Mission 6: Bremen, Germany
October 8, 1943




Vast Damage Caused
By Record Raid on 4
Targets Deep in East

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Gydnia, Danzig, German Plane Plants Are
Blasted in Great Weekend Blitz;
Bremen, Hanover Get It Again

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    American Flying Fortresses and Liberators, flying from Britain on the longest mission yet carried out over the world's most heavily-defended territory, inflicted heavy damage Saturday on vital German military targets in East Prussia, Poland and northwestern Germany, it was announced officially last night by Eighth Air Force Headquarters.
    In one of the war's most spectacular bombing operations -- which carried the American heavies in some cases to within 400 miles of the Russian front -- the Forts and Libs achieved the following results, according to an announcement by Brig. Gen. Frederick L. Anderson, Bomber Command chief:

    The huge Focke-Wulf assembly plant at Marienburg, in East Prussia, 200 miles beyond Berlin, was described as virtually destroyed.
    Four ships in the Polish port of Gdynia, including the 550-foot liner Stuttgart, were set afire. Docks, railway yards and workshops were hit.
    An aircraft component factory at Anklam, north of Berlin, was "severely damaged," and at Danzig, a large Baltic port, bombs struck oil storage tanks, buildings, a stores dump and railway communications.

    Foreshadowing the day when the aerial second front from Britain may be linked up with the vast ground front in Russia, the flight was the deepest penetration American bombers ever have made over Hitler's roofless fortress.
    It gave eloquent testimony to the feebleness of German efforts to hamstring the Allied air offensive against the Reich, which Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker, Eighth Air Force commander, said last night could continue through the winter to soften up German defenses for invasion.

26 Bombers Are Lost

    Twenty-six American bombers were lost. Three of them, according to Stockholm reports, landed on Swedish soil and their crews were interned.
    Four thousand men participated in the trans-Germany missions, Gen. Eaker revealed.
    The raid climaxed what was probably the most active weekend the USAAF and RAF have yet experienced -- a weekend rounded out yesterday by further blows by American heavy bombers on western Germany.
    On Friday the USAAF and RAF both hit Bremen in great strength. Gen. Eaker revealed that 4,000 Americans also had participated in the USAAF part of the double blow. American heavies also blasted Vegesack; the Marauders plastered a Dutch airfield. The RAF also struck Hanover. Mosquito crews, striking at Berlin Saturday night, said huge fires still were burning at Hanover. Swedish dispatches said the center of Bremen had been blanketed with bombs.
    The war's most spectacular and daring mass bomber raid, embracing a round trip of approximately 1,500 miles for some groups, was a major military operation by which Fortresses and Liberators in one tremendous assault opened the door to destruction on the eastern Ruhr and the Rhineland and at the same time gave direct support to the Russian army by blows only about 400 miles from the fighting front.
    Effectively splitting German fighter defenses as the force roared toward multiple objectives, the big bombers dropped heavy loads on harbor installations and docks at Gdynia, which are now used extensively by the German navy, and also on submarine slips and the ship-building yard at the former free city of Danzig, which is actively engaged in the construction of U-boats.
    The third objective of the precision blow was Arado Flugzeugwerke, at Anklam in northeastern Germany near Stettin, formerly the chief manufacturers of standard aircraft for the German air force, but now engaged in turning out vital parts for German fighters.

FW Plant Hard Hit

    Pictures taken during the Marienburg attack show the aircraft factory completely blanketed by bursting bombs. A number of aircraft on the ground were destroyed, Bomber Command headquarters said. The plant is believed to have accounted for approximately one-half of all assembly of FW190s.
    Reconnaissance photographs made after the Anklam attack show a number of buildings burning furiously, and almost every important building in the plant, which made parts for the FW190s, was hit. One fire was sending up a 10,000-foot column of smoke, a reconnaissance pilot reported.
    At Gdynia, now a major German naval base, photographs made after the attack showed the Stuttgart burning fiercely and being towed from its berth, apparently to prevent the fire from spreading. Three other ships were left burning and an armed merchant vessel appeared partially submerged.
    The formations which attacked Gdynia and Danzig encountered little enemy opposition, one group completing its bombing run and returning as far as the North Sea before it met a small group of Me110s, which were beaten off in short order, returning crewmen reported.
    But on the Anklam attack, crews reported the formations had rip-roaring air battles with all types of German fighters numbering between 100 and 200. Many were equipped with four rocket guns -- two under each wing.
    Brig. Gen. Robert F. Travis, of Savannah, Ga., who led the formation attacking Anklam, said:
    "This is the best show I have ever seen. I don't even need to check the pictures. As we crossed the coast about 15 enemy fighters flew alongside us for five minutes. We didn't know if they would attack us or not. Finally they did, and the leaders of their formation really pressed home the attack, coming right through our formation.
    "We dropped our bombs in a beautiful pattern, and there wasn't one bomb that fell outside the target area. As we turned I saw two enemy fighters hit at the same time, and watched them hit the ground together.
    "We had a great many attacks all the way out from single and twin-engined fighters. I don't know how many fighters we ran into all together but it was well over 300."
    Running air battles all the way to the Pomeranian plant and part of the way back, lasting the better of two hours, failed to keep the formations from the target. In the words of Lt. Col. Robert U. Burns, of Ecrum, Miss., who led the groups: "We really blasted the target with perfect pattern."
    Formations which struck Danzig and Gdynia were confronted by a great smoke screen thrown up by German destroyers, which dashed about the harbors in a desperate effort to protect the installations and ships.
    With the long flight to Poland effectively accomplished, there arose the possibility that daylight raids on Berlin might soon occupy the Eighth Air Force, since the German capital is considerably less distant from Britain than the Polish targets.

