|'At half-past one a.m. we got within half gunshot of the Mole head, without being discovered, when the alarm bells rang and 30 or 40 pieces of cannon, with musketry from one end of the Town to the other, opened upon us'.|
|Nelson's Journal, 25th July 1797. (The unsuccessful attack on Santa Cruz, Tenerife).|
The well-known capacity of a maritime power to fling small bodies of well trained men ashore for short periods at widely separated points on an enemy-held coastline, and the way in which its continental enemies are thereby forced to hold quite disproportionate numbers of troops in useless garrison duties, were commented on earlier1; and some of the raids made in accordance with this principle have already appeared briefly in this history. In the spring of 1942 a number of factors, political and moral as well as military, contributed to the decision to undertake a cross-Channel raid on a much larger scale than had so far been attempted. There was at that time a widespread, if ill-informed, agitation, fostered by persons whose political opinions lay far to the left, to form 'a second front now'.2 In so far as this agitation was a sincere and genuine expression of admiration for the stubborn courage of the Russian soldiers, and of appreciation of the fact that it was they who were doing most of the fighting against the German army, our Government was in full sympathy with it. Measures to take some of the weight off Russia were constantly discussed by the Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff.
By August operation 'SLEDGEHAMMER', which was in effect the 'second front now' in western Europe demanded by the agitators, had been abandoned as militarily impracticable in 1942.3 Neither trained men nor specialised equipment were available in anything like the quantities needed to assault a powerfully fortified coastline,
let alone to establish a large army there hard on the heels of the assault troops. Such considerations were, however, no hindrance to the demands of the amateur strategists, few of whom had any idea of the carnage which past failures in combined operations had entailed, or had stopped to consider how much costlier a failure might be in the face of the fire-power of modern weapons. The agitators could wage their campaign, and daub their slogans on walls, in the safe knowledge that it would not be their bodies which would be heaped up on the beaches, below gun positions which had not been put out of action before the assault. Moreover those same enthusiasts would probably have been the leaders of an outcry against the responsible authorities, had a disastrous failure, such as their demands invited, been incurred. The Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff, were, of course, fully aware of all these perils; and, although the agitations of the left had no influence upon their deliberations, there remained in their minds a desire to do all they could to discourage the Germans from reducing their garrisons in the west to reinforce their armies in the east.
There was stationed in Britain at this time a large number of troops many of whom, and especially Canadians, had come overseas to fight the Germans, and had not yet seen any fighting, or any Germans. Idleness in war can destroy the morale of the finest units, and the desire to help Russia fitted in well with the need to find active employment for these fine but as yet untried soldiers. Furthermore the War Office was insistent that, before a full scale invasion was launched in Europe, it was essential to gain up-to-date experience by making a raid in force against the enemy-held coastline. The Chief of Combined Operations was accordingly ordered to use the Canadian troops in such an operation. Lastly there was no longer the acute shortage of weapons and equipment which had cramped our strategy everywhere throughout the first thirty months or so of the war; and a great deal of new material, some of it not yet tried out in battle, was being produced specifically for overseas assaults. Experience under action conditions might produce valuable data, to the benefit of the later and much larger landings.
After careful discussion of alternatives it was decided, in April, that Dieppe alone 'provided worth while' military objectives, while fulfilling certain other essential needs. There were in its vicinity a radar station, a fighter airfield and four heavy-gun batteries, besides the port, docks and shipping, and various naval or military installations the destruction of which would be an embarrassment, if a minor one, to the enemy. And Dieppe lay within easy range of our shore-based fighters -- a condition which we had learnt at no small cost to be essential to the success of any combined operation. But there were other factors which made Dieppe far from an ideal place to choose
for an assault. It was heavily defended on both sides of the harbour, and there were high cliffs from which the sea approaches were easily commanded. Except at the town itself openings in the cliffs were few and small, the beaches were narrow, and rocky ledges restricted the state of the tide at which landing craft could approach. Lastly a wall with no breaches in it defended the town itself against invasion from the sea, as well as from encroachments by the sea.
In April planning was begun in Combined Operations Headquarters. Two alternatives were discussed at length. The first was to make a frontal assault on Dieppe itself, and to support it by seaborne and airborne landings on both flanks, while in the second plan there would be no frontal assault. The Army favoured the frontal assault, chiefly because the flank landings had to be made so far away from the town that surprise was bound to be lost by the time the attack on the main object took place. Naval opinion was worried about the hazards of a frontal assault, but considered it possible to land the soldiers for that purpose, if the risks to the latter were acceptable. Another difficult question was whether to bomb the town and harbour just before the landing. British policy then was to avoid bombing French towns by night and, although the Prime Minister agreed to relax the rule in this instance, it was finally decided not to bomb the place. The reasons were that the bombing might merely alert the enemy -- as was believed to have happened in the case of the St. Nazaire raid4 -- and that the destruction of houses might prevent our own tanks penetrating into the town. Later experience leads one to believe that these arguments against air bombardment were not altogether sound; and their acceptance may well have contributed to the failure of the raid. Be that as it may, the decision to cancel the bombing did not lead to a demand to increase correspondingly the naval supporting gunfire. It seems that this was partly because there was still marked reluctance in naval circles to expose heavy ships to the inevitable risks from bombs and mines, and partly because our long experience of engaging coast defences with warships' guns had not generally produced happy results. After it was all over, the Naval Force Commander and the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, both independently expressed a regret that a battleship had not been present; and the former considered that one 'would probably have turned the tide in our favour'.
There now followed a series of alterations to the plan, and postponements of the operation. Then, on the 7th of July enemy aircraft hit with bombs the two assault ships, which were lying with their troops on board off Yarmouth (Isle of Wight). At the time it was feared that the attack might indicate fore-knowledge by the enemy of our intentions; but it is now known that this was not the case. As the
Map 24. The Raid on Dieppe, August 19th 1942
weather continued unsuitable for the employment of airborne troops, the operation was now cancelled.
Later in July revival of the operation in a modified form was discussed. Mr. Churchill was strongly in favour of going ahead, but the security risk was serious, because of the large number of men who had been briefed for the attack before it was cancelled. To mitigate this risk nothing was committed to paper, and the decision to remount the operation was taken by the Prime Minister in consultation only with Admiral Mountbatten, the Chief of Combined Operations, and the Chiefs of Staff.
