Target Leipzig, Alan Cooper

Target Leipzig, Alan Cooper

The RAF's disastrous raid of 19/20 February 1944

The RAF raid on Leipzig on the night of 19-20 February 1944 was Bomber Command's second most costly attack of the entire Second World War. This book looks in detail at the events of that night in an attempt to discover why so many aircraft and men were lost. The attack on Leipzig cost Bomber Command seventy-nine heavy bombers and the lives of 420 aircrew, more than any raid apart from the attack on Nuremburg of 30/31 March 1944. Although the raid of 19/20 February 1944 is the main focus of the book, Cooper also includes good sections on the other RAF and USAAF attacks on Leipzig, and the impact they had on industrial and in particular aircraft production. Cooper finishes with a list of all of the RAF bombers lost while attacking Leipzig, and the names and fate of their crewmen - a sobering list that fills thirty-six pages.

This book suffers from one problem. Those chapters that deal directly with the bomber squadrons are excellent - well written and well organized, but the earlier introductory chapters are much less impressive, in places reading more like the author's notes than a final text. Things start to pick up in Chapter 3, which looks at the history of Bomber Command, and Cooper gets fully into his stride in the next chapter, which looks at the Bomber Offensive. This higher standard is then maintained to the end of the book.

Despite this flaw Cooper had produced a very useful book. He is at his best when he takes us into the air with the bomber crews, accompanying them from take-off, across occupied Europe and Germany to Leipzig and their fate - either destruction or a safe return home. His section on the reasons for the high casualties is also very sound (if perhaps a little short at five pages). Overall this is a good book that would have been better if the first few introductory chapters had been excluded.

1 Aerial Warfare
2 Between the Wars
3 Bomber Command
4 Bomber Offensive
5 The German Defences
6 The German Aircraft Industries
7 Leipzig
8 Target Leipzig
9 The Second Attack
10 The Third Attack
11 To the Target
12 Combat with the Enemy
13 Over the Target
14 The Home Run
15 Casualties
16 The Outcome
17 The Aftermath
18 US 8th/ 15th American Army Air Force
19 The Last Operations
20 Post-war
Appendix: Losses at Leipzig

Author: Alan Cooper
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 221
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2009

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