 German divisions. Alies Reach the Siegfried Line General Dittmar, Official Commentator of the Berlin Radio, spoke to the German People on Wednesday, 6th September; 1944. He said, " Four years ago we were the undisputed masters; we are now beaten by the methods we forged." The General was right. The Canadian First and the British Second Armies had crossed the Seine and reached Brussels and the approaches of Antwerp, cutting off the whole of the Pas de Calais area in eight days. The American Third Army was '-across the Marne and Meuse and already had reconnaissance patrols forward on to German soil around Saarbrucken. Troops of General Patch's Seventh Army were hustling the German Nineteenth Army in its retreat for the Belfort Gap. It was clearly a matter of days before the whole of the West Wall from Kleve to the Swiss border would be under Allied assault. Germany at this time, it was estimated, had probably 49 divisions in the line and another eighteen in reserve or re-fitting. Nineteen were disposed in Holland and north of Dusseldorf, ten in the Cologne sector, eleven between Coblenz and Strasbourg, and nine in the southerh pocket from Strasbourg to the Swiss frontier. The Siegfried Line, which had been reached by the Allies at a number of points between Kleve and Trier, and stood only a mean 40-odd miles ahead of them on the southern length Trier-KarlsruheBasle, was at its strongest in the StrasbourgTrier sector and around the shorter front AaclenMunchen Gladbach-that is, opposite the main industrial centres.North of Munchen Gladbach

its strength was largely an unknown quantity. Various reports, many of them propagandist, had alleged that fortifications' existed in this district; air reconnaissance gave 'no confirmation. Following the policy that the surest way to get through a strongly defended line is to go round it, plans-were made for an airborne operation to secure the crossing of the great water barrier of the three branches of the Rhine and the floodings within their perimeter around Arnhem -beyond which there was barely a hill between the German border and Berlin. This operation, the biggest of .its kind ever undertaken, was entrusted to the First Airborne Army and launched on Sunday, 17th September. The Glory of Arnhem Nothing in this war will outmatch the bravery of the men of Arnhem. Six thousand five hundred of them were dropped or landed by glider at Eindhoven and Tilburg behind the Escaut Line, at Arnhem on the Lek, and at Nijmegen on the Waal. Only two thousand came back. At Escaut, resistance vanishedovernight and General Dempsey's tanks shot forward to occupy SNijmegen. Further north at Arnhem, opposition by picked S.S. battalions was at its fiercest, and although the paratroops dominated the vital Lek bridge for a short time they were unable to hold out against the weight of tanks, self-propelled guns, multiple mortars and flame throwers, and after nearly ten days and nights of almost ceaseless fighting had to retire across the Lek before the American Second Army-who, striving desperately to push on beyond Nijmegen, found the enemy at Elst, just five miles short, of Arnhem, far stronger and better prepared than had been anticipated-could break through and join up. The achievement at Arnhem, sadly overcast by the shadow of the losses involved and relatively disappointing in the immense possibilities complete fulfilment offered, was, nevertheless, of considerable importance. Nijmegen and the Waal crossing were secured. It remained now for the Canadians to eliminate opposition on Walcheren Island and the Scheldt pocket dominating Antwerp's approaches to open the one port all-essential to any sustained offensive against the 'Siegfried positions. Breaching of the Dortmund-Ems Canal Whatever satisfaction Germany derived from her local triumph at Arnhem, she can have found little comfort in two surprises R.A.F. Bomber Command provided in the closing months' of 1944-the breaching of the Dortmund-Ems canal and the sinking of the " Tirpitz." The attack on the Dortmund-Ems canal was made in September, at a time when all branches et of enemy transport were sthggling ( urgent military and economic demaand Twelve-thousan successful. entirely * *' . ' ' * * ' "'i" ,* .','i

bombs smashed both channels of the embanked section near Ladbergen, draining the canal foi more than seven miles and completely disrupting water communications through the Ruhr and Rhineland, and between' the industrial areas of Central and Eastern Germany and the North Sea ports. The fact that the iron ore of FranceLuxembourg, Spain and the Scandinaviar countries had already been cut off made this new loss catastrophic. Before the attack, pig iron and steel outputs were down to nine and fourteei: million tons respectively. The breaching of the Dortmund-Ems canal lowered the respective outputs, by direct and indirect causes, to four and eight million tons. Furthermore, it deprived the iron and steel works at Osnabruck, Peine and Salzgitter of coking coal from the Ruhr. Sinking of the " Tirpitz " Hardly less serious was the second blow whicl came on iSunday, 12th November, when R.A.F. Lancasters attacked the battleship "Tirpitz" in Tromso Fjord. Thirty-two aircraft flew on this operation and 29 made the strike. They used 12,000 pound. bombs, and in spite of intense flak secured several direct hits. The " Tirpitz " was set on fire, capsized, and sank in a matter of minutes. The destruction of this battleship removed a constant menace" to convoys carrying war material through Alton Fjord to Russia,eand set free a number of Allied capital ships for other duty. A vessel of 45,000 tons, completed as recently as 1941, she was the fourth of Germany's "battle wagons" to go to, the bottom-her predecessors being the " Bismark," the Only one " Scharnhorst " and the " Graf Spee." Lancaster failed to return. The Greek Tragedy The legend that Luck goes in Threes held good at this time. The Bulgarian volte face, the strides made by the Russians towards the west, and the constant harassing attacks on communications by Yugoslav Partisans and aircraft of B.A.F. were now rendering Greece and the Aegean untenable to the enemy. His supply position both overland and through the Adriatic was precarious and the strategic value of his occupation had shrunk to negligible proportion. In August, therefore, he began to pull out, leaving only a minimum of third-rate troops to guard the back door.' By the beginning of November, Greece was free. Happily, the tragedy of Greece through the last quarter of 1944 is now over. Possibly, with a people possessed of such innate individualism and subjected hitherto to a rule akin to dictatorship, it was inevitable. Time only will prove whether the country can establish a New Order and rebuild its constitution. cupation, beginning e'-gsrgao nnese and the big h Pe ,,., ' vl a ' .,, ,;ci i ; a g .

airborn

fi

minating

War Against the U-Boats Although by December, 1944, improved devices for sub-surface battery chgrging and air changing presaged a recrudescence of opei-sea U-boat activity and the commencement of inshore attacks, the year had been the most successful of any for anti-submarine operations. Germany began the war with approximately 100 U-boats; in 1944, in spite of the fact that we were then sinking some four U-boats a week, she had 400 in service and was in a position to put 150 to sea at any one time. That this weight of effort failed to make any decisive impression on Allied sea-traffic was due to two factors-the magnitude of American shipping output, which by mid-1943 had made secure the position for all time, and the magnitude and tactics of Coastal Command and the Royal Navy. Through 1944, Germany was employing prefabrication for U-boats, enabling them to be built in about six weeks-as against eight months in earlier years; she was also developing the Schnorkel sub-surface replenishment apparatus which has been in action since the spring. The initiative, at the moment with the enemy, may not remain there for long. We have yet to be beaten in the counter-measure race. The Sixth Christmas To have reached the Sixth War Christmas provokes sobering reflections, for after the German rout in France many prophesied there would be no Sixth War Christmas; that the Nazi Armies, once on the run, would fail to check the rush or extricate themselves in sufficient strength to provide a barrier; that weight of numbers and the cumulative bombing programme had achieved their respective purposes. Time has shown the wish father to the thought. The German Army is still,fighting resolutely and the German People, reduced to dull apathy, is still in the firm grip of the Gestapo. A recent statement indicated the Nazi Party's military policy for the future; it now remains to be seen with what degree of success this can be implemented or frustrated. If the pointers are reliable, it would appear that Hitler is prepared, though not without bitter struggle, to sacrifice Germany above the southern pocket and to leave the last battle to the gates of. Munich, where, with his flanks protected by the Schwarzwald aid Bohmerwald and his base by the Alps, he will, it is reported, attempt to an Isolationist replaces "until hold siege Roosevelt-presumably at the 1948 elections-and withdraws the American Forces from Germany, leaving the British and Russian Armies of Occupation to wage a Third World War amongst themselves." If true, this is the fanatical dream of a omed from the outset to desperate gang whic g apolitical and economic failure in every

in the bitter and drawn-out battle for law and order in Athens, has been told too often to need repeating. Subjected to criticism, the action taken has proved its worth. The visit of Mr. Churchill on Christmas Day marked a new turn in negotiations between the Government and the guerillas which the appointment of Archbishop Damaskinos as Regent has since stabilized. Rundstedt's Counter Offensive By the first week of November, as a result of Commando landings on Walcheren Island, the battle of the Scheldt had finished and the port of Antwerp was free. It remained now to sweep the approaches and clear the demolitions and sunken ships for the Allies to have available a harbour within 65 miles of the front line. The offensive which this success presaged opened in the middle of 'the month against the German pocket west of the river Maas, and followed a strong assault by American Third Army troops on the fortress of Metz and an attack by the First French Army east of Belfort. Resistance in all sectors was fierce, but by the beginning of December the British Second Army and the Maas bridgehead had eliminated occupied the suburbs of Venio, the Americans had taken Metz and crossed the German border on the Saar front, and the French were beyond Mulhouse in the Doubs Valley. Then came a set-back. On Sunday, 16th December, against a lightly held 75 mile front from Aachen to Trier, Rundstedt launched a fullscale counter-attack employing 150,000 infantry supported by four Panzer and paratroops divisions and the biggest air concentration assembled for some considerable time. The .first thrust drove a corridor through the American line between St. Vith and Malmedy and the second sent the Panzer Lehr Division into Bastogne, leaving an island of Allied troops cut off at St. Vith. These attacks were accompanied by determined fighter-bomber operations which in the first 36 hours cost the enemy 194 aircraft. A Sixty-Mile Penetration By the end of December the break-through had been enlarged to include Beauring, but the enemy had not succeeded in crossing the Meuse-one Panzer division at Celles was within four miles of the river-nor in outflanking Liege: He had, however, penetrated 60 miles west of the pre-attack front line. The story of the elimination of the bulge and the complete defeat of Rundstedt's Army falls within January and February of the New Year. It was successfully accomplished by holding on the south, ,punching at the nose and cutting through the body of the salient from the north. Just as a German victory here would have seriously affected the speed of the Western Offensive, so their defeat and the loss it entailed will probably tell in favour of the Allies.

aspect, f

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nothing but

IA t A, L:e

The Invasion of

Italy

Part V-Stalemate Again


1st October to 31st December. 1944

I. INTRODUCTORY
BY THE END of ,September (as narrated in the last issue of the Review) the Allied Armies in Italy, backed by strong air support, had breached the Gothic Line along its entire length, except in the extreme west. As had happened several times before in the Italian campaign, however, The developthe situation flattered io deceive. ment of this break-through into the occupation of the remaining areas of Italy still under Axis domination was to be the reverse of easy owing to the enemy's renewed stubborn resistance. The general policy of Army Group "C "-the enemy forces holding northern Italy-for the period under review was believed to have been formulated by Hitler himself. Its purpose was simple-to hold the Apennine positions to the last and prevent the Allied Armies entering the agriculturally rich and industrially productive plains of Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto. To carry out his directive, Marshal Kesselring was apparently allowed by the German High Command to retain all his troops-28 German and four Italian divisions (by no means at full-strength, however) and various security formations. The only proviso appeared to be the possible later necessity (which turned out to be the case) of withdrawing at least two divisions from Italy to meet the Russian advance in south-east Europe. Kesselring was not without some good cards in his hand. His divisions in the line actually outnumbered those of the Allies; he still held strong mountain positions and was protected by river barriers; and, nost important, General Winter was again at hand to help. him with his defensive warfare. The Marshal's most serious disadvantage was his tenuous supply lines, There were four main railway routes entering Italy available to him-the Brenner Pass route from Austria and the three lines entering from the north-east. These frontier routes and the more southerly network of lines in the Po valley were wide-open to air attacks and it required constant labour, skill and ingenuit iF Germans' part to slip through sufficiel and equipment to their forces south oo enable them to maintain their effort. ' A t
. -* ..

held by the Allied Supreme Commander, which were certain sooner or later to win him the game, were the superiority enjoyed by his ground forces in equipment and supplies and the ace of overwhelming air superiority. In respect of the latter, however, deteriorating weather was bound to prevent its full explgitation. So far as military strategy was concerned, the Germans appreciated that the " schwerpunkt" of their defensive system lay south of Bologna, and in order to remain strong there some ground would have to be yielded on the Adriatic -flank by gradually withdrawing behind successive water obstacles. The general line held by the Allies in Italy at the beginning of the period, ran, in general terms, from the mouth of the Fuminico river on the Adriatic coast, south-westwards to the Mercato area, thence north-westwards to the area some 20 miles south of Bologna, thence south-westwards to north of Pistoia and south-westwards again to Pietrasantaon the west coast. At that time facing the Germans, from east to west were 1 Canadian, 5 and 10 Corps of the_ Eighth Army in the Adriatic sector, and the Fifth Army, comprising 13, 2 and 4 Corps, across the rest of the peninsula,' with the heaviest concentrations south of Bologna. The Germans at the beginning of October had nineteen or twenty divisions in the battle area which were supplemented by another one or two by the middle of the month. Allied Air Supremacy Although the German Army was still a team to be reckoned with, the Luftwaffe could hardly be said to be fielding even a fourth eleven. The G.A.F., which at the beginning of the Italian campaign, after the immense losses incurred in North Africa and Sicily, could still 'boast a Mediterranean strength of well over 1,000 aircraft, was now represented in Italy by a niggardly 25 long-range and fifteen tactical r ~atre out 30 second-line n t" " t ', S, Other formations italy is, what. M.A.A.F. of M em, 7 -i d Jleft, some nonths since joined
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the main body of the Luftwaffe in the west to help with the Canute-like task of trying to stem' the tides of the Anglo-American invasion and aerial offensive. Brief, infrequent and usually inglorious appearances were also being made in the Italian skies by the Italian Fascist Air Force, comprising a job-lot of about 50 single-engined fighters and 20 torpedo-bombers. In contrast to the enemy's Lilliputian air power the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces in October mustered a strength of over 3,900 aircraft of operational type (that is, excluding the powerful force of transport aircraft) in Italy, Corsica and Sardinia and further forces were based along the North African seabord, in Southern France, on Malta and on Vis. It is true that the Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force, which accounted for 48 per cent. of the above-mentioned strength in Italy and the adjacent western islands, was committed primarily to attacks on objectives

beyond the Italian frontiers, but its efforts could be switched to help the Mediterranean campaign whenever essential. Offensive operations over Italy were, as the Mediterranean previously, ,predominantly For the Allied Tactical Air Force's concern. greater part of the period under review, the Force was composed of the Desert Air Force, (a new the XXII Tactical Air Command formation made up of the short-live'd XII Fighter Command and further former XII T.A.C. units returned from Southern France), the 57th and 42nd U.S.A.A.F. medium bomber wings (the latter Wing left the Mediterranean theatre in mid-November) and the 51st Troop Carrier Wing. For the most part during the last quarter of 1944 D.A.F. operationally controlled three Spitfire, wings, one Kittyhawk/Mustang (P.51) wing, one Spitfire reconnaissance wing, one group, two wings U.S. Thunderbolt (P. 47)
.

V.

Vercelli road and railway bridge under attack on 4th iNovember,

1944.

S15

Ora road and railway bridge under attack on 11th November, 1944.

of light bombers, and one Marauder (B. 26) medium bomber wing. In the above formations R.A.F. squadrons numbered 21, S.A.A.F. twelve, R.A.A.F. four, U.S.A.A.F. three and R.C.A.F. and Polish Air Force one each. The XXII T.A.C. was made up in general of four U.S.A.A.F. Thunderbolt groups (twelve squadrons), a S.A.A.F. wing of Spitfires and Kittyhawks (two S.A.A.F. and two R.A.F. squadrons), a U.S.A.A.F. light bomber group (four squadrons), two R.A.F. Spitfire tactical reconnaissance squadrons, two U.S.A.A.F. Beaufihter night-fighter squadrons, a Brazilian Air Force Thunderbolt squadron and a U.S.A.A.F. photographic squadron. The Tactical medium bomber force consisted for the first half of the period of twelve squadrons of U.S.A.A.F.. Mitchells (B. 25s) and the same number of U.S.A.A.F. Marauders and later of sixteen, squadrons of Mitchells only. In numerical strength M.A.T.A.F. exceeded the 1,800 mark (excluding transport aircraft) for the greater part of the period, but was reduced by some 300 aircraft by the end of the year. M.A.T.A.F's 'Commitments The Tactical Air Force's basic commitments in Italy were (a) counter air force operations, (b) the provision of air protection over the forward areas, (c) affording close support to the ground forces, (d) attacks on enemy lines of communication, (e) the destruction of enemy supplies, and (f) reconnaissance duties. To meet the first two commitments mentioned above-in earlier campaigns of paramount importance-a minimum effort sufficed owing to the Luftwaffe's impotence M.A.T.A.F's' major efforts were absorbed by tasks (c) and (d). As had long been the tradition, the Desert Air Force continued to give intimate aid to the Eighth Army and the XXII Tactical Air Command was made responsible for supporting the Fifth Army's operations. When necessary some effort could

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to be the pounding of the enemy's i oe no munication-particularly railways-in" orde to restrict his build-up in the battle area. Shortly after the beginning of the period under review, the Desert Air Force was allotted the area east and north of the line Verona-Ostiglia-Bologna for attacks on communications and the XXII Tactical Air Command was responsible for attacks to the west of that area. Later in the period the area of the latter Command was extended further east. The medium bomber's function was to add weight to the attacks in the Po valley and strike at vulnerable points further north. From November onwards the Tactical Air Force- extended its attacks on railways northwards, with special emphasis on the Brenner Pass line, as it became increasingly clear that the destruction of the bridges over the Po had not resulted in the expected Allied stranglehold on supplies reaching the German Army in the field. Less help was then required from the Strategic Air Force against the frontier routes. The Coastal Air Force's commitments so far as the Italian campaign was concerned included the protection -of the rear areas and convoys; anti-shipping activity in the Gulf of Genoa and the northern Adriatic; supplementary attacks on road transport and other targets, particularly in north-west Italy; and air-sea rescue missions. It is not purposed in this account to give details of the Royal Navy's achievements. But it should be borne in mind that protective duties (albeit now restricted) remained a constant commitment, offensive action was taken against enemy shipping in the Ligurian and northern Adriatic seas, and bombardments were carried out of the Genoa area.

II. RENEWAL OF ENEMY RESISTANCE


Fifth Army's " Minor Advances " October opened with leading troops of the Fifth Army in the central sector sixteen miles south of Bologna-the key strong-point of the German defence line. It was immediately evident that not only a dogged defence but local counter-attacks could be expected, reminiscent of the palmiest days of the Gustav line resistance. To stiffen his divisions in the threatened central sector, Kesselring. transferred not only piecemeal reinforcements from his Adriatic flank but more substantial formations from the quiet western sector and the Genoa area. The remark '" Minor advances have been made against very stiff opposition and most difficult terrain," culled from a despatch of this time, could, accordingly, be applied to the whole of y's ctvity during the first half of October. An attempted break-through to Bologna, aided by the air support considered in the following section, was found to be impracticable. On 15th October 13 Corps was held up near Bocconi and seven miles or so north of Palazzuoola; 2 Corps, advancing along the Firenzwola-Bologna axis, after heavy fighting were in possession of Livergnano (three Land a half miles north of Loiano); and 4 Corps troops, advancing on either side of Highway 64, were three miles south-east of Vergato, and further west in the Serchio valley had reached Gallicano. These limited advances-particularly in the. central sectorwere helped, and in some cases perhaps made rossible, by the air support mentioned ,i he nex tio

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1944

Operation "Pancake" Apart from a maximum effort on the first day of the month, when M.A.T.A.F's sorties on all duties exceeded the 1,200 mark, reports on Allied air activity up to 12th October usually began, " Bad weather contiriued to hamper operations." This bald statement when applied to Italian operations should conjure up a picture of landing grounds turned into quagmires as well as lowering winter skies inimical to tactical missions. During the first eleven days of October aircraft under the operational control of XII Fighter Command (later in the month re-designated XXII T.A.C.) flew most of the 2,400 sorties carried out on battlefield operations ; even so, strong close-support was practicable on five days only. U.S. Thunderbolts played the major part with attacks on enemy's positions, buildings, troop concentrations, guns, etc., mainly in the central sector and U.S. Bostons helped during the earlier part of October by bombing bivouac areas and dumps. On the first four days of the month, also, D.A.F. directed most of the effort of its Kittyhawks and Mustangs and a Spitbomber wing towards helping the thrust towards Bologna; in particular, four missions flown against Loiano on the 3rd (in the direct path of our troops) succeeded in virtually demolishing the northern part of that fortified town. These operations, however, only represented ' aerial skirmishing before the full-scale M.A.T.A.F.-.cum-M.A.S.A.F. blitz of 12th October-the intensive phase of Operation " Pancake." As its code-name suggests, the operation was designed to flatten enemy opposition-in this instance in the path of the Fifth Army troops pressing on towards Bologna. The more distant targets in the Bologna area were allotted to the Strategic heavy bombers and Tactical medium bombers, while the Tactical fighter-bombers ranged over the battlefield proper. On 12th October the attacking heavies numbered 697 (over 100 more were thwarted by bad weather from reaching their objective); effective U.S. Mitchell sorties came to 141 (attacks by 72 more Mitchells were frustrated by cloud cover and the entire effort of the U.S. Marauder wing was also rendered abortive); and over 270 fighter-bombers took part. The total bomb-load dropped in this most concentrated attack by M.A.A.F. bombers up to that date amounted to 1,661 tons. The heavy bombers attacked seven "material" targets (vehicle workshops, stores and ammunition depots) and two barracks and a bivouac area, and the mediums pounded two bivouac and stores area targets, a barracks and a fuel dump. Of. the fourteen targets attacked by the Allied bombers photographic interpretation showed that five could be termed destroyed and eight damaged. The fighter-bombers, meaniwhile, attacked 60 targets in the usual " close-support " category. On 13th and 15th October the fighter-bombers continued their close-support operations ,at maximum

pressure and on the latter day the medium bombers put up a full-scale effort against Po valley communications to hamper the supply of the central sector. Apart from the material damage caused in the " Pancake" operations, reports from military units emphasised the tonic effect on the morale of our own troops and such immediate results as the decrease in enemy artillery fire. A report issued by G-2, Fifth Army, concluded by saying that "the air support... was eminently successful.. Classified targets were attacked in a timely, accurate and most effective manner, thus aiding materially the advance of the Fifth Army in taking: important terrain." The Fifth Army's projected break-through to Bologna did not, however, as already mentioned, materialise. The German defence had again proved a nut which could not be cracked by a short, intensive effort-steady and prolonged Army-Air Force pressure was again required. Eighth Army Approaches Cesena In the Adriatic sector, meanwhile, the Eighth Army was pushing slowly. forward. At the beginning of October the Canadians had reached the line, of the Fiumicino river from the sea up to and including Savignano; on their left 5 Corps had advanced a little beyond Tribola; and 10 Corps troops had followed up the enemy's withdrawal along the remainder of the Eighth Army's front. Our forces had as aim an advance towards Bologna from the south-east and a simultaneous progress up the Adriatic coast. The Germans, in accordance with their general policy, were fighting a stubborn action and yielding ground only under extreme pressure, while exploiting terrain and weather conditions to the maximum extent. In spite of atrocious weather which, inter alia, caused the water-logging of several eastern landing-grounds-that at lesi with its concrete runway was a striking dry exception-D.A.F. rendered as far as possible its usual yeoman service to the Eighth Army. SFor the first four days of the month D.A.F's main close-support, as mentioned previously, was given to the Fifth Army troops in the central sector; at the same time, however, the air offensive was continued against the bridges across the Savio river, which was clearly the enemy's next major defence line against the Eighth Army. Bad weather then prevented any appreciable close-support until the 7th when the majority of the 500 sorties flown helped Canadian troops in the Gatteo area; in addition, aircraft under advanced " Rover" control succeeded in dispersing a threatened enemy counter-attack near Monte-Leone. For the next eight days intermittent bad weather interfered with D.A.F's effort-total daily sorties on all duties varying from nil to 510. Nevertheless, accurate close" control, was support, generally under p Iile, leS particularly afforded the Ar

around Cesena; all the Savio road bridges were cut by 15th October; and, as mentioned later, a considerable toll was taken of rail and canal transport in the rear eastern areas. By mid-October, helped and heartened by D.A.F's help, Canadian troops had crossed the Fiumicino river and the Rigorsa, further west; leading elements of 5 Coips were only three miles south of Cesena, and advanced troops of 10 Corps had reached Ranchio. Fifth Army's Advance Stemmed During the third week of October Kesselring switched further crack units from the Adriatic front westwards to pack the approach to Bologna from the south-east. There were then eleven German divisions astride the main axis of the Fifth Army as compared with seven opposing Sthe Eighth Army's advance and two in the quiet western area. In the latter sector, also, were elements of an Italian Republican Division sandwiched between more reliable German troops in the old Western Desert style. Until 26th October the Fifth Army continued to make a little progress, but then a deterioration in the weather greatly aided the enemy's defence. As one of the Supreme Commander's ,reports at this time put it: "Heavy rains have made the Italian battle area a sea of mud. All rivers were at flood stage throughout most of the period (26th to 29th October). Bridges were washed out, many roads were flooded, and in some areas supplies could be moved only by mules or manhandling." Thus by the end of the month the enemy had the situation south of Bologna reasonably well in hand and, in particular, had screened the vital areas between Route 65 and Castel San Pietro with his three best divisions, which had previously operated in the Adriatic sector. The unfavourable weather inevitably restricted the air support which could be afforded the Fifth Army. During the first half of October, as already pointed out, XXII T.A.C. directed its main effort against close-support targets. During the last sixteen days of October XXII T.A.C's effort duties-was almost sorties on all -2,294 equally divided between battlefield commitments and attacks on rear communications, as in view of the slowing up of ground operations and bad weather over the forward areas the communications attacks, which are considered later, now paid better dividends. On only half of the days in the latter part of October was an appreciable, effort over the Fifth Army's battle area practicable; weather conditions from 25th to 30th October, in particular, almost The U.S. prevented air operations entirely. Thunderbolt activity against guns and enemy positions-particularly against the concentrations south of Faenza, Imola and Bologna-was strongest and most successful on the 16th, 19th, 20th, 24th and i31st. On a few occasions, also, Tactical medium bombers added more weight to

the attacks by bombing storage dep6ts at Castel San Pietro and Imola and communications in the former area. The U.S. Bostons operated in force only once against troop concentrations in the central sector, but, in addition, in a limited armed reconnaissance effort on a few nights covered the Bologna area as well as the territory westwards to the coast. Fall of Cesena Further east, in the meantime, the Eighth Army's continued pressure on the weakened German, forces on the Adriatic front forced them to yield more ground. The Canadians, advancing on their Rimini Cesena axis, crossed yet another river obstacle and by the beginning of the fourth week in October, having taken Cervia in their stride, were along the line of the Savio, with leading elements across the river some two miles north of Cesena. The latter town, on the main Rimini Bologna route, had fallen, meanwhile, to 5 Corps' right flank in conjunction with Canadian troops, and a bridgehead across the Savio to the west of the town had been established. To the south-west, 2 Polish Corps (who had taken over from 10 Corps) had made a general advance of five miles or so, capturing Galatea and Civitella di Romagna. By the end of the month 1 Canadian Corps troops in the coastal sector were within seven miles of Ravenna and other elements had reached the Ronco river east of Forli; 5 Corps had crossed the Ronco and forward units were three to four miles south of Forli; and the Poles on the left flank had also kept pace with the general advance. Thus the Eighth Army in its drive towards Bologna from the Rimini area had progressed a third to a half of the way and in the coastal sector well over three-quarters of the way to Ravenna. D.A.F's close support to our forces on the Adriatic front was inevitably patchy, due to the adverse weather and, particularly, the "sea of mud" already mentioned. On five of the last sixteen days in October sorties fell below 100, including three blank or virtually blank days; nevertheless, by taking advantage of a few spells of good weather D.A.F's total effort topped the 3,300 sorties mark. The areas covered by the close-support operations (which accounted for about half of the total effort) reflected the course of the Eighth Army's. advance changing from below Cesena to --.. -.. Ii-~ . - . . . .....-- 4 oC ... .. . .. . . . .... . west of that town and south of Forli. High-lights of the D.A.F. battlefield attacks were the harassing of the enemy's movement across the Savio river on 20th October; help for our ground forces in their enlargement of their Savio bridgehead on the 24th; harassing the enemy's retreat to the Ronco river line on the 25th; and support for operations in the Meldola-Forli area on the last day of the month. After a spell of inactivity due to unserviceable landing grounds, did good work, particularly

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dd odwrk atiual

against a fortified village six miles west of Cesena, but the Marauder squadrons were still, unfortunately, bogged down. Attacks on Enemy Communications Operation An Allied Force Headquarters' Memorandum issued in the spring of 1944 stated that "the main function of all classes of bomber aircraft in a land campaign is to interfere with movement of enemy forces and their supplies." This dictum had certainly been acted upon in Italy, reaching its apotheosis of achievement two months prior to and during the "Diadem" offensive (begun 12th May, 1944), when the intensive air attacks on the enemy's communications rendered his build-up in central Italy iisufficient to meet the demands of sustained heavy fighting. For a time then in the early summer of 1944 it looked as if the Allied armies were all set for a drive to the extreme north of the peninsula and the air offensive against lines of communications was therefore somewhat relaxed. In July, however, it was evident this rapid advance was not going to materialise immediately and the paramount need was to restrict the enemy's build-up south of the Po. The bombing of the Po bridges was begun accordingly on 12th July and attacks on communications, particularly railways, traversing the entire Po valley became M.A.T.A.F's main commitment. The Strategic bombers, meanwhile, attended to the disruption of the frontier routes at their more distant points and rear. marshalling yards as previously. This division of labour between the two Forces still obtained during October, the month under immediate review, So far as M.A.T.A.F's attacks onocommunications were concerned, the areas covered by the three main formations in October were as follows, The Desert Air Force operated to the east of the Verona-Ostiglia-Bologna railway; XXII T.A.C. covered the more extensive territory to the west of that line; and the medium bombers (ranging over both these areas) concentrated on cutting bridges north of the Po and across the river itself. s a SMay s ofcsD m u c A D s c om S F. attacksparticularly the destruction of the Savio river bridges-were bound up with the advance of the Eighth Army and have already been mentioned, Eighth Army and have aleady' been mentioned Further north, cuts inflicted on railways were most prevalent on the Verona-Modena and Rvenra-Bologna stretches. On a Mnumber of Ravonenna-Bologna stretches days, also, armed reconnaissances-particularly by Mustangs-over the rear north-eastern areas imposed- a considerable toll on rail trafficoutstanding achievements being the destrudtion of seventeen locomotives on 12th October, 30 on the 21st and ten on the 30th. Equally striking results were obtained against canal traffic, a total of 52 boats and barges being destroyed and 166 damaged.
Meanwhile, XXII T.A.C., whose effort aga

of

co

eastwa

d'

against military traffic occurred in the Cremona Mantua area (the results achieved are included in the. tntn.la given lte-r); mlmernis ra.il c.utf wirP affected on the Faenza-Bologna line and in the Milan and Genoa areas; and roads were cratered most extensively between Ferrara and Parma and the bomb-line. , " The U.S. medium bombers' effort during October was whittled down by unfavourable weather to an even greater extent than that of the light and fighter-bombers, their total effective sorties for the month on all duties amounting to 1,947-just over half of their September total. During the eleven days when operations were practicable, the medium bombers carried out 85 attacks on bridges, destroying sixteen and damaging 27. Most of the missions were flown north of the Po, particular attention being paid to lines running south to Milan and Padua. Routes to the north and west of Milan Were cut as the result of the attacks on the railway bridge at Ponte San Pietro, and bridges at Lonate Pazzalo and Galliate and combined road-rail bridges at Cameri and Magenta.. The routes running into the Po valley from the north-east were blocked by the bombing of the railway bridges at Nervesa, Piazzola and Padua.Lateral lines running through Mantua a~d Verona were disrupted at various points; and four Po bridges, which had not previously been permanently disabled, were attacked. The combined M.A.T.A.F. results of the attacks on communications in October were:-44 bridges destroyed and 83 damaged; 2401 cuts on railway tracks; one tunnel destroyed and two damaged; 280 locomotives destroyed and 76 damaged; 645 railway carriages and wagons destroyed and 1,384 damaged; 423 military vehicles destroyed and 290 damaged; and 58 ships and boats sunk and 174 damaged, A further limiting of enemy supplies was achieved by the destruction of 23 dumps. Meanwhile, the Strategic Air Force in the course of operations against communications on three days and seven nights dropped a total bomb-load of 20 tons, mainly on the enemy's bomb-load of 2,500 tons, mainly on the enemy's more northern commuinications, concentrating particularly on the important Brenner Pass route. part ary o the prevented the coPatinuous Bad weather, however, prevented the coitinuous effort necessary to achieve a serious interdiction the frontier routes. The Coastal Air Force's quota to the offensive against enemy communications during October included the sinking of two merchant vessels and the damaging of twelve more, nine smaller craft sunk and 52 damaged, and one bridge destroyed and one damaged. Failure to Stem Enemy's Supplies . iosm m oned in the o e hted the fial phase of l onth co centrated effort in the Po valley and the establishing of a line of

communications was more pronounced in latter half 9f the month, despite the limi in factor of bad weather maintained the interdic ion

ee in

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Points of Interdiction by Air at 13th November, 1944.


interdiction along the Po, Piave and Ticino rivers -- an air offensive which had as twin objectives the limiting of the enemy's build-up south of the Po and the hampering of an expected withdrawal of the German armies to the Alps. Considering the limiting factor of bad weather in October, the M.A.T.A.F. effort during the month achieved a general success, particularly in continuing to stop virtually all transportation across the Po to the battle area during the hours. of daylightIn view of the success of the above-mentioned sustained interdiction offensive and M.A.S.A.F's intermittent cutting of the frontier routes, the question naturally arises, "How did the enemy maintain a sufficient flow of supplies to his troops to withstand full-scale attacks by both the Fifth and Eighth Armies? " The answer is, " By an intensive repair programme and a number of ingenious improvisations." These are considered in more detail elsewhere in the Review, but it is pertinent here to emphasise some of apB2W H schemes at this period. So far as the actual entry of supplies into Italy was concerned, the Germans countered to a great extent the effect of the air attacks on the frontier routes by skilled and speedy repairs (rendered more easy by the accumulation of bridging materials near target sites) and the construction of rail diversions around vulnerable points. For the passage of supplies over the rivers further south, particularly over the Po, the enemy's repair programme could not keep pace with the damage inflicted; consequently the use of pontoon bridges at night only, crossings by ferries (also principally at night), the construction of pipe lines and other methods were brought into play. Attempts were made by both Strategic and Tactical night bombers to interfere with the enemy's nocturnal supply activities, but, in general, these achieved little success owing to the difficulties of locating the targets (the locations of the pontoon bridges were constantly changed,

Aircraft over the target at Magenta road bridge, two spans of which were cut.
poor visibility 'usually for instance),) the prevailing, and insufficient forces available for a sustained effort. Thus, in spite of the Allied air attacks the Germans continued to supply their forward troops with their estimated needs of approximately 2,000 tons daily. It must be emphasised, however, that the enemy's accumulation of supplies was kept down to a level sufficient only for defensive warfare and was quite inadequate for any sustained major offensive action. Features of M.A.T.A.F's October Effort In certain respects October ended a phase of particular, in the M.A.T.A.F. activity. In following moth the Force's zone -of operations was to be significantly extended in Italy and its aid was once more to be required in Yugoslavia. The dominant feature of the month was the limiting factor of bad weather. M.A.T.A.F's effective operational sorties (excluding transport aircraft missions) came to 13,554 - nearly 10,000 short of the September figure; and the total bomb-load dropped just exceeded the 8,000 tqns mark, or a little over half of the previous month's tonnage. Nearly 4,500 tons were dropped on lines of communication and just over 3,300 tons on enemy concentrations. Details of the results achieved have already been given. Help with the important work of destroying the enemy's morale was provided by five missions flown by a total of 36 U.S. Mitchells on "nickel"

StEl[

~B1~P~BB

Bombs exploding on the Magenta road bridge.

Results of the attack on the Magenta road bridge.

(leaflet) dropping over the areas of Bologna, Imola and Forli. The enemy's air force was still conspicuous by its absence. M.A.T.A.F's combat victories, accordingly, amounted to a mere eight enemy aircraft destroyed and seven " probables." A few more. (including reconnaissance aircraft) were destroyed on the ground, particularly by XXII T.A.C. Thunderbolts. , M.A.T.A.F's operational losses were 20 bombers and 77 fighters (including reconnaissance aircraft); two of these losses only. were traced definitely to enemy air action, the rest being due to flak and other causes.

... A

was

the rocket an Evidence as to their worth usey the end of October, but their la u ed that they were yery definitely worth their salt. Features of 51st Troop Carrier Wing's effort, apart from the routine work of ferrying personnel and equipment, included the evacuation of nearly 1,500 patients from the forward areas; the ferrying of several thousands of reinforcement troops from France to Italy; and help with Balkan operations.

III. M.A.T.A.F's INCREASED COMMITMENTS


Capture of Forli The Allied Armies' limited gains during the early part of November-and, as it turned out, for the whole of the month-were made. almost entirely by Eighth Army troops on the Adriatic front. As previously, the Germans defended stubbornly and exploited the river barriers to the fullest extent, and once again such statements as, " Rain and mud continue to.-hamper operations " introduced many of the Allied Commander's communiques. During the first few days of the month a halt was called to the advance of the Canadians' right flank up the east coast, but 5 Corps continued to press on towards Fori--over half the way to Faenza from Cesena on the Rimii- Bologna axis. Polish troops on the left flank, meanwhile, continued to make progress further south. Beginning on 1st November the Tactical Air Force again assumed commitments in the Balkans, the formations affected being the Desert Air Force and the Tactical medium bomber wings. This additional activity-which is considered elsewhere in the Review-inevitably implied a reduction in D.A.F's effort on closesupport for the Eighth Army, certain wings, in effect, being held for employment against Balkan targets on a first priority basis. In the event, however, the decrease in D.A.F's Italian effort was not so great as anticipated as the weather in Yugoslavid was often worse than in Italy, permitting Tactical operations on only half the days of the month. The Desert Air Force's small effort during the first four days of November was mainly directed across the Adriatic, but on the 5th began a spell of four days good flying weather in Italy which coincided with the critical phase of the battle for Forli. On the opening day of this good weather spell D.A.F. flew approximately half of its 400 sorties in support of our troops approaching Forli and on the following day a still greater effort was practicable, while ahead of the Canadians bridges over the Ronco river south of Ravenna were also successfully attacked. On the 7th, as the battle raged in the vicinity of the Forli airfield, some two miles from the town, the close-support effort was further stepped-up; in addition to over 300 D.A.F. sorties against particular close-support targets 92 Tactical U.S. Marauders added weight to the air assault by "fragging" the areas of the enemy's troop concentrations. The next day 90 per cent. of D.A.F's 526 sorties were flown in attacks ahead of the advancing 5 Corps, who captured Forli on the 9th. The best indication of the success achieved by the air support is given by citing typical passages from the messages of thanks and congratulations addressed to the Desert Air Force. The Brigadier commanding a British infantry division engaged in the fighting wrote to the A.O.C., D.A.F., "In my experience air support has never been closer 6r more accurate, and all my chaps were tremendously stimulated by it. Such co-operation' sends their tails right over their heads." On a still higher level the G.O.C., 5 Corps, stated that, "The speed of answering calls, the accuracy of bombing and straffing and the way in which all attacks were pressed home at low level was admired and appreciated by all ranks. The destructive and moral effect on the enemy was the greatest contribution to the success of to-day's operations." The Approach to Faenza After Forli had fallen the next main item on the Eighth Army's programme was an advance to Faenza, still further along Highway 9 in the direction of the eventual goal of Bologna. By 20th November, 5 Corps in their progress 'towards Faenza had established positions along the east bank of the Montone river, seven miles north of Forli, and were holding a line along the Cosina river, south of Highway 9. Further south still the Poles, after a temporary set-back, were pushing forward in the area north-west of Castrocaro, while in the coastal sector advanced Canadian units were only two miles south of Ravenna.

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SAccording to Army sources the operation was largely responsible for preventing the enemy using his reserve forces in the Faenza sector. By 24th November, also, D.A.F. had succeeded in destroying two of the bridges over the Lamone at Faenza and seriously damaging the third. During the last six days of November, however, bad weather caused a virtual cessation of the air activity over the Adriatic sector. The only point of interest was the shooting down of two Stuka nuisance-raiders-one by a Beaufighter and one by anti-aircraft fire-on the evening of the 28th over the Forli-Ravenna area. Although swollen streams had now slowed up the advance of our ground troops, by the end of November 5 Corps and 2 Polish Corps held a line along the Lamone river from a point four miles north-east of Faenza to some nine miles southwest of the town and were preparing for a renewed attack. Negligible Change on the Fifth Army's Front An indication of the difficulties of the terrain and weather confronting the Allied armies in Itay is given by the fact that the November advance of the Eighth Army from the Ronco to the Lamone river, considered in the preceding sub-sections, was a mere eleven miles (at the nearest points) as the plane flies. And yet this progress could be termed considerable compared with the progress of the Fifth Army against the formidable defence screening the approaches to Bologna and in the more lightly-held areas to the/ west. It was clear that if a break-through to' Bologna could not be effected in October there was far Sless hope of its accomplishment in November, when weather conditions had further deteriorated, the impetus of our assault had been lost and the Germans had further stabilised their lines of defence. In 2 Corps' sector, therefore, there was virtually no change in our positions during November and the opportunity was taken of regrouping and bringing up reliefs. On the Fifth Army's right flank, however, Indian troops of 13 Corps made limited advances in the Modigliana area, beat off a number of counter-attacks and made contact with elements of 2 Polish Corps of the Eighth Army. In the western battle area minor advances were made by 4 Corps in areas to the south-west of Vergato-not without local counter-attacks by the enemy; two or three miles progress was made up the Serchio valley;, and a slight amelioration of our positions occurred on the Ligurian flank. In view of the largely static military situation, the general bad weather over the forward areas, and the more lucrative targets available in the shape of communications and dumps (considered later), intimate support df the Fifth Army in November by XXII T.A.C. was a minor activity, accountin for less than a third of its total effort s. Army targets most consistently l

From 16th to 20th November,. of the 3, sorties flown by the Desert Air, Forceabout two-thirds was devoted to iclose-support work. The light bombers we're again able to add weight to the fighter-bomber attacks, but the Marauders were still non-participants due to unserviceable landing grounds. The main part of the closesupport effort was directed to helping the drive ,on Faenza and good immediate results were reported by the forward "Rover" controls. An example of the more general results achieved was the 2,000 yards advance along Highway 9, achieved by a British division on 12th November after the way had been cleared by an intensive air blitz. In addition to attacks on the usual battlefield a sustained offensive (including help frm strgets the Tactical U.S. Mitchells) was kept up against the enemy's three bridges at Faenza. Until the 18th the bridges were all serviceable-" apparently having charmed lives," as the compiler of the D.A.F. War Diary put it; in the course of the next three days operations, however, all were blocked or damaged.

Operation " Harry" The Eighth Army was now poised for a direct assault on Faenza. The plan was to make the main thrust along the axis of Highway 9, the attack on a four division scale to open on 21st November. The first necessity was for 5 Corps to establish a bridgehead over the Cosina prior to 'a further advance to the Lamone river. As it was desired, to launch a daylight assault,. considerable bomber support was necessary. To aid the establishment of the Cosina river bridgehead and the ' subsequent advance a maximum close-support programme was laid on, bearing the code-name of Operation "Harry." Apart from a further stepping-up of D.A.F's effort, the main feature was the calling in of the Tactical U.S. Mitchell wings. In the course of operations on 21st, 22nd and 24th November, the Ameican medium bombers flew a total of 321 sorties against enemy concentrations, particularly nebelwerfers, mortars, field guns and semiportable guns, in the general Faenza, area; in order to prevent their use against 5 Corps troops crossing the Cosina river. Meanwhile, of the Desert Air Force's total of 1,500 sorties flown from 21st to 24th November, inclusive, about 1,200 were on close-support missions. Both pre-arranged and "Rover" control targets were attacked by the fighter-bombers, a special feature of the assaults being the success achieved by rocket-firing U.S. Thunderbolts. At long last, also, the D.A.F. Marauders resumed operations and they, together with the Baltimores, effectively pounded defended areas, particularly to the south of Faenza in the Polish troops' sphere of influence. In all the "Harry" attacks small bombs were used as it was essential to avoid creating road blocks in the path of our ata kingm tr psA

attacked by the T.S. Thunderbolts and, in the latter part of the month, also by the 8th S.A.A.F. Wing Spitbombers (transferred from D.A.F.), were-guns, occupied buildings, strong-points, command posts -and headquatters in the central sector at the vulnerable approaches to Bologna from the southeast and south; there was also a lesser effort against the defended areas some.vhat more to the west in the general Vergato area. Blockade of, the Frontier Routes with the direct assistance Simultaneously afforded the Eighth and Fifth Armies, mentioned in the preceding- pages, the Tactical Air Force was,; as previously, continually engaged in cutting the enemy's Italian 'lines of communication.

