Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

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tigre
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Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 26 Feb 2023 16:01

Hello to all :D; a summary point of view.............................

Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.

Although the Anglo-American air forces began their attack on the railway installations controlled by Germany in 1941, it was not until 1944 that the destruction of these installations became systematic, particularly during the 3 months preceding the Normandy invasion. From the military point of view, the chief characteristics of a railway network are its vulnerability, the multiplicity of its missions, and the ease with which it may be repaired.

- Vulnerability results from its extension, the density of its installations at certain points, and the presence of numerous structures such as bridges and tunnels.
- Multiplicity of its missions includes its use for civilian supply (bolstering the economic life of a country); the transportation of the wounded and men on leave; and the movement of reinforcements and equipment.
- Ease of repair refers to the speed with which the rail network can be rehabilitated thereby reducing the effectiveness of attacks against this form of communications.

The Germans in France, as well as in the Reich itself, succeeded in taking advantage of this characteristic and perfected numerous new repair methods. It is in this respect that railways, in the words of' Air Marshal Sir Arthur T, Harris, Chief of the Bomber Command, may be considered as "unrewarding targets". For this reason, railway communications occupied only ninth place in the Combined Bomber Offensive Plan established by the Allies at the time of the Casablanca Conference.

On the other hand, when they had some 4,000 heavy bombers at their disposal, and the plans of Operation Overlord had been established, the Allies considered the moment ripe to begin a vast operation of systematic destruction of the railway lines controlled by the enemy. It could not be hoped that the same results would be obtained on the dense French network that had been obtained by the Germans on the weak Polish network. To these technical considerations was added a psychological problem which was impossible to ignore: What would the reaction of the French people be to the destruction of their railway network?

On 6 March 1944, the campaign of destruction of the French railway lines began. It was to be carried out in three phases.
1. Beginning 6 March: bombing of the large railway centers.
2. Beginning 7 May: bombing of the railway bridges spanning the Seine, the Loire, and the Oise; and the railway bridges situated on the Paris-Etampes-Orleans line.
3. Beginning 20 May: machine-gunning of trains and tracks, and bombing of small stations.

To accomplish this plan, the Anglo-Americans had at their disposal 4,200 heavy bombers, 1,100 medium and light bombers, and more than 2,000 escorting fighters. Opposing these forces, the Germans had only about 150 single-engine fighter planes and 300 twin-engine planes concentrated in Holland, Belgium, and in the west, north, and east of France. The greatest concentration was in the northern French-Belgian zone.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 26 Feb 2023 20:52

The Germans in France, as well as in the Reich itself, succeeded in taking advantage of this characteristic and perfected numerous new repair methods. It is in this respect that railways, in the words of' Air Marshal Sir Arthur T, Harris, Chief of the Bomber Command, may be considered as "unrewarding targets". For this reason, railway communications occupied only ninth place in the Combined Bomber Offensive Plan established by the Allies at the time of the Casablanca Conference.

I've been looking at the literature on this transportation campaign for over a decade now. Not taken a deep dive into the actual AAF & RAF papers on it, but there are some interesting summaries I've run across. & yes it proved frustrating to bomb tracks and see them repaired the next day, or the same day. Marshalling yards, were just as bad. The managers learned not to store large numbers of wagons & engines there. Dispersing them along scattered sidings & unused tracks. The trains were moved off on the Marshalling yards as fast as practical. This reduced the simultaneous destruction of rolling stock and tracks. Similarly as the repair shops were bombed they were dispersed & concealed. Possibly the largest reduction of French/Belgian rolling stock was by the Germans, who repeatedly removed engines and wagons to the Reich or to the Eastern Front. The Italians and other minors took a small cut from this loot.

In March of 1944 the transportation staff of OB West passed their report on the railways to Rundsteadt. the numbers were already bad & even without further losses the ability to supply the armies of OB West in combat was in doubt. Further the projected losses to Allied air attack and operating losses of worn out equipment would reduce the military supply railway capacity to something close to zero in June 1944.