There were now to be three landings on each flank of Dieppe, and two in the main frontal assault.5 The airborne landings were cancelled-a fact on which the enemy later commented with surprise -- and Commandos were introduced in substitution. On the 17th of July Captain J. Hughes-Hallett was appointed Naval Force Commander. The Military and Air Force Commanders, Major-General J. H. Roberts, commanding the 2nd Canadian Division, and Air Vice-Marshal T. Leigh-Mallory respectively, had already been appointed.
The naval forces taking part can be summarised as follows:
Destroyers 8 Landing Ships Infantry 9 Coastal Craft (Gunboats, Launches, etc.) 39 Landing Craft 179 Miscellaneous 2 TOTAL 237
This fleet was to carry across, land and re-embark a total Of 4,961 officers and men of the Canadian Army, 1,507 Commandos and a small number of United States Rangers. The air forces allocated to support and protect the raiding forces comprised 67 squadrons, all but seven of them composed of fighters. In its final form the plan provided for two landings to be made on each side of Dieppe at dawn 'nautical twilight' (i.e. when the sun was 12 degrees below the horizon), followed half an hour later by the main assault on the town. The outer flank attacks were to capture the heavy gun batteries near their landing points, and those on the inner flanks were to seize another battery and a strong-point, after which the troops were to assault the heights commanding the town from the rear. Certain units from the flank landings were to move inland against the enemy fighter airfield and his local headquarters, while the main frontal attack was to capture, and for a time hold the town.
Supporting bombardments would only come from the destroyers' 4-inch guns, but certain specially equipped landing craft would give
close support during the landings.6 None of these, however, mounted a larger gun than 4-inch, and most of them only had much smaller weapons. The five enemy coast defence batteries near the town were known to mount a total of about twenty guns, many of them 5.9 inch naval weapons7; and in addition to these there were many anti-aircraft batteries, some of which could be put to low-angle use, and also dozens of automatic weapons sited in well-defended strong points.
Air bombardment of the town having been declined, the cooperation of the R.A.F. was limited to attacking the headlands above the town and the enemy batteries, and to shrouding the headlands in smoke which, so it was hoped, would mask their fire. The enemy, in his subsequent study of British actions and motives, found 'the behaviour and employment of British air strength strange'. He considered it 'incomprehensible why, at the beginning of the landing, the bridgehead of Dieppe and other points of disembarkation were not subjected to continuous air bombardment, to prevent or at least delay the arrival of local reserves'.
In retrospect it is plain that the plan suffered from several serious defects. The first was the excessive reliance placed on surprise, in conditions where complete surprise was unlikely to be achieved. Even if the flank attacks caught the enemy unprepared, the town's defenders were bound to be fully alerted before the main assault was launched. Secondly the weight and strength of supporting fire -- both close and distant-was nothing like adequate to deal with defences of such power and density. Lastly the plan was extremely complicated. Not only were a great number of different objects defined and allocated, and great exactitude of timing demanded, but there was a lack of flexibility in many directions. For example the main landings' success obviously depended on that of the flank attackers, and on our aircraft and ships neutralising the guns on the commanding headlands; the tanks could not get into the town until the sappers had blown up the anti-tank obstructions on the promenade behind the sea wall ; if the tanks did not get into the town to deal with enemy strong points the infantry must be pinned to the beaches. If anything considerable went awry in timing, or in achieving the initial objects, the whole operation must be jeopardised. The enemy, who captured and quickly translated and circulated complete copies of the operation orders, considered that 'their detailed nature contained the germs of failure should unforeseen
difficulties arise' and that 'the operation was executed with almost too much precision and detailed arrangement'. There is a certain irony in this German criticism of British excess of detail and inflexibility in planning; for we are inclined to consider such faults essentially teutonic.
The Naval Force Commander seems to have been uneasy over the risks involved. Shortly before sailing he described the operation as 'unusually complex and hazardous'. This was probably a reflection of the feeling among the naval planners ever since the early days that, while the frontal attack could certainly be carried out, the risks were very high. Centuries of experience, and many failures, had taught the Royal Navy the dangers of assault from the sea against intact defence works manned by an alerted garrison.
On the morning of the 17th of August orders were given for the expedition to sail on the night of the 18th-19th. The flank attacks were to take place at 4:50 a.m. and the main landings half an hour later. Embarkation of the troops and of fifty-eight 'Churchill' tanks took place on the 17th and 18th, and went according to plan. Two flotillas of minesweepers sailed first, to clear a channel through the enemy minefield, and by the time the main expedition arrived this had been completed. The naval forces were divided into thirteen groups, mostly composed of various types of landing ships and craft, and sailed from Portsmouth, Newhaven and Shoreham. In addition to these there was the escorting and supporting force of eight Hunt class destroyers, and a number of coastal craft (motor gunboats and motor launches). The Naval and Military Force Commanders embarked in the destroyer Calpe. As the moon set before midnight most of the passage was made in darkness. In spite of this there were few deviations from the intricate time-table. Once clear of the minefield the ships and craft started to form up for the approach.
The reader will understand more clearly what followed if a somewhat detailed description of the situation at about 3 a.m. on the 19th is given. In the van with their escorting craft were the landing ships shown in Table 15 (p. 246). Astern of these came the destroyers Calpe and Fernie, the gunboat Locust with the Royal Marine Commando, and then motor launches carrying the reinforcements for the western inner flank attack (the Cameron Highlanders of Canada) and the floating reserve (the Fusiliers Mont Royal). The tank landing craft followed in the rear.
The landing ships now made for their allotted positions about ten miles offshore. Between 3:00 and 3:20 a.m. they lowered their craft, and the assault troops transferred to them. The landing ships then turned for home, their task completed almost exactly on time, while the assault craft formed up ready to be led to their various beaches. A diversion was meanwhile being staged off Boulogne.
Table 15. The Raid on Dieppe. Operation 'JUBILEE'
Forces taking part
Landing Ships Infantry Troops Landing Prins Albert No. 4 Commando Western Outer Flank Prinses Beatrix South Saskatchewan Regiment Western Inner Flank Invicta Queen Emma Royal Regiment of Canada Eastern Inner Flank Prinses Astrid One group of landing craft No. 3 Commando Eastern Outer Flank These were followed by: Prince Charles Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and Canadian Essex Scottish Dieppe beaches Prinse Leopold Duke of Wellington Reinforcements for eastern inner flank
Just when all seemed set to achieve surprise -- for the enemy had still shown no sign of life -- an unfortunate chance encounter took place. At 3:47 a.m. a group of landing craft carrying the commandos destined for the eastern outer flank attack suddenly ran into an escorted German convoy, and a sharp engagement followed. The landing craft were delayed and fell into considerable disorder. It is not clear how far this engagement alerted the enemy at Dieppe. The German naval headquarters at first considered it to be only another affray between light forces, but the German army's report says that it caused 'the alarm [to be] given to the coastal defence', and attributes our loss of surprise to this encounter.
