RAID ON BERCHTESGADEN

             The wave of excitement swept through the squadron when it was learned that the 300 would get to bomb the Hitler’s mountain retreat. The war - the outcome of which deeply disappointed Poles - was nearly over and to be able to unload on hated Nazis’ leader den was like winning a consolation price, a tasty dessert after mediocre dinner.
    Since it was of very small importance strategically, Berchtesgaden was a political target. There was some talk at the German High Command about the “last stand” in the Harz Mountains, but nobody believed in it except few fanatics. Berchtesgaden was a target that everybody wanted.
    This small town lay in a valley and within its limits was the Schloss (an ancient castle) used as a priory, then as a retreat for Bavarian kings. There were three objectives for this raid:
1. SS guard barracks, residence of SS Chief Spahn, and main control center and administration head­quarters.
2. Eagle’s Nest on summit of Kehlstein, some 9,300 feet above sea level.
3. Berghof chalet and adjacent buildings down at Obersalzberg.

         Total of 359 bombers were dispatched for this raid from three Bomber Groups: No. 1, 5 and 8. Thirteen RAF squadrons of Mustangs and 98 of these aircraft from the 8th USAAF escorted them.


Above and below: Polish Lancaster being bombed up. Spring 1945.

No. 300 Squadron Duty Roster for the raid:

BH-L (PA261) – Jarkowski (CO), Suwała, Buczkiewicz, Lasota, Prusiecki, Kowalik, Nogty, Wieczorek.
BH-A (NN718) -  Adamowski, Kurman, Dauman, Jarosz, Motyka, Kułakowski, Turek
BH-B (PB705) - Bus, Dzięcioł, Wolfram, Brettler, Bohdanowicz, Żółciak, Tolicz
BH-D (PD387) - Gierejkiewicz, Kikut, Ichniowski, Langer, Małecki, Dubiel, Spaczyński
BH-F (ME470) - Schlichtinger, Kozak, Hanczakowski, Was, Szułkowski, Kuzniecow, Schmidt
BH-E (SW279) - Pruszyński, Michalik, Szarek, Borkowski, Kardasiewicz, Szczepulski, Derbicz
BH-J (PA233) - Karpiński, Sitarek, Garnowski, Gajda, Szymczak, Ziętkiewicz, Reinke
BH-K (NG269) - Kozubski, Jaworski, Micko, Kościukiewicz, Perlak, Łuksza, Szyc
BH-R (PB730) - Gryglewicz, Marguła, Miterski, Dziuś, Roman, Jeronim, Sterynowicz
BH-?     (?)       - Toruński, Krawiec, Zieniewicz, Szypowski, Czernek, Pawlak, Strzelecki
BH-U (PA269) - Warchołek, Skibiński, Nowak, Szumski, Pietrzak, Antoszczyszyn, Janowicz
BH-V (NG265) - Wierzbowski, Stawicki, Blicharski, Frączek, Krzewinski, Sołtyś, Kołtonowski
BH-Z (PD383) - Witkowski, Kończyk, Piaskowski, Sadura, Oziewicz, Marczyk, Pupa
BH-X (PA262) - Abramski, Siwik, Brodziński, Lukaszewicz, Jaciów, Najberg, Teliga
    Crews in consecutive order: pilot, flight engineer, air bomber, navigator, wireless operator, mid-upper gunner, rear gunner and sometimes an extra navigator or radio op
.


Bombing and Gunnery School, Jarvis, Ontario, Canada, 1943.
Among those on the picture are six Poles who participated in the Berchtesgaden raid. Front row from the right: first Nowak: second Blicharski, fourth Szarek. Back row from the right: first Dauman; third Piaskowski; second from the left is Miterski.

   Five Polish Fighters squadrons took part in the mission: No. 303, 316 from No. 3 (Polish) Wing, and No. 306, 309 and 315 from No. 133 (Polish) Wing. Their op. was designated as “Ramrod 1554”. No 303 and 316 flew Sweep on starboard side of the bombers, while three other squadrons of Polish Mustangs flew Sweep on theirs North side.
        Read more
at 315’s site.

   Target for the squadron were SS Guard Barracks, to be bombed in the second wave.
    Bomb load
: one 4000 lb HC (“Cookie”), four 1000 lb MC, one 500 lb AN-M64 (American-made), one 250 lb GP - in the RAF, a mixture known as “Plum Duff”.
   
Location and route:
Faldingworth, Lincolnshire (51/4 m. SW of Market Rasen), 532 1N/0026W (50 ft ASL);
Berchtesgaden, Bavaria (S of Salzburg), 4737N/1300E (approx. 10-16,000ft ASL) mountain peaks. 5130N/O100E - Cap Gris Nez - 4752N/0900E - 4735N/1200E - 4715N/1245E – Berchtesgaden -4744N/1258E  - 4800N/0900E - Cap Gris Nez.
H (Hour): ,,Eagle’s Nest”, Chalet & Barracks (1st wave): H 0900 SS Guard Barracks (2nd wave) H 0945 (B.D.S.T.).

    The weather cooperated fully and except for local patches of haze in the valleys airmen had crystal clear view of the ground. At 17,000 ft side wind (335°) of 25 knots was recorded.
  
Eight of sixteen Pathfinder Mosquitoes were equipped with “Oboe” to pinpoint the targets, but were unable to do so due to lack of signals disappearing in tall Alps. The Master Bomber was W/C J. Fordham, C.O., No. 635 Sqdn. in Lancaster I PB928 F2-J (Call sign: “,Pickwick”). He was to lead the bomb run and give an order to unload. W/C Fordham spotted the Aiming Point with the reference of the nearby lake and town of Berchtesgaden and dropped markers at 9:46 a.m. A minute later F2-J R/T clear: “,Pickwick - bomb upwind edge of smoke”. At 0957 another order was R/T: “Broadcast: bomb center of smoke”.

Relation of one of the squadron’s pilots:
The Alps were crossed at 16,000 feet, just over the peaks. It began to get light at this altitude and the mountaintops jutted out more and more vividly from the darkness below. As the sun rose, the details of the scene appeared more clearly: the views and landscapes were so varied and beautiful in the rosy dawn that one’s attention was fully occupied in admiration.
The navigator recalled me to the task in hand by suddenly exclaiming:
-‘Ten minutes to go, Skipper. See anything?’
There wasn’t anything I could see apart from the mountain slopes covered with foliage and the bombers before and around us. It was now broad daylight and I began to look about for Berchtesgaden. There was still one minute to go when a batch of colored marker flares appeared - the Pathfinders had located the target. Fairly intensive flak broke out in the distance. Amidst the flares, I could see the flashing explosions of bombs dropped by the Lancaster before me.
I steered to port and began to run up to the target. I could see Berchtesgaden clearly in the light of the markers: it looked like a wall built into the steep rocky slope: I could even see the outlines of the stores and windows. We had descended to 10,000 feet, according to instructions: the flak became thicker and the shells burst closer to us, some quite near. The bomb-aimer got busy. ‘Open the door, Skipper,’ he began. ‘Skipper, steady, port, a little more – steady - ’ and finally: ‘Bombs gone!’ I knew they had, because the Lancaster lifted when they went. I kept on the course so that good photos could be taken. The flak banged away all the time and pretty accurately. The outer starboard engine of a Lancaster near us began to smoke and then flames appeared: the engine was stopped and the fire went out as the bomber flew away on its remaining three engines.
As I turned round wide of the flak to return to base, bombs were still being showered down in the target. One of the attackers did a great service to the others by dropping all his bombs on a flak position, which was thus immediately and radically silenced. The homeward trip was uneventful, without any special opposition on the way. One of our Lancasters failed to return, but three hours later a telephone message was received that it had forced-landed in France as a result of flak damage while over the target; the flight engineer was wounded.

