Battle of Berlin
Part of Strategic bombing during World War II

The ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which was hit on 23 November 1943
Date18 November 1943 – 31 March 1944
Location52°31′N 13°25′E / 52.517°N 13.417°E / 52.517; 13.417Coordinates: 52°31′N 13°25′E / 52.517°N 13.417°E / 52.517; 13.417
Result German victory
 United Kingdom
 New Zealand
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Arthur Harris
United Kingdom Ralph Cochrane
United Kingdom Don Bennett
United Kingdom Roderick Carr
Nazi Germany Hermann Göring
Nazi Germany Hans-Jürgen Stumpff
Nazi Germany Joseph Schmid
Nazi Germany Günther Lützow
Nazi Germany Max Ibel
Nazi Germany Walter Grabmann
Nazi Germany Gotthard Handrick
Casualties and losses
  • Bomber Command
  • 2,690 crew killed
  • c.  1,000 POW
  • 500 aircraft[1] (5.8 per cent loss rate)

The Battle of Berlin (November 1943 to March 1944) was a bombing campaign against Berlin by RAF Bomber Command along with raids on other German cities to keep German defences dispersed. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) Bomber Command, believed that "We can wreck Berlin from end to end if the USAAF come in with us. It will cost us between 400 and 500 aircraft. It will cost Germany the war".[3]

Harris could expect about 800 serviceable heavy bombers for each raid, equipped with new and sophisticated navigational devices such as H2S radar. The USAAF, having recently lost many aircraft in attacks on Schweinfurt, did not participate. The Main Force of Bomber Command attacked Berlin sixteen times but failed in its object of inflicting a decisive defeat on Germany. The Royal Air Force lost more than 7,000 aircrew and 1,047 bombers, (5.1 per cent of the sorties flown); a further 1,682 aircraft were damaged or written off.[4] On 30 March 1944, Bomber Command attacked Nuremberg with 795 aircraft, 94 of which were shot down and 71 were damaged.[5] The Luftwaffe I. Jagdkorps recorded the loss of 256 night fighters from November 1943 to March 1944.[2]

The Luftwaffe retaliated with Unternehmen Steinbock (Operation Capricorn) against London and other British cities from January to May 1944. The Luftwaffe managed to assemble a force of 524 bombers but Steinbock caused little damage for the loss of 329 aircraft, a greater percentage loss per raid and overall than that suffered by Bomber Command over Germany.[6]

There were many other air raids on Berlin by the RAF, the USAAF Eighth Air Force and Soviet bombers. The RAF was granted a battle honour for the bombardment of Berlin by aircraft of Bomber Command from 1940 to 1945.[7]


Bomber Command

See also: Butt Report, Area bombing directive, and Casablanca Conference

In 1942 some answers to the chronic problems of night navigation and target finding began to emerge but the number of bombers had stagnated. In November 1941 Bomber Command had a daily average of 506 bombers available and in January 1943 the average was 515. To carry out the Thousand-bomber raids Bomber Command drew on crews and aircraft from the Operational Training Units, which could only be exceptional. Navigation had been helped by the introduction of Gee but this device lacked accuracy for bombing through the dark and smog of the Ruhr, lacked range and from 4 August 1942 the Germans began to jam the device.[8]

The Pathfinder Force (PFF) was established on 15 August 1942 but with Gee jammed and no target indicator bombs to mark the aiming point for the rest of the bombers (the Main Force), the task of the PFF varied from thankless to impossible. Despite its problems, Bomber Command had been able to achieve some spectacular results but these had been isolated events and due to favourable circumstances as well as judgement. The loss of 1,404 aircraft and 2,724 damaged to German night defences of increasing quantity and quality, especially German night fighters (Nachtjäger) had become a serious threat to the viability of the command and of strategic bombing as a theory of war.[8]

