Le Creusot Raid, 17 October 1942

The Le Creusot raid was one of the most daring of the war, and flown, one suspects, as much for propaganda purposes as for military or strategic advantage. It was flown in daylight on a Saturday afternoon over France. The newspapers, given the information by the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Information, reported it ecstatically. Below, The Daily Mail‘s article(the original photograph is much wider, stretching right across the newspaper):

le cresuot, smallest

This was not only a massive PR triumph, emblazoned through all the papers, but also a morale boost to the people of France who witnessed it. As one 97 Squadron crew noted on their return to Woodhall Spa:

Judging by the number of people who waved to us and the number of lights flashed from houses after dusk, there is nothing wrong with the spirit of France.

It also served another purpose, to confirm to the aircrew of Bomber Command their importance in the war effort. The following signal was sent out to the squadrons involved by the Commander-in-Chief of Bomber Command, Sir Arthur Harris:

“Congratulations to all concerned in yesterday’s brilliantly executed and highly successful operation. In less than five minutes at the cost of one aircraft missing to at least two enemy aircraft destroyed, you have deprived the enemy of one of his major sources of armament supply.  The timing and navigation to within one minute and less than one mile over a source of 2,000 miles and the landing of nearly 100 aircraft in darkness under bad weather conditions on strange bases without bending a rivet, evidence a standard of airmanship throughout your command which has yet to be surpassed.”

See also the main RAF Pathfinders Archive website page on Ernest Deverill, one of the extraordinarily brave men who flew on this operation: Deverill and Le Creusot Op, 17 October 1942