In

addition to the few iriYge n n ' rei : ' fills were repeatedly bombed and other targets included stretches of track and corniches. The Strategic bombers for their part hit several vulnerable points, including the Ora and Abes bridges and two marshalling yards,. and tore up many portions of line. In addition, a successful M.A.T.A.F. effort was directed against transformer stations on the southern half of the route in order to: force the enemy to substitute steam for electric power, with a resultant reduction in traffic capacity. This activity-Operation "Bingo "-is considered separately' elsewhere in the Review. The interdiction of the Brenner route was somewhat weakened after 19th November due to adverse weather and the switching of. the medium bomber effort against targets at Faenza in support of the Eighth Army (mentioned on the preceding page). The XXII T.A.C. fighterbombers then lent a hand in helping to -maintain most outstapnding Brenner cuts-.their the achievements being the blowing up of an ammunition train and a great -stretch of track, on the by-pass line near Ospedvaletto on 21st November and the widespread devastation of track on the lower section of the main route a week ,later. As a result of the Tactical-cum-Strategic offensive, all evidence indicated that the Brenner route was not open to through-traffic for more than 48 hours from 4th November to the end of the month. This aerial blockade was accomplished moreover, in spite of very heavy flak defences and smoke screens. Meanwhile,, the north-eastern frontier routes were also being attended to. Against these the medium bombers. delivered 35 attacks (570 sorties). In particular, ten attacks were made on the railway bridges at Padua; other targets attacked were in the territory further north and east as far as the Tomba bridge and tothe west to Montebello on the Vicenza-Verona line. The Strategic bombers helped by attacking the three principal bridges over the Tagliamento river with a further 236 tons. 1 At the end of November one railway bridge only-that at Nervesa-was serviceable over the four main rivers between Udine and Padua. As in the case of the Brenner route, the M.A.T.A.F. - M.A.S.A.F. attacks rendered throughtraffic on the three north-eastern frontier railway routes virtually Impracticable from 4th .November to the end of the month. Interdiction in Po Valley Continued In addition t blocking the entrances into taly, it was still necessary to maintain the interdiction of routes across the Po valley, in order to isolate the German forces in the line as far 'as possible from their more forward supply points. It should be noted, however, that north of the Po the

This

activity

absorbed

the greater

part

of

Expressed In M.A.T.A.F's November. effort. terms of bombs dropped, attacks on Italian communications accounted for 65 per cent, of M.A.T.A.F's total of' 10,671 tons for the month; in addition, there was an extensive straffing effort (including the employment of rockets). November witnessed a distinct change of policy in M.A.T.A.F's offensive against' communicatlons. As indicated on pages 22 and 23, M.A.T.A.F's Interdiction of communications in the Po valley and the cutting of bridges over the Piave and Ticino rivers, combined with' M.A.S.A.F's -bombing of the more distant vulnerable points on the frontier routes, narrowed but failed to dam up the stream of enemy supplies reaching the German forces in the field. A new tack was was decided that clearly necessary 'and it M.A.T.A.F. should now concentrate' primarily on traffic enemy railway actually preventing entering Italy by the north-central and northeastern frontier routes-the Brenner Pass line, the by-pass line from Trento to Cismon and the routes- through north-eastern Italy, where they crossed the Brenta, Piave and Tagliamento rivers. M.A.S.A.F. bombers were afso available from time to time, as previously, to add weight to the bombing of the frontier routes.' A supplementary advantage of the new policy was the fact that the enemy's export of food and industrial equipment from Italy .to the Reich would also inevitably be, handicapped. On the above-mentioned frontier. routes' the Tactical medium bombers dropped 44 per cent. of-their total November bomb-load of a little over 5,500 tons and M.A.S.A.F. unloaded a further

1,000 tons.
The medium bombers' offensive against the Brenner Pass route-the enemy's most vital supply line-began on 4th November andwas maintained almost daily until the 19th. For the first week their sphere of operations extended only to Trento, 'while the Strategic heavy bombers covered the more northerly section of the route; later M.A.T.A.F. undertook to attack the entire route. The medium bombers 'dellvered- 56 attacks of which four-fifths were against the primary line,

DI

previou4lna'rf rhrdition

along ;h Ticino river

-w ich a the Germans reinforcing north-west Italy-was now switched eastwards to the river Adda, as Italians were replacing German troops in the north-west, and this move could be accomplished by short road journeys. Attacks on the Adda bridges, in particular, prevented the rail movement of supplies from Milan and Turin to the battle area and to the east. The main burden of the Po valley communication attacks in November fell on the Tactical fighter-bombers. Their primary area was the territory stretching from the bomb-line to the Po river, from the east coast westwards to Piacenza; of secondary importance was the area north of the river up to Verona. The XXII T.A.C's sphere of responsibility indicated on page 21-in view of D.A.F's extra Balkan commitments-was extended eastwards to the line Verona along the river Adige to Legnano and then southwards to the Po. Most of XXII T.A.C's November effort of over 4,000 sorties against communications targets were flown in the Po valley. D.A.F's effort' against communications was far less owing to its intensive, close-support activity, but most of its assaults on bridges and tracks also occurred in the Po valley, as well as a quarter of its effort against railway traffic-the remainder being directed across the Adriatic. The XXII T.A.C. destroyed or damaged 98 bridges and its toll of railway carriages and wagons put out of action on five particular days exceeded the 1,000 mark; most damage to railway tracks was done on the line running west from Verona and that between Bologna and Piacenza. The Desert Air Force, for its pai't, gave regular attention to the Padua Ferrara line and carried out armed reconnaissance on seven days over the 'railways in the area Ferrara-Fenza-Ravenna-all supply lines for the enemy forces facing the Eighth Army. Both XXII T.A.C's and D.A.F's best results against roads and vehicles were achieved in the course of missions primarily against railway targets. The medium bombers' activity against the Po valley bridges was directed mainly against those in the west-central sector: in addition, ten attacks were made on repaired bridges over the Po itself, particularly on the one at Casale Monferrato The Strategic bombers also helped by attacking the heavily-defended Ferrara bridge by day and a pontoon bridge at Ficarolo by night. Other attempts to defeat the enemy's transportation of supplies across the Po included U.S. Boston and U.S. Thunderbolt attacks on pontoon bridges and ferry sites, on stores of pontoons hidden by day along the banks in readiness for their night use, on river-craft, and on the newlylaid oil pipe-lines.
Combined RResults The acce tpted claims- of M.A.T.A.F's pilots against com munication targets during November (including attacks in Yugoslavia) were as folows '- 74

631 cuts on railway tracks; 665 locomotives destroyed or damaged (including a high proportion in Yugoslavia); 2,797 units of rolling stock destroyed or damaged; 1,060 vehicles destroyed or damaged; and 28 small craft sunk and 63 damaged. The Coastal Air Force co-operated by sinking three merchant vessels and damaging another three and sinking seventeen smaller craft and damaging 45 more; putting out of action three bridges and hitting another nine; and destroying or damaging 38 vehicles and 26 units of rolling stock. M.A.S.A.F's effort and general achievements against the enemy's Italian communications have already been indicated. Enemy Supply Situation Still Uncritical Complementary to the air offensive over the enemy's lines of communication was M.A.T.A.F's effort against the German stores already accumulated. In all, about 50 dumps or stores dep6ts were attacked during November, chiefly during the third week of the month. Most attention was paid to ammunition and fuel dumps, with a lesser effort against food stores. The best results against fuel dumps, which were now mainly located north of the Po, were achieved in the area between the river and the Brescia-Verona railway line. The main attacks on ammunition dumps, on the other hand, were delivered' against those just behind the front in the Bologna, Imola and Faenza areas. In all, 44 .dumps were destroyed (eighteen fuel, ten ammunition and sixteen other dumps) and, in addition, three factories were put out of action and eleven damaged. Nevertheless, this destruction of the enemy's supplies and the continued cutting of his communications were still- insufficient to prevent Kesselring maintaining a sufficient build-up south of the Po for defensive warfare. The enemy's ingenious improvisations for maintaining a restricted stream of supplies and reinforcements to the front, were still successful in denying to the Allied Air Forces the ultimate and logical result of their' sustained offensive. Counter Air Force Operations For the first time for some months an appreciable effort in November was again directed against the enemy's Italian airfields. In view of the disparity in strengths between the opposing air forces, the M.A.A.F. attacks savoured something of a Goliath belabouring Tom Thumb. Yet Tom Thumb-in the shape of the Italian Fascist Republican Air Force, flying mainly ME. 109s with German markings-had merited the chastisement for. the revived interference, albeit usually token, with Allied medium and heavy bomber missions, particularly over the Brenner Pass route. The enemy fighters' main victory was, scored on the 5th when three U.S. Marauders were shot The los s of five aircraft in achieving this
2 ( i

ed

4+;

UI

Nervesa R.R. bridge di~ring attack.

by

. ~~i"I~i~ i: I

r~sr~ "d~~4~~~
success, however, appeared to have dampened the Fascist flyers' ardour as the 30 to 35 fighters observed on the next day studiously avoided combat. The renewed sporadic activity of enemy fighters meant that the Tactical medium bombers had once again to be given fighter escort; it constituted a threat to the success of our 'air operations against the frontier routes, small it is true, but best stamped out at the outset; and provided enemy propagandists with the opportunity of puffing up this vest-pocket effort to formidable proportions for use as a morale builder. Photographic reconnaissance revealed that the Italian fighters, like those of the few remaining German units, were dispersed on several airfields. In particular, the Italian fighters were based mainly at VilIafranca, Vicenza, Aviano and Udine; the night-harassing Stukas at Villafranca and Vicenza; the Tac/R ME.109s at Udine; and the long-range reconnaissance aircraft at Bergamo and Ghedi. On the night of the 17/i8th, accordingly, No. 205 Group medium and heavy bombers began counter air force operations again by dropping 212 tons of bombs on the Udine and Vicenza airfields; on the morrow American heavy bombers continued the good work by covering the same fields and those at Villafranca and Aviano with a 952-tons bomb-load. The M.A.S.A.F. attacks rendered the Udine, Vicenza and Vilafranca airfields temporarily unserviceable and left 50 to 60 enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged on the ground. Meanwhile, the Tactical fighter-bombers had also begun an offensive against the airfield at Ghedi and this, together with attacks on the Bergamo and Villafranca landing grounds, was continued intermittently for the next twelve days, while U.S. Bostons included these targets in, their programme of night intruder attacks. The M.A.SI.A.F.-M.A.T.A.F. attacks put paid to any effective activity; by the Fascist flyers for the rest of the year and further limited the small G.A.F. effort. Unusual Missions On several occasions in November M.A.T.A.F. carried out special attacks which were outside the usual run of operations. Pride of place must be given to a laudable attempt by four U.S. Thunderbolts on 4th November' to write finis to Adolf Hitler's career by bombing a Milan hotel which the Fuehrer was reported to be gracing with his presence. Unfortunately (for the world) Hitler had left prior to the attack. Two less bizarre attacks were carried out towards the end of the month. Medium bombers hit a block-ship at Spezia which the enemy was trying to manoeuvre into place in the harbour in preparation for a later evacuation; and Spitbombers unpleasantly interrupted the" curriculum of a school for budding swimming saboteurs on an island near Venice. Help for Italian Partisans The Partisan movement in northern Italy was now ,growing fast and it was evident that it needed more help if its sabotage effort in the Germans' rear was to be really effective. For some time Tactical U.B. Bostons had been flying occasional supply-dropping missions at night over areas at the northern limits of the Apennines, and from 12th October No. 205 ?Group supply-dropping aircraft had included north Italy in the areas catered for; dropping during November, in particular, 1,316 containers (151 tons of supplies). Area fighter cover for the latter day supply-dropping was provided by XXII T.A.C. To help the Partisans operating nearer the actual scene of hostilities, however, M.A.T.A.F. towards the middle of the month assumed responsibility for supply-dropping south of the Po. A start with this new commitment was made by escorted Tactical C.47 transports ,towards the end of the month, when ammunition was dropped to Partisans less than ten miles from the front. In all, 27 tons of vital supplies were dropped-the prelude to a really intensive effort in the following month. M.A.T.A.F's Increased Effort in November During November M.A.T.A.F's effective operational sorties (excluding transport aircraft missions) were stepped-up to well over the 17,000 mark. The total bomb-load dropped-10,671 tons-also showed a gratifying increase over the previous month's figure. Some 65 per cent. of the tonnage was expended on Italian lines of communications and about 30 per cent. on closesupport missions: the remainder was divided among other targets in Italy and objectives in the Balkans. The main results of the offensive operations in connection with- the Italian campaign have already been indicated. Continuing the effort begun in October twelve U.S. Mitchells were made available each week for leaflet dropping. In the latter half of the month these aircraft switched their effort from the central and eastern battle areas to north-west Italy, in order to work on the already poor morale of the Fascist Republican divisions. No. 205 Group aircraft also continued to help with " nickelling" over north Italy, flying one special sortie and also dropping leaflets in the course of bombing and supply-dropping missions, A special feature of the air reconnaissance activity was the provision each day of aircraft for artillery reconnaissance over the front for the purpose of directing Allied fire. M.A.T.A.F's combat victories were still few owing to the paucity of the enemy's air activity, nine being destroyed and three probably destroyed. Of the 122 Tactical aircraft (excluding

DE

I WE

transport aircraft) which failed to return from operational missions 25 were bombers and the remainder fighters (including reconnaissance aircraft); as usual, flak caused the majority of the casualties. The ,Tactical transport aircraft's main activity, as previously, consisted of the ferrying of personnel and equipment, etc; in particular,

u .''upbth' Fifth Army. A secondary effort was devoted to the vital activity of evacuating the sick and wounded from the forward zones, 4,783 patients being flown back to base, mainly from hospitals in the Florence area. The promising start made with the new drive to supply the Italian Partisans has already been mentioned.

IV.
Capture of Ravenna

ENEMY COUNTER ATTACKS


enemy quickly realised the gravity of this move, however, and immediately switched a fresh mobile formation from His Bologna reserve to help to check it. For several days attack after attack was made against the bridgehead and our advance was halted. During this period of conflict, that is from 5th to 9th December, bad weather prevented D.A.F. affording close-support except on the last-mentioned day. The Canadians Strike Agati While the attention of the enemy's Tenth Army was rivetted south-west of Faenza the Canadians' flanking movement which had engulfed Ravenna turned westwards on 10th December to cross the Lamone at two points north-east of Faenza. The Tenth Army had clearly been caught on the wrong foot and the Canadians' two bridgeheads, at Villanova and south-east of Bagnacavallo, were swiftly merged and an advance was made to the Canale Naviglio by the 12th and a crossing effected the following day. During the first two days of the Canadians' assault most of D.A.F's close-support effort of over 1,000 sorties was directed against quelling opposition, particularly guns and mortars in the path of our advancing troops., Meanwhile, the enemy had hurriedly switched infantry reinforcements from the Fifth Army front to the Bagnacavallo area and these backed up by tanks began a series of counter-attacks. The support of the Desert Air Force, however, helped the, Canadians to get supporting weapons across the water and all efforts to dislodge them from their position failed. D.A.F's effort on 12th and 13th was rendered abortive by bad weather, but on the following day in spite of continued unpropitious conditions a number of successful fighter-bomber missions were flown immediately ahead of our hard-pressed troops. The Commander of. the 12th Canadian Brigade expressed his appreciation of this help under difficulties in the following mesage : "Air support provided under very unfavourable conditions to-day was of great assistance to us in our operations on the Canale Naviglio. Effort this morning succeeded in reducing enemy shelling and mortaring to a minimum." On the following day, 15th December, the ea er became kind again and the Canadians

As mentioned on page 26 the end of November found the Eighth Army forming up to the Lamone river, which had already been crossed well to the south of Faenza. The first week of December was to witness the renewal of our offensive in the eastern sector. The Eighth Army's first attack was launched on 2nd December by the Canadians on. the right flank northwards against the enemy positions between the Montone and Lamone rivers in the direction of Russi, with the capture of Ravenna as its first main objective. The initial assault, which achieved immediate success, was aided by a D.A.F. close-support effort of some 400 sorties against targets mainly ahead of the Canadians in the Russi area. As usual the Spitbombers played the major part, but considerable help was also given 'by Baltimores and U.S. rocket-firing Thunderbolts. Forward controls spoke highly of many of the missions flown. The Canadians, after capturing Albereto, by-passed Russi and then invested Ravenna on the The 114 Jaeger 4th by a pincer movement. Division (the formation so soundly drubbed at Anzio) did not wait upon the order of their going but went at once. The Canadians were soon able to report that practically all the remaining ground east of the Lamone was free of the enemy. Meanwhile, on the same day that Ravenna was gathered into the bag a strong air effort was directed against the enemy's defences on the north bank of the Lamone in the area southwest of Faenza, as part of the softening-up process for the crossing of a British division of 5' Corps on the next day. In addition to the greater part of the 590 close-support sorties flown by D.A.F. during the day-the Spitbombers receiving valuable assistance from Kittyhawks, Thunderbolts, Marauders and Baltimores-nearly 50 Tactical medium bombers lent a hand with this pre-offensive blitz by " fragging" selected defended areas. The 5 Corps troops crosses the Lamone three miles south-west of Faenza according to plan on
the

5th,

thus

establishing

uridugeheau

much

nearer the town than that already effected by e et the Poles on the Eighth Ars -

received their due share of D.A.F's total of 544 close-support sorties. The D.A.F. ISpitbombers deserve' special mention for their aid to the Canadians from 10th to 15th December. According to ground reports they did excellent work particularly in straffing slit trenches along the banks of the Naviglio canal, in helping to repel tank attacks, and greatly limiting the enemy's shelling and mortaring which were impeding our bridging operations: Fall of Faenza While the Canadians were making their advance and withstanding enemy counter-attacks northeast of Faenza 5 Corps vas still repelling'attacks to the south-west of the town. As the attacks against the Canadians were petering out our former offensive was resumed on the 14th, New Zealand troops having then taken over from the British division which had secured the bridgehead and defeated all attempts to eliminate it. 'With the capture of Celle by the New Zealanders the enemy was obliged to pull out from Faenza, a process which was accelerated by a ground-air assault. Most of the town was in our hands on the 15th but it took several more days to clear all enemy elements from the northern outskirts. South. of the town Indian and Polish troops continued to follow up the enemy's withdrawal. From 15th to 17th December a very considerable part of D.A.F's total of 1,000 sorties on closesupport missions was directed towards helping the ground forces to invest Faenza, particularly by the elimination of gun and mortar positions. Meanwhile, an air offensive had already been initiated-in so far as weather conditions and other commitments permitted it-against the next junction along the highway to Bologna,, Castel Bolognese. In particular, on 10th December nearly 100 medium bombers, aided by a strong fighter-bomber effort, hit the town and its approaches, and on the 15th the area. received 30 air attacks. The capture of Faenza and the progress made beyond the town did not, however, augur an Eighth Army break-through. Already by 17th December the German forces had practically stabilised their position along the Senio river and' the wearisome task now confronted the Eighth Army of clearing the eastern bank of determined troops in strong positions. Little Change on Fifth Army's Front During the period of the Eighth Army's thrusts considered in the preceding sub-sections there was little change in positions on the remainder of the front. South of Bologna patrolling only was the order of the day and little activity except heavy shelling of the American forces on the Ligurian flank was reported in the western battle area. In 13 Corps' sector only, on the Fifth Army's right flank, was there any appreciable offensive

action, the Corps' drive towards Imola along the axis of the Santerno river meeting strong effective resistance at Tossignano. Further east the Corps had already made contact with Polish troops of the Eighth Army west of Brisighella. During this largely quiescent period on the Fifth Army's front the harrying of communications (considered 'later) yielded better dividends than air attacks on Army targets, and consequently absorbed the greater part of XXII T.A.C's total effort of over 5,000 sorties during the first three weeks of December. Nevertheless, an adequate close-support programme was carried out in spite of intermittent bad weather. , A constant commitment, as previously, was the softening-up of the enemy's fortified positions at the approaches to Bologna from the south and south-east and attacks were made on headquarters and dumps (including attacks by medium bombers) in the vicinity. The success achieved against targets in the latter category during the month is indicated on page 36. From 9thDecember, onwards, also, cdnsiderable close-support was given to 13 Corps in their drive towards Imola, when stiff opposition was encountered at Tossignano. In particular, during the/ three days 14th to 16th December most of XXII T.A.C's close-support sorties were flown against the enemy's forces counter-attacking in that area. SIn the western battle area, meanwhile, the most striking commitment-undertaken with the twin objects of helping the operations of our naval forces and to atone for our shortage of artillery on the Ligurian flank-was the pounding of coastal guns south of Spezia by U.S. Thunderbolts. This activity began on the 9th, was continued on the 13th and carried out every day during the third week of the month. Counter-Offensive in Serchio Valley In the fourth week of December the western end of the Fifth Army's front-previously best known as an area in which press-ganged Italians readily sought admission to the Allied prisonerof-war cages-again flared into activity. An intensive repair activity on roads, and bridges was noted by the Allies with interest and when a fairly, formidable build-up became apparent in the Serchio valley XXII T.A.C. at once turned its attention to that area, U.S. Thunderbolts on 22nd December, in particular, hitting targets at Poggio, Piazza, Castelnuovo and Camporgiano. The expected enemy counter-attack materialised on Boxing Day with German forces pressing southwards down the Serchio valley. Some easy gains were at once made by the enemyincluding the capture of Barga, Galliccno arid SommooolQnia-but this was due to our planned withdrawal rather than enemy pressure. By the end of the year, however, 4 Corps (with 'Indian troops particularly distinguishing themselves

s~ti~s..

'~'

against the German 148 Infantry Division) already practically restored the status quo, the enemy yielding ground fairly readily. The XXII T.A.C. during the period df the enemy's curious abortive counter-attack turned practically its entire close-support effort against Serchio valley targets. In particular, from 27th to 30th December (when the majority of XXII T.A.C's 2,000 plus sorties was devoted to helping the Fifth Army's left flank) nearly 300 buildings in enemy occupied towns and villages were destroyed or damaged. The fighter-bomber attacks on troop concentrations, meanwhile, were helped by a medium bomber assault on troops at Aulla. Simultaneously, a full scale effort was also made to cut the enemy's road supply lines to Spezia and the north; in particular, during the four days mentioned above U.S. Thunderbolts destroyed or damaged fifteen road bridges on the supply routes and the Tactical medium hit another. Writing two months after the event it is still difficult to see the point of the enemy's marching up and down the Serchio valley a la Duke of York. It is probable that the offensive was originally intended to have a greater scope and certainly the enemy troops in the area had been reinforced-a fresh German regiment had been put into the line, and two independent Alpine battalions and the "Italia" Division were also ready for the fray. Marshal Graziani was reported to have been a keen advocate for the move, but once it was realised that there was no chance of tactical surprise and strong Allied counter-measures had been prepared it is safe to assume that his exhortations received scant notice from Kesselring. While the counter-attack was in progress there was a natural inclination -particularly by German propagandists-to compare the Serchio valley effort with Von Rundstedt's offensive on the Western Front. This was rather in the same category as a comparison between a Lancaster and the "Flying Flea." While Von Rundstedt on the Western board of battle was planning to effect at least a temporary " check " Kesselring's Italian move turned out to be nothihg but the manoeuvring of a few pawns. Enemy Withdraws Across the Senio Meanwhile, in the eastern battle area after the fall of Faenzathe Eighth Army inexorably pushed the enemy rearguards back to their next delaying line along the west bank of the Senio river. Actually, .this process was not completed by the end of the year, the Germans still continuing to keep one bridgehead over the river. In general, with fresh divisions shielding a further advance along the axis of Highway 9 the Germans' position on the Eighth Army front was stronger at the end of the month than at the beginning, From 18th December onwards in view of the more static nature of the ground operations increased emphasis was laid by the Desert Air Force on road and railway interdictiok~n-I /the l-X3 43i

north-eastern Italian areas and the Balkans Moreover, on six days of the last fortnight of the year bad weather stopped or virtually stopped D.A.F's activity altogether. The main close-support efforts were carried out on 22nd, 26th and 27th, over 900 sorties being flown on missions to help the Eighth Army, mainly by ISpit-bombers. The D.A.F. fighterbombers kept up consistent attacks on the enemy's Senio positions from Alfonsine to the Fifth Army's sphere of influence: In particular, the offensive was continued against Castel Bolognese, gun positions were hit around Imola, further up Highway 9, and a considerable effort was directed against resisting enemy troops in the Lugo area, north of Faenza. "Isolation of Italy" Continued In spite of the intermittent calls for strong close-support efforts, attacks on the enemy's lines of communication in Italy during December still remained M.A.T.A.F's most outstanding commitment. In terms of bombs dropped, ,in particular, this activity absorbed about 62 per cent. of the Forces's total load of 10,105 tons. As in the preceding month the Tactical Air Force's most ambitious task, the isolation of Italy by the aerial blockade of the frontier routes, again headed the list of priorities for the medium bombers-which since the middle of November comprised only one wing of U.S. Mitchells (sixteen squadrons). For the greater part of December, howeveruntil Boxing Day, in fact-bad weather screened the frontier routes to a considerable degree and the enemy's repair and improvisation programmes were greatly intensified in order to take full advantage of this temporary protection. In particular, for a fifteen day spell during the middle of the month the mediums were unable to penetrate the overcast over the Brenner Pass line and XXII T.A.C's fighter-bombers were called upon to cause as much interference as the circumstances permitted. To a certain extent, however, the equipping of a U.S. Mitchell group with special equipment for " blind bombing" and the use of instruments for bombing in certain cases by the fighter-bombers helped to lessen the limiting effect of bad visibility. The Brenner line again received most attention. The medium bombers carried out 31 attacks on a dozen targets from San Michele to San Ambrogio; in addition to the bombing of the bridges, fills and diversions, landslides across the opening of the San Ambrogio tunnel were caused by the bombing of the cliff above it. The medium bombers most intensive effort occurred during the fine weather spell 26th to 31st December, whena high proportion of the 1,000 plus effective sorties flown were directed against Brenner targets. During the same fine period M.A.S.A.F. U.S. iea b bes lent ahax y dropping 1,000 tons

UE5IAS4

Latisaisa rail bridge before the attack

ont 11th

November, 1944.

'he attack in progress aisd, below, the result.

DE~ASS ED

:,yt K
on five bridges, the Verona marshalling yards and vulnerable stretches of line. Tactical U.iSI. Thunderbolts in their consistent supplementary effort carried out nearly 80 and missions against Brenner line tracks marshalling yards during the month, achieving, in particular, 149 cuts. By night, meanwhile, Tactical light bombers the route, concentrating covered regularly particularly on harassing the road convoys necessitated by the reduced railway traffic. From 1st to 28th December, inclusive, the interdiction achieved on the Brenner route was fairly short-lived, the enemy's repair programne coping successfully with the damage inflicted: for the remainder of the month, however, the offensive M.A.T.A.F.-M.A.S.A.F. stepped-up again rendered the route (including the alternate lines via Cismon and Belluno) impassable. The frontier routes from the north-east to Padua received somewhat less attention from the medium bombers than the Brenner line. For the greater part of December M.A.T.A.F's primary object, as before, was to cut the bridges over the four main rivers (the Brenta, Piave, Livenza and Taglianento) and attack other targets in their and fighter-bombers mediums vicinity, the playing equal parts. So far as the latter were concerned those controlled by D.A.F. made nearly 20 attacks on railway targets between the Piave and Livenza rivers, while the XXII T.A.F. fighterbombers (having extended its sphere of responsibility east of the Adige river in order to relieve D.A.F., which was devoting a considerable effort to helping the Eighth Army) delivered twelve attacks, in particular, on the Brenta river Meanwhile, tracks were constantly crossings. cut over a wide area. In addition, D.A.F. Marauders and Baltimores, reverting to the tactics of the previous spring, strengthened the interdiction by flying just under 500 sorties against the Treviso, Castelfranco and Udine marshalling yards and other junctions during the last eleven days of the year. Towards the end of the month, also, Strategic U.S. heavy bombers hit locomotive dep6ts in the same areas. From 5th to 25th December, inclusive, photographic interpretation indicated that on most days through-traffic was possible on two the north-eastern routes (not the more of southerly one on which the repair effort was meagre) up to the Brenta river. Interdiction along the Brenta was easier to achieve than at the rivers to the north-east as the bridges were longer and thus easier to hit and more difficult to repair. Moreover, rail diversions had been laid across the Piave and Livenza river beds, when the water-levels had fallen, and this made interdiction by air attack still more difficult to achieve. During the fine weather spell at the end of the year, however, the medium bombers extended their attacks northwards against all the most vulnerable bridges and viaducts across the rivers near Postwmia, Piedico2Ve and Tarvisio. The Strategic bombers also helped by attacking (both by day and night) four targets in the same areas. At the close of December the three northeastern routes were accordingly cut at their furthest points. In addition, the mediums and fighter-bombers strengthened the interdiction by a series of blocks at the river Livenza, further south. Thus, at the end of 1944 through-traffic to and from Germany and its south-eastern occupied territory was again impossible. Po Valley Attacks Simultaneously with the blockade of the frontier routes the interdiction of communications across the Po valley was maintained as previously. In particular, continuing the policy of the previous month, lines of communication and movement both north-south and laterally were constantly attacked from the line of the river Adda eastwards. This area received priority in the Po valley offensive. One hundred and fifty attacks were made on open stretches of track in the area between the Adda and Adige rivers and this, combined with the bombing of bridges, particularly across the Qglio, resulted in the cutting of north-south railway communications between Lake Garda and the Po for the greater part of the month. Transportation by day across the Po itself was as previously rendered generally impossible. On the . lateral railway in the northern Po valley from Milan eastwards to Verona, meanwhile, XXII T.A.C. took a considerable toll of rolling stock and caused numerous cuts. The Desert Air Force, operating further east, achieved a similar success (particularly in the latter half of the month) on the north-south Padua-Ferrararoute. Attacks on communications in the less important western area of the Po valley had as aim the cutting of the routes to Genoa and Turin, and consisted mainly of U.S. Mitchell attacks on the bridges at Torreberetti, Chivasso, Asti, Voghera and Pontetidone. Rail traffic from Piacenza eastwards south of the Po was largely impracticable owing to XXII T.A.C's offensive on railway bridges in this area, which accounted for approximately half of the Command's railway bridge-breaking effort. The month saw a determined effort to harass the enemy's night transportation activity, particularly across the Po to his forward areas. U.S. Bostons played a great part by regularly bombing ferry points and pontoon bridges, and Beaufighters and R.A.F. Bostons also intruded successfully on enemy night movement both in A the southern Po valley and further north. feature of the night bombers' effort was the flying of over 160 sorties, mainly against targets on routes south of Bologna, under radar control from ground stations.

35

)I

1'

ter c ac ie ae o The state of enemy's routes in north Italy at the close of 1944 is indicated on the map on-page 39. Combined Results During December M.A.T.A.F's claims against communications targets (all in northern Italy except for some results achieved in a small 358 sorties effort over the Balkans) were as follows :-87 road and railway bridges destroyed and 129 more damaged: 711 road blocks and railway cuts: six tunnels damaged: 792 vehicles destroyed and 589 damaged: 141 locomotives destroyed and 328 damaged:- 2,675 units of rolling stock destroyed or damaged: and six small vessels, sunk and 47 damaged. The Coastal Air Force in its offensive missions sank a gun-boat and sixteen, barges and small craft and damaged 43 other vessels (mainly barges). In attacks on ground targets in Italy 60 vehicles were destroyed and 20 damaged; damage was done to 35 units of rolling stock; and one bridge was hit. The help afforded by M.A.S.A.F. has already been indicated and is also dealt with elsewhere in the Review. Increased Effort Against Dumps A greater bombing effort was directed against the enemy's accumulated supplies in December than during either of the two previous months, more than 600 sorties being flown in the course of over 60 missions. In particular, dumps were often bombed as alternative targets (particularly by the mediums) when low cloud screened the briefed communication targets. Fuel dumps were still No. 1 priority in the stores category, followed by ammunition and general stores depots, which received particular attention from the fighterbombers. The majority of the dumps attacked were inthe forward areas, especially around Bologna, Imola and Spezia. In addition; an appreciable effort was directed against dumps in the western end of the Po valley, where visibility was normally much better than-in the east. The-main weakness in the dump striking programme was the scant attention paid to the lucrative stores targets around Verona and Venice; in these areas, however, the primary need was to disrupt the enemy's communications. On a number of occasions mediuns: specially equipped for "blind-bombing" hit cloud-obscured stores targets and on at least one-occasion U.S. Thunderbolts also bombed by the use of instruments. The outstanding success of the whole series of attacks, in fact, was achieved by specially-equipped U.S. Mitchells towards the end of the year, when terrific explosions and flames half a mile high wer- caused as the result of an attack on a munitions depot near Bologna. As a result of the M.A.T.A.F. bomber and fighter-bomber attacks in December 30 dumps (eleven fuel, seven ammunition and twelve other

,-s umps) were destroyed and 27 factories destroyed or damaged. Attacks on Enemy Airfields The enemy's air effort - during December remained at a low ebb and counter air force activity was accordingly still a minor commitment. Most of the airfield attacks were carried out by the 350th Fighter Group (U.S. Thunderbolts) controlled by XXII Tactical Air Command. In the course of the month the-group destroyed or damaged 65 aircraft on the ground. The main successes were achieved .at Milan/Bresso airfield on the 23rd (a mixed bag of twelve aircraft), at Thiene on the 24th (fifteen Fascist fighters destroyed and two damaged), and at Lonate on Boxing Day (22 Italian torpedo-bombers and other types disabled). By night, also, .Tactical light bombers in the course of their armed reconnaissances regularly covered the dispersal areas and runways of all principal landing grounds in use by the enemy, Increased Help for Italian Partisans Towards the end of November it was decided that the Italian Partisans needed at least 550 tons of supplies monthly in order to maintain -their sabotaging and harassing activities. As already mentioned the supply of the Partisans by air was now a M.A.T.A.F. commitment. The December weather was the reverse of favourable for supply-dropping missions and on only half the days during the month could the activity be successfully carried out. The Tactical transport aircraft's total sorties on supplydropping for December came to 360, but nearly 100 of these were abortive owing to bad weather. Three hundred and sixty-five tons of stores, ammunition, etc., were dropped to the Partisans and Special Forces-that is, two-thirds of the amount promised by all Allied means. M.A.T.A.F's C.47 effort was supplemented on occasion by Strategic heavy bombers, and towards the end of the year D.A.F. fighter-bombers did some good work in supplying special equipment which needed precision-dropping. Supply-dropping unless performed accurately is, of course, worse than useless as it is apt to provide windfalls for the enemy. It needs to be emphasised, therefore, that M.A.T.A.F's effort, in spite of bad weather, a few failures to receive ground signals and the presence occasionally of, enemy, fighters, was extremely successful, about 90 per cent. of the supplies dropped apparently being recovered. On a number of occasions, also, close-support These was afforded to the Italian Partisans. missions included attacks on German positions in the north-western coastal sector to aid a Partisan assault; attacks on enemy security troops at various points which had concentrated to eliminate resistance groups; and, on at least one occasion,

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Tortona amnmunition storage, 14th December, 1944.

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In this attack on Castelnuovo R.R. bridge on 16th November, 1944, the decking of the bridge was torn up and the east end knocked off the abuttment.

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EFFECTIVE BLOCK MAIN RAIL SUPPLY ROUTES AVAILABLE TO THE ENEMY PRINCIPAL RAILWAYS OTHER STANDARD GAUGE LINES COURSE OF RIVER P0 PD ROAD BRIDGE CUT

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Points of Interdiction by Air at 2nd January, 1945.

the deliberate prolonging of a night air raid warning before- bombing in order to provide cover for Partisan sabotage activity. M.A.T.A.F's Sustained Effort in December effective M.A.T.A.F's ' ecember During operational sorties (excluding transport aircraft missions) in spite of bad weather exceeded the 19,000 mark, and the total bomb-load dropped10,671 tons-fell little short of the November

front. In addition, night intruder aircraft also helped with pamphlet-dropping. No. 205 Group aircraft aided the Tactical effort by flying three special," nickelling" missions over northern Italy, dropping one-and-a-half million leaflets and many more were dropped in the course of their bombing missions. Reconnaissance commitments continued to be extensive. Of M.A.T.A.F's total effort of some sortIes on these duties approximately 48 per cent was absorbed by photographic commitments, 24 per cent. by tactical reconnaissance, fifteen per cent. by weather missons, and thirteen per cent. by artillery reconnaissances. ctories in December, t the same as In the t ne estroyed and three ighters, in particular, shot down three raiders and probably destroyed another. The toll taken of grounded aircraft is mentioned on page 36. One hundred and twentyfour Tactical aircraft were lost on operational

figure.
Approximately 62 per cent. of this tonnage was dropped on lines of communication, in north Italy, about 30 per cent. in the course of closesupport operations, and the rema targets in Italy and in the Balk . results of the offensive missions o .i already been mentioned. The usual allotment of U.IS Mitchells for " nickelling"- was continued, and "Frontpost," in particular, was delivered to refitting and assembly 'areas and headquarters. behind ;the .

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missions in all areas-24 bombers and the remainder fighters (including reconnaissance aircraft). Flak and bad weather accounted for practically all these casualties. M.A.T.A.F's air transport wing continued its ferrying of troops, equipment and supplies in Italy and to and from Italy, Corsica and France. In addition, over 5,000 sick and wounded were evacuated from the forward areas. The increased help afforded by the C.47s to the Italian Partisans has already been considered: a less agreeable but urgent" luty, dealt with elsewhere in the Review, was the flying of troops and ammunition into Greece in early December to help counter the E.L.A.S. uprising. Situation at End of 1944 During the last quarter of 1944 there was no fundamental change in the strategic position in Italy. In particular, the previous rupture of the Gothic Line had not precipitated the enemy's withdrawal across the Po as expected. On the other main European battle fronts at the close of the year the foreboding lull preceding the Russians' cyclonic drive extended along* the greater part of the Eastern Front, while in the west Von Rundstedt's counter offensive-one of the last desperate throws of a High Command turned gamblers-was already showing signs of petering out. The Southern Front in Italy alone presented the picture of a strong line tenaciously held. This successful defence was not "all done by mirrors," as the saying of the moment has it. Apart from the enemy's skilful exploitation of difficult terrain and bad weather (which has been stressed in general and particular terms in this and previous issues of the Review) it must be emphasised that reinforcements arrived without break to Kesselring's forces and continued to exceed losses. It is astounding--and clearly proves the importance attached by the Germans to holding out in Italy-that towards the end of the year, when Von Rundstedt was making his supreme effort, reinforcements from Norway

were allowed to pass undiverted behind the-entire Western Front to their Italian destination. At the close of .1944 Marshal Kesselring had at his disposal 26 German divisions (including one Panzer, three-Panzer-Grenadier and two Paratroop divisions), one Cossack cavalry division, four Italian divisions and various security formations. There were then sixteen German and one Italian divisions in the line and four German and one Other formations Italian divisions in reserve. had guard commitments in the rear, the Italian Fascist forces, in particular, now bearing the sole responsibility for protecting the Ligurian coast. The overwhelming air superiority enjoyed by the Allies could not be brought fully to bear on the enemy owing to adverse weather. Nevertheless, during the last three months of 1944 the Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force flew over 50,000 effective sorties (excluding transport aircraft missions) and dropped more than 29,560 tons-of bombs, almost entirely in Italian operations. In addition, the Strategic and Coastal Air Forces also rendered their own specialised help. Such advances as were made by our ground forces were aided and in certain cases rendered possible by accurate close-support missions, and the air offensive on the enemy's lines of communication, although not succeeding in damming-up his stream of supplies entirely, at any rate ensured that Kesselring lacked the means to initiate any major offensive move. The general situation in Italy at the end of 1944 bore a marked resemblance to the stalemate prevailing at the close of the preceding year. Then Kesselring's forces stood on a line covering Cassino and it was not until the "Diadem" offensive began in the following May that they were driven northwards. Similarly, it now appeared unlikely that the enemy would be budged from his positions covering Bologna until the return of fine weather again made practicable an Allied ground-air offensive on a grand scale.

The Mediterraneaii Ai Strategic Air Force


(Trends of Activity October to December, 1944)
_ ____

THE WRITING OF AN ACCOUNT- of activities by an air force over a limited period presents a far more difficult problem than covering the activities of land or sea forces. They, at least, have definite objectives which they either gain or lose, but aircraft visit the same objectives time after time, and their results are often neither spectacular (in the strategical sense) nor even, at times, individually assessable. Air operations for three months can thus make extremely- dull reading, unless they can be handled and written as part of an overall assault plan or plans. A vista of time is really required, however, to fit the varying pieces of the puzzle together in their relative importance, but in the following survey of the work of the Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force during the last quarter of 1944 an attempt has been made to present the story in the most comprehensible way. The account is divided into four parts ; Part I gives the Strength and Composition of M.A.S.A.F.; Part II covers the Function and Scale of Effort, including limiting factors ; Part III shows the Direction of Effort broken into sub-sections by aircraft employment and type of target ; Part IV is a short Conclusion. PART I. STRENGTH AND COMPOSITION the of composition and strength The Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force during the last three months of 1944 remained approximately the same as in the preceding quarter. The U.S.A.A.F. elements comprised the Fifteenth Air Force, and the R.A.F. and Dominion elements No. 205 Group. The Fifteenth Air Force, under the command of Major-General N. F. Twining, U.S.A.A.F., with headquarters at Bari, consisted of four bomber wings of U.S. Liberators (B.24s) comprising fifteen groups of four squadrons each, and one U.S. Flying Fortress (B.17) bomber wing, made up of six groups also .teg of four squadrons each. Th fighter squadrons were n the XVth Fighter Comma formation, formed into tw three groups of. U.iSl Lightnings (P.38s) and three groups of U.S. Mustangs (P.51s). Other operational formations included a photo-

graphic recbnnaissance group and a weather reconnaissance squadron. No. 205 Group, commanded by Brigadier J. T. Durrant, S.A.A.F., continued its conversion from a medium to a heavy bomber group. Its R.A.F. strength comprised three Wellington, one Wellington/Liberator, one Liberator and one its Dominion squadrons ; Halifax/Liberator element consisted of two S.A.A.F. Liberator squadrons. Although the Fifteenth Air Force and No. 205 Group remained predominantly day and night striking forces respectively, they changed roles periodically during the quarter under reviewthe American heavy bombers carried out a number of night raids, and aircraft of No. 205 Group made a considerable day effort in bombing and supply-dropping missions, plus the transportation of troops and supplies to our land forces in Greece in December. PART I FUNCTION AND SCALE OF EFFORT

The function of the Strategic Air Force remained the same. Primarily, it continued to attack strategic targets in- the southern part of the Reich and in the few remaining south-east states, thus or satellite Europe occupied maintaining, together with the Anglo-American air offensive launched from bases north and west of the enemy, the two-way bombing of and lines of the German war resources communication. Subsidiarily, the Force aided the Allies' campaign in Italy, the Russian offensive in the southern sectors of the Eastern front, the Yugoslav Partisan activity and the Allied operations in Greece. The total bomb load dropped during the quarter, 50,000 tons, was, however, only a little more than sixty per cent. of the tonnage dropped by the Force in the preceding three months.
Effort

e effort were the weather, ete dmore and more, as winter advance and the limitation and loss of targets for Italian based aircraft as vast stretches of territory in south and south-eastern Europe fell

in;

into Allied handy under adv nces by the Russians, and the Get'r dvAcuation of Greece and withdrawals in Yugoslavia.
Blind Bombing

Main'Targets Represented by Bomb Tonnage

Oct. and M/Ys ::. Oil Inst..... IEnemy Concent. ) t h e r Industrial Targets Lirfields.... I Dumps Enemy movement ... IHighways
Percentage

Nov. 8,141 4,836


1,632

Dec.

Total

1/Rs

7,675 3,146
1,418

Restriction by bad weather would have been greater but for the Increasing use of the Pathfinder technique for blind bombing through 10/10ths cloud or smoke overcast, which ensured that when the use of major forces was prohibitive the aerial offensive could be maintained by small numbers of specially equipped aircraft. Sufficient success was achieved to inspire a signal from the Commanding General of the Mediterranean Allied: Air Forces in December commending the Fifteenth Air Force as "the leading exponentin the world today of blind bombing" and continuing, " as a result of its December attacks on oil and the amazing results accomplished, It has easily taken that front rank position." Fifteenth Air Force Operations Completes First Year of

7,153 7,664 173 888 21


305 788

22,969 15,646 3,223 3,417 1,803


1,155 1,112

2,183
422

100 59

346 1,360 750 324

256

122

437

Employment of Fighter

Aircraft

per cent. per cent, per cent.


.

Duty ... I Fighter Sweeps and Ground Straffing... I Recce F/Bomber visc.
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76 16 6
2
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7

88

On 31st October, 1944, the Fifteenth Air Force completed its first year of operations under M.A.S.A.F., during which It flew 142,787 sorties, dropped 192,000 tons of bombs, shot down 3,594 enemy aircraft in combat and destroyed 2,000 on the ground, for a total loss of 2,200 aircraft. A creditable twelve months effort which not only caused the enemy considerable damage and loss,. but which proved the value, of the' Foggia airfielda Analysis of Effort for the Quarter The following monthly analysis of the scale of effort for the whole Strategic Air Force reveals the consistency of that effort, when the shortage of daylight hours and general deterioration "in the weather with the progress of winter is remembered.
Effective Sorties

Counter Air

Destroyed in Combat .... ... I i/ac Prob. Destroyed in Combat ... i ,/ac Destroyed on Ground M.A.S.A.F.
Aircraft

i j/ac

48 3
268

36 7 30+

- 83 21

167

31

Lost or Missing as F/B Casualties

.5th A.F. 205 Group .5th A.F.

