Saumur

Saumur Railway Tunnel

Commanding Officer at the time was Commander G.L Cheshire

8th June 1944

Twenty five Lancasters and Three Mosquitos took off from England most carrying the brand new and never before used Tallboy bombs. The destination was the Saumur railway tunnel in the Loire valley. The destruction of this tunnel would stop the flow of supplies and troops from the South West of France reaching the Normandy coast.Ten Lancasters from 83 Squadron would be used to drop marker flares in the area around the tunnel entrance and exit. 617 squadron arrived in the early hours of the morning and proceeded to off load the Tallboy bombs, direct hits were made on the bridge near the tunnel entrance and also to the mountainside above causing land slides to cover the tracks, but the most devastating explosion and damage was caused when a bomb landed on the roof of the tunnel. This explosion caused the tunnel to collapse.
The Germans never had a chance of clearing the tunnel before the area was liberated in August of that year.


The following information comes from document AIR27/2128

Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Mosquito VI MS993 W/C G.L Cheshire Pilot 2323 0429 N
F/O P Kelly Nav B
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 4 Red Spotlights 02061/2. Dive from 3000’/500′, Bombing was within 100 yds with one or two very wild bombs. Markers fell on Railway cutting just to the mouth of the tunnel. Bombs caused considerable smoke but was considered that further backing up would not have improved the situation. Order to bomb was given at 0208. The flares were dropped too far south and too fat east and only the last two or three were of any use.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Mosquito IV DZ418 S/L D.J Shannon Pilot 0012 0037 L
F/O L/J Sumpter Nav B
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 3 Red Spotlights. 1 Wanganui Flare. Abortive – Returned early. Landed 18 minutes after take-off because of port engine over speeding. Sortie not completed
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Mosquito IV DZ421 F/L G.A Fawke Pilot 0013 0430 C
F/O T.A Bennett Nav B
Bombing, Railway Tunnell, Saumur. 3 Red Spotfires. 1 Wanganui flare. First flares fell to S.E of target and next lot over the target area. Dropped 3 Red Spots on N end of tunnel and these fell about 50 yds from N end of tunnel. Bombing of N end not observed as petrol was getting short. Bombing on cutting at Southern end of tunnel – some half dozen being excellent and others about 150 yards from markers. 1 Wanganui flare dropped with reds and reason for this unknown.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III LM482 S/L J.L Munro (NZ) Pilot 2255 0515 W
F/S F.E Appleby F/Eng
F/L F.G Rumbles Nav
F/L  C.K Astbury (AUS) A/B
F/O P.E Pigeon (CAN) W/Op
P/O W Howarth M.U
F/O H.A Weeks (CAN) R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000lb (Tallboy). 0214. 10000′ spot flares were in the cutting and most of the bombs were dropping around them. One direct hit was seen on the tunnel itself. Bombing was well concentrated around the spotflares.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III LM492 S/L J.C McCarthy (CAN) Pilot 2252 0515 Q
F/O W.G Radcliffe F/Eng
F/O D.A Mcleah (CAN) Nav
F/O W/A Daniel (CAN) A/B
W/O L Eaton W/Op
W/O R Batson M.U
F/L D Rodger R.G
F/L L.W Curtis Pass
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur, 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0217. 10500′, Many bomb bursts, well concentrated around the spot fire. All bombs seen to fall in a 50 Yards radius. 1 direct hit on the marker itself.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III LM485 F/L D.J.B Wilson Pilot 2300 0510 N
F/O G.A Phillips F/Eng
F/O J.K Stott (AUS) Nav
F/O E.W Finlay (CAN) A/B
F/O R.J Allen W/Op
F/Sgt M.D Vaughan M.U
F/L E.B Chandler R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0245. 9500 , Original red spot on aiming point (southern end of tunnel) extinguished before we were able to bomb. made several runs and finally red spot put down at Northern end of tunnel and we bombed this and our own bomb fell about 100yds from red spot. Many blue sparks seen near own bomb burst.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I DV246 F/L R.S.D Kearns (NZ) Pilot 2245 0535 U
P/O R.J Henderson F/Eng
F/O W.J.M.L Barclay (NZ) Nav
S/L D.S Richardson A/B
P/O M Ellwood W/Op
W/O W.G Bickley M.U
F/O R.H Petch R.G
F/L T.J Tate Pass