Almost to Red Front

    A classic remark by returning crewmen, most of whom were well aware the raid took them within fairly close range of the battling Russian armies of the Dnieper, came from Lt. Joe W. Kane, of Lynbrook, L.I., N.Y., who said with his tongue in his cheek: "I was surprised Russian fighter support didn't show up."
    It was a long, tiresome ten-hour haul for groups that went to Danzig-Gdynia, and crews stocked up with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which they ate on the way back.




Heart of Bremen Afire
After Twin Aerial Blows

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Sweden Hears Center
Of Biggest German
Port Is in Ruins

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    The heart of Bremen, Germany's largest port since the destruction of Hamburg, blazed over the weekend with acres of fire started in a 24-hour hammering by fleets of American and RAF bombers.
    Dispatches from Sweden reported that the center of the city -- encompassing huge dockyards and warehouses along the Weser River -- was in ruins from the explosives and incendiaries dropped Friday afternoon by one of the largest forces of American bombers assembled in the war.
    Friday night, with the USAAF-lighted fires to guide them, RAF bombers went back to Bremen and dumped several hundred more tons of bombs on the blazing city.
    Hanover and Vegesack, also in Germany's industrial northwest, were hit in the Friday day and night attacks, which opened the weekend bombing offensive. The RAF pounded Hanover with a major force Friday night, and Vegesack was hit by an American task force at the same time as Bremen.

War's Heaviest Flak

    The Flying Fortresses and B24 Liberators, which pushed through the heaviest flak of the war to lay a carpet of incendiaries and high explosive across Bremen, Vegesack and shipyards up the Weser river from Bremen, ran into formations numbering hundreds of German fighters.
    With a P47 escort part way to the target, the Eighth Air Force heavies were near their bombing runs before the Luftwaffe challenged them, but then fought packs of Me109s, Ju88s, Me110s, and 210s and a few FW190s for an hour.
    The Eighth Air Force communique said 130 enemy aircraft were destroyed by B17 and B24 gunners and another 12 by the Thunderbolts. Thirty U.S. bombers and three fighters were listed as missing from the day's operations. The RAF lost 30 bombers in its raids on Bremen and Hanover.

Jerry Uses Rocket Guns

    Despite a solid wall of flak above the vital port and the Stuka dive-bomber factories in Bremen, the U.S. planes got through to start huge fires. Once clear of the flak, the Forts encountered massed squadrons of enemy fighters, some of which stood off at long range and popped at the bombers with rocket guns.
    The blow at the Weser factories, turning out Ju87D Stukas, was described as of paramount importance to the Russian offensive in the East, since the Luftwaffe has been reported rushing Stukas straight out of the factory to dive-bomb the advancing Soviet forces along the Dnieper.





'Softening Up
This Winter For
Invasion' -- Eaker

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He Cites Growing Aerial
Blows, But Warns Battle
Is Far From Over

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    USAAF and RAF raids will continue throughout this winter to soften up Germany for invasion, Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker, Eighth Air Force commander, said last night in a radio speech to America's war workers.
    The Allies' "stern assignment this winter," he said, was "to destroy factories and transport and weapons of the Germans so that our invasion casualties will be cut down."
    Although Gen. Eaker stressed the growing might of Allied aerial attacks, he made it clear that the air offensive against Germany had not yet reached its "maximum effort."

Now at "White Heat"

    "The battle has not yet reached its climax," he said. "The fight is now on at white heat. We have just passed the fifth inning. We will win in the end and it will be a legal victory. There will be no rain checks and we won't have to play the game over. We will see to that. But we have not yet reached the 'seventh inning stretch.'"
    Making public official statistics which illustrated the mounting tempo of the pre-invasion assaults, Gen. Eaker revealed that in September the tonnage of explosives dropped by American heavy bombers rose 50 per cent above the total of any previous month. In the same period, 262 Nazi fighters were destroyed by the bombers.
    "Still the offensive grows," he asserted. "Already this month our bombers have dropped more than 4,400 tons of bombs on Nazi targets, and they have destroyed more than 450 German fighters."
    Disclosing that more than 4,000 airmen took part in Friday's assault on Bremen and that more than 4,000 went out Saturday to raid targets in Poland and East Prussia, Gen. Eaker added that "the battle has not yet reached its climax."
    This was interpreted to mean that even greater numbers of planes would fly over Germany this winter.
    Thunderbolts, "escorting our Forts and Liberators to deeper and deeper targets," have destroyed 182 German fighters since April, Gen. Eaker announced. Only 51 American fighters have been lost in the same period, he said.




Nazis Get Double Dose
Of Their Own Medicine

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    The Germans literally got some of their own flak back in Saturday's Marauder raid on Woensdrecht, Holland.
    A piece of flak penetrated the bomb bay of the B26 Shady Lady as it began its bomb run and lodged in one of the ship's bombs, which went down carrying the flak with it.




Nazis to Step Up Raids
On Britain, Madrid Hears

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    MADRID, Oct. 10 -- Germany now plans to turn the full strength of its air and submarine warfare against the British Isles, Spanish press dispatches from Berlin suggested this weekend, reporting speeches by Marshal Milch, German under-secretary for air, and Adm. Doenitz.
    Milch was said to have told party leaders that airplane production had been stepped up in recent months and a number of new types produced. Berlin newspapers specifically mentioned new night fighters.



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