The Final Operation - Bochum

Below are findings from research carried out by Matt Leeding

The attack on the night of 12th/13th June 1943 was the second large scale raid on Bochum, Germany. ED668 was one of a force of 505 aircraft including 327 Lancaster, 167 Halifaxes and 11 Mosquitoes, tasked to attack Bochum that night.

The orders stated:

Route out: Base - Mablethorpe - North end of Texel - 5200N/0711E - Target.
Route back: Target - 5210N/0730E - Mablethorpe - Base.

Take off was scheduled to commence at 2250hrs. ED668 actual took off at 22:53 hours. The aircraft was carrying a bomb load of 8,880lbs. This load comprised of one 4,000lb 'High Capacity' or 'Cookie' Bomb, four 500lb 'Medium Capacity' bombs and ninety six 30lb incendiary bombs.

The Official 'Air Staff Operations Summary' states:

429 aircraft, comprising of 282 Lancasters, 140 Halifaxes and seven Mosquitoes, attacked dropping about 1507 tons of bombs (832 tons of H.E. and 675 tons of incendiaries). Among the H.E. bombs dropped were 8 x 8000lb, 273 x 4000lb and 39 x 2000lb bombs. Among the incendiaries were 103 x 250lb marker bombs.

The pathfinders were over the target area from 01:15 to 01:56 hours and the main force from 01:16 to 02:07 hours.

There was 4/10th to 8/10th thin cloud over the target, preventing observation of ground details but not obscuring the marker bombs.

The first marker bombs were accurately placed with the exception of one load which was dropped in error 12 miles North North-East of the target, attracting some of the bombing to that area. The initial concentration of markers was not fully maintained, some of the later loads under-shooting and falling towards the North.

In consequence bombing tended to divide into two concentrations, the greater of which was in the vicinity of the main railway station, and the other to the North of the target area. Fires were spread over a wide area, but the glow of two separate concentrations was distinguishable by aircraft returning over the Dutch coast.

A large factory in the North West part of the target area was seen to receive a direct hit, the chimney collapsing. Many violent explosions were seen from 01:23 hours onwards, one which was observed from the Dutch coast at 02:25 hours, being followed by a white flash which obliterated the glow from the fires.

Flak in the target area was moderate to intense, mainly of barrage type, and diminishing as the attack progressed. Numerous searchlights were active, co-operating with Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 Night fighters. Several encounters are reported and one Halifax claims to have destroyed a single engine fighter.

Other sources state:

The target was marked successfully by the Pathfinder Force (PFF). The aiming point was marked with Red T.I.s backed by Green T.I.s, all cascading from 3,000'. The marking was accurate and concentrated.

This raid took place over a completely cloud-covered target but accurate OBOE sky-marking enabled all the Lancaster/Halifax Main Force to cause severe damage to the centre of Bochum. As a result of the attack many crews reported seeing a good concentration of fires around the markers. Some scattered fires were also seen about 5 miles to the North East.

After daylight photographs had been taken, 130 acres of destruction were claimed. Direct hits were recorded on the Central Station, Tram Depot, and Military Barracks.

The only German report available says that 449 buildings were destroyed, 916 were severely damaged and that 312 civilians were killed.

Right is an aerial photo graph taken of Bochum following the raid.

A total of 24 aircraft, including 14 Lancasters and 10 Halifaxes were lost on the raid, 4.77 percent of the original force that were sent.

Nothing was heard from ED668 after it took off from RAF Scampton that night. The cause of the aircrafts loss was never recorded.

Records retrieved from the Luftwaffe detailing the claims against Lancaster aircraft made by the Night Fighter squadrons set up to intercept the raid provided information that can be downloaded here...

It appears that the most probable cause for the loss of ED668, is that it was shot down by a night fighter on the return leg from Bochum having already sustained heavy damage and thus an easy target.

By plotting the locations of the Luftwaffe claims it can be seen that ED668 was probably shot down by one of the three following Luftwaffe pilots:

Oblt. Ernst-Georg Drünkler (12/NJG1) 47 Kills
Ofw. Hermann Sommer (1/NJG1) 19 Kills KIA on 11.02.44
Uffz. Georg "Schorsch" Kraft (12/NJG1) 15 Kills KIA on 18.08.43