Friday, April 20, 2012

Fullbore Friday

There are some missions that represent much more than just the raw stats and reports ... there is something deeper to them.

A sad thing is - people are still second guessing the mission. Regardless of what side of the "why" you may stand - the tactical performance is simply Fullbore.
Eighteen Mosquitoes took off from RAF Hunsdon in Hertfordshire. They were supported by Typhoons. They immediately hit very poor weather and four Mosquitoes lost contact with the other fourteen and had to turn back. The crews later stated that the weather they had to fly in was the worst they had ever experienced.
One of the pilots on the raid was Maxwell Sparks of the RNZAF. He later stated that the weather was so bad that when the order to take-off came through “to fly in this stuff” he considered that it was “either some form of practice or some form of practical joke”. One other Mosquito had to return to RAF Hunsdon because of engine problems. Therefore, Pickard had thirteen
Mosquitoes to carry out the attack when the plan had been for a force of eighteen. Nine Mosquitoes were used in the attack while four were held in reserve. The crews themselves had been told that Operation Jericho was to free captured Resistance men and Pickard himself had called the raid “death or glory”.
The crews that crossed the French coast were helped in their navigation to Amiens as all they needed to do was find the main road into the city from the coast and it went in a straight line to Amiens. After crossing the coast, the Mosquitoes flew over Tocqueville, Bourdon, Doullens, Albert and then directly to Amiens following the very straight road built by the Romans.
Film of the actual attack exists as one of the Mosquitoes carried photoreconnaissance equipment aboard. The first wave attacked the prison at 12.01 targeting the outer walls. They dropped 500 lbs fuse-delayed bombs. These breached the outer wall and offered prisoners a way out of the prison. A planned precision hit on a guardroom killed and wounded many of the German guards thus making escape far easier.
To disguise the target of their attack, two Mosquitoes peeled off from the rest and attacked Amiens railway station – a more probable target from a defender’s perspective. This seemed to work and it took German forces in the city two hours to organise themselves and head towards the prison as they expected further attacks on key points within the city – and the prison did not fit such a description from their point of view.
By the time German soldiers got to the prison some 258 prisoners had escaped, including 79 members of the Resistance. However, 155 of the escapees were recaptured. 102 prisoners were killed in the raid by the bombs.

If you have an hour - here is a very nice BBC documentary.

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