Back to Berlin
23rd August 1943: RAF Bomber Command crews hear the daunting news that tonight's operation is 'all the way' to the German capital
After the attacks on Hamburg and Peenemunde RAF Bomber Command had good reason to feel that it was finally becoming truly effective, not just damaging German industry but undermining German morale. There still remained a hope that bombing alone might win the war, that devastating raids might undermine the Nazi regime to such an extent that the German government would collapse. Maintaining that momentum meant taking the offensive to the heart of Germany, to Berlin.
The attack on Hamburg had resulted in relatively light casualties, as new RAF tactics confounded the night fighters. But the Luftwaffe was already adjusting to new circumstances. And Berlin was a tough target. It was a distant run over the German plains which helped the German defences guess where the attack was headed and prepare accordingly. Berlin itself was very well defended, bristling with searchlights and anti-aircraft guns. It already had a reputation amongst aircrews.
And if you go out thinking you won't come back’ thundered the Wing Commander, ‘you give the Hun that psychological advantage which comes from your own inferiority.’ A cathedral silence stilled the room.