En time som forandret krigen
In the late evening of August 17, 1943, a fleet of 600 R.A.F. heavy night bombers roared out across the North Sea. The next day, the British Air Ministry's Communiqué recorded that the research and development station at Peenemünde, Germany, had been attacked.
Behind the deliberately vague language of that Communiqué lies one of the most dramatic stories of the war. Unknown to all except a handful of men, R.A.F. Bomber Command had won an aerial battle which was a turning point of the war. It remained a secret, however, for almost a year, until the first robot bombs began to crash on London. By the spring of 1943, the Allied air offensive had opened gaping wounds across the face of Germany and, to beat back our bombers, the Nazis decided to concentrate on the production of fighter planes.
Snart med sin bombefly redusert til noen hundre foreldede maskiner, klarte ikke Luftwaffe å trenge gjennom Storbritannias forsvar bortsett fra treff-og-løp-angrep. Men det gjensto flygende bomber og raketter med lang rekkevidde for å tilfredsstille det tyske folks krav om bombing av represalier. Hvis disse våpnene kunne masseproduseres i tide, ville de gjøre det mulig for tyskerne å ta offensiven i lufta uten å bruke sine dyrebare bombefly eller flyvere.
The decision was taken. Orders went out from Hitler to complete quickly the experimental development of the flying bombs and rockets and to rush them into production. The main development centre for these weapons was the Luftwaffe research station at Peenemünde, tucked away in a forest behind the beach of the Baltic Sea, 60 miles north-east of Stettin and 700 miles from England.
Into Peenemünde went the best technical brains of the Luftwaffe and the top men in German aeronautical and engineering science. In charge was the veteran Luftwaffe scientist, 49-year-old Major-General Wolfgang von Chamier-Glisezensky. Under him was a staff of several thousand professors, engineers, and experts on jet-propulsion and rocket projectiles. These scientists were set to working around the clock, for Hitler hoped to unleash his “secret weapons" during the winter of 1943-1944.
Entusiaster trodde at de hemmelige våpnene ville avgjøre krigen innen 24 timer. Mer realistiske tyskere håpet at de i det minste ville forstyrre den britiske krigsproduksjonen og forsinke invasjonen, eller kanskje tvinge de allierte til for tidlig invasjon av den sterkt forsvarte Calais-kysten som tyskerne ville lansere sine nye våpen fra. Og selv om de ikke klarte å bevise avgjørende, ville represaliebombingen styrke den tyske moralen og være nyttig senere i forhandlinger for en kompromissfred.
By July 1943, British intelligence reports had definitely located Peenemünde as Germany's chief spawning ground for robot bombs and rockets, A file of reports and aerial reconnaissance pictures was placed in the hands of a special British Cabinet committee, which suggested that the R.A.F. grant Peenemünde a high priority in its bombing attentions. Air Chief Marshal Harris decided to stage a surprise raid during the next clear moonlight period.
The German had become careless about Peenemünde. R.A.F. night bombers frequently flew over it on their way to Stettin and even to Berlin, and Germans working at Peenemünde used to watch British planes pass overhead, secure in the belief that the British did not know of Peenemünde's importance. A Special reconnaissance photographs for the raid were taken with great care to avoid Warning the Germans that the R.A.F. was interested in Peenemünde. They were made during routine reconnaissance flights over Baltic ports, to which the Germans had grown accustomed. These photographs enabled planners of the raid to pick out three aiming points where the most damage would be done.
Den første var boligkvarteret til forskerne og teknikerne.
Det andre besto av hangarer og verksteder som inneholder eksperimentelle bomber og raketter. Det tredje var det administrative området - bygninger som inneholder blåtrykk og tekniske data.