Fighters

1s9 27 63
229

128

199

24 70
222

7
60 266

466 58
193 717

Totals

M.A.S.A.F. Aircraft Lost or Missing (F/B) as a


Percentage Against Effective Sorties

Oct. 15th Air Force 205 Group 15th. A.F. Fighters Totals. ... 5,849 924 4,230

Nov. 6,895 1,556 4,735

Dec. 7,132 1,164 6,166

Total 19,876 3,644 15,131


38,651 Average

15th A.F. Bombers-139. 128 =2.37% = 5,849 7,895


-

199
1.62% = 2.78%

7,132 466
2.28%

11,003 13,186 14,462

-20,876

Bomb Tonnage Dropped

15th Air Force ... 13,206 14,898 15,843 Group (incl. 205 1,870 2,554 1,236 mines) .......... 15th A.F. F/Bs ... 19 263 93 Totals. ....... 15,095 17,715 17,172

-43,947
5,660 375 49,982
-

Fighters63 70

-=
4,230

1.46%

1.47% 193

4,735
Average

60 -= 6,166

.97%

1.27%

15,131
Supplies and Leaflets Dropped

205 Group27 24 7 =1.54%


-.-

205 Group Supplies L (in tons) 210 712 482 1,4 04

924

2.92%

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1?556 58 Average 3,644 =

1,164 1.59%

e a f le t s (thousands) ... 19,573 26,500 10,247

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PART UI THE DIRECTION OF EFFORT Oil Targets During the six months period April to September, 1944 the dominant commitment of the Mediterranean Allied ,Strategic Air Force was with the co-ordination curtailment-in the operations of Bomber Command and the Eighth U.S. Air Force operating from Great Britain-of the enemy's oil production. This offensive had met with such success that in September, owing to the combined effects of bombing and the loss (particularly in Roumania) of oil production and storage centres through capture by the Allies, the enemy's monthly total output o'f all finished products was estimated at 314,000 metric tons, representing only slightly more than 23 per cent. of the pre-attack level; the September petroleum output, in particular, was put at 106,000 metric tons or only 20 per cent. of normal production. There is no doubt that the decline in production and the drain on strategic reserves seriously hampered the German armies and the Luftwaffe at a most critical point in the war; moreover, inevitable drastic reductions in allocations to industry prevented the necessary stepping-up of war production generally to meet the increased demands of intensified operations. Although the last statement is in actual fact true, it may well be challenged in view of Von Rundstedt's offensive launched in December, especially when captured documents revealed that some, at least, of/ the infantry divisions -were better supplied with fuel-than they had been for months. The answer is threefold. In the first place the enemy had conducted a vigorous and thorough fuel saving campaign during the late summer and autumn, forcing down the use of motor transport by 40-50 per cent., substituting rail transport ,in its place even right into the forward areas, and then using horse drawn vehicles to complete supply. Not the least important factor aiding these conditions was the static nature of \operations during this period, and it is doubtful whether, without this prime factor, even with the drastic fuel economies he effected,. the enemy would have been able to reduce his fuel needs to the low level of his "saving" allocations. In the second place it should be remembered that oil installations are extremely difficult targets to bomb, owing to the large number of small units which comprise them, and the area over which they are spread. Blechhammier south synthetic refinery for example sprawls over an area of 450 acres, and although during 1944 it was attacked fifteen times and sustained the weight of 3,500 tons of bombs, mainly 500-lb. long-fused to allow penetration, it was-never put out of action completely. In- fact it can b confidently asserted that it is ao -impossibility to bring all iv t

installation to a standstill for any appreciable period by bombing alone. The third portion of the answer to the above problem, which is really a corollary of the second, lies in the first class repair arrangements initiated by the Germans, in which dumps of material were placed ready to hand, so that repair gangs were at work almost before the last bomber had The thoroughness of these counterdeparted. measures are typical of German ingenuity in counteracting our attacks, not only on sources of production, but also on lines of communication. Progressive Attacks In October, out of a total of 3,146 tons of bombs dropped in six days operations on oil installations by the Fifteenth Air Force, the largest weight (1,175 tons involving 480 heavy bomber sorties) fell on the two synthetic oil plants at B!lechhacnmer in German Silesia. The southern plant was attacked twice, chiefly by technique, but bad synchronous Pathfinder weather prevented results commensurate with the effort. In the northern plant, however, most of the installations to the north and. west were hit and oil fires started. Other main attacks included the Odertal petroleum refinery (estimated original monthly output of 7,Q00 tons refined products) where a power house, transformer station and control house were damaged and a gas holder destroyed; Brux synthetic oil plant in Czechoslovakia, where two attacks were hampered by cloud overcast; Lobau oil refinery in the Vienna area (estimated monthly output 17,000 tons of refined products); the Vienna/Winterhafen oil storage installations and adjoining marshalling yards, where considerable devastation was caused by /245 U.S. Liberators dropping 558 tons of bombs. Other targets included a few oil refineries in Austria and South Germany, and the oil storage depots at Regensburg in Germany proper. The Eighth U.S. Air Force and Bomber Command, operating from Great Britain, attacked the oil installations at Hamnburg, Wesseling, Bottrop, Buer, Sterkrade/Holten and Wanne/ Eikel. Heaviest load in one raid was 1,656 tons dropped on Hamburg by American heavies. In spite. of these operations, however, the enemy's total output of all oil production for October was believed to show an increase of 122,000 metric tons over the previous month, petroleum products in particular showing an increase of eleven per cent. This upward trend clearly called for a bigger Allied air effort to stop it, and in November, aided by improvement in the use of blind bombing technique, the Fifteenth Air Force was able to step up its effort on oil installations by 1,690 tons to a total of 4,836. The main weight (over 3,000 tons) was sustained by six oil refineries and depot in the general Vienna area, which, Boil g to the continued constriction of Greater i any, were now of increased importance and S

The road and railway bridge at Maribor under attack on 14th October, 1944.
had, consequently, undergone considerable repairs. Florisdorf refinery was bombed on four days, the attack on 5th November by 368 U.iS. Liberators and 132 U.S. Fortresses representing the largest M.A.S.A.F. force up to that time to bomb a single target. But at Florisdorf, as at Korneuburg, Schwechat, Vosendorf, Lobau, and Winterhafen in the. same area, and also at Regensburg, cloud rult cover generally prevented assessmen ie Uncertain results were also e a j although five attempts (inclu were made by a total force of 268 aircraft. The Moosebierbaum refinery, fifteen miles north-west of Vienna, was hit on three occasions (once with a 450 tons bomb load) and severe damage was believed to have been inflicted. Better luck was experienced at Blechhammer south, the plant being rendered temporarily of three attacks involving inactive as h ad 548 tons.

SGreat
ar

Britain were
ame targets as in October,

plus the oitjustallations at Gelsenkirchen, Merseburg, Hombdrg, Castrop-Rauxel, Dortmund and Misburg. It was evident that the Germans placed greater value on the targets selected by Bomber Command and the Eighth U.S. Air Force, for whereas they offered little opposition other than flak to the Fifteenth Air Force, over the targets in Germany large formations of fighters attempted to intercept our aircraft. During three days of intense activity (2nd, 26th and 27th November), however, the Eighth U.S. Air Force discouraged this fighter activity by shooting down 386 enemy aircraft. An assessment of the enemy's oil output for November put the figure at 34 per cent. of normal pre-attack production, an increase of two per cent. on October, indicating that although our attacks were keeping production down to approximately one-third of normal output, they were not succeeding in forcing it lower. By 5th December there were thirteen synthetic oil plants known to be in action in Axis-controlled territory, but apart from several widely scattered' refineries and those in the Vienna area, the enemy's entire oil output now within the Fifteenth Air Force sphere of operations was represented "by the, five synthetic oil installations at Blechhammer North and South and Odertal in German Silesia, Oswiecim in Polish Silesia, and Brux in Czechoslovakia. In consequence these five targets received 61 per cent. of M.A.S.A.F's total bomb load of 7,664 tons dropped on oil installations during December. Individual bomb loads on plants were-2,112 tons on the Blechhammer plants, 1,158 tons on Brux, 1,138 tons on Odertal, and 279 tons on Oswiecimi. The most intensive period of operations covered the five days, 16th to 20th December, over 1,300 effective heavy sorties being flown on these missions, in addition to a strong effort against oil targets other than those indicated above, 900 tons being dropped during the month in the Vienna area and 600 tons on Regensburg. Most of the bombing was done by Pathfinder 'technique through cloud and smoke overcast with such success that it was considered that production in the areas subjected to attack was temporarily reduced to only ten per cent. of their potential capacity, a result which earned the commendation previously quoted. In general during this month, as throughout the quarter, enemy air opposition over the Fifteenth. Air Force's oil targets was slight, the strongest interception encountered being that on 17th December by 100 ME. 109s and FW. 190s between Brno and Odertal,-of which the strategic bombers- claimed 26 destroyed and two probables, and their fighter escort 22 destroyed and three probables. U.S. losses were fifteen Liberators, four Lightnings and two Mustangs , .. The air offensive from the United Kingdom pf te e against oil did not reach the sce

November effort, the overriding commitments during this period being the pounding of communications to dislocate the enemy's supply of the Western battle area and to impede Von Rundstedt's attack. It can be said with some truth, however, that by the end of 1944 the cumulative effect of repeated air attacks on the German oil industry was becoming more and more apparent and the rising trend, especially in synthetic production, had been checked. Attacks on Other Industrial Targets The tonnage of bombs dropped by M.A.S.A.F. aircraft during the quarter on other industrial objectives. was 2,183 during October, 346 in November, and 888 during December. The offensive on these targets would have been greater and more effective but for the restriction by bad weather. As it was, the main effort was directed against the most important war production centres within M.A.S.A.F's sphere of responsibility-those in Austria. The industrial areas in Vienna generally, and in particular ordnance depots, the Ostereichische motor works and A.F.V. diesel engine works received most attention. On many occasions cloud cover completely obscured the target, and, especially in October before the improvement in synchronous Pathfinder technique, results were disappointing. Post raid reconnaissance photographs of the assembly plant and aero engine works at Steyr, for example, revealed no damage; results were also meagre on the aircraft factory at Klagenfurt, on a large ordnance depot south of Vienna, in Germany proper at the Munich-Allach plant (engaged in the production of B.M.W. 801 aero-engines) and on, a factory at Augsburg producing diesel engines for armoured vehicles. At the Skoda works at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia, likewise, at that time the largest undamaged enemy armament plant turning out heavy guns, tanks etc., results usually could not be assessed after attacks. Considerable damage was inflicted, however, on the Graz Neudorf aircraft factory, the tank works at St. Valentin, ordnance depots and the Herman Goering works at Linz and, nearer at hand, the three works at Milan believed to be manufacturing road vehicles and armaments and executing ordnance repair for the German armies in Italy. Attacks on Lines of Communication The term "Lines of Communication" becomes elastic when applied to attacks by the 'Strategic Air Force, for targets under this nomenclature ranged from bombing the Brenner Pass route in Northern Italy, to marshalling yards in Munich, from bombing marshalling yards in Hungary to mining the Danube. (A full account of the last activity is given on page 131). There is also difficulty in the separation and classification of te e !ol some occasions marshalling e , i.rii in conjunction with attacks

on oil depots and industrial targets, partly due to spillage experienced in the Pathfinder method of bombing. In Southern Germany and Austria As already indicated oil was target No. 1 throughout the quarter, and in' general therefore the bombing of railway centres in Austria and Bavaria represented attacks on alternative or opportunist targets by parts of large bomber formations which were unable. to carry through their briefed attacks owing to bad weather. In October such attacks occurred on an average of one day in every three, Austrian targets including the marshalling yards at Graz, Innsbruck and Spittal, and Bavarian targets including Munich west marshalling yards (a primary target on the night 28/29th October and the following day), Rosenheim and Salzburg. The west, and to a lesser degree the east, marshalling yards at Munich were also heavilyattacked in November, 1,471 tons of bombs being dropped on this key communication centre during four days and two nights. Smaller scale attacks were also made on Augsburg, Regensburg and again on Salzburg and Rosenheim. Attacks were reported on the Austrian railway targets already enumerated, in addition to the marshalling yards, at Villach, Klagenfurt, Gussing and Linz, the. latter being a bottle-neck through which all eastwest traffic in the Danube basin must pass. Industrial targets attacked at the same times included an ordnance depot at Graz, a tank factory at Kapfenburg, an aircraft factory at Klagenfurt and the Herman Goering works at Linz. In December even greater emphasis was laid on the above railway targets in Austria and Southern Germany, the lateral railway communications system being considerably dislocated, for example, by further attacks on Linz; on Innsbruck and Salzburg on the two main lines from Vienna to Western Germany and junction points of secondary lines carrying east-west traffic; on Rosenheim, the main marshalling yard on the electrified line between Salzburg and Munich, and a junction point with the electrified line to Innsbruck and the Brenner Pass line; on the marshalling and goods yards in Vienna itself, and again on these at Villach, Graz, Regensburg, Klagenfurt and Wels, plus lesser attacks on twelve similar targets. In all, 5,000 tons of bombs were unloaded on these targets during December. Attacks on Italian Railways Fifteenth Air Force aircraft by day, and No. 205 Group aircraft by night, continued to play their part in the air interdiction of the enemy's communications system in northern Italy. As described elsewhere in this number of the w, bridges and viaducts on the o e es running into Italy from Austria' especially the Brenner line fro Verona, were the principal target of our policy, first implemented in October, was

nemy counter add n o specific targets. measures for the quick repair of bridges and track diversions, etc., are considered on page 160. Bad weather during October, however, prevented the regularity of attacks necessary to achieve appreciable interdiction, although during the month some 650 U.S. heavy bombers by day, and some 340 No. 205 Group aircraft by night, dropped 1,620 and 860 tons of bombs respectively on communication targets, including some on road traffic. During November nearly 2,500 tons, and during December 2,000 tons, were the bomb loads dropped to supplement the Tactical Air Force's effort to block the entry of military supplies into Italy, or, as was reported from time to time, attempts to move important machinery and plants from Italy to Germany. An account is given on page 123 of the operations in November which ,aimed, by the destruction of power stations combined with cuts at numerous points, to force the Germans to substitute steam for electric traction on the Brenner route, thereby greatly reducing its capacity. The small scale American attacks on 6th November on the converter stations at Sralorno, Ora and Bolzano were not, however, particularly successful when compared with M.A.T.A.F's attacks on transformer stations further south. But amendment came the next day, when 470 tons of bombs dropped by Strategic aircraft achieved the object of creating numerous blocks on the line, destroying rolling stock, and severely damaging the bridges at Albes and Ora. .Attacks on vulnerable points were repeated later with the consequence that, as a result of the Tactical and Strategic Air Forces' attacks the Brenner railway supply route was reported to have been out of action from the 4th almost to the end of November. A spell of bad weather in December permitted the enemy to re-open the Brenner Pass route but, operating on the four days, 26th to 29th December, M.A.S.A.F. aircraft dropped well over 1,000 tons of bombs on the route, in addition to the heavy attacks, already mentioned, on Innsbruck. Main targets were the Bressanone bridge, the Avisio viaduct, marshalling yards at Verona, and vulnerable stretches of line. Less successful attacks were made on the bridges at Ora, Mezzocorona and Vipiteno. By the end of the year the Brenner route was once again blocked, as were also the three alternative routes entering north-east Italy, following attacks among others in November and December, on the bridges at Casarsa, Latisana, Pinzano, Piave/Susegana, the Venzone viaduct and the locomotive depots at Udine and Castelfranco Veneto. The satisfactory erady mentioned was the conclusion to

eo
a

combined employment of

trategic Air Forces, and .th f of the latter alone. The do e ied in one overall plan, and recounted, there Sto operations were attacks by M.A.S.A.F. aircraft cutting communications across the Po such as, for

Attack on Banhida marshalling yards on 13th October, 1944.


example, a day attack on Ferrararailway bridge, and a night attack by No. 205 Group on the pontoon bridge at Ficarolo, the last being one of the enemy's answers to our interdiction efforts, a pontoon bridge furtively assembled at dusk and dismantled at dawn. Communications In Hungary and Yugoslavia Valuable assistance was rendered to the Russian forces driving forward into Hungary and Yugoslavia, and to the Yugoslav National Army 48 of Liberation and Land Forces Adriatic, by M.A.S.A.F. aircraft in their attacks on rail and road communications in the zones connected with the above forces. The main targets in Hungary were the marshalling yards at Ersekdjvar, Banhhda, Komarom, Gyor, Szekesfehervar, and Szombathely. At the first four mentioned yards, which were chock-full of wagons in October in use for the supply of the German forces, the Allied bombers destroyed hundreds of units of rolling stock; widespread damage was inflicted at all

nrI

the marshalling yards attacked, and through lines cut at Szombathely, Szekesfehervar and Komarom. 'Strategic fighters and fighterbombers inflicted destruction on rail and road routes throughout the quarter; on the 12th and 13th October for example their tally included some 80 locomotives and a " bag" of rolling stock, road vehicles and barges on the vital Budapest-Gyor-Vienna routes, and on the 20th the destruction of 22 locomotives and damage to over 400 units of rolling stock on the railway line from Sajo Szentpeter to Ipolysz6g in northern Hungary. Another outstanding day's work took place a month later, when on 19th November 126 U.S. Thunderbolts attacked targets in the Esztergom-Veszporen-Vienna area, c 1a i m s including the destruction of 65 locomotives. A tactical development of note in November was the high level bombing of pin-pointed targets by formations of fighter-bombers led by U.S. Lightning " droopsnoots " carrying bombardiers and precision bombsights in their modified nose sections. The dominant features of the military situation of this period were the Soviet "forces' siege of Budapest, and the withdrawal of German forces in Yugoslavia northwards to Bosnia, enforced by the loss of Greece and the generally deteriorating conditions in the Balkans. During October and November the average bomb tonnage dropped in Yugoslavia and Hungary by M.A.S.A.F. aircraft lending weight to the Balkan and Tactical Air Forces assaults was in the region of 3,500 tons, of which by far the larger portion was delivered by aircraft of No. 205 Group. This figure was, however, reduced to less than half in December due to bad weather and a thinning out of targets caused by the enemy's continued withdrawal. Hungarian targets definitely declined in value in November, the main targets during that month being two key marshalling yardswest of Budapest, Gyor and Szombathely, and in December at Hegyeshalom on the main double track south of the Danube leading to Budapest, and the east marshalling yards at Sopron on the main lateral communications line to the Hungarian front and the supply route to. Zagreb, in north-west Yugoslavia. Railway targets in Yugoslavia throughout the quarter were the marshalling yards and bridge at Maribor, the marshalling yards at Zagreb and Sarajevo, the bridge at Zenica and the bridges on the German escape route-hit by No. 205 Groupat Bioce, Matesevo and Mojkovac. Enemy concentrations, vehicles and withdrawing columns were constantly pounded~ inrtheeregons e. ; : of Podgorica, Novi Pazar, Vsegrod, ,S Prijepolje, Rogitica, Metrovica, ;j W, : ah d Considerable losse in Matesevo. vehicles were inflicfed on hostile forces; the enemy's withdrawal programme was seriously upset and a number of his key communications centres were devastated. Many roads were

blocked by landslides caused by bombing the hills above. An idea of the destruction caused by bombing and straffing is given by the fact that in December the enemy lost no fewer than 1,000 vehicles between Podgorica and Kolasin due to attacks by Balkan Air Force (whose operations are considered-separately elsewhere) and No. 205 Group: Colonel Olberg, the German Military Commentator, naively described the enemy's harassed retreat as "advance from the Balkans in full battle strength to take part in the fighting in the area south of Budapest." Tactical Support In addition to the attacks on enemy communications and retreating forces in Yugoslavia M.A.S.A.F. -combined with M.A.T.A.F. on 12th October to produce the most concentrated assault carried out by the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces up to that date, in an effort to help the Fifth Army's approach to Bologna. The Fifteenth Air Force's share in these operations numbered 700 escorted U.S. Liberators and Fortresses which dropped more than 1,200 tons of bombs on bivouacs, barracks, dumps and depots of various kinds. A further hundred heavy bombers were prevented from fulfilling their missions by the bad weather. The Strategic Air Force's losses were four heavy bombers and one fighter; a small price to pay for the. result achieved in assisting the Fifth Army's advance towards Bologna, which was, however, limited by other factors. Counter Air Counter air force operations during October were confined principally to the four days, 11th to 14th, and a fifth on the 21st, when the enemy airfields to the west of Budapest, particularly at Seregelyes, Tapolca, Szombathely, Szekesfehervar, Gyor and Esztergom were Claims were 200 hostile aircraft attacked. destroyed on the ground and approximately 20 in combat for the loss of ten Fifteenth Air Force fighters. It should be recorded, that Mustangs were outstandingly successful in these operations, as they were also in an attack on the Prostejor airfield in Czechoslovakia, when ten aircraft were destroyed on the ground. Attacks on Gyor were designed to disrupt the resumption of assembling M.E. 109s there. Also during October, in order to speed or the parting German perhaps to "God-speed" straffed transport guest, Strategic fighters aircraft landing grounds in the Athens and reas, dsroying 30 plus aircraft -on o a Sal ithfighter attacks were also u i S iit d by small scale night attacks on the u thie mai Athenian airfields. Before passing to further consideration of counter air operations during the quarter, it should be recorded that, owing to the paucity of enemy fighter opposition encountered during

-a
1 y 4

October, for the-first time in their thirteen months operations, Strategic bombers scored no combat victories. Early in November, however, Allied aircraft operating against the southern stretch of the Brenner line were interrupted on a few occasions fighters, of enemy by small formations presumably flown by personnel of the Italian Fascist Air Force. Air reconnaissance ascertained the location of- the enemy's air bases, and the Allied air forces set to the task of reducing the hostile air forces in Italy to their former impotence. From 18th to 29th November Tactical fighter-bombers kept up an offensive on the airfields at Bergamo, Ghedi and Villefranca; the Strategic Air Force ably supported these counter air activities in an. intensive 24-hour period of operations, dropping 952 tons of 'bombs by day and 212 tons by night on the airfields at Udine, Vicenza, Villefranca and Aviano, rendering the first three temporarily unserviceable and destroying or damaging 50 to 60 aircraft. As anticipated, these operations somewhat damped the ardour of the Fascist flyers. On the whole the enemy's fighter opposition continued to be slender during the whole of November; American fighters shot down 32 hostile aircraft and probably destroyed four; American heavy bombers claimed three destroyed and two probably so ; 205 Group destroyed one and probably destroyed three. With reference to the claims by the R.A.F. and Dominion aircraft of No. 205 Group, it is worthy of note that the various interceptions took place on the night of 22/23rd November over Szombathely marshalling yards, our aircraft making 20 plus sightings and sustaining fourteen- encounters. G.A.F. tactics included the employment of ground track indicator lights, flares, searchlight indicator tracks, fighter co-operation, plus controlled fighters with a light in the nose. One report of an engagement stated that the gunner was unable to bring his guns to bear in time, but when the aircraft broke away " below and behind" he fired a short burst over the tail turret to "scare the fighter." .But, to quote No. 205 Group's comment, "he probably scared the Tail Gunner." Victories over enemy aircraft in December were the highest for the quarter, 49 being destroyed and seventeen probably destroyed by the American bombers and 34 destroyed plus four probably destroyed by U.S. fighters. Another seventeen hostile aircraft were destroyed on the

progressively through the quarter. In addition to supplying Marshal Tito's forces in Yugoslavia, henceforth to be known as the Yugoslav National Army of Liberation, supplies were dropped to Partisan forces operating in Northern Italy behind the German lines. In October 237 sorties were flown on these missions dropping a total of 1,748. containers of an average weight of 240 lb. net each, including six sorties with twelve containers for Warsaw. In November sorties rose to 768, a record for the Group being established on the two days 4th and 5th November, when 358 sorties were flown and 351 tons of supplies.were dropped. in all during the month 151 tons were dropped in Northern Italy and 555 tons in Yugoslavia. An appreciable amount of material enabling and encouraging -serious interference with the enemy. The sphere of these operations was enlarged further in December to include Troop and Supply Transport missions to reinforce our land forces fighting against the insurgents in Athens. In seven missions covering the 12th to 21st of the month 277 sorties were made, conveying. 2,043 troops with equipment and over 400 tons of supplies. In addition 494 sorties were flown to Yugoslavia and 2,923 containers- (482 tons) successfully dropped. Not the least interesting feature of these activities was the fact that many of the sorties were made in daylight, a new departure for aircrews specifically trained to fly by night. On some days, in fact, supplies were dropped when 10/10ths cloud forced bomber aircraft to return to base with their missions unfulfilled, a performance all the more creditable when the difficulties and hazards of flying in such mountainous terrain-with its tricky and variable wind currents-is remembered. The following signal was received by the Group from Marshal Tito's forces-" Please thank pilots of four Liberators and six Wellingtons for fine performance in coming down through 10/10ths cloud over " X" today to drop in bad visibility. All stores will be recovered." PART IV CONCLUSION The foregoing account provides sufficient evidence of the trends of activity and illustrates. the varied employment of the Mediterranean Allied Strategic Air Force in the concluding months of 1944. As the quarter progressed it became clear that bad weather alone could not screen the enemy from effective aerial attack. Experience gained in blind bombing technique by the valuable method of trial and error in operations led to an improvement in results exceeding anticipations. In five days in November, 16th to 20th, the average number of Strategic aircraft airborne each day for attacks in Austria, Bavaria and Polish Silesia was 400 fighters and 700 bombers. On each of nine days in December also 400 to 599 bomber aircraft were despatched and on another five days 600 to 799, No. 205 Group

ground.
M.A.S.A.F. losses for the period are- detailed on page 42. Of those a very small percentage were due to encounters with enemy aircraft, the highest figure being seven per cent. in December. The greater portion of casualties was due to flak. Supply Dropping The dropping of supplies, now a regular and important commitment of No. 205 Group, gradually extended -in effort and scope

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flew 1,630 sorties in iovember, constituting its highest monthly total for four years. In fact the 1944 figures for the Group make interesting reading, especially in view of its conversion from a Medium to a Heavy Bomber Group which continued in gradual transition from March onwards. The totals for the year are : Number of sorties ... Bombs & Mines dropped Leaflets dropped ...... ... Troops transported Supplies dropped ...... Aircraft Casualties. Total Loss ... ... Damaged Personnel Casualties. Killed ... Injured ... Missing ... ... ... ... 184 ... 119 . 1,153 .. 332 ... 222 14,272 24,454 tons. 184. million. 2,043 2,237 tons gross.

So far as the attacks on ing yards and railways were concerned, experience of the Germans' skill and ingenuity in repair work and rapid improvisation has proved the unwisdom of expecting startling break-downs for any length of time in their supply system as a result of bombing. Attacks must be heavy, constant and delivered simultaneously on alternative routes to achieve an appreciable interdiction. The effect of constant bombing is, however, ,accumulative; each successful attack inevitably places more hindrances in the path of efficient transportation while the communication goes through the stages of being (a) inconvenienced (b) dislocated and (c) out of action. It is certain that the M.A.S.A.F. attacks on railways in Austria and Southern Germany had caused the system to pass beyond the stage of (a) by the end of 1944, and it seemed well over the threshold of the ominous " dislocation " stage. Apart from the one large scale effort in October to help the Fifth Army and a limited supply dropping in Italy, the tactical missions in aid of the Allied ground forces were all associated with operations in the Balkans. the operations-once air force Counter main preoccupation of our air forces in the Mediterranean theatre-absorbed an extremely small effort owing to the Luftwaffe's continued impotence. The Fifteenth Air Force fighters, in addition to meeting their main commitment of providing bomber escort, caused widespread havoc on the ground by bombing and straffing, particularly in Hungary and Austria. In this instance a fuller appreciation of the fighters' achievements can be gained by extending the period under review to include September. During the last four months of 1944 the M.A.S.A.F. fighters destroyed 445 grounded aircraft, 526 locomotives, 539 railway carriages and wagons, 537 military vehicles and 28 stationary installations. Although the M.A.S.A.F. operations reviewed constituted little more than three-fifths of the effort put out in the preceding quarter, they were, nevertheless, a powerful contribution towards the enemy's total discomfort.

It is estimated that 33 per cent. of the missing personnel have subsequently been accounted for. Another 205 Group record was established in November when bomb loads carried solely by bomber aircraft averaged 3.44 tons per aircraft, and by type of aircraft-Wellington 2.75 tons, Halifax 3.95, Liberator 4.38 tons. The succcess of the Group's activities by day has already been mentioned, but the success in support of the National Army Of Liberation by harassing the Hui in Yugoslavia deserves special record, motor transport, enemy troops and bridges being the general run of target rendered more difficult, than usual by the continual change in target altitude along the mountainous roads arid the tricky nature of the local winds. Pride of place, however, in an overall review of the quarter's work by M.A.S.A.F. must be given to the Fifteenth Air Force's continual offensive against the enemy's oil installations, which, .by the end of the year,- whittled down production to one tenth of its potential within the bombing range of Italian based aircraft.

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The Balkan
I IN A SUMMARY of Bal k an Air Force operations through. July-September, 1944, given in the last issue of the R.A.F. Mediterranean Review, mention was made of British landings in the Peloponnese-one by a seaborne Commando force put ashore on Kythera island on 16th September, and another by a small party of paratroops dropped over Araxos airfield on the afternoon of the 23rd. Some account was also given of the reconnaissance activities of these forces during September, and of their progress in clearing the greater part of the peninsula as a stage preparatory to a more ambitious operation. This main operation, planned jointly by, Middle East and Balkan Air Force, had a triple objective -the occupation of Athens immediately following German withdrawal; the establishment of the Greek Government in Athens; the introduction at the earliest moment of measures for relief of the civilian population. Instructions for implementation of the plan were given on 10th October, 1944, Commander in the Field Land Forces Adriatic having reported Megara, an airfield 20 miles west of the capital, securely in British hands. The following day convoys mounted from Italy and Middle East put to sea, and on the 12th the first detachment of 2nd Ind. Para. Brigade :with essential stores and equipment dropped on Megara airfield. By the afternoon of the 14th British troops of the original Kythera force, crossing to Piraeus from their advanced base at Poros, had moved into Athens.
As, following recent disturbances, certain

tr

Theatre"

Greece and Yugoslavia


their house in order in circumstances more favourable. That this ambition, pursued not without cost, is at long-last in sight of fulfilment may be perhaps a sufficient answer to those critics who sought to expose an honourable endeavour as a mischievous political move in support of reactionary policy. Airborne Descent on Megara The rapid progress made by the forward parties in the Peloponnese, and the desirability of capitalising this and exploiting straight on to Athens with a minimum of delay, decided A.F.H.Q. to amend the original idea for an en masse paratroop drop and launch at once a smaller mission allowing the balance of airborne forces to be brought up on subsequent days. Following this plan, fourteen C.47s with paratroops and nine Halifaxes loaded with supply containers flew to Megara under heavy fighter escort on the 12th. Although spasmodic shelling of the airfield did not interfere with operations, a strong ground-wind caused casualties to personnel on landing and resulted in serious loss of valuable stores. This ground-wind persisted and forced the abandonment of paratroop missions planned for the 13th. Nine gliders, however, landed airfield construction equipment-the runway having been blown by the enemy before evacuation-and further stores were successfully dropped by Halifaxes. On the morning of the 14th conditions had improved and although 20 aircraft towing
0O .s LU LUrn UbA, cVmIJledU w gI Ul made the e journey and drnopped over 1,000 made the journey and dropped over 1,000 personnel and 130 containers-the policy being to complete the mission on the following day, subject to weather. This proviso was wise, for the night of the 14th brought torrential rain which caused suhsidence f thelrepaired runway craters and plans for the on that day being An Fortunately the r-uppl. rb of the iing th'importance ep delay, weather-factor in combined operations, was not critical. As mentioned earlier, the Kythera force had entered Athens on the afternoon of the 14th, and later in that day sections of the 2nd Para. at Pavko and boarding caiques Brigade, disembarking at S'karamanga, had also reached the city.
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adverse comments have been heard concerning British " intervention " in Greece subsequent to the expulsion of the Germans, it may not be out of place to mention, as preface to an account of these operations, that an E.L.A.S plot to seize power in Athens by armed force was already in t motion before the British landings beg this plan would have succeeded but foof e and decided -British action is unquei Fortunately, details of E.L.A.S intent do . within the knowledge of the Cabinet I It is sufficient to say here-some notes on the political and internal situation are given laterthat the sole aim of H.M. Government, as the Prime Minister told the House of Commons on 8th December, was to avoid a coup d'etat, preserve peace in the City of the Violet Crown and allow the Greek people a fair chance to set 55

n t 'f, missions er 6 et conveying par r s 20 gliders landing equipment-the o rbsupply troops released over this airfield for the period 12th-16th October being approximately 126. officers and 1,820 other ranks. By the morning of the 17th; KaJamaki, five miles south of Athens, had been made serviceable, and from that day onwards this base was used for re-supply and for the landing; of follow-up personnel. In addition to the hold-up of air operations by adverse weather, delay was caused and casualties suffered by the sea convoy through mines encountered off the island of Aiyina, east of the Gulf of Saronikos. Althpugh this convoy did not commence , disembarkation at Piraeus until late on the 16th-24 hours after the planned arrival time-efforts of the shore party brought unloading up to schedule by mid-day on 18th October. A Thousand Sorties by B.A.F. Over the period 23rd September-21st October, 1944, aircraft of Balkan Air Force and squadrons attached flew approximately 1,000 sorties in direct and" indirect support .of the landings in Greece. Of these about one third were in the preliminary stage covering Araxos, and the balance during the main operations at Megara and Kalamaki. Approximately 400 of the sorties were by gliders and transport aircraft conveying paratroops and supplies, Venturas from Brindisi made One nickelling raid, two attacks on Volos harbour (sinking four ships, one of 4,300 tons, and damaging fifteen) and one on road-transport concentrations at Phlorina. Spitfires, Beaufighters and Hurricanes based on Araxos carried out over 150 sorties on escort duty and reconnaissance, and on straffing missions mostly in the Gulf .of Corinth, while other fighters from Italy made repeated attacks on road and rail communications around Lamina, Larissa, Volos and Salonika. Intruder operations in the Aegean undertaken on fifteen nights, resulted in the destruction of one JU.88 and one H.E.111. The Liberation of Athens The welcome which greeted the arrival of British forces left no doubt as to the feelings of the majority of the Greeks in Athens. At Megara where some hours before the landings a growing throng had assembled around the airfield, troops dazed on the ground and enveloped in their parachutes found themselves surrounded by women pressing bunches of herbs in their faces, overcqme .by emotion and delirious with joy. Accounts brought back by crews who flew over the capital at the time of the march in, describe a scene, of the wildest enthusiasm, with crowds cheering and processions of citizens parading along streets decked in flowers and bunting. On 11th October the Germans had 'declared Athens an open city, and when British forces

ntered three days later they found little damage part from the dock area and power station. e Marathon Dam on which the capital's water depends remained intact, and while a food shortage was evident, provisions for housing and clothing appeared adequate. After the wild enthusiasm of the people had spent its first wind, the city was reported quiet and the population orderly and in control. On 18th October, M. Papandreou and his Government made a ceremonial entry, their arrival being greeted in generous mood oy a large aemonstration imcluing some 15,000 members of E.A.M.-this party at that tie showing itself in open support of the Government and the Allies. A Country in Turmoil To trace the course of events which led to the recent disturbances in Greece, it is necessary to go back to October, 1943, when after two years of luke-warm militant resistance to German occupation,-Greek guerrillas (E.L.A.S.) suspended activity against the enemy and transferred attention to disarming their more conservative rivals, the members of the Democratic National League. (E.D.E.S.). Excuses offered in justification of this change of front were various. It may be that dissatisfaction over Allied policy in Italy coupled with our reverses in the Aegean played a minor part, although it appears more likely-perhaps unquestionable in the light of subsequent happenings-that these factors provided merely a. convenient opportunity for E.L.A.S. to 'desert the cause of national liberation and resolve the issue into one of vicious and premeditated political
war.

Whatever the seed of its origin, this deep enmity between the rival bands of Left and Right-both bearing arms provided by the Allies-soon developed into a barbaric conflict which, varying in intensity and punctuated by occasional inconsequential clashes with the forces of occupation, saw culmination a year later in pitched battle for Athens. From time to time exhaustion and enemy reprisals-for the Germans were not slow .to capitalise the situation-tempered the internecine quarrels of the guerrillas and offered hope that some measure of unity might be reached. Many conferences took place-and are still taking place-between the parties and the emigre-, Government, and on more than one occasion terms for a truce survived all but the last and vital round. Although outside the period of this review, it is satisfactory to note that up to the time of writing the latest agreement for a "cease fire " at midnight on 14th January, 1945, .has been observed. While history has shown the Balkans as soil fertile for the fostering of secret societies, these movements have been less popular in Greece than in countries further north-partly because Greece was freed earlier than others from the Ottoman yoke, but largely because the people are possessed of a more innate individualism. Unfortunately,

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enthusiasm but denying them the co-operation essential to the achievemfent of their ideals. The Rival Political aPaties. Politically, the country has two main parties, E.A.M. and E.D.E.S., and many ot importance"-each with a welter of policy as ineffective as its title is E.A.M. (the National Liberty P E.L.A.S. is the military instrument )', ccnto le j by the Communist element, is the most powerful organisation in Greece and has to date exercised a dictatorship not only in the main towns iit in the countless villages and settlements in- the

the period of occupation controlled most of Free Greece. It would be unfair to say that this party did not on occasion join battle with the Getmans; but equally unwise not to discern the deeper political significence of many of its operations.' e t' K.K.A.' (National and ti h the same alms as a through a personal to , Commander of the late party P. an all-Greek Resistance Organisation, is a Right Wing republican group in Salonika, conspicuous in the past for its active preference of German to E.L.A.S. rule, while E the only other party of an importance

Supplies being dropped by aircraft to Partisans in Yugoslavia.


worthy of notice, comprises a Greek Officers' Organisation founded in the Peloponnese during the summer of 1943 and since subjected to periodical attack by E.L.A.S. with varying degrees of success. The career of the emigre Government in a' has been barely less settled than thme t various parties within the cou beginning of April, 1&ULI

'failure

to co-ordinate the policies of the fighting forces and guerrillas, M. Tsouderos tendered his resignation to King George of the Hellenes, and later M. Venizelos, son of the former a-f new ster, attempted to form a lasted only until the 23rd, when o leader of the Socialist Democratic took over and founded the government 'wfmh up to the end of the year, although

Rockets from a S.A.A.F. Beaufighter of the Balkan Air Force streaking towards a German barracksat Tirana, capital of Albania, a few days before
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it suffered many changes, represented constitutional Government of Greece. M. Papandreou's Programme On 27th April, 1944, under the watchwords " One Fatherland, One Government, One Army,' M. Papandreou declared his programme :the (1) The reformation and good discipline of the Greek Armed Forces in the Middle East under the banner of our Hellenic Fatherland. (2) The unification under the orders of the United Government of all the guerrilla and, the Greece, of Free bodies mobilisation, when the hour comes, of

This merchant vessel, attacked with cannon by Beaufighters as it approached Alexandrovo Harbour (Krk Island), on 20th October, 1944, was left circling helplessly and on fire.
all the fighting forces of the nation against the invader. (3) The cessation of the reign of terror in the rural districts of Greece, and the assurance of personal security and political freedom for the people when and wherever the invader withdraws.

