June 20

This Day in History

World War II

Jun 20, 1943:

Britain launches Operation Bellicose

On this day in 1943, British bombers perform the first "shuttle bombing" raid of the war, attacking sites in Germany and Italy.

Taking off from airbases in Britain, bombers made for the southwestern German city of Friedrichshafen, at one time the home to Zeppelin airship construction. It now was the site of steel construction works, which were heavily damaged in the British attack. The Brits then flew, not back to Britain, but to airbases in Algeria. Refueled, they then headed north for the Italian naval base in La Spezia, in Liguria. This "shuttle" strategy enabled the bombers to kill two enemies with one operation-Bellicose.

The damage done to the steel works in Germany was so extensive that the assembly line had to be completely abandoned. Unbeknownst to Britain, that assembly line included the manufacture of more than just steel, but also new V2 rockets, to be spun out at the rate of 300 a month. The Brits unwittingly spared themselves retaliation-at least from V2s.

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