One of my favourite cities in Germany is Cologne. known for Eaux de Cologne and for its many landmarks like the Cathedral.
The Cologne of the 21st Century is a vibrant and multicultural metropolitan city only about 80 km away from Belgium and about 95 Km from the Netherlands.
This location and the fact that the Rhine flows through it add the industrial hinterland made it a prime target for the allies.
Cologne had been bombed throughout the war the first time on the 17th of May 1940. In total there had been 262 separate air raids. However one of the most devastating raids happened on the 30th of May 1942.
On the 30th of May 1942 , a thousand-plane raid on the German city of Cologne was launched by Great Britain. Almost 1,500 tons of bombs rain down in 90 minutes, delivering a devastating blow to the Germans’ medieval city as well as its morale.
Codenamed Operation Millennium, the massive raid was launched for two primary reasons:
- It was expected that the devastation from such raids might be enough to knock Germany out of the war or at least severely damage German morale.
- The raids were useful propaganda for the Allies and particularly for RAF Bomber Command head Sir Arthur Harris, 1st Baronet’s concept of a Strategic Bombing Offensive.
Bomber Command’s poor performance in bombing accuracy during 1941 had led to calls for the force to be split up and diverted to other urgent theatres i.e. Battle of the Atlantic. A headline-grabbing heavy raid on Germany was a way for Harris to demonstrate to the War Cabinet that given the investment in numbers and technology Bomber Command could make a vital contribution to victory.