(4)

Continuous endeavours for the sufficient despatch of food and medical supplies to enslaved Greece. (5) The securing at the time of the forthcoming liberation of our country, of Order and the Freedom of the Greek uch a manner that, freed from lult

physical and moral compulsion, they may decide with full sovereignty the Constitution, the Social Order and the Government of their choice. (6) The imposition of severe sanctions both against the betrayers of their" country and those who have exploited the misery of our people. (7) Forethought for the immediate satisfaction, after liberation, of the material needs of the Greek people. (8) The full satisfaction of our national rights. Our complete national restoration and the securing of our new frontiers are the demand of the whole nation. No Agreement Reached Events over the period from the issue of tuis programme to the time of the British occupation of Athens again emphasise the determination of E.A M./E.L.A.S. to pursue their extremist policy. At Koutsaina on 6th May, 1944, E.L.A.S. .and E.D.E.S. held a conference, the subject of which was the adjustment of the spheres of influence of the two guerrilla groups. As with all earlier discussions it broke down on the usual issuethe inability of the parties to sink their political aspirations. In the Lebanon' on 10th May, a meeting to.ok place between the Papandreou Cabinet and the leaders of all parties in Greece, including E.A.M., at which provisional agreement was reached to establish a joint government to take over power in Athens when, with or without Allied aid, the city was freed from the Germans. The effect of this agreement was negligible.. Fighting continued between E.L.A.S. and E.D.E.S., and between E.L.A.S. and the Rallis Security Battalions-these Greek guerrillas, armed by the Germans and declaring their policy as the suppression of Communism, being at that time more than twice as strong as the forces 'of E.D.E.S. On 27th July, 1944, E.A.M. placed new terms before the Greek Government in exile. They were rejected as unacceptable by M. Papandreou--a move which E.A.M. countered with an offer to join the government if the Prime Minister resigned: This pr.oviso was later withdrawn, and at the end of August five members of P.E.E.A. (Political Committee of National Liberation) arrived in Cairo for discussions. On 7th September, with British plans formulated for a landing in the Peloponnese, the emigre Government was transferred from Cairo to Caserta. As stated earlier, it made a formal entry into Athens on 18th October. The Russian Advance into South-East Europe While the surge forward of the Soviet Armies in South-East Europe, recognised both in its local importance and in the significance of its possibilities, has received note in earlier accounts of the war in the Balkans, it has been impracticable to include details of the offensive in a survey limited to operations in Yugoslavia and the Aegean. -

Happily the march of eveat enlargement of the canvas. On 28th Septembe 1944, Moscow Radio announced an agreement with the Partisan National Committee whereby Russian troops were to be allowed occupation of territory in Yugoslavia, conditional only upon its vacation on completion of operations and on the civilian administration remaining in Partisan hands. A few days later, Soviet forces joined with those of Marshal Tito, and by- the middle of October Belgrade was free of German rule. Without diminishing the importance of this progress, it was now plain that a situation had been reached of the highest strategic potentiality to both ourselves and the enemy-the Russian offensive, begun on 19th August, 1944, with the break through at Galatz, was within an ace of achieving its main objective, the establishment of a joint and continuous front from southern Hungary to the Adriatic Sea. The effect of this drive into Yugoslavia from the east, coupled with the Partisan backing in the west and the movement northward of strong British forces from the Athens area, created a position of increasing danger for the seven remaining divisions of German Army Group E. then in process of extricating themselves from Corfu, north-west Greece and the Aegean. By the week ending 15th October, all rail communications were severed south of Belgrade, leaving the enemy only the Partisan-infested mountain roads across Bosnia or the limited alternative of air transport as means of escape. On the-Adriatic coast the tightening of the pincers saw the transfer of two German divisions, 118 Jaeger and 264 Infantry, from Dalmatia to the Zagreb-Brod railway area and a step-up in the shuttle-service of small craft from Dalmatian ports to the main reception centre at Fiume. Although Corfu surrendered on 8th October and the evacuation of the coastline from Peljesac.to Gruda was finally completed around the same time, further south both Kotor and the Montenegrin coast were still firmly held-these districts being vital to preservation of the only escape routes. In Hungary, the prospect of the arrival of the Russians at Budapest brought a radio proclamation from the Regent, Admiral Horthy, on 15th October, to the effect that he was opening negotiations for an armistice. To this the Germans reacted swiftly. Arrow Cross troops carried out a successful coup d'etat in the afternoon, seized the radio station-and established Szalaski as master of the city. On the evening of the 16th, Radio Budapest declared that Horthy had retracted his order, and an hour later announced his alleged abdication. Operations in Yugoslavia and Albania The last instalmert of the narrative of operations in Yugoslavia and Albania (R.A.F. Mediterranean Review No. 8) closed at the British Commando assault north of .arande. The present chapter opens with the capture of this town and - : --I i J.ii i:~LI h1 -Be '21:a at" V

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hills beyond, and the hoisting of the white flag by the German garrison on Corfu. With two firm Allied salients established south of Belgrade, one Ripanj-Topolo-Lapovo-PetrovacZagubica and the other Leskovac-Nis-Pirot, controlling the main communications BelgradeSofia on the east side, the enemy pulled back in Albania to Durazzo-Elbasan-Podradec-Kastoria, and Valona and the Berat oilfields returned to Partisan hands. from the in withdrawal Further north Dalmatian coast, Split and certain small ports including Trogir were evacuated by the third week of October, and before the month closed Partisans supported by Russian artillery, had made slight advances east of the line Novi SadMitrovica and were moving on to the main German defences through Sid to the Bosut and Drina junctions with the Sava. At the end of this month troop movements in Montenegro gave indication of the enemy's intention to attempt at all cost the reopening of the five withdrawal routes through the mountains of Zetska. These routes were (i) Kraljevo(iii) Mitrovica-Sarajevo and Sarajevo, (ii) Prizren-Sarajevo in the centre area, and (iv) Scutari-Niksic-Trebinje-Mostar and (v) ScutariBar-Kotor-Cavtat-Dubrovnic-Mostarin the west coastal zone. Apart from passes and other sections of the roads then under Partisan the following towns were in surveillance, Yugoslav hands-Prijepolje.and Priboj on route (ii), Berane and Pljevlja on route (iii), Niksic and Trebine on route (iv), and Cavtat andT Dubrovnic on route (v). Successes by Naval Forces Naval forces in the month of October sank a schooner and damaged two others in convoy on the 8/9th, destroyed four E-boats, four F-boats and three L-boats in another convoy off Zara on the 11/12th, and sank two I-boats and captured two others off Dugi on the 21st. Inconclusive actions were fought between Partisan patrol boats and enemy M.T.Bs off Viron the 22nd/23rd, and between British naval units and a German destroyer on the-23rd/24th and similar forces and an escorted merchantman on the 28/29th. On the night of 1st November, H.M.S. "Avon Vale" and H.M.S. "Wheatland" intercepted and sank west of Pag Island the torpedo-boat "Audace " and its two escort vessels screening the enemy's- evacuation of Zara-Sibenik. Although weather interfered with air operations in the first and third weeks, Balkan Air Force flew over 3,000 sorties during October. Principal targets for the first seven days were German gun positions harassing our ground forces in southern Aabania, the Mostar marshalling yards and, in support of Partisan operations, the enemy centre of Benkovac, east of Zara. In the second week, effort was focussed on the German withdrawal from Greece with strikes against communications, shipping, motor transport and rolling stock. 63

Attention was also given to Ston .7 eac peninsula) and Kriz (near Zagreb), and to enemy troop concentrations at Derska (north of Sibenik). Attacks against communications continued during the second half of the period, and by the end of the month the sum total of transport claims amounted to 39 locomotives, 20 wagons, 129 M/T vehicles,. 36 ships and twelve aircraft destroyed, with 43 locomotives, 113 wagons, 226 M/T vehicles and 22 ships damaged. B.A.F. lost 44 aircraft with a further 46 damaged. The Value of Greece to Germany With the final withdrawal of German forces from the soil of Greece on 3rd November, 1944, it is interesting to pause a moment first on the effect of this loss to the enemy, and then on the problems facing the Government of the country. Although in so far as her economic contribution is concerned, Greece may be considered as having been denied to Germany since Allied bombing and Partisan activities completed dislocation of the northern railway routes through Yugoslavia and Bulgaria in early September, her value hitherto, particularly in chrome after the cessation of Turkish deliveries in April, 1944, had been considerable. In the short period April-September, 1944, Greece provided approximately 4,000 tons a month, or 25-30 per cent of Germany's total chrome supplies. This was her only substantial contribution. The production of pyrites, 250,000 tons per annum before the occupation, was down to 25,000 tons; her bauxite mines, delivering 4,000 tons a month in 1942, gave only 200 tons a month in 1944; and her output of metal ore, which previouisly had been in the neighbourhood of 1,000 Of the tons per annum, was at a standstill. remaining industries, those of cotton, wool and textiles offered a restricted stock of clothing material, while the small shipbuilding yards gave limited facilities for the construction of cement barges and the upkeep of caiques and coastal vessels. So much for the position of Greece' vis-a-vis Germany: if the loss of certain commodities was serious to the enemy, the economic resultant of the occupation was no whit less critical for the Greek population. Problems Facing the Government Three main problems faced the Governmentthe stabilisation of currency, which through malicious German planning was in a state of hopeless inflation; the disarmament of E.L.A.S. and the reformation of the Regular Army; the reconciliation of central political control with thede facto administration of E.A.M. On 24th October, M. Papandreou made a start with a Government re-shuffle in favour of Venizelists (Liberal element), followed by the annulment of laws and decrees promulgated by P.E.E.A. and by measures for the restoration of ;Two property sold during the occupation , 1% :1 "i :]) ::'i.) /
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days later came a decree calling up the 1936-39 classes for military service and a statement to effect that the army of the Middle East and the guerrilla forces including E.L.A.S. and E.D.E.S. were to be disbanded and reconstructed into Regular Army units. A subsequent announcement, arising from the arrests made by unauthorised persons during the Anniversary Celebrations (Italian attack on Greece in 1940), ordered the dissolution of the National Civil Guard-an organisation founded by E.L.A.S. for the maintenance of order in territory controlled by E.A.M. Early in November, policy having been declared for the stabilisation of the drachma at 600 to the 1, the Government began to tackle the question of disarming the irregulars-fixing the date for dissolution of E.L.A.S. and E.D.E.S. at 10th December. On 11th November, the new drachma (referred to as the English drachma) came into circulation and was well received. Prices stabilised quickly at a lower level, and with imports of Allied. supplies and stocks from the Peloponnese the food situation became easier. Unemployment, however, remained serious, the chief difficulty being in the re-organisation of industry and the shortage of raw materials. The Government had now to implement its declared programme for disarming the guerrillas. On 8th November, the E.A.M. press urged the dissolution of 3 Mountain Brigade and the Greek Sacred Regiment (both formed in Egypt in April, 1943, following the mutinies when the majority. of the Greek Army and Navy, calling for a Republic, were interned by the Allies) as a condition precedent, and on 9th November, 3 Mountain Brigade marched ceremonially through Athens to a welcome greater if anything than that which had been accorded M. Papandreou on 18th October. That the proposition put forward by E.A.M. was likely to cause' a crisis became evident in Meetings between the last week of November. the Prime Minister and- members of the Communist Party, at which the latter called not only for the dissolution of the forces mentioned above but for an immediate plebiscite on the constitutional issue, were freely reported as making no headway, and while all remained outwardly calm in Athens,"in areas beyond the capital the Government retained little more than nominal control. On 19th November, with permission of the Cabinet, a demonstration of 20,000 people took place in Constitution Square. Arms were not carried and there were no incidents. It was but the lull before the storm. The Gates of Budapest Before recounting the next chapter in the Greek political crisis, it is expedient to turn to the encouraging progress of events on the Soviet southern front and in Yugoslavia. Most outstanding development in the Hungarian sector through the fortnight 21st October-

7th November was (a) the considerable Russian progress to the south-west along the Carpathian passes into Slovakia-enabling troops in southern Poland to join with those in Transylvania, permitting forces in Hungary to be supplied by railways of the main Polish network and releasing thereby the roundabout route through Rumania for use of the Southern Armies, and (b) the significent advance northward of Marshal Tolbukhin's Army from the Szeged area between the Danube and the Tisa to the suburbs of Budapest. .These movements were so important that at one moment the fall of the Hungarian capital appeared imminent. A combination of wet weather, stubborn defence and sharp cdunterattacks, however, brought the Russians to a standstill on the flanks and caused them to fall back slightly from the immediate approaches. The setback was temporary, but it held the assault in check until the middle of December. Then, with a wedge driven first north-west beyond Eszhergom and finally west and down to the south-east, Soviet forces surged forward to surround the city. The German Withdrawal Plan The encirclement and siege of Budapest is referred to later. Before it developed the Germans through Macedonia had reached retreating Skoplje, and further north in the Sandjak, where the Sjenica road was described as black with traffic, troops were reported at Plevlja. Following these withdrawals, the Partisans re-occupied Kumanovo, Stip, Veles, Bitolj, Prilep and Negotin, all in the Iber Valley, while other forces in Dalmatia took Drnis and invested Knin, cutting the town off from its lines of communication with the enemy centre at Bihac. Movements in Yugoslavia now showed clearly the pattern of the withdrawal plan of German Army Group E. The evacuation of Pec and Prizren had effectively severed the last remaining land-link between 21 Mountain Corps and the bulk of its parent formation, leaving the greater part still in the Iber Valley, with its most northerly elements at Kraljevo and its rearguards just clear of Pristina. This force, committed irretrievably to the two routes Sjenica-Visegrad and Kraljevo-Uzice, had to meet Partisan ambushes and Allied air attacks along the roads and Bulgarian pressure in its rear, while the smaller force to the south-west, concentrated around Scutari-Podgorica-Kotor,could call on no reinforcements 'and was handicapped further by the recent Partisan occupation of Cetinje on the Podgorica-Kotor road. With weather conditions in Montenegro worsening' every day, it now considerable that probable highly seemed equipment would have to be abandoned and that when Army Group E. eventually reached Bosnia, it would arrive as a much weakened formationan unfortunate predicament for an enemy relying on these six divisions and assorted supporting troops as his main strategic.jrserve in the south.

..

A bridge near Gorica under attack by S.A.A.F. Beaufighters. Note damage from preceding aircraft.
Much that was anticipated came to pass. By the end of November, although the last phase of the withdrawal into Bosnia had been completed with comparative success, many of the enemy's troops were unable to fight their way out, and even those who succeeded paid dearly in the process. In the most northerly sector, 7 SS. and 104 ' Jaeger were blocked in the area of Zvorni1c. Twenty miles to the south, forces in Vlaseniica were equally tied down,, while those in Sarajevo could only filter through on the Zenica road with North-west of Sjenica the difficulty. great position showed no improvement to the enemy, further withdrawal having been halted by the for proteion of a ece~sity of det ching uits
oft nv'T for the tigto

Rolling stock being attacked with rockets at Novska by Beaufighters on 20th November, 1944.
extricate itself from the Danitovgrad-Podgorica pocket. It was now clear that all efforts to open the Niksic route weFe to be abandoned; it had been an abortive operation, especially to 181 Division, which suffered considerable casualties. Perhaps the most important strategical contribution made by the Partisans at this time was the final capture of Knin-a key town which. with Mostar 100 miles to the south-east, blocked the two main entrances from the Dalmatian coast to central Yugoslavia. Knin was heavily garrisoned, and in its loss the Germans took a hard knock. They also provided themselves with an uncomfortable problem-for to counterattack would mean the denuding of other areas for reinforcements,

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Rolling stock under attack by S.A.A.F. Beaufighters at Katina on 22nd November, 1944.

November Air Operations Operations by Balkan Air Force during November showed a marked increase on those of the preceding month, over 4,600 sorties being flown at cost of only 38 aircraft lost and 57 damaged-a casualty rate of less than six per cent above the October losses, in spite of an increase of fifty per cent. in sorties; 4,096 of the sorties were by aircraft based in Italy and the balance by A.H.Q. Greece. This total was the highest attained by B.A.F. since it began operations in July, 1944. Fighters and fighter-bombers (including Italianf Air Force) flew .approximately 2,650 sorties; bombers and G.R. aircraft 206 sorties; and aircraft (including No. 205 Group, U.S.A.A.F. and Russian Air Group) on supply-dropping and special duties, 1,662 sorties. In addition to the above T.A.F., D.A.F. and S A.F. carried out considerable Balkan operations during the month; the former two attacking communications targets in northern Yugoslavia and shipping in the Gulf of Fiume, and the latter marshalling yards and troop concentrations mostly in the Sarajevo-Maribor areas. B.A.F. fighters and fighter-bombers, concentrating against transport and rolling stock moving eastwards, destroyed in November 283 M/T vehicles, 21 locomotives and fourteen wagons, and damaged 312 M/T chices, twelve locomotives and seven wagons. They also attacked with success two railway station" and, sundry ammunition dumps. ' .

D.A.F. on four days of the first week, shot up over 100 locomotives on the Sarajevo-Brod and Zagreb-Maribor lines, destroyed three JU.52s on the ground at Brezice, and sank a Siebel ferry, a corvette and a merchant vessel outside Fiume; following this with 64 locomotives and 55 trucks attacked in the second week. T.A.F. claimed a 200-ton merchantman in flames, damage to bridges and rolling stock on the Sarajevo-Brod, Brod-Zagreb and Zagreb-Maribor railways, and approximately 50 locomotives destroyed. M.A.S.A.F. bombed troop concentrations at Podgorica, Mitrovica, Sjenica, Prijepolje, Novi Pazar anid Visegrad, and the marshalling yards at Sarajevo, Brod, Maribor and Sarajevo Westsome targets on more than one occasion. They also straffed roads between Sarajevo and Novi Pazar, railway bridges at Doboj, Vrbastica and Kukavica, and numerous lengths of track. Aircraft of No 205 Group attacked many of the same targets as the Fifteenth Air Force (especially Visegrad) and in addition, with No. 334 Wing, dropped supplies in Yugoslavia. Although in the first week of the month 20-30 FW: 190s were reported in the Skoplje area, enemy activity was confined to limited reconnaissance by ME.109s, probably based on Sarajevo, and air transport (JU.52s.and HE.llls) operating over the country Vienna-Sarajevo-

Attack on Fiume by Baltimores in progress in November, 1944.

Showing commendable moderation towards the Serbs, * especially on the question of the Monarchy, the Partisans greatly reduced the danger of civil disturbances, consolidated their position and laid down the essential foundations for the restoration of administrative control. By this foresight, they-also won over to their cause a number of prominent Serbs including two
* Although ft was the Serbs of the Sumadije who undoubtedly gave the initial impetus to the Partisan Movement, the Mihajiovic (reactioniary) influence in Serbia has always provided a serious barrier between the Serbs and the Partisans of Marshal Tito. Ia

generals, the son and daughter Mihajiovic,' and the Chief of Gendarmerie of Nis.

of General Police and

On 21st October, the B.B.C. broadcast a statement that Great Britain and the Soviet UUnion had agreed to pursue a joint policy towards Yugoslavia and had recognised the unalienable right of the Yugoslavs to settle their own constitutional questions after the war. On the 23rd, the Free Yugoslav News Agency , Premier of the Royal announced that Dr. Yugosl v U~4 pe last issue of the w ), and Marshal Tito berted territory, and

on 2nd November the Free Yugoslav Radio stated that these discussions had resulted in an agreement between the Yugoslav Premier and Marshal Tito for the formation as soon as possible of a United Yugoslav Government. Evidence of the determination of the Partisans to get their country back on a level keel came from all sides. In Belgrade, the functions of the former Municipality were taken over by a National Liberation Committee, with subcommittees for food and the reorganisation of railways and other communications in liberated Serbia. There was also indication of modification in the recent somewhat uncompromising attitude shown towards the Western Allies-this possibly a result of over-vigorous pro-Russian propaganda, realisation of the need for further supplies, and appreciation of the part played by the Allies in the liberation-of France and in aid to Greece. On 7th November, at a celebration in Belgrade of the Soviet October Revolution, the principal speaker, General Dzilas of the Communist Party, claimed that the Yugoslav people had earned the right to decide their own internal organisation in harmony with the Moscow and Teheran Conferences; that the defeat of Mihajlovic was a serious blow to reactionary circles abroad; and that the Partisans' object in making the TitoSubasic agreement was to demonstrate their desire to collaborate with all those wishing for the liberation of Yugoslavia. Following this meeting Dr. Subasic, - with Partisan representatives, left for Moscow for discussions with M. Molotov. A report issued shortly after their arrival announced that the Premier had expressed his satisfaction at finding there the same understanding of Yugoslavia's problems as existed in Great Britain and the United States: another report by the Moscow Radio stated that the Soviet Government welcomed the efforts of Marshal Tito and Dr. Subasic to unite all national forces in the and federative democratic a of creation Yugoslavia. Open Warfare in Greece The December diary of events in Greece makes internal position sorry reading: With the deteriorating and. the atmosphere tense on the issue of disarmament of the guerrillas, General Scobie, British Military Commander, on 1st December, broadcast over the Athens Radio a declaration promising protection for the Greek Government and people against acts of unjustified violence or attemped coup d'etat. On the same day, leaflets were dropped by British aircraft reiterating that by a decree of the Greek Government the guerrillas would be disbanded during the period 10-20th December, and that the forces of the E.A.M. Civil Guard would be taken over forthwith by the National Militia. In spite of appeals by M. Papandreou, however, LeftWing, members refused to endorse this decree and on the same day as General Scobie made his

announcement the six ministers of E.A.M./KK.E. withdrew from the Government. Seventy-two hours after this incident the balloon burst. There had been fighting in the Drama area for some days, but owing to E.L.A.S. holding a ring against outside intervention few details had filtered through. On the morning of the 3rd a general strike began in Athens, and as a result permission granted by the Cabinet for a political demonstration was withdrawn. Eye-witness accounts of what followed are not entirely conclusive. The Government ban was openly ignored, and as the various processions converged on Constitution Square shots were exchanged between the demonstrators and the police. Which side fired first has not been finally established, but ten civilians and one policeman were killed. Although no further rioting or shooting took place this day, E.L.A.S. forces were infiltrating quickly, and on the 4th hostile activity began in many districts, including the centre of the city. British troops with tanks, on the morning of the 6th, stormed and occupied E.A.M. Headquarters in Korai Square and then secured IK.E. in Constitution Headquarters (Communist) Square. Along the Piraeus Road and in the area around the Acropolis fighting was heavy and continuous, British aircraft flying low to machine-gun E.L.A.S. positions. One among many disgraceful features of the situation was the conduct of certain members of Right-Wing elements, such as the notorious "X " organisation, who, with Union Jacks pinned to their garments and in the guise of helping the British, began looting and paying-off old scores. Another such instance was the general conduct of the Athenian police, many of whom spent the days sitting on roof-tops machine-gunning anything and everything. On 14th December, the curfew fixed at 19.00 hours was extended over the whole twenty-four except for the period 12.00-14.00 hours. Bitter fighting continued, and although negotiations were still taking place no terms to include the surrender of arms could be obtained from E.A.M. On the 19th, after all ammunition had been expended and four hours before a relief column arrived, A.H.Q. Greece (Kifisia) fell to the guerrillas, and on the morning of the following day General Scobie issued a warning by leaflets dropped by aircraft that E.L.A.S. guns firing at 09.00 hours on the 21st would be attacked with all the forces at his command. While this warning was effective in quelling fighting in the centre of the city, British troops working round the Piraeus area found opposition as strong as ever. A Regent Appointed still Although political negotiations were producing no solution, a proposal to appoint as Regent Archbishop Damaskinos, a man widely acknowledged in Greece. as above the intrigues of politics both by virtue of his office and through his own personality, was now provoking

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near Bioce, Yugoslavia.

Rocket projectile attack by Beaufighters of No. 19 Squadron, S.A.A.F., against the village of Gracac on 4th December, 1944.

discussion. On Christmas Day, Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden arrived in Athens, and on the 26th a conference was held at which all parties were represented. This conference continued for ihiree days. While it terminated with no agreenent reached on the disarmament issue, it dis cl a majority-vote in favour of a Regency.

The original proposal for this change in constitution had been placed before King George of the Hellenes and rejected. On 30th December, reports from London s dtdtl he King had withdrn w is en an underg t ss his return a. w Archbishop

~-fi 8
";

famaskinos was elected to office the day following this announcement. By the end of the first week of December, fighting had spread outside Athens and E.L.A.S. were pressing hard in a number of districts including the Epirus. The general strike, which had embraced Patras, Salonika and Volos, was over in these towns, but at all Greek ports of importance H.M. ships were standing-by, and on or about the 15th orders were given to evacuate E.D.E.S. troops and civilians from Kavallo, Volos, Kalamai, Preveza, the Ionian Islands and places on the north shore of the Gulf of Corinth. Naval vessels remained and in most ports the situation continued tense. Noblesse Oblige While no inclusive figures are available for December, it is known that British casualties in Greece, between the third of that month and 6th January, 1945, amounted to 2,101, including 237 killed. During the period preceding that in which these casualties were inflicted, British ships and aircraft were importing approximately 20,000 tons of food per week to the Piraeus and another 20,000 tons to other Greek towns. They were also bringing footware and clothing at a rate of nearly 90,000 tons.a week. That it was impossible to continue these deliveries needs no The cessation of essential food comment. supplies, occurring as it did before stocks had been accumulated, produced at once the most acute hardship over the whole country, and in Athens alone, on one typical day in December, British troops served no fewer than 112,000 free meals to a starving population. Air Support to Ground Operations Squadrons of A.H.Q. Greece (B.A.F.), in support of ground troops repelling E.L.A.S. forces, flew 1,092 sorties in December, 932 of which were by fighters and fighter-bombers and 160 by G.R. aircraft. Primary duty of the fighters and fighter-bombers was armed reconnaissance mainly in the Athens-Piraeus-Corintharea, where continuous attacks were made against gun positions, M.T., road blocks and fuel dumps. At the same time R.P. Beaufighters, which flew 352 sorties, straffed seven E.L.A.S. Headquarters buildings, damaged the W/T station at Piraeus and blew up a number of ammunition dumps. Transport claims included 99 motor vehicles destroyed or damaged. General Reconnaissance aircraft bombed the railway station north-west of Eleusis, straffed railway stock in the town itself, and dropped leaflets and supplies. Only three B.A.F. aircraft were reported missing and four damaged. Enemy Withdrawal through Yugoslavia At the beginning of December the enem route to the north-west was t e bridgeheads, one fo s based on Bar o 72

:rgfD
4

the area of Virovitica-Slatina and the other by an all Russian concentration at Vukovar. An advancing joint Russian-Bulgarian-Partisan column moving across the Srem, already in possession of Tovarnik, Sid Martinici and "a rail block on the Vinkovci-Brcko line, also increased the threat. West of these positions the Germans continued to hold tenaciously to the Okucani-BrodVinkovci sector of the main railway, the security of which remained vital to Army Group E. (including the Corps which had made its way up the Drina to Bijeljina, only to find the VinkovciBrcko railway cut.) Army Group E. withdrawing from Serbia to Montenegro and Bosnia was as yet still south of the Sava and east of a general line Brod-Sarajevo-Mostar. It is interesting to note here that the enemy was again in the precarious position in which he had found himself a few weeks earlier-and for the same reason. In his refusal to cut losses, a decision imposed no doubt by the manpower shortage, he had left retirement dangerously late and stood in grave risk of losing possession of the one essential railway west of Brod, and being forced to fight to Zagreb along the Partisancontrolled roads of central Bosnia. The cause of this delay in .the German withdrawal was the joint actions in November that, following the evacuation of Pec and Prizren; had split Army Group E., leaving the greater part in the Iber Valley and 21 Mountain Corps in the area Scutari-Podgorica-Kotor(see page 64). 21 Mountain Corps, under constant air and Partisan attack, was now a few miles south of Matesevo, while the relief column coming to its aid from the north had reached Mojkocac. These forces joined during the third week of December, and as a result northward movement of the beleaguered Corps was speeded up. Bad flying weather, which restricted air operations in the last week of the month, gave further assistance to the withdrawal, and by the 28th, with the Visegrad-Sarajevo section of the route still strongly held by the enemy, the head of the column was through Sarajevo and able to move at its own pace. Further German Forces Brought Up Notwithstanding the pull-out of 21 Mountain Corps and supporting troops, the Germans continued to hold tight to the Mostar area, while further up the coast the introduction ot new guns on Rab gave indication of the importance attached to the Northern Islands. In the west Slavonia sector, which as the neck of the bottle was the most vital area of all, additional German forces were brought up in mid-December and an attack launched to increase the depth of defence forward of the main line eb to Nagykanisza. This operation cleared t artisans from Novigrad and Durdovac, and its progress the enemy made another Sin the Drava-Sava pocket which eliminated ussian bridgehead at Vukovar, and at the

merchwrnt

as. .1i p left by the Germans& a block to the entrance to the Corinth Canal at;'ts~ Aigean Sea end,

~$id~ir~D

British troops going ashore from landing craft at Salonika on 9th November, 1944.

A ree

o~~

/*~

an

paralysed by fear as
A thens.

DEC

IFlED

British paratrooper. waiting to snipe E.L.A.S. troops as they leave a


burning building in Athens.

Paratroopers and Gre4kpolicemen advancing under sniping fire in Ath i


74

British paratroopersawait a chance to cross a street in Athens.

British paratroopersmaking
e ".

e'r covering

Supplies were dropped by aircraft to British prisoners of E.L.A.S in Greece.


The scene at Kifisikhori, where prisoners had made the words "FAGS,

NEWS" in stones on the ground above a white "T".

The crew of the

Wellington taking the photograph dropped all the cigarettes they had with the latest B.B.C. Bulletin written out by the Wireless Operator. As the

aircraft left, the word "Thanks " was being marked out in reply.

same time opened a counter-attack in an attempt to clear the Vincovci-Brcko railway. At this stage the most northerly of the withdrawing forces of Army Group E. had evacuated Pozega and Uzice and its main body was in the area of Osijelc-Vinkovci. Although units of 118 Jaeger Division had been abandoned in Dalmatia, the bulk of Army Group E.,, now protected north and south by the Drava-Danube and the Sava and reinforced by the presence of considerable G.A.F. personnel in the Osijek area, could be said to be out of the wood. After penetrating to Otok, Allied forces were forced to -give ground, leaving the. position fluid in Sid and Tovarnik, while around the Barcs bridgehead (Zagreb-Nagykanlsza line) the attack that had opened tentatively in mid-December increased its

pressure in the Bjelovar region (east of Zagreb) and drove the Partisans north and east back to Pitomaca. December Air Operations-Yugoslavia While the December total of 4,653 sorties beat the previous record of 4,604 flown in November, bad weather on many days curtailed air operations and only 1,706 fighter and fighterbomber sorties were carried out over Yugoslavia against 2,258 for the preceding four weeks. (N.B. The figure of 2,650 quoted on page 67 includes fighter sorties by A.H.Q. Greece). Effort was directed mainly against the evacuation route of 21 Mountain Corps, the principal sectors being the Mostar:Sarajevo-Brod railway and the general troop concentration area

DE~B~~Iz

Beaufighter patrolling over the Acropolis, the key position of one flank

of the British forces in Athens.

Claims for transport Bioce-Matesevo-Kotasin. and rolling stock exceeded November, no fewer than 319 M.T. vehicles, thirteen locomotives and 27 wagons being ;destroyed, and 553 vehicles, seventeen locomotives and 63 wagons damaged. Other targets included barracks and marshalling yards at Bjelovak, motor transport at Podgorica, bridges north of Scutari, and a power station and gun sites on Lussino Island. Attacks on the German garrison at Gracac by R.P. Beaufighters, Baltimores and Venturas were followed by the capture of the town by the Partisans on 9th December, 500 of the enemy being killed and 800 taken prisoner. Booty Included 30 tons of ammunition, 1,500 rifles and Another tcarget, the first 120 machine-guns. important one at sea for two months, was a 400-ton schooner carrying ammunition- through was attacked .by It the .Podgorski Channel. R.P. Beaufighters, which claimed 25 hits and saw the vessel blow up. Fifteenth Air Force and No. 205 Group, T.A.F. and D.A.F., and No. 334 Wing operated with in 'previous. months. Force as Balkan Air

Fifteenth Air Force attacked the marshalling yards at Maribor and the railway bridge at Bioce, the bombed No. 205 Group Zenica; Podgorica-Klopot and Bioce-Matesevo roads, bridges at Opasanica, Matesevo, Babljac and Mojkovac, and dropped many tons of supplies; Baltimores, Marauders and fighters of T.A.F. and barracks the at struck D.A.F. and marshalling yards at Bjelovar, bridges and rolling stock on the Zagreb-Kriz, Brod-Sarajevo and Zagreb-Maribor lines, destroying in particular They also bombed the two ammunition trains. viaduct at Orovnica and the bridge at Litija on principal railway from north Italy to the No. 334 Wing was restricted by Yugoslavia. weather, but its aircraft dropped and landed supplies in Yugoslavia and Albania, including provisions for a Victory Celebration in Tirana. Of the 4,653 sorties flown, 3,561 were by aircraft based in Italy and 1,092 by A.H.Q. Greece Single-engined fighters and (see page 77). ers from. Italy flew 1,382 sorties, fighter-bo ters 324 and bombers 462. Sorties R.P. duties aircraft, including Noa 205 i * b

A.H.Q., Greece (Kifisia), captured on 19th December, 1944, after all ammunition had been expended and four hours before a relief column arrived.
Group, U.S.A.A.F., Russian Air Group and Italian Air Force (SM. 82s and C. 1007s) totalled 1,393. Only 25 B.A.F. aircraft were lost and seventeen damaged. Budapest under Siege By the end of the first week of December, the forces of Marshal Tolbukhin, after taking Csepel Island (site of the Manfred Weiss Works, Hungary's largest industrial undertaking, and the Tokol Aircraft Factory), had surged forward to the eastern bank of Lake Balaton, the scale of the attack diverting the enemy's attention from the sector north of Budapest and enabling the Russians to effect a considerable penetration embracing Vac on the Danube bend and Ipolysag on the Slovak frontier. Although south-east of the city the Germans were now able to contain Marshal Tolbukhin's assault and make some local gains, they, were unsuccessful in preventing Soviet forces from capitalising their break through in the north and establishing by the middle of the month a substantial bridgehead across the Ipoly. This bridgehead the Russians at once developed by fanning-out east and northward into Czechoslovakia, accompanying this movement with a thrust on the front south-east of the capital that took first the key town of Szekejfehervar and then went on apace to the north, cutting the main Budapest-Vienna railway, capturing Biscke and Esztergom, and linking up with Marshal Malinovsky's forces to complete the encirclement of Budapest. On 23rd December, 1944, Moscow Radio announced that a. National Assembly had been constituted at Debrechen, and on the same day Radio Kossuth, stating that an armistice would be concluded with Russia and other countries at war with Hungary, gave the programme of this party as including a complete purge of Fascist and reactionary influences, an Agrarian revolution, and a policy of friendship towards the United Nations and the neighbours of Hungary. Two days later, Moscow announced the formation of a Provisional Government of Liberation, with General Miklos (hitherto Commander of the Hungarian First Army) as Prime Minister and

IED IF,

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Another view

of

the Beau fighter attack on the village 4th December, 1944,

of Gracac

on

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Th;is

photagvapk sustaining

shows 25

a direct

400-ton R.P.

sclzoonev F;ifs on 18th

at

Karlobeg December,

xploding 1944.

after

81

Ten direct and eight probable R.P. hits were scored in this attack on the Power House at Lussin Piccolo on 17th December, 1944. At the request of the Navy,- the harbour was also straffed with cannon fire.
General Voeroes (Chief of Staff to General Horthy) as Minister for National Defence. Six or seven enemy divisions, including three Hungarian formations, defended Budapest, the garrison being split into two pockets one in the bend of the Danube to the north and the other within the city itself. On 26th December, after the divisions in the bend had failed to break ,out to the north-west, and with Russian troops occupying Ujpest, Alag, Budaors, Csepic and Matyasfold slowly working through the outer defences, the German Commander declared a state of siege. While outside the period of this review, it is interesting to note that although by the middle of January the enemy relief columns attempting to drive corridors along the two Budapest-Vienna highways had made come ground east of Komarno and retaken Esztergom, two-thirds of the city of Budapest was in Russian hands. Honourable Mention On 31st December, 1944, Balkan Air Force completed its first six months of operations, during which, in spite of much bad weather, the Command with squadrons attached flew 22,317 sorties, involving 63,170 flying hours. Sorties carried out by single-engined fighters and fighterbombers (including Italian Air Force) totalled 9,565; by twin-engined fighters 1,959; and by bombers (including No. 205 Group) 1,957. Special Duties aircraft flew 8,836 sorties and over 34,000. hours. Only slightly over one per cent. of aircraft failed to return. Established claims were as follows. Destroyed -1,334 M.T. vehicles, 280 locomotives, 608 wagons, 116 ships, 65 aircraft and 129 miscellaneous; damaged-1,937 vehicles, 503 locomotives, 1,141 wagons, 125 ships, 43 aircraft and 311 miscellaneous. Twenty-three Headquarters buildings and nine bridges were wrecked, and 100 and 62, respectively, seriously damaged. These figures in some cases exceed those given earlier in the Balkan Commentary. They include sorties for which details had not been received at time of going to press and may now be considered comprehensive and complete.

OCTOBER TO DECEMBER, 1944


AT THE END of the previous quarter it must have been painfully clear even to the troops concerned that the German garrisons in the outer Aegean islands had been left to their fate. Almost all the larger vessels had gone to the bottom and those that remained were busy on the evacuation route between Piraeus and Salonika; such air transport as had survived the devastating M.A.S.A.F. raids on the Athens airfields in September and the attentions of intruder Beaufighters were mainly flying on the escape route north from Salonika to Skoplje; the absence of G.A.F. fighters had let our Naval patrols in among the Aegean islands to carry out bombardments or make landings where they liked; and British troops were already established on Kythera island, just off the south coast of the Peloponnese, paving the way for the capture of the port of Patras and, eventually, the liberation of Athens itself. The quarter now under review was to bring no crumb of comfort to the isolated garrisons. On the contrary, their outlook grew steadily blacker as week succeeded week and as the 83 operations described fully in the article on page 55, freed the whole of Greece. The Enemy Position in October When October came, the general situation as it affected the Aegean garrisons was, briefly, as The whole of southern Greece-the follows. Peloponnese-hadbeen evacuated by the Germans and they were now preparing to pull out from the Athens area. The Corinth Canal was about to be closed by blockships at either end, by landslides in the middle and by cutting the .bridges across it, while other blockships and demolition charges were prepared at Piraeus. Everything that could be moved was beingshipped northwards-either direct or via Volos-to Salonika, which had become the chief evacuation base both for shipping and for transport aircraft. For carrying out the sea evacuation the Germans could at the beginning of the month (2,900 tons), the minecall on S.S. "Bourgas" "Tsar S.S. tons), (2,400 "Zeus" layer Ferdinand" (2,000 tons), the tanker "Berthe" ns), S.S. "Lola" (1,200 tons), the coaster

% 1'

Sea
ANTIKYTHERA

of

Crete

"Silva" (490 tons) and four destroyers-three of which had just slipped round from the Adriatic -in addition to such smaller craft as had eluded the Allied air and naval net in the past months. As may be imagined, this was by no means an adequate . escape fleet. Any hope of general 'evacuation by air was similarly slim, for all available transport aircraft were reserved for bringing out "key personnel and specialists from the major island outposts. As for the rank and file, it was pretty obvious by then that, barring miracles, they had, as the saying is, had it. The number o left in Cret to 19,0

tionist Italians. The majority were on Cretesome 13,000 Germans concentrated mainly in the north-west corner of the island-and very few were other than low category troops of mixed nationalities and doubtful fighting value. The food supply position, however, was on the whole thought to be fairly good-enough for four to six months-but lack of shipping naturally made satisfactory distribution between the islands a constant headache. Forces at Our Disposal This, then, was how the enemy was placed in the Aegean in early October. For our part, the Navy had both surface and submarine patrols operating among the islands; there were, until

mid-November, the carrier-borne aircraft of No. 4 .,Naval Fighter Wing, whose activities are fully described in an article on page 152; A.H.Q., Eastern Mediterranean, although many of its squadrons had been transferred to Italy (and others were to be lost before the end of the quarter), still had the services of one Wellington squadron,_ one R.A.A.F. Baltimore squadron, three Beaufighter squadrons and one S.A.A.F. Spitfire squadron for operational use in the Aegean; and, as already indicated, the combined operations aimed at the capture of Athens were under way when Kythera was occupied. All services-as well as Greek patriots-were united in the common task of making the German evacuation of Greece and the Aegean as hazardous and costly as possible. Conditions for air operations, which had previously been the major factor in the Aegean, were by no means ideal as enemy shipping activity shifted northwards, but there was no letting-up of effort, while the Navy, free to move about in the absence of enemy aircraft, went from strength to strength. Early Success Against Shipping First blows against the enemy fell early in October. On the 1st " Tsar Ferdinand " and the tanker " Berthe," loaded with troops, stores and equipment, sailed north from Piraeus. On the night of the 2nd/3rd submarines intercepted them in the Gulf of Salonika and sank them both. Next day, off the island of Makronesi in the Cyclades group, ' a formation of fourteen Beaufighters came upon a convoy consisting of three armed caiques and a 200-ton barge, protected by an escort vessel of 250 tons. All five were damaged by R.P. or cannon fire, the barge being left on fire and abandoned by its crew. These early successes were augmented in the ensuing few days when naval surface forces Ssank one of the destroyers that had come round from the Adriatic, accounted for five out of seven landing craft caught leaving the island of Piscopi (Tilos) and probably sank a coaster and a lighter off Leros, while carrier-borne aircraft got S" Silva " en route from Lemnos to Salonika. Hampering the Enemy's Retreat Meanwhile, the enemy was being harried in other ways apart from shipping attacks. On the Greek mainland British patrols entered Patras on the 4th and on the same day-exactly a year after the Germafis had wrested Cos from us-we were back in the island of Samos, which we had also occupied at that time. The fall of Samos, as will be seen, was soon to be followed by that of almost all the, other islands. Spitfires carried out small-scale sweeps over Crete, on the look-out for M.T. and other targets, and Beaufighters went on with their intruder operations, although they could no longer match the striking success they had achieved between 26/27th September and 3rd/4th October when, co-operating with seaborne G.C.I., they accounted for nineteen transport aircraft shot down, one

probably

try

iv

amaged.

The

chief reason for t is fajling ; f was scarcity entioned, now of targets, the enemy, as aha route using most of his transports on ffiefrom Salonika. This transport traffic to the north was, however, dealt a blow on 4th October when 39 M.A.S.A.F. long-range Mustangs attacked the Athens airfield of Kalamaki, Eleusis and Tatoi, destroying nine aircraft on the ground and damaging another twenty-one. A return visit was paid to these airfields two days later by 55 more M.A.S.A.F. Mustangs, which added five aircraft destroyed and ten damaged, while 35 Lightnings attended to the Salonika airfields, claiming a further thirteen destroyed and eight damaged. The final attack on Eleusis, Kalamaki and Tatoi came on the night of the 9/10th, when nineteen M.A.S.A.F. Wellingtons dropped some 44 tons of bombs, scoring hits on hangars, runways and dispersal areas. The Occupation of Athens By the time this last raid took place, it was obvious that the Germans were pulling the last of their troops out of Attica and on the 11th the local German commanding officer declared Athens an open city. Three days later part of the small British force, which had established itself on the island of Poros, at the entrance to the Gulf of Athens, drove in to the city. On the previous day a R.A.A.F. Baltimore had dropped a package containing important information required by our force on Poros before launching an assault 6n Aegina, an island further up the Gulf. After quitting Piraeus-whichwas blocked with three large vessels, along with two floating docks and a number of smaller craft-the Germans concentrated a considerable volume of shipping in Volos, at the head of the Gulf of that name. On the morning of the 13th over 70 active vessels ' were present, including " Lola,' one of the last surviving merchantmen, and two destroyers. Unfortunately, these three major vessels had departed for Salonika by the time that nine S.A.A.F. Venturas of Balkan Air Force launched an attack -in the afternoon. The attack was, nonetheless, a successful one, the largest victim being S.S. "Adriana" (4,350 tons), which had only recently been made serviceable and which on was st1ll fire on the 16th, being presumed a total loss. Other vessels claimed as sunk or badly damaged in Volos were the corvette " Brigitta" (400 tons), a 250-ton coaster and sixteen or seventeen miscellaneous craft. The two destroyers did not escape for long. (she One failed to reach Salonika with "Lola" had been damaged previously and probably sank), while the other, having left the harbour again on the 15th, was disposed of by our naval forces in the Gulf of Salonika while on a southerly course. This was the last of the Adriatic destroyers, leaving, only , one 6ther destroyer to be sunk by, the 'ravy.:o f .tle; Sporades on the night of he 19/20th.

85

.
. .

+ +..,+.? .. . + + :, +.. ,

.+ + _ ., + ..

The German garrison in the Town Hall at Naxia, Naxos, was attacked by Beaufighters on 15th October, 1944.
The Fall of the Islands As the Germans fell back on Salonika, the Allies not only followed them up the mainland, but took over the more strategically-placed islands. Syros (in the middle of the Cyclades) had fallen on 13th October and was followed by the capture of Naxos (also in the Cyclades) and Lemnos (commanding the approach to the Dardanelles) on the 15th, by that of Scarpanto (between Crete and Rhodes) on the 17th and by that of Santorin or Thera (at the base of the Cyclades) on the 18th. Normally naval landing parties were sufficient to effect the surrender of the islands, but in the case of Naxos the R.A.F. had to be called in. Here a building that was the headquarters of the garrison was reported to be held in strength by the Germans. Four Beaufighters were briefed to deal with affair with two or three storeys and a red roofwas easily distinguished and at least nine R.P. hits were registered as well as many cannon strikes. The roof and walls were damaged, but accurate assessment of final results was impossible owing to the smoke, dust and debris flying about. All crews, however, felt sure that few of the garrison would have survived the attack unless they had gone to ground in the cellars. Attacks on Land Targets Although shipping reconnaissance was steadily maintained, worth-while targets were usually out of range and, consequently, A.H.Q., Eastern Mediterranean's aircraft could turn their attention to land objectives. On most days in mid-October Baltimores bombed the airfield at Maleme (Crete) to hinder possible evacuation attempts by air, and attacks were similarly made on Calato airfield, Rhodes. Both instantaneous and delayedaction bombs were used.

arwhite

:~lp

A Coastal Battery at Lakidha Point photographed by a R.A.A.F. Baltimore during the bombing attack on Melos Island on 21st November, 1944.
On the 24th another German-occupied building was attacked-this time on Calino, the island lying between Cos and Leros. Five Beaufighters (a sixth returning early) located the buildinga former hospital now used for billets-and attacked in line astern. Thirty-two 60-lb. R.P. hits were claimed, apart from hundreds of cannon strikes, and when the Beaufighters left the target area clouds of smoke and dust were rolling up the valley and there was a 30-ft. wide hole in the face of the building. S.A.A.F. Spitfires continued to fly their sweeps over Crete, but found little to interest them in the target line. They did, however, corroborate the reports that the German garrison wasrwithdrawing more and more into the north-west corner of the island. Series of Attacks on Melos After the fall of Naxos and Santorin, the only Cycladean island that the Germans still controlled was Melos. This they were apparently determined to hold on to at all costs, in spite of
87

naval bombardments, which were augmented, from 25th October onwards, by attacks from the air. Coastal defence batteries were the primary targets and altogether, between 25th October and 2nd November, seven attacks were made by R.A.A.F. Baltimores and one by Beaufighters. The Baltimores operated in formations of between six and eight aircraft and, for the most part, released their bombs from between 6,000 and 8,000 ft. The guns were well sited and difficult to tackle, but in spite of the spirited defence put up by the gunners no aircraft was lost. Results were impossible to assess accurately, although in the attack on 31st October black smoke arose from the area of the target, which may have been a fuel or ammunition dump. A feature of the mission by eight Beaufighters on the 29th was that eight Hellcats of No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing acted as anti-flak cover for them. The Hellcats led the formation, indicated the target and made a well-timed and effective

tA
i .j.f ':

Attack in progress on Rhodes Harbour, 27th November, 1944, photographed by a Baltimore in the first wave.
anti-flak attack. The result of the Beaufighters' R.P. fire could not, however, be observed. After the attack on 2nd November, Melos was temporarily unmolested from the air 'but, as will be seen later, the garrison was not given much peace. The Evacuation of Salonika While this series of attacks was being launched against Melos, it was evident that the garrisons there and elsewhere in the Aegean islands that were still occupied would be finally and irrevocably sealed off by the German evacuation of Salonika. On 28th October-the anniversary of Mussolini's invasion of Greece four years ago-photo aic a m reconnaissance revealedthA gl li airfields had been cratered and the administrative buildings destroyed. For some time obvious preparations had been made for destroying the haruour facilities and by the time that the first British patrol entered on the afternoon of the 30th the dock area had been isolated by the demolition of three bridges and, as anticipated, "Lola" and " Zeus" had been sunk as blockships at the south-east entrance to the main harbour. All guns had been dismantled and the enemy was streaming northwards towards Skoplje. Belgrade had fallen to the Russians on the 20th and the Germans were not going to risk their main forces being cut off if they could possibly help it. As for the island garrisons on Crete, Rhodes, Leros, Cos, Melos and the one or two minor out-

in

Photograph of the attack on Rhodes Harbour, 27th November, 1944, taken by a Baltimore in the second wave.
posts remaining, they had no option but to stay where they were, whether they liked it or not. Their's was Hobson's choice. Such, shipping as remained to them was suitable only for interisland traffic and even if they eluded the naval blockade there was no escape port that they could make for. The only aircraft that could now fly in to Crete or Rhodes would have to come from the Vienna area and, although bringing the consolation of mail from home, would not be able to fly out more than a handful of personnel at a time from the islands. The Garrisons Still Hold Out The garrisons-still estimated at over 22,000 Germans and Italians-were not yet, however, down and out. The Crete garrison was well equipped with artillery and had eased its defence position by consolidating all available forces into one area. The Rhodes C.O. was said to be a fanatical Nazi determined to resist any attempted landing. From Leros reports stated that the Fuehrer himself had ordered a fight to the finish. The Melos garrison, although only about 600 strong, showed no signs of surrender and a new commander there was said to have been raising morale by terrorist methods. The Germans, indeed, hit back when they had the chance. A raid by one of our landing parties on the island of Piscopi, between Rhodes and Cos, brought an immediate reaction, some 200 troops being rushed across from Rhodes. The islet of Archangelo, to the north of Lero j a also occu~p i. t ii ' ^ * *' - ^ .: .k t& ~ u

ECL3A

I ED

Photograph of Poros taken by a R.A.A.F. Baltimore before it dropped a package containing instructions for our advanced forces to proceed with the occupation of Aegina (see page 85).
Small ships moved cautiously between the islands, dodging our naval patrols and reconnaissance Beaufighters. They were not always lucky and on the night of 4/5th November a destroyer sank a coaster as it was attempting to reach Rhodes from Leros. On several occasions in November aircraft co-operated with the Navy in the search for enemy shipping, Beaufighters locating targets for surface units, which sank a lighter off Alimnia island on the 12th and two similar craft in Livadia Bay, Piscopi, on the 14th. German Raids from Leros As indicated above, the Germans did not take 1 all their punishment lying down. On L a Special Assault Unit was formed. lcWiP out reconnaissances on moonless nights and raiding islands where Allied supplies were being received. The first objective of this unit, on the night of the 12/13th, was Lisso, to the north of Leros, and four nights later they visited Levita, to the south-west. Here the raiders amused themselves by burning the Union Jack and replacing it by the German naval ensign. For our part, attacks were resumed on Melos. On the 14th it was bombarded by naval units, and on the 21st eight Baltimores bombed coastal gun positions. A landing by a small naval party was also made, following which the garrison commander thought it advisable to concentrate flnost of his forces in the eastern part of the

Beaufighter attack in progress against the German Headquartersat Calino in November, 1944.

