British Commemorate First Day-Light Air Attack on Berlin by 95th Bombardment Group

Previously we brought to you the story of Stan Stanley, whose plane was shot down after Allied bombings over Berlin kicked into high-gear. Ten days earlier, on March 4, 1944, The Americans were only just beginning their excursion into Berlin airspace, details of which were recently commemorated in Horham, England.

The locals turned out to remember the day heralded the waning moments of the Second World War. A few villagers were even present on the day the 95th Bomb Group took to the skies on that day 70 years ago. One, Miss Pauline Roe, who used to cut grass by Horham’s runway, still keeps newspaper clippings about the group’s exploits on her walls at home.

To say the action took place on a cold morning would be an understatement – temperatures fell to a jaw-dropping 63 degrees below 0. The group finally received orders to bomb the prize target, however, and few men were willing to turn back. Return, however seemed to be in the cards, as the bombers received a signal to turn back. After days of delay, the men might have been eager to find irregularity in the signal, and indeed they did, the Diss Express reports.

The recall signal was received too close to Berlin, and contained another curious mistake – the message wrapped up with the wrong call signal. Some other planes decided to turn back, however the rest of the 95th Bomb Group were too skeptical of the errant message, and determined to finish the mission. As it turns out the message was a delivered by the Germans, intent on disrupting the mission and delaying their date with destiny. This would be only the opening exchange between the Germans and the Americans, with the Germans resolving to discourage the airmen using more lethal measures.

Radar was needed in order to make out the landscape beneath the clouds, and German flak made visibility no easier. Adding to their troubles, German fighters were sent to intercept them. The 95th, however, were no pushovers. They were previously honored with two Presidential Unit Citations, and the assault on Berlin would bring their third. They achieved their mission, in the words of pilot Lt. Alvin Brown “against all odds.”

The war’s final year had begun, and Berlin was no longer beyond the reach of Allied forces.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE