Essen, Edward King's 6th operation of his tour



Essen, Edward King's 6th operation of his tour


Four items, Edward's description of the operation, comments that their D.R. compass went U/S over their base, lots of searchlights but not so much anti-aircraft fire. Edwards nav plot, the expected H2S plot over Essen. Newspaper cuttings describing the operations that night including Essen.




Temporal Coverage



A handwritten document, navigation log, H2S plot, newspaper cuttings


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SKingEJ182986v10034, SKingEJ182986v10035, SKingEJ182986v10036, SKingEJ182986v10037


[underlined] Essen [/underlined]

[underlined] 26/4/44 [/underlined]

Airborne 2300
[underlined] Landed 0300 [/underlined]

D. R. Compass unserviceable over base. Set course 10 minutes late but cut off corner on sea-leg.

Target area one solid mass of searchlights.

Flak not so heavy as usual.

[page break]


[page break]


[page break]

[italics] Krupps City's Defences Weak: [/italics]




Some 3,000 tons of high-explosives and incendiaries, it is estimated were dropped by the R.A.F. in its fourth 1,000-bomber raid in little more than a week. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, Bomber Command Chief, once again tricked the air defences of Germany by a feint on Hamburg.

But while Mosquitoes pounded HAMBURG with 4,000lb blockbusters, the main force went on to drop about 2,000 tons on ESSEN, Krupps arms city in the Ruhr.

Another strong fleet attacked SCHWEINFURT, home of the Nazis' No. 1 ball-bearing plants in Bavaria. The targets were left a sea of flames.

Well over 1,000 big R.A.F. bombers hammered Essen, Schweinfurt, Hamburg and railyards at Villeneuve St. Georges, near Paris, on Wednesday night.

[page break]


Enemy Kept Guessing

The whole plan for the R.A.F.'s attack on Wednesday night was well conceived and as brilliantly executed.

From about midnight to one o'clock was a dramatic hour over Germany as the enemy fighter packs, massed at various danger points in the Reich, were trying to guess where Bomber Command's blows were going to fall.

One large force of Lancasters and Halifaxes was flying north. Two others were going south. The northern force seemed to be making for Hamburg. What actually happened was that Mosquitoes bombed this target.

From the reports of the crews there can be little doubt that the Nazis sent strong reinforcements to meet this attack, for while the Mosquitoes were there dozens of fighter flares were falling over the city.

Meanwhile the main force had turned towards Essen. Although the Ruhr defences went into action, there seemed to have been only a few fighters to bar the way.


Dusk-to-Dawn Flight

The strong force of Lancasters which bombed Schweinfurt had much less chance of giving the packs the slip. The route took them on a round flight of some 1,200 miles, most of it over enemy territory. At any point the German packs could intercept the bombers.

The Lancasters were in the air for no less than nine hours. They left England while it was still light. As they crossed the English coast on the return dawn was just breaking.

Essen got the heaviest attack. It opened shortly before half-past one. Some of the bombers arrived over the target just before zero hour. The defences lay low, evidently hoping that the town might still escape.

Then the first bombs and flares went down. In the words of a Halifax pilot, "Every searchlight, torch and lamp they could muster was turned on us. I have never seen so many searchlights before."

By the end of the raid crews reported the whole place seemed to be ablaze, said the Air Ministry last night. "It was one of the best attacks I've been in," commented another pilot.

[page break]

[underlined] Spy Planes Watch [/underlined']

"Essen was last attacked heavily only a month ago, but until then it had been left in peace for nine months. During the Battle of the Ruhr, which opened on the night of March 5 last year, nearly two-thirds of Krupps was either destroyed or damaged, and by the time the battle was over it was estimated that the damage amounted to a loss of six months' output.

"Since then the Germans have been industriously working to repair some of the damage.

"By September the enemy had repaired about a third of the superficial damage and a great deal of work has been put in since.

"Reconnaissance aircraft have Bomber Command fully informed of the progress of the work, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris has allowed it to continue until there was sufficient to merit another major attack.

"Last night widespread fires were left burning in Essen, and crewe [sic] after crew reported that they could see high-explosive bombs bursting in the centre of the fires.

"The defences were almost negligible, and experienced pilots [map] drew an extraordinary contrast between the German defences last night and those of a year ago.

"I flew almost on exactly the same route last midsummer," said Flight-Lieutenant B. Sprackling, A Halifax flight-engineer, of Midhurst, Sussex. "Then we were being pitched all over the sky by bursting flak; this time it was more like a cake-walk.


Edward King, “Essen, Edward King's 6th operation of his tour,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 22, 2024,

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