Bielefeld

Bielefeld Railway Viaduct

The viaducts connected Berlin to the Ruhr over the river Werre, had a width of 27 feet at track level, each carried two tracks, the viaducts was constructed with 26 arches each with a span of 46 feet and a height of around 73 feet, the overall length of them was around a 1100 feet each.

During all of the raids on the viaduct a total of 3,000 tons had been dropped which had no affect on the structure, apart from a little surface damage and a few bent tracks, which the Germans soon repaired. 617 squadron were given the job of destroying the viaducts as soon as possible.

Commanding officer at the time was Group Captain J.E Fauquier.

6th February 1945
The first planned attempt was aborted due to bad weather and flak damage to the Lancasters. 35 Lancasters sent, none lost.

14th February 1945
Nineteen (617) aircraft were due to take part but bad weather again stopped the operation taking place. 36 Lancasters sent one 1 lost that of 9 Squadron NF937 WS-E Type “Lancaster I”, crashed at Sasserath.
F/L J.J Dunne (DFC) RAAF
SGT H.J Ockerby
P/O M.J Thain
F/O C.L Philpott
F/S J.W Knight
P/O J.T Rose RAAF
F/S J.F Jordan

The following week a number of Lancasters were fitted with the new Grand Slam bomb (10 tons).

22nd February 1945
On this attack took place on the viaducts this time the weather was clear, some damage was caused to the structure after they were hit by tallboy bombs, but nothing the Germans could not fix. 35 Lancasters sent, none lost.

9th March 1945
Aborted once again due to bad weather. 21 Lancasters sent, none lost.

13th March 1945
Aborted once again due to bad weather. 38 Lancasters sent, none lost.

14th March 1945
14th March 1945 at 1:00pm 2 Lancasters fitted with the first 22,000lb (9,980 kg) Grand Slam bombs (pictured below) took off for the Bielefeld viaduct in Germany, the rest of the squadron (28 aircraft) were fitted with tallboy bombs. Bad luck struck one of the Grand slam Lancasters even before it left the ground, a mechanical fault caused one of the engines to shut down. This raid was lead by RAF Squadron Leader C.C Calder. When the Grand Slam was dropped it hit the ground around 80 feet from the target, but due to the type of bomb and the earth it hit, it created a crater over 100 feet deep, this undermined the viaduct and with the aid of the tallboy bombs a massive section of the structure collapsed. It remained closed for the rest of the war.