    This aircraft was BH-Z (PD383) piloted by P/O Witkowski. The plane was hit by flak, which wounded the pilot and f/e Sgt Konczyk. The crew put down at Juvincourt, NW of Paris, to seek medical attention for the wounded.

In BH-A piloted by Flt/Lt Adamowski flew F/O Aleksander Dauman. He recalls that mission:
"In 1945, the most
frequently used route to Germany was by flying first over liberated France. When approaching Berchtesgaden, we were flying toward the Alps in a roughly southern direction with Salzburg clearly visible on our left. We could see the three Lancasters with vertical stabilizers painted white, which were leading the bombers to the target. 
When they turned left in the easterly direction we were southwest of Berchtesgaden. Unfortunately, the leading pathfinder aircraft went too far east instead of turning earlier in the northerly direction toward Berchtesgaden. As a result, they led us to the target from the east over the top of the mountains, thus depriving me of the view of the target until it was too late to steer toward the objective. There was no other choice; I asked my pilot Flt/Lt Adamowski to make another bombing run. 
I remember that on that second approach from the south I aimed the bombs at an area shown and described on an aerial photograph as villas belonging to high Nazi officials with their individual names inscribed on the photo. The area was covered by smoke. I learned later that W/Cdr Jarkowski, the Squadron's Commanding Officer, also had to make a second bombing run."


Crew of Lancaster BH-A (from left to right): F/Sgt Kurman - Flight Engineer; W/O Turek - Rear Gunner; F/O Dauman - Air Bomber; F/Lt Adamowski, - Pilot; W/O Motyka - Wireless Operator and F/O Jarosz - Navigator. Absent: Flt/Sgt Kulakowski - Middle Gunner. (A. Dauman)

No. 300 official report:
“Every crew confirmed: “Yes, we heard the Master’s order: ‘PICKWICK’; instructions were clear and well heard”. Three crews spotted a red Target Indicator: Sgt Gierejkiewicz in BH-D, F/S Torunski in BH-R and F/O Abramski in BH-X. The crew in BH-R (Captain, F/S Gryglewicz) saw a major explosion at 0950 hrs”. (The C.O. went round twice).

 BH a/c mission details:

Captain Lancaster Up Down Altitude Time over Target
Jarkowski PA261 0520 1350 17,500 0955
Adamowski NN718 0521 1334 17,000  0952
Bus OB705 0523 1317 17,500 0953
Gierejkiewicz PD387 0522 1323 18,000 0949
Schlichtinger ME470 0528 1315 19,000 0951
Pruszynski SW279 n/k n/k 17,500 0956
Karpinski PA233 0531 1316 19,000 0949
Kozubski NG269 0530 1333 17,500 0952
Gryglewicz PB730 0534 1345 17,500 0950
Torunski n/k 0536 1339 18,000 0950
Warcholek PA269 0535 1330 18,000 0958
Wierzbowski NG265 0539 1338 16,500 0956
Witkowski PD383 0538 (France) n/k n/k
Abramski PA262 0540 1354 18,000 0951

   Aircraft bombing at roughly 10 - 16,000 ft were engaged by accurate predicted seen Heavy Flak from hillside positions round the S.S. barracks and this tended to increase to moderate pro­portions during the attack. From the ‘Eagle’s Nest’ and the Chalet targets it was never more than slight and inaccurate. The raid’s results were estimated on aerial photographs taken after the attack. They revealed three direct hits and probable blast damage to the Chalet; SS barracks severely damaged; damage to Control Center; Administration HQ & Air Raid control burning; SS Chief Spahn’s residence destroyed.


Faldingworth, July 1, 1945.
From left: W/Cdr Jarkowski, CO 300 Squadron, G/Cpt Beill and Air Vice Marshal CO No. 1 Bomber Group.

(A. Dauman)


Needs info. The only thing known about this picture is that it depicts the No. 300 Squadron's Lancaster.

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