For several years my Slovak friend Peter Kaššák and I have been researching a little-known aspect of the RAF’s bombing war, the 1944 mining of the River Danube by 205 Group, operating from Italy. I am pleased now to announce that the fruits of our labour have been published as ‘Gardening by Moonlight: 205 Group RAF mining operations over the River Danube in 1944’.
Romanian oil, from the fields around Ploesti, was crucial to the German war effort. The USAAF and (to a lesser extent) the RAF attempted, with varying success, to disrupt the supply by bombing the oil refineries themselves, while the RAF undertook the disruption of the river transport system carrying the oil to Germany. Modest in scale, involving only nine squadrons, two of them South African, the Danube mining was nonetheless an outstanding success. At the cost, between April and October 1944 of 16 aircraft and their crews, Axis river shipping was constantly disrupted, at times to the point of paralysis. Peter’s extensive research into German, Hungarian and Slovak archives reveals just how successful the mining