In 1942 Bomber Command had created 19 new squadrons but 13 had been transferred to other commands. The quantity of aircraft had barely increased but a big improvement in quality had been achieved. Bristol Blenheim light bombers and Armstrong Whitworth Whitley medium bombers had been retired from the command in mid-1942, followed by the Handley Page Hampden medium bomber in September. The disappointments of the Short Stirling and the early Handley Page Halifax variants and the fiasco of the Avro Manchester, withdrawn in June 1942, was balanced by the Avro Lancaster, which made its operational début in March and demonstrated its superiority over all other bombers.[9][a] Re-equipment with new types of aircraft led to an average of 16.36 per cent of Bomber Command squadrons withdrawn from operations for conversion onto new aircraft in 1942, against 3.3 per cent in 1943. On 1 January 1942 the command had 48 squadrons, 9 with heavy bombers, 34 with medium and five with light bombers (Blenheims). On 1 January 1943, there were 49 squadrons, 32 heavy, 11 medium and six light (de Havilland Mosquito). The command had flown 30,508 operational sorties in 1941 and dropped 31,646 long tons (32,154 t) of bombs, in 1942 it dropped 45,501 long tons (46,231 t) from 29,929 sorties.[10]


Main article: Gee

GEE airborne equipment, with the R1355 receiver on the left and the Indicator Unit Type 62A on the right.
GEE airborne equipment, with the R1355 receiver on the left and the Indicator Unit Type 62A on the right.

Gee worked by wireless signals transmitted from three ground stations in England, on a line about 200 mi (320 km) long, being displayed on a cathode ray tube to the navigator and placed on a Gee chart, giving a fix of the aircraft's position in less than a minute. Accuracy varied from 0.5 to 5 mi (0.80 to 8.05 km) and Gee had a range of 300–400 mi (480–640 km), accuracy falling with distance. Gee worked well as a homing device but early hopes of it being accurate enough for blind bombing were not realised. Crews appreciated the value of the apparatus for navigation on the return journey, removing the fear of flying into hills and other obstructions. By August 1942, 80 per cent of the bomber force was equipped and 100 per cent by January 1943.[11]

Coverage of the Ruhr was known as the eastern chain and later northern and southern chains were added. Gee was usually ineffective east of the Ruhr and was easy to jam, which began on 4 August 1942, from when Gee fixes were only obtainable over the North Sea and parts of France. Gees loss of accuracy with distance made it a better target-finding device for Luftwaffe raiders over Britain. The signals were encoded to prevent German use but this made it harder for Bomber Command navigators to get Gee fixes. Anti-jamming devices were short-lived in effectiveness as the Germans quickly overcame them but Gee Mk II was easier for navigators to use.[11]


Main article: Oboe

Diagram of the operation of the Oboe system
Diagram of the operation of the Oboe system

Oboe was a blind-bombing device controlled by two ground stations in England which measured the distance of an aircraft from them with radar pulses. Cat tracked the aircraft over the target and Mouse calculated the point on the track where the aircraft should bomb. Oboe transmissions did not follow the curvature of the earth, making the altitude of the aircraft the determinant of range. An aircraft flying at 28,000 ft (8,500 m) could receive Oboe transmissions at about 270 mi (430 km), enough to mark targets in the Ruhr, which led to the device being installed in fast, high-flying Mosquito bombers, which usually navigated with the usual aids until beginning an Oboe run about 10 mi (16 km) from the target. Use of the Mosquito made an Oboe run safer, even when no evasive action could be taken before bombing. Accuracy was measured in hundreds of yards which increased with greater experience of the aircrews and ground operators.[12]

Oboe could be jammed and suffer interference from Monica and other Bomber Command devices. Oboe Mk I operated on a frequency of 1.5 metres, K Oboe was in general use from mid-June 1943 and was free from jamming. Centimetric Oboe Mk II and Mk III retained the effectiveness of Oboe until the end of the war but are beyond the scope of this article; rushing Oboe Mk I into service delayed Mk II but jamming did not begin until August 1943. Cat and Mouse stations could handle only one aircraft at a time and a marking run took ten minutes, allowing six bomb- or marker-runs per hour. The illumination from a Target Indicator bomb usually lasted for six minutes, guaranteeing four-minute gaps in marking. A failed marking run increased the gap to fourteen minutes. The introduction of multi-channel control and more ground stations eventually increased the concentration of Oboe marking. From the introduction of Oboe in December 1942 until the end of the war, Oboe aircraft made 9,624 sorties on 1,797 raids.[13]

