Royan April 1945

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Peter H
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Royan April 1945

Post by Peter H » 12 Dec 2008 22:23

http://www.thepinklady.fr/post/2006/09/ ... ion:-Royan
In all, according to the Air Force Historical Studies Office, "1,161 heavy bombers destroyed 22 defensive installations consisting of AA and arty positions and strongpoints covering the Gironde estuary"..

On a darker note, the bombing of Royan would be the Eighth Air Force's only use a new weapon in an attempt to kill Germans in their bunkers: napalm . Known as a Class-C Fire Bomb, each napalm bomb contained 108 Gallons of the petrolium substance, and they were only used in a few missions. A B-17 only carried 4 of them ...

As a result of the conventional and napalm bombing of the city of Royan, the city was totally destroyed, with one report citing that only nine houses remained standing . Among the destructive figures is cited that 1,700 French civilians were killed.

http://www.thepinklady.fr/post/2008/01/ ... -Royan-War
Before I write further I should remind you that this little side bar war was planned to start (14 April, 1945) only about three weeks before the big war in Europe came to an end (7 May, 1945)and would involve, we were told, using almost the entire U.S 8th Air Force’s fleet of heavy bombers (over 1200 of them) for 3 days of continuous bombing to open access to The Port of Bordeaux....One would think that an action so important as to warrant the use of virtually the entire U. S. 8th Air Force would be well documented, but I haven’t found this to be so.

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Peter H
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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by Peter H » 12 Dec 2008 22:35

Howard Zinn:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Zinn
Zinn eagerly joined the Army Air Force during World War II to fight fascism, and he bombed targets in Berlin, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.Zinn's anti-war stance was, in part, informed by his own experiences in the military. In April, 1945, he participated in one of the first military uses of napalm, which took place in Royan, France.

The bombings were aimed at German soldiers who were, in Zinn's words, hiding and waiting out the closing days of the war. The attacks killed not only the German soldiers but also French civilians, facts Zinn uncovered nine years after the bombings when he visited Royan to examine documents and interview residents. In his books, The Politics of History and The Zinn Reader, he described how the bombing was ordered at the war's end by decision-makers most probably motivated by the desire for career advancement rather than for legitimate military objectives.
La Poche de Royan
http://www.cheminsdememoire.gouv.fr/pag ... dPage=2679

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http://www.breuillet.net/09armee/03guer ... sroyan.jpg
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Peter H
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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by Peter H » 13 Dec 2008 01:29

House of War,James Carroll,page 88:
..Years later Howard Zinn was mystified by the raid of which he had been a part:"The war was then won.The isolated Germans holed up in Royan were ready to surrender..I asked Zinn what prompted the raid:"Momentum of the war...Punishing the enemy,although mainly who we hit were French people,not our enemy but our friends.But there was something else.A new weapon.Why twelve hundred planes to hit such a relatively insignificant target that late in the war?...The raid on Royan was the Eight Air Force refusing to pass using the new weapon it had been provided.And we flew twelve hundred planes because that was how much napalm we had.."

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by fieldinski » 29 Jan 2010 01:13

I was a navigator on that raid, and we were told that we were bombing the submarine pens. I did know that the brass were looking for targets, and the holdout German garrison was one of the few left. The great war machine was in gear and they needed to keep it going. I was so hopped up by the thrill of going out on missions that I volunteered for this one. Nobody told me they used napalm, though. Of course, we didn't target objectives, but did pattern or area bombing, so of course I knew that it would be a raid on the whole town. Terrible that the French inhabitants got the worst of it. For the submarine pens, and the German troops, were protected by an incredible thickness of concrete.

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Jan 2010 05:11

fieldinski... I assume you were 8th Air Force then? Which Group?

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by fieldinski » 29 Jan 2010 06:06

hi, Carl, I was in the 384th Bomb Group. I flew from the airfield in Grafton-Underwood near Kettering in the Midlands. Were you there?
eddie

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Jan 2010 06:51

No, I'm a mere youth of 55 years. My service was with the Marines from the 1970s to 1990s, mostly with the artillery. My father was a ordnance officer with the 9th AF. B26 Maruaders & A26 Invaders later. Very late, February-April, he went across the Rhine as a air liasion officer with one of the ground units.

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Kingfish
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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by Kingfish » 29 Jan 2010 12:22

Napalm's first documented use in the ETO was against the Isle de Cezembre, a fort located a few miles off the coast of St. Malo, in August '44. These were dropped by P-38s, so I am assuming these would have been 9th Tactical Airforce planes.

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Jan 2010 14:10

Or the 5th AF, which was dedicated to tactical strikes. The 9th AF had some P38s, tho this sort of attack seems closer to the 5th AF mandate due to communications connections and mission doctrine.

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by bernard salmon » 02 Feb 2010 23:56

i was a ball turret gunner on this mission to royan 452nd bomb group 730th sq i think the bombing of keil harbour on april 1st and 2nd with all the refugees from the east was worse.

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Feb 2010 00:40

Sounds a bit like the assualt on Pelieu Island. The action had become unecessary, but at some level a Admiral did not think to cancel it.

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Re: Royan April 1945

Post by ColCampbell » 03 Feb 2020 18:31

My late father was a top turret gunner and flight engineer on a B-17 with 731st Bomb Squadron, 452nd Bomb Group. I've been transcribing his flight diary on my blog. Some of his last combat missions in April 1945 were part of the bombing around the Gironde estuary, in particular on April 15, his mission #25. Here is what he wrote, with my additions from the Mighty Eighth Air Force Calendar web site ( http://www.scottylive.com/mac_calendar/index.html ):
Mission 25: April 15, 1945. Target: Royan, Fr. A 9-hour mission against troop concentration in Nazi ppocket near Bordeaux. Formed over Laon, France. Flew over Paris. Bombed visually from 15,000 feet. No flak in our formation. Ship #807 with 6 - 600# gasoline-jelly P-51 tanks (leaked all over hell [in airplane]. Free French Navy shelling town while we bombed.
[Note: "Mission 951. 1,348 unescorted bombers [B-17 and B-24] are dispatched to visually attack strongpoints on the French Atlantic coast; the first two forces [My father's was the first one.] below make the sole operational employment of napalm bombs by Eighth AF against German ground installations (pillboxes, gunpits, tank trenches, and heavy gun emplacements); the results are negligible and HQ recommends its discontinuance against this type of target:
1. 492 of 529 B-17s hit four strongpoints and flak batteries in the Royan area."]
The information in quotes is from the on-line calendar. The second force was of B-24s and hit six strongpoints and falk batteries in the Royan area.

Jim

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