Operation Arabian Nights

This was the British second ‘Thousand Force’ bombing raid, flown against Essen, by Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris’s Bomber Command of the RAF in succession to ‘Millennium’ (1/2 June 1942).

In this second ‘Thousand Force’ raid, the full 1,000 aircraft could not be provided on the night in question, and the total was 956 aircraft in the form of 545 Vickers Wellington, 127 Handley Page Halifax, 77 Short Stirling, 74 Avro Lancaster, 71 Handley Page Hampden, 33 Avro Manchester and 29 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers. The plan was similar to that of ‘Millennium’ against Köln except that many more flares were dropped by the ‘raid leaders’ flying in Wellington bombers of Air Vice Marshal R. D. Oxland’s No. 3 Group.

Despite a reasonable weather forecast, the British crews encountered problems in finding the target as the ground was covered either by haze or a layer of low cloud, and as a result the bombing was very scattered. Essen reported only 11 houses destroyed and 184 damaged, mostly in the south of the city, and one prisoner of war working camp destroyed by fire, and the casualties were 15 people killed and 91 injured.

Bombs also fell on at least 11 other towns in or near the Ruhr. Particularly heavy bombing occurred in Oberhausen with 83 people killed, Duisburg with 52 killed, and Mülheim with 15 killed. Bomber Command lost 31 aircraft in the form of 15 Wellington, eight Halifax, four Lancaster, one Hampden, one Manchester, one Stirling and one Whitley machines, representing 3.2% of the force dispatched.