By 1943, for the first time since day bombing was abandoned in 1940, Bomber Command was released from the constraints occasioned by the adoption of night bombing. The tactical use of the new devices was developed quickly but the new equipment had limitations. Oboe had a range which was little beyond the Ruhr and research on repeater aircraft to extend its range was stopped because H2S was expected to be a better system and only a few aircraft could use the device simultaneously; although Oboe had the potential for a vast improvement in target finding, it was not of pinpoint accuracy. H2S could be installed on any aircraft but was complicated, difficult to use and emitted radiation which could be detected, paradoxically exposing the aircraft to interception. Gee remained useful as a means of navigation on return journeys but required development to overcome German jamming.[14]

Target Indicator bomb

Main article: Target indicator

German searchlights and a Target Indicator (on the right) light up Berlin
German searchlights and a Target Indicator (on the right) light up Berlin

The Target Indicator bomb (TI) was an aerodynamic metal case which ejected coloured pyrotechnic candles at a set height by a barometric fuze. If set to ignite immediately they made a cascade. When sky marking, the candles were on parachutes and if fuzed for ground burst, they created a pool of coloured fire. The usual 250 lb (110 kg) TI covered an area on the ground of about 100 yd (91 m) and a ground burst TI contained some candles which were explosive, to deter attempts to extinguish them. The TI was introduced on the night of 16/17 January 1943 and was a great success, making pathfinding a practical operation of war.[15]


Main article: H2S

H2S was a device for navigation and blind bombing by radar. The emissions of the radar were reflected and received as echoes which were distinctive of the earth below. Built-up areas returned echoes different from fields and forests, land echoes could be distinguished from the sea and sea echoes from those of a ship. The radar had a scanner which swept vertically and the echoes were detected by a receiver and displayed on a cathode-ray tube, with a sweep rotating at the same speed as the scanner, giving an impression of the earth below. The contrast between water and land made coasts, lakes and rivers particularly recognisable. Towns also stood out and sometimes railway lines, from which the navigator could determine his position. When closer to the target, if it was recognisable, an H2S bombing run could be made; if the target could not be distinguished the bomber could make a timed run from a landmark in the vicinity. Since the device was airborne its range was limited only to that of its aircraft. The apparatus was limited by echoes from towns and cities which were harder to distinguish than those from countryside and town.[16]

H2S was inferior to Oboe for blind bombing except on coastal targets like Hamburg. Being a transmitter, H2S disclosed itself to the Germans as soon as enough parts had been recovered from shot-down bombers to analyse its characteristics. German detectors could find a bomber stream and direct night-fighters into it. Once Bomber Command began to use centimetric H2S in January 1943 it was inevitable that the Germans would retrieve one from a crashed bomber and realise that it was similar to Air-to-Surface Vessel radar (ASV) used by Coastal Command to detect surfaced submarines. In October 1943, the Germans introduced the Naxos radar detector in night-fighters and U-boats. By mid-January 1943, only 10 Halifax bombers and 13 Stirlings carried H2S; the rate of production was slow and by May 1943, no more than 18 H2S-equipped bombers had participated in one raid; by August 840 H2S sets had been manufactured.[17]

German air defences

Main article: Defence of the Reich

Messerchmitt Bf 110G-4 night fighter at RAF Hendon
Messerchmitt Bf 110G-4 night fighter at RAF Hendon

The threat of Anglo-American strategic bombing had been a concern to German strategists since 1940 at the latest. After the Fall of France, a belt of Freya radar stations was built to give early warning of aircraft entering German-controlled airspace, from Denmark south to Switzerland. Freya lacked the accuracy needed for ground-controlled interception of aircraft and was supplemented later in 1940 by Würzburg radar stations which were accurate enough to guide FlaK and night fighters, a Würzburg-guided FlaK battery shooting down a bomber in September 1940. In October Oberst (Colonel) Josef Kammhuber established three night-fighter zones on the approaches to the Ruhr. The zones were 56 mi (90 km) long and 12 mi (19 km) wide, with a battalion of searchlights and two Würzburg radars in each.[18]

