Library Reference Number: 015
The Peenemunde Raid - 17/18th August 1943
Iain H. Nicolson, DFC, DFM, Saltire Branch ACA a former Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Saltire Branch, ACA, took part in the Peenemunde raid, location of the notorious V1 & V2 rocket development and launching pads. Gone unchecked, this rocket project could have been sufficiently developed to spread havoc even further afield and who knows, if uninterrupted may even have reached inter-continental range and the shores of USA. As an RAF navigator, Iain Nicolson completed 31 operations with 5 Group, Bomber Command and 65 operations with the RAF Pathfinder Force. In the following account, Iain relates his memories of the Peenemunde Raid.
Peenemunde was on the Baltic Coast due north of Berlin. A diversionary raid on Berlin by Mosquitoes of 8 Group was laid on with the hope that German fighters would be drawn to the defence of the capital. It was hoped the first, second and even the third waves of bombers would be able to drop their loads without interference from fighters. We were attacking from 7,000 feet in full moonlight, unusual for Bomber Command.
We took off at 21.40 hrs on 17th August, 1943, and climbed to 18,000 feet midway to the Danish coast where all the aircraft converged. On crossing the coast in the moonlight we started to descend to 7,000 feet. Then, by 00.15 hrs, we could see the start of the attack. The night was very clear and although fighters were the main worry, no activity was seen. The first wave of two hundred aircraft was due to start the attack at 00.15, with the second attacking at 00.30 and the third at 00.45 hrs.
We were in the third wave flying at 7,000 feet on a course to the north point of Rugen Island. Our first pin point, due north of the Southern point, was where the time and distance run started. The run into the target was counted out, and after 15 seconds we were over our target. Bombs gone at 00.45 - photo flash - set course for Mando Island West of Danish Coast. An aircraft flying ahead of us and slightly below, suddenly exploded. The fighters had arrived!! Fire was all around us, aircraft were falling, weaving, as we headed out of the area. I logged many aircraft going down in the vicinity of the target and then we were clear. Kiel and Flensburgh south of track opened up on aircraft. One aircraft went down over Flensburgh at 01.50 then another near Mando Island at 02.10 hrs. Set course for home and landed at 04.27. Debriefing and bed by 06.00 hrs. One more operation to do to finish our first operational tour - but that's another story!
Details of Losses:
- 596 Aircraft took part on the raid.
- 40 Aircraft lost - 6.7 % of total.
- 29 Aircraft of the 40 lost were in the last wave.
The RAF never raided Peenemunde again!
"I remember the Peenemunde raid so well, much more clearly than all my previous raids. Even the Pathfinder operations in which I later took part, did not provide the tension that the Peenemunde raid did. After 57 years, the memory of the Lancasters going down still remains vivid."
PEENEMUNDE: 50 YEARS ON: For historians as well as those of us Germans interested in the history in rocket development, a lot of work remains to be done in the case of Heeresversuchsanstalt Peenemunde. Back in the 1950s, the Red Army conducted a series of explosions in accordance with Allied agreements to achieve the objective that Germany was never to use this place for developing rockets again. In 1992, the discussions about how to handle the 50th anniversary of the first successful A4 launch clearly show that Peenemunde still is an open wound in the German conscience. ........from German source on Internet "Pennemunde; 50 years on."