Hello to all ; a summary point of view.............................
Air Attacks on Communications 6 March to 6 June 1944.
Although the Anglo-American air forces began their attack on the railway installations controlled by Germany in 1941, it was not until 1944 that the destruction of these installations became systematic, particularly during the 3 months preceding the Normandy invasion. From the military point of view, the chief characteristics of a railway network are its vulnerability, the multiplicity of its missions, and the ease with which it may be repaired.
- Vulnerability results from its extension, the density of its installations at certain points, and the presence of numerous structures such as bridges and tunnels.
- Multiplicity of its missions includes its use for civilian supply (bolstering the economic life of a country); the transportation of the wounded and men on leave; and the movement of reinforcements and equipment.
- Ease of repair refers to the speed with which the rail network can be rehabilitated thereby reducing the effectiveness of attacks against this form of communications.
The Germans in France, as well as in the Reich itself, succeeded in taking advantage of this characteristic and perfected numerous new repair methods. It is in this respect that railways, in the words of' Air Marshal Sir Arthur T, Harris, Chief of the Bomber Command, may be considered as "unrewarding targets". For this reason, railway communications occupied only ninth place in the Combined Bomber Offensive Plan established by the Allies at the time of the Casablanca Conference.
On the other hand, when they had some 4,000 heavy bombers at their disposal, and the plans of Operation Overlord had been established, the Allies considered the moment ripe to begin a vast operation of systematic destruction of the railway lines controlled by the enemy. It could not be hoped that the same results would be obtained on the dense French network that had been obtained by the Germans on the weak Polish network. To these technical considerations was added a psychological problem which was impossible to ignore: What would the reaction of the French people be to the destruction of their railway network?
On 6 March 1944, the campaign of destruction of the French railway lines began. It was to be carried out in three phases.
1. Beginning 6 March: bombing of the large railway centers.
2. Beginning 7 May: bombing of the railway bridges spanning the Seine, the Loire, and the Oise; and the railway bridges situated on the Paris-Etampes-Orleans line.
3. Beginning 20 May: machine-gunning of trains and tracks, and bombing of small stations.
To accomplish this plan, the Anglo-Americans had at their disposal 4,200 heavy bombers, 1,100 medium and light bombers, and more than 2,000 escorting fighters. Opposing these forces, the Germans had only about 150 single-engine fighter planes and 300 twin-engine planes concentrated in Holland, Belgium, and in the west, north, and east of France. The greatest concentration was in the northern French-Belgian zone.
Source: Translated and digested by the MILITARY REVIEW from an article by Claude Postel in "Revue Historique de L'Armee" (France) Nos. 1 and 2, 1950. Military Review. January 1951.
Cheers. Raúl M .