A night-fighter could be guided to within 55 yd (50 m) of an aircraft and then attack when the aircraft was illuminated by the searchlights, a procedure called Helle Nachtjagd (Henaja [Illuminated night fighting]). Forward zones were established along the coast, without searchlights, known as Dunkel Nachtjagd (Dunaja [Dark Nightfighting]). The system lacked effectiveness on cloudy nights, the range of the Würzburg radar [6–31 mi (9.7–49.9 km)] was too short and it could not Identify friend or foe, which led occasionally to attacks on friendly night fighters; some night fighter crews disliked ground control for the loss of flexibility. The German system had not been centralised to sift the information provided by radar, searchlights, wireless interception and direction finding to co-ordinate FlaK and night-fighters. To the end of 1940, the new system was credited with the shooting down of 42 bombers by night fighters and 30 by FlaK.[18][b]

Map of a section of the Kammhuber Line stolen by Agent Tegal
Map of a section of the Kammhuber Line stolen by Agent Tegal

They system was extended with a line of Henaja about 20 mi (32 km) wide which, by March 1941, ran 430 mi (690 km) from the Danish–German frontier to Maubeuge in France. Another Henaja belt 45 mi (72 km) long was built between Frankfurt and Mannheim later in the year. Three Würzburg guided the searchlights to illuminate bombers as they entered the zone. Dunaja were extended in circumference and the chain was extended along the coasts of France and the Low Countries and around Berlin. Late in 1941 an improved Würzburg with a 50 mi (80 km)-range and the Seeburg plotting table (Seeburg-Tisch) came into service. Kammhuber used the new equipment to revise the night defence system by increasing the width of Henaja from 25–60 mi (40–97 km) with Dunaja in front of them. Kammhuber intended to introduce Dunaja behind the Kammhuber Line, placed Freya stations on either side and installed master searchlights. The system was introduced in September but proved to be too complex and the number of interceptions decreased.[20]

In the spring of 1942 the depth of the belt of searchlights was reduced to 6 mi (9.7 km) and widened to 12 mi (19 km). A new Konaja (combined) method was intended to counter the new and faster four-engined bombers coming into service with Bomber Command but the risk of the FlaK shooting down night-fighters was too great and the system was a failure. In 1941, Bomber Command losses rose to 3.6 per cent from the 2.9 per cent of 1940. During a raid on Berlin on the night of 7/8 November, 12.4 per cent of the 169 bombers were shot down. The night-fighter force shot down 433 bombers and by the end of the year, nine Gruppen and one Staffel were in action. The confused and overlapping jurisdictions of the German defence against night attacks were exacerbated by the lack of effectiveness of the British night bomber offensive and this complacency was not shaken by the entry of the United States into the war in December.[20]

Because of the diversion of night-fighters to the Eastern front and the Mediterranean, by February 1942, there were 265 night-fighters in the west, of an establishment of 367, only half of which were operational.[21] The British resorted to a deliberate campaign of area bombing which immediately increased the amount of destruction achieved by Bomber Command. The bomb tonnage increased from 37,000 in 1941 to 50,000 in 1942. The German night defence was not prepared for the change in British methods and the introduction of GEE, the first night navigation aid. The British ended the individual timing of bomber sorties in favour of the concentration of all the bombers in space and time, which made most of the Kammhuber Line redundant, leaving only a few fighters able to attack the bombers. On the 1,000-bomber raid on Cologne, the bombers spent only two hours over Europe, the stream was 18 mi (29 km) wide and only 25 night-fighters could engage the bombers, just over ten per cent of the total; bomber losses fell from 3.6 to 3.0 per cent.[22] In 1942, Bomber Command had been able to inflict considerable damage on several occasions but had failed consistently to disrupt the German war economy.[23]