The senior officer of the British group's escort tried to fight his way through, but was disabled. The destroyers, whose function it was to protect the landing craft, did not intervene because their senior officer mistakenly thought the gunfire came from the shore. Of the twenty-three landing craft in the group only seven reached their allotted beach and landed their troops.
An unexplained feature of this sudden and confusing encounter is that no radar set in the warships seems to have picked up the enemy convoy as it closed the expedition. It is true that it was our practice in Channel operations to rely mainly on information regarding enemy movements being relayed to our ships from the shore radar stations; furthermore the presence of so many friendly vessels may have confused the ships' radar screens. None the less one hour before the clash the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, warned the Naval Force Commander of the presence of unidentified vessels on a course which would probably bring them into contact with the group of landing craft. The significance of this warning seems to have been realised in the destroyer Fernie (stand-by H.Q. Ship), but not in the
Calpe. The most serious result was the crippling of the attack on the eastern outer flank, for the small number of men landed could not possibly accomplish the seizure of the 'Goebbels' battery which was the target allotted to No. 3 Commando.8
On the eastern outer flank there thus was an almost total failure, though a small party did get close to the battery. They engaged it most gallantly, subdued it temporarily and then managed to reembark. On the eastern inner flank, on which the success of the main landing greatly depended, the landing craft were sixteen minutes late, and daylight was breaking. Here complete reliance had been placed on surprise, and no covering bombardment had been arranged. The troops quickly came under a withering fire, and suffered heavy casualties. Only a very small number even succeeded in getting off the beach. The failure was complete; and its effect on the frontal assault was bound to be serious. Desperate but vain attempts at evacuation were made, and the Royal Regiment of Canada suffered terrible losses -- all but three of the twenty-nine officers taking part and 459 out of 516 men were killed, wounded or missing.
In happy, but unfortunately not in decisive contrast to these failures on the eastern flank, a complete success was obtained on the western outer flank. Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Lovat and 250 men of No. 4 Commando landed on time without opposition, and finally captured the 'Hess' battery at the bayonet's point. At 7:30 the commandos re-embarked, bringing their wounded with them. It had been 'a model for future operations of this kind', and the casualties had been light.
On the western inner flank the South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Cameron Highlanders of Canada landed successfully and moved off to attack their objectives, some of which they captured; but the initial success could not be maintained in face of enemy reinforcements and the failure of the intended junction with troops and tanks coming from the town. We will return shortly to the gallant but largely unsuccessful attempt to evacuate these troops later in the forenoon, for it is necessary first to recount the outcome of the main landings. The failure on the eastern flank, and the partial success on the western one had left the enemy in full possession of the batteries and strong points on the heights commanding the Dieppe beaches from both sides. None the less the main assault was proceeded with.
The landing craft beached almost exactly on time. As soon as the destroyer bombardment and air attacks had stopped, the enemy opened up a murderous fire on the beaches, which were enfiladed from concealed weapons in the cliffs. The tanks followed the assault
parties; but they were slightly late-and even that small delay had the most serious consequences. The tank landing craft suffered heavily, but twenty-seven of the thirty tanks in the 'first wave' were landed. At the time it was believed that the sea wall had proved a serious obstacle to the tanks, but it is now known that this was not the case except in the centre, where a ditch had been dug in front of the wall. The tanks had no great difficulty in surmounting the wall at either end, where it was only about two feet high. About half of the twenty-seven tanks which got ashore successfully gained the promenade behind the sea wall; but there they were stopped by road blocks, which the sappers tried valiantly but unsuccessfully to breach. No tanks succeeded in forcing their way off the promenade into the town.9 The failure of the tanks sealed the fate of the infantry. The destroyers, landing craft and coastal craft did their best to support the troops and silence the enemy weapons, but their guns were not big enough to accomplish much. 'At no time was the support which the ships were able to give sufficient for the purpose'. The result was a costly failure. Not even the whole of the beaches could be properly secured. None the less at about 7 a.m. General Roberts, who was throughout severely handicapped by lack of accurate information about how matters were going on shore, sent in his floating reserve -- the Fusiliers Mont Royal. Most of them were put ashore, but under such heavy fire that they could accomplish little and suffered cruelly. The Royal Marine Commando, originally intended for a cutting-out expedition into the harbour, was now placed at the disposal of the Military Force Commander. It seems that in the Headquarters Ship there was no clear idea of how desperate the situation was on shore; for it was decided to use the marines to reinforce the main landing beaches. They moved in at 8:30 escorted by Free French patrol craft. It was in truth 'a sea parallel of the Charge of the Light Brigade', for as soon as they cleared the smoke the landing craft came under a murderous fire from every conceivable weapon. Lieutenant-Colonel J. P. Phillipps, who was in command of the marines managed, at the cost of his own life, to signal to the rear landing craft to return, and so saved about 200 of his men. That marked the end of the frontal assault on Dieppe. It remained only to try to rescue the survivors. By 9 a.m. the Military Force Commander considered that capture of the headlands was unlikely, and so the main attack must fail. The rest of the tanks were therefore sent home. The time laid down in the orders for withdrawal was 11 a.m.; but when the Force Commanders wished to advance it by half an hour it was pointed out that this
The Raid on Dieppe, Operation 'JUBILEE', 19th August 1942. Naval forces on passage.
The Raid on Dieppe, 19th August 1942. Assault craft making for the beaches under cover of smoke.
The scene on the beach at Dieppe after the raid, 19th August 1942.
would upset the R.A.F.'s time-table for laying the protective smoke screen. The lack of flexibility in the orders thus condemned the troops ashore to a prolongation of their agony.
Shortly before 11 a.m. about a dozen of the larger and better protected landing craft were sent to rescue the troops which had landed on the western inner flank. Under very heavy fire the survivors of the South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Cameron Highlanders tried to reach the landing craft. Many waded out to sea, which made embarkation much too slow. When a landing craft reached the beach there was sometimes a rush, and the ramps became choked with dead and wounded. Some craft were disabled and abandoned on the beach, others were hit and sunk on the way off. Destroyers and gunboats did their best to cover the withdrawal, but there were too few of them, and their guns were not heavy enough. None the less two assault landing craft (L.C.As 250 and 315) each made three trips into this inferno, while the South Saskatchewan's Commanding Officer (Lieutenant-Colonel C. C. I. Merritt) formed a rearguard, and kept the enemy off the beach itself. They fought until their ammunition was exhausted. At 12:15 the last landing craft approached the beach. There was then no movement on it.