Shipping reconnaissance by Beaufighters still continued to be rather like looking for a needle in a haystack, although naval units with which they co-operated had better luck, sinking two assault craft north-east of Alimnia on the 21st and a launch near Calchi two days later. Results were unobserved, however, when eight R.A.A.F. Baltimores bombed a concentration of small craft in Cos harbour on the 23rd and again on the 27th when another formation of seven Baltimoreswent for shipping at Port Mandracchio, Rhodes. Bad Weather Hampers Operations A patch of bad weather that set in towards the end of November hampered air operations. Of seven Baltimores briefed to attack shipping at Mandracchio on the 29th, only three found the target area through a gap in 9/10th cloud and, on 4th December, hopeless weather conditions forced back ten Baltimores when they were airborne to bomb a coastal battery in support of a naval bombardment of Mandracchio. Three days earlier, however, a reconnaissance Baltimore had been contacted over the R/T by_ naval units and had successfully spotted

on Alimnia were while gun positions bombarded. The weather also interfered with the fighter sweeps over Crete, although on 4th December S.A.A.F. Spitfires straffed a number of transport vehicles in the Suda Bay area and found a few more targets again on the 11th. The Baltimores often had to be content with dropping propaganda leaflets over the occupied islands. The Melos C.O. Ambushed Raid and counter-raid still went on among the islands, sometimes one side taking the initiative, sometimes the other. The most notable of these cat-and-mouse operations occurred on 5th December when an Allied patrol on Melos ambushed a car and wrote-off all the occupants, among them being the commander of the garrison. The enemy for his part showed signs of having designs on Simi and a small force of landing craft was intercepted near there on the 11th by the Navy, one being sunk and the remainder turning back to Rhodes. There were also ru r'" on

*Ura

rolil'

Patmos, but these proved to be without foundation. What seemed' to be true, on the other hand, was a report that commando training was being carried out on Cos. On the 16th naval units came upon two more vessels attempting to reach Rhodes from Leros, sinking one and capturing the other. On the same day two Beaufighters attacked a caique south-west of Lipsos; they drove it on to the rocks and it was considered probably destroyed. Baltimores at this time made another series of attacks on shipping in Mandracchio harbour, Rhodes, on the 9th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th and 28th. Formations varied between ten and eight aircraft and bombs were normally released from between 7,000 and 8,000 ft.. The target area was well covered on most occasions, but results were difficult to gauge with any degree of accuracy. Pairs of Beaufighters maintained their shipping reconnaissance every day that weather permitted, but still found little to interest them. Decline in Enemy Morale When the end of the year came, there was a temporary and uneasy lull on the Aegean front. The Germans kept their grip on Crete, Rhodes, Leros, Cos and Melos and, on the last day of the year, the commanders of the first four islands held a conference on Leros. Although the contents of the agenda are not known, it is fairly certain that among the subjects discussed was that of discipline among the remaining troops, which was by no means all it should have been. Back in November a prisoner-of-war reported that in a Crete corporals' mess a portrait of the Fuehrer was often used for target practice; on 30th November some 80 German soldiers were said to have been recaptured while trying to escape from Crete to Turkey; in December an

anti-Hitler movement in Rhodes was reported to have 2,000 members and to be spreading; and from Leros came the news that 500 Germans had laid down their arms and refused to fight any more. Propaganda leaflets dropped by the Baltimores were thought to be having the desired effect in driving home the hopelessness of Germany's position-so much so that the Rhodes C.O. ordered the destruction of all leaflets found and warned his men not to touch them because they were contaminated. Outposts No Longer of Value It may be said, then, that the Aegean outposts were now more of a liability than an asset to the German High Command. The only real reason for them-to provide bases for countering any thrust aimed at the Greek mainland-had vanished when the German troops fell back .on Salonika. Retention of them might possibly be excused on-grounds of prestige and propaganda, but it could be argued that loss of face is better than loss of manpower when every soldier is needed to defend the Reich. The 18,000 or so German troops bottled up in the islands, the handful of small craft left to them and the G.A.F. contribution of a couple of Fieseler Storch aircraft could hardly be regarded as a serious threat to our position in the Eastern Mediterranean. They were certainly not sufficient to tie down a large air force in anticipation of potential trouble brewing, for most of the R.A.F., S.A,A.F. and R.A.A.F. units formerly employed in the Aegean had even before the end of the year been transferred to more active spheres of operation. For those that remained this quarter had not been a particularly exciting one, but the scarcity of headline-making, incidents was not due to lack of trying but to lack of opportunity.

POSTSCRIPT TO " ASSISTANCE FOR WARSAW "


In view of subsequent information that has come to hand, it is felt that more emphasis-might have been given in the short article in No. 8 of the Review to the part played by No. 148 Squadron in the attempts made in

August, 1944, ammunition.

to supply Polish' patriots in

Warsaw with arms and

This squadron's Halifaxes had been engaged in supply-dropping in


Poland and north Italy since early April. Losses had mounted steadily, and on 5th August strength was reduced to only one officer pilot and one effective crew. Nevertheless, when the call came a week later to assist the Warsaw patriots, the squadron managed to get six aircraft into the air.

Between the nights of 12/13th and 18/19th August the Halifaxes


put up their maximum effort over Warsaw as well as maintaining the normal

supply of stores to the Italian partisans. By the last day of August only two
serviceable aircraft remained, seven crews twelve Halifaxes having

been lost during the month

EDUCATIONAL EDUCATION AL

ACTIVITIE S IN MA-AF
THE LAST TWO YEARS have seen the final of the African campaign and the stage consolidation of the Allied position in that continent, the lifting of the siege of Malta, the conquest of the central Mediterranean islands and the driving of the enemy through Italy to the northern fringes of the Apennines. In what was once a wholly mobile command the stabilised areas have greatly increased, but always there have remained, close to the front, units in which the old circumstances still prevail. - It has been the task of the R.A.F. Educational Service to adapt the General Education Scheme to these diverse conditions and it may be claimed that its activities, in spite of the shortage of accommodation and other amenities, have been limited only by lack of staff. Prior to March, 1943, all educational queries were sent to Headquarters, R.A.F., Middle :East, but from that month, when three Education Officers were attached to H.Q., Western Desert, Nos. 205 and 210 Groups respectively, the 'strength has gradually grown until now it stands at 27-eight below establishment and still small in relation, to its commitments. From Benghazi to Tunis By July, 1943, what was afterwards to evolve as the Central and Western Mediterranean Area was ready to begin its separate existence with the' formation of a new Eddcational Area for units west of Benghazi. To it three officers were appointed, one to No. 214 Group, as Area Education Officer and for units in and east of Tripoli, one to No. 114 M.U. for units west thereof, and one to R.A.F. Station, Castel Benitq and No. 205 Group units in Tunisia. The General Education Scheme aimed to meet its needs by means of classes and correspondence courses, by the provision of library facilities and through the medium of lectures and discussion groups. Such was the enthusiasm that in spite of the scattered nature of the units, which precluded civilian teachers and threw them back on their own resources, the return for September, 1943, showed a class attendance of some 440. Of abot a quarter were studying Mathematics, these~ more than a half English and Modern Languages and a smallei number .Navigation, Shorthand and Bookkeeping . .

Photographic class at No. 336 P.R. Wing.


Classes Held in the Open Nor does this constitute the whole picture, for there were many units which set up classes without waiting for sanction or for official payment, and of these no records exist. Classes were held in tents, in ramshackle huts or even in the open with the outside of a lorry for a blackboard. Some 170 correspondence courses in and as Engineering, Radio subjects such Journalism were approved and as many more deferred pending more basic study by the applicants. The library position was very difficult, only 550 books being at first available, a number totally inadequate to the needs of 16,000 airmen. Thus, many who were not interested in courses, owing to the long postal delays, and who had no opportunity for class instruction, had this one remaining form of study denied them. Lecturers were rarely available, but especially on the smaller units, which often claimed an attendance of forty per cent. of their strength, voluntar discussion groups were extremely popular
Later Stages in North Africa

on Christmas Day, a new group of six Education Officers arrived from the United Kingdom to take up the tale in North Africa. Of these three were immediately attached to the larger units and one was sent to join those already teaching English to French personnel in Morocco. The Senior Education Officer and the remaining one, both of whom later transferred to Italy, constituted the staff at H.Q., M.A.A.F. (La Since then the establishment has Marsa). been increased and the work is at present carried on by six officers and one-language Instructor. The initial, policy of placing Education Officers at larger centres has continued, so that Blida, Maison Blanche, Setif and No.. 351 M.U. each have their own, while the other units, containing approximately half the total personnel, are under the charge of the Area Education Officer, No. 218 These units are too Group, and his assistant. Sdesired, but some measure of satisfaction Ld through the assistance of airman

ters.
Lack of Accommodation From the outset the execution of the General Education Scheme was handicapped by lack of

SBy the end of 1943 catered for, as well aeatime, Officers, had mo

.;..and much accommodation and equipment, improvisation has been necessary, although the situation is now much improved. Fortunate indeed was the Education Officer who could claim the sole right to a tent or marquee for his work; generally he had to compete for accommodation with other station activities. Canteens, dining rooms and offices had all at one time or another to be pressed into service. (The accompanying photographs are a measure of the progress that has been made). The supply of books, at first very small, is still inadequate, but each Education Officer now possesses a library which is fairly wide in scope and the total number of volumes now held is round about five thousand. In spite of teething troubles, most of the demands made on the Educational Service in North Africa. have been provided for. Class instruction has been placed on a sound footing at the bigger centres, but only in a few other places has it been possible to arrange for oral instruction, owing partly to the demand in each subject from the smaller units being insufficient and partly to the difficulty of providing suitable instructors. English, Mathematics and European Languages have, as usual, been the most popular subjects, but the full range has included such diverse

I4

matters as Building Construction, Commerce, Economics and Art, and much of the credit for success in these subjects, obviously beyond the capabilities of any one Education Officer, belongs to those personnel who have offered themselves as part-time teachers. The Purpose of Studies The total of official correspondence courses in the North African area has reached 750, those in Accountancy, Engineering, Agriculture, Law, Insurance, Secretarial work- and Teaching having proved the most popular, while in the Postal Study section, London Matriculation, Electricity and Magnetism and Radio subjects, Motor Mechanics and Diesel Engineering have all received attention. Most studies are directed toward post-war employment, some students desiring to refresh their previous knowledge, others to reach a definite objective in their career, and although for the most part time has been too short for them to reap their reward, some, candidates have for ILondon themselves presented already Matriculation. As the War nears its end it is expected that men will avail themselves of the opportunities for

Portrait class in progress at No. 336 P.R. Wing.

SA$SiF IED
obtaining a qualification and will offer themselves for professional and vocational examinations. Progress in Malta From North Africa it is but a short step to Malta where conditions are now almost normal. In spite of the fact that airmen are divided into watches, that locally trained airmen live at home and that both the work and the billets of British airmen are often at some distance from Station Headquarters, there is still considerable scope for Educational activities. There are now two Education Officers to meet the needs of the R.A.F. on the island, and two unit reference libraries In the airmen's mess at with eight branches. Air Headquarters there is an Information Room, . Recreation Library and a study room, while the office block houses three good classrooms Similar amenities are being incorporated into buildings now in course of construction for peace-time use. Twenty-four classes weekly now meet on the island, about three and a half per cent. of the total British R.A.F. personnel are engaged on official correspondence courses and students are preparing for London Matriculation and other examinations such as those of the Royal Society of Arts, London Chamber of Commerce and the City and Guilds. On one unit there is an arrangement whereby twenty discussion groups meet simultaneously, stopping work for the purpose. A start has been made with the manual side of vocational training at an M.U. where volunteer pupils gain practical experience in the workshops, and it is hoped to extend this scheme to building construction with the assistance of the Air Ministry Directorate of Works. Early Days in Italy The first Education Officer in Italy took up his duties about two months after the invasion. To-day Italy holds about three quarters of the total personnel and two thirds of the Education Officers in the M.A.A.F. Command. The early difficulties were much as they had been in North Africa-a shortage of staff, of books and In the first three months of accommodation.

The Art Studio at H.Q., No. 205 Group.

The Library at H.Q., No. 205 Group, in February, 1945.


there were only two Education Officers in the country, one on the Adriatic side and one in the Naples area, and even by the late summer of 1944 the number had not risen above seven, although Italy was occupied as far north as the Gothic Line. The greatest initial demand for educational facilities came from D.A.F. units, and to meet it extensive use was made of the services of Education Liaison Officers and airmen on units, most of them schoolmasters, who volunteered to organise classes and to advise on Courses. In addition it was arranged to employ a staff of clerks to stencil copies of Tutorial Courses and of other publications which were in great demand. By the end of March, 1944, over 1,350 men were receiving instruction either in classes or by correspondence courses, although enthusiasm for the latter was damped by long postal delays and by the difficult conditions for private study. In spite of the complete stoppage at one peroid of the supply of pamphlets, the lecture and study group scheme was very successful during this first winter, especially on those units which had acquired the habit in the Desert, and added stimulus in the larger towns was given by a team of Army Lecturers on whom the R.A.F. constantly called for talks on current affairs. Many units also sent representative officers to attend a one-day course in A.B.C.A. at Bari. The Second Phase During March, 1944, the Senior Education Officer moved from La Marsa to Caserta and in the months that followed four other members of the Educational Service were added as reinforcements, but nothing could be done with such a small number to keep pace adequately with the rapid movement northward which followed the breaking of the deadlock at Cassino. It was not until the autumn that the arrival of six officers from the United Kingdom, and the commissioning of others locally, made possible ion of the first reasonably compre

educato
4

f il

Other

JvI

, and

;f1A V
There are gaps still to be filled. Now,,in the early part of 1945, Education Officers are located at H.Q., M.A.A.F. (Unit), at Headquarters, M.A.C.A.F. and B.A.F, and at both Rear and Advanced Headquarters,: D.A.F., at Nos. 205 and 214 Groups, at Nos. 239, 283, 287 and 324 Wings and at No. 110 M.U. Coastal Air Force Until recently the scattered nature and the exacting duties of Coastal Air Force militated against educational work, but now, as operational demands decrease and as the cessation of hostilities looms ahead, there is a re-awakening, of interest. Classes are commencing throughout the command, taken by airman schoolmasters and others who have emerged as teachers from among the personnel on the various units. The administration is in the hands of officers who have volunteered for liaison work with the Education Officer at Headquarters. Discussion Groups are multiplying apacescarcely a unit exists which has not at least one, and some of the larger ones have as many as twenty. On several of the Air-Sea Rescue launches the whole crew meets daily and with every meeting become more fluent and better informed- on matters of vital importance for the post-war era. All this has been possible' only through the inspiring enthusiasm of the Leaders, many of whom have attended two-day courses at Headquartes, and such is the importance of this development that it has been considered necessary to enlist the full-time services of an officer to supervise it, while a mobile team of Discussion Group " experts " is being set up to tour the Command. Much ,of the success of the scheme in M.A.C.A.F. can be attributed to the fact that the Groups meet in service hours, and the extension of this practice to cover classes will encourage many airmen to attend them. They *will be so organised that they will meet for one hour during service time and for one in the airmen's free time. A corollary of this development has been the setting up of' Information Rooms on units. Accommodation, furniture, -heating, literature and exhibition material are everywhere at a. premium, but already certain units have opened such rooms and their interesting displays, no less than their comfort, are attracting airmen in increasing numbers. No. 205 Group Much of the foregoing may be said to apply, in greater or less degree, to other formations in M.A.A.F. At No. 205 Group there is no shortage of civilian part-time teachers and some of the Italian classes have now passed the elementary stage and are doing much to improve the coversational powers of the students. Mathematics classes comprise all grades from elementary to calculus. Art is gaining in popularity, but the supply of material is still deficie .

i;i
l-r ::: 6. 1 a; -r:::I h~::Z~

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five classes are in progress, some of the work is of a high standard, and one unit in particular combines practical instruction in drawing and painting with lectures on the history of Art, At Headquarters the studio, well equipped with drawing boards and easels made in the carpentry section, is open all day and every day, instruction being given three times weekly by a former member of the staff of United Artists. On one unit a photographic club with a membership of 60 has been in existence for several months. For the benefit of music lovers a gramophone library has been formed at Group Headquarters and at present consists of 180 classical and light classical records. Units in the area select programmes from those available and in this way several regular music circles are held. The records were bought through Welfare funds and it is hoped to increase the library in number and scope. Two former Cathedral directors of music give their services and one of them conducts the weekly practices of glees and part-songs of the Combined IServices'. Male Voice Choir whose members are drawn from the Army and R.A.F. With the introduction of compulsory discussion gioups there has been an increased demand for some added degree of background knowledge and to meet it a panel of lecturers has been set up, whose members visit units on request. Reciprocal arrangements exist whereby American lecturers come to British units to talk on politics and social life in the United States, and R.A.F. personnel lecture to the Americans on such subjects as the British Constitution, Local Government and Trades Unionism. In addition Brain Trusts and quizzes are popular, and a start has recently been made with the showing of documentary films from Army and American sources. Balkan Air Force It is only since the beginning of this year that an Education Officer has been allotted to B.A.F., but prior to this much had been done to help neighbouring units of this Command by those at Nos. 205 and 214 Groups, and at No. 110 M.U. Class teaching is given in a wide variety of subjects including Serbo-Croat, with the addition of English instruction for Allied personnel. Music circles have been formed at all Wings and voluntary discussion groups are long established. Following recent training courses for leaders, including one at R.A.F. Station, Vis, an organised scheme is being put into effect. Desert Air Force From the earliest days in Africa and more particularly after their arrival in Italy, there has existed in the Desert Air Force a strong desire for educational facilities, and every effort was made by the Education Officer at No. 214 Group, working through- Liaison Officers and unpaid airman schoolmasters, to satisfy this demand. The difficulties were, however, almost insuperable en, during October, 1944, it was at last s to attach four Education Officers to the

Information Room, No. 614 Squadron.


formation they were. welcomed with. tremendous enthusiasm. As a result of the co-operation of the units was accommodation improvised themselves, quickly forthcoming, in spite of the many obvious difficulties to be expected in forward areas. Each Education Officer was established in some sort of office, a classroom was found, blackboards appeared as if by magic, of chalk there was some, but of stationery hardly any. Personnel attending the classes had to equip themselves as best they might with pencils, rulers and notebooks, some came equipped with writing pads, others managed to find scrap paper which served the purpose equally well. And so,the work began. The first response was almost overwhelming and to the many other problems was added the shortage of text-books. Some part-time teachers, however, managed to work without them and only in some language classes were there enough for each member to have a copy. At this time each Education Officer had as his complete library one medium-sized box of books which was transported along with his personal kit. Trying to Keep Warm With the approach of winter, the main problem confronting all. Education Officers -was the difficulty of raising the temperature above the
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point at which concentrated effort on the part of the pupils became impossible. Stoves were supplied, but even two of these together were found to be little more than useless and the eventual solution was an oil-drip fire, constructed by the pupils themselves from a fifty gallon drum, a few feet of piping and a" Jerry Can." As for the tent, which on one unit was used as overflow accommodation, at one time the ink was frozen solid when the day's work began, the gales played havoc with the already gaping seams and the soil on which it stood was of such a peculiar nature that rain water which fell outside came up through the floor after the manner of an artesian well, forming pools and, a three-inch layer of mud. The chairs occupied by the Education Officer and his clerk quickly began to subside into the morass and operations had to be temporarily suspended until some approximation to stability could be achieved at a lower level. In spite of the many obstructions, however, of which that of transport difficulties was not the least, comprehensive programmes of classes were eventually in progress, not only on the Headquarters Units but- on a variety of widely dispersed smaller ones which the Education Officers had been able to visit and on which Liaison Officers and airman schoolmasters had been established.

Library and Reading Room at the Educational Bureau at H.Q. No. 218 Group.
been trained, some 70 classes had been formed at which more than 900 students were attending and over 200 applications had been received for correspondence courses. Those who have experienced an Italian winter in a forward area will appreciate that great credit is due alike to the Education Officers and to thb personnel in the formation who, by diligence and perseverence, achieved' such results in make-shift unacademic surroundings and under conditions of great physical discomfort. The Task of the Future Now, as the German War approaches its end, the Royal Air. Force is faced with a task unprecedented in its history, and one which manifestly cannot be fulfilled by the limited resources of the Education Service alone-a task which is nothing less than to prepare for their return to civil life vast numbers of men and women, most of whom have for long periods been divorced from their normal occupations and many of whom were drawn into its ranks while still on the threshold of adult life. Some of these men and women had already advanced far along the path of their chosen career, have jobs awaiting them and may even have been fortunate enough to find work in the Service closely akin to their civilian employment. Others again either have no career to which to return or will have had their outlook so broadened, alike by human associations and by contact with hitherto strange lands and customs, as to be no longer content to resume their pre-war calling. Of these some will wish to adapt their service trade to civilian uses whi]le others will aspire to something new, demanding, it may be, a higher standard of general educatioi n than that previously attained. Educational and Vocational Training All alike face difficult problems of readjustment to enable them ito take their place as intelligent and responsible citizens in a devastated world, to understand the e ever more complicated machinery

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of modern society, and to appreciate the privileges and the duties of life in a democratic community. Prejudice, loose thinking, hasty judgment, self pity and a tendency to lay all mis,fortunes on a legendary "they," all these weaknesses become doubly dangerous when the individual, released from Service discipline, is free to pass from thoughts and words to action. The airman, moreover, needs help to brace himself against the day when he must leave the economic shelter of the Service to face the open competition of the outside world. This, outlined in its simplest terms, is the present probleh ; a problem that increases in complexity with each attempt to find a practical solution, inasmuch as every service man or woman is an individual with his or her special difficulties. It is clear that no scheme, however comprehensive, could cater adequately for each and every one, so infinite is their variety, so comparatively short the time available. The most that can be hoped is to offer general training which may be of. use to all and specialised assistance in as many broad categories as may be uermitted by the resources already available or able to be provided speedily. On the basis of these considerations the R.A.F. Educational' and as originally Scheme, Training Vocational embodied in A.M.O. A.942/44 and since amplified, has been evolved. Resettlement Training In that it is common to all, and in that those with a more comprehensive educational and cultural background can be used to help their less fortunate fellows, that aspect of the problem which deals with citizenship or Resettlement Training, to-quote the terminology of the A.M.O., is perhaps the most readily soluble. Here the proposal is to rely principally on Discussion Groups, wherein questions of current and future interest can be examined, diverse points of view be expounded and those taking part gradually be trained to acquire the habit of subordinating their own selfish or sectional interests to the common weal. To a. considerable degree this part. of the scheme is already in operation and should extend rapidly as more service time becomes available and as more and more men, to whom the British Wy and Purpose and other pamphlets are available, pass through the short courses in Leadership. Clubs, lectures, films and broadcasts all have their bearing on Resettlement Training and may be used to supplement the Discussion Group. Educational Training Next in order of difficulty there arises the! question of Educational Training, which will aim at the improvement of the individual's general background of knowledge and culture rather than to fit him for any specific employment.' Here it must be assumed that the students will fall into one or another of three categories-those who are already above Matriculation standard, those who 101

must remain content with something else. For the first of these, facilities -for correspondence courses and for private study under the guidance of Education Officers and Instructors will be offered and it may be possible, in this theatre, to enlist the help of outside bodies such as the local Universities. For the se.cond group teaching will be arranged to lead up to the Forces Preliminary Examination, which is being recognised by Universities as carrying certain exemptions for the purpose of admission to particular faculties and colleges. This examination, which is being conducted by the Civil Service Commission, will be in two parts, the first comprising English, General Knowledge (including current affairs and citizenship) and a third subject which, except in specially approved cases, must be either Mathematics or Latin ; and the second part embracing two out of a very wide range of subjects including science and languages. Candidates must pass in both parts, which, however, may be taken separately, and needless to say those students who feel able to will be encouraged to matriculate as heretofore. For the third group, those, who wish to improve their general education at a level below the standard of School Certificate, .the training will be directed generally towards the R.A.F. War Educational Certificate, which should be of use when seeking those forms of employment for which matriculation is not required. This again is in two parts, only the first of which is compulsory, and an essential preliminary is a certificate on the part of an Education Offider to the effect that the candidate has done satisfactory preparatory work. In this examination service women are specially catered for, inasmuch as the four subjects in Part I, in three of which the candidate must pass, include Housewifery along with English, Mathematics and General Knowledge. Part II againoffers .a wide selection, of which the candidate may choose two or, exceptionally, three subjects and his success will be annotated on the certificate already gained. Vocational Training Lastly, there is Vocational Training, directed towards improving the qualifications of those who were trained or employed before the war in a civilian occupation, towards the, ;,cbnve:ion of service trades to peace-time uses, or towards preparation for post-service trainingjn the, case of those who had no civil eifleyment before joining the R.A.F. The courses and syllabuses will be laid down by the Air Ministry in collaboration with the Government Department concerned and will, as far as possible, be arranged so as to lead smoothly into the further training that a man may receive after his release. Both manual and non-manual occupations will come within the scheme. Practical instruction on Stations, courses in basic' theoretical subjects necessary for groups

of trades, conversion ourses, study syllabuses and text books, attendance at technical schools and colleges-all find their place in the machinery for implementing the plan, which, while it could never cover every aspect of human endeavour, should be able to offer to every individual. some. knowledge or skill which will haye a direct bearing on his civilian occupation. This then is the plan, which will come into operation at a date to be announced later and probably immediately after the end of hostilities against Germany. It is designed for the period prior to the service man's or woman's release, the time of which it will in no wise affect. Training, amounting to about six hours a week, will take place in Service time and will be compulsory. Recruitment and Training of Instructors The essential pre-requisite of such a scheme, however, is an adequate supply of properly trained instructors covering a wide range of subjectsseveral thousand are needed for the Central and, Western Mediterranean theatre alone, to supplement the handful of Education Officers and the limited number of part-time teachers and airman schoolmasters who have hitherto borne the burden There are Scheme. There are f the of th General Education Scheme many professional teachers in the ranks of. the R.A.F. and many others who have had experience as Service instructors. The first problem is to persuade them to volunteer for this work, the second to give them the specialised training which will make them effective with a Service audience in novel and rather-trying circumstances. Snovel rathertrying circumstancestheir Uncertainty as to conditions of employment for some time made volunteers slow to come forward, but the assurance that the date of their own release and their financial position will remain unaffected should help to overcome their reluctance. Many airmen and some officers in fact stand to, gain both in rank and in emoluments. The training of instructors began in the autumn )f 1944 when this Command was allotted a number of vacancies at No. 2 R.A.F. Instructors' School (E.V.T.) at Heliopolis, but the really effective start was made in February, 1945, with the opening of No. 8 School at Lecce in the south of Italy. Here it will be possible to train nearly two hundred instructors a month in courses

each lasting a fortnight. The school, which is staffed by specially selected Education Officers sent out from the United Kingdom, is for all ranks, and all educational instructors will be taught how to approach citizenship and resettlement problems. For those who were not professional, schoolmasters in civil life, there is instruction in teaching methods, a library is provided and there are facilities for private study. Those who pass through the school cannot necessarily be guaranteed employment as full-time instructors at the end of hostilities, but those who are will as far as possible be allotted to their present units and in the meantime they are encouraged to seek employment as part-time teachers, under the General Education Scheme, in order to keep in practice. The administration of the school and of the E.V.T. scheme as a whole is in the hand of the Training Department; the syllabuses to be followed and the supervision of the teaching ae the responsibility of the Education Service, whe officers will be available to offer whose officers will be available tooffe professional guidance and advice. The Scheme Must Not Fail because. This scheme is ambitious, the more a sotime of time of it must be carried through at a uncertainty and flux, depending much on the co-operation and goodwill of many people, all of whom are feeling the strain of war and of

service for whom it Nevertheless,have must not overseas. is intended It deserved These

fail. well of their country and for its sake, as much ad fr sake, as much: as for of their country and for its own, they must not be allowed to go back to civil life ill-equipped for the stupendous task of reconstruction that lies ahead. They will return home the richer by great experiences and by good comradeship, but nothing can wholly compensate them for the "lost years" and it would be intolerable if, through any fault of the Service to which they have given so much, they Should feel cheated and at a disadvantage compared to those who have been able to remain in The extent to which R.A.F. civil employment. personnel are able to play in peace the full and honourable part which they have borne in war will be the measure of the Scheme's success and for the R.A.F. Educational Service a test of its own endeavour.

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THE NORM AL PRACTICE of the R.A.F. Mediterranean Review is to publish only original articles or features. In the following article, however, which is reprinted by kind permission of the Times Weekly Edition, departure from that practice is considered to be justified by the revelations contained in the figures quoted from the Government White Paper which clearly indicate the astronomical effort made by the ,people of the United Kingdom in prosecution of the war. "For five years men and women have lived ,and worked under complete blackout. Family life has been broken up, not only by the withdrawal of men and women to the Services, but by evacuation and billeting. "Production has been made more difficult by the dispersal of factories to frustrate the air attacks of the enemy, and by the need for training new labour to unaccustomed tasks. There have been two long periods when work was carried on under constant and severe air attacks. Since 1940 one and three-quarter million men have given their limited spare .time, after long hours of work, for duty with the Home Guard. Most other adult male civilians and many women have performed part-time civil defence and fire guard duties out of working hours. More People Employed "Between 1939 and 1944 there was an increase of three and a half million people in the Services or in industrial employment. Two and a- quarter million people not previously in industrial employment were brought in and employment was given to one and a quarter million people previously unemployed. Of the total of 22 millions in the middle of 1944, "47 per cent., or 10.3 millions, were in the Services or whole time civil defence or employed in engineering, shipbuilding, metals and chemicals-industries mainly concerned in the output of munitions; "26 per cent., or 5.7 millions, were in agriculture, , mining, national and local ,government service, public utilities, transport, shipping (including the Merchant Navy), and the manufacture of food, drink and tobacco-industries which it has been necessary to maintain or expand during the war ; "27 per cent., or six millions, were in building and civil engineering, the textile, clothing and other manufacturing industries, the distributive trades and civilian services. "At the middle of 1944 7.6 million persons were engaged in the manufacturing industries (excluding mining), and of these 76 per cent. were engaged on Government work, .20 per cent. on work for the home market, and 4 per cent. in producing goods for export. The scale of mobilisation of man-power achieved has been far greater than was attained in the last war. Ten million men born in the years 1892 to 1926 and 11.6 million women born in the years 1893 to 1926 have been registered for either military service or industrial employment. In addition, there, have been registrations of persons with special skill, such as coal miners and shipbuilders. "At the middle of 1944 out of sixteen million women aged fourteen to 59, 7.1 millions were in the auxiliary services, whole-time civil defence, or industry-an increase of over two and a quarter millions since the beginning of the war,- or, counting each woman working part time separately, an increase of nearly two and three quarter millions. At the middle of 1944, 900,000 women were doing part-time work in industry and 350,000 were doing part-time civil defence work. A great number of those who have taken up employment during the war are married women who are doing industrial work in addition to their domestic duties. Total Armed Strength "At "the middle of 1944 the strength of the armed forces of the United Kingdom (including those locally enlisted abroad) was 4,542,000. The total strength of the British -Commonwealth and Empire forces at the middle of 1944 was 8,713,000. The number of men reported as killed, missing, or prisoner of war is not included in this total. If allowance is made for these and for men discharged on medical and other grounds the.total number of men who are serving or who have served since the outbreak or war.has been over ten millions. The comparable figure for the last war was nine millions. " The casualties to all ranks of the armed forces of the United Kingdom during the first five years of war, as reported up to September 3rd, 1944, were :Killed ............................ 176,081 Missing ...................... 32,275 Wounded ...................... 193,788 Prisoner of War ............ 154,968 STotal 563,112

" Casualties to the British Commonwealth and Empire forces during the first five years of war as reported up to 3rd September, 1944, were

925;963, of whom 242,995 were killed, :missing, 311;500' Wounded, and 290,865 prisoner 'of war. " From the beginning of the war to August 31st, 1944, 29,629 merchant seaman serving in ships registered in the United Kingdom have been killed by enemy action at sea and 4,173 have been interned by the enemy: The figures exclude the number of merchant seaman who have been wounded or injured. " In addition to the casualties sustained by the armed forces and the Merchant Navy many civilians in the. United Kingdom have been killed or injured and detained in hospital by enemy action. From the beginning of the war to June 12th, 1944, when the flying bomb attacks began, 51,822 people lost their lives and 62,900 were injured and detained in hospital. From June 13th to August 31st, 1944, 5,476 were killed and 15,918 were injured and detained in hospital. The number of civilians killed or injured and detained in hospital in the United Kingdom since the outbreak of war to August 31st, 1944, was 136,116, of whom 57,298 were killed. Of this total killed 7,250 were children and 23,757 were women. Supply of Munitions " Of the total supply of munitions produced by, or made available to, the British Commonwealth and Empire since the beginning of the war, it is estimated that about seven-tenths has been produced in the United Kingdom, while about Empire from other has come one-tenth countries-making about four-fifths from British The sources. and "Empire Commonwealth remaining one-fifth of the Empire supplies has -come from the United States. Of this total American contribution nearly four-fifths has taken the form of lend-lease and the remainder in the form of British cash purchases. All shipping services, as distinct from construction of merchant vessels, have been excluded. The production of war material by the United -Kingdom from September, 1939, to June, 1944, was as follows :"Naval Vessels. Major naval vessels, 722; Mosquito naval craft 1,386 ; Other naval vessels, 3,636: "-Ground Munitions. Field, medium and heavy artillery equipments, 13,512 ; heavy anti-aircraft equipments, 6,294 ; light anti-aircraft equipments, 15,324; machine guns and sub-machine guns, tanks, 25,116 ; 3,729,921 ; rifles, 2,001,949; wheeled vehicles for the services, 919,111. Total aircraft, 102,609; heavy "Aircraft. bombers, 10,018; medium and light bombers, 17,702 ; fighters, 38,025. "The increase in ships has called for an even greater increase in naval munitions. It is now necessary to arm regular warships with many offensive and defensive weapons additional to those fitted in the early stages of the war. Moreover, much additional equipment is required in the way of radar and wireless apparatus, control gear, and devices for protection against

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gus forms of enemy attack, including sur a craft, U-boats, aircraft, and mines of the magnetic and other types. In addition practically every merchant ship must be equipped with complete defensive armament, including many of the weapons and devices fitted in war vessels. At one period the amount of merchant shipping in hand for repair was over 2,500,000 gross tons. Changes in Equipment " Production of munitions for the ground forces rose steadily from the outbreak of war until early 1943 and there were marked changes in the types of equipment produced. In the cas3 of tank and anti-tank equipments, two-pounders gave place to six-pounders and they, later, were replaced by seventeen-pounders . Ammunition not only more became also but in weight grew complicated and difficult to make. Fighting vehicles now are heavier and more highly powered than they were, and wireless sets and, other types of signal equipment have become much more elaborate. " At the beginning of the war total deliveries of new aircraft were at the rate of 730 a month, and over a quarter of these were trainers. By 1943 the average rate of deliveries had trebled had as measured by structure-weight and increased nearly six-fold; 3,889 heavy bombers were delivered in the first six months of 1944, compared with only 41 in the whole of 1940. The output of fighters showed an increase from 110 a month in 1939 to 940 a month in the first half of 1944. "The repair of aircraft has absorbed an apprec:able proportion .of the capacity of the industry. For every six aircraft newly produced in 1943, four aircraft underwent major repairs in the United Kingdom. "The iron and steel industry had previously relied on large imports of iron ore. -The home output of iron ore has been increased by more than one-half since before the war. The total steel production has been consistently above the pre-war average (notwithstanding the need to increase greatly the proportion of alloy and highgrade steel produced). ""A substantial contribution to the domestic supply of steel has been made by a severe curtailment of our exports of steel products. In the light metals industry magnesium production is more than eleven times the pre-war rate-an achievement which has meant the creation of virtually a new industry. " Since 1941 our manufacturing resources have been turned from export production to still more urgent uses. The value of United Kingdom commercial exports has fallen from 471,000,000 in 1938 to 232,000,000 in 1943. Attempts have been made, so far as possible, to export goods which do not make great demands on manpower. Thus exports of spirits have been continued. Exports of textiles, which are produced mainly by female labour, have declined less than those

of engineering products. The export of motorcars and commercial vehicles has virtually ceased since 1941, and the amounts of iron and steel. manufactures, machinery and coal sent to overseas markets have been drastically cut. Increased Taxes " With a larger number of persons in employment or in the services, increased hours of work and higher money earnings, the total incomes of private persons before taxation rose from 4,779,000,000 to 7,708,000,000 between 1938 and 1943. Most of this increase has, however, been saved or taken by the Government in. the form of income-tax and other direct taxes. " The number of income-tax payers has been increased from 4,000,000 in 1938-39 to 13,000,000 in 1943-44, and the income-tax payable by them from 336,000,000 to 1,183,000,000. Before the war less than 1,000,000 manual wage-earners were liable to income-tax and they paid 3,000,000; in 1943-44 the number increased to 7,000,000 and they paid 200,000,000. A person with an earned income of 10,000 a year now pays more than two-thirds of his income in income-tax and surtax. Of the aggregate incomes of persons with 250 to 500 a year 3 per cent, was paid in income-tax in 1938 and 142 per cent. in 1942. Of the aggregate incomes of persons with 500 to 1,000 a year, 11 per cent. was paid in income-tax-in 1939 and 28 per cent. in 1942. Business and corporate bodies, no less than persons, have been called upon to pay increased taxes during the war. Apart from the increase of income-tax, an excess profits 'tax of 60 per cent. was imposed in 1939, and this was increased to 100 per cent. in 1940. The tax paid on beer and tobacco alone was more than 600,000,000 in 943-about two-thirds of the total revenue from all sources collected by the Central Government in a single year before the war.

" While the Governmeft

on luxury and less essential artic the same time, adopted the policy of giv subsidies to keep down the level of prices or food and other essential goods. The amount expended in subsidies for this purpose was 190,000,000 in 1943. " Private saving (the savings of persons and businesses) have increased from 351,000,000 in 1938 to 1,749,000,000 in 1943. By far the greater part of this increase was accounted for by the rise in personal savings, which increased nearly ninefold between 1938 and 1943. " Since the war began there has been an increase of about 10 per cent. in the total number of railway passenger journeys. To a considerable extent this rise has been caused by the increased travelling of members of the British forces and of the large number of American and other allied forces stationed in the United Kingdom. The number of passenger train miles is now 30 per cent. below the pre-war level, and the average load carried by passenger trains is 125 per cent. greater than before the war. "The total number of private cars licensed has fallen from 2,000,000 in August, 1939, to 700,000 at the beginning of 1944, and their use has been restricted to essential purposes. The amount of motor spirit used for private cars is now only about one-eighth of what it was before the war. Considerable restrictions have been imposed on omnibus services. "Out of about 3,000,000 houses in the United Kingdom at the outbreak of war 4,500,000 have been damaged by enemy action. Of those, 202,000 have been totally destroyed or damaged beyond repair. A substantial number of those serious'y damaged are still unhabitable, and the great majority have not vet been fully repaired."