During 1942, the night-fighter command organisation Fliegerkorps XII abolished its Nachjagddivision for three Jagddivisionen on 1 May and by February 1943, 477 night-fighters were available from an establishment of 653, of which 330 were operational, double that of 1942, 90 per cent of which were in the west. Nearly all of the night-fighters carried Lichtenstein, an Airborne Interception radar (AI), with a maximum range of 3,000 yd (2,700 m) and a minimum range of 20 yd (18 m), sufficient to track a bomber after ground control had brought the night-fighter to within 2 mi (3.2 km). Despite the weight of the apparatus and aerodynamic penalty of its aerial array causing a loss of at least 25 mph (40 km/h) in speed, night-fighter interceptions increased to the extent that searchlight illumination was made redundant and the lights were transferred to the local FlaK units around cities. By June the Kammhuber Line had been extended southwards towards Paris and northwards to the north coast of Denmark. Kammhuber refused to allow night-fighters to roam freely but made the line more flexible, by deepening the Dunaja zone to 124 mi (200 km) either side of the Henaja to exploit the increased range of Freya and Würzburg, which created the Himmelbett system. In each sector, one Würzburg tracked the bomber and another the night-fighter until it was close enough for the crew to use its Lichtenstein AI for the attack. A zone was limited to one night-fighter but they overlapped by 50 per cent, enabling three night-fighters to operate in one area. GEE was jammed from August, limiting its usefulness to no further than the European coast. Much of the airspace of Europe remained undefended and bomber streams made all but a few night-fighters ineffective, which limited the capacity of German night defences to shoot down no more than about 6 per cent of Bomber Command sorties.[24]

88 mm FlaK battery in firing position
88 mm FlaK battery in firing position

The German night defences managed to shoot down 687 bombers in 1942, 63 per cent more than in 1941 for a loss of 97 night-fighters, 63 per cent more than in 1941 and on 10 September Fliegerkorps XII shot down its 1,000th bomber, 649 by Dunaja, 200 by Henaja, 140 by intruder operations over Britain and 11 bombers crashed after being blinded by searchlights. Night-fighters and FlaK were shooting down an average of 5.6 per cent of Bomber Command aircraft per raid by the autumn. The performance of FlaK also showed an improvement, from July to August 1942, Bomber Command reported the loss of 696 bombers, 269 thought to have been destroyed by night-fighters, 193 by FlaK and 334 loses to unknown causes; 1,394 aircraft were damaged, 153 were hit by night-fighters and 941 by FlaK. By the end of the year, the Luftwaffe had faced 77,500 night sorties, shooting down 2,859 bombers, a rate of 3.6 per cent and damaged far more. In 1940 Bomber Command lost a bomber crashed in Britain for every 32 sorties and in 1942 the rate had increased to one in twenty. To the end of 1942, the Luftwaffe had dropped 67,000 long tons (68,000 t) of bombs on Britain and the RAF had dropped 78,579 long tons (79,840 t) on Germany and 22,537 long tons (22,899 t) on the occupied territories. According to post-war research by the Allies, bombing cut German production by 0.7 to 2.5 per cent in 1942, compared to the devotion of 33 per cent of the British war economy to the bomber offensive.[25]

Despite the big increase in the German anti-aircraft effort, such concern for the future as existed did not prevent 150 FlaK batteries from being transferred to Italy. Only the Generalluftzeugmeister, Erhard Milch, in charge of Luftwaffe aircraft production, foresaw the crisis that would ensue if fighter output was not given greater emphasis. The advent of British four-engined bombers had increased by 70 per cent the bomb tonnage carried by Bomber Command. Milch predicted that the Anglo-American air fleets would swamp the German air defences and destroy the war economy. On 21 March 1942, Milch advocated to Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe and Hans Jeschonnek, the chief of staff of Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (High Command of the Air Force) the creation of an air umbrella. Milch told Goering that his target of 360 new fighters per month would be insufficient even if it were increased to 3,600, which Jeschonnek dismissed by saying that he would not know what to do with 360 new fighters a month.[26] During the spring of 1943, the Germans increased the ground anti-aircraft defences in the Ruhr; by July there were more than 1,000 large FlaK (anti-aircraft guns of 88 mm or larger) and 1,500 lighter guns (most being 20 mm and 37 mm) about a third of the anti-aircraft guns in Germany, which needed 600,000 men, women and boys to operate.[27]


