Historic Air Raids that Rained Fury from the Skies
Historic Air Raids that Rained Fury from the Skies

Historic Air Raids that Rained Fury from the Skies

Khalid Elhassan - November 20, 2021

Historic Air Raids that Rained Fury from the Skies
Low level photo of the raid on the Amiens Prison. Imperial War Museums

1. A Tactical Success, But a Controversial Mission

The plan was for the first Mosquitoes to bomb and breach the Amiens Prison’s outer walls. They would be followed by other Mosquitoes, which would bomb the guard barracks and cafeteria. The raid was timed for lunchtime, to catch as many German guards as possible as they sat down for their midday meal. The raiders arrived at noon, armed with 500-pound bombs with delayed fuses to allow the Mosquitoes to fly out of the blast zone before their munitions went off. They successfully breached the outer walls, then the guardhouse was struck and destroyed. Many guards were killed, along with collateral damage prisoners in the vicinity. Once prisoners were observed pouring out of the breached walls, the raiders departed and flew back home.

Operation Jericho was a tactical success, but the results were mixed. The bombing was pinpoint accurate by the standards of the day. The walls were successfully breached, which allowed the prisoners an opportunity for a jailbreak. At the cost of three Mosquitoes and two Typhoons, 50 Germans were killed. However, 107 of the 717 prisoners were also killed. 258 prisoners did manage to escape, but 182 were recaptured. Controversy erupted after the war when some in the Resistance denied that they had ever requested that the prison be bombed. Additionally, no evidence emerged that the Germans had planned mass executions of the Amiens prisoners.

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Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Air & Space Magazine, April, 2020 – World War II’s Strangest Bombing Mission

Bowman, Martin, and Boiten, Theo – Battles With the Luftwaffe: The Bomber Campaign Against Germany 1939-1945 (2001)

Bowman, Martin – The Reich Intruders: RAF Light Bomber Raids in World War II (2006)

Dugan, James, and Stewart, Carroll – Ploesti: The Great Ground-Air Battle of 1 August 1943 (2002)

Falconer, Jonathan – The Dam Busters Story (2007)

Gruhl, Werner – Imperial Japan’s World War II: 1931 – 1945 (2007)

Hastings, Max – Operation Chastise: The RAF’s Most Brilliant Attack of World War II (2020)

History Collection – This Day in History: The First Air Raids on Britain Take Place (1915)

History Net – Cuxhaven Raid: Britain’s Bold Strike From the Sea

Hoyt, Edwin Palmer – Pearl Harbor (2000)

Imperial War Museums – The Incredible Story of the Dambusters Raid

Jablonski, Edward – Double Strike: The Epic Air Raids on Regensburg-Schweinfurt, August 17, 1943 (1974)

Naval War College Review, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Summer 2006) – The Attack at Taranto: Tactical Success, Operational Failure

Oren, Michael B. – Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2002)

Smithsonian Magazine, June, 2020 – When the RAF Buzzed Over Germany to Drown Out Nazi Broadcasts

Stout, Jay A. – Fortress Ploesti: The Campaign to Destroy Hitler’s Oil Supply (2003)

Warfare History Network – Operation Jericho: Mosquito Raid on Amiens Prison

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