Off Dieppe itself the attempt to fetch away the troops fared no better. Smoke, blowing inshore, shrouded the landing craft until they were close to the beaches, and also partially obscured the vision of the enemy gunners; but it blinded the gunfire of our own covering warships as well. As soon as the landing craft cleared the smoke they came under withering fire. The plan was to ferry troops off in the assault craft to the larger tank landing craft, which were to lie a mile out. But many of the former were sunk, and some of the larger vessels, which tried to help matters by moving closer inshore, suffered a similar fate. Again, understandably if disastrously, soldiers rushed a vessel as soon as it beached. At 11:30 the destroyers moved in closer to give stronger supporting fire; but the result was that the Brocklesby and Fernie were both soon hit. L.C.A. 186 visited both the Dieppe landing beaches at about noon. She picked up thirty men swimming in the water. Only two were seen alive on the beaches, which had become a shambles of wrecked landing craft, burning tanks and equipment -- and of British or Canadian dead. She was the last vessel to leave.
At 12:20 the officer in charge of the evacuation reported that no more could be done; ten minutes later he withdrew the surviving landing craft. They had, under conditions of utmost difficulty and danger, rescued over 1,000 men. When one considers the tornado of fire that was being directed at the beaches, their accomplishment appears all the more astonishing. At 12:40 the Calpe closed the shore
to see if there was any possibility of further rescue. She too came under heavy fire; and no troops could then be seen in a position from which they might be picked up.
At about 1 p.m. a general withdrawal of the surviving ships and craft began. German air attacks were now almost continuous. The destroyer Berkeley was so damaged that she had to be sunk by our own forces, and the Calpe also was hit. Thereafter, as the main body of landing craft and coastal craft steamed away, they were effectively shielded by Royal Air Force fighters. Fresh forces met the returning expedition, and escorted the small vessels to Newhaven. The destroyers and the gunboat Locust reached Portsmouth soon after midnight, with over 500 wounded aboard.
The air fighting, which had started on a comparatively small scale, increased in fury and intensity as the day progressed. Our bombing was only on a very small scale, and did not succeed in hampering the enemy shore guns substantially. Enemy bombers concentrated their attention on our ships but, except for sinking the Berkeley, did us no great damage. Our fighters did splendid work in attacking shore positions, but their weapons were not heavy enough to influence the fighting decisively. Their protection of the expedition during the withdrawal was, however, most successful. We lost 106 aircraft, eighty-eight of them fighters, while the enemy's losses were twenty-five bombers and twenty-three fighters. The disparity between our own and the enemy's aircraft losses can partly be accounted for by the distance from their home bases at which ours were operating.
The casualties among the Canadian Army and the commandos were very heavy. Of the 4,961 Canadians engaged 3,363 (68 per cent) became casualties, as did 247 of the 1,057 commandos. About 2,200 of the British and Canadian 'missing' were, however, taken prisoner. In addition the Navy lost one destroyer and thirty-three landing craft and had 550 casualties, while the Royal Air Force had 190 casualties. We lost all the thirty tanks which reached, or tried to reach, the shore. The enemy's losses, were, comparatively speaking light, and amounted to only about 600 from all three Services.
The enemy was, not unnaturally, jubilant at having 'repelled' an expedition (it was actually never intended to stay ashore for more than a few hours) which he considered might have been the advance guard of a larger force. He was, as already mentioned, critical of our detailed planning, of our failure to bomb the perimeter of the bridgehead continuously and heavily, of the main forces of troops and tanks being thrown into the frontal attack on Dieppe, and of our failure to use parachute or airborne troops. He considered that, if airborne troops had landed on the eastern flank, and tanks had supported the western attack (which we had actually considered
doing but had rejected), things might have turned out very differently; and one must admit that in the wisdom of after events his judgement on those points now seems sound. But in one important respect the conclusions drawn by the enemy were wholly erroneous. The Germans decided that the Dieppe raid indicated that, when the time came for the Allies to invade the European continent in earnest, their initial thrust would be aimed at capturing a large port. It is likely that this false deduction contributed greatly to the successful landing on the Normandy beaches in June 1944.
On our own side the lessons learnt were many, and were promptly put into practice. We had learnt at no small cost in Norway, Greece, Crete, Malaya and indeed in all theatres of the war, that command of the air was an essential pre-requisite for success in landings from the sea. We put those hard-bought lessons to good effect in the Dieppe raid by allocating great fighter strength to the operation. But we seem perhaps to have allowed this new and essential need to obscure an older and just as essential one-namely that enemy fixed defences must be destroyed, or at least neutralised, before troops are flung ashore within range of their guns. The supporting fire provided was nothing like adequate. Off Dieppe the heavy guns of long-range bombarding ships and the rocket and gunfire of close support vessels were shown to be as essential as adequate air cover. Though it anticipates events, it is perhaps permissible here to remark that the landing at Salerno in September 1943 might have ended in disaster on a vastly greater scale than the failure at Dieppe had not the gunfire of the heavy warships, in Admiral Cunningham's words, 'held the ring when there was danger of the enemy breaking through to the beaches'.10
From the naval point of view the biggest 'lesson learnt' from this raid was that the practice of collecting together, from all sorts of sources, the ships and vessels required for such an intricate purpose as a combined operation was quite unacceptable. It was recommended, and the Admiralty finally agreed, that 'permanent naval assault forces' should be formed, and that they must possess 'a coherence comparable to that of any other first line formation'.
As to the conduct of the raid itself, the gallantry of the troops and of the crews of the landing craft was beyond all praise, and the enemy paid just tribute to it in his study of the results. Weak points such as the inflexibility of our planning have already been mentioned, and it may perhaps have been this feature which prevented the abandonment of the frontal attack as soon as it was known that the flank attacks had achieved only slight success. No commander willingly gives up an enterprise on which he has embarked; and in
this case the decision to commit the floating reserve was undoubtedly influenced by the lack of accurate information from the beaches. None the less it now seems plain that the reinforcement of the frontal attack with the reserve and the commandos took place after all prospect of success had vanished.