The first Bomber Command raid of the battle occurred on the night of 18/19 November 1943. Berlin was attacked by 440 Lancaster heavy bombers of the Main Force and four de Havilland Mosquitos but the city was under cloud and the damage was not severe. The second raid by the Main Force took place on the night of 22/23 November. This was the most effective raid on Berlin by the RAF of the war, causing extensive damage to the residential areas west of the centre, Tiergarten and Charlottenburg, Schöneberg and Spandau. Because of dry weather, several firestorms ignited. The Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, now a war memorial and the New Synagogue (used as a store house by the Wehrmacht) were badly damaged in the raid.[28][29]

In the next nights, further attacks followed, damaging or destroying Bethlehem's Church, John's Church, Lietzow Church, Trinity Church, Emperor Frederick Memorial Church, Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz and St. Hedwig's Cathedral. Several other buildings of note were either destroyed or damaged, including the British, French, Italian and Japanese embassies, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin Zoo, the Ministry of Munitions, the Waffen SS Administrative College, the barracks of the Imperial Guard at Spandau and several arms factories.[30]

On 17 December, extensive damage was done to the Berlin railway system. By this time the cumulative effect of the bombing campaign had made more than a quarter of Berlin's living accommodation unusable.[30] There was another Main Force raid on the night of 28/29 January 1944, when the western and southern districts were hit in the most concentrated attack of this period. On 15/16 February, important war industries were hit, including the large Siemensstadt area in the west, with the centre and south-western districts receiving most of the damage. This was the largest raid by the RAF on Berlin; the campaign continued until March 1944.[30][31][32]



The ruins of St. Hedwig's Cathedral, 1946
The ruins of St. Hedwig's Cathedral, 1946

In 1961, the British official historians, Charles Webster and Noble Frankland wrote that Bomber Command sent 16 raids comprising 9,111 sorties against Berlin. The attacks cost 492 aircraft, their crews killed or captured and 954 aircraft damaged, a rate of loss of 5.8 per cent, exceeding the 5 per cent threshold that was considered by the RAF to be the maximum sustainable operational loss rate.[33] The Battle of Berlin diverted German military resources from the land war and had an economic effect in physical damage, worker fatalities and injuries, relocation and fortification of industrial buildings and other infrastructure but by 1 April 1944, the campaign had failed to force a German capitulation, the operational sense the Battle of Berlin was more than a failure, it was a defeat....The Battle of Berlin compared unfavourably with the preceding Battles of the Ruhr and of Hamburg and the campaign on the road to Berlin.[34]

In 2004, Daniel Oakman wrote that,

Bomber Command lost 2,690 men over Berlin, and nearly 1,000 more became prisoners of war. Of Bomber Command's total losses for the war, around seven per cent were incurred during the Berlin raids. In December 1943, eleven crews from 460 Squadron (RAAF) were lost in operations against Berlin; in January and February [1944], another 14 crews were killed. Having 25 aircraft destroyed meant that the full complement of aircraft and crews had lasted three months. At this rate Bomber Command would have been destroyed before Berlin.[1]

Harris had predicted the loss of 500 aircraft and Oakman wrote " would be wrong to say that it was, in a strategic sense, a wasted effort. Bombing brought the war to Germany at a time when it was difficult to apply pressure anywhere else".[1] In 2005, Kevin Wilson wrote that, despite the devastation of Berlin, the British raids failed to achieve their objectives. The bombing prevented increases in German production and caused resources to be diverted from offensive to defensive purposes but German civilian morale did not break. The Berlin defences and essential services were maintained and war production in greater Berlin did not fall.[35]

In 2006, Adam Tooze, an economic historian, wrote that the British bombing of Hamburg in July 1943 appeared to vindicate the hopes of the British leaders in Bomber Command, that it had become a decisive weapon and that the theory of strategic bombing had been proved. Bomber Command was only able to emulate the Hamburg firestorm of 28 July once, at Kassel in October. In the winter of 1943, the attacks on Berlin began, which Tooze called fruitless,

The Ruhr was the choke point and in 1943 it was within the RAF's grip. The failure to maintain that hold and to tighten it was a tragic operational error.[36]