On 6 March 1944, the campaign of destruction of the French railway lines began. It was to be carried out in three phases.
1. Beginning 6 March: bombing of the large railway centers.
2. Beginning 7 May: bombing of the railway bridges spanning the Seine, the Loire, and the Oise; and the railway bridges situated on the Paris-Etampes-Orleans line.
3. Beginning 20 May: machine-gunning of trains and tracks, and bombing of small stations.
Note #2 the bridges. I've not figured out why the large railway centers had priority. Perhaps there were multiple reasons. There is some literature on the efforts of the AAF to reduce the French/Belgian railways in 1943-44. As mentioned before the results were frustrating. However bridge destruction had some promise. It took months to completely restore a high speed bridge. Temporary bridges and ferry proved slow and just as vulnerable as regular bridges to repeat attacks. The problem was neither RAF nor the AAF had much success in dropping bridges before late 1943. It took a concentrated effort in experimentation and then training to reach the required skill level. Forgetting the threats inherent in medium to low altitude attack was part of the solution. The US 9th AF acquired the habit of attacking targets from 15,000', 10,000', or less. They simply could not get the required accuracy from 20,000+ feet altitude.

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 26 Feb 2023 21:21

By a coincidence, I came across this paper in the UK NA File AIR37/1110 last week. These are the papers of AVM Robb who was Deputy COS Air in SHAEF. Interestingly, Robb was also co-author of the British official history of the campaign in NW Europe.
SECRET
SUPREME HEADQUARTERS
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff G-2
FORWARD HEADQUARTERS
11th September 1944
SUBJECT: Air Attacks on Railway Stations

To: See Distribution.

The short attached paper has been prepared as a result of investigations carried out at a few rail centres in FRANCE. It is hoped to follow this report with others of a similar nature. In view of the interest in the statements made by railway officials, this is being circulated immediately without waiting for the remainder of the investigations.

For the AC of S, G-2:
[sgd: E.J. Foord]

E.J. FOORD
Colonel,
G-2, OI.

DISTRIBUTION:

AC of S, G-2
D/AC of S G-3
D/AC of S, G-4
Col. FOORD, G-2
BGS(I) 21 Army Group
AC of S, G-2, Twelfth Army Group
OIC, AEAF
Advanced AEAF (Major STAMP)
Lt-Col. BARRETT, AEAF
Major WHITE, 21 Army Group
Major KINSELBURGER [?], Twelfth Army Group
Lt-Col. HAYWARD, AEAF
Gp Capt. HUMPHREYS, SHAEF
USSTAF Fwd (Lt-Col ??)
USSTAF Main (Major BENSON)
Major ??, Tn Ic, War Office
Lt-Col CORBETT, G-4 (Military Railways) SHAEF
Railways Research Services
Sqn Ldr WIGGLESWORTH, AI 3 c, Air Ministry.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SECRET

AIR ATTACKS ON RAILWAY STATIONS.

1. Interviews were recently held with the following French railway officials:

(a) LE MANS: Chief Divisional Engineer (Permanent Way)

(b) CHARTRES: Assistant Divisional Engineer (Permanent Way)
Stationmaster.

(c) TRAPPES: Assistant Engineer (Permanent Way)

(d) VILLENEUVE – ST GEORGES: Chief Divisional Inspector (Traffic)
Chief Divisional Engineer (Permanent Way)
Assistant Divisional Inspector (Traction)

(e) VILLENEUVE: Stationmaster.

2. These interviews revealed above al that attacks on stations on main lines in FRNACE added very considerably to the effectiveness of strafing attacks along the lines.

3. Attacks on stations caused very much more damage than simply cutting the line for a limited period. The following were the main additional effects of such attacks.

(a) Damage to troop and freight trains;

(b) Damage to running facilities;

(c) Disorganisation of signalling, telephone and general control system;

(d) Damage to military stores in station yard;

(e) Damage to road approaches to station;

(f) Demoralisation of station staff.

Any number of these effects were achieved by a relatively small attacks (e.g. four or five attacks).

