Countdown to Kassel - September 17-26, 1944

Rockets and Market Garden

September nights weren’t as peaceful once the Germans began firing V-2 rockets at England on September 9. They hit at the rate of six per night, with the first target being London.

However, the advent of Operation Market Garden, also known as the Battle of Arnhem, forced the Germans to move their installations from their initial launching area. Now, instead of targeting London, they hit the closer areas of Ipswich and Norwich, waking our boys at Tibenham up more than once. Many war diaries of 445th boys recount how everyone ran outside at night to see what was happening in the sky. None fell on the base.

Market Garden would end badly for the Allies. Although the secret nighttime airborne landings were successful, the bridges could not be seized nor were all the target towns taken. Band of Brothers recounts the arduous nine days for the 101st Airborne.

When the Allies finally fell back, Operation Market Garden ceased. That day was September 26. The event had enormous significance for the Eighth, because the operation was the last in the larger Operation Overlord, the overall invasion of Europe run by General Eisenhower.

Since April, when the Eighth began flying to clear the way for D-Day, the Eighth Air Force flew most of its missions in support of the ground troops, against the wishes of generals in D.C. such as Carl Spaatz, who was convinced, along with Hap Arnold and others, that an air force could win the war through pinpoint bombing alone. Only now and again were they allowed to do so between April and September 26, 1944.

With the ending of Operation Market Garden, Arnold and Spaatz were given the go-ahead to hit strategic bombing targets nonstop. And so, beginning September 27, Carl Spaatz could once again call the shots and begin hitting strategic targets meant to take out enemy oil and industry.

For the B-24s of the Second Air Division, Kassel would be that first target.

© 2019 Linda Alice Dewey