At a meeting of the War Cabinet on the 20th of August, the Chief of Combined Operations stressed the value that the lessons learnt at Dieppe would have in planning the invasion of Europe; and the Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff (Lieutenant-General A. E. Nye) wisely reminded the Cabinet how past experience had shown that a landing regardless of cost could always be achieved, but that the second stage-exploitation-had invariably proved more difficult than the landing itself. This was exactly what had been found at Dieppe. Though the price there paid had been heavy, the recommendations made in the combined report were all put into effect by the time the great landings of later days took place; and it may well be that, but for the sacrifices made in operation 'JUBILEE', operation 'Husky' (Sicily) or the later landings in Italy might have produced a terrible failure.
To return now to the coastal convoy routes, it was in this phase that the many and varied measures taken since the outbreak of the war to defend our coastal shipping against U-boats, E-boats, mines and bombs started to gain a clear ascendancy over the attack. Our light forces had increased greatly in numbers, and in quality. In the Coastal Forces there were now 1,294 officers (mostly of the R.N.V.R.) and 7,721 ratings. The disposition of its strength is shown below.
Nore --- 45 24 35 Dover --- 20 7 17 Portsmouth 6 15 16 28 Plymouth --- --- 8 19 Western Approaches --- --- --- 25 Orkneys and Shetlands --- --- 8 24 Miscellaneous and Training --- 10 7 35 Abroad --- --- 311 802 TOTALS 6 90 101 263
NOTES: (1) All in the Eastern Mediterranean. (2) All over the world.
The strength of the minesweeping service also was enormously greater than in the early days11; and ships were now fitted to deal with all the many types of mine laid by the enemy. As an indication of the size of the effort involved it is worth tabulating the composition and disposition of our minesweeping forces after three years of war.
Table 17. British Minesweeping Forces in September 1942,
and losses suffered September 1939 -- September 1942
I. HOME WATERS
Class Numbers Losses Fleet Minesweepers: Algerine Class 5 --- Bangor Class 33 --- Hebe and Halcyon Classes 13 4 Albury Class (twin screw) 9 3 Exe Class1 5 --- Corvettes fitted for minesweeping2 20 --- Paddle Minesweepers 6 9 Mine Destructor Ships 2 3 Minesweeping / Anti-Submarine Trawlers 54 8 Commercial Type Trawlers3 240 54 L.L. Trawlers and Whalers4 187 34 B.Y.M.S. (British Yard Minesweepers)5 2 --- Motor Minesweepers 95 3 L.L. Drifters and Tugs4 103 7 Skid towing vessels, yachts, etc. 30 15 TOTALS 804 140
Class Numbers Losses Fleet Minesweepers: Hebe and Halcyon Classes 2 --- Bangor Class6 9 --- Bathurst Class7 21 --- Albury Class (twin screw) 5 5 Corvettes fitted for minesweeping 13 3 Mine Destructor Ships 5 --- Minesweeping / Anti-Submarine Trawlers 21 1 Various types fitted for moored minesweeping 115 10 Various types fitted for magnetic minesweeping 100 13 Motor Minesweepers 29 --- Skid towing vessels, yachts, etc. 33 1 TOTALS 353 338
NOTES: 1. Only used temporarily for minesweeping. 2. These were more commonly used for anti-submarine work. 3. Fitted for moored-minesweeping. 4. L.L. craft were magnetic minesweepers. 5. Built in U.S.A. under Lend-Lease. 6. In addition the Royal Canadian Navy had 36 and the Royal Indian Navy 3. 7. In addition the Royal Australian Navy had 15 and the Royal Indian Navy 3. 8. Losses shown do not include 59 minesweepers of various types scuttled to
avoid capture or sunk by the enemy in the Far East.
It will be seen that 1,157 minesweepers were now in commission all over the world (excluding the Commonwealth countries' ships), and that 173 of all types had so far been lost (excluding the 59 lost in the Far East). Throughout the fourth year of the war production from American and Canadian ship yards increased. In particular a new American-designed type of fleet minesweeper, called the 'A.M. 100 Class' by them and 'B.A.M.S.' (British A.M. Ships) if built for us under Lend-Lease, and an improved type of motor minesweeper had begun to enter service. The former had a good turn of speed, and were fitted to deal with moored and 'influence' mines. From British yards came more of the new fleet minesweepers, trawlers and motor minesweepers. A point had now been reached at which vessels fitted for anti-submarine work as well (the Exe class and corvettes) could be released to this latter duty, and a number of minesweepers could also be turned over to the smaller Allied nations. There was no doubt that, like the Coastal Forces, the minesweeping service was now getting on top of the enemy. Research work, designed to anticipate enemy developments, continued all the time, and new sweeping technique and tactics were constantly being developed. It was, for example, at this time that we turned our attention to the problem of clearing the assault area of an overseas expedition of all types of mine. In fact the whole vast problem of planning, organising and providing special equipment for such operations now loomed large in British and Allied councils. Our Combined Operations organisation also expanded rapidly in 1942. Bases for training purposes were established at Boston, Sheerness, Lowestoft and Harwich. That at Boston in Lincolnshire was called H.M.S. Arbella, a name provided by the Vicar of the parish, who remembered that the flagship of the fleet which had sailed for America in 1630, bearing many emigrants from East Anglia, had been so called; and that it was they who gave its name to the city of Boston in Massachusetts.
In August the German E-boats, which had transferred their main effort to the Channel in the previous May, returned to the east coast routes. The patrol line of motor gunboats and motor launches which we had established some eight miles to seaward of the shipping lanes has already been mentioned.12 Our short-wave shore radar and the 'Very High Frequency' wireless stations now played a big part in keeping the patrol craft informed of enemy movements. By the end of the year the whole of the Nore Command's coastal area was covered by these radar stations' beams, and the enemy could be detected and plotted while still some twenty miles off-shore; and added to this great advantage was the fact that radar sets were now being fitted in the Coastal Force vessels themselves.
In August the convoy channel off Yarmouth, known as 'E-boat alley', saw many fierce actions, fought at close range. But only rarely did the enemy achieve substantial success. Once in mid-December E-boats penetrated our patrol line undetected, and sank five ships of convoy FN 889.13 By the end of the year, however, his minelaying and E-boat attacks had declined, and it was plain that a turning point in coastal warfare had been reached. In 1942 the E-boats only sank twenty-three ships of 71,156 tons in all theatres.
