RAID ON BERCHTESGADEN
The wave of excitement swept through the squadron when it was learned
that the 300 would get to bomb 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 prize, 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, the residence of SS Chief Spahn, and main
control center and administration headquarters.
2. Eagle’s Nest on the summit of Kehlstein, some 9,300 feet above sea
3. Berghof chalet and adjacent buildings down at Obersalzberg.
total of 359 bombers was 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,
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
- Toruński, Krawiec, Zieniewicz, Szypowski, Czernek, Pawlak,
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
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 the starboard side of the bombers, while three other
squadrons of Polish Mustangs flew Sweep on theirs Northside.
more at 315’s site.
The 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 a 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 the 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
“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.”
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.
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."
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
Pilot; W/O Motyka - Wireless Operator and F/O Jarosz - Navigator. Absent: Flt/Sgt Kulakowski - Middle Gunner.
No. 300 official
“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).
a/c mission details:
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
were 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
Needs info. The only thing known about this picture is that it
depicts the No. 300 Squadron's Lancaster.
© Polish Squadrons Remembered