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WITH THE INCREASINGLY frequent appearance of ME 262 turbo-jet fighters over both the Munich area and Western Front, the announcement from London that Gloster Meteors have been in action for some time, against flying bombs, and a recent release by Washington of advance details of the Bell P.59, it may be opportune to review briefly the course of progress in this new field of aircraft development. For reasons of security, unfortunately, such a review must exclude all but slender reference to the important strides made in both experimental and production stages by Allied engineers. This aspect it is hoped to cover at a later date. In the meantime, much that is interesting can be found from a study of jet-unit development within the Luftwaffe. Intelligence summaries have already given an indication of what is happening in Germany both on the ground and in the air. These appreciations have been supplemented by accounts of combats -revealing new tactics and startling performance figures-and by, tentative details of enemy jetpropelled fighters obtained from captured documents, information given by prisoners of war, and reports on crashed aircraft. This advance intelligence, issued as it became available, has contained, necessarily, a number of statements since found to need modification. It has now been carefully revised and correlated, and, with certain additional notes, forms the basis of this survey. The Principles of Jet-Propulsion While all four heat engines-the steam engine, steam turbine, internal combustion engine and gas turbine-convert heat to power through the medium of expanding .gasses, the former three rely also on the pressure of the gas against the cylinder head-this varyi

100 lbs. per square inch in the internal combustion engine to 2,300 lbs. per square inch in the steam engine. In the gas turbine, however, energy is provided entirely by the force of expansion, the pressure rise (to only about 75 lbs. per square inch) being purely incidental. The principle of the gas turbine-which is the principle of jet-propulsion-is fundamentally simple. Air is sucked into- a container, compressed, and admitted to a combustion chamber where its oxygen combines with the hydrocarbons of a spray-injected petroleum fuel to produce a hot flame. At 1,000 deg. F. or more, the gas product of this combustion, now by virtue of expansion standing under considerable pressure, is passed at high speed through a venturi nozzle directed against the vanes of a turbine, the shaft of which, in the case of a gas turbine used as a prime mover, is coupled to the secondary mover. It is in this detail-the form in which the energy is transferred-that lies the difference between the gas turbine and the jet-propulsion unit. The latter functions in exactly the same cycle of operations as regards air intake, compression and combustion of gasses, but employs the turbine wheel merely as a component of the machine to drive the impellor, and utilises the energy- ofthe expanding gas, not, as with the gas turbine, to rotate a shaft, but-by process of exhausting this gas through a rear venturi-to produce a thrust, which, by equal and opposite reaction, provides the motive power normally supplied by an internal combustion engine. The thermal efficiency (percentage of heat energy in the fuel converted into useful energy) of a simple gas turbine is 17 to 22 per cent., depending on operating-temperature and design. ilising exhaust heat will raise

D[3;

this figure to 27 per ce. ; two compressors aid an intercooler (a device f:r -eobling the, air after compression) will increase it to 28 to 30 per cent.; and the fitting of a re-heat combustion chamber and a second turbine will bring the figure up to 30 to 32 per cent. When metals can be developed to stand a temperature of 1,500 deg. or more, the thermal efficiency will be even higher. With aircraft the importance of this is apparent-a power unit utilising its - fuel to maximum efficiency offering the choice of improved performance through a decrease in weight or, alternatively, longer range without proportionate increase in fuel load. Although all -jet-propelled aircraft work on the same basic principle, they must be separated into two distinct classes-those powered by axial-flow turbo-jet units, which draw their oxygen from the atmosphere (the type referred to above), and those in which the oxygen is carried in liquid form within the fuselage or nacelle. In the case of the former, the maximum height capable of achievement will be approximately 67,000 ft.beyond which level air becomes too thin for compression. For the latter, the limiting factor is entirely one of size-an aircraft with sufficient fuel (ethyl-alcohol and liquid oxygen) being capable, in theory, of flight to the moon. Basic Types of Unit As stated above,- jet units are of two types-the liquid-rocket jet and the axial-flow turbo-jet. Both utilise. the energy of expanding gasses, but differ from each other in mechanism and working. While the forms described below are typical and illustrative of the main characteristics, variations in detail, as with all other engines, will be found in the various units fitted to aircraft. The mechanism of the rocket-jet unit as employed in the HS.293 glider bomb and the ME.163 fighter (see pages 110 and 117) is as follows. C02 at 150 atm. provides pressure to force the two working liquids, hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate into the combustion chamber, where initiation is by an explosive charge which punctures a diaphragm in the main air line. The pressure in the combustion chamber is estimated to be 30 atm., the temperature of the gasses prior to emission through the jet is probably about 1,200 deg. C., and the thrust produced thereby is of the order of 1,900 lbs. (N.B.-These figures are for HS.293. Figures for ME.163 not available). Endurance of the HS'.293 unit is approximately eleven seconds, and that of the ME.163 unit approximately seven-ten minutes. (N.B.-The abnormally short endurance of these units as compared with other types of power unit may. at first sight create a false and unfavourable impression as to their usefulness. It should be kept in mind that power output from a jet-propulsion unit is very high and concentrated, and that it is used -only in short bursts-the aircraft or bomb depending in large part on gliding as a planned flight-condition). By reason of the weight imposed through the necessity of carrying its own oxygen in the fuel,

the liquid-rocket unit is of limited useo and in' most types, including the ME.262 twi unit fighter, the AR.234, the Gloster Meteor, the Bell P.59 and the Lockheed P.80, axial-flow turbo-jet pattern units are employed. This type of unit has already been described in outline. It operates on diesel oil (or kerosene or low-grade.petrol) and is normally set in motion by a small mobile gasolene engine or an electric motor that disengages when the jet-unit starts up. In the case of the ME.262, where the motors are Jumo. 004s, fuel is admitted to each comthe eight-stage between bustion chamber compressor and the turbine, and the power output is controlled by a streamline valve in the discharge Sventuri-the estimated maximum speed of the unit being approximately 8,700 R.P.M., the static sea-level thrust approximately 1,950 lbs. and the fuel consumption approximately 440/500 gallons per unit per hour at sea-level. Four Fuels Employed The rocket-jet unit installed in the A.4 Long Range Rocket (see page 121) employs four fuels -two main and two subsidiary for driving the turbine-and is contained entirely within the shell casing of the projectile. It works on the bi-liquid principle, whereby ethyl-alcohol and liquid oxygen are combined to produce a high-temperature gas, the gas being exhausted through a venturi in the tail. Components are containers for each fuel (the alcohol tank insulated against freezing), turbine-driven centrifugal pumps for transferring the fuels from tanks to combustion chamber, and a steel venturi closed at the combustion end by a battery of burner cups. As the rate of transfer is very high, both- containers are pressurisedthe alcohol tank by nitrogen from bottles, and the oxygen tank by a quantity of oxygen by-passed through a heat exchanger and returned in the form of gas. The turbine driving the pumps is operated normally by an independent powrer unit, using as fuel (possibly) hydrogen peroxide and potassium permanganate "solution (see note above on HS.293 and ME.163 units). To combat excessive heat build-up and transfer in the combustion chamber and venturi, this element is double-walled for liquid cooling- over the greater part of its length. In operation, oxygen is passed by pipe line to sprayer roses in each of the burner cups, while alcohol is fed in similar manner to jets in the The combination of these walls of the cups. liquids produces a great quantity of hot gas which, developing considerable pressure through expansion, is exhausted, under control, through a venturi. A further variation in jet-propulsion practice is seen in the FZG.76 Flying Bomb; where the power unit consists of a new form of athodyd (impulse-duct engine) surmounted on the fuselage of the bomb. This unit comprises a metal shell, grille rectangular a containing front the incorporating twelve jets and an arrangement of shutters, which close when the pressure inside

iF>E

Ar. 234. First seen in the air on 21st November, 1944. Probably in limited production.
the shell is greater than that in front of the grille and open when the reverse condition obtains. The jets, disposed in three rows, project into the combustion ends of three venturi tubes, and the charge is ignited by a sparking plug placed approximately 16 ins. to the rear of the grille. Fuel tanks of 150 gallons capacity are carried a within the bomb fuselage, together with d wirebound spherical bottles containing c air for forcing the fuel up into the combustion chamber. In operation, a charge of air is admitted by the grille, fuel is forced through the induction pipe and jets, and combustion takes place by electrical ignition. The rise of pressure inside chamber closes the spring leaves behind the e:,and the expanding gasses expel through enturi. As the pressure in the combustion

This Caproni " Campini" flew 168 miles in December, 1941.


chamber falls and the shutters open, a fresh charge of air is admitted and the cycle repeated. The unit operates intermittently in conformity with the opening and closing of the shutters. and produces a noise remiiscent of a singlecylinder motor-cycle engine running slowly. Fuel supply is continuous but fluctuating, being regulated to maintain correct mixture for variations in forward speed and altitude. Ignition during flight is caused by the hot or flaming residue of gas remaining in the duct. Early Development in Italy To attempt an historical survey of jet-propulsion development would call for considerably The more data than is at present available. a not therefore, offers review, following comprehensive record, but a resume of miscellaneous information, presented, so far as is practicable, in chronological order. That details covering the early period are somewhat threadbare and disjointed is acknowledged. The facts available were few, and in most cases of little Of late, however, more than tertiary interest. the straw has been more plentiful and of richer It is hoped that such account as is quality. given of more recent events will, in measure, compensate for the frugality of the opening chapter. First in the field of jet-propulsion was the all-metal Caproni Campini, produced in Italy some time before the war and illustrated above. This aircraft, a low-wing monoplane conventional in appearance but for absence of airscrew and the unusually large cross section of the fuselage at the rear, was powered by a composite unit in which drive for the impellor of the turbo-jet element was supplied by a small internal combustion engine. Figures of performance are conflicting, but the most reliable reports give the maximum speed as approximately 445 m.p.h. This is probably the only jet-aircraft to reach production stage in Italy ; certainly no Italian jet-propelled fighters have appeared and, so far as is known, this form' of power unit has not been adopted for heavier aircraft. Progress Made by Germany Germany, on the other hand, concentrating increasingly on jet-development for something over three years, has made considerable progress, and is now operating at least three types of fighter, in addition to the FZG.76 Flying Bomb, the A.4 Long-range Rocket, and a jet-unit for assisted take-off. The well-known aeronautical authority and last war ace-pilot, Ernst Udeta power in R.L.M. (German Air Ministry) before his death-sponsored the movement and guided its policy, and all the principal manufacturers, with Messerschmitt in the lead, have aircraft and/or production stages. in experimental Messerschmitt design has been administered by the glider expert, Dr. Lippitsch, and that of He chel by the direktor, Dr.J~nchel. Heinkels
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Heinkel 280. Production of these aircraft, undertaken at Vienna Schwechat, was


suspended after the Allied air offensive against German fighter production.

Hauptmann Wolfgang Spate (a fighter ace and Staffelkapitan in J.G.54) and the famous woman Flugkapitan, Hanna Reitsch-who flew the prototype HE.280 over a year ago. The operational exploitation of jet-propulsion by Germany falls conveniently into three stages. The first dates from the introduction in summer, 1943, of the HS.293 radio-controlled glider boinb -a miniature pilotless aircraft incorporating a 600 kg. bomb, launched from a carrier fixed to the underside of a DO.217 mainplane. This-the first jet-propelled aircraft to be used operationally -was the parent and forerunner of the FZG Flying Bomb, also a pilotless miniature aircraft but one now powered by an improved-type unit utilising atmospheric oxygen and capable of considerably longer endurance. Flying bombs, as is all too well known, were originally launched against Southern England from static platforms sited along a wide length of coast centred on the Pas de Calais, and possessed a range of approximately 150 miles. They disclosed marked progress both in the development of jet-units and in their adaptation to aircraft practice, and have led, logically, to the final stage-the introduction of full-size pilotcontrolled fighters, capable of outstandin and climb, and, when

containing their own oxygen, of revolutionary performance at high altitude. Rockets, assisted take-off units, and units provided as complementary to internal combustion engines, although important, represent ancillary development and do not mark definite progress stages. Reference to their characteristics and functions is made later. First Application to Aircraft The early research and experimental work for the HS.293 jet-propelled radio-controlled glider bomb-stated to be a development, by Dr. Wagner, of a French invention made at Bensangon--was undertaken in 1941-1942 by a unit known as E and L Kdo. This unit, based at Garz (island of Usedom, Baltic Sea) and equipped with DO.217Es, merged later into - II/KG.100 and moved in spring, 1943, to Istres le Tube, near Marseilles, for attacks on Western Mediterranean convoys, and then to cognac, north of Bordeaux, for operations in the Bay of Biscay. While no complete specimen of this glider bomb has fallen into Allied hands, sufficient fragments have been recovered for a fair be furnished. des i is a minature all-metal mid-wing e h a span of 10 ft. 3 ins. and an

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overall length of 12 ft. 4 ins. Five feet of the front section of the fuselage comprise a warhead containing a normal Rheinmetall impact fuse and a filling of Amatol or Trialen: the rear portion is hollow and houses a stabilising gyro, a selfdestruction device, and the radio-control unit. The power element-a bi-liquid rocket type jetpropulsion unit, as described earlier-is fitted in a sheet-alloy shell suspended below the fuselage, and comes automatically into action when the glider is released from its carrier under the mainplane-control thereafter being by radio from the parent aircraft. For strikes against shipping at- sea and in harbour-the only use to which this weapon has been put, and where, in the Mediterranean, it was normally employed against escort vessels (leaving the JU.88s accompanying the DO.217s to attack the merchant ships with torpedoes)--the bomb was usually released with the DO.217 in level flight, distant three to five miles from the target and at altitude 3,000 to 5,000 ft. Observers report that launching was made not directly at the ship, but when the parent aircraft was flying on a parallel course-thereafter the bomb being turned in towards the target, aiming by eye alone. It is reasonably established that the HS.293 was released at 200 m.p.h. and climbed rapidly, drawing away from the DO.217 during the period in which the thrust was acting and thus coming up into the bomb-aimer's vision, Reaching a speed of approximately 350 to 400 m.p.h. by the time fuel was expanded and thrust cut off, the bomb assumed a,steady glide of around 23 deg., flattened out on approaching its target, and finished its flight at approximately 250 m.p.h. Used regularly in convoy attacks and against invasion shipping off Salerno and Anzio, this weapon, although causing some sinkings and damage, has not proved formidable. The main drawback seems to have been the difficulty presented to-the' bomb-aimer in lining up from a moving aircraft. Other explanations offered by prisoners, of war indicate trouble directing mechanism, inefficient assembly, and failures due to humidity entering " loaded" cases in storage.

of the FZG.76 Flying Bomb is entirely of steel. Construction is robust, and the design has been simplified for ease of production. The fuselage is of sections bolted together, the centre bay holding two spherical compressed air bottles of 1 ft. 9 ins. diameter and a fuel tank of 150 gallons, the front section enclosing the warhead and magnetic compass, and the rear compartment housing the automatic pilot, gyros, and servo mechanism for operating the control surfaces. The jet-propulsion unit, of the aerQthermodynamicduct pattern (impulse-duct engine), following a Schmidt patent of 1943 (described earlier), is contained in a sheet-metal shell, 11 ft. 3 ins. long, surmounted on the rear-half of the fuselage. Two models, distinguishable only in size, have been identified. One has a tapered mainplane of 16 ft. span, the other a wing of parallel chord with squared tips and a span of 17 ft. 6 ins. The smaller model, 25 ft. 4 ins. long overall, carries a warhead comparable in weight and blast effect to the SB.1,000 kg. bomb. Control of the weapon in flight is effected solely by an automatic pilot monitered by a magnetic compass housed in the nose. The master gyro is caged during the initial acceleration and released automatically as the flying bomb leaves the launching ramp. When the bomb has climbed to a pre-determined height, a barometric capsule, through a servo motor, tilts the mounting of the main gyro gimbol and sets the automatic pilot for level flight-the duration of which is controlled by an air-log. After the pre-set mileage has been travelled, detonators fired by the air-log unit free a spring-loaded lever on the tail which instantaneously locks the elevators, operates a guillotine to sever the pick-up pipes and lockthe rudder, and releases catches to deflect two spoilers below the tail plane, causing the bomb to dive. While performance figures are very conflicting, well authenticated reports indicate that the true air-speed may be approximately 350 to 400 m.p.h. and the normal operational height about 2,300 ft. During a period of 80 days systematic bombardment of Southern England, the enemy launched more than 8,000 of these bombs, of which approximately 2,300 reached the Greater London area. In the first week of the attack about 33 per cent. were intercepted and 35 per cent. found their target; by the end of two and a half months some 70 per cent. of bombs were being shot down and only 9 per ceit. getting through the combined defences. On 28th which of 101 bombs 1944, out August, approached the South Coast, four only reached London and 97 were destroyed. Of the total accounted for over the period, fighters claimed no fewer than 1,900. r in ' hthe ;thi concinerning jjth e oo otion r d lS ser-

yith

The FZG.76 Flying Bomb The FZG.76 Flying Bomb, product of the Peenemunde Research iStation and successor to the HS.293 glider bomb, made its operational debut on 13th June, 1944, when, shortly after dawn, the first of, a series of long anticipated attacks was launched against Greater London. It was on small scale, and only four missiles were subsequently located. Although each had exploded, sufficient fragments remained for scientists to assemble a fair description of the weapon and an estimate of its capabilities. This early picture has since been elaborated and modified as a result of fuller examinations, and is now comprehensive.

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given descriptions of a tailless aircraft, referred to as "Die Motte" (Moth), seen at Peenemunde in the spring of 1943. There is evidence also that Eprobungskommando 262, a unit engaged in the perfecting of, the ME.262 and in the training of pilots to fly it, was stationed at Lechfeld during the early part of 1944. The "Motte" is now known to be the ME.163, and the P/W who saw it at Peenemunde stated that the aircraft jettisoned its wheels after take-off, climbed rapidly at a steep angle, and landed, after a gentle glide, on skids. ME.163s, identified at Zwischenahn in April, 1944, have appeared recently at Lechield, Jesau, Zwischenahn and Wittmundhafen. Preparations for the operation of these aircraft-the clue to which appears to be a group of five small buildings that apparently play a specialised part in the servicing of the aircraft-have also been observed at Oranienburg, Brandenburg, Parchim, Ardorf and other airfields. The first sighting of an ME.163 in the air was by an Eighth Air Force B.17 crew on 25th April, 1944. The enemy kept his distance and there was no combat. Details of the activity at Lechfeld, some of which have since been confirmed, indicate that this was a base for advanced training for the ME.262, and that pilots before handling the new

jet-fighter were given dual on ME.llOs and ME.410s. An early statement on the ME.262 described the take-off and landing speed as about 150 m.p.h. the maximum speed at 15,000 ft. as approximately 500 m.p.h., and the rate of climb as five minutes to 30,000 ft. Recent combat reports indicate that the figures quoted for this aircraft and for the ME.163 do not exaggerate their performance. The ME.262, first identified on the ground at Schwabisch-Hal on 25th June, 1944, and seen recently in, numbers at Leipham, Augsburg, Kitzingen, Lechfeild, Neuburg and Rechlin Larz, was first met in combat one month later; since which date these aircraft have been increasingly active on both the Western Front and in the Munich. area. An account of one engagement with a Mosquito follows the detail description of the ME.262 given below. Pioduction of the ME.262, standing in January, 1944, at approximately 100/150 aircraft per month, may be expected to reach 300/500 a month in the near future; these figures are of notable importance in view of the increasing oil shortage in Germany. In kee additioItel Wesserschmitt programme, vo proelled aircraft in the

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na) was the scene of -considerSch erhauit7:'( able HE.280 activity for some time, neither of these aircraft has yet been encountered. Arlos have one model, the AR.234, with a speed of approximately 450 to 500 m.p.h., the first of which was seen by an Eighth Air Force formation on 21st November, 1944; Dorniers are known to be busy with jet-propulsion at their Lowenthal factory; and another jet-aircraft, provisionally designated the " 66," has been seen recently at Rechlin. Development of Airfields It is apparent that very large airfields are necessary for the ME.262 and ME.163, runways of the minimum length of 2,000 yds. with good approaches being essential. These requirements are an embarrassment to Germany, where airfields within the country have been rarely used for basing operational units and where' little has been done until recently to improve the G.A.F. stations of 1939. Reference was made above to certain airfields already identified as associated with the ME.262 and ME.163. To these lists can be added Giebelstadt, Holn, Hapsten, Lubek Blankensee and Muhldorf in Germany itself; Aalborg, Grove, Skrydatrup, Tiratrup and Vandel in Denmark; and Eggemoen and Haslemoen in Norway. These do not constitute the whole. The most striking lengths, yet observed are 3,360 yds. at Hapsten and 3,250 yds. at Lechfeld. The normal average appears to be around 2,200 yds. -From the location of these improved bases it is clear that the enemy is mainly concerned with forming a line of airfields from which jetfighters can attempt to shut the door to bomber forces routed between Holland and Norway. At present somewhat less effort is being concentrated in Southern Germany, where defence seems to be centred on Giebelstadt, Schwabisch-Halt,Neuburg, Lechfeld and Muhldorf. The ME.262 Turbo-Jet Fighter The ME.262 is given priority in description because it has been seen in the greatest numbers, and appears, up to the moment, to be the enemy's foremost jet-fighter and ground-attack aircraft. Capture intelligence and statements by prisoners of war describe the ME.262 as a single-seat all-metal mid-wing monoplane of conventional high finish. It is said appearance and to be 34 ft. 9 ins. long, with a single fin and rudder and swept-back square-tipped mainplanes of 41 ft. span, incorporating twin underslung nacelles. Weight and wing-loading are mentioned as approximately 10,000 lbs. and 44.5 lbs. per square foot respectively. The undercarriage, of the retractable tricycle pattern, has short oleo-legs giving minimum clearance when the aircraft is on the ground. Propulsion is by two Junkers TL axial-flow power units (Jumo 004s), the turbines of which are set in motion by small'two-stroke gaofe

engines mounted at the front of the motor assemblies: Four self-sealing tanks, containing approximately 400 gallons diesel oil, are installed under and behind the pilot's seat. (N.B.-Additional tankage in the rear part of the fuselage and under the pilot's feet provides a further 180 gallons). While reported performance figures vary considerably-527 m.p.h. was reached during.early trials at Augsburg-cruisingand maximum speeds may be of the order of 500 and 550-plus m.p.h. respectively. An estimated rate of climb of at least 5,000 ft. per minute at high altitude is probable. It is interesting to note by comparison that the latest model FW.190 (DB.603 engine), with a wing loading of about 48.5 lbs. per square foot, has a maximum speed of approximately 450 m.p.h. at 23,000 ft. and needs approximately 15 minutes to reach 32,000 ft., while the American Mustang P.51 D (Packard V.1650 engine) has a speed of 437 m.p.h. at 30,000 ft. and needs thirteen minutes to reach this altitude. Jet-Fighters in Action On 25th July, 1944, a P/R Mosquito operating from Great Britain was intercepted at 29,000 ft. over Munich by a twin-engined fighter believed to be a ME.262. The enemy outdistanced the reconnaissance aircraft and, in an engagement lasting fifteen minutes, delivered attacks at 800 yds. from both rear and below. He was then eluded and the Mosquito, suffering only slight damage, managed to cross the Alps and land in Italy. This engagement, the first reported with a jet-propelled aircraft, has since been followed by almost daily combats on the Western Front, by encounters by M.A.A.F. formations attacking industrial targets in Southern Germany, and by regular interceptions of aircraft on photo-reconnaissance in and around the Munich area. In -connection with the latter missions, and as a sidelight on the importance of photographic cover of this sector, it is of interest to note that P/R Mosquitoes now fly with an escort of P.51s or P.38s. Although the ME.262 is considerably faster and superior in climb to the normal fighter at high altitude, it can be out-turned at any speed and out-climbed at low altitude. For evasive action, climbing turns and steep turns are recommended, while, at heights above 15,000 ft., the half-roll and steep dive has proved effective (the ME.262 cannot be dived at over 30 degs. due to structural limitations). It is also important to remember that the fuel consumption of the jet-fighter is abnormally high at sea-level, and that, for this reason, it is unlikely to continue any engagement at nought feet. SA Mosquito Meets an ME.262 From a wide selection of combat reports the following is chosen as possibly the most illuminating. a t ncerns a P/R Mosquito over South the afternoon of 15th August, 1944. t S1iZ~I I

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This Mosquito-on a mission to photograph Gunzburg/Leipham airfield-had an uneventful outward journey, covering the last leg at 30,000 ft. with indicated air-speed 220 m.p.h. On approaching the target the pilot checked all-clear on both sides and made a 90-deg. diving turn on to the aerodrome. He then levelled out for his photographic run, glanced up at the rear mirror -and saw an ME.262, 400 yds. astern and closing rapidly. Spare tanks were jettisoned, engines given full boost and revs. and the aircraft put into a starboard turn (" Why? Because we usually do a port turn on to the target, and instinctively I thought the enemy would expect me to go that way"). Simultaneously the ME,262 opened up with 30 mm. cannon, hitting the port aileron and elevator and demolishing the protruding nacelle. The Mosquito, with throttles jammed and no portside control, started to spin-a semiflat spin that became tighter and more rapid as the ground grew nearer. At 19,000 ft., after trying conventional recovery tactics without success, the port pitch-lever was brought back and with this the spin slowed up. Stick and rudder did -the rest and the aircraft came on to a level keel. The observer, pinned in the nose, crawled out and gave the I.A.S. in the spin as 420 (true air-speed 580 m.p.h.)-he also reported that the enemy was closing for a second attack. Unable to take starboard evasive action or exceed 210 m.p.h., the pilot turned again to port-well inside the jet-fighter who tried to follow this manoeuvre but overshot by miles. That the Mosquito was unarmed-with anything but a camera it could have destroyed the ME.262 in the first attack-must now have been evident 'to the enemy, who came back eleven times (without scoring another hit!), making three attacks head-on, two from the quarter, two from the beam and four more from astern. This engagement lasted forty minutes, and when eventually the Mosquito escaped into cloud -- at 8,500 ft., after a last desperate attempt to ram the ME.262-it was over Schwaz, 90 miles from peiphm. Here the mountains are 8,000 ft. high. The altimeter was working, but most of the other instruments, including the artificial horizon, had by now become unserviceable. The Mosquito made base. To use the pilot's words on entering the circuit: "Just give us two wheels and we'll be all right." The wish was not granted. The hydraulics had been shot away and the emergency system would not work -nor would the radio. There was only one thing for it-at 400 ft. switches were cut and the aircraft trimmed for a belly landing. Both the pilot and observer '"stepped out." They reported that the Merlin engines had been at full-boost for two hours-the normal limit is five minutes-and, although a bit tired, had never missed a beat. Seven minutes petrol remained in the tanks.

The i The ME.163 fighter, n

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Peenemunde 30 or "Die Mott" rre prisoner of war statements, is of fut appearence with a short bulbous "tear-drop" fuselage, sharply swept-back maiiplanes, an abnormally high fin and no horizontal tail surfaces. In addition to the operational model designated the ME.163 B (length 20 ft., span 31 ft., root chord 9ft.) there is a trainer, the ME.163 A, the span of which may be slightly wider. Both are powered by Walter liquid-rocket units, the trainer having a " cold" unit and emitting a dirty-white smoke, and the fighter employing a "hot" unit which produces greater thrust and- emits a blue-tinged flame. Take-off is normally effected under the aircraft's own power, but may be rocket assisted. Wheels are jettisoned after launching, and the landing made on a centre skid. A gas-driven turbine operates the fuel pumps, and in the fighter version a small propellor in the nose provides energy for generation of current to actuate the aircraft's instruments. Maximum speed is 525 to 600 m.p.h. and the climb- approximately 5,000 ft. per minute at sealevel and 10,000 ft. per minute at 40,000 ft. -Endurance at full power, however, is only seven to ten minutes in spite of a fuel tankage stated to be 330 gallons (the reason for the bulbous fuselage). While this endurance may be extended to three-quarters of an hour by intermittent gliding (a planned flight condition and not one enforced), it offers an obvious limitation to the duties for which the aircraft can be employed. The ME.163, first observed in the air on 25th April, 1944, is now met frequently over Germany by Eighth and Fifteenth Air Force bomber formations, and aircraft on photographic reconnaissance missions. It is easily recognised by its stubby deep fuselage and absence of tail-and by the abnormal length of its contrails-and has been reported by pilots as possessing beautiful lines, while appearing very manoeuvrable though somewhat unsteady in flight. Gunners of one formation put the speed' of one ME.163 encountered at 25,000 ft. as over 600 m p.h. (true air-speed), and stated that it was impossible to track the aircraft with turrets or free. guns. Others estimated the climbing angle of this ME.163 at 50 degs. and the rate of climb at this angle as 5,000 ft. per minute. In most engagements the enemy has started his attack in an engineless glide from above, come in from ahead or astern and gone away under power. Attacks so far have met with no conspicuous success and a number of ME.163s have been shot down. The best tactics against this aircraft are probably those already indicated for the ME.262. Resum6 of Other Types While the two essrsc tn

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Ii

Provisional Drawing of the HE.219.


enemy jet-aircraft in experimental and production stages. Such details as are known are given below. They should be treated with considerable reserve. Many prisoners have spoken of the HE.280 and the Heinkel "T"-describing the former as a single-seat twin-ruddered mid-wing monoplane of conventional appearance, powered by two B.M.W. TL axial-flow units (B.M.W. 003s) and having a speed of approximately 500 m.p.h.. at 30,000 ft., a rate of climb of 6,000 ft. per minute, and a ceiling of 47,000 ft.: and the latter as a low-wing monoplane with a barrel fuselage, low aspect-ratio mainplanes and a large tail, powered by a liquid-rocket unit and utilising skids in lieu of undercarriage for landing. According to recent information the HE.280 has been abandoned. Another aircraft mentioned frequently is the AR.234. This fighter was seen by an Eighth Air Force Fighter Group during a mission on 21st November, 1944, but the enemy, though making a pass, did not join combat. It is described as a single-seat twin turbo-jet monoplane having a slim fuselage upswept to a high-set tail unit, high aspect-ratio mainplanes with pronounced taper on trailing edge, single fin and rudder and tricycle undercarriage. Length is 36 ft. to 38 ft. and wing span 45 ft. to 47 ft. Jet-units are stated to be B.M.W., presumably' Type 003. Power output of these 'units is considered comparable with that of the Jumo.004s installed ' 26 v.; se-lvv l 11
. . . ,
f t

static thrust approximately 1,950 lbs. per unit, and fuel consumption 1.25 lbs. per hour per ib. thrust. Take off is said to be rocket assisted and speed 400 to 500 m.p.h. at 13,000 to 16,000 ft. Messerschmitt development, in addition to the ME.262 and ME.163, may include a fighter referred to as the Dusenjager Modell Regensburg (Jet-propelled fighter Regensburg model) and another single-seat aircraft designated the ME.328. The Regensburg was reported as about the same size as an ME.109, with a nose resembling the Italian Caproni Campini (indicating a turbo-jet power unit), a speed of 450 m.p.h. at optimum height and a ceiling of 40,000 ft. The ME.328 (the existence of which-actual or projected-has been confirmed from a captured document) is stated to be a single-seat metal aircraft of about \20 ft. span, possessing a maximum speed of 525 m.p.h. In September last, a good source mentioned this aircraft as in production by a firm called Neu-America near Bressanone. A suggestion has been ventured that the ME.328 may be employed as a ramming aircraft-there is no confirmation of this, but the very small span and reported low endurance lends credence to the idea. A recently interrogated prisoner, ex-employee at the Vienna/Schwechat Heinkel Factory, has provided details of another alleged developmentthe HE.343. This was described as a four-jet multi-seat mid-wing monoplane, with the tail unit set high in manner similar to the Westland

Now

in

active

pioduction

in

the

United

States

18. 19. 20. 21. Chain drive to external control vanes. Electric motor. Burner cups. Alcohol supply from pump. Air bottles. Rear joint ring and strong point for transport. Servo-operated alcohol outl Rocket shell construction. equipment.strong Radio
Radio equipment.
}

Pitch and azimuth gyros. Alcohol filling point. Double walled alcohol pump. Oxygen filling point. Concertina connections. Hydrogen peroxide tank. Tubular frame holding turbine and pump assembly. Permanganate tank (gas generator unit behind this tank). Oxygen distributor from pump. Alcohol pipes for subsidiary cooling. Alcohol inlet to double wall. Electro-hydraulic servo motors. Aerial leads. delivery pipe to

10. 11.

Pipe leading from alcohol tank to warhead.

22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

Nose probably fitted with nose switch, or other device for operating warhead fuze. 12.* Conduit carrying wires to nose of warhead.
13.

13. 14.

Central

Cenal exploder tube. Electric fuze for warhead.

exploder

tube.

point for
rt.

Two jet-units were reported as Whirlwind. mounted under each mainplane, one at the centre of gravity and one forward of it. Apparently this aircraft-if existing-is in very early stage of development. Its length is stated to be about 54 ft. and its wing span slightly higher than this figure. Like "a Tired Pigeon" The only other report available comes from Oranienburg, and is of a small tailless machine with "tear-drop " fuselage and sharply sweptback mainplanes possessing such marked adhedral that the aircraft at rest, according to the informant, "bore the appearance of a tired pigeon." Details of this aircraft-for which there is no The confirmation--are particularly interesting. fuselage, circular in cross section, has a maximum diameter of 5 ft. and a length of, 11 ft. 6 ins., and the wing roots extend from immediately aft of the plastic nose to within a few inches of the rear end. Except for a large air-inlet duct, the nose is transparent plastic on all sides, while the rear end of the fuselage resembles a cylinder perforated by 25 circular holes. Although provision is made for a pilot (to lay prone), the informant stated that this aircraft was always flown without one-remote control being from a mobile cabinet on the airfield. No details of launching or landing are' available (the former is alleged to take place from a thirty-foot vertical metal track), nor is anything known as to performance. Jet-Units for Supplementary Power In addition to the use of jet-propulsion for primary power-units in aircraft, it is being adopted for other purposes-in particular to secure extra power for take-off, and to supplement internal combustion engines and thereby give increased speed and/or range to aircraft so provided.

and used only after switching off the internal combustion engines when the aircraft has reached In the HE.219 (two DB.603s) a suitable height the turbo-jet unit, about 20 ft.. long and 3 ft. diameter, is contained in a nacelle below the fuselage at the crossing of the mainplanes. Static thrust at sea-level is estimated at approximately 3,000 Ibs. It is of interest to note in connection with the DO.217, that a further report states that trials were recently carried out at Hoersching with a new turbo-jet fighter iiounted pick-a-back on the Dornier. The A.4 Long-Range Rocket The information given above on jet-propulsion as applied -to enemy fighters and take-off units, concludes the resume so far as aircraft and aircraft ancillary equipment is concerned. One other important development has been seen-the long-range rocket. Rumours of rockets of enormous dimensions became current towards the end of 1943, when prisoners of war spoke of experiments and trials at Peeneunde, Luneburger Heide and the island of Rugen with projectiles described vaguely as varying in weight from two to 80 tons. These weapons, reported to be radio-controlled, were alleged to climb almost vertically at comparatively low speed and emit orange flame and clouds of dark grey smoke. Rigid security was enforced at Peenemunde and great secrecy surrounded the trials. Crews operating the rockets were, it is stated, known as " Anti-terror Regimenter " (sic). Best known as the V.2 from German propaganda attempts to picture it as a decisive weapon, the A.4 Long-range Rocket has been in use against Southern England since 8th September, 1944. From that date until 31st December, 1944, approximately 350 incidents have occurred in England, considerably more in Belgium, and a France, Holland and few in Northern Luxemooury. The performance of this rocket is phenomenal. With a take-off weight of over twelve tons (of which eight and a half is fuel), it attains a maximum speed of about .5,000 ft. per second (3,400 m.p.h.), and after the power has been cut off follows a parabolic path rising to an altitude of between 60 and 70 miles. For launching, the rocket stands in a vertical position with its four stabilizing fins orientated to conform with the desired azimuth bearing of the target. On ignition, it rises with increasing speed and is controlled for trajectory by a pitch gyro, the axis of which is continually changed through the rotation of a cylindrical drum operating a series of electrical contacts. In flight, the rocket is held on course by an azimuth gyro and governed for range. by an integrating accelerometer which not only cuts off the fuel when the correct velocity has been attained (this was., dpne by radio-control in earlier models), consequent upon a eis Ictl.s-.a I bt to t
s 3y, y a-'-i ,{";

From

a number

of assisted take-off

sets

examined, it appears that the 'apparatus comprises a hi-liquid rocket-type jet-unit (of the pattern used in the HS.293 glider bomb, and similar in principle to the power element of the ME.163) installed in a streamlined light-alloy nacelle. These units are attached to the underside of the aircraft's mainplane and jettisoned after take-off. To enable units to be safely landed and re-used, a self-opening parachute using a static line is incorporated. It has been known for some time that JU.88s have employed jettisonable rocket-units for take-off, control switches being a standard fitting in this aircraft. Little information is available on supplementary units, although prisoners have stated that experiments to incorporate these in the ME.410, the DO.217 and the HE.219 are in progress. In the case of the ME.410 (two DB.603A2 engines) a turbo-jet unit is said to be fitted in the fuselage and-to add approximately 100 m.p h. to the speed, while with the DO.217 (two B.M.W 801A. engines) the unit is reported as fixed above the fuselage

.k

if

Gloster Meteor-the first R.A.F. jet-propelled aircraft.


4,635 M.P.H. Theoretically Possible Rockets fired against England to date have shown an average range of about 190 miles, the maximum so far being 220 miles. While the velocity of these rockets at fuel cut-off point has been calculated as approximately 5,100 ft. per second (vertical angle of inclination to horizontal at this point being 33 to 39 <eg.) a velocity of 6,800 ft. per second (4,635 m.p.h.) is theoretically possible, which, using the optimum angle of 41 deg., would give a range of about 340 miles. During descent through the atmosphere, resistance slows the speed of the rocket to about 2,500 ft. per second (1,700' m.p.h.) and in the process builds up considerable heat. Although in 25 per cent; of the incidents reported the rocket has disintegrated in the air, possibly due to over-heating, it is of no consequence as the warhead falls intact and explodes in a normal manner. The A.4 Rocket is 45 ft. 10 ins. long and 5 ft; in diameter. It has a sharply pointed nose, four stabilising fins at the rear end, and in general, shape is fundamentally suited to its supersonic speed. The shell is constructed in much the same form as an aircraft fuselage, with an outer skin spot-welded and rivetted to circumferential formers and longitudinal stringers. In this shell, from front to rear, are a .conical warhead (5 ft. 8 ins. long, weight 2,150 lbs., details unknown), a controls compartment (azimuth gyro, pitch gyro, integratiig accelerometer, and instruments forming amplifying link between: gyros and servo-motors operating control vanes), two main' fuel tanks (7,610 lbs. ethyl alcohol and 10,930 lbs. liquid oxygen) and ap auxilliary gas generator activating a turbine to drive two centrifugal' pumps supplying the fuels to the combustion chamber. The control, vanes are eight in number, four within the gas-flow of the venturi and four externally on the outer edges of the fins. A description of the general principle of the propulsion unit is given on page 107. This unit is estimated to produce a maximum thrust of 68,500 lbs. acting for 65 seconds, or with a by-pass in operation, a thrust of 30,000 lbs. Allied Developments The importance of the jet-fighter as an instrument of war, the enormous possibilities that the field offers, and the very obvious fact that with development in its bare infancy even a generalisation, seemingly harmless, may supply something to the enemy, is sufficient to make any apology for lack of statement on Allied plans redundant. That Group Captain Frank Whittle, the leading British authority on jet-propulsion, has been actively engaged on experiments for more than twelve years'is known. That the Gloster Meteor was flying in 1941, and has been used operationally with success, -is also known. Beyond those facts, so far as Great Britain is concerned, silence must reign. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Americans have been busy and at least two jetmanufacturers-Bell and Lockheed-have No details have been aircraft in production. published nor should any be published. Until jet-development has passed from the experimental to the " mass-production off-the-line" stage the less said about our plans the better.

Special Operation Agai nst The Brenner Route


_ _

CONTINUOUSLY

FROM

THE

late

summer

of

forces air East Middle the 1942-when successfully restricted Rommel's supply of his forward areas by sustained attacks on his lines of communication--a major commitment of the Allied air forces in the Mediterranean theatre has been the blitzing of the enemy's supply routes in order to deny him the power to wage offensive warfare. The. aerial attention paid to particular lines of communication, whether road, railway, sea of air routes, has varied according to the enemy's transportation facilities in the country in which the campaign was fought and the particular stage So far as the Italian of the land battle. campaign is concerned, the most constant air offensive has been necessary to maintain a state of interdiction on enemy-held railway routes; attacks on road and, to a lesser extent, sea communications have from time to time been on a heavy scale-particularly when defeats in the field have set enemyvehicles scurrying along the escape roads-but, in general, these attacks have been subsidiary to those against the railways. Importance of Brenner Line Kesselring's retreat from central to northern Italy, begun in June, 1944, implied a progressive shortening of his Italian lines of communication and attendant reduced difficulties of supply. By the autumn, when it became, clear that the Germans were not going to be easily budged from the deep defence zones south of the Po, a clear pattern again became discernible in designed to attacks interdictory M.A.A.F's weaken the enemy's build-up. In general, the Strategic bombers concentrated on cutting the Brenner, Tarvisio, Postumia and Piedicolle railway routes into north-central and northeastern Italy at their furthest points (the routes into the north-west had. been lost to the Germans by the invasion of southern France); Tactical medium bombers aimed at creating an inner ring of interdiction on the above-mentioned routes somewhat further south; and both Tactical medium and fighter-bombers combined to cut bridges over the Po and railway communications further west. So long as flying conditions were favourablethat is until mid-September--a satisfactory state of interdiction was maintained on all vital railway 123

routes. With the deterioration of the weather in October, however, it was evident that constant interdiction, particularly on the frontier routes, was impracticable. At the outset of the Italian campaign the Brenner line (Innsbruck to Verona) was credited with carrying half of the total rail traffic entering and leaving Italy, and, in particular, most strictly military supplies came in via this route. As the enemy's supply position deteriorated in southern France and the Balkans the importance of the Brenner line was correspondingly increased until the route became the all-important link in the enemy's supply system. The limiting of this railway traffic from Austria was, accordingly, one of the major tasks confronting the Allied Air Forces. Even when good weather made successful air attacks on the Brenner line possible the curtailment of traffic achieved was often disappointing. The fewness of points vulnerable to air assault-principally bridges and viaductsmade it possible for the German engineers to concentrate bridging materials near all target sites and to repair even extensive damage in an rail Moreover, time. short astonishingly diversions had been constructed, or were in process of construction, around most of these were Repeated. attacks points. vulnerable necessary, therefore, to maintain the interdiction for a- sufficient space of time to have an appreciable effect on the enemy's accumulation The approach of of supplies and material. winter and inevitable bad weather meant that the necessary regularity of attacks could not be kept up. The Higher Command now believed that the best hope of depleting the enemy's stock in his dumps south of the Po lay in devising a bombing programme which aimed at the permanent reduction of the capacity of the Brenner line, to be . carried out in conjunction with the usual programme for establishing blocks. The Electrified System As is the case with most European railways, the Brenner route was designed to use electricity for power, which is vastly more efficient than steam power for locomotion where gradients are .of thlectrified ca c 23 n s ep

amns

JFrom GERMANY
INNSBRUCK

MlAP SHOWING" THE

LOCATIONIS

BRENNERO COLLE ISARCO

OF

POWERl
ON THE

STATIONSLECV
VERONA. INNSBRUCKVAN

RAILWAY
BOLZANO

CIS

Estimatcd dJily hauIrSgz

CAMPODAZZO

STEAM

.6750

tons

____________________

POWER STATION

O
SALORNO
.

"
-

TRANSFORMER STATION
STATION CONVERTER
6BELL'

TRENTO

CONEC

OAr 0/ Ra//wrys:
"i--I
-----

PRINC)PAL
+~ SECONDARY '

/E RONA

Trento.-Three direct hits on the transformers and six more within the yard destroyed three of the five transformers and damaged the remaining two. The target area was heavily cratered, cabling destroyed and the control house damaged

Al.-A

very concentration of hits .on the. target area to- the east. The control house, was badly damnaged, there were six direct hits on the transformei yard, the
and just transformers apparently being destroyed.

,heavy

I/erona.-Damage mainly caused 'by blast to three banks of

transformer racks, wire towers and the east portion of the


"T "-shaped control and switching building.

Domnegli ra.-Tkree direct hits on the south end of the transformer yard destroyed two transformers and damaged two high-tension line towers- immediately west. Near misses damaged the generator house.

approximately 800 to frightl rgh the Pass. Thus about 24,000 tons could be transported daily when the line was in full working order. Technical specialists of the Italian State Railways estimated that if the Germans could be forced to switch from electric to steam locomotion the capacity of the Brenner line would be reduced to 8-10 trains daily. Such steam trains would be able to haul only 675 tons each, making the maximum capacity of the steam-powered line some 6,750 daily-a mere 28 per cent of the electrified line's capacity. Owing to the plentitude of hydro-electric power in north Italy, any attempt to destroy it at its source would be too complicated to be practicable. The most vulnerable points on the electrified railway, system were the power stations-the transformer stations (where power was stepped down from the high voltage of the long distance transmission lines to the operating voltage required for the railway) and the converter stations. There were fourteen power stations between Verona and the Brenner Pass, spaced ten miles apart on the severest gradients and twice that distance along less steep stretches. These power stations were so designed and located, however, that the removal of any one of them would not cause any appreciable disruption of the system; it needed, in fact, the elimination of three consecutive stations to make electric locomotion impossible on the sectioh of the line between the outer destroyed stations. It had to be borne in mind, also, that even after success had been achieved in destroying the power stations repeat raids would probably be necessary to prevent the employment of immediately available replacement equipment and, less likely, the use of mobile power stations P -'"eshifts for the destroyed permanent stations, The Power Stations Considered as Targets The locations of the power stations on the Verona-Innsbruck line are indicated on the map on page 124. They consisted of two main typesthe big transformer stations on the D.C. section of the line Verona- to Trento and the smaller converter stations on the A.C. section running from Trento northwards. So far as the transformer stations wereconcerned, the parts most vulnerable to 'air attack were the actual transformer units, normally located in the open close to the buildings wherein the control panels were housed. For an effective attack, therefore, bombs had to penetrate the buildings and detonate at ground level in order to destroy. the housed equipment, maximum for be to fuzing had while fragmentation to destroy the unit outside. In respect of the latter the fracture of the case of the transformer by bomb fragments or better still by rocket projectiles would cause the unit

to burn would render necessary the major repair jo re-winding them. In the converter stations all the vital parts were located in the buildings, normally on the ground and first floors. The converter equipment was solidly constructed and destruction could best be accomplished by bombs fuzed to detonate at ground level so that penetration of the casing could be effected. The "Bingo" Plan

Taking into consideration the facts mentioned in the foregoing sections, Headquarters, Mediterranean Allied Tactical Air Force during the last week in October, 1944, issued its planunder the code name of Operation " Bingo "-for the destruction of the electrified system of the Brenner line in conjuction with the bombing of other vulnerable points. The Tactical Air Force was to be made responsible for the destruction of four transformer stations, namely: (a) three miles south-west of Verona, (b) near Domegliara, (c) at Ala and (d) at Trento. In particular, the Desert. Air Force was instructed to eliminate the station near Verona, while the medium bombers of the 57th Bombardment Wing and the fighter-bombers of the XXII Tactical Air Command were to destroy the other three stations. Meanwhile, the 42nd Bombardment Wing medium bombers were to operate in force in order to create as many blocks as possible on the section of the line between Dcmegliara and Trento. The M.A.T.A.F. attacks were to be supplemented by Strategic Air Force heavy bomber assaults against the converter station at Salorno, the one south of Ora and the power station south-west of Bolzano. In addition, other forces of heavy bombers were to create as many blocks as possible on the Trento-Innsbruck section of the line. The target times of the Strategic Air Force's attacks Were' to be so arranged as to provide the maximum diversion. Detailed and accurate descriptions of the targets were drawn up from all available Intelligence sour'>s and full information was provided of the enemy's flak defences. On the basis of the evidence provided by bomb-damage analyses of previous attacks on power plants the use of 500 lb. G.P. bombs with .1 and .01 fuzings was directed as being the most effective, and rocket projectiles were to be exposed against where possible employed transformer units. The XXII Tactical Air Command was to undertake area cover commitments for the Tactical attacks and the M.A.S.A.F. fighters were responsible for any additional protection required by the heavy bombers. "Bingo" in Operation

A week of bad flying weather followed the directive and the issuing of the "Bingo"

-71
y Y

EU

pe ti>fit $citu Th&t t'be 'executed before the morning of 6th November. On that date " Bingo " was activated according to plan. The Verona transformer station was attacked by twelve rocket-firing U.S. Thunderbolts (P.47s) and 22 -Kittyhawks with bombs; 21 strikes were scored with rockets on the transformer and four on the buildings and fourteen direct bomb hits on the main buildings and two on the transformer. The Domegliara transformer station was bombed by 36 U.S. Mitchells (B. 25s) and sixteen U.S. Thunderbolts; later photographic reconnaissance showed that, besides other damage, two transformers were destroyed. The transformer station at Ala was attacked by 36 U.S. Mitchells and seventeen U.S. Thunderbolts (the latter employing both bombs and rockets); photographic reconnaissance, revealed that the control house was heavily damaged and all the transformers were apparently destroyed. The fourth station, at Trento, was bombed by 30 U.S. Mitchells (including six "window "-droppers) and sixteen U.S. Thunderbolts, while an anti-flak mission was flown by several more U.S. Thunderbolts to afford protection for the Mitchells; later photographic evidence showed that three transformers were destroyed and the remaining two probably damaged, and the. control house was damaged and the cabling destroyed. Enemy opposition failed utterly to interfere with these missions. Several enemy fighters made unaggressive ineffective passes at formations over Domegliara and Trento, but the only damage suffered by the Tactical aircraft in the above-mentioned attacks was the holing of a few aircraft by flak. Closely co-ordinated with the attacks on the four transformer stations was the effort directed against rail targets on - the Verona-Trento section of the line by U.S. Marauders, which flew 103 sorties in the course of six missions. These succeeded in creating seven blocks between Rovereto and Verona. No enemy opposition was experienced and no losses incurred. Meanwhile, the Strategic Air Force was Implementing its part of the "Bingo" plan, 25 .U.S. Liberators (B. 24s) with 46 escorting U.S.