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0226.10200′, About 50 of bombing seen appeared to be within 100yards from the marker. Our bomb fell about 50 yards due North of A/P.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III EE131 F/L J.A Edward Pilot 2315 0510 L
F/O L.W.J King F/Eng
F/O L.T Pritchard (CAN) Nav
F/S J Brook A/B
F/S G.H Hobbs W/Op
P/O J.I Johnston (CAN) M.U
F/S Isherwood R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0214.9500′, The first bomb blew out the red spot fire. Bombing seemed concentrated and the attack generally successful.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I DV391 F/L A.F Poore Pilot 2300 0516 O
Sgt J Johnson F/Eng
F/O R.A Roberts Nav
R.J Elsey A/B
F/S J.T Thompson W/Op
F/S W Tookey M.U
F/S W HumeF/S R Castleman R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0217.8400′, First flares seen at about 0158. Bombed red spot which was on railway line near entrance to tunnel. own bomb fell on red spot and obscured it with smoke. Bombing seemed very accurate – about 12 just near red spot.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I ME560 F/L B.W Clayton Pilot 2311 0511 H
F/O A Hill F/Eng
F/O P.W Buttle Nav
F/O J.S Watson A/B
F/O G.A Chalmers W/Op
F/S W.W Sharp M.U
F/S W Hume R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 02161/2.9400′, Bomb fell in line with, but rather short of, red spot fire. Difficult to assess attack but red spot fire was accurate it seems to have been a success.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I ME557 F/L W Reid Pilot 2255 0515 S
F/S D.G.W Stewart F/Eng
F/O D.A Peltier Nav
P/O C.G Rolton A/B
F/O D Luker W/Op
F/S A Holt M.U
W/O J.W Hutton R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 02131/2.9800′, Bursts all around the spot fires and well concentrated. Results good.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I ME555 F/O W.A Duffy (CAN) Pilot 2315 0525 C
Sgt A.W Benting F/Eng
F/O D.A Bell (CAN) Nav
F/O R.E Woods (CAN) A/B
F/O D.R Pearce (CAN) W/Op
W/O K.R Porter (CAN) M.U
P/O W.G Evans (CAN) R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0217.9100′, Not visible, due to cloud.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I ME554 F/O R.M Stanford (AUS) Pilot 2340 0500 F
Sgt E Judson F/Eng
P/O T.W Butler (AUS) Nav
W/O G.K Clarke (AUS) A/B
W/O A.J Jordan (AUS) W/Op
F/S R.D Griffiths M.U
P/O K.S Jewell (AUS) R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0221.9200′, Bomb bursts all around the red spot fires. one bomb burst on spot fire and put it out.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I ME559 F/O G.S.S Stout Pilot 2250 0513 Y
P/O J.R Gurney F/Eng
F/O P Ingleby Nav
F/O W.A Rupert (CAN) A/B
F/S A Nuttall W/Op
P/O H.W Cornish Underwood M.U
W/O R Smith R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0225.9000′, Bombing appeared well concentrated. Our bomb fell about 50yds to port on a heading of 120 N.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III JB139 F/O D.H Cheney (CAN) Pilot 2258 0508 V
Sgt J Rosher F/Eng
F/S R Welch Nav
F/S R Curtis A/B
F/S R.H Pool W/Op
F/S A Mcrostie (AUS) M.U
F/S G.H Wait R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 02111/2.9300′, Bombing seemed accurate and concentrated. About 10 explosions seen, 2 of which were within 50yds of the markers.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I DV385 F/O R.E Knights Pilot 2305 0515 A
P/O E Twells F/Eng
F/O H.B Rhude (CAN) Nav
P/O J.R Bell A/B
F/O B.J Hosie W/Op
F/S W.H pengelly M.U
F/S P.W Derham R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0223.8600′, Bomb fell right on red spot fire. Very good concentration and markers were several times obscured.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III DV403 F/O M Hamilton Pilot 0014 0514 G
Sgt J.T Rooke F/Eng
F/S J.T Jackson Nav
F/O R.T Duck A/B
F/S R.C Thompson W/Op
F/S J.A Dadge M.U
F/S D Hamilton R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 02311/2.8200′, Bombing good and very concentrated around markers which seemed to be on the target.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I DV393 F/O E Willsher Pilot 2254 0520 T
Sgt J Hurdiss F/Eng
F/O T.H.J Playford Nav
P/O R.C Everett A/B
P/O F.W Bell W/Op
F/S A Salter M.U
F/O G.A Witherick R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0230.15.8900′, Majority of the bombs were well concentrated with one or two direct hits and a few very scattered bombs. Our bomb fell on what was believed to have been a red spot fire which was extinguished.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I ME562 F/O N.R Ross Pilot 2250 0450 T
