May 31, 1942. A busy day in War. Starting with a news report from Australia about ground crews keeping Allied planes in the air in the Pacific. The news then switches to reports from New York, but not before a bulletin is read about the Eastern Front and Soviet troops fighting off German advances in the region around Kharkov despite reports from Berlin that the area was secured by German forces.
The news switches to Europe where reports come in about what was considered the largest air attack on a German city, made by British Air forces. Some 1,000 planes flew over Cologne and several industrial centers in the Ruhr and Rhineland with incendiaries and high explosives, quickly turning the targets into seas of flame. Official reports hadn’t been released, but initial word came from informed sources that the raid was a spectacular success and indicated this would become routine for the duration of the war. Reports from the Dutch coast, some 150 miles away from the center of the bombing told of being able to see the glow from the burning city. In the morning, the entire city of Cologne was obscured by thick smoke, some 15,000 feet high. British fighters were busy attacking German airdromes and German attempts at sending up planes to counterattack. Of the more than 1,000 British planes sent over, only 44 had been reported as missing. Prime Minister Churchill conveyed congratulations to the RAF for their remarkable skill in pulling the raid off and doing all the damage in less than 90 minutes. He went on to add that this was the method the British Air Force would be using for staging raids from that point on.
There was a lot more going on that day, but this May 31st in 1942 signaled a change in the method the war would be waged. More spectacular raids would be staged over the coming months, but the destruction and loss of civilian life during those raids would be the subject of many inquiries after the war. But for the moment the tide was being turned and things were looking up.
As reported by NBC’s News Of The World .