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Narrative:On 19 November 1940, bad weather reduced Luftwaffe activity around Great Britain but the very low cloud dissipated in the evening and many German bombers were over England between 1745 and 2330 hrs. That night the Luftwaffe launched the first major air raid against Birmingham, England’s most populous British city outside London. 439 bombers were sent to attack Birmingham (142 by Luftflotte 2 and 297 by Luftflotte 3) and of these 356 reported bombing the target (crews of Luftflotte 3 reported bombing hours from 1921 hrs to 0030 hrs on the 20th), 47 attacked alternative targets, 31 aborted and 5 did not return. A secondary attack was launched by 30 bombers on London: 2 aborted, but some of the bombers dispatched to Birmingham used London as alternative target, bringing to 37 the number of crews who attacked the city.
Junkers Ju 88A-5
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In Birmingham the principal targets included armaments works and factories associated with the aircraft and aero engine industries. The city, and its many important targets, were cleraly visible to the bomber crews. The 357 attacking bombers dropped 403 tons of HE bombs (including 48 parachute mines) and 810 containers for a total of 29 160 incendiary bombs. Returning crew reported that fires were numerous and extensive and appeared to cover the entire city. Night fighters were seen over the target and both AA fire and searchlights were said to be lively.
The raid turned out to be the most severe attack on Birmingham in the course of the war. A number of factories were badly damaged in the raid, including the Lucas Industries and GEC works. The Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) factory was badly damaged, causing loss of production and trapping hundreds of workers. 53 employees were killed, 89 were injured, 30 of them seriously, and rifle production was halted for three months. A member of the Home Guard and one of the company’s electricians were later awarded the George Medal for their bravery in helping the trapped workers. Railway installations, gas works, shops, schools, churches and many thousands of houses were destroyed or damaged. More than 800 bomb incidents were reported and some 450 people were killed and 540 badly injured. On the whole, however, war production was not seriously affected.
In London the bombing was widely scattered. Bombs also fell on Coventry, Leicester, Grantham and Northampton, and in 15 British counties.
Night fighter patrols were flown by 19 RAF aircraft, with six more at dusk, and a Beaufighter of 604 Sqn claimed a Ju 88 shot down as the first kill assisted with AI airborne radar. AA Command, that used 17 000 rounds of HAA ammunition during the night, claimed four bombers destroyed and Balloon Command claimed one.
Actually of the five German bombers that did not return from the raid on Birmingham, one was shot by the Beaufighter, one by AA fire, one by a combination of AA fire and balloon, another was lost to engine failure and the last one just went missing, probably falling in the sea to an unknown cause. At least seven more German bombers are reported in the German loss lists as destroyed or damaged beyond repair, and two more damaged, in crashes in France, Belgium and the Netherlands on 19 November 1940 and were probably flying during that night.
One of the German aircraft lost on the Continent was the Ju 88 A-5 WNr 6148 of 3./KG 30. It was damaged beyond repair (at 80%) in a crash due to enemy fire at 2320 hrs in the evening of the 19th at Gemert, northeast of Eindhoven. There was no casualty and the crew names are not known. It is possible that this bomber was one of those claimed as destroyed by the British AA gunners.
In the book "Battle of Britain-The Forgotten Months", it is said that during the day Bomber Command dispatched five Blenheims to attack targets in Northern Germany, but all aborted due to the weather conditions. Two of the bombers had engagements with Ju 88s, but all returned safely. The above Ju 88 of 3./KG 30 was presented as a possible victime of one of these Blenheims, but it is not compatible with the crash hour listed in another source.
"The Blitz Then and Now, volume 2. September 1940 – May 1941", collective work, ISBN 0-900913-54-1
“Battle of Britain-The Forgotten Months, November and December 1940.”, by John Foreman. ISBN 1-871187-02-8 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_Blitz https://www.defensie.nl/binaries/defensie/documenten/brochures/2008/04/08/verliesregister-1940/verliesregister-1940.pdf https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemert_%28Gemert-Bakel%29 http://www.maplandia.com/netherlands/noord-brabant/gemert/
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