P/O A.J.S Girling F/Eng
F/O T.R Davies Nav
F/S E Mclennan A/B
F/S G Hickson W/Op
F/O T.A Platt M.U
F/L R.F Scottkiddle R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0213.55.8500′, Flares fell and when over aiming point only red spot visible so bombed this. Own bomb fell just near red spot which was obscured for two or three seconds by own bomb. First 6 bombs were very good indeed.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I DV380 F/O A.W Fearn Pilot 2305 0505 X
P/O T Davies F/Eng
F/S H Johnson Nav
F/O W.H Chadwick A/B
F/S J.E Baker W/Op
Sgt Wilson Williams M.U
F/S D Pearson R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0214.9750′, Bombing appeared fairly well concentrated with only one or two wild bombs. Our bomb fell 30 to 40 yards to the starboard of the markers on the heading of 250om
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I DV402 F/O A.E Kell (AUS) Pilot 2303 0512 P
Sgt G.W Clarke F/Eng
P/O J.L Hager (AUS) Nav
F/O R Morieson (AUS) A/B
P/O A.L Evans (AUS) W/Op
P/O A.W Snell (AUS) M.U
F/O J.F Chapman (AUS) R.G
F/O W.R Lee (AUS) Pass
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 02121/2. 8850′, First flares fell inaccurately, but second fell accurate. Bombed red spot and own bomb believed to fall on western edge of spot fire. Bombing seemed very accurate.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III ED909 P/O J.A Sanders Pilot 2300 0525 (P)?
Sgt T.H Nutley F/Eng
F/S J.B Barron Nav
W/O H.G Allen (CAN) A/B
Sgt A Ward W/Op
Sgt R Machin M.U
Sgt R.A Briars R.G
Bombing, Railway Bridge, Saumur. 8 x 1000 GP, 6 x 7″ Clusters. H2S. A.P.I. 0217, 5000′, Smoke from tunnel bombing obscured vision and results could not be seen. But stick of bombs straddled bridge. Direct hit on bridge was seen about 5 minutes before we bombed.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III ND631 P/O F Levy Pilot 2306 0530 (E)?
Sgt P.W Groom F/Eng
F/O C.L Fox Nav
F/O F.C Atkinson (CAN) A/B
Sgt G.A McGuire W/Op
Sgt A.F Mcnally (CAN) M.U
F/Sgt D G Thomas R.G
Bombing, Railway Bridge, Saumur. 8 x 1000 GP, 6 x 7″ Clusters.0210, 6000′, Identified A/P (bridge) and of our bombs-first six fell short and last two appeared to straddle bridge. Other bombing on North end of tunnel not observed. Bombing on Southern end of tunnel seemed very good. Dropped our flares S.E of A/P (Southern end of tunnel).
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III ED933 P/O F.H.A Watts Pilot 2305 0525 (N)?
Sgt H Luck F/Eng
F/S C.H Hudson Nav
F/S M.L Mckay (CAN) A/B
Sgt D Cooper W/Op
Sgt G Matthews M.U
P/O R Heggie R.G
Bombing, Railway Bridge, Saumur. 8 x 1000 GP, 6 x 7″ Clusters. 0245, 3000′, Last three bombs of stick seemed to fall on bridge. Bombing on south end of tunnel seemed very good.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III ND472 P/O J Castagnola Pilot 2300 0525 (O)?
Sgt D Henderson F/Eng
F/O F.J Corringe Nav
F/S A Evans A/B
Sgt W.T Eaves W/Op
Sgt T Craig M.U
Sgt R Ronald R.G
Bombing, Railway Bridge, Saumur. 8 x 1000 GP, 6 x 7″ Clusters. (a) 02331/2 4000′ (b) 0240 6500′, Bombing appeared accurate Our bombs fell across red spot fires on heading of 220 M.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III JB370 L/O I.A Ross (AUS) Pilot 2310 0520 (U)?
Sgt W Walter F/Eng
F/O T O’Brien Nav
F/S E.G Tilby A/B
Sgt K Jenkinson W/Op
Sgt C King M.U
Sgt A Mckellar R.G
Bombing, Railway Bridge, Saumur. 8 x 1000 GP, 6 x 7″ Clusters. 0231, 3800′, Identified A/P visually and own bombs straddled bridge near northern end of tunnel.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster III EE146 P/O T.A Carey (AUS) Pilot 2315 0515 K
Sgt A.W Cherrington F/Eng
F/S A kerr Nav
W/O J Mclennan A/B
Sgt A.E Young W/Op
Sgt L.A Fowle M.U
F/S T.W,P Price (CAN) R.G
Bombing, Railway Bridge, Saumur. 8 x 1000 GP, 6 x 7″ Clusters. 0233, 4000′, Bombing was seen to be well concentrated around the spot fires by the tunnel. Results of our bombing could not be seen.
Aircraft Number Crew Duty Time Up Time Down Ref
Lancaster I ME561 Lt H.C Knilans (USA) Pilot 2255 0455 R
P/O K.J Ryall F/Eng
P/O L.H Geller (CAN) Nav
P/O C.G Rogers A/B
F/O C.L Knell W/Op
Sgt A Crosby M.U
P/O R.A Learmonth R.G
Bombing, Railway Tunnel, Saumur. 1 x 14000 (Tallboy) 0211, 8700′, Bomb fell 35yds south. Several bombs seen quite close to A/P.
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