T.ig

n sW(s. ir l sent to attack the three assigned targets. Although the target areas at Salorno, Ora and Bolzano were covered, photographic reconnaissance revealed no serious damage to any of the power stations. Intense heavy flak was encountered by some of the attacking aircraft, but no losses or damage were sustained. On the following day, 7th November, the Strategic Air Force completed its task of creating as many blocks as possible on the route north of Trento. Over 190 UJS. Liberators, well escorted by U.S. Mustangs (P.51s), pressed home their attacks on the line, dropping approximately 470 tons of bombs. Hits were scored on a long stretch of the line and explosions were caused among rolling stock at two yards: of the bridges hit those over the Isarco and Adige rivers at Albes and Ora, respectively, received most damage, Success of "Bingo"

The success achieved by operation "Bingo" in forcing the switching over from electric to steam power on the Brenner route between Verona and Trento was confirmed both by photographic interpretation and ground reports. For several weeks after the operation this section of the line was covered by reconnaissance aircraft about three times a day whenever practicable. During this time only steam locomotion activity was observed; moreover, the presence of long road convoys along sections of that steam the route probably indicated locomotives were also not over-plentiful. Meanwhile, reliable agents' reports continued to come in stressing the cessation of electric traction and a considerable lightening of traffic on the line. Typical statements read: "18th November--No Brenner traffic passed through the main yard at Verona between 3rd and 12th November ". " 25th November-Due to damage to four electric sub-stations on the Brenner line, only steam locomotion operates between Verona and Trento". "Bingo", it was evident, had justified the highest hopes of Its planners.

~IUPi~WhlU~aj_

Mining Of The Danube By

No. 205 Group


I _~1 I
THE RIVER DANUBE, second largest river in Europe, rises in the Black Forest region; it is joined in ite course of 1,720 miles by nine major tributaries, the rivers Inn, March, Waag, Drava, Tisa, Sava, Morava, Seret and Prut, and finally debouches into the Black Sea. It is shared by six countries-Germany, (including Bohemia and Moravia), Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Rumania and Bulgaria. Owing to navigation problems which may have arisen between the above countries, the Danube was made an international river and before the war was c6ntrolled by Britain, France, Italy and Rumania. The river is navigable for 1,500 miles. River steamers can reach Ratisbon in Germany and sea-going vessels can penetrate to Turnu Severin, just east of the Iron Gates; but for two months during the winter navigation is made difficult by floating or fixed ice, particularly in the lower courses of the river. The larger river ports such as Braila, Rusciuk, Giurgiu, Turnu Severin, Belgrade, Novi Sad and Budapest are well equipped with storage and capable of handling the loading facilities enormous quantities of grain, fodder, oil seeds and other agricultural products of the Balkans; the oil products of the Rumanian oil fields centred at Ploesti; and the coal from the Pernik mines, the most important centre of coal production in the Balkans. Bottlenecks are few, the only one worthy of note being the famous Iron Gates where the river flows through a deep gorge-in the Orsova area. The Transylvanian Alps and the mountains of Yugoslavia increase the difficulties of road andrailway engineering in the Balkans, but in the Danube nature has provided a natural water gap capable of transporting 10,000 tons of material daily. A Lifeline to Germany It is a natural tendency to think of the river Danube in the terms of "blue "-" Strauss "" Vienna "-" waltzing," but in Nazi eyes it stood for communication between the Third Reich and the vast grain lands of Hungary; a lifeline to the Rumanian oil fields; a link with Turkey; and a strategic route to the Russian front. It is estimated that, during 1942, 8,000,000 tons of material reached Germany via the Danube alone. The river carries loads vastly superior to those of the inadequate Balkan railway system. One "Rhine-type" barge can carry 1,000 tons; compare the advantages of loading one such vessel against the disadvantages of loading 100 ten-ton railway wagons. These conditions, ideal for handling large quantities of coal, grain, oil seeds and fodder, are invaluable when the question of oil transport is considered; there is no comparison between the vulnerable, expensive oil tank wagon and the easily handled bulk loads of the barge. A quick review of the Axis oil position clearly indicates the importance that Ploesti held in their war economy. At the beginning of the war 60 per cent. of Germany's oil, apart from a small quantity obtained from wells inside Germany, came from the great Rumanian oil refineries centred at Ploesti. Rumania was then the fourth largest producer in the world, having refineries at Ploesti and pipe lines to Constanta oh the Black Sea and to Giurgiu, the port used for _transhipment of oil to Germany. One hundred and fifty thousand tons of oil per month reached Germany, being carried by barge to Vienna or Bratislava where it was transferred into oil tank wagons. Increased Traffic in 1944 When the Axis lost the use of the LwowCernauti railway, they were compelled to divert an increasing volume of military traffic to the vulnerable and already overloaded Hungarian and The mounting air Rumanian railway system. offensive of M.A.A.F. against these lines of communication made it necessary to find some alternative method of transport, and a project was put in hand to make still greater use of the Danube. At this time there were 250-300 tugs on the river, each capable of pulling 1,200-1,500 tons carried in barges. With the exception of the Iron Gates canal, the river has no bottleneck marshalling yards, and barges make very uneconomical bombing targets, as they can be dispersed along the river. Hence for bulky and non-perishable goods, not requiring quick transport, the river was ideal for maintaining a steady, -uninterrupted flow of material into Germany. By the middle of March, 1944, the new programme of river transport was developing and the greater part of the oil traffic was being diverted from the railways to: the Between October, 1943, and February, river. 1944, river traffic increased until it was estimated

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to exceed railI t$ fftc by 28 per cent; in March, 1944, it ias stepped up to 200 per cent. over the corresponding rail traffic. It was clear, therefore, that even a temporary stoppage of river traffic at this juncture would have far-reaching effect on Germany's war potential. In consequence, plans were made by M.A.A.F. to mine stretches of the fiver at a time when the Soviet forces had crossed the river Dniester and were in a strategic position for opening a summer offensive through the Gal'atz gap into the basin of the lower Danube. The Mining Offensive Begins The second week in April at a time when the Danube was by far the most important single transport route in Eastern Europe, saw the opening of the mining offensive (Operation " Gardening ") by aircraft of No. 205 Group, in close liaison with naval specialists. These were. not the first mines to drop in Danubian waters, as, during 1941, magnetic mines were probably dropped from ships or laid from the shore by partisans, and during 1943 the Russians laid a few mines from aircraft between Giurgiu and the sea. But at no time was the mining of sufficient magnitude to disrupt shipping until the R.A.F. operations between April and October, 1944, when the river was effectively mined, reaching maximum intensity in August. The mine-laying aircraft were originally despatched during " moon " periods, as the success of the operation depended largely on good visibility and reasonable illumination from the moon. ,Later on successful experiments were made during "non-moon" periods with flare illumination by pathfinder aircraft,' and it was found possible to mine any given stretch of-the river at any period of the month. Tactics in mine-laying varied according to the part of the river over which the aircraft were operating. When the depth of the water permitted, high level drops were made, but in shallow areas the average height of release was 200 ft. Much lower altitudes have been known, 40 or 50 ft. being fairly common. During the whole of the mining period 428 aircraft were despatched and only ten of these failed to return. Several members of the missing aircrews escaped from captivity and were repatriated when Rumania fell. The First No. 205 Group Mission The first mission of three Liberators and nineteen Wellingtons was airborne on the night of 8/9th April and 40 mines were dropped near Belgrade.' By 15th April a further 137 mines were added, so that by the end of the month there was a considerable number of mines somewhere- in the river, setting the enemy the beginning of a problem that was to last until the advancing Russian forces denied the Axis the use of the river. During May, 364 mines were dropped by forces of Liberators and Wellingtons. From the night 133

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of 31st May/1st June there was no mining until lst/2nd July when the offensive was re-opened with the largest mission of the operation. Seventeen Liberators and 57 Wellingtons were despatched and successfully laid 96 1,000-lb. mines and 96 1,500-lb. mines. Enemy opposition was encountered and four of our aircraft were missing, this being the occasion of our heaviest loss. The attack was pressed home the following night when ten Liberators added 60 mines. There were no further operations during July until the 30th/31st when another large force of aircraft dropped 177 mines. During August Wellingtons did not join in the "Gardening" operation; Liberators, operating in groups of two to thirteen, were sent out at more frequent intervals to drop a total of 222 mines. Three attacks were made in September when eleven Liberators and 48 Wellingtons dropped 139 mines. The last mission of this venture was airborne on 4/5th October when four Liberators- and eighteen Wellingtons released the last load of 57 mines over areas in Hungary, west of Budapest, north of Gyor and west of Estergom. To the Nazis, frantically withdrawing essential equipment from their crumbling Balkan "Empire," this stumbling block at their back door caused endless trouble. German Counter-Measures The immediate results of the first mining attacks indicated that the Germans were taken by surprise. The organisation of defensive measures to combat the mining was immediately put in hand, but was not operating satisfactorily until the middle of August. The "CounterMeasures" organisation consisted of:(a) Information regarding mine-laying from the air. (b) Minesweeping. (c) De-magnetising of vessels. (d) Anti-aircraft measures, including fighter opposition. (af Information Information was obtained from frontier guards posted at intervals along the banks of the river, police and territorial units, anti-aircraft units, military port commanders, shipping personnel and interchange of information between Bulgarian and German units. The main items of information required were the date, place, number of aircraft operating and the height at which the mines were released. Information was checked by unit commanders and military port authorities, the original version, together with the verified information, being immediately transmitted to headquarters by the adequate telephone system which inter-connected all sources of information along the river. (b) Minesweeping Authority for operations by minesweeping vessels was given by Navy headquarters for the

H 1 N i!1flY

Rumanian vessels; for German vessels by the commanders of-the respective river sectors. The "maritime sector " formed that part of the river from the sea up to Braila, with headquarters at Galatz; the " lower Danube sector" from Braila to Turnu Severin, with headquarters at Giurgiu; the "middle Danube sector " from Turnu Severin to Budapest, with headquarters at Belgrade. Minesweeping equipment consisted of tug-boats equipped to sweep magnetic or acoustic mines, or both, and one squadron of minesweeping JU.52s fitted with mine-detonating rings. Many vessels also were modified to act as minesweepers. For instance, the Serbian tug-boat "Jug Bogdan" (450 horse-power) was taken over by the German authorities and fitted out as a minesweeper with a magnetic sweep made up of seven metal paravanes arranged in a diamond pattern and inter-connected by an insulated cable to a transformer on the after deck; an acoustic sweep, activated by its movement through the water, was carried in frbnt of the vessel. The captain of the tug described the minesweeping personnel allocated to the vessel as one captain (minesweeping), who directed operations from the shore, and seven Naval ratings, all of-whom were thoroughly terrified of mines. It is interesting, and not surprising, to note that no mine was ever exploded during operations by this vessel. With this method of minesweeping the cable was often damaged by irregularities in the river bed or by floating debris, while the paravanes were affected by currents or whirlpools. Another method was tried in which individual generators, supported by floats, were towed at regularly spaced intervals. This proved a failure and was abandoned. The Germans improved on these methods by passing the cable over two or three old barges, which gave a broader sweeping field, together with more speed and safety. When mines had been dropped in the Rumanian part of the river, M.D.R. aircraft swept the area for shallow mines and those of high sensitivity, followed by Rumanian vessels concentrating on the mined zone, while German and Bulgarian vessels maintained continual sweeping operations up-river from Giurgiu, until the area was thought to be safe. Up to the end of July the river was considered safe for shipping after 24 sweeping operations had been carried out. After July, however, the difficulties of the German Anti-Mining Organisation were increased greatly by the introduction of a timing device in magnetic mines, which allowed them to remain unexploded at the bottom of the river for an indeterminate period and rendered ineffective the 24 sweepings estimate. For example, following the mining of the Giurgiu area on the night of 30th July, 60 sweeping operations in the following four days failed to clear the river and Rumanian shipping was stopped for seven days. On account of this new factor of uncertainty, minesweeping was continued incessantly, the risk of losing vessels was accepted and shipping was no longer held up. As the

situation on aani e deteriorated, the extreme measure was adopted of allowing old vessels to drift down the river and explode the mines. This was probably done owing to the shortage of minesweeping elements, which were always in short supply in this area, having probably been withdrawn to combat the increased air mining of the Hungarian Danube. The M.D.R. aircraft are reported to have given better results than surface vessels, although two JU.52s were destroyed by explosion of the mines which they had detonated near Komarom about 12th June. Two other M.D.R. aircraft were destroyed by Allied fighters. (c) De-Magnetising A de-magnetising station was erected at Rusciuk, where all Rumanian and foreign vessels were de-magnetised. A second station was started, but never finished,, at Braila. During the latter part of June and in early July, the Germans were reported to be financing the building of both wooden and concrete barges to neutralise the effects of magnetic mines, but such vessels were never seen in use. (d) Opposition to Our Aircraft Flak positions were established along the banks of the river in the areas most susceptible to mining. These were mostly light flak guns and, owing to the height from which the aircraft dropped their mines, fired fully depressed, forming a low curtain of flak over the river. The anti-aircraft equipment of vessels was never completed, as mining was done at night and usually in areas away from the ports. Flak barges, however, were equipped and placed at strategic points, aerial reconnaissance discovering four or five of these vessels between Novi Sad and Belgrade. Three squadrons of night fighters were in operation over the Rumanian sector of the river, operating from Otopeni (Bucharest) and Zilistea never were results Their Buzau). (near satisfactory owing to the poor spotting service in Yugoslavia, coupled with the slow transmission of orders, which did not allow them to take off in sufficient time to intercept the mine-laying aircraft, particularly when they were operating over the Middle Danube. A balloon barrage existed at Novi Sad and intruder aircraft reported a barrage at 1,000 ft. over Zemun (Belgrade). On the Rumanian Danube, an ambitious scheme was projected to cover the river with a protective balloon barrage in conjunction with light flak positions and searchlights. The programme also provided for two balloon companies (48 balloons) seaward from Giurgiu. Work on these projects was begun, but never completed. RESULTS OF THE MINING (a) Shipping The surprise and unpreparedness of the enemy at the time of the first mining operation was

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The Danube passing through a gorge in the Transylvanian maourntain.

particularly noticeable in the busy stretch of river between Giurgiu and Bratislava, where several sunk and shipping, generally, vessels were brought to a standstill. In May, reports began to show the cumulative effect of mine-laying ; coal traffic was virtually suspended, as the Bulgarian ports were overstorage concerns refused to accept crowded; responsibility for goods owing to the danger of Allied air attacks; and one Budapest shipping firm went into liquidation as a result of loss by mining. In the middle of May, a large consignment of machinery was held up at Rege i

towage to Btidapest, while goods for Sofia were delayed owing to the suspension. of river traffic. Certain areas of the river were re-opened -about 20th May, but the river between Vienna and Ruzscik was again closed by the end of the month. On 1st June, a Hungarian wireless station, presumably acting on instructions from the Germans, warned all shipping between Goenuye and Piszke to stand still until further notice. During the first week of June photographs showed the Iron Gates canal to be out of action as a result of Allied bombing ; it is estimated that 60,000 tons of goods were held ip at this point.

.awaiting

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'

tew or the " Iron Gates" Canal,; showing the locomotive towing system.

Similar conditions were reported all along the river. For example, barges. loaded at Szistov at the end of April were still there on 10th June; barges laden with Hungarian goods destined for Turkey did not leave their port of departure, but were unloaded again. Photographs showed more than 100 barges dispersed along the banks of the rivers Danube and Sava, while the Begej canal, between Titel and Ecka, was filled with inactive barges. All traffic was -suspended between Mohacs and Belgrade, and even the Giurgiu-Rusciuk train-ferry was dispersed two and a half miles up-stream away, from the danger area.

During the first three weeks of July oil shipments from Ploesti amounted to only 59 barge loads. Even these were not moved without difficulty, as on 12th July the Iron Gates canal was impassable and on the following day the whole river was closed between Budapest and Rusciuk. The captain of the Slovak tanker, S.D.P.5, has since stated that a tanker normally made nine return journeys from Giurgiu to Bratislava each year, whereas in the summer of 1944 it took him four months to go from Giurgiu to Bogoijevo and back; nor did he know of any

rre

than one return journey in

River tug and barges seen below Turnu Severin.


the same period. Oil shipments had previously been transferred to railway tank wagons at Budapest, but were now being taken only as far as Novi Sad. Photographic reconnaissance showed that the cranes, used for lifting the tanks on to the railway wagons, had been moved to Novi Sad. This saved nearly half the distance from Ploesti by water, but it was "robbing Peter to pay Paul," as the railways were already overburdened and suffering under the hammer blows -of the Fifteenth Air Force. During July the German authorities took full control of all shipping, as agents were unable to
-^ B^1

state the location of their barges at any given time. River patrol boats, armed with machineguns, were instituted by the Germans, no doubt to bolster the sagging morale of the Danubian sailors. Disorganisation and labour shortages were acute at the ports and, even with the reduction in river traffic, shipments were being delayed owing to the lack of dock workers. The desertion of crews from their vessels and absenteeism on the docks made it necessary to use prisoners of war. Russian prisoners worked on German and Hungarian ships ; Italian prisoners worked on

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Concentrations of barges on the River Danube at Turnu Severin.

Serb and Croat ships. At one period in July there were 30 loaded barges at Zemun, idle for lack of crews. Compulsion was general, but in spite of this, accidents increased and delays accumulated. It was reported, for example, that goods despatched from Germany at the beginning of April had not arrived in Rumania at the end of July. As previously mentioned, the Iron Gates portion of the Danube which runs through a deep gorge at Orsova forms the only serious bottleneck on the river and presents difficult problems of navigation. Shipping can proceed only during daylight and tugs of more than 1 00(xAS-

power are required to tow barges against the swift current. From October, 1943, twelve "Cataract" tugs were engaged solely in towing oil tankers and, until December, an average of 20 tankers passed up river daily. In the first three months of 1944, this was reduced to twelve tankers daily, but in late March the number rose again to its previous autumn level. On 16th April the first mines were reported and the subsequent results were catastrophic. Not more than 80 tankers reached the p y and early August, discharged into oil f i

tank wagons at Smederevo, Zemun, Novi Sad and Apatin. In a bombing attack on the Iron Gates canal in May the towing railway was cut and: one locomotive was damaged. Both towing railways were inactive thereafter for ten days, causing a reduction of 50 per cent. in the canal's capacity. The actual effect on traffic was less, owing to the small amount of movement as a result of Allied mine-laying. Casualties to vessels continued in all parts of the river ; it is estimated that between 6th April and 31st August 60 to 70 tugs and well over 200 barges were sunk and many more damaged. (b) River Organisation

The disorganisation of traffic by repeated mine-laying and the operational shortage of barges caused congestion at a number of ports, where storage facilities were inadequate to meet the increased demands. The natural hesitancy of shipowners (and their crews) to operate in the mined areas caused friction between the Wehrmacht and the various concerns dealing with the organisation of river traffic. When the amount of-military traffic was quite small, the control of freight movements was in the hands of the "Frachtenleitstellen " (Freight Control Bureau), which allocated priorities according to the needs of the Reich. - This organisation broke down under the confusion caused by the mining and the German High Command took charge of the situation. The Royal Hungarian Sea and River Shipping Company was taken over by the Wehrmacht for the transport of military supplies; the Under-Secretary for the Rumanian Navy was empowered to seize river craft for military tfansport at any time ; and barges were widely requisitioned. -Some of the more interesting results of the disorganisation of river control were the temporary cessation of coal traffic from the Pernik mines owing to the lack of storage facilities; the increase of freightage rates by 60 per cent.; the refusal of underwriters to insure cargoes; the inability to locate shipping; the request to Turkey to cease routeing consignments via the Danube; the authorisation of a loan of 200 million Lei for the improvement of shipping ; and the increase of premiums for speed and successful night operations. Reports frpm the enemy press indicated the additional administration required to overcome the chaos in shipping -organisation. One read as follows:"Danube freight rates inside Croatiahave been doubled, probably in order to discourage internal traffic with the object of conserving shipping space for longer hauls. Charges for goods warehoused for more than two months in Budapest free port have, with certain exceptions, been increased tenfold; this is the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing the congestion which has occurred as a result of the dislocation of Danube traffic-and at achieving a greater

degree of dispersal against Allied air attacks. The exceptions are (i) goods already stored under long term contracts; (ii) goods stored to the order of Government or municipal departments; (iii) wool, grain stored in silo, pulses, grass seeds, oil seeds, fodder, plant seeds, millet and vetches. Air raid emergency stocks thus appear to be among the goods exempted. " Where Allied action makes the use of a normal route temporarily impossible, the Government has been compelled to bear the extra dharges involved in diverting traffic over dearer routes. Thus the area Freight Control Office at Munich has decided that in cases where goods, which would normally have been dispatched by a combined" rail-Danube route via Regensburg, Deggendorf or Passau, are diverted by the Freight Control Bureau (Frachtenleitstellen) owing to force majeure through another transhipment port involving higher freight charges, application can be made to the Reichsbahn-for a refund of the excess." (c) Periods When the River was Closed

The following figures show the periods when navigation was suspended for German or Rumanian vessels between 9th April and 18th August, 1944. Only the most significant dates are shown below. Following the initial mining, the river was closed for 20 days between Turnu Severin and Belgrade to both German and Rumanian vessels, and from Moldova to Belgrade for a further sixteen days to Rumanian vessels only. Between 12th April and 23rd May, Rumanian shipping was denied the use of the Sulina canal for 21 days, the Kilia canal for one day, the Saint George canal for three days and the Stari Stambul canal for eighteen days. In the middle of May Rumanian vessels were again stopped for a period of six days between Harsova and Cerna Voda, and between Ternu Magurele and Braila; also for a period of five days between Giurgiu and Pietra Sani. From 21st May to 9th June, both German and Rumanian shipping were intermittently held up between Moldova and Belgrade, and the Stari Stambul canal was again closed to Rumanian shipping for seventeen days. Stretches of the river between Belgrade and the Iron Gates and areas east of Giurgiu were closed for periods of two to four days at a time during the month. During July long stretches of the river between Giurgiu and Belgrade were closed for periods of up to a week at a time; in fact, there were only three to four days during the month when the river was clear.A similar state of affairs continued through August and for only one week, up to 18th August, was the river clear from Giurgiu to the Iron Gates, although German shipping continued to use it for all but four days during this period. Night-Fighter Attacks by Coastal.Air Force In support of the many operations by No. 205 Group, night-fighters of M.A.C.A.F. attacked

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Barge sunk by mining to the- west

of Komarom.

Result of iinzg near Szap.

river craft with cannon fire, using, road and railway objectives as alternative targets. During the ten-day moon period at the end of June and in early July, Beaufighters of No. 255 Squadron made twelve patrols covering the river Sava from Bos Samac in Yugoslavia to its point of confluence with the Danube, nearly 200 miles to the east, and the Danube from Baja downstream for 250 miles to Bubravica._ The round trip averaged 900 miles, and in anything but clear weather the terrain over which the aircraft flew rendered the venture extremely hazardous. The first intruder attack during the night of 29/30th June was exceptionally successful, when a group of barges north of Slankament was straffed. Oil barges, 200 ft. in length, exploded with vivid red and orange flashes and, within fifteen seconds a cloud of oil smoke had risen to 1,000 ft. From a distance of 45 miles, ten hulks could be seen burning down to the water line. Four other barges and a tug-boat were also effectively straffed. On the night of 30th June/ist July the aircraft turned back, as overcast in the target area obscured the moon. The second and third successful penetrations on the nights of lst/2nd and 2nd/3rd July found the element of surprise lacking, as the enemy had apparently reorganised his ground defences. During this and later missions, progressive A.A. opposition was encountered. Two low-flying Beaufighters reported being illuminated correctly and suddenly by searchlights on either side of the river; as no flak was experienced it was presumed that the searchlights were radar controlled and intended as 'directional aids to night-fighters. Incidentally it was heard later that, as a result of the searchlight exposure, our aircraft had been identified as Marauders! Barrage balloons were also encountered, but in spite of these increased defences, successful attacks were made on 45 "Rhine-type" barges (1,000 tons), three tug-boats and nine smaller vessels, inflicting varying degrees of damage. A large vessel (300 ft. long, 60 ft. beam) with superstructure was seen jutting out from its mooring berth; three long bursts of cannon fire left the vessel severely damaged. During the next four nights (4th to 7th July), only one aircraft managed to reach the Danube area, damaging one 300-ft. barge. On the night of 8/9th July four aircraft again covered the area damaging eighteen to twenty ' Rhine-type " barges and six 100-foot barges. Night-fighter opposition (some using rockets) was encountered, but without conclusive results. Altogether, eight large oil barges and their cargoes were destroyed 'and 102 other vessels damaged, representing 100,000 tons of shipping.

Results

of the Operations

A general survey shows the following outstanding results of the operations:(a) Between April and August, 1944, German priority traffic on the Danube was reduced by at least 60 per cent. and normal traffic by 70 to 80 per cent. (b) The effects of the air offensive against communications and oil production were materially Increased. (c) The enemy was forced to deploy flak positions, balloons and observation posts along 'the Danube; to divert considerable numbers of skilled minesweeping personnel (both naval and air) at -a time when their services were required elsewhere; and to put considerable strain on his reserves of manpower to replace and correct disaffected elements. (d) Considerable aid was given to the Russian forces in their westward drive. The transportation of enemy reinforcements to the Russian front suffered considerable delays owing to the lack of minesweeping equipment. (e) The loss of oil and shipping must have had far-reaching results on other fronts. It is interesting to note the increased use of bullock and horse transport by the Axis forces during 1944; one German prisoner is quoted as having seen " a Tiger tank being towed along the Cesena-Forli road by sixteen oxen." As a result of the tenacity and bravery of the aircrews, and the unselfish labour of the ground crews, the operations over the Danube fastened a tourniquet firmly on one of the greatest lifelines of the Third Reich. Instead of bringing the life-giving oil needed in modern warfare, the Danube was finally an avenue of retreat used to salvage essential equipment from the Balkan states, now the amputated limbs of a dying Germany. The situation is admirably summed up by the following extract from the Commanding General's talk to press correspondents in Rome: "There was the effective work done by the Wellingtons and R.A.F. Liberators in mining the Danube river at a time when the river traffic was helping the Hun oppose the Red Army. Between early April and October eighteen attacks were made; 1,382 mines were laid in the Danube. The mines were dropped at night from altitudes of less than 300 ft. Great skill in navigation, great courage in flying through flakland mountain terrain were required of the aircrews who did this job. More than 60 tugs and 200 barges were sunk and the time it took for a barge to make a rounfd trip on the Danube between Giurgiu and Vienna was tripled. Fo long periods traffic on the Danube had to be aended."

RA/ MEDICAL BRA1

MALARIA CONTROL IN CORSICA


THE CAMPAIGN in the Central Mediterranean area has given the medical authorities of all services a full measure of responsibility in planning and waging a constant attack on those enemies of the fighting man which can, without smoke or noise, melt away armies and air forces in a very short space of time. Although .the dysenteries and typhus, enteric "fever and other pests demanded constant vigilance, and received it, it is unquestionably the threat of malaria that caused the greatest anxiety. The following account is, therefore, concerned with the efforts that were made to overcome the danger to our fighting services on the island of Corsica from an airborne attack by mosquitoes many times more deadly than any series of attacks that could be launched by the Luftwaffe. Methods of Defence Before describing the action taken in Corsica, however, it may be of interest to mention briefly the general methods of defence used against malaria. This defence is best conducted by attack against mosquitoes as carriers of the disease at all stages of their life cycle, and by the protection 148 of men firstly by nets against bites and secondly against the results of bites by those mosquitoes that evade the net defences. The chief methods fall under five headings:(1) Destruction of the adult mosquito by swat and hand sprayers. (ii) Destruction at the larval stage of the mosquito. (ill) Destruction of the breeding places of mosquitoes. (iv) Protection of man against mosquito bites by the use of nets ard deterrents, long garments and special garments at night, etc. (v) -Protection of man against malaria even though bitten by mosquitoes, by the regular taking of mepacrine (atebrine) in small doses. Of these it is proposed to describe only two of the methods, the second and third given above, as the others are sufficiently well known. Aerial Dusting with Paris Green Mos
water

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MALARIA CONTROL
IN CORSICA
Map Shows location of Airfields and division
of Control Areas

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AIRFIELDS TOWNS

Destruction of larvae an, tIerefpre, he brought about by the introduction on the surface of the water of either oil, to bring about suffocation, or a poison. poisonous to pbst;ne, Paris Green is a i a finely, mosquito larvae, very i Fto ed n heap. powdered, which is ea1 ha mixture is made usin ree G itliime or' road dust as a diluent. The value of this material when used from aircraft will be appreciated in the case of areas inaccessible from the ground, exisiting in Corsica in the form of large tracts of marshland. In this manner it is possible to distribute poison on the surface of large areas of water, thereby ensuring that the great proportion of larvae will never reach the adult stage. By this method alone it is estimated that potential malaria carriers are reduced by 90 per cent. Malaria in Corsica By virtue of its geographical position, Corsica possessed a unique strategic value to the Allies in 1944. In May, when the Germans were entrenched at Cassino, it was well ahead of the Gustav. Line and invaluable as a base for aircraft engaged on traffic interdiction. A month later it became the stepping-off point for an assault on ,Jlba,and in August it provided the main assembly area and air base for the invasion of Southern France. Malaria is rife in Corsica. It is regarded by the population as an ever-present scourge, and it caused the Germans considerable anxiety in 1943 when incidence of the disease was very high in their forces of occupation. The country is wild and mountainous with a narrow low-lying belt along the eastern shore, criss-crossed by numerous streams and interspersed with many acres of marshland. The streams, mostly small and fast-moving, drain into the coastal plain and dry up in the summer, leaving pools which, often overgrown and difficult to locate, provide ideal breeding grounds for anophelene mosquitoes. Before the war, as part of a malaria control and land-reclamation scheme; the French constructed a canal and pumping system for the marshes along the shores of Lake Biguglia and in the coastal area as far south as the Alto river. All pumping stations, however, were destroyed or damaged by the enemy before his evacuation of the island. At least ten species of anopheles mosquito have been identified in Corsica. The most common during May and June, 1944, was Anopheles claviger, and in July and August, Anopheles maculipennis. Although through the season April-October, 1944,' the principal vector was probably Anopheles maculipennis, Anopheles claviger was also thought to be a, carrier as malaria occurred in areas where only this species was identified. Analysis of Requirements In January, 1944, fqllowing a survey of Corsica by U.S. Army Malaria {ciityco petachment 2655, 145

re ntrol should be required ini7e and town area of Ajaccio, but extensi measures will bg necessary for the airfield (three miles east of the town). Water to be , controlled comprises ten acres of marshes and 30 miles of streams. Paris Green applied with rotary hand dusters is recommended as larvicide. 2. No control should be necessary in the Corte area, as this sector is in the central mountainous part of the island. 3. Port and town area of Calvi should require little control, but the airfield (two miles E.,S.E. of the town), and proposed landing strip. (four miles S.S.E. of the town) will need extensive measures. Water to be controlled comprises 70 acres of marsh and 27' miles of streams. Paris Green is recommended, application to be by rotary hand-dusters except 'for marshland which will require aircraft dusting. 4. The small port and town of Ile Rousse should not require control. Two miles of streams, however, will need Paris Green applied by hand dusting. 5. No mosquito control should be necessary in the Bastia (5) or Porto Vecchio (6) areas. 7. Borgo is the area of low flat coastal plain. There is one airfield existing (three miles N.E. of the town) and six new airfields are planned. In addition various parts of the plain will be used for bivouac sites. Malaria control will be necessary over the whole area. Water comprises 3,500 acres of open pond (25 per cent. needing control), 500 acres of marsh and 64 miles of streams: Paris Green is recommended as larvicide, applicatign on streams to be by rotary hand-dusters and on marsh and ponds by aircraft dusting. 8. The Ghisonnaccia sector is also an area of low flat coastal -plain. One airfield exists (east edge of Gare Ghisonnaccia) and seven Various parts of the more are planned. plain may be used as bivouac sites and malaria control will be necessary over the whole area. Water comprises 3,750 acres of open pond (25 per cent. needing control); 700 acres of marsh, 550 acres of flooded land and 136 miles of streams. Recommendations are as for Borgo area. A summary df the requirements set out above disclosed that larvae control would be necessary on 2,413 acres of open pond, 1,280 acres of marsh and 259. miles of stream. It would also call for spray killing of adult mosquitoes in 800 structures and for the Drovision._of -aDb~axiBa li 40O@
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Yugoslav labourers mixing Paris Green.

Division of Responsibility As a result of the survey under aken in January, responsibility for anti-malaria measures in the Calvi and Ajaccio areas and over the eastern coastal plain north of the Alto river was delegated to the R.A.F., leaving the French to supervise the large towns and the Americans to control the remainder of the island. For this task the R.A.F. had available No. 12 A.M.C.U. (ex Levant) and two Army M.C.Us on At the commencement temporary attachment. of operations in April, 1944, No. 12 A.M.C.U. was allotted the area between the Golo and Alto rivers, "B ", M.C.U. the Calvi and Ajaccio sectors, and " D " M.C.U. the area north of the Golo river. At the end of May, when Serragia airfield was occupied, "D" unit took over territory from south of its original boundary up to this airfield, the area reverting to No. 12 A.M.C.U. in August on increase in establishment of that unit. From the Alto river, to the southern tip of the island, control was exercised by the American unit, 21st M.C.U. Strength of No. 12 A.M.C.U. before its increase in establishment was one Flight Sergeant and seven airmen, while that of each of the Army
;

M.C.Us was one Officer, one Sergeant and six other ranks. In addition to the Service personnel, approximately 230 Yugoslavs-c on s c r'i p t e d originally by the Italians for duty in Sardiniawere employed as labourers. It is satisfactory to note that these men turned out to be prodigious workers and that their efforts contributed in no small measure to the success of the undertaking. Methods Selected for Control The large areas of waterways, ponds and marshland being regarded as the major and most urgent commitment, measures chosen for their control were those considered most likely to prove satisfactory in the shortest period of time -viz: heavy oiling on the water and aircraft dusting over the marshland. While most of the stream-oiling was done by knapsack sprayers, many of the larger areas were covered by pressure pumps operated from trucks. "D " M.C.U., controlling the seventeen miles of canals from the Bevinco ,airfield to Alto, used an American chemical warfare decontamination wagon mounted o ten-wheeler

chassis, this vehicle


providing a spr

igallons
lsure

and
which

'

penetrated th nhikest reeds and burnt up the vegetation, causing decomposition on the surface 'of the water. The heaviest concentration of oil by this method was about one gallon to 200 square feet. In the area further south, No. 12' A.M.C.U. adopted the same principle, using a fully-rotary hand petrol-pump bolted to the side of a truck. They also experimented with a motor-driven orchard sprayer, but the result was less satisfactory than that obtained with the rotary pump as the sprayer did not maintain a sufficient pressure to drive oil through the dense vegetation. Most of the oil used was grade 2 Diesel, this being easily obtainable and appearing to have a less injurious effect upon'rubber parts than did Malariol. In the concentration in which oil was used, Malariol appeared to have no appreciable advantage. For the extensive marshes which stretch fbr about eighteen miles along the east coast, 50 yards across at their northern extremity by the upper end of Lake Biguglia and three quarters of a mile wide at the lower end of the lake byPoretta airfield, aircraft dusting with Paris Green was the only practicable method of cover,

In most In s overgrown wif E and bushes added out the swamp areas. Aircraft dusting was also en1lo o airfield and along the Gravone rive t over the stream at Lozari, over the m river at Ostriconi and in the Cdlvi area.

heavily

the cio, and

Most of the work fell to a Lysander (two were provided, but one remained unserviceable for the whole period), but some was undertaken by an American Boston and on a few occasions an Argus was employed. The, Boston had the great advantage of carrying one and a half tons of dusting compound, and could cover the whole of the British area in five hours twenty minutes, whereas the Lysander, although superior for operating in confined spaces, carried only 300 lbs. The Argus was unsatisfactory, being underpowered and slow to respond to the controlsthe latter a serious handicap in this type of work. The mixture used was 25-33 per cent. Paris Green diluted with lime of diatomaceous earth. Of the 100,650 lbs. used, 68,300 lbs. were distributed by the Boston and 32,350 lbs. by the Lysander. While only about 10 per cent.

Loading a Lysander.

147

.ofiAbly expended, was considered to .haye ee it is thought 'that uclj he dust as fell on breeding: cep kiled bximately 90 per cent. o'p of the lay ve. Evdence in support of this was found a etta pumping station where as a result f 2 adult anopheles killed during June and Jy, no mosquitoes were identified in August or September.
Resume of District Control The preceding paragraph gives in outline the general plan followed for the wide expanses of water and marsh. Notes below cover the more important of the local areas and indicate the work carried out in each case. Bevinco airfield was the most important of the five airfields on the east coast and was considered likely to be the most malarious. Half a mile to the north lay the Bevinco river, which in this part of its course dried up during summer, leaving pool formations. Between the airfield and the river was a low-lying area of market garden with two canals and a network of neglected ditches, and on its east side ran a collecting canal bordered by about 70 yards of marsh. The only dry area was that to the west. All the ditches were cleared out and treated by knapsack oilers, the canals 'oiled by

bowser and the area on side dusted by aircraft. Borgo airfield lay two and a half miles south of Bevinco, and three quarters of a mile from the canal and marshes forming the edge of Lake Biguglia.. North-east and west of the field was the Rau de Rasignini, south of the runway was an area of seepage, and east a dry irrigation canal. Treatment here followed the measures used at Bevinco-air dusting of the canal and marshland, knapsack oiling of the upper reaches of the Rau de Rasignini, and bowser spraying of the lower and broader waterways. Poretta airfield, two miles south-east of Borgo, was just north of the Golo river and adjoined a canal two and a half miles long and overgrown with blackthorn and reeds. It was also within one mile of the canals and marshes forming the border of the southern end of Like Bigugliathese about three-quarters of a mile wide. After cutting the main canal from its source, it was first cleared and trenched from the swamp backwards to the river and then oiled by bowser. The marsles, impossible to cross even when labourers were clad in thigh boots, were dusted by aircraft.

Oiling with a decontamination truck at Serragia.

A Lysander dusting the edge of Lake Biguglia.


Serragia airfield, south of the Golo and just north of the Rau de Serragia, had, an area of marshland and two canals, the nearest half a mile from the runway. As with others, the canals were bowser-oiled and the marshes along the coast dusted from the air. Alto, the remaining airfield north of the river, was bordered on its eastern and northern sides by a heavily overgrown network of drains (tributaries of the canals adjoining Serragia airfield). There were also marshes east and north-east of the site. A considerable amount of heavy manual work was required to clear this area. After preparation, part of the drain network was oiled by knapsacks and the remainder by bowser . All marshes were air dusted and the lower four miles of the river cleared and oiled. The districts described above were the most heavily populated by Service personnel, and consequently it was essential to search-out and deal with all probable anophelene breeding grounds. Throughout this area- there were numerous rocky streams originating in the mountains, which tended to dry up east of the main road while holding. water in pools in the upper reaches. Much time and labour was j^^p ded in canalizing and oiling, and all the "ffl2 'J~* ^ -^ ' ' ':F^
i

major waterways and pockets were brought under control. On the west side of the Island, Ajaccio and Calvi were the principal areas, with Lozari a minor area. Ajaccio was the headquarters of the Northern Base Section organisation and the majority of units were camped along the Ajaccio-Corte road. The problem here was more simple of solution and consisted of clearing and oiling drains and attending to wet areas caused through leaks from the open concrete canal carrying the town's water supply. The other area was the airfield on the delta at the mouth of the Gravone river, and for control of this the northern branch of the river was cleared and canalized. On the west side heavily overgrown ditches were cleared and in the centre sector five miles of the Gravone river was air dusted. Calvi had three airfields, one opposite the 'railway station (Calvi Main), another between the Ficarella and the Calvi-Bonifatto road (St. Catherine) and the third along the Calvi. Calenzana road (Calonzana). Calvi Main was bordered by the lower reaches of the rivers Fiume Secco and De Ficarella,St. Catherine had a series of small streams west of the runway, and CalonpAar fqrmed a watershed for the Rau de

.^

'' ^

,.

i; : '

Bartasca.* Oiling and air us A were ad " faslor other\ aerodrom.. .L ziarl was a beach used first as a Rest Camp, then as a landing ground and finally as a The only Straining camp for A.A. gunners. danger area was a small stream at the western end, and this was cleared, oiled and air dusted. Pumping Stations and Canals Reference was made earlier to a canal and pumping system constructed by the French before the war for malaria control and land reclamation along the shores of Lake Biguglia and the coastal marshes of the Alto river. Each section of this system comprised a collecting canal, at the centre of which was a pumping station for transferring the water back to the lake or into the sea as was most convenient. All seven stations had been either destroyed or damaged by the Germans, with result. that the marshes which lay between the five airfields Bevinco, Borgo, Poretta, Serragia and Alto were constantly under flood. The most northerly station had only a few breaks in the wire, and these were repaired and the station put into action for a short, time.

d, had been
repairable. Borgo and vi ' Poretta were supplied by a common line which had been destroyed, and the station near Borgo The two southern was completely wrecked. stations, opposite Serragia and Alto airfields, were in good order but the line supplying them had been destroyed. A plan to control the level of these canals would have been practicable had suitable pumps been available. They were not. 's Investment and Dividend ' In addition to the 100,650 lbs. of Paris Green aircraft dusting referred to above, units under the administration of R.A.F. Medical Branch undertook 100,383 yards of clearing, 26,851 yards of new ditching and 199,760 yards of maintenance. They expended 31,613 gallons of oil on larviciding and sprayed over 4,000 rooms in 856 buildings. 'The most important fact of the season, and the practical result of the undertaking, was that no unit suffered operationally from the effects of malaria. For the R.A.F. only 4 per cent. of personnel became cases during April and May, 6 per cent. in June and 10 per cent. in July and

Oiling with a converted petrol pump at Alto.

A typical breeding ground-the marsh of Poretta.


August. In the American forces the rate was more steady and averaged 5 per cent. over the five months April-August, 1944. , In conclusion, it may be said that the finest defences against mosquitoes and malaria will fail unless every member of the fighting forces and ancillary services does his or her share in the all-out campaign,, and it is, therefore, only fair that a share of the victory that was undoubtedly achieved over the mosquito in Corsica should go to every man or woman who supported actively, and at times at the expense of personal comfort, this all-out effort. Their co-operation is gratefully acknowledged.