Berlin was a big manufacturing city but the Ruhr was the principal supplier of coal and steel to Germany. Isolating the Ruhr could strangle the rest of the German war economy; in the campaign against Berlin, the British caused much damage but the evolution of German anti-aircraft defences, particularly night fighters, was able to counter the Bomber Command threat on its long flights to Berlin in winter weather.[37]

German casualties

In 1982, Laurenz Demps collated loss data using the damage reports of the Berlin police commissioner (Polizeipräsident) issued after each air raid, descriptions of losses and damage indicated by houses and distributed to 100–150 organisations and administrations busy with rescue, repair, planning and other matters, against reports of the main bureau for air raid protection (Hauptluftschutzstelle) of the city of Berlin, which issued more than 100 copies with variable frequency, each summarising losses and damage by the number of air raids; the war diary of the air raid warning command (Luftwarnkommando – (Wako Berlin), a branch of the Luftwaffe and other sources. Demps wrote that 7,480 people had been killed, 2,194 people were reported missing, 17,092 were injured and 817,730 Berliners made homeless.[38] In 2003, Reinhard Rürup wrote that nearly 4,000 people were killed, 10,000 injured and 450,000 made homeless.[39] In 2005, Kevin Wilson described the effects of smoke and dust in the air from the bombing and how long periods spent in shelters gave rise to symptoms that were called cellar influenza (Kellergrippe).[40] In 2006, Chris Grayling wrote that the campaign caused immense loss of life and devastation in Berlin. The 22 November 1943 raid killed 2,000 Berliners and rendered 175,000 homeless. The following night, 1,000 people were killed and 100,000 bombed out. During December and January, Main Force raids killed hundreds of people and rendered between 20,000 and 80,000 homeless each night.[41]


The campaign comprised sixteen Main Force raids on Berlin, sixteen against other targets in Germany and raids on targets in occupied Europe. Bomber Command conducted other strategic operations such as night-fighter and intruder operations against the German night-fighter force, minelaying, nuisance raids and training sorties.[42]

November 1943

A diversionary raid against Ludwigshafen was carried out by 395 bombers (248 Halifaxes, 114 Stirlings and 33 Lancasters); 23 aircraft lost, twelve Halifaxes, nine Stirlings and two Lancasters (5.8 per cent). Ten Mosquitos to Essen, 6 to Aachen, 6 to Frankfurt, 16 Wellington minelayer sorties from Texel to St Nazaire and 7 OTU sorties for no loss. RAF effort 884 sorties 32 losses (3.6 per cent).[45]
Operation Corona (false instructions to German aircraft) broadcast from England had some effect. Two German night-fighters might have been shot down over Berlin and 21 bombers were lost, with 27 damaged, 14 to FlaK, four to fighters and nine to other causes. Four bombers crashed between the Netherlands coast and Leeuwarden, four were shot down by fighters between Groningen and Hanover, one to Flak near Texel. Three aircraft were shot down by FlaK over Berlin, early in the raid, five by fighters during it. Six of the damaged aircraft were write-offs, one by FlaK and the rest in landing accidents.[c] A German report had the raid beginning at 19:26 and that 13,005 people were killed, 6,383 were injured and 300,000 people were rendered destitute; 120 mines, 850 HE bombs, 20,000 phosphorus bombs, 250,000 incendiaries and 70 flares were counted; 1,989 houses were destroyed and 2,443 were badly damaged and 20,000 slightly damaged; a military installation was destroyed, 22 severely and 22 slightly damaged; the Spandau power station was destroyed.[51]

December 1943

January 1944

February 1944

March 1944

See also


  1. ^ The Lancaster was a redesigned Manchester with a greater wingspan and four of the excellent and tested Rolls Royce Merlin XX engines, instead of two more powerful but unreliable Rolls Royce Vulture engines.[9]
  2. ^ Data from Freya sets went to the navy (Kriegsmarine) and the Luftwaffe; the Luftwaffe forwarded it to Luftflotten (Air Fleets) and to Luftgaue (Air Districts, commanding the FlaK) and to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM, Air Ministry) in Berlin.[19]
  3. ^ Middlebrook recorded 20 Lancasters lost (5.2 per cent) plus six Lancasters written off in crashes and accidents; 127 crew killed and 24 captured. Six Oboe Mosquito sorties, one crashed on return, crew killed.[50]
  4. ^ Special Operations Executive (SOE) sorties by 138 Squadron and 161 Squadron noted for the first time; 18 Halifax and 1 Lockheed Hudson sorties flown plus 6 Stirling sorties by 214 Squadron now that Stirlings were not bombing German targets; supplies dropped and agents landed for the Resistance.[67]
  5. ^ Subsequent Serrate patrols flown by Mosquitos.[68]


