Lane of Flares Over the Rhine



Lane of Flares Over the Rhine


A newspaper article about attacks on Mannheim-Ludwigshaven. It is annotated 'No 11 23/4/9/43'.

Temporal Coverage




One newspaper cutting


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[underlined] 'LIKE DAYLIGHT RAID' [/underlined] [inserted] No 11 23/4/9/42

Lane of Flares Over the Rhine

LONG strings of flares dropped by enemy fighters made Thursday night's heavy attack by 'planes of Bomber Command on the twin Rhineland towns of Mannheim-Ludwigshafen almost like a daylight raid.

The fighters tried to get the flares in line along both the ingoing and outgoing track of the bombers. The result was two lanes of flares almost at right-angles to each other.

"Flares came whizzing down past us with their parachutes open," said the navigator of a Lancaster.

It was a clear night, with very good visibility. Night fighters were, therefore, given the responsibility of defending the target.

As there was no moon, the Germans used a great number of searchlights, working in small cones, to silhouette the bombers.

At one time 22 JU 88's could be seen by the crew of a single bomber all over the target at the same time. "The sky seemed to be filled with tracer," a pilot said.

Many Combats

Fighters could also be seen up to a distance of 40 miles on each side of Mannheim, and some bombers were followed after they had crossed the coast on the way home. One of these "trailers," a JU 88, was shot down into the sea by a Stirling.

Often the light of the flares gave good warning of the approach of fighters.

There were many combats, and first reports show that a good number of the enemy were destroyed or damaged.

Fires were soon burning in the target. "They were in the shape of a star," one crew reported, "with the main blaze in the centre and [missing letters]er fires radiating out from it."

Other Raids

Mannheim has now been raided 60 times. Ludwigshafen is on the opposite bank of the Rhine, and is an important chemical and armament producing centre.

They were last raided on the night of September 5, when 1,500 tons of bombs were dropped causing heavy damage to big war plants and communication centres.

A third of Mannheim's population of 247,000 is engaged in the electrical and engineering industries. It has miles of docks and wharves and extensive railway installations, with a line linking Germany with Italy. Aero engines and submarine Diesels are made there.

Small forces of bombers also attacked Darmstadt and Aachen, the Air Ministry communiqué states.

Fighter Command aircraft on intruder patrols over France and Germany destroyed four enemy aircraft.

Thirty-two bombers are missing.


“Lane of Flares Over the Rhine,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 25, 2024,

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