World War II: 1943 German Raid on Bari – US Ship loaded...

World War II: 1943 German Raid on Bari – US Ship loaded with Mustard Gas Explodes!

On the afternoon of December 2, 1943, 1st Lt. Werner Hahn piloted his Messerschmitt Me-210 reconnaissance plane over the port of Bari, in southeastern Italy. Cruising at 23,000 feet, his aircraft made a telltale contrail as he streaked across the sky, but Allied anti-aircraft crews took little notice. Still unmolested, the German pilot made a second pass over the city before turning north toward home. If Hahn’s report was promising, the Luftwaffe would launch a major airstrike against the port.

Bari was a city of some 200,000 people, with an old section of town that dated back to the Middle Ages. Old Bari, clustered on a fist of land that jutted out into the Adriatic, boasted such famed landmarks as the Castello Svevo, a brooding medieval fortress dating to Norman times, and the Basilica San Nicola, which allegedly contained the bones of St. Nicholas.