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Bombing of Cities in France and Low Countries file photo [27686]

Bombing of Cities in France and Low Countries

1 Jul 1940 - 7 May 1945


ww2dbaseFrance, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were taken by German in mid-1940. Raids against military concentrations began as the Germans were still consolidating their positions in their recent conquests. In this early stage of Allied air campaign over France and the Low Countries, northern France and the Netherlands received particular attention, as northern France was the likely staging area for a possible German invasion of Britain, and Netherlands would become the location of several major German airfields which hosted a number of German Air Force (Luftwaffe) units that would take part in the Battle of Britain and the subsequent Blitz. As larger scale daylight raids began to pick up pace in mid-1941, factories and powerplants became frequent targets alongside of harbors, airfields, and other purely military targets. Although Allied leadership intended on minimizing civilians casualties, large number of civilians were killed or wounded nevertheless. In a raid on the Erla Motor Works in Mortsel, Belgium in 1943, for example, most of the bombs dropped by B-17 aircraft of US 8th Air Force missed the factory and landed in the town, killing 936 and wounding 1,600 in a span of 8 minutes. France suffered even greater casualties at the hands of Allied airmen, particularly before and during the Normandie invasion of Jun 1944 and the southern France invasion of Aug 1944. Some of the deadliest include the 27 May 1944 bombing of Marseille that killed 1,752, the 6-7 Jun 1944 bombing of Caen that killed more than 1,000, among others. In total, France suffered 68,778 civilian deaths due to Allied air attacks.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Update: Jul 2018

