August 1940 (II)

On Friday 30th August afternoon, Bomber Command men were briefed again to raid Berlin with 29 Wellington bombers from No 3 Group and 8 Hampdens ready to take off to bomb the city that night. Prime targets were again the Siemens factory complex and the Henschel factory in Schönefeld; with several others squadrons attacking other cities including Hamm and Emden. Nine crews claimed to have bombed the Siemens works and four Henschel, with another bomber attacking a power station at Klingenberg. Like previous raids, many sticks of bombs hit residential areas all over the city, damaging house buildings and streets.

[Photo: John Frost Newspapers / Mary Evans Picture Library.]

The Air Ministry communique about the raid on Germany states: “The R.A.F. bombers selected for special attack an objective four miles from the centre of the city, and dropped a “large number of bombs on a series of carefully-selected military objectives in Berlin.”

The British press covered that night’s raids on Germany: “Ten people were killed and twenty-eight wounded in the three hour raid, said the German official news agency as firemen were still clearing away debris in the streets”.

The British lost 3 aircraft on this Berlin sortie: one was a Whitley, a bomber from No 58 Sqn P5002 coded ‘GE-T’. The aircraft left RAF Linton-on-Ouse at 19.45 hrs. On the return leg, the aircraft was low on fuel and pilot P/O Neville O Clements ordered to abandon the aircraft circa 05.00 into the North Sea, off Hornsea. A crew member was killed while all four other occupants were rescued (P/O Ronald Hadley, Sgt Ian A Zamek, R F Williams and Sgt Matthew Hill). 

The two other losses of the raiding force were Wellingtons, both of them 214 Squadron machines: Wellington Mark IA P2530 coded ‘BU-?’ took off from from RAF Stradishall piloted by F/O RR O’Connor tasked for Berlin. They dropped incendiary bombs on B57 target (the remainder ‘hanging up’) and when returned to base, low on fuel, undershot into a ditch short of the runway with no casualties. The other one was Wellington IA T2559BU-?’, which flew to Berlin to raid Klingenberg too but was shot down at 23.24 near Halle (Gelderland), the Netherlands, by night fighter pilot Oberleutnant Werner Streib of 2./NJG 1, who was flying a Bf 110 from Anholt airfield, Germany. This was the first German ground-radar tracked victory at night, led by a ‘Wurzburg’ radar in Raum 5B based at Deurne. The ‘Wimpy’ was coned for 3 minutes by two searchlights of III./Flakscheinw. Rgt 1 and downed in flames by Streib, who observed no chutes from the fallen bomber.

The crew of six perished in the crash (Sgt. G H Bainbridge, F/O L M Cragie-Halkett, P/O W S Cunynghame, Sgt. S J Haldane, Sgt. G E Merryweather and Sgt. A B Puzey) and were all buried at Halle Cemetery, the Netherlands. The story behind the loss of T2559 has been well researched by Bennie Eenink. 

[Vickers Wellington Mark IC, T2470BU-K’, of No 214 Squadron RAF, is towed into a C-type hangar at Stradishall, Suffolk, for repair and overhaul following damage sustained on operations. Known among the squadron crews as ‘K-King’ this ‘Wimpy’ were very active during the late summer over Berlin.]

[Photo: Bertrand John Henry Daventry. IWM © (CH 1415).]

[The tenant of this apartment in a residential building looks at the hole in the ceiling and the partially loosened lamp, some minor damage caused by an explosive bomb dropped by British bombers during a bombing raid on the previous night on Berlin Kreuzberg.]

[Photo: Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo (00322966).]

[Destruction at Berlin Kreuzberg: a burnt out roof after the RAF air-raid on 30/31 August 1940.]

[Photo: Still from film. Cities At War - Berlin: The Doomed City Timeline © Little Dot Studios Ltd. 2019.]

[A damaged house by British bombs, after the attack on Berlin centre area that night. During 1940, more than 9,000 Berliners became homeless due to Allied bombings.] 

[Photo: Getty images.]


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Sources and Bibliography:

  • Boiten, Theo. (2018). Nachtjagd Combat Archive. The early years Part 1. 1939-12 July 1941. Red Kite. 
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  • Chorley, WR. (2013). RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War. Volume 1 1939-40. Classic Publications. 2nd edition.
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  • Eenink, Bennie. T2559 The story behind the British war graves in Halle (NL). <https://oudzelhem.eu/index.php/2e-wereldoorlog/wereldoorlog-2e/32-wereldoorlog-2e/2e-wereldoorlog/verhalen-2e-wereldoorlog/881-britse-oorlogsgraven-in-halle-englishf>
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  • Tress HB. Churchill, the First Berlin Raids, and the Blitz: A New Interpretation. Militaergeschichtliche Zeitschrift, Volume 32, Issue 2, Pages 65–78. 1982. 
  • Tweddle, Paul. (2018). The Other Battle of Britain: 1940: Bomber Command’s Forgotten Summer. The History Press.
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  • Young, Neil. (1991). The Role of the Bomber Command in the Battle of Britain. Imperial War Museum Review No. 06.

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