17/8/43 Attack Against Targets at Peenemunde (Operation HYDRA)

F/S Allan Johnson Mayfield RNZAF. Pilot
Sgt. C. Tyler. 2nd Pilot*
P/O Jack Francis David Jarmy. Navigator
Sgt. Robert Douglas  Sommerville. Air Bomber
F/S William Lake. Wireless Operator
Sgt. A. Warburton. Flight Engineer
Sgt. Thomas Darbyshire. Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. John Sebastian Hulena RNZAF. Rear Gunner**

Striling Mk.III BK778 ‘U’ for Uncle

Up 20.30 17th August
Down 04.30 18th August
Total Flight Time 8 hours

*Interestingly, Sgt. Tyler is listed in the nominal roll as ‘not a Squadron member’ – he only appears to have flown this raid with the crew.

**NZ416427 Sgt. A/G Hulena J.S. 19/8/43 Recs. Ltr. A2/M/NZ 416427 dated 18/8/45. Promotion Sgt. To F/ Sgt.

75 (NZ) Sqn RAF Operations Record Book (ORB)
Twelve aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000lb., 1,000lb., 500lb. and incendiaries of 30lb., and 4lb. One aircraft returned early owing to the rear turret being unserviceable, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This attack to be well concentrated, large fires and huge explosions being seen. Moderate heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, but caused no trouble. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was good and visibility was clear except for a smoke screen which partially obscured the target. Navigation was excellent. On the return journey the fires could be seen 50 miles from the target.

Page 561, 1943. Form 540/ 541 AIR27/ 646  75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal. National Archives.

Bomber Command War Diary
17/18 August 1943
The Peenemünde Raid
596 aircraft – 324 Lancasters, 218 Halifaxes, 54 Stirlings. This was the first raid in which 6 (Canadian) Group operated Lancaster aircraft. 426 Squadron dispatched 9 Lancaster IIs, losing 2 aircraft including that of the squadron commander, Wing Commander L Crooks, DSO, DFC. This was a special raid which Bomber Command was ordered to carry out against the German research establishment on the Baltic coast where V2 rockets were being built and tested. The raid was carried out in moonlight to increase the chances of success. There were several novel features:- there was a Master Bomber controlling a full-scale Bomber Command raid for the first time; There were three aiming points – the scientists’ and workers’ living quarters, the rocket factory and the experimental station; The Pathfinders employed a special plan with crews designated as ‘shifters’, who attempted to move the marking from one part of the target to another as the raid progressed; Crews of No 5 Group; bombing in the last wave of the attack, had practised the ‘time-and-distance’ bombing method as an alternative method for their part in the raid.

The Pathfinders found Peenemünde without difficulty in the moonlight and the Master Bomber controlled the raid successfully throughout. A Mosquito diversion to Berlin drew off most of the German night-fighters for the first 2 of the raid’s 3 phases. The estimate has appeared in many sources that this raid set back the V-2 experimental programme by at least 2 months and reduced the scale of the eventual rocket attack.
Bomber Command’s losses were 40 aircraft – 23 Lancasters, 15 Halifaxes and 2 Stirlings. This represents 6.7 per cent of the force dispatched but was judged an acceptable cost for the successful attack on this important target on a moonlit night. Most of the casualties were suffered by the aircraft of the last wave when the German night fighters arrived in force. This was the first night on which the Germans used their new schräge Musik weapons; these were twin upward-firing cannons fitted in the cockpit of Me 110s. Two schräge Musik aircraft found the bomber stream flying home from Peenemünde and are believed to have shot down 6 of the bombers lost on the raid.

Page 422, The Bomber Command War Diaries. 2011. Everitt Middlebrook. Midland publishing.

1 thought on “17/8/43 Attack Against Targets at Peenemunde (Operation HYDRA)

  1. Peter Barry

    My father was also on this Peenemunde Raid with 467 Sqn RAAF. He was a Lancaster rear gunner and was wounded by a night fighter during the raid. He was trapped in a burning turret with the hydraulics damaged and on fire with ammunition exploding. His Mid Upper gunner and other crew members put out the fire and chopped him out of the turret with an axe. ALL members of the crew were decorated and my father an IRISHMAN won the DFM. As a result of his injuries he went to East Grinstead hospital where he became a plastic surgery Guinea Pig under pioneering surgeon Sir Alistair McIndoe. He attended reunions at the hospital until his death in 2007 and I had the honour later in his life when his old war wounds played him up of accompanying him. The modest heroes I met there made me feel humble.



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