2. Operation Chastise
On the night of 16-17 May 1943, an RAF bombing raid destroyed three dams in the Ruhr Valley. The mission codenamed Operation ‘Chastise’ was aimed at destroying the Möhne, Edersee and Sorpe Dams, which were fiercely protected with torpedos in the waters to stop underwater attacks and anti-aircraft guns to defend against enemy bombers.
Between 1938 and 1941, a number of proposals and studies were undertaken by the British. It was found that multiple strikes with a high degree of accuracy would be necessary. Considering the feasibility of the mission, the British specially developed a “bouncing bomb” invented and developed by Sir Barnes Wallis. Also, with a new squadron, which had been formed at Scampton on 21st March 1943, and led by the 24-year-old Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the British were ready for the mission.
At 9.28 pm on 16 May 1943, the first of 19 Lancaster heavy bombers lifted off the runway into a clear, still early summer night. The mission went as planned resulting in the destruction of two hydroelectric power stations. Several others were damaged, and the floods drowned and killed approximately 1,300 people.
1. Operation Tidal Wave
Planning for Operation Tidal Wave is the primary task that had taken the 44th, 93rd, and 389th Bomb Groups of the Eighth Air Force as well as the Ninth Air Force (98th and 376th Bombardment Groups) on bases around Benghazi, Libya. While in Libya, these five bomb groups (mainly B-24 Liberators) were training to fly and hit targets at a very low altitude not knowing the mission that awaited them.
When they were eventually told the purpose of their training, their target became the 18 square miles of German-controlled oil refineries located in the area of Ploesti, Romania. Ploiești was one of the major oil industries in Europe that provided about 30% of all Axis oil production, giving the German military enough fuel. The Allied forces, therefore, made it a target.
The mission took off on 1 August 1943 when each of the B-24 was massively loaded with bombs, ammunition, and fuel as well as incendiary bombs to drop on the target. According to the plan, the operation was a low-altitude bombing run using delayed fuse bombs, and also required 2400 miles round trip with the planes staying airborne for over thirteen hours. 53 aircraft and 660 aircrewmen were lost making the mission one of the costliest for the USAAF in the European Theater. Compared to other single missions, this extremely dangerous operation also became the second-worst loss ever suffered by the USAAF. Operation Tidal Wave’s date was later referred to as “Black Sunday.”