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Old 3rd August 2009, 15:04
tcolvin tcolvin is offline
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VIIIUSAAF and BC failures at the Wesel bridges.

I wonder if anyone has insight into why the Allied air forces were unable to destroy the Wesel road and rail bridges in spite of their being given priority.
Isolating the battlefield was an ongoing task of the RAF (BC and 2TAF) and USAAF.
These Wesel bridges and ferries were the only LofC for I German Parachute Army, defending west of the Rhine against Ops Veritable and Grenade.

January 24, 1945. The final general conference was held on Veritable. The RAF was represented by SASO, W/C Ops and the W/C Armt of 84 Gp. Brig CC Oxborrow, BGS Ops Air 21 Army Gp also attended....
The requirements for air attacks prior to D Day included road and rail interdiction, both road and rail bridges over the Rhine at Wesel being given top priority.” source: Report No. 74, Historical Section (GS) of Canadian Army HQ.
“The air plan provided for heavy bombers of VIII USAAF to put out of action the rail and road bridges at Wesel”; source: Stacey.
I have been able to find the following references to air attacks on Wesel.

February 1, 1945. VIII USAAF. 236 B-17s attacked the road and rail bridges at Wesel. 315 tons of HE were dropped around the road bridge, and 66 tons around the railway bridge. The latter, unfortunately, remained undamaged. Further attacks for February 8 and 9 were cancelled because of bad weather.
February 10. VIII USAAF. 64 Flying Fortresses attacked the bridges again, and were again unsuccessful. (No confirmation exists of this raid in the USAAF Chronology).
February 14. VIII USAAF. 84 B-17s to the Wesel road bridge. One span was hit.
February 16. BC. 100 Lancasters of No 3 Group and 1 Mosquito of No 8 Group attacked the town of Wesel on the Rhine, near the fighting area. No aircraft lost. The raid took place in clear conditions and 'the town and the railway were seen to be smothered in bomb bursts'.
February 18. BC. 160 Lancasters of No 3 Group returned to Wesel to carry out a G-H attack through cloud. No Lancasters lost.
February 19. BC. Wesel: 168 Lancasters of No 3 Group carried out a good attack with the best concentration of bombs being in the railway area. 1 Lancaster lost.
February 21. BC. Attacks delivered on the railway bridge appeared to have cut the southern approach.
March 6. BC. 48 Mosquitos of No 8 Group attacked Wesel, which was believed to contain many German troops and vehicles. The target had been cloud-covered for several days. Oboe Mosquitos provided the marking. 1 aircraft lost.
March 6/7. BC. 87 Lancasters of No 3 Group and 51 Mosquitos of No 8 Group continued the attack on Wesel with two separate raids. No aircraft lost.
March 10. 0700 hrs, the German 1st Parachute Army blew up the bridges, having no more use for them.

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