Darmstadt bomb strike, 11-12 September 1944 discussion
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Darmstadt bomb strike, 11-12 September 1944
226 Lancasters and 14 Mosquitos of No 5 Group. 12 Lancasters lost, 5.3 per cent of the Lancaster force. A previous No 5 Group attack in August had failed to harm Darmstadt but, in clear weather conditions, the group's marking methods produced an outstandingly accurate and concentrated raid on this almost intact city of 120,000 people. A fierce fire area was created in the centre and in the districts immediately south and east of the centre. Property damage in this area was almost complete. Casualties were very heavy.
The Darmstadt raid, with its extensive fire destruction and its heavy casualties, was held by the Germans to be an extreme example of RAF 'terror bombing' and is still a sensitive subject because of the absence of any major industries in the city. Bomber Command defended the raid by pointing out the railway communications passing through Darmstadt; the directive for the offensive against German communications had not yet been issued to Bomber Command, although advance notice of the directive may have been received. Darmstadt was simply one of Germany's medium-sized cities of lesser importance which succumbed to Bomber Command's improving area-attack techniques in the last months of the war when many of the larger cities were no longer worth bombing.