Bucharest World War II bombings
Part of Strategic bombing campaign in Europe
Bucharest bombed April 4, 1944 2.jpg

Bombing of the Gara de Nord marshalling yard (April, 1944)
DateApril 4 to August 26, 1944
Location
Belligerents
United States Fifteenth Air Force
United Kingdom RAF Bomber Command
Nazi Germany Luftwaffe
Romania Royal Romanian Air Force
Commanders and leaders

United States Carl Spaatz

United Kingdom Arthur Harris
Casualties and losses
Civilians: 5,524 killed, 3,373 wounded

The Bucharest World War II bombings were primarily Allied bombings of railroad targets and those of the Oil Campaign of World War II, but included a bombing by Nazi Germany after 1944 coup d'état. Bucharest stored and distributed much of Ploiești's refined oil products.[1]: 190 [2]

The first operation was a sequence of 17 aerial bombardments, starting with the one of April 4, 1944. The bombings were carried out over a period of about 4 months by the United States Air Force and the British Royal Air Force, with approximately 3,640 bombers of different types, accompanied by about 1,830 fighters. As collateral damage, 5,524 inhabitants were killed, 3,373 were injured, and 47,974 were left homeless.[3] The second operation was executed by the German Luftwaffe in retaliation for Romania having changed sides (immediately after the fall of the fascist regime headed by Ion Antonescu), and took place on August 23–26, 1944.[4]

Taking into account the large number of victims and damage caused, the aerial bombings of 1944 represent the greatest tragedy in the history of Bucharest in the twentieth century.[5]

Raids

Chronology
Date Target/Topic
1944-04-04[6] Railroad targets
Patch 15th USAAF.png
215 B-17's & B-24s of the US 15th AF, after taking the usual route past Turnu Severin, across the Southern Carpathians, and up to Târgoviște and Snagov, attacked at 1345 hrs. Fifteen minutes before the attack, the citizens of Bucharest were alerted by air-raid alarms, but the majority could not bother, expecting another practice alert. When the raid commenced, the majority of the population were exposed and numerous casualties occurred due to exposure, shock, and suffocation. The principal target was the Bucharest marshalling yard, Gara de Nord (tracks were destroyed). Warm weather and strong wind deflected bombs which landed on Calea Griviței and Giulești and western/north-western Bucharest was severely hit, destroying hundreds of buildings and killing or injuring over 5,000. Bombs fell on Calea Victoriei, on the Splendid and Athénée Palace Hotels; on the German Military Mission; near Saint Joseph Cathedral (destroying its stained-glass windows); and on Cotroceni, uprooting poplars in the Botanical Garden.[7] One bomb shelter was also destroyed.[7] Seven B-24s were lost from enemy aircraft (flak was slight and inaccurate over the target), and 13 B-24s were damaged and returned.[8] 717 BS losses included Reluctant Liz, Miasis Dragon, and from the 719th BS, 449th BG, Consolidated Mess, Dixie Belle, Paper Doll #42-7691, Born to Lose, and B-24 #41-28655. Destroyed/probable/damaged Luftwaffe aircraft were 32/6/5 Bf 109, 6/5/1 Fw 190, 1/0/0 Me 210, and 0/2/0 Ju 88.
1944-04-15[9] Railroad targets
Patch 15th USAAF.png
15th US Air Force 461st Bombardment Group B-24s targeted the Chitila Marshalling Yard [ro] in Bucharest. Nine-tenths cloud coverage over the target prevented the crews from observing the effect of the bombing. Official records do not list the damage.[10] Other sources report that the University of Bucharest was damaged and the adjacent Cartea Românească building was destroyed in bombing raid.[11]: 190 
1944-06-10 Romana Americana oil works, Ploiești
Patch 15th USAAF.png
Raid by US P-38's. P-38's were used as it was felt that a low level dive-bombing attack could be more effective than the Tidal Wave high-level bombing where the targets were obscured by defensive smoke screens. The raid took place with three squadrons of 82d Fighter Group doing the attack (95th, 96th, 97th Squadrons) with three 1st Fighter Group squadrons (also P-38's) providing escorts (27th, 71st and 94th Squadrons). Mission was flown from Foggia airfields in Italy against Romana Americana oil works in Ploiești. Attack P-38's carried a 1000 lb bomb under one fuselage and a long-range tank under the other. Success was described as "an incremental contribution to previous bombing missions." 1 FG lost 14 P-38's and 82 FG nine aircraft, translating to 30% losses – equivalent to those of Tidal-Wave (but fewer manpower losses due to single crew aircraft being used as opposed to heavy bombers).[1]: 151–166 
1944-06-28 Oil refineries
Patch 15th USAAF.png
The 464th BG & 465th BG bombed the Prahova oil refinery (44°27'00"N / 26°08'40"E) [1] and the 460th BG and 485th BG bombed the Titan-Malaxa oil refinery (44°26'10"N / 26°11'13"E).[12]
1944-08-17/18 Oil refineries
RAF roundel.svg
RAF 37 Sqn and other 205 Gp Sqn's. Raid was aimed at destroying remaining intact refineries. Original target for the raid was the Standard Oil Refinery, but this had been successfully attacked during the day by American Forces and at 16:00 the attack was changed to the Xenia refinery. Raid was conducted by 63 Wellingtons from 231, 236, and 330 Wings, 9 Liberators from 2 SAAF Wing and 6 Halifaxes from 614 Sqn. 22 aircraft returned to bases because of mechanical failures, 3 performed emergency landings en route and 3 were reported missing. Remaining aircraft reached the target but AA defences were very active as was the smoke screen resulting in no aircraft being able to pinpoint the target. Bombers were attacked by Ju 88 and Bf 109's. 86 tons of bombs dropped but the raid was considered as unsuccessful.[13]
1944-07-31 Oil refineries
Patch 15th USAAF.png
Two oil refineries at Bucharest, one at Doicești, and oil storage at Târgoviște were bombed.[2]
1944-08-06 Railroad targets
Patch 15th USAAF.png
60 fighters from Operation Frantic bases in the Soviet Union attacked the Craiova marshalling yard and other railroad targets in the Bucharest–Ploiești area, and landed at Italian bases.
1944-08-23/24 & 24/25
Roundel of Germany – Type 1 – Border.svg
Luftwaffe bombers based in Otopeni attacked Bucharest on two consecutive nights until their bases were bombed by the Allies. The National Theatre Bucharest and several other downtown buildings were destroyed while the Royal Palace, the Victoria Palace, and the Romanian Athenaeum were seriously damaged.[11]: 212 

