Bombing of Mannheim in World War II
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As part of Operation Abigail Rachel, the "first deliberate terror raid" on Germany took place on 16 December, although with poor effect even though one hundred tonnes of explosives and 14,000 incendiaries were dropped on Mannheim.
The British had been waiting for the opportunity to experiment with such a raid aimed at creating a maximum of destruction in a selected town since the summer 1940, and the opportunity was given after the German raid on Coventry. Internally it was declared to be a reprisal for Coventry and Southampton. The new bombing policy was officially ordered by Churchill on 1 December, explained in the War Cabinet on 12 December, and operation Abigail was approved on the 13th, on condition it receive no publicity and be considered an experiment. The "air-crews, rightly, regarded it as a terror raid". Incendiaries dropped by eight bombers to mark the target missed the city center and of the 100 or so aircraft, of the 134 dispatched, that did drop bombs most missed the city center. German casualties were 34 dead and 81 injured. The lessons learned from the large dispersal of bombs over Mannheim was to develop the "bomber stream", maximum amount of bombs over shortest time and area. Despite the lack of decisive success of this raid, approval was granted for further similar raids.
This was the start of a British drift away from precision attacks on military targets and towards area bombing attacks on whole cities.
The largest raid on Mannheim was on 5 and 6 September 1943. A large part of the city was destroyed. In 1944, raids destroyed Mannheim Palace, leaving only one room undamaged out of over 500. On 2 March 1945 the RAF launched a 300-bomber attack, causing a devastating firestorm. 25,181 tons of bombs fell throughout the war.
- Boog, pp 507, 508
- "Royal Air Force Bomber Command Campaign Diary 1940". DeltaWeb International. April 6, 2005.
- Boog, p 509
- Boog, Stumpf and Rahn (editors) Germany and the Second World War: Volume VI: The Global War Oxford University press, 2001, ISBN 0-19-822888-0
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