From the outbreak of war up to the 14th of November 1942, no less than 63,350 ships had sailed in the east coast FN, FS and EC convoys14, and only 157 (0.247 per cent) had been lost from all causes. When serious losses had been suffered in the early months they had nearly always been among independently-routed ships. As to mines, in the whole of 1942 we lost twenty-one ships of about 43,000 tons on the east coast, and fifty-one Allied ships of 104,588 tons in all waters.15 The Nore Command minesweepers had swept 707 ground and 157 moored mines in the same period. By the end of 1942 this menace too had plainly been overcome to a great extent.
Before leaving our defensive measures we must again briefly mention the state of our various mine barriers. It will be remembered that since the early days of the war we had steadily strengthened the mine field along the whole of our east coast, whose purpose it was to prevent incursions by enemy U-boats or surface forces on to our shipping lanes; and that in 1940 the 1st Minelaying Squadron had started to lay an enormous mine field between the Faeroes and Iceland.16 In the present phase the minelayer Adventure once reinforced the east coast barrier, and the 1st Minelaying Squadron twice laid fields south-west of the Faeroes. It was, however, inevitable that, as the first phase of our maritime strategy receded, purely defensive measures such as these should be regarded as less important, and that the authorities should become more and more unwilling to devote men and resources to them. The 1st Minelaying Squadron was, however, kept in being until October 1943. In retrospect it seems that, although the Dover and to a lesser extent the east coast barrier accomplished the purposes for which they were designed, the great effort put into the Iceland-Faeroes minefield was a singularly unprofitable venture, and yielded little or no return.
In October our coastal convoys were reorganised. Between
Plymouth and the Bristol Channel ports PW/WP convoys, each of about twenty ships, now sailed every two days17; and small convoys of about seven ships were run at the same interval between Portsmouth and Plymouth. Between the Thames and Portsmouth the CW/CE convoys of about eighteen ships still continued, but now on a shorter and more regular six day cycle.18 On the east coast itself the FN and FS convoys, of about thirty-six ships, still sailed between the Thames and the Forth on six days out of every seven. These changes, which ringed the British Isles with regularly running and interlocking coastal convoys, were made possible by our improved control in the Channel and by our increasing ascendancy over the enemy's attacks on our coastal shipping.
It was to be expected, now that matters were going far better on our own coastal routes, that we should turn increasingly to the offensive against the enemy's. It took many forms. Firstly there were attacks by Coastal Force craft on enemy convoys off the Dutch and Belgian coasts and in the Channel. In the preceding phase, although many operations were carried out, successes against the heavily escorted German convoys had been few. It will, for example, be remembered that in March and May 1942 the two raiders Michel and Stier both passed down-Channel successfully, in spite of being heavily attacked.19 In October the enemy tried it again, with the Komet (Raider B), which had returned from her first cruise in November 194120. She left Flushing for Boulogne on the first stage of her outward journey at midnight on the 7th-8th of October.21 Her first trouble occurred next morning when four of the minesweepers of her escort were mined, in spite of the route having been swept four hours earlier. The raider therefore put into Dunkirk on the 8th. Four days later she left, and reached Boulogne; then she coasted from Boulogne to Havre, whence she sailed on the evening of the 13th, She passed Cherbourg in the early hours of the following morning.
In the Admiralty it had meanwhile been realised that an unusually important movement was afoot on the other side of the Channel. A destroyer force was therefore assembled at Portsmouth, and air searches and strikes were arranged. After the enemy had passed successfully as far west as Havre, the Portsmouth destroyers and motor torpedo-boats also moved down-Channel. On the night of the 13th-14th of October five Hunt-class destroyers under Lieutenant-Commander J. C. A. Ingram in the Cottesmore, and also eight M.T.Bs, sailed from Dartmouth to patrol off Cape de la Hague; four more
'Hunts' were sent out from Plymouth. The first group gained contact just before 1 a.m. on the 14th, engaged at once and set the raider and two of her escorts on fire. M.T.B. 236 (Sub-Lieutenant R. Q. Drayson, R.N.V.R.) then appeared and set the seal to the destroyers' work by torpedoing the Komet. The other group of our destroyers had meanwhile got among the enemy escort craft, every one of which was damaged. This dangerous raider was eliminated at a cost to ourselves of two men wounded.
We were less successful in dealing with the next raider, or rather ex-raider, to appear in these coastal waters. She was the Orion (Raider A of the Admiralty's original catalogue) which had returned safely to the Gironde in August 1941, after a not very successful cruise.22 Though the German Naval Staff had wanted to bring her back to Germany earlier and intended to use her as a gunnery training ship, they found it impossible to do so. She actually stayed in the Gironde, and was used for deception purposes in connection with the arrival and departure of blockade runners. On the 8th of March she left Bordeaux, and on the 17th reached Havre, where she was extensively damaged in an air raid. Her repairs lasted till November. On the 9th of that month she left for Boulogne under escort and, on the night of the 10th-11th, sailed from that port to pass through the Dover Strait under cover of thick fog. Though the Dover batteries fired on her, and coastal forces and aircraft searched, she reached Dunkirk safely. Her log contains an entry that she listened to the pilots of our aircraft apostrophizing the fog, so she must have had someone on board who was well versed in Royal Air Force vernacular. She reached the Elbe on the 15th, and so passes out of our story.
To summarise this phase of the struggle to control the coastal routes through the Channel, there was very little enemy traffic by day. By night it was heavily escorted, and our aircraft and coastal forces were only rarely successful in stopping the enemy ships. Though our offensive measures achieved few positive successes, our defences were now adequate and well enough trained to prevent the enemy repeating his earlier successes against our own shipping.
Against the enemy's shipping off Norway we employed a large number of different forms of surface attack. Long-range motor torpedo and motor gunboats had now started to make raids into the 'Leads' from the Shetlands. The 30th M.T.B. Flotilla, which was Norwegian-manned, sank two ships in November, and Admiral Tovey asked to be given four flotillas to exploit the opportunities more fully. But the stormy North Sea weather made it difficult to do much with these small vessels in winter. Our home-based submarines too, though mostly needed to help protect Russian convoys
from enemy surface ship attacks, made a few patrols off Norway. The Junon (Free French) and Uredd (Norwegian) both scored successes in October. Sabotage parties and agents were also landed from submarines. In that same month a most original and gallant, though unsuccessful, attempt was made to attack the Tirpitz in a fiord near Trondheim. For some time we had been developing a one-man torpedo known as a 'Chariot', and volunteers had been training at a Scottish base in their use.23 On the 26th of October the fishing trawler Arthur left the Shetlands, commanded by the famous Norwegian resistance leader Leif Larsen, with two Chariots secured underneath her and their crews concealed onboard. Larsen bluffed his way past all the German patrols into the fiord, and got within about ten miles of his target. Then a sudden and most unlucky squall caused the Chariots to break adrift, and the operation had to be abandoned. The crews landed and all but one man got safely into Sweden, and thence back to Britain. The Tirpitz and Scheer were both seen by them in fiords adjacent to Trondheim.