Bombing of Cities in France and Low Countries Interactive Map

Bombing of Cities in France and Low Countries Timeline

21 Jul 1940 British Blenheim bombers of No. 107 Squadron RAF attacked Caen, Morlaix, and Querqueville in France.
22 Jul 1940 Blenheim bombers of No. 107 Squadron of 2 Group of British RAF Bomber Command attacked Creil, France, starting a large fire.
1 Aug 1940 In the morning, a British Spitfire fighter on a photo reconnaissance mission found a build-up of German aircraft on the Cotentin Peninsula in France. At 1540 hours, 13 British bombers escorted by 10 fighters attacked, causing some damage but in turn losing 1 bomber and 2 fighters.
30 Aug 1940 British RAF Bomber Command aircraft attacked oil refineries near Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
28 Aug 1941 18 British Bleinheim bombers attacked German targets at Rotterdam, the Netherlands; 7 bombers were shot down.
2 Sep 1941 RAF bombers began daylight bombing of targets in northern France.
24 Mar 1942 18 RAF Boston light bombers attacked targets in northern France, targeting power stations, rail marshaling yards, and other targets of military importance.
2 Apr 1942 40 British Wellington and 10 Stirling bombers attacked the Ford factory at Poissy, France.
14 Apr 1942 12 British DB-7 Boston bombers damaged the Mondeville power station in Calvados, France during a daylight raid.
24 Apr 1942 12 British RAF DB-7 Boston bombers attacked Vlissingen, the Netherlands, damaging docks without any losses.
29 Apr 1942 88 British bombers (73 Wellington, 9 Hampden, 6 Stirling) attacked the Gnome et RhĂ´ne aircraft engine factory near Paris, France; one building was destroyed and three buildings damaged at the cost of 3 bombers destroyed.
30 Apr 1942 24 British DB-7 Boston bombers attacked Flushing in the Netherlands and Abbeville, Morlaix, and Le Havre in France. All aircraft returned safely.
29 May 1942 77 British aircraft (31 Wellington, 20 Halifax, 14 Lancaster, 9 Stirling, 3 Hampden) attacked the Gnome et RhĂ´ne aircraft engine factory at Gennevilliers northwest of Paris, France, causing little damage; 34 French civilians were killed, 167 were injured; 5 bombers were lost in this mission.
29 Jun 1942 The first USAAF involvement in the European air war occurred when one American crew joined No. 226 Squadron RAF at RAF Swanton Morley in Norfolk, England, United Kingdom for a raid on northern France.
4 Jul 1942 Six American aircrews from the 15th Bomb Squadron (Light) operated six RAF Boston bombers to accompany six similar RAF aircraft on a bombing mission against enemy airfields in the Netherlands. This was the first USAAF Eighth Air Force operation of the war and resulted in its first casualties and first medal awards, for two aircraft failed to return from the mission. For returning home on one engine from this mission, Captain Charles Kegelman would be personally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Major General Spaatz, the then commander of the Eighth Air Force.
17 Jul 1942 B-17 bombers of the USAAF VIII Bomber Command planned attacks on Hannover and Hamburg, Germany, but both missions were recalled after launch due to poor weather. 33 of the bombers attacked targets of opportunity after receiving the recall order; 21 of them attempted to attack the Fokker factory at Amsterdam, the Netherlands but accidentally dropped bombs on civilian quarters, killing 150. On the same day, B-26 bombers of US VIII Air Support Command attacked Cayeux, France as a diversion to draw German fighters away from the primary targets in Germany.
17 Aug 1942 The US Eighth Air Force launched its first "All-American" air raid over Europe with 12 B-17E Flying Fortress bombers escorted by four squadrons of Spitfire fighters attacking rail marshalling yards at Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France. Interruption by German fighters caused the damage to be minimal.
6 Sep 1942 B-17E bombers of US Eighth Air Force attacked an aircraft factory near MĂ©aulte, France, without fighter escort because the fighters had failed to make the rendezvous. The raid caused no damage on the French aircraft production ; two US bombers were shot down.
15 Sep 1942 12 British Boston bombers attacked Cherbourg, France, sinking whaling factory ship Solglint in the harbor.
17 Oct 1942 94 British Lancaster bombers attacked the Schneider armament factory at Le Creusot in central France in daylight; 1 bomber was lost on this mission.
3 Jan 1943 USAAF heavy bombers attacked the docks and U-Boat pens at Saint-Nazaire, France, starting several fires.
16 Feb 1943 USAAF heavy bombers attacked the German U-Boat pens at Saint-Nazaire, France.
8 Mar 1943 US bombers escorted by RAF Spitfires attacked the U-Boat supply centre of Rennes and Rouen in France. The accompanying Spitfire fighters claimed the destruction of 25 enemy fighters.
30 Mar 1943 RAF bombed the Philips factory in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
8 May 1943 At 1203 hours, ten B-24 bombers of the US 44th Bomber Group took off from their base at Shipdham, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom and rendezvoused with B-24s of US 329th Squadron. Their 18th mission was to target the marshalling yards in Rouen, France. This was the largest railway yard in Northern France and all rail traffic to the Channel ports had to pass through, also there was important dock facilities in the town next to the yards. The bombers with Spitfire escorts crossed the British coast at Beachy Head and then reached France at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme at 1353 hours. As they approached the target a strong FW 190 formation attacked head on bringing down two aircraft. These two B-24 bombers were taken by surprise as they thought that the fights were P-47 fighters that were expected over the target. The loss of these two lead aircraft caused the remainder ships to abandon the primary target and to bomb targets of opportunity to the north. Seven B-24s returned to base at 1510 hours after fighting all the way through the more than 40 enemy fighters, claiming several as destroyed. Gunners of the 67th Squadron claiming six.
14 May 1943 The Martin B-26 Marauder made its operational debut in northern Europe with a partially successful attack by US 322nd Bomb Group on the Velsen power station at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands.
14 Jul 1943 USAAF Eighth Bomber Command attacked three targets in France, with 111 B-17 bombers and 5 YB-40 bombers launched against aircraft factories at Villacoublay (3 B-17 bombers lost), 64 B-17 bombers launched against Glisy Airfield at Amiens (1 B-17 bomber lost), and 84 B-17 bombers launched against LeBourget Airfield at Paris (4 B-17 bombers lost).
5 Nov 1943 SOE agents and resistance fighters sabotaged the Peugeot motor works at Sochaux (near Belfort and the Swiss border) which had been classified by the British Ministry of Economic Warfare as the third most important industrial target in France.
4 Jan 1944 80 British RAF aircraft attacked two German flying bomb sites in France.
14 Jan 1944 82 RAF aircraft attacked German flying bomb sites at Ailly, Bonneton, and Bristillerie in France.
22 Feb 1944 Nijmegen, the Netherlands was heavily bombed by American planes, causing great damage to the city center and killing 800 civilians.
11 Apr 1944 The Gestapo HQ in The Hague, Netherlands was attacked by RAF Mosquito aircraft.
18 Apr 1944 RAF Bomber Command's No. 5 Group attacked Rouen, Juvisy-sur-Orge, Noisy-le-Sec, and Tergnier, killing a total of 1,383 French civilians. The strategically important rail marshalling yards at Juvisy-sur-Orge was virtually destroyed.
18 Jun 1944 British No. 617 Squadron attacked the 20-foot thick concrete dome containing V-2 rockets at Wizernes, France without success. They would return to this target on multiple occasions in the following month.
24 Jun 1944 British No. 617 Squadron attacked the 20-foot thick concrete dome containing V-2 rockets at Wizernes, France with "Tallboy" bombs. The bombs caused extensive damage to buildings, roads and railway lines.
25 Jun 1944 British No. 617 Squadron attacked the German V-2 store at Siracourt, France with 17 Lancaster, two Mosquito, and a Mustang (a gift from the USAAF) aircraft; the Mustang fighter was flown by Leonard Cheshire and used as a low-level marker aircraft.
6 Jul 1944 Wing Commamner Leonard Cheshire led a "Tallboy" attack on the V-3 gun structure at Mimoyecque. After this mission, the last of his fourth tour, he was ordered to rest (he never flew operations again) and two months later he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
18 Jul 1944 An attack of the marshalling yards near the French town of Revigny by 107 Lancaster bombers of No. 5 Group, RAF Bomber Command met with disaster when the bombers were intercepted by Luftwaffe fighters as the bombers approached their target East of Paris. Twenty-four of the attackers were shot down including five from No. 619 Squadron. Only two men from the squadron's losses survived - the bomb-aimer from Flying Officer Begernie's crew and the rear gunner from Flying Officer Morcan's crew.
20 Jul 1944 Canadian frigate HMCS Matane was damaged by a glider bomb off Brest, France, killing 2.
3 Mar 1945 57 Mitchell and Boston bombers of the RAF Second Tactical Air Force were sent to bomb a suspected rocket launching site in a wooded park in the Hague in the Netherlands. Some of the 69 tons of bombs meant for the site missed by as much as 500 yards, hitting the Bezuidenhout district. 500 civilians were killed and 2,000 were injured, while several thousands were made homeless. The German occupation refused to help the survivors, delaring that the "Dutch have to learn what it is like", referring to the Allied bombing of German cities of Hamburg, Dresden, and others.


