Bomber Command Intelligence Digest No 15 - Saumur Tunnel



Bomber Command Intelligence Digest No 15 - Saumur Tunnel


Account of repairs to tunnel which was attached by Bomber Command on 8/9 June 1944 which is still not open to traffic. Describes damage and provides account of repairs to craters. railway tracks and hole in the roof of tunnel.



Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage



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[underlined] SECRET. [/underlined] [underlined] BY D.R.L.S. [/underlined]

[underlined] BOMBER COMMAND INTELLIGENCE DIGEST NO. 15 [/underlined]

(Extract from Enemy Communication Summary No. 15 published by S.H.A.E.F.)

[underlined] The SAUMUR Tunnel [/underlined]

A fairly complete account of progress on repairs to the SAUMUR tunnel can now be given. This tunnel, immediately SOUTH of the town, is on PARIS-BORDEAUX main line via NIORT and SAINTES. It was successfully attacked by Bomber Command on 8/9 June and is still not open to traffic. The LOIRE rail bridge at SAUMUR was passable during a part of June but the effective interdiction of the route by the tunnel blockage proved a serious embarrassment to German military transport.

The damage was caused by four of a number of 12,000 lb. bombs dropped during the riad. [sic] The first of these was a direct hit on the roof of the tunnel close to the SOUTH entrance. The tracks were completely obliterated for a distance of 260 feet commencing about 100 yards S.E. of the tunnel entrance by the second and third craters, while the fourth caused serious damage to the embankment near the entrance. The lining of the tunnel collapsed as a result of the direct hit and a landslide ensued.

By 23 June the craters cutting the line had been filled, debris blocking the lines between the embankment had been cleared and the northbound track had been relaid to the tunnel mouth. Repair of the southbound track was still prevented by the menacing overhang on the embankment. Sufficient debris had been cleared from the roof to confirm the suspicion that the lining had been pierced. Cover of 25 June showed no further significant change.

By 7 July the southbound track had been relaid over about half the length of its damaged portion and a narrow gauge line had been built to the crater in the tunnel roof.

By 17 July both lines had been repaired to the tunnel mouth though work on the damaged embankment was not yet complete. The narrow gauge by this time extended into the crater.

By 24 July the hole in the tunnel roof had not only been fully exposed but had been enlarged and wagons were visible on the track. [sic] below. Cover on the next day confirmed the view that damage had been so severe as to prevent repair without first collapsing the damaged portion of the roof. Two large cranes were by this time at work above the hole and two very large spoil heaps were spreading out to the SOUTH. The sides of the crater were being cut back to eliminate the necessity of building retaining walls. During this operation the lines inside the tunnel were constantly reblocked by spoil.

By 8 August the cutting back of the NORTH side of the roof crater was completed, the light railway had been transferred to the opposite side, and the hole in the roof lining had been enlarged to a rectangle 63 by 28 feet.

The last cover was on 10 August, at which time work was still in progress and traffic was still impossible. It is by now clear that the impressive progress made has not been sufficient to restore the tunnel and the important line it controls in time to be of any service to the enemy.

[underlined] AMENDMENT [/underlined]

[underlined] 23rd August, 1944. [/underlined]


Air Commodore,
[underlined] Chief of Intelligence Officer [/underlined]



Great Britain. Royal Air Force, “Bomber Command Intelligence Digest No 15 - Saumur Tunnel,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 15, 2024,

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