To turn now to the air side of our anti-shipping campaign in coastal waters, by the middle of the year the enemy's increased escorts, and the formidable anti-aircraft gunfire which his vessels could throw up, had forced Coastal Command to abandon low-level attacks, because the losses we were incurring could not be sustained. This eased the enemy's shipping problems just when, for the first time since the outbreak of war, he was finding it difficult to meet all civil and military needs. The decision thus forced on Coastal Command produced a temporary impasse. Low-level attacks were too expensive; medium-level attacks remained inaccurate, for lack of an efficient bomb sight; and torpedo attacks were rare events, because the command possessed few suitable aircraft and there was still a severe shortage of torpedoes. In the summer replacement of the slow and unwieldy Hampdens, of which there were four squadrons in Coastal Command, was realised to be an urgent matter. Aircraft of the Beaufighter type, which was fast, manoeuvrable and had good fire power, were what was needed. Conversions were started, but No. 254 Squadron, the first to be re-equipped, did not receive its 'Torbeaus' till November. Meanwhile Coastal Command had to continue to make do with the Hampdens.
The period from July 1942 to February 1943 was, for these reasons, chiefly one of tactical and technical development for Coastal Command. Its actual accomplishments in the anti-shipping war were small. In retrospect it seems that the progress of the Royal Air Force from almost complete dependence on the bomb for use against ships to full acceptance of the torpedo for such purposes was slow. At the
end of July a joint Admiralty and Air Ministry Committee, composed of high officers of both services with the Commander-in-Chief, Coastal Command, as its chairman, was set up with the purpose of doing everything possible to improve tactical and technical efficiency in this matter. Thus once again, under stress of circumstances, the two services put their heads together to produce the best solutions; and the prejudices which had so long hindered progress in this, as in other similar problems, were buried.24
The first Beaufighter and 'Torbeau' operation against shipping off the Dutch coast took place on the 20th of November. It was a costly failure, caused partly by bad weather and partly by the inexperience of the aircrews. In consequence of this the Commander-in-Chief withdrew the squadrons for more intensive training, and they do not reappear in our story until April 1943.
It thus happened that for the rest of this phase the outdated Hampdens were all that could be used off the Norwegian coast; Hudsons continued to make bombing attacks from medium heights, at which they were unlikely to be effective, off the German and Dutch coasts; the four-engined Stirlings, Halifaxes and Lancasters tried, with little success, to attack blockade-runners in the Bay of Biscay and to interfere with the contraband traffic from Bilbao to Bayonne25; and Fighter Command, assisted by naval aircraft, flew many sorties against traffic through the Channel, but did the enemy little damage. Bomber Command's contribution to the offensive against coastal shipping was, at this time, confined to minelaying, to which we shall return shortly.26
Fortunately the decline in our offensive was, to some extent, off set by the Germans' mistaken outlook towards the importance of their merchant shipping. Between July 1940 and July 1942 they had lost about one quarter of the tonnage available to them (originally some 4,200,000 tons). Yet wasteful requisitioning by the Navy was not checked, and only a very small replacement programme was put in hand. Even in the Baltic, the only waters where German traffic flowed in anything like normal fashion, and where Swedish ships carried many German cargoes, there was now a sharp decline -- particularly in Germany's vital iron ore imports from Sweden. The appointment of a very capable 'Reich Commissioner' for merchant shipping (Kaufmann) and the drastic measures which he introduced, tided our principal enemy over difficulties which, had we been able to prosecute a more deadly air offensive, might have been made critical. It is, perhaps, worth remarking that when Dönitz proposed
that the German Navy should take over complete control of merchant shipping, as the British Admiralty had done before the outbreak of war27, Hitler insisted on keeping all such powers in his own hands.
The results accomplished in the R.A.F.'s offensive against enemy shipping in this phase are tabulated below. Between July 1942 and February 1943 (eight months) German shipping losses in the home theatre from all causes amounted to 250 ships of 261,154. tons. The R.A.F. flew 4,659 sorties against enemy shipping, and made 849 direct attacks; but they accounted for only eighteen enemy ships of 28,556 tons. Our losses in the same period amounted to 78 aircraft -- about 4.3 aircraft for each of the ships sunk. The reasons for the small results so far accomplished have already been suggested; but the introduction of the new Strike Wing, composed of Beaufighters and 'Torbeaus', the emphasis now placed on the training of the aircrews employed on this highly specialised form of warfare, and the development of carefully co-ordinated attacks all combined to give hopes of achieving better results in the succeeding phases.
Table 18. The Air Offensive against Enemy Shipping by Direct Attacks at Sea
(All Royal Air Force Commands -- Home Theatre only)
No. Tonnage No. Tonnage August 781 121 2 594 Nil 17 September 614 149 3 10,258 1 8,998 8 October 551 72 2 4,129 3 6,515 7 November 821 129 3 4,227 2 15,426 23 December 482 94 2 1,681 1 937 9 TOTALS 3,249 565 12 20,889 7 31,876 64
During the latter part of 1942 the enemy's air offensive against our own coastal shipping underwent a steady decline both in the 'tip and run' fighter-bomber raids, which had been a marked feature in the previous phase, and in his minelaying.28 In fact a large part of his effort was transferred from our coastal convoys to attacks on concentrations of shipping in our harbours; and with defence of the latter we are not here concerned. It will be remembered that between March and June 1941 we suffered heavy losses on our coastal routes.29 Then, just when he might have gained a real
ascendancy, the enemy transferred a great proportion of his forces to the Russian front.30 In retrospect it seems that the Germans never fully realised the possibilities of achieving valuable, perhaps decisive, results by air attacks on our coastal waters-particularly with torpedoes. They often frittered away their available strength by bombing land targets of doubtful importance, and with little effect. Because of this, by the end of 1942 they no longer possessed the strength to make a sustained effort. Once more the tendency of the Germans not to adhere to one purpose and one object for long enough to produce decisive results is to be remarked. There can be little doubt that Hitler's unstable temperament, his insistence on keeping all powers of decision in his own hands, and his intuitive 'inspirations' prevented the formulation and maintenance of sound strategic purposes. None the less the weakness of his Service advisers stands fully revealed by repeated abandonments of their objects just when results were beginning to be obtained.