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Stout, Jay, A.C. (2011). Fortress Ploesti: The Campaign to destroy Hitler's oil. Havertown, PA.: Casemate. ISBN 978-1-935149-39-2.
  2. ^ Dobrovicescu, Lucian. "Aprilie 1944. Moartea vine din cer: Bombardamentele aliate asupra României" [April 1944. Death comes from the sky: Allied bombing of Romania] (in Romanian). Historia. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  3. ^ "Bombardarea Bucureștilor în '44: mii de morți și sute de clădiri făcute praf" [The bombing of Bucharest in '44: thousands killed and hundreds of buildings destroyed]. Adevărul (in Romanian). February 22, 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  4. ^ Armă, Alexandru (2019). "24 august 1944: Avioanele germane bombardează Bucureștiul" [August 24, 1944: German planes bomb Bucharest] (in Romanian). Historia. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Armă, Alexandru (2016). Rănile unui oraș: București bombardat (4 aprilie–26 august 1944) [Wounds of a city: Bucharest bombed (April 4–August 26, 1944)] (in Romanian). București: Editura Vremea. ISBN 978-9736457852. OCLC 988771379.
  6. ^ McKillop, Jack. "Combat Chronology of the USAAF". Archived from the original on 2007-06-10. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
    1944: January Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine, February Archived 2014-12-27 at the Wayback Machine, March Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine, April Archived 2009-02-16 at the Wayback Machine, May Archived 2012-06-06 at the Wayback Machine, June Archived 2009-02-16 at the Wayback Machine, July Archived 2013-05-27 at the Wayback Machine, August Archived 2009-02-11 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ a b Pruteanu, Cătălin (August 31, 2006). "Ia-ți Bucureștii – Cotroceniul liniștit" [Keep Bucharest – Cotroceni Is Quiet]. Jurnalul Național (in Romanian). Retrieved August 24, 2020.
  8. ^ USAF Historical Research Agency[specify]
  9. ^ "Campaign Diary". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Archived from the original on 2005-06-01. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
    1944: January Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive, February Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive March Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive, April Archived 2006-02-21 at the Wayback Machine, May Archived 2013-04-09 at the Wayback Machine, June Archived 2007-06-11 at the Wayback Machine, July Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive, August Archived 2007-07-06 at the UK Government Web Archive
  10. ^ "461st Bombardment Group". Mission Records: April 1944.
  11. ^ a b Giurescu, Constantin C. (1966). Istoria Bucureștilor. Din cele mai vechi timpuri pînă în zilele noastre [History of Bucharest. From the earliest times to our day] (in Romanian). p. 190,212.
  12. ^ Mission histories for Bombardment Groups:
    "464 BG": "Our Missions: The 464 BG Mission List".[permanent dead link]
    "485 BG": "tbd". Archived from the original on 2011-07-24.
  13. ^ Macisaac, James, J. "The WWII History of James Macisaac and RAF 37 Squadron". Op 6 · Ploesti, Xenia Oil Refinery. Retrieved 15 July 2011.