Heligoland, 18 avril 1945

Probablement sans importance sur l’issue de la guerre que ces raids dévastateurs sur Heligoland les 18 et 19 avril 1945.

Pourtant…

18 avril 1945

J’avais mal lu le logbook.

On voit 18 et non 19 avril.

18 avril 1945

C’est le 18 que Jacques Morin a participé à cette mission.

Un logbook ne trompe jamais.

avril 1945

Monsieur Morin doit sûrement se rappeler de cette mission de son poste de mitrailleur arrière. Il ne doit pas par contre savoir que cette mission aurait été controversée.

A topic that is probably not talked about that much. On the 18th and 19th of April 1945, the RAF launched devastating air raids against Heligoland. This small island in the North sea had no real tactical importance. There was an airfield on the smaller island {only able to take around a dozen or so Messerschmitt BF109T’s}, and a U-boat pen on the main island, which could hold three subs. In fact, the pens were used more often than not to shelter E-boats and sometimes Sprengbootes. The island had various coastal gun and flak emplacements. There was a civilian population of around 1,900. The war in Europe had move far beyond the reaches of Heligoland, yet on the 18th April, 969 aircraft – 617 Lancasters, 332 Halifaxes and 20 Mosquitos attacked the naval base, the airfield and the town on this small island. The bombing was accurate and the target areas were turned almost into crater-pitted moonscapes. This attack took place between 12.25 and 1.55 pm. 3 Halifaxes were lost. The second attack was carried out the next day between 5.08 and 5.36 pm by 36 Lancasters of 9 and 617 Squadrons, which attacked coastal battery positions at Heligoland with Tallboy bombs. All targets were hit and no aircraft were lost. On the island, there were over 100 killed, mostly military personnel. Most of the civilians had taken refuge in the tunnels and caves around the island. The infrastructure of the island was ruined so much that the fortress commanding officer requested the evacuation of the civilian population. This took place during the nights of 19th and 21st April 1945.

I suppose that the question has to be asked, why such a heavy attack on such as small, somewhat unimportant target? The war in Europe was coming to a close, plain for all to see. 18 days after the attack Germany surrendered! Was this a case of wanting to get rid of surplus munitions before the war ended? Remember how in the First World War, in the hours leading up to the agreed cease fire time, Allied artillery bombardments actually increased in intensity! it? To me it just seems a very senseless, and over the top attack. I was wondering what other people think about? I have found some images to do with Heligoland and the raid.

Mission inutile?

Dans quel but a-t-on bombardé cette île?

Il y eut deux raids consécutifs en avril 1945 selon les informations que l’on trouve sur Internet. Il y en a eu plusieurs autres avant.

Est-ce si important de parler d’Heligoland sur ce blogue dédié au 425 Alouette?

World War II

The area was the setting of the aerial Battle of the Heligoland Bight in 1939, a result of British bombing attempts on German Navy vessels in that area. The area was frequently mined by British aircraft.

During World War II the civilian population remained on the main island and were protected from Allied bombing in rock shelters. Following the island’s penultimate air raid, on 18 April 1945 using 969 Allied aircraft, the island was evacuated. Most of the 128 casualties during the WW II period were anti-aircraft crews.

Bombing and mining of Heligoland during World War II
Date/Target Result
11 March 19 March, 24 August 1944 No. 466 Squadron RAAF conducted minelaying operations.
18 April 1944 No. 466 Squadron RAAF conducted bombing operations.
29 August 1944 Mission 584: 11 B-17 Flying Fortresses and 34 B-24 Liberators bomb Heligoland Island; 3 B-24s are damaged. Escort is provided by 169 P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs; 7 P-51s are damaged.
3 September 1944 Operation Aphrodite B-17 63954 attempt on U-boat pens failed when US Navy controller flew aircraft into Düne Island by mistake.
11 September 1944 Operation Aphrodite B-17 30180 attempt on U-boat pens hit by enemy flak and crashed into sea.
29/30 September 1944 15 Lancasters conducted minelaying in the Kattegat and off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
5/6 October 1944 10 Halifaxes conducted minelaying off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
15 October 1944 Operation Aphrodite B-17 30039 *Liberty Belle* and B-17 37743 attempt on U-boat pens destroyed many of the buildings of the Unterland.
26/27 October 1944 10 Lancasters of No 1 Group conducted minelaying off Heligoland. 1 Lancaster minelayer lost. and the islands were evacuated the following night.
22/23 November 1944 17 Lancasters conducted minelaying off Heligoland and in the mouth of the River Elbe without loss.
23 November 1944 Mosquitoes conducted Ranger patrols in the Heligoland area. No aircraft lost.
31 December 1944 On Eighth Air Force Mission 772, 1 B-17 bombed Heligoland island.[18]
4/5 February 1945 15 Lancasters and 12 Halifaxes minelaying off Heligoland and in the River Elbe. No minelaying aircraft lost.
16/17 March 1945 12 Halifaxes and 12 Lancasters minelaying in the Kattegat and off Heligoland. No aircraft lost.
18 April 1945 969 aircraft – 617 Lancasters, 332 Halifaxes, 20 Mosquitoes bombed the Naval base, airfield, & town into crater-pitted moonscapes. 3 Halifaxes were lost. The islands were evacuated the following day.
19 April 1945 36 Lancasters of 9 and 617 Squadrons attacked coastal battery positions with Tallboy bombs for no losses.

0081-07-bomb over Heligoland - Apr 1945

Trois Halifax ne sont jamais revenus à leur base…

Nice trip…?

Halifax-mk3

18 April 1945 969 aircraft – 617 Lancasters, 332 Halifaxes, 20 Mosquitoes bombed the Naval base, airfield, & town into crater-pitted moonscapes. 3 Halifaxes were lost. The islands were evacuated the following day.

3 réflexions sur “Heligoland, 18 avril 1945

  1. In thinking about this mission against Heligoland, I believe that have to remember that the war is still on and the submarine pens (and their occupants) still posed a threat. From today’s « presentism », we may fail to see the threat that the Allies feared from German submarines.

    • I just posted some views. I know all about presentism.
      Easy to condamn 60 years later.

      I will translate Jacques Morin’s interview.
      That’s the least I can do.
      What he is telling cannot be Google translated.

    • I always welcome your comment Allan.

      I will translate all the 7 missions he made with Georges. No. 4 was the scariest.

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