4. A series of attacks on stations along specific main lines produce a state of creeping paralysis on through traffic. The signal and automatic block systems were invariably damaged and required a considerable length of time to repair, even when repair materials and equipment were readily available. A through running line was generally established between 24 and 48 hours after an attack and a second line in not more than four days but for a considerably longer time every train had to be passed through the station by hand signals and hand switching, which produced delays varying from half an hour to several hours per station. The cumulative effect of such delays, not even taking into account the necessity for trans-shipment around destroyed bridges and embankments, explains some of the extraordinary retardations in the enemy transport schedule during his effort to reinforce the battle-front in NORMANDY.

5. Total depletion of stocks made the replacement of damaged switches and crossings impossible except by removing intact pieces from sections of track or sidings which had consequently to be abandoned. In recent months, this became one of the most difficult factors in restoring running through damaged station areas.

SECRET

2.

6. The effectiveness of these attacks may be gauged by the single example of CHARTRES, which before the invasion handled over 50 German trains per day. The first attack on the station after D-Day took place on 14 June, followed, until the German departure on 16 Aug, by 17 more on the station or its approaches. The consequence, in conjunction with the destruction of the MAINTENON viaduct on the PARIS line and frequent line cuts to the WEST and SOUTH, was that the daily average dropped to one train. These few trains, not being able to go further, slowly clogged the station and on three occasions, when the lines were filled with immobilized supply trains, the station was attacked with very satisfactory results.

G-2 (Intelligence Division),
Supreme Headquarters,
AEF.

11 Sep 44
The paper is one of several that seems to have been created to inform the discussion around this time within SHAEF circles on how best the Allied strategic forces could provide support to the ground forces as described in one paper on 13 September:
The dislocation of the enemy’s road, water and rail transportation to the Battle Area is undoubtedly the best method by which the Strategic Bomber Forces can lend decisive support to the land battle in the final assault upon Germany. (This is subject to the proviso that adequate measures are maintained to prevent any build up of enemy air opposition).
My bold and italics.

BTW this yet again signals that in the planning period before Op Market Garden it wasn't just 21 Army Group who saw the end of the war in sight.

Regards

Tom

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 27 Feb 2023 01:50

Carl and Tom, thanks for those helpful complements :wink:. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 05 Mar 2023 14:26

Hello to all :D; more.............................

Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.

The first attack was launched by the Bomber Command on the night of 6-7 March 1944. The target was the Trappes switch yards located about 25 miles from Paris in the French National Railway Zone [Societe Nationale de Chemins de fer Francaise (SNCF)]. It was the first of 37 targets assigned to the Bomber Command. On this same day, American bombers attacked their first objective, the Hirson switch yards. One hundred B-26 and A-20 medium bombers of the Ninth Air Force attacked, in successive formations, from an altitude of 6,500-10,000 feet. About fifteen hundred 300-and 500-pound bombs were dropped. Three hundred of them fell outside of the switch yards, killing 52 persons and destroying 40 houses.

Three hundred bombs struck the locomotive shed damaging 40 locomotives and rendering all the machine-tools useless. Tracks were completely torn up for a distance of several hundred yards, and all movement was stopped for 2 days. However, by 10 March, traffic was restored on the coal lines-Hirson-Lille and Hirson-Laon-the most important from the German point of view. Thus, from the very beginning, the characteristic ease of repair of railway lines was revealed.

At 22:00 on 23 March, the railway center of Laon was the objective of 100 heavy bombers of the RAF Bomber Command. After Mosquito Pathfinders marked the target, the bombers arrived and dropped their loads. However, the bombs were dropped before the marking was completed. This haste and an unfortunate selection of a direction of attack, perpendicular to the tracks, resulted in bad dispersion. Out of nearly 1,000 bombs dropped, only 400 struck the railway installations. However, they hit in the right spot. The engine shed was blocked, because the tracks leading to it were torn up, thereby cutting and immobilizing the Soissons line for a week. And most important, the switch yards wpre useless up to 4 April.

These results, however, were poor compensation for the destruction of the railway employees' housing section, and the destruction of the eastern and western suburbs of the city.

Four times, during March, the large Petit Thérain engine shed and the Creil switch yards were violently attacked by American bombers. At 00:13 on 17 March, three waves of ,B-26s dropped 500 bombs, causing numerous breaks in the tracks, complete immobilization of the switch yards for an indetermined period, and the complete blockage of the engine shed. Three hundred cars were destroyed or damaged.

