Friday, 6 September 2013

8. Jim Haworth - his account of a Baedeker trip

I mentioned in an earlier post the 'Baedeker operations' carried out by the crew after the war had ended. These were flights over some of the squadron's targets to view the extent of the damage and the crews would often carry one or more passengers. Here are Jim's observations on one of these trips, as expressed in his letters to Sally.

May 24th 1945 - "The squadron has started running Cook’s Tours’ Trips now. Two crews a day make a low level tour of the main bombed cities in Germany. We’ll be able to see some of our handiwork. Takes about six hours so you can see it covers a trip of about twelve hundred miles base to base."
June 5th 1945"Yesterday, Tuesday, we were lucky enough to get our turn on one of the Cook’s Tours or Baedeker trips as they are now called.

Page from Bob's log book showing two 'Baedeker' operations
"The part that narked us was that we were called at six & then did not leave until about quarter to four in the afternoon. We took some bods from Bomber Command as passengers. This is where we went:
  • First to Walcheren Island on the Dutch coast where the dyke was breached to flood the island and trap the Germans. It was done, as the Wing Co said 'by 75 assisted by the RAF'. Some snobs aren’t we? There is very little of the place left above the sea with the exception of the town of Flushing.
1944 invasion map showing the position of Flushing on Walcheren Island

  • Then across Belgium to Munchen Gladbach, well damaged.
  • Then to Cologne where by the main bridge across the Rhine the cathedral is the only large building left mainly intact, if knocked about. The city has had a real bashing.
  • From there across several towns in the Ruhr as far as Hamm, which was one of the places we had visited ourselves. Then back to Dortmund, on past Gelsenkirchen, another of our targets, to Essen. That city is just dead. You may have heard & read about the damage done to the Krupp armament works there. It’s not exaggerated a bit. The works themselves are just a huge mass of rusty twisted iron framework & most of the town centre is flat.

What's left of the Krupp factory in Essen.

    • From there to Duisburg, the biggest inland port in Germany (Duisburg is actually the biggest inland port in the world) Every railroad bridge is down & there does not seem to be any movement on the railways. Nor could there be without considerable repairs & new rolling stock.

    • We struck north from there to Wesel, rather I should say where it was. There is just some parts of walls standing & in some places just a flattened mass of rubble. You will remember my mentioning we bombed several times through full cloud cover, by instruments as the papers called it. This place is an indication of the accuracy & concentration obtained. (see earlier post)
    • On the way back we passed near Nijmegen & Arnheim. (Arnheim is the German name for Arnhem) I got Eric to turn off to see the first but by that time he was too tired to go as far as Arnheim. There are still many wrecked gliders lying round in the fields there. (They will have been there since the battle in September 1944)
    Gliders scattered at Arnhem

    • Took us just over four hours. If we had gone in the morning we would have been able to have gone up to Bremen & Hamburg too.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment