28-29 March 1942 – Bombing of Lübeck

Lübeck Cathedral burning following the raids.

The first major bombing by the Royal Air Force Bomber Command was conducted against the port city of Lübeck. The city dated back to the Hanseatic days, thus many buildings were made of wood. 234 Wellington and Stirling bombers dropped about 400 tons of bombs. Though German defenses were light, 12 of the RAF bombers were still lost in the attack. The damage inflicted was heavy. The first of three waves of bombers used the new blockbuster bombs to blast over the building roofs and windows, allowing subsequent bombers and their incendiary bombs to contents inside of buildings on fire. 1,468 buildings were destroyed, 2,180 were seriously damaged, and 9,103 were lightly damaged; together, this represented 62% of all buildings in Lübeck. Initial German reports showed 301 killed, 3 were missing, and 783 were wounded, but actual deaths might be as high as 1,000; 15,000 people, or 10% of the city’s population, were displaced. After seeing footage of the destruction, German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary “[t]he damage is really enormous, I have been shown a newsreel of the destruction. It is horrible. One can well imagine how such a bombardment affects the population”.

Smaller-scale raids were conducted against Lübeck subsequently. On 16 July 1942, 21 Stirling bombers were dispatched to bomb Lübeck; 8 aircraft reached the city and 2 were lost. On 24-25 July 1943, 13 Mosquito aircraft bombed Lübeck as a diversion for the main target of Hamburg. On 15-16 September 1943, 9 Mosquito aircraft bombed Lübeck as a diversion for the main target of Kiel. On 2-3 April 1945, Lübeck was hit by RAF bombers manned by training crews.

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28 March – Today in German History

HMS Campbeltown wedged in the dock gates.

1942

  • On 28 March 1942, British forces launched one of the most daring operations of the Second World War. Now known as Operation Chariot was an attack on the docks at St Nazaire in German-occupied France. It was a feat of cunning and daring that helped to shape the war at sea. St Nazaire was targeted because the loss of its dry dock would force any large German warship in need of repairs, such as Tirpitz, sister ship of Bismarck, to return to home waters by running the gauntlet of the Home Fleet of the Royal Navy and other British forces, via the English Channel or the GIUK gap.

1945

  • Germany launches the last of the V-2 rockets against England.
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