The day following this attack, only the Chantilly and Beauvais lines were open for train movements. French and German crews were in the process of clearing the tracks when, on the 20th, more than 100 American planes again attacked. All repairs that had been completed were nullified. The engine shed, which had been spared 3 days previously, was partly burned.

On the 23d, a general bombing attack on the Creil and Petit Thérain railway centers was carried out by the heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force. Petit Thérain was attacked at 12:00 by nine waves of B-17s. The buildings and the engine shed were entirely destroyed. Two cranes, one of 130 tons capacity, the only one of its kind in France, and another of 50 tons capacity, which was being used in clearing the tracks, were rendered useless. The 130-ton crane, which was overturned onto the Creil-Chantilly tracks, was not righted until 2 months later. Due to the tracks being torn up, 11 locomotives were blocked in the engine shed. Six hundred and fifty cars were destroyed. The attack on Petit Thérain was hardly over when Creil was hammered. About 40 planes produced considerable damage on the railway lines leading to Beauvais and Chantilly. When the bombers returned to the attack on the 26th, they only hammered ruins. At Petit Thérain, all activity had ceased in the switch yard and the engine shed, and but a single main track had been restored.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 12 Mar 2023 13:35

Hello to all :D; more.............................

Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.

The 22 bombing attacks on railway switch yards during March ended with the destruction of the Vaires yards. Due to the geographic location, this operation is outside of the field of this article, howeyer, it should be covered because of its strategic impodance.

Vaires, astride the Paris-Strasbourg line, was a point through which all eastwest trains. had to pass. In spite of its military importance, this objective was not defended against air attacks. It was protected only when military trains with light antiaircraft guns mounted on cars were in the station. The RAF encountered this type of defense during their attack on the night of 29-30 March.

After successfully marking the target to indicate the center of the switch yards, the waves of bombers arrived, dropping their bombs perpendicular to the tracks. The first wave met resistance from antiaircraft guns on the trains standing in the yards, but the second wave reduced the defense to silence.

Results were remarkable for the dispersion zone did not extend over 220 yards beyond the target. Three troop trains in the yard were pulverized by direct hits and the explosion of an ammunition train. Where the latter had stood, there was left only a trench some 20 feet deep by 220 yards long. One of the two engine sheds was completely destroyed, blocking all traffic between Paris and Strasbourg. Thus ended the first month of the systematic destruction of German communications in France.

In April, the Anglo-American air forces began to extend their zone of action. The Allied High Command, having been informed of the effects of the previous month's bombings through its owll intelligence sections and the French resistance networks, started dispatching bombers in a vast operation aimed at blocking the railway networks of the north, west, and east. This operation was concentrated particularly on objectives in the Paris region, for it was in this area that the Germans were constructing new junction points to replace the connecting centers destroyed by previous bombings.

The attacks began with the bombing of Vilieneuve-Saint Georges and Lille la Delivrance, on the night of 9-10 April. The following day, more than 200 four-engine bombers of the RAF attacked Saint Pierre des Corps near Tours. The railway installations at Tours and Saint Pierre des Corps constituted one of the largest rail centers of the zone southwest of Paris. There were nine lines branching out from these two centers in the direction of Paris, Lyon, Nantes, and Bordeaux. The railway yards, extending over a distance of more than 3 miles, were one of the largest in France, During an attack on this objective, which lasted for more than 2 1/2 hours, British bombers dropped 1,200 bombs and thousands of incendiary bombs. The Saint Pierre des Corps passenger station, the engine shed, and the switch yards were completely destroyed as were the central switching post and the car shops at Tours.

That same night, the Tergnier switch yards were pounded by more than 1,000 bombs. However, only 300 bombs fell on railway installations. Despite this dispersion, and the fact that the alert had not been given, civilian losses were relatively light. The military results, on the other hand, were considerable. Some 50 locomotives were blocked in the engine shed, all the tracks leading to the switch yards were cut, and the highway bridge which passed over the switch yards was dropped onto the tracks. However, by the morning of the 12th, traffic had been resumed in the direction of Amiens, Saint Quentin, and Laon. However, in Laon, a 30-minute bombing attack, carried out a few hours after the attack on Tergnier, blocked all movement toward the north or the east. That same night, Aulnoye was pounded for 25 minutes. These three attacks stopped all rail movement between Paris and the eastern sector of the northern coal basin.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 19 Mar 2023 14:10

Hello to all :D; more.............................

Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.

On the night of 18-19 April, a series of bombing attacks directed against Paris and surrounding suburbs were begun. That night, shortly after midnight, several hundred heavy bombers attacked Noisy Ie Sec and Juvisy. At Noisy Ie Sec, more than 3,800 houses were destroyed or damaged. Some 15,000 of the city's 23,000 inhabitants were victims in one way or another. At Juvisy, the aerial markers were driven by the wind in the direction of the city, which bore the brunt of the attack. All in all, the military results of these attacks were of little value.

At 0008 on 21 April, the railway stations of La Chapelle and la Plaine Saint Denis, north of Paris, were bombed. Both of these objectives included a large switch yard and an engine shed. They constituted the railway advance guard of Paris in the direction of the Channel, Belgium, and the Franco-Belgian coal basin. Despite their importance, these installations were protected only by the German antiaircraft artillery protecting Paris.

Sixteen Mosquito Pathfinders flew over the northern part of Paris, dropping numerous flares and two marking bombs, which marked off a vast sector between Aubervilliers and the Rochechouart Boulevard. A few minutes later, 10 waves totaling about 400 bombers attacked at 5-minute intervals. At 0130, a second attack occurred with bombs dropped, by 13 waves, at 30-second intervals. It was a quick operation which, though adding little to the demolitions already suffered by the railway installations, did add considerably to the losses suffered by the civilian population. In this raid 1,420 houses were destroyed or damaged and 1,101 persons killed or wounded.

Weare unable to share the opinion of Air Marshal Harris, Chief of the RAF Bomber Command, who cites the bombing of Paris as an example of an astonishingly accurate attack, but we must, nevertheless, agree that the military results of the operation were very important. All traffic was stopped up to the end of April on the Paris-Calais, Paris-Brussels, and Paris-Soissons lines.

The switch yards and the freight depot at Paris-La Chapelle and the engine shed at la Plaine Saint Denis were destroyed. Psychologically, the Germans exploited to the maximum the losses sustained by the civilian population and the damage done the Church of the Sacre-Coeur at Montmartre.

On the night of 22-23 April, the Laon switch yards, which had been attacked 11 days before, underwent a violent 2-hour bombing attack. More than 2,000 bombs were dropped, destroying or damaging 30 engines and 1,500 cars.

The last attack in April against the northern network was conducted against Aulnoye on the night of 27-28. As at Paris and Laon, the bombers attacked in two phases. After they had passed, the switch yards were completely destroyed.

Despite the 51 bombing attacks on the French railway centers, the Germans succeeded in continuing normal troop transportation. However, civilian freight and passenger service was reduced 34 percent. In preparation for the Normandy invasion, a new bombing phase began: the destruction of bridges.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Mar 2023 20:59

tigre wrote:
19 Mar 2023 14:10
Hello to all :D; more.............................

Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.

.....

Despite the 51 bombing attacks on the French railway centers, the Germans succeeded in continuing normal troop transportation. However, civilian freight and passenger service was reduced 34 percent. In preparation for the Normandy invasion, a new bombing phase began: the destruction of bridges.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

I wonder what is considered 'normal' here?

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by Richard Stone » 22 Mar 2023 19:21

I’ve submitted the attached article to add to the discussion.

The original article was printed in the British Army 1945 publication 'The Fighting Forces’. This copy of it was printed in the January 1946 edition of the USA professional military reference magazine ‘Military Review’.

Combat Notes - Mil Review Jan 1946 - RAF Bomber Command.png
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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by Sheldrake » 22 Mar 2023 20:04

The RAF Narrative is available online. The discussion of the Transportation plan starts at P141
https://www.raf.mod.uk/our-organisation ... ope-vol-i/

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 26 Mar 2023 13:44

Hello to all :D; thanks Richard and Sheldrake for the complements :wink:. More.............................

Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.

In order to mislead the Germans as to the location of the planned invasion, and in order to fence in the battle area, the Allies' bombing plan called for the destruction of all highway and railway bridges between the Seine and the Meuse from Paris to Le Havre. Several days prior to the landings, and up to the end of August, these bombings were complemented by attacks on bridges-over the Loire, and the systematic strafing of trains, tracks, and stations of secondary importance.

The operations were carried out by the fighters, fighter-bombers, and medium bombers of the American Eighth and Ninth Air Forces and the British Second Tactical Air Force.

On 7 May, the day the second phase began, bridges at Mantes, Marines, Oissel, Orival, Serqueux, and Vernon were attacked. However, the attacks against the bridges did not reduce the tempo of the attacks by heavy bombers on the switch yards and engine sheds.

On 10 May, the Allies inaugurated new tactics; the daylight bombing of targets by American medium and fighter-bombers and night bombings carried out by the heavy bombers of the RAF. The Fives-Lille switch yards were bombed at 1600 on that day by medium bombers and again at 2330 by heavy bombers. That attack cut the Lille-Tournai and Lille-Belgium lines and stopped rail traffic for several days. The same technique was used on the 27th against the rail yards of Amiens-Longueau.

Bombing attacks by the Allies increased during May and many cities were hit in repeated attacks. Valenciennes and Mantes were bombed six times; Creil, five times; and Douai, three times. To these methodical attacks were added the incessant machine-gunning of trains, and sabotage by the French Forces of the Interior.

A few days before the Normandy invasion, French rail traffic was almost completely paralyzed north of the Loire. German traffic suffered so severely from tie-ups that Colonel Hans Hoffner, commander of the Western General Bureau of Transportation, wrote General von Rundstedt, commander of the German forces in the West: "No troop movements by rail can be counted on during the 2 weeks following the invasion."

The traffic of the Todt Organization was almost interrupted completely, which meant a serious slowdown, if not an entire stoppage, of the fortification building activities on the Atlantic coast. The plans of the Western General Bureau of Transporation, which counted on the movement of 72 troop trains daily between Paris and northern France, the number of trains necessary to transport a division, had to be revised. At the end of May, only 30 trains daily were moving. Twenty were troop trains, the rest were coal trains traveling between the Sarre and Paris.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 02 Apr 2023 17:56

Hello to all :D; more.............................

Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.

On 6 June 1944, when the Anglo-American forces landed in Normandy, the railway networks of eastern, northern, and western France were completely paralyzed. German reinforcements coming from Germany or northern Europe did not arrive in time to participate in the battle of the beaches.

It is an obvious and well-established fact that the campaign directed against the railway network of western Europe contributed largely toward the defeat of Von Rundstedt's armies. Colonel Hoffner stated that if the Germans had been able to maintain the February 1944 level of railway transportation, the Anglo-American landings would have failed. It is possible that the Allied forces could have been contained and that the Avranches breakthrough could have been prevented if the Wehrmacht had been reinforced with four divisions. But the German High Command did not consider it worthwhile to send reinforcements to the front which would arrive late, and short of equipment. Allied planes would generally let the first trains pass and attack only the sixth or eighth train. Units would then arrive at the front without their equipment.

The Wehrrnacht was forced to use highway transportation when rail facilities bogged down. It was then that the attacks against the bridges revealed their full worth. Even when the bridges were replaced by the Germans, they could not handle the normal flow of traffic. The congestions which resulted became prime targets for Allied medium and fighter-bombers.

The organization for the operation of rail facilities was such as to hinder progress in easing the effects of the bombings. The Reichsbahn had to deal with the French employees of the SNCF, which, in all echelons, did everything possible to sabotage German plans. Also, there was no unity of direction in the organization of the Reichsbahn in France. Civilian transportation was under civilian control which was directly responsible to the Reichsbahn Director General in the German Ministry of Transportation. Military transportation was controlled entirely by the General Bureau of Transportation, which was directly responsible to General von Rundstedt. The General Bureau of Transportation had no control over the Todt Organization or German and French civilian repair crews. This dual control was not corrected until January 1945, when the Wehrmacht was given unified control over the railways.