In spite of the weakness of the policies whereby the German fighting services were guided, it must none the less be admitted that their campaign against our coastal shipping forced us to keep large numbers of fighter aircraft and escort vessels permanently in home waters, at a time when the former were desperately needed in the Mediterranean and Far East, and the latter in the Atlantic. But for his offensive in home waters, Malaya and Egypt could have been reinforced in better time, the agony of Malta, soon to reach its climax, might have been greatly shortened, and our ocean convoys could have been better defended earlier.
The results of the air fighting on the coastal routes during this phase are shown in the table overleaf.
The reader will notice several very striking features in this table, particularly when it is compared with similar tables covering earlier phases.31 The first is the steady decline of the enemy's offensive effort against our shipping, especially in minelaying. The causes were his increased attention to our Russian convoys, which demanded most of the aircraft he could spare from the eastern front, and, secondly, the much stronger defences which he now met in his sorties against our shipping. We suffered no merchant ship losses at all from direct attacks in this phase, and the sinking of three small naval craft was the sum of his entire accomplishment by this means. It was natural that Fighter Command's sorties in defence of shipping should decrease with the enemy's effort, but the small number of fighters lost is a sign of the degree to which the air defences had now mastered the attack against our coastal routes.
Table 19. German Air Attacks on Allied Shipping and Royal Air Force
Sorties in Defence of Shipping
(Home Theatre only)
Day and Night
Aircraft Sorties for
Allied Shipping Sunk
by Direct Attacks
(Day and Night)
Royal Air Force Sorties
in Defence of Shipping
(Day and Night)
Royal Air Force
No. Tonnage August 887 28 2 203 3,253 1 September 667 11 1 378 2,909 Nil October 696 12 Nil 2,274 1 November 457 14 Nil 2,008 5 December 373 70 Nil 1,622 4 TOTALS 3,080 135 3 590 12,066 11
NOTES: 1. As we cannot distinguish Allied losses from air-laid mines from losses caused by mines laid by other means, it is impossible to compare the success of the enemy's minelaying with that of his direct attacks on shipping. 2. Allied shipping sunk includes merchantmen, naval vessels and fishing craft. 3. The great majority of the sorties made in defence of Allied shipping was flown by Fighter Command aircraft.
While, therefore, our air attacks on the enemy's coastal shipping were producing only small results and his own parallel effort had become almost negligible, the R.A.F.'s air minelaying continued to expand, and to good effect. Production of mines had increased enormously. In September 1942 1,600 were produced, and the Admiralty was planning to increase the figure to 4,000 a month by the middle of the following year. Coastal Command had temporarily faded out of the minelaying campaign, for lack of suitable aircraft; but Bomber Command was laying about 1,000 mines each month, in waters which reached from the Baltic to the Spanish frontier. A special effort was now made against the routes used by U-boats entering and leaving their Biscay bases. While our aircraft mined the inshore waters, submarines and surface minelayers infested the routes with moored mines, which they laid as far out as the 100 fathom line. This forced the U-boats to travel on the surface a long way from the coast, and, moreover, in order to avoid surprise attacks by our Leigh-Light aircraft, they had to do so in daylight. U-boats on passage thus suffered many delays. In September an outward-bound U-boat (U-600) was badly damaged off La Pallice, and on the 28th the inward-bound U-165 was sunk off Lorient. On the 9th of October U-171 suffered a similar fate.32 Though the delays caused to the enemy, and losses such as these, were a valuable contribution, it
must be emphasised that at no time during the war did the damage and losses caused to the U-boats by our mines compare in importance with what was achieved by our air and surface convoy escorts.33
On the 9th of August minelaying by Coastal Command, to whom two naval Swordfish squadrons had been lent for the purpose, was renewed. In October two more naval squadrons joined No. i6 Group. The whale-oil factory ships Ole Wegger and Solglimt, prizes captured by the raider Pinguin in the Antarctic in January 194134, were identified at Cherbourg, and mines were laid to catch them if they tried to slip up-Channel. All three whale-oil factory ships and eight of the eleven captured whale-catchers had been safely taken to France by German prize crews in March 1941. The former had on board over 21,000 tons of whale oil, a valuable addition to Germany's food reserves. The Solglimt was sunk in Cherbourg on the 15th of September 1942, salved in the following year and finally scuttled in June 1944; the Ole Wegger was scuttled in the Seine in August 1944, and the third one, the Pelagos was still afloat at Narvik at the end of the war.
By September, production of British acoustic mines had reached a point at which the Admiralty was able to recommend that we should begin to lay them. The temptation to use them in small quantities as they became available, which would probably have reduced their surprise effect and have given the enemy more time to develop countermeasures, had been resisted. On three consecutive nights between the 19th and 24th, 457 of the new mines, mixed in with some of those of older design, were laid. It is, of course, impossible to separate the sinkings caused by the acoustic mines from those attributable to others; but it seems likely that they contributed to the rise in enemy losses in October. They certainly caused some increase in his sweeping problems, with consequential delays to shipping.
The last table of this chapter sets out the accomplishments of the air minelayers during what was their most successful phase up to date. It will be seen that the enemy's losses were substantial, and that the cost in British aircraft was not unduly heavy. In conclusion the effectiveness of our minelaying cannot be better demonstrated than by noting the fact that in this same phase all other forms of air attack on shipping, in port as well as at sea, only caused the enemy the loss of twenty ships (36,882 tons) sunk and a further ten (52,185 tons) damaged; and the aircraft losses in accomplishing these modest figures amounted to no less than 197.
Table 20. The R.A.F.'s Air Minelaying Campaign
(Home Theatre only)
No. Tonnage No. Tonnage August 408 981 21 27,898 2 10,633 19 September 487 1,081 21 12,167 7 9,632 21 October 510 1,052 23 25,107 4 6,437 20 November 626 1,219 23 18,308 4 6,906 20 December 441 1,012 15 10,067 1 1,444 13 TOTALS 2,472 5,345 103 9,3547 18 35,052 93
Map 25. The Operations of Disguised German Raiders
1 August 1942-31 December 1942
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