Dispatches from Stockholm last night reported great fires blazing in the heart of Munster following Sunday's heavy raid by large formations of Flying Fortresses on the city of 143,000, the most important German railway head in the Ruhr and a major link with the Ruhr-Emden Canal.
Intense Fighter Opposition
The Stockholm reports, quoting a Swedish correspondent in Berlin, said that the raid, which came on the heels of the Fortress and Liberator penetration deep into East Prussia and Poland, caught the Germans by "very great surprise."
Fliers returning to their bases in Britain said that the entire target area was blanketed with smoke and flames and that the raid was one of the most successful day assaults ever made over Europe.
Flak and fighter opposition was intense. The official Air Force communique claimed the Forts shot down 81 Nazi planes, while Thunderbolts, which escorted the B17s on the 850-mile round trip, destroyed 21. Against this total of 102 was the loss of 30 Forts and two P47s. Berlin radio claimed 40 Forts were shot down against a loss of 11 German fighters.
Even a Dornier as Fighter
The USAAF heavies took a well-deserved rest yesterday after their fifth big raid of the month carried them to Munster, a German Army garrison town which lies on the Dortmund-Ems canal and the Bremen-Cologne railroad -- two important arteries carrying raw materials from North Sea ports to the industrial heart of the Reich.
As the Forts went over the target Sunday, the enemy attempted to set up a smoke shield to cover vital target areas. But something went wrong, the smoke blew in the wrong direction, and American crews reported excellent visibility for the bomb runs.
In contrast to some recent raids, however, the Luftwaffe threw up swarms of fighters. Even a Dornier bomber joined the interceptors, according to 2/Lt. Robert H. Winnernan, 22, of Newark, bombardier on the Slo Jo.
In the words of one flier, the Germans were "queuing up for us," and Capt. Robert B. Brown, 22, of Houston, Tex., pilot of Cabin in the Sky, asserted:
"You didn't have to aim; just stick your gun out the window and pull the trigger. We're claiming 12 German fighters."
But despite the Luftwaffe's best effort, which some American fliers estimated was 200 fighters in the air, bombing results were extremely good, with 1/Lt. Harold L. Strasler, of Detroit, navigator on the Fort Romance, declaring that "there was smoke up to 5,000 feet."