The Allied bombing attacks against the French and Belgian railway networks taught one essential lesson: Civilian traffic is disturbed long before military traffic, which is never entirely stopped. This fact served as a basis for the great air attacks carried out against the German rail network on 22 and 23 February 1945 (Operation Clarion), and during March in conjuntion with the attack on the Ruhr.

It is obvious, from the economic point of view, that the Allied air attacks were disastrous to France Railway traffic, which had attained its maximum in 1943 with 24 billion passenger miles and 23.6 billion ton miles, suffered, in 1944, by a reduction of almost 50 percent.

At the time of the French liberation, the total losses suffered by the SNCF, as the result of air attacks, sabotage, combat, and pillage, were as follows: 14,000 locomotives, 310,000 cars, 21,000 passenger cars disappeared, destroyed, or badly damaged; 25 switch yards out of 40 destroyed; 19 repair shops out of 33 destroyed; 120 main passenger stations out of 330 destroyed or badly damaged; 3,203 bridges and viaducts destroyed; 3,025 miles of track destroyed; and 688 signal stations destroyed or damaged. Despite this, the first Allied troop train was rolling on 22 July in the Cotentin peninsula, 46 days after the landing.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

It's all. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Apr 2023 01:51

tigre wrote:
02 Apr 2023 17:56

It is obvious, from the economic point of view, that the Allied air attacks were disastrous to France Railway traffic, which had attained its maximum in 1943 with 24 billion passenger miles and 23.6 billion ton miles, suffered, in 1944, by a reduction of almost 50 percent.

At the time of the French liberation, the total losses suffered by the SNCF, as the result of air attacks, sabotage, combat, and pillage, were as follows: 14,000 locomotives, 310,000 cars, 21,000 passenger cars disappeared, destroyed, or badly damaged; 25 switch yards out of 40 destroyed; 19 repair shops out of 33 destroyed; 120 main passenger stations out of 330 destroyed or badly damaged; 3,203 bridges and viaducts destroyed; 3,025 miles of track destroyed; and 688 signal stations destroyed or damaged. Despite this, the first Allied troop train was rolling on 22 July in the Cotentin peninsula, 46 days after the landing.

Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.

It's all. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
Does this source indicate how much French/Belgian rolling stock was permanently or long term removed by the Germans for use elsewhere? In the East or in Germany...

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tigre
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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by tigre » 05 Apr 2023 03:46

Hello Carl :D; answering your question no, and I don't have that information either. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Sean Oliver
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Re: Air Attacks on Communications 1944.

Post by Sean Oliver » 04 Jul 2023 22:45

The strengths and weaknesses of RR networks during WW2 does not seem to have been a major concern among military leaders/commanders of any of the combatants. They all seem to have dismissed RR interdiction by air or by land as futile and ineffective, simply because they judged success merely by destroyed track rather than by understanding RR as a whole system vulnerable to chaos and gridlock when attacked repeatedly over a relatively short period of time.

Also, RR networks and operations in general has always been an esoteric and imprecise subject, and can become difficult to analyze without experience or specialist help. I've been gradually learning more about this subject myself, but have yet to find simple but reasonably accurate methods of estimating a RR network's capacity to move X amounts of traffic in wartime. I'm still working on it on and off.

Another example of German RR (near) collapse happened later in 1944 when sustained US bombing of key German RR marshalling yards almost brought the whole German RR system to halt, and basically stopped the German war effort, which was still surviving - until the end of the war. But none of the Strategic Air experts had previously believed a RR network could be drastically reduced in capacity by bombing alone, which is why they hadn't attempted it earlier. Some Allied air leaders then wondered if their previous failure to target the German RR system 43-45 had been a huge error on their part.

A very clear but almost unknown example of the vulnerabilities of RR networks was the Soviet RR system in 1941 which was at the point of collapse from July 41 well into 1942. If the Germans had perhaps studied the Russian RR net in greater detail prior to Barbarossa, they might've found the solution to a quick victory. The RR network was the major Soviet Achilles Heel in 1941 because it lacked trackage and station development to handle the huge traffic load imposed on it by Stalinist policies. But that's another topic for later.....

An interesting and neglected topic!

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