46 Tons a Minute on Hamburg



46 Tons a Minute on Hamburg


A cutting referring to an attack on Hamburg. It is annotated 'No 3 24-7-43'.



Temporal Coverage




Four newspaper cuttings on an album page


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[inserted] No 3 24-7-43 [/inserted]

46 tons a minute on Hamburg


BOMBER COMMAND dropped more than 2,300 tons of bombs in 50 minutes – 46 tons a minute – on port of Hamburg in the heaviest raid of the war, it was announced last night.

The weight of high-explosives and incendiary bombs was greater than the cascade on Dusseldorf on the night of June 11, a raid which reduced the city to a shambles.

First reports from crews show that the results matched the effort.

There were vast fires in Germany's largest seaport, where more submarines are built yearly than in any other town in German Europe.

Dense black smoke rose four miles into the air, and there are many reports of violent explosions.

Yellow light

The navigator of a Lancaster, Flight-Lieutenant J. D. Henderson, of Auckland, New Zealand, described the effect of an explosive fire.

"From my table," he said, "I couldn't see what was happening below. I thought we were caught in a cone of searchlights.

"A yellow light lit up the whole aircraft. I looked up and saw the light reflected on the wing and then I left my position and looked down at the fire below. It was like a huge mushroom of flames.

Other crews engaged in a light attack on the Ruhr saw the flames of Hamburg 200 miles away.

The first aircraft reached Hamburg a minute or two before zero hour, one o'clock. Their first bombs went down to the second.

Over England the machinery of landing and flying control worked with smooth precision.

The bombers flew through thick cloud over the North Sea as they gained height for the attack, but once they reached land the cloud broke up.

Could see river
Over the target itself there was only haze, and visibility was excellent. Crews could easily see the River Elbe and the docks of Hamburg, except at the very end of the attack, when there was little to be seen except smoke and fires.

Saturday night's attack was a record for speed as well as for weight. In recent attacks on Dortmund and Dusseldorf 2,000 tons of bombs were dropped on each target in about an hour. A still greater weight in 50 minutes last night seems to have swamped and scattered the ground defences of Hamburg.

Sergeant A. E. Newman, of Redhill, a flight-engineer in a Halifax who took part in the last seven attacks on the Ruhr, thought there were even more searchlights over Hamburg than around the Ruhr targets.

"The gunners were using a type of flak I haven't seen before," he said. "It burst like a rocket, with a bright flash, and then scattered a fine spray of red fragments over 50 yards. It was different from the chandelier type, which sends out greenish-coloured starts.

Few fighters

The casualties were extra-ordinarily light in proportion to the great force which was sent to attack one of the most heavily defended places in Germany. Few encounters with night fighters are reported. But a Stirling collided with a German fighter over the target.

"We had bombed the target and were dodging round to avoid the searchlights," said the pilot, Flying-Officer G. Turner, of Winnipeg.

"Suddenly I saw the slim wing and fuselage of a fighter about 25 yards dead ahead of us. I had just time to warn the crew over the inter-com., 'Fighter ahead,' when it hit our starboard wing with a bump.

"It tore away four feet of the starboard wing and above five feet of the starboard aileron, the aileron controls being damaged. The

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2,300 tons on Hamburg

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fighter turned over on its back and went straight down.

"Our Stirling dropped on its starboard side and began to lose height. Luckily the bomb-aimer had just come up from his position and was sitting by me, so that he was able to help me to drag on the control and pull the Stirling level.

"All the way back it was difficult to control the aircraft. The bomb-aimer and I would get the Stirling level on its course, and then down would slip the starboard wing, and we would swing off our course.

"The flight-engineer helped matters by running three engines off the starboard tank, so lightening the starboard side of the aircraft.

"When we were near base I lowered the undercarriage and flaps and tried out how I could handle her like that. She answered to the control perfectly, and I glided down to a safe landing on the runway."


Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and the largest port. But its 22 miles of quays and 110 miles of docks are nowadays little used as Germany has lost her overseas trade.

Hamburg, however, remains a great centre of war industry, and especially of submarine-building yards. The great Blohm and Voss shipyards – which have also built warships, including the Bismarck and the Admiral Hipper – and many other yards, together turn out more submarines than are built in any other town or [missing letter]ort in Germany.

[missing letter]amburg also has a large and [missingletters]portant metal-refining industry. The Germans have made great efforts, not only by the provision of massed defences, but also by elaborate camouflage of the lakes [missing letter]n the centre of the town, to protect the large number of war [missing letter]actories.

Heavy terror raid,' the Germans say

The German News Agency yesterday described the Hamburg attack [missing letter]s a "heavy terror raid." It added that Altona and Barmbeck were also bombed.


“46 Tons a Minute on Hamburg,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 24, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/38132.

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