The night of August 17 was selected because the moon would be almost full. The bomber crews were informed only that Peenemünde was an important radar experimental station; that they would catch a lot of German scientists there, and that their job was to kill as many of them as possible. After the briefing, a special note from Bomber Command headquarters was read aloud:
"Den ekstreme viktigheten av dette målet og nødvendigheten av å oppnå ødeleggelse med ett angrep er å bli imponert over alle mannskaper. Hvis angrepet ikke lykkes med å oppnå objektet, må det gjentas påfølgende netter - uansett innen praktiske rammer, av havarerte. "
Nearly 600 four-motored heavies took off and roared down on Peenemünde by an indirect route. Peenemünde's defenders, apparently believing that the bombers were headed for Stettin of Berlin, were caught napping. Pathfinders went in first, swooped low over their target and dropped coloured flares around aiming points. Bombers using revolutionary new bombsights followed. Scorning the light flak, wave after wave unloaded high explosives and incendiaries from a few thousand feet on the three clearly visible aiming points.
På under en time var området en nesten kontinuerlig båndstripe.
Da den siste bølgen av bombefly fløy hjemover, fanget de tyske nattkjemperne, som hadde ventet forgjeves rundt Berlin, med dem, og 41 britiske bombefly ble tapt - en liten pris å betale for en av krigens største luftseire.
The next morning a reconnaissance Spitfire photographed the damage. Half of the 45 huts in which scientists and specialists lived, had been obliterated, and the remainder were badly damaged. In addition 40 buildings, including assembly shops and laboratories, had been completely destroyed and 50 others damaged. In a few days news of even more satisfactory results began to trickle in. Of the 7.000 scientists and 'technical men stationed in Peenemünde, some 5.000 were killed or missing. For, at the end of the raid, R.A.F.blockbusters combined with German explosives stored underground had set off such a 'tremendous blast that people living three miles away were killed.
Hovedforsker von Chamier-Glisezenski døde under angrepet.
Reports drifted out from Germany that he had been shot by agents or jealous Gestapo officials. Two days after the attack the Germans announced the death of General Jeschonnek, the Luftwaffe's chief of staff and a young Hitler favourite, who had been visiting Peenemünde, Then the Nazis admitted that General Ernst Udet, veteran aviator of the first World War and early organiser of the Luftwaffe, had met death under mysterious circumstances. It seemed likely that Udet, as head of the technical directorate of the German Air Ministry, had also been in Peenemünde.
Nazi reaction to the raid was violent. Gestapo men quizzed survivors and combed the countryside for ‘traitors who might have tipped off the RAF to Peenemünde's importance. General Walther Schreckenback, of the black-shirted secret-service, was given command of Peenemünde, with orders to resume work on the flying bombs and rockets. But all Germany's plans had to be recast. With Peenemünde half destroyed and open to further attack, new laboratories had to be built deep underground. (According to Swedish reports, these have been constructed on islands in the Baltic.)
Med de beste forskere og spesialister utslettet, måtte nye menn bli funnet for å fortsette utviklingsarbeidet.
Som et resultat av forsinkelsen klarte ikke nazistene å lansere sine hemmelige våpen sist vinter; og de hadde vanskelig for å amme tysk moral gjennom fortsatt allierte luftangrep.
Tyskerne ble videre satt tilbake av allierte luftangrep i løpet av våren med flygende bombe og rakettoppskytningsramper i Pas de Calais, og på fabrikker av komponenter. Så folket fikk beskjed om at de hemmelige våpnene var ment som anti-invasjonsvåpen, og ble reddet for å sprenge de allierte i havnene og på strendene.
D-Day fanget imidlertid tyskerne fremdeles ikke klare. Ikke før syv dager etter at de allierte invaderte Normandie, falt den første flygende bomben på London.
If Peenemünde hadn't been blasted as and when it was, the robotbomb attacks on London doubtless would have begun six months before they did, and would have been many times as heavy. London communications, the hub of Britain and nerve centre of invasion planning and preparation, would have been severely stricken. The invasion itself might have had to be postponed.
Av Allan A. Michie British Digest cirka 1945
Footage of Peenemünde: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IN4M1p_tTKU