Operation Whitebait

This was a British diversionary bombing raid in support of the ‘Hydra’ (ii) attack on the V-weapon base at Peenemünde, an island off the German coast on the Baltic Sea (17/18 August 1943).

The object of the operation was to draw a sizeable proportion of the German night-fighter strength away from the Peenemünde area and thereby ease the task of the ‘Hydra’ (ii) force. Eight de Havilland Mosquito light bombers therefore flew a raid against Berlin, the first of the aircraft reaching the German capital at 22.56, and each Mosquito dropped eight marker flares and a small load of bombs. Three men and a convict labourer were killed by a bomb in one of the suburbs, and the British lost one of the aircraft.

So successful was ‘Whitebait’ that Generaloberst Hans Jeschonnek, the Luftwaffe chief-of-staff, committed suicide after he had ordered Berlin’s anti-aircraft defences to open fire on the 200 or so German night-fighters which had been drawn south to the defence of the German capital and been mistaken for the British attackers.

Other British efforts in support of ‘Hydra’ (ii) included two waves of intruder attacks by Nos 25, 141, 410 (RCAF), 418 (RCAF) and 605 Squadrons, which attacked the Luftwaffe airfields at Ardorf, Stade, Jagel, Westerland and Grove, and any fighters they encountered taking-off or landing.