In December 1944 weeks of dreadful weather closed in over Europe. Major raids were few and far between. The Germans took advantage of the bad weather to launch their offensive through the Ardennes that came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. Although the initial breakthrough was impressive, the attack foundered due to a combination of determined American resistance at key points, and a lack of fuel for German motorised columns. It was a quiet end to the year for the men flying from Lincolnshire.
In January 1945 the skies over Europe cleared for the first time in weeks. Bomber Command was ready to return to the offensive. The Luftwaffe was also ready for the renewed struggle. As well as the uprated Messerschimitt 110 models, they could also deploy the jet fighter Messerschmitt Me262, codenamed “Schwalbe” or “Swallow”. the new fighter was horribly effective in shooting down bombers and became a dreaded nightmare for the crews of Bomber Command. Fortunately few of these magnificent aircraft were completed before the war ended.
The cause of another worrying feature of night flying over the Reich at this time has remained a mystery. Bomber crews were reporting that their larger formations were being accompanied by small glowing balls of light. These seemed to be circular aircraft that kept pace with the bombers, occasionally diving, climbing or changing direction. At first they were thought to be German weapons or remotely controlled monitoring equipment of some kind. The crews dubbed them “foo-fighters” and tried to shoot them down. None seem to have been damaged by gunfire and soon the crews gave up trying to damage this strange craft. After the war, studies of the German files showed that they were just as mystified by the “foo-fighters” as were the British and thought they must be some kind of navigational aid flown by the British. What they really were has never been discovered.
from "Heroes of RAF Bomber Command - Lincolnshrie" by Rupert Matthews.
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