E
151
x:

IT IS AN ELEMENTARY principle that an amphibious landing, carried out beyond the range of single-engined land-based aircraft, must be supported by carrier-borne aircraft. While Britain was still on the defensive, this principle was considered by the Admiralty and plans were gradually developed for future largescale Offensives. In 1942, two " experimental runs " were made by squadrons operating from aircraft carriers, first in the British landings on Madagascar and then with the British and American landings in North Africa. For these operations little progress had been made in liaison with the Army and the Naval air support Was mainly confined to fighter protection over the convoys and beaches. By 1943 the next stage in carrier-borne support Was completed when short-range fighter cover for the Allied landings at Salerno was given. Five small carriers, known then as " Escort Carriers ", provided continuous fighter cover of 24 aircraft Two fleet over the beachhead for four days. carriers operated further out to sea with antisubmarine patrols and fighter protection for both carrier forces. When the beachheads had been secured and landing strips completed, a formation of 24 Seafires landed ashore from the escort carriers to provide support for the Army, while short-range fighters of the R.A.F. began to come in from the south. The carrier-borne activity over Salerno was still confined to fighter protection, but it provided the first proof of our ability to operate continuous

missions from small carriers in company. The " baby flat-tops" which featured at Salerno consisted of H.M. Ships "Hunter," "Attacker," " Stalker" and "Battler-"; H.M.S. " Unicorn," a carrier of medium size, brought the force up to five. Formation of the Wing After Salerno the first three carriers mentioned above were formed into a force and equipped for the special role of the assault, each being given a squadron of 20 aircraft. These squadrons, equipped with Seafires as before, became No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing. In September, 1943, No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing started training for its new role of Army Support. on a grand scale. By 1st January, 1944, each squadron would have to be capable of carrying out every one of the following roles:Air Fighting. Tactical Reconnaissance. Photographic Reconnaissance, with Vertical and Oblique Cameras. Artillery Reconnaissance. Bombardment Spotting. Ground Attack. Dive and Low-Level Bombing. R.A.F. pilots, experienced in these roles, were attached to the Wing to train the pilots. -An Air Liaison Section, consisting of a Major, a Captain and two clerks, was attached to each squadron to co-ordinate training with Army requirements on the same basis ps had already ei veloped

by iesert and Tactical Air Forces. A Wing Leader was appointed to supervise Air and Ground training and to lead the Wing in action. Army Support Training
'

The Wing prepared for operations in the Far East until January, 1944, when it was learned that there was to be an operation "elsewhere " beforehand. The delay gave time for further intensive Army Support training in conjunction with British and American Army units. Some idea of the scale of the work carried out in those seven weeks can be judged by the output of over 15,000 prints from the squadron photographic sections. June, 1944, found the Wing in the Mediterraiean and the pilots, whose previous hopes had been bent towards the Second Front, realised that the next job would be the invasion of the South of France. More Close. Support training was undertaken in the Western Mediterranean with American Assault Forces, both from the ships and from the shore. The final dress rehearsal was carried cut when Naval pilots from No. 4 Wing were attached to R.A.F. and S.A.A.F. squadrons with the Desert Air Force operating in Italy. In all, Naval pilots carried out some 700 sorties in Italy and operated in all the roles they would be expected to perform later. Land Operations in Italy The welcome that the Naval pilots received from the Reconnaissance and Fighter-Bomber Wings in Italy remains as only a memory in the wealth of operational lessons that were absorbed. At first pilots flew as number two to the veterans of Nos. 208 R.A.F. and 40 S.A.A.F. Squadrons on Tac/R and Arty/R and found that they were able to observe only a fraction of the movement seen by their leaders. But with each trip the Sinformation they brought back became fuller, and the Naval pilots were briefed to lead important missions as -soon as they were considered sufficiently at home in the battle area. Squadron personnel were split among bomber and fighter Wings, so that experience could be gained in all types of missions and the lessons passed on when they re-joined ship. Parties of pilots were taken tO the front to obtain a good picture of the conditions of the ground forces fighting south of Arezzo, and they brought a smile to the face of many veterans of of the Eighth Army when they saw the Navy trucks drive nonchalantly by, their dark blue covered with dust and the trucks filled with souvenirs of the land battle. The encouragement given by both Army and SAir Force and the great value of the .experience gained formed a firm base and No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing confidently aWaited its first operation. Task Force 88 Formed In preparation for the invasion of southern France, the three carriers were joined by a fourth
3

squadron in H.M.S. " of Task Force 88, consisting carriers under the command of Rear-A Troubridge, D.S.O. Two American carriers al joined the force, making a total of nine. This was divided-into two groups, the second including the two American carriers and H.M.S. "Hunter" and "Stalker" under the Flag of Rear-Admiral C. T. Durgin, U.S.N. This group sailed as a diversion to Alexandria, which gave opportunities to co-ordinate flying staff work and station keeping, and in four days a firm understanding had been reached between the British and U.S. carriers. Invasion of Southern France On 15th August, 1944, the two groups of carriers, bearing a mixed collection of Seafire, Hellcat and Wildcat squadrons, commenced operations off the south coast of France at St. Tropez. While R.A.F. and U.S.A.A.F. squadrons based on Corsica covered the 'eastern landings, the two assault divisions to the west received their close support from Naval aircraft. For thirteen days the squadrons operated continuously in the coastal area between Bezier and Cannes and up to 100 miles inland. Success was achieved in all the roles in which pilots had been trained. The 'first days of the operation found a large proportion'of one group's effort flown as fighter cover over our own force and standing patrols over the beaches, but as the complete absence of the Luftwaffe became normal, force cover -was abandoned and every available sortie was flown to support the rapid advance inland of the assaulting divisions. The full potentiality of Tac/R by the Naval force was not quickly appreciated, but it provided the majority of the information from which the A.L.Os built up the tactical picture of the land battle, and. this vital information was passed to Army H.Q., first in the H.Q. Ship and then ashore by any available channel. The movement of llth Panzer Division in its counter-attack role was one of those quickly spotted by the pilots and both tanks and transports were dealt with severely. Out of some 500 vehicles of this division known to have moved south, 300 were found abandoned on the roads when the American divisions overran the area. The flak positions around the main centres of resistance-Toulon,Marseilles and Avignon-were the chief enemies that the pilots had to avoid, but the experience gained in Italy helped them to keep out of trouble, was The French battleship " Strasbourg" bombarded by Naval units under the direction of ,Seafire pilots as she lay at Toulon. Enemy coastal batteries -were put out of action by Seafire pilots directing the guns of the British, American and French battleships on their emplacements so effectively that by D plus 5 enemy guns remained silent for fear of the eagle. eye of the pilots overhead, who would immediately call for fire

0.1-i

St. Tropez harbour with quays demolished on "D "-Day, 15th August, 1944, photographed by an aircraft of No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing.

from the bombarding ships to be brought down as soon ad the enemy flashes were spotted. Information Passed Quickly On D plus 3 it was feared that the enemy 15th Panzer Division was moving east to Marseilles from the Bezier-Toulouse area. A rapid move of the carrier group to the west and Tac/R by Seafire pilots provided vital information that this was incorrect and no movement was taking place from the west. All information gleaned by pilots, whether from reconnaissance or close support missions, was passed by the Air Liaison Sections on board the carriers to the American H.Q. Ship anchored inshore. Here it was sifted and passed to the Army ashore. Requests from .the Army for .close support or reconnaissance weie passed through the H.Q. Ship to the carrier force: within 30 minutes of the demand aircraft were taking off from the carriers, and often within an hour they were over the target area. There were two good examples of this close support. On 17th August, the Army complained that their troops on Port Cros Island were being held up by a German garrison in the castle at the north-west end of the island and that Naval units

could not bombard the enemy mortar positions owing to the intervention of a high ridge of land. At 10.00 hours, 50 Naval fighter-bombers launched an attack with bombs, rockets and cannon fire-and' the German garrison immediately surrendered. On 23rd August, the Army asked for an attack on a heavily defended column of the enemy retreating northwards along the road from Orange. In spite of intense flak, very poor weather and approaching dusk, 20 Naval aircraft attacked this column less than 500 yards from our own forces. One hour later the enemy column was overrun. Difficulties of Landing

It is not an easy matter to land a Seafire on the deck after a long sortie. The deck of an assault carrier allows the pilot 400 ft. to work from for take-off and only two-thirds of this for landing. Of this two-thirds only the first half is safe for his touch-down because if the pilot lands in the second half, he is likely to damage his aircraft in the barriers. If he fails to catch any one of the arrestor wires he will certainly write-off his own aircraft and probably damage some of those parked forwarof the barriers;

IA (~2~fI

Above :-Reconnassance photograph by No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing on 20th


August, 1944, before demolitions in
her

Marseilles dock area by the Germans:


later revealing demolition damage.

Below :-Furt

reconnaissance six 'days

i:-'

r/

kIED

Siebel-Ferry and Flak Ship before attack by Seafires. Siebel-Ferry later seen to be sinking.

156

A motor vessel creepingup to Salonika. It was destroyed later by a Seafire attack. The French Battleship "Strasbourg" disabled after .Naval boimbardment combined with spotting by Seafires of No, 4 Naval Fighter Wing.

45 '

Seafires of No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing on patrol over Piraeus.

for the first few days of the operation there was little or no wind and this meant that the relative speed of the aircraft to the deck of the carrier was proportionately high. In spite of these conditions, however, there were very few accidents and, in fact, throughout the operation it was found unnecessary to embark any reserve aircraft. Sixteen hundred and forty-four sorties involving some 2,600 operational flying hours were flown from the seven British carriers during the operation and, although previously five days operations had been considered the maximum, it was found that carriers could operate for at least two periods of five days if a clear 48-hours break was given in order to relieve the strain on pilots, staff and deck handling parties. were the total sorties 300 of About and spotting bombardment reconnaissance, photographic, and some of the photographs produced-particularly those of Marseillesharbour before and after demolition by the Germanswere of great value to the Army. In addition to the bag of destroyed vehicles, the morale effect of having Seafires ready to bring down Naval gunfire on any German battery that opened up Sgainst the Allied armada was an important contributon by the carrier force.
.b *^ * '. ' **

Operations in the Aegean After the excitement of this operation had died down, No. 4 Wing sailed to Alexandria, to collect new aircraft and to prepare to chase the Germans out of the Aegean. In daylight on 15th September some of the ships carrying the Wing, with the Hellcat squadron in H.M.S. "Emperor," entered the Aegean within range of the German shore batteries on Crete, while others were detached at points of vantage around the southern shore. During the nine weeks until 20th November from one to four carriers were continuously on patrol between Crete and Salonika. These operations were of an entirely new type, because, although the object was to destroy Germans, the carriers and the bruisers and destroyers operating with them as Force "A" were without direct communication with the Army, which by now had landed on the mainland of Greece and was forcing its way to Athens. Attacks were made on Crete, on many of the smaller islands, and on the rail and road communications along the eastern coast of Greece itself. The missions were mainly devoted to softening-up attacks and spotting for Xa|lbombardment before landings b gCommandos, the enemy's but harass1mla

sea and land comniunications with the object of destroying the Hun and hastening the liberation of Greece. Miscellaneous Targets The island of Melos was found to be a heavily defended outpost and many sorties were flown against this strongpoint. As the German force attempted to retreat up the east coast of Greece to Salonika on the only escape route left to them by the increasing, activity of Marshal Tito's forces to the north, Seafires and Hellcats again and again destroyed trains and cut the railway line which runs parallel with the coast. Continuous reconnaissance and photography by the Tac/R Seafires produced many good targets for the Seafire fighter-bombers, and the German plan for withdrawal by this route was eventually abandoned. In all, between 7th and 20th October, 1944, thirteen engines and 54 trucks- were claimed as destroyed and a further five engines and 97 trucks damaged by Naval air attack, in addition to large numbers of merchant ships and enemy minor war vessels destroyed by the joint effort of air and Naval attack. The Germans had lost so much of their transport by internal and air and sea attack that the final evacuation had to be carried out mainly on foot by night through the mountains of Northern Greece. Success Against Shipping Two of the squadrons of 'No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing had particular success against enemy shipping in the Aegean, bombing missions accounting for one 2,000 ton motor vessel, one 1,000-ton merchant ship and a 500-ton ship sunk by bombing attack, in addition to many large caiques, Siebel-ferries and barges which were caught in a game of " cat-and-mouse " as they' attempted io slip into the island harbours to evacuate the German garrisons. Since no enemy aircraft had been encountered during the operations off the south of France, the pilots hoped they would be lucky enough to find transport aircraft in the Aegean, but these had. already been dealt with successfully by R.A.F. Beaufighters intruding by night into the German air escape routes. Two aircraft were destroyed, however, by Seafires of No. 4 Naval Fighter Wing-a DO.24 in Volos harbour and a JU.88 over Athens on 16th October.

On 18th September, a number of B.V.222sa H.E.115s were discovered at anchor in Suda Bay. An attempt was made to destroy these by divebombing with Seafires, but cloud conditions prevented accuracy. A low-level attack by 24 Seafires was arranged for the following day, but due to the recall of the carriers had to be cancelled. Capture of Levita and Private Wars On 5th October, H.M.iS. "Hunter " provided air support for the entirely Naval capture of the island of Levita, where the German garrison maintained a W/T station,, traffic from which was intercepted reporting on the movements of our own forces. A boarding party from, H.M.S. "Catterick" and " Aurora" landed successfully and were, dismayed to find that the only visible opposition consisted of herds of goats, and immediately queried the accuracy of the Tac/R pilot who had reported German activity at dawn. The Tac/R report was found by the Marines to be only too true half-an-hour later when the German garrison put up a stiff fight in the centre of the island before finally capitulating and returning as prisoners of war on board the destroyers. Another operation of some interest was carried out in support of the Army landing party on the island of Piscopi, north-west of Rhodes, on 29th October. A signal was received that a British force had captured the island on the previous day and that all the German prisoners had been taken in a cruiser to Alexandria. During the night, however, the Germans on Rhodes had retaliated and a raiding party had landed on the island and cornered the small British garrison. A Greek destroyer and four Seafires were sent to the rescue and the Germans were discovered in the southern half of the island while the British occupied a corner in the north. Seafire pilots found two German landing craft in a harbour on the southeast coast and passed this information back to their carrier and to the destroyer. The destroyer first bombarded the landing craft and then later successfully evacuated the British landing party, while a flight of Seafires also bombed the landing craft and straffed the area held by the Germans. Following the Aegean operation, No. 4 NaVal Fighter Wing returned to the United Kingdom, where, after two weeks', leave, and assisted by many new personnel, it once again resumed training for future employment.

' |'

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159

Enemy In sus Allied Interdiction


A FEATURE OF THE Italian campaign from the autumn of 1943 onwards has been the Allied attempt to cause interdiction by air to the enemy's lines of supply and communication. The theory was that the Germans, weakened through lack of essentials, would find it difficult to fight successfully on the defensive, let alone build up sufficient reserves to indulge in offensive operations. The steps taken by the Allies to bring about this state of affairs, by a carefully calculated bombing policy designed to destroy bridges, cut railway lines and disrupt marshalling yards, have been described fully in previous numbers of the Review and are also referred to elsewhere in this issue. The Germans naturally did not take the treatment meted rout to them lying down and, in this article, it is proposed 'to indicate briefly 'how, by. counter-measures to our interdiction policy, they contrived to maintain their armies in the field. MRasters of Improvisation All through this war the Germans have proved themselves to be masters of improvisation. This fact is evident from the way in 'which they have/ kept their much-bombed factories going, while ,another typical case in point was the Greek campaign in. 1941, during which the advancing Germans got their men and machinery through places that demolitioAs \were thought to have rendered impassable. Similarly, for a defensive campaign, the dour struggle for Italy has all along provided samples of their skill and ingenuity. This is Certainly true as far as their speedy reactions to our interdiction policy were concerned. Although they have continued to retreat northwards under Allied pressure, that retreat has never developed into a rout and, in spite of the harassing of their life lines, a sufficiency of supplies has contrived to seep through. In making this possible, the Germans knew that they could expect precious little protection from the Luftwaffe and, for any defence of vital points, would have to rely exclusivdly on smoke screens and A.A. guns. As these could never be ubiquitous-although considerable use was made of specially equipped flak-trains for protecting threatened points--the Germans had to be 160 prepared to face two major repair or improvisation problems-(a) -railways and, (b) bridges. For this task they could call on the vast resources of the Todt Organisation for all planning and direction. Although certain jobs were on occasion assigned to German Army Engineers, direct supervision of work was normally turned over to private engineering firms. These firms furnished some of the necessary equipment and the supervisory crews, but most of the actual labour was carried out by Italians who were. pressed into service. The Railway Problem In facing the railway interdiction problem as a whole, it cannot be denied that the German repair organisation has, through long practice, reached a high degree of efficiency. As soon as the bombers departed, the repair machinery was set in motion; every advantage was taken of spells of bad weather that reduced both our bomber and reconnaissance effort; and repair work was finally brought to such a pitch that constant attacks have been necessary if a line were to be kept anything like' permanently cut. The German policy, therefore, has been to accept the fact that many tracks would be knocked out again and again, but to strain every nerve to keep at least the minimum open for essential traffic. To bring this about, they had the following alternatives:(i) Repair of damage as quickly as possible. (ii) Diversion of traffic and use of minor lines where practicable, with reliance on roads, if unavoidable, for circumventing rail blocks. Mobile Repair Crews For repair work, the Germans eventually evolved a. system that has stood them in good stead. The core of this system comprises a number of highly-trained, highly-mobile repair crews, capable of being rushed to any damaged section,of the line at a moment's notice. Headquarters of the various crews are located at large rail centres, from which detachments are dispersed to "waiting" stations. The entire railway network is divided up among these crews, all of which are thoroughly briefed on the most important sections in their area so that, if one of these is damaged, all planning and preliminary already been repair have for measures accomplished. '

The outfits themselves have been described by prisoners as consisting -of the following:One rail car carrying three to nine expert (a) technicians, with various files containing information on possible repair measures and other technical details. (b) Two to four workshop cars carrying welding equipment, cdranes, tools, spare parts and so forth.. One to two cars for spare rails and large (c) replacement parts. (d) One to two cars for cement, gravel, stone blocks, etc., for road bend construction. One to two cars for crews' quarters and (e) kitchen facilities. The Crews Go to Work When an air raid is reported, the crews in that area are immediately, warned and, in the event of damage ,occurring, exact information as to location and extent is telephoned or radioed to From there the the headquarters concerned. necessary instructions are radioed direct to the repair trains, details being added while the train is in motion. In some cases small emergency trains, carrying unskilled workers, reach the scene before the their task is to clear better-equipped crews; away the rubble and so on, enabling repairs to begin as soon as the expert technicians arrive. As regards the types of repair work that have had to be performed, prisoners have indicated was actual tracks that, while repair to comparatively easy, landslides caused a great deal of delay. According to one statement, for example, traffic on the Brenner Pass line was interrupted for eight days when bombs fell in such a way as to cover about half a mile of track at a bend with debris; the repair work consisted almost exclusively of excavation, little damage having been done to the actual rails. Diversion of Traffic An alternative to actual repair work, pure and simple, is provided by the possibility of traffic diversion to branch lines where such lines are available. The Germans soon became adroit at this rerouteing and, by carefully analysing all potential railway targets, had a knack of being able to keep open at least one line to which traffic could be switched in order to avoid damaged areas. Alternative lines are always available in the marshalling yards, so that complete paralysis To avoid can normally be quickly overcome. congestion in the larger yards, the widest possible use has been made of side tracks as off-loading points. In the event of there being no chance of a detour line, the enemy has naturally had to fall back on the roads. This, however, is an inconvenient procedure used only as a last resort. One of the few advantages of road traffic is that the roads themselves are, on the whole, less damage than the rail tracks and liable toteere are cons~Ir y easier to,.keepserviceable. Even

t'Wi R iniL w when bridges are concerned matter to make sufficient repairs to let roa"a traffic through than is the case with rail traffic. The Bridge Problem This brings us to the problem of bridge repair in general-a problem that must have been a constant nightmare to the Germans throughout the Italian campaign. Italy is a country in which bridges abound and, whether they liked it or not, the Germans had to make an effort to keep a proportion of them serviceable. They faced up to the bridge. situation with their usual thoroughness and, as they did with the railways, contrived to find an answer to the question of getting supplies across. As far as the minor bridges are concerned, the problem has not been too tough. Efficient planning in- advance and the use of a certain amount of prefabrication are two factors that have helped to ensure speedy repair work. New bridges of from ten to twelve metres can, it is estimated, be erected in from two to ten days, depending on local conditions, and sometimes sufficient temporary repairs can be effected in a matter of hours. Preparing for Trouble If a major bridge is destroyed, however, the considerable assumes naturally pr o b 1 e m proportions. Here preparation is the keynote. Bridge-building materials are accumulated at strategic points and, in anticipation of trouble, emergency lines may be laid in advance from a main R.R. bridge to an auxiliary bridge or to a location where a temporary, bridge' can be erected at short notice. If necessary, complete loop lines may be built to avoid existing bridges and to afford fewer points for possible blocks. There is always the added anxiety, however, that-even if the engineering work is successfully accomplished, no guarantee exists that another. air attack will not undo the result of weeks of labour by knocking the bridge down again. At the Po crossing at Ostigiia, for instance, when permanent bridge was destroyed, the the Germans quickly erected a wooden structure to carry the railway - only to see it writtenoff after two or three days' serviceability. Although they have had some remarkable engineering feats to their credit, the time came. when the Germans were forced to adopt other measures.. As regards the Po river bridges which offer the - most convenient and typical study - these measures are: (1) The use of pontoon bridges. (ii) The use of ferries. (iii) A system of deception. Night Use of Pontoon Bridges The use of pontoon bridges and ferries is by no means an ideal substitute for the permanent R.R. bridges, but is one that allows at leastth minimum essential requirements

troops south of the river. AlL

t'he case of pontoon bridges, as these are

cearIy far too vulnerable in the event of a day


attack, the Germans devised a scheme whereby the various sections are scattered along the river bank, assembled at dusk, used during the hours of darkness and dismantled again before daybreak, the sections being scattered as before. To give added security, the changes are rung on a -series of pontoon bridges, one being assembled one night and another in a different locality on the next night. This scheme, although it does not enable the enemy to bring over the tonnage he would no doubt like, has the advantage that the bridges are not there when our- day bombers or P/R aircraft are on the scene to catch them. Night photography offers obvious difficulties and the attempts that have been made to destroy the pontoons while in use have not so far had the desired effect. The Ferry System The chief drawback to the pontoons is the fact that there are apparently none with a capacity in excess of 25 tons. An alternative, however, exists in the ferry crossings, of which no fewer than 56 have been spotted by P/R. These ferries, which are almost as important as the pontoons in the enemy's improvisation policy, vary considerably in capacity-from handpulled boats carrying only personnel and light stores to train ferries capable of carrying two or three loaded rail cars on each trip. Each rail ferry is normally located near a former rail crossing point and, leading off from the main rail lines, the Germans have constructed a spur line on an earth bank. This runs down to the ferry terminus, where facilities are provided for transferring cars from the rails to the ferry boats. Similarly, M.T. ferries with capacities of over 70 tons have been created, consisting of two or more pontoon boats lashed together and capable of carrying several loaded lorries, with fifteen or twenty men. The usual power unit consists of small tugs or two or three outboard motors. As they are used principally at night, the ferries have not provided good targets for our aircraft. Pipe Lines Across the River A third alternative-at least for the moving of fuel across the Po-is the use of pipe lines. There-is evidence of a number of these, the enemy having constructed rail diversions leading off from main lines to transfer points, where the oil is unloaded from cars and pumped across the river to cars waiting on the opposite side. The transfer points are well camouflaged, but in certain cases the actual pipe line can be traced from photographs up to the river bank. Elaborate Attempts at Deception Apart from these methods for getting supplies da he river, the Germans have also adopted f"th rsubterfuge-deception. 1 W A--

This deception scheme began to show itself in December, when it was noticed that there were several unexplained delays in the repair of certain key rail bridges and several apparent inconsistencies in maintaining them as serviceable. A detailed study of air photographs provided the solution to the mystery by revealing the fact that:Certain damaged bridges were repaired only up to a point so that, although they appeared impassable, they could be repaired completely in only a few hours. (b) Certain serviceable bridges were made to appear impassable by the removal of one or more short spans, which could, however, be replaced when necessary with little delay. (a) The reason for these curious goings-on is clearly that the enemy hopes to put our P/R and intelligence off the scent and so protect the bridges in question against the possibility of attack. A study of the -railway network as a whole reveals the fact that such subterfuges have been resorted to under various circumstances:When a convenient by-pass route is open to carry the necessary traffic. (b) When other bridges on the same line are undergoing repairs and it is not considered wise to make one bridge completely serviceable until the entire line can be * opened. (c)- When a diversion is open, enabling the semi-repaired bridge to be kept in reserve. (d) When there is a chance to use a bridge by night only, taking out one or more spans before daybreak. (a) This deception scheme is an ingenious onebut valuable only so long as the reasons behind it remained obscure. Pros and Cons of the Interdiction Battle Looking back on the interdiction battle, what conclusions can be reached? For our part, it may be said that the interdiction policy has undoubtedly helped our land forces, in that it has made impossible any chance that the enemy might have had of launching a sustained offensive; it played a vital part in making the Anzio landing a practicable proposition and ensuring the capture of Rome; and it has thrown a great and constant strain on the enemy's already over-taxed resources in both manpower and material. On the German side it may equally truthfully be said that by determination and ingenuityto which should'be added the outside factors of intermittent bad weather and heavy Allied air commitments elsewhere-they have avoided a complete supply stranglehold and have contrived ns to to provide their armies with suf ' fight a dogged delayin ly.

The Magnetic Sweeper


I ~__
Sweeper " that was christened by irresponsible parties as the " Snifter." Various Types of "Snifter" The Mark I Snifter proved to be a failure and never reached the production stage. Mark II was successful, but neither powerful nor robust enough. By improving and rebuilding this original machine, however, a Mark V Snifter was evolved that proved to be the answer to all the problems. Three field coils with laminated soft iron cores and bridge pieces were obtained from a high tension transformer found amid the rubble of a nearby bombed technical school. These coils were mounted on a chassis made from two four-feet section girder, these chassis lengths of " H" members also forming the magnet poles. By suitably mounting two pneumatic tyred wheels at either end of the chassis together with small leading and traveller wheels, the whole assembly could be towed over the ground with the poles some inch and a half above the ground surface. To energise the field coils a 24 volt, 40 amp. Petrol Electric set was mounted in the back of the towing vehicle, this vehicle being equipped with a suitable switchboard to enable the current to be switched off when it became necessary to remove the haul of sweepings. Producing a Swept Lane By towing the " Magnetic Sweeper" at a slow walking pace over the area to be cleared, an effectively swept lane four feet wide was produced. At approximately every hundred yards the current was switched .off and the " catch" collected. It was found in operation that metal objects below the surface of the ground and hitherto unnoticed were drawn up, and as the work proceeded in cleaning up the airfield a remarkably varied collection of metal objects, including armour-piercing bullets, bomb splinters, A.G.S. items and S.A.A. belt clips, was obtained. The Snifter was operated all through the summer until the arrival of wet weather in October rendered its operation unnecessary. The success of its activities may be judged by the fact that by November the average number of operational take-offs and landings per tyre had more than trebled. certain IN APRIL, 1944, No. 236 Medium Night Bomber Wing began to experience a greatly increased incidence of aircraft tyre failures due to small, deep cuts; a wastage that increased to such an extent that the normal supply of replacement outer covers could not keep pace with the demand. The position became so desperate by the end of the month that no fewer than seventeen aircraft from the Wing were grounded through lack of tyres. The cause of this sudden increase 'in tyre wastage was not apparent at first as the Wing had been operating from the same airfield for over three months without an undue amount of tyre trouble and it was not until a searching inspection of the dispersal areas was made that the cause was revealed. The whole area was found to be littered with splinters from American legacy from the bombs, a fragmentation U.S.A.A.F. attacks the previous year prior to the invasion of Italy. Added to this there was further extensive metal contamination by thousands of wood screws, nails and fittings, the result of fires that had been made by ground crews from ammunition and packing boxes during the winter. Hidden by the Mud During the winter months all this metal had lain harmless under a covering Sf mud, but directly the ground hardened on the advent of fine weather the top soil had blown away and exposed the razor sharp edges embedded in the ideal matrix of hardened mud. were sweeps intensive and Extensive immediately made of the affected area by lines of personnel walking slowly across the airfield, but although these sweeps did produce a rich haul of the larger and more obvious metal fragiments, the great majority of the small and most dangerous splinters still eluded detection, as by now they had rusted to a colour .identical to that of the ground. The operational tyre "life " had by now fallen to an average of two take-offs and landings per tyre and an immediate solution was imperative if the Wing were not to be completely grounded. The only answer appeared to be the construction and operation of a large and powerful magnet that could be used to comb the dispersal areas, The Engineering and Electrical staffs of the Wingput their heads together to produce a " Magnetic

__

CI

Sl i:--K
163

1 I SA

i!

The "

Snifter"

being set for use on the ru \2~) U


La

IT, I

Ihe magnetic sweeper hooked to the back


zr.. way. before setting out on its
165

RAn

~xfaordinary collect~on
bullets, rusty,

-nails and bits of tin-pick d


168

of

pieces

of

metal-jagged bomb splitr

~a\ F~"

IT IS PLEASING to record that the crop of extracts from the Operations Record Books and Squadron Diaries for the period under review, is a richer harvest than in the previous quarter. Thanks are due particularly to the War Diary Section, Advanced S.A.A.F. Headquarters, C.M.F,. for active co-operation and the provision of many of the high-lights. No. 1. A Rapid Pick Up (From No. 7 Squadron, S.A.A.F.) The second mission, led 21st October, 1944. by Capt. M., was on its way out to bomb gun positions, when they heard tanks reported. They went to the area given, but saw none, and so proceeded to bomb their original target, obtaining hits; in the target area where gun pits were observed. Two cars were destroyed and a third damaged when the flight was straffing in the area north of lake Commachio. It was here that

Capt. M.'s aircraft was hit, in all probability by his own ricochets, and as he crossed the coast on the way home glycol was seen streaming from the aircraft. He headed out to sea, and when about fifteen miles off the coast, abandoned the aircraft as the temperatures were rising rapidly. Two aircraft of his flight remained with him, the others returning to base owing to fuel shortage. In this case, both Lts. S. and Van D. are to be commended on the way in which they handled the incident. Lt. S. went down low to watch him alight and satisfy himself that Capt. M. was safely in his dinghy, whilst Lt. Van D. stayed up, transmitting for a fix. As they themselves were about to leave, owing to fuel running low, an A.S.R. Warwick arrived on the scene, and dropped a lager dinghy and marker floats. Two Mustangs diected over the dinghy by w -'e iency of the .A.S.R. h
Bt

]o. &j

after

"rr2 r

:t
r t c.3 a:

EO

a~

baling out at 11.35 hours, Capt. M. was picked up by a Catalina at 12.15 hours. No. 2. How the Other Half Lives' (From No. 15 Squadron,. S.A.A.F.) The 14th and 15th November, 1944, were two more days of rain which isolated the Squadron more than ever from the outside world. The only remaining road from the camp to the runway was almost impassable, and frequent hold-ups occurred due to trucks becoming bogged or sliding off into the ditches. This was proving an ever increasing hardship to our ground crews on their way to and from the aircraft, to the aircrews getting to their aircraft for operations, and more especially to the Armament Section who had to haul their bombs out of the mud and take them out to the aircraft. Bombing up is, at the best of times, a difficult task, but for the armourers to handle very cold muddy bombs, and to trample under the aircraft in mud at least six inches deep, and to bomb up and fuze all their aircraft at least twice a day, is one of the greatest hardships that any man can undertake; but it is a task that is helping to defeat the enemy in Italy and deserves the highest praise. Not only have all these armourers and " erks" .to work in the mud, but they have to live in ittheir messes are deep in mud, and their living tents are surrounded by mud and very often under 'water due to the rains. No. 3. The General Wants to See You (From No. 417 Squadron, R.C.A.F.) Leading a section of 24th October, 1944. six aircraft on a Rover Paddy operation and nickelling raid over enemy territory in the Cec4na area, P/O H. encountered considerable heavy flak. After the show was over he was heading back to rendezvous with his No. 3 at 8,000 feet, when he noticed the glycol leaking. The engine spluttered, the cockpit filled with smoke, and when over friendly territory once more P/O H. After initial decided it was time to bale out. difficulty in getting clear, he drifted down safely to a waiting crowd of what he described later as Immediately on landing "thousands of Iti's." he was offered a jug of-vino by an Italian; at the same time a British soldier informed him nonchalantly that " The General wants to see you." P/O H. was then taken in a jeep to Headquarters, where he found Generals B. and H. waiting for him. They provided him with some rum, and informed him that he was just in time for dinner. During the meal the conversation turned on our Rover Paddy operations, and the efficient the air force's praised Generals co-operation with Army. P/O H. returned to the Squadron in General B's Auster, much to his disgust for, in his own words," The N.C.O. offered me the jeep for three days. .Can you beat that? And I had to take the Auster."

(Fro

14th December. e14.05 hours with Lt. H. B. leading was flying No. 6 in the formation and was the last to take off. Just as he was picking up his wheels after becoming airborne his bomb was seen to fall. The aircraft began losing height and it is thought that he jettisoned his bomb as he expected to make a belly landing. The 500-lb. bomb exploded, almost disintegrating the iSpitfire, the remains of which skidded along the runway for a few yards, a blazing mass. No. 2 Squadron ambulance and our fire tender were on duty; both were damaged by shrapnel. The driver of our fire tender, A/M C. and his NM.C. crew put up a good show endeavouring to put out the blaze, remaining within a few feet of the wreckage although 20-mm. cannon A native shells were exploding continuously. Corporal- of the fire crew was seriously wounded when the bomb exploded. He was taken to Shospital, suffering from a compound fracture or the left hand and wrist, a serious abdominal wound in the left side, and a wound in.the upper right armr. Three more details were slightly injured, and some aircraft were holed by shrapnel. M. 'must have be killed instantly by the explosion. Because of the hole made in the runway by the bomb, the other three aircraft were diverted to Beliaria, and the pilots spent the night there. 27th December. As J. R. took off, black smoke was seen to pour from his engine. He called control for an emergency landing, but his engine cut and he was unable to get round in time so force-landed near route 9 about a mile from our 'drome. Remembering what had happened when B. M. jettisoned his bomb, J. R. decided to crash land with his bomb on. His Spitfire hit some trees, a wing was torn off, and so, fortunately, was the bomb; the aircraft slewed round, and came to rest upside down, with J. R. pinned securely inside it. As it was near the main road help was available almost immediately. Major L. with two of our officers, dashed off in a jeep to the crash, but it was fully half an hour before J. R. -could be extricated from the crushed, inverted cockpit. It was extraordinarily lucky that the aircraft did not flame on crashing; J. R. w.s admitted to No. 5 C.C.S. suffering only from shock and minor abrasions. No. 5. A Vino (or Six) Well Earned (From No. 213 Squadron) October, 1944. "As leader of a formation of four Mustangs I was bzi:fed to strafe a concentration of six troop trains north-west of Gorgope-Salonika.We were flying at nought feet on the west side of the railway tracks when we came across a train, which we straffed, severely damaging the locomotive; continuing on our course we suddenly saw our target on the starboard side. We turned in to attack and went straight down the track at 300 m.p.h. and opened

16

lglE

fire on the first train-the locomotive suffered severe damage and numbers of troops were caught by our hail of fire. I carried on straffing the other trains; while doing so the aircraft suddenly shuddered, went out of control, and the port mainplane struck some object. Four feet of the mainplane and all but a foot of the aileron were torn off-the windscreen was also shattered. The aircraft almost rolled to the left. I stopped it doing so by applying full starboard aileron and full revs. and boost, and also endeavoured to use starboard rudder but this was ineffective because, as I found out later, it had been shot away. I called up the formation and told them that 'I had had it,' fully intending to crash' land in the nearest field. To my amazement I realised that the aircraft might still fly on for a whilewell, it didn't actually fly in the true sense of the word, it just wallowed round the sky, so I tried to gain height in order to bale out. On reaching 1,000 feet I called up my No. 3 telling him the course to base and to take the lead. I would try to follow. I then surveyed the damage to my aircraft, and to my surprise there was a 50-foot length of fencing wire wound inside the spinner at the back of the airscrew. This wire trailed-back under the starboard mainplane and over the tail plane. From the port mainplane there was another piece of fencing wire about fifteen feet long trailing back. I realised that I couldn't bale out very safely in case I got tangledwith the wire. The compass was spinning round like a top and absolutely useless, and the master compass had been torn away when I lost a piece of my port mainplane. I then lookedround the cockpit for something with which to tie the control column to the starboard side as my arms could not stand the strain of holding the control column over for an hour. I failed to find anything, so lifted my right leg over to the left of the control column, and found this helped quite a lot. I continued climbing and eventually crossed the mountains and enemy coast at 12,000 feet. I fired the remainder of the ammunition into the sea and increased revs. to use surplus petrol-this also lightened the aircraft. An hour after being hit I arrived over base and asked my No. 3 t inform flying control that I was in bad shape and that I wanted to land into wind on the longest runway possible. I couldn't speak to flying control as the radio mast had been carried away and transmission was very weak. I jettisoned my load and made my approach but I couldn't turn the aircraft on to the runway so I went round again ; this time I made a colossal circuit, lining straight on the runway at 1,000 feet. I lowered my wheels and flaps at 200 m.p.h. as it was the only way I could slow the aircraft because the throttle had jammed open; I continued the approach at 180 m.p.h. and somehow or other managed to 'pull the throttle back just before I. touched down at 170 m.p.h.; with braking I stopped the aircraft and taxied to dispersal. I jumped out (and heavens was I glad to be out! )
169

and surveyed the daim'a the rudder had disappeared and so the fin ; the airscrew was badly chipped an e spinner smashed in. I spent considerable time smoking many cigarettes and trying to explain to the onlookers who had gathered round how I flew this badly battered Mustang home. I couldn't really tell them as I didn't know myself how I did fly it back. I reckon it was just a miracle, and it was my ' Beautiful L'-the best Mustang ever and I was determined to bring her back and land her whatever else. I then retired to the mess and got down to a Vino (or six)." No. 6. Found by a Catalina

(From No. 265 Squadron) On 26th October, 1944, F/Lt. -L., flying Catalina A/265, was ordered to carry out a photographic reconnaissance of Bassas Dca India, a coral reef in position 21.27 S, 39.45 E, and also of Ile Europa, a French possession lying about 205 miles west of Tulear. Bassas Da India was covered first and the reconnaissance completed. A/265 set course for He Europa, making a land fall at North point, where the reconnaissance of the island was- to commence. Before any photographs were taken, however, a company of men, 55 in number, were seen on the beach making efforts to attract the aircraft's attention. The photographic reconnaissance was abandoned and efforts directed towards getting into communication with the party. Messages were dropped in Sea Marker containers, weighted with food, directing the party to lower their flag if they were in distress, and this was done. It transpired that the men were survivors from S.iS. " Radbury," torpedoed in the Mozambique Channel on 13th August, and were all Chinese with the exception of several D.E.M.S. ratings, the Master having been lost with his ship. Return messages were passed up from the beach by marking out large letters on a black tarpaulin and by arranging debris on the sand. The survivors stated that they had food for only onp more day. All details were passed to control, and before the aircraft left, owing to P.L.E., further supplies of food, water, cigarettes and a first-aid kit were dropped. A/265 took off early on 27th October with additional supplies for the survivors, who were taken off on the morning of the 28th by H.M.S. " Linaria," on passage northwards through the Mozambique Channel, having been diverted to the Island. They were given passage to Mombasa. The Southern Indian Ocean pilot states that goats, turtles and poultry are to, be found on lie Europa, and that the Island is inhabited by some Mulattoes. It is felt that the pilot is somewhat optimistic, or perhaps out of date, and that the survivors were fortunate indeed to be sighted by the aircraft on a chance visit.
D 4i~i

;-."n

'

The lifeboat is released by the aircraft (see extract No. 8).


It is also thought that it might be an idea to have a routine check up of lonely reefs and atolls in future when ships are lost and lifeboats, which are known to have been launched, cannot be accounted for. No. 7. Tense Moments (From No. 60 Squadron, S.A.A.F.) December, 1944. Individual sorties worthy of notice include one on the 6th when the navigator, having sustained head injuries due to flak in the Pilsen area, became unconscious and removed his oxygen mask while still partly in the bombaimer's cockpit. The pilot succeeded in getting the mask on again before fatal anoxaemia had set in, applied first aid dressings, and overcame during temporary the observer's struggles hysteria as he became conscious again, meanwhile maintaining control of the aircraft in spite of difficult weather conditions and further flak en route'to base. The observer recovered sufficiently to assist later in navigating home. No. 8. A Perfect Exercise (From No. 294 Squadron) 14th December, 1944. An airborne lifeboat drop exercise was carried out to-day with conspicuous success. The exercise commenced with a crew of five officers being left in an "M " type dinghy about eight miles out to sea from Aboukir. On the initial approach of the Warwick a flame float was dropped which failed to operate; two floats were dropped on the next circuit, both of which fired; the Warwick then made a wide

The parachutes open.

* ?

*^ 4*

,170

-fi""

r7

The lifeboat approaches the sea.

22t

&E

IIASSIFIED

W
circuit and approached into wind. The airborne lifeboat was seen to release immediately above the dinghy, all parachutes developed and a perfect drop was accomplished, the lifeboat. landing approximately 20 to 25 yards away from the dinghy; The crew of the dinghy had no difficulty in reaching the lifeboat and boarding it was easily accomplished. No. 9. Value of Reliable Reconnaissance (From No. 40 Squadron, S.A.A.F.) December, 1944. This particular recce was despatched to the Medecina-Lugo-Imola areas for the purpose of observing enemy road traffic. The pilot concerned pinpointed a total of 175 M.T. and nine tank transporters on the roads in these areas. Fifty of the M.T. were seen stationary in a town at M2742; the target was flashed to " Commander," but owing to the lateness of the hour (approximately 16.00 hours) it could not be

d^

iFlED If
^^ ^ B -~

enable him to " shoot our line," with a view to subsequent publication in the Press. In respect of one story at least, the joke is definitely on him. He wrote an article about our part in the of Melos and sent it on in " reduction" anticipation of the island's fall. Unfortunately Melos obstinately refused to be " reduced " so he is just a little ahead of the news. He is in good company however . . . the B.B.C. has announced the fall of Melos-Hbmer nods. (Editor's noteMarch, 1945. The enemy is stilD.in occupation of Melos). No. 11. A Clever Piece of Salvage Work (From No. 119 Maintenance Unit) Qatar. November, 1944. At the end of last month the party sent to salvage Warwick B.V. 357 found themselves almost at the end of their tether and yet faced with what, at first, seemed an impossible task. They had worked very well

The parachutes subside as the lifeboat floats.


attacked. Nevertheless, on the information collated by this pilot the Eighth Army were able to deduce that reinforcements were being sent down to this front and that a counter-attack could be expected, most probably against our bridgehead across the Montone river in the area south-west of Faenza. This deduction proved correct when at 04.00 hours on, the 9th December the enemy attacked in strength in the area anticipated. Needless to say the Army were not caught off guard, being forewarned they were forearmed, and they succeeded in beating back all the German attacks. The enemy reinforcements referred to were later identified as the 90th Panzer Grenadiers. Homer Nods (From No. 459 Squadron, R.A.A.F.) October, 1944. This month's notable visitor was F/Lt. P., who was with the squadron for some fourteen days, in order to collect the material to No. 10. 172 under most difficult conditions; were all suffering from desert sores and general seediness, and all they had to show for their trouble was a perfectly serviceable aircraft entirely surrounded by soft sand. Two hundred yards Nvway was a possible take-off strip, but the job of getting the Warwick across the intervening space was one at which the stoutest heart might falter.
.

It was decided to form a road of timber over which the aircraft could be taxied, but it was obviously impracticable to convey from Bahrein sufficient for the whole distance. The journey has to be made by dhow, not a very rapid means of transport, and a single trip takes five or six hours. However, the journey was made to Bahrein and enough timber procured to make a road of fifty yards or so in length. It was shipped to the peninsula and lugged by the almost exhausted, but once more enthusiastic airmen, to the scene of action.

Dli

ED

Crew of the dinghy approaching the lifeboat.


Everything went well, and in due course the first stage was complete and the aircraft ready for taxying. But now arose another snag; who was to do the taxying? The pilot had returned to Shaibah and it was obviously out of the question to signal for him until the aircraft was in a position for take-off. Pilots are not famed for their patience when waiting for aircraft, and hanging around just to do the odd spot of taxying would be almost certain to upset the most angelic of the breed. In the case of this particular pilot it was certain-but we must get back to the Warwick. One of the airmen, whose knowledge of K.Rs does him credit, stated that only qualified pilots can taxy Service aircraft. It was contended by another that the ! ! ! ! writer of K.Rs. had never been faced with the job of getting a heavy aircraft off the Qatar peninsula. The majority considered this a good point, and it was decided to suspend this paragraph of K.Rs. for the duration of the salvage operation. "A Corporal fitter finally did the taxying, and did it most proficiently. The work proceeded smartly. When one section of the road was completed the Warwick was taxied along it and the next section was started. At last the glad day arrived when the camel track was reached and word was sent to Bahrein that the pilot was required. The signal reached Shaibah on 2nd November and W/Cdr. G-M. left for the scene of action the same evening. Taking off was a tricky business, as the track was narrow and had rocks along the sides. Further to complicate matters, there was a bend about half way, and this had to be negotiated at speed, a requirement not usually considered desirable on a take-off run. W/Cdr. G-M., however, proved capable of coping with the situation, and on the second attempt made a perfect take-off and flew the aircraft first to

All aboard . . successful conclusion to the exercise.

o n Ba rei, an hen, after r The gratification of the salvage party when the Warwick was seen to be airborne was considerable, and it was generally felt that, the successful ending more than repaid them for the long and arduous work involved. The entire salvage operation from start to finish was difficult in the extreme, and the manner in which it was tackled, and the successful ending, reflect the greatest credit on F/Lt. M., the engineer officer in charge ; on each and every airman in the party ; and finally on W/Cdr. G-M., who had to make what can only be described as a very chancy take-off.
No. 12. Satisfactory Results (From No. 25 Squadron, S.A.A.F.) Two Venturas took off this 11th October: morning for Brindisi where they had to collect some special pamphlets to be dropped over the island of Corfu. Events in south Albania were moving swiftly to a climax and both Delvine and Sarande had fallen into Allied hands. The leaflets were addressed to the Commander of the German Garrison at Corfu. They explained the gravity and hopelessness of the situation to him and his trapped garrison and called upon him to surrender within 36 hours. If no surrender had been made after the time limit the island and,town would be subjected to an all-out air assault. If he desired to surrender a white cross was to be displayed in the town square and the adjacent aerodrome. A special envoy had to be sent to Sarande as well, by boat.

ue

The Venturas dropp ~ii eir pamphlets, 285 packets containing 4,000 each, on specially planned runs and felt confident that most of them had reached the enemy. As a result a large crop of white flags were reported by Spitfire pilots operating in the area, and the complete surrender of the garrison was reported the next day. No. 13. The Biter Bit (From No. 1 Squadron, S.A.A.F.) 23rd November. Lt. H. led the next formation at 10.10 hours. A Timothy show had been laid on, but the weather deteriorated to such an extent that the kites were ordered to be de-bombed and the pilots to carry out a Timothy straffing show. As our aircraft arrived, a line of white smoke shells, bounded at either end by red smoke, was laid down, and the aircraft had to strafe the area north-west of that, to the river Lamone. Each pilot carried out six straffing runs, selecting about two houses in each run. The damage caused was considerable. A house which H. straffed was seen to catch fire, and in anqther, which F. De W. went for, a small explosion occurred. On this show 1,130 20-mm. shells were fired, 800 .5 inch shells, and 4,100 rounds of .303 inch. It was no doubt an inspiring sight to our troops to see the six ,Spitfires playing merry hell with the enemy defences which had been holding them up. Early in the war the Germans used their dive-bombers with great effect as a close support weapon for their ground forces when their armour drove through the Allied lines. We are using these principles now with many refinements, and the signals of appreciation from the Army show how successful they are.

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is due'to the
Officers Commanding

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176