On Sunday 20 February 1944, a member of the 625 Sqdn, Pilot Officer J D Aspin, took off from Kelstern in the United Kingdom. His mission is mentioned elsewhere on Back to Normandy. You can find the other details of this mission by searching here. Training and cargo flights are not separately mentioned as a mission. The plane left at 23:31.
He flew with a Avro Lancaster (type I, serial ME588, code CF-A).
Campaign report of the USAAF:
(Eighth Air Force): Mission 226: The Eighth Air Force begins "Big Week," attacks on German aircraft plants and airfields.
For the first time, over 1,000 bombers are dispatched; 21 bombers and 4 fighters are lost hitting 3 areas in Germany, i.e.:
1. 417 B-17s are dispatched to Leipzig/Mockau Airfield, and aviation industry targets at Heiterblick and Abnaundorf; 239 hit the primary targets, 37 hit Bernburg, 44 hit Oschersleben and 20 hit other targets of opportunity; they claim 14-5-6 Luftwaffe aircraft; 7 B-17s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 161 damaged; casualties are 7 KIA, 17 WIA and 72 MIA.
2. 314 B-17s are dispatched to the Tutow Airfield; 105 hit the primary and immediate area, 76 hit Rostock and 115 hit other targets of opportunity; they claim 15-15-10 Luftwaffe aircraft; 6 B-17s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 37 damaged; casualties are 3 KIA and 60 MIA.
3. 272 B-24s are dispatched to aviation industry targets at Brunswick, Wilhelmtor and Neupetritor; 76 hit the primary, 87 hit Gotha, 13 hit Oschersleben, 58 hit Helmstedt and 10 hit other targets of opportunity; they claim 36-13-13 Luftwaffe aircraft; 8 B-24s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 37 damaged; casualties are 10 KIA, 10 WIA and 77 MIA.
Missions 1 and 3 above are escorted by 94 P-38s, 668 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-47s and 73 Eighth and Ninth Air Force P-51s; they claim 61-7-37 Luftwaffe aircraft; 1 P-38, 2 P-47s and 1 P-51 is lost, 2 P-47s are damaged beyond repair and 4 aircraft are damaged; casualties are 4 MIA.
Mission 227: 4 of 5 B-17s drop 200 bundles of leaflets on Tours, Nantes, Brest and Lorient, France at 2123-2200 hours without loss.
(Ninth Air Force): 35 B-26s bomb Haamstede Airfield, The Netherlands, as a target of opportunity, after about 100 B-26s abort attacks on other airfields because of weather. HQ 314th Troop Carrier Group and 32d Troop Carrier Squadron arrive at Saltby, England from Sicily with C-47s.
Campaign report of the RAF:
19/20 February 1944
Leipzig: 823 aircraft - 561 Lancasters, 255 Halifaxes, 7 Mosquitos. 78 aircraft - 44 Lancasters and 34 Halifaxes - lost, 9.5 per cent of the force. The Halifax loss rate was 13.3 per cent of those dispatched and 14.9 per cent of those Halifaxes which reached the enemy coast after 'early returns' had turned back. The Halifax IIs and Vs were permanently withdrawn from operations to Germany after this raid.
This was an unhappy raid for Bomber Command. The German controllers only sent part of their force of fighters to the Kiel minelaying diversion. When the main bomber force crossed the Dutch coast, they were met by a further part of the German fighter force and those German fighters which had been sent north to Kiel hurriedly returned. The bomber stream was thus under attack all the way to the target. There were further difficulties at the target because winds were not as forecast and many aircraft reached the Leipzig area too early and had to orbit and await the Pathfinders. 4 aircraft were lost by collision and approximately 20 were shot down by flak. Leipzig was cloud-covered and the Pathfinders had to use skymarking. The raid appeared to be concentrated in its early stages but scattered later.
45 Stirlings and 4 Pathfinder Halifaxes minelaying in Kiel Bay, 16 Oboe Mosquitos bombing night-fighter airfields in Holland, 15 Mosquitos on a diversion raid to Berlin, 12 Serrate patrols. 1 Mosquito lost from the Berlin raid. 3 Mosquitos attacked Aachen and 3 more bombed flying-bomb sites in France without loss.
Total effort for the night: 921 sorties, 79 aircraft (8.6 per cent) lost.
This was the heaviest Bomber Command loss of the war so far, easily exceeding the 58 aircraft lost on 21/22 January 1943 when Magdeburg was the main target.
20/21 February 1944
598 aircraft - 460 Lancasters, 126 Halifaxes, 12 Mosquitos - to Stuttgart. The North Sea sweep and the Munich diversion successfully drew the German fighters up 2 hours before the main bomber force flew inland and only 9 aircraft - 7 Lancasters and 2 Halifaxes - were lost, 1.5 per cent of the force. 4 further Lancasters and 1 Halifax crashed in England.
156 aircraft - 132 from training units and 24 from squadrons - flew a large training exercise across the North Sea as a preliminary feint; 24 Mosquitos attacked airfields in Holland; 7 Mosquitos made a diversionary raid on Munich and there were 7 Serrate patrols. No aircraft lost.
28 Stirlings and 6 Wellingtons laid mines off French ports. 1 Wellington lost.
Total effort for the night: 826 sorties, 10 aircraft (1.2 per cent) lost.
With thanks to the RAF and USAAF.net!
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