View of Rotterdam, the Netherlands during an aerial attack, 16 Jul 1941, seen from the dorsal turret of a Blenheim bomberB-26 Marauder departing from a bomb strike on Auderville, France, Jun-Jul, 1944
See all 11 photographs of Bombing of Cities in France and Low Countries

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Jacob van Oosterom says:
14 Mar 2017 12:32:23 PM

The list is far from complete. It does not include the Allied bombings of so-called targets of opportunity throughout Netherlands. I vividly recall --at age 3 or 4-- seeing a Lancaster not more than 100 meters overhead as it completed its bombing run on the railway marshaling yard in our town (Alphen). Now that is something you will never forget. Etched forever in my memory banks.
2. Paul says:
24 Oct 2019 12:17:39 AM

Trying to locate the whereabouts of place called Mouzoudin attacked on 8/6/1944. It does not appear on searches. A Mosquito aircraft of 107 Squadron was lost on return from this raid. Can anyone help I am researching for a friend.

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Bombing of Cities in France and Low Countries Photo Gallery
View of Rotterdam, the Netherlands during an aerial attack, 16 Jul 1941, seen from the dorsal turret of a Blenheim bomberB-26 Marauder departing from a bomb strike on Auderville, France, Jun-Jul, 1944
See all 11 photographs of Bombing of Cities in France and Low Countries

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