Hamburg is devastated by a firestorm
28th July 1943: A series of raids, regarded by some as 'Germany's Hiroshima' create hellish conditions and widespread casualties
Operation Gomorrah, the RAF and USAAF attack on the port of Hamburg continued. The night before just six Mosquito aircraft had raided the city to keep the defence forces on constant alert. On the night of 27th/28th July 787 RAF bombers participated in another big attack, guided on to the target, east of the city centre, by markers from the Pathfinder Force. Once again 'Window' was successfully deployed and casualties were low in the attacking force.
On this occasion conditions combined to produce one of the most destructive raids of any bombing raid in the war. The combination of 2,326 tons of high explosive and incendiary bombs tore open the tenement buildings and set them alight. Once the fire started, it fuelled itself. The burning flames sucked in oxygen, creating huge winds that spread the fire further. Soon it was a firestorm, completely out of control.
… something snapped in a neighbour and, caught up in a panic, he took his bed cover and wanted out. None of us could stop him. We saw him still, but only as a living torch carried by the firestorm, "flying through the air".