  1. ^ a b c Oakman 2004.
  2. ^ a b Hooton 1999, p. 262.
  3. ^ Brown 1999, p. 309; Grayling 2006, p. 62.
  4. ^ Bishop 2007, p. 216; Kitchen 1990, p. 136.
  5. ^ Hastings 1979, p. 261.
  6. ^ Hinsley 1994, pp. 414–415.
  7. ^ RAF 2004, Battle Honours.
  8. ^ a b Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 90–91.
  9. ^ a b Lloyd 1978, pp. 70, 74, 116.
  10. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 92–93.
  11. ^ a b Webster & Frankland 2006, pp. 4–6.
  12. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 7–8.
  13. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 8–10.
  14. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 93–95.
  15. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, p. 36.
  16. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 11–12.
  17. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 12–14.
  18. ^ a b Cooper 1981, p. 182.
  19. ^ Cooper 1981, pp. 182–183.
  20. ^ a b Cooper 1981, pp. 183–184.
  21. ^ Cooper 1981, p. 186.
  22. ^ Cooper 1981, pp. 187–188.
  23. ^ Tooze 2006, pp. 596–597.
  24. ^ Cooper 1981, pp. 188–190.
  25. ^ Cooper 1981, pp. 190, 192–193.
  26. ^ Cooper 1981, pp. 192–194.
  27. ^ Thompson 1956, p. 41.
  28. ^ Kühne & Stephani 1986, p. 34.
  29. ^ Arlt et al 1992, p. 144.
  30. ^ a b c RAFS 2004b, December.
  31. ^ RAFS 2004c, January.
  32. ^ RAFS 2004d, February.
  33. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, p. 198.
  34. ^ Webster & Frankland 1961, pp. 193–194.
  35. ^ Wilson 2005, p. 441.
  36. ^ Tooze 2006, p. 602.
  37. ^ Tooze 2006, pp. 601–602, 615.
  38. ^ Demps 2014, p. 23.
  39. ^ Rürup 2003, p. 11.
  40. ^ Wilson 2005, p. 433.
  41. ^ Grayling 2006, pp. 309–310.
  42. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 446.
  43. ^ Cooper 2013, p. 26.
  44. ^ Cooper 2013, p. 56.
  45. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt1985, p. 452.
  46. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 452–453.
  47. ^ Cooper 2013, pp. 56, 65.
  48. ^ Cooper 2013, pp. 54–65.
  49. ^ a b c Ashworth 1995, p. 88.
  50. ^ a b Middlebrook 1990, pp. 118–119.
  51. ^ a b Cooper 2013, pp. 69–76.
  52. ^ Middlebrook 1990, p. 124.
  53. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 454.
  54. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 454–456.
  55. ^ Wilson 2005, pp. 411–412.
  56. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 455.
  57. ^ a b c Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 456.
  58. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 456–457.
  59. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 457.
  60. ^ a b c d e f g Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 458.
  61. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 458–459.
  62. ^ a b Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 460.
  63. ^ a b c d e Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 461.
  64. ^ a b c Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 462.
  65. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 462–463.
  66. ^ a b Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 463.
  67. ^ a b Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 463–464.
  68. ^ a b c d e Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 464.
  69. ^ a b c Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 465.
  70. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 465–466.
  71. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 466.
  72. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 467–468.
  73. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 468–469.
  74. ^ a b Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 469.
  75. ^ Ashworth 1995, p. 91.
  76. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 472–473.
  77. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 473–474.
  78. ^ a b c Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 474.
  79. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 475.
  80. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 484–485.
  81. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 485.
  82. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, pp. 486–488.
  83. ^ Middlebrook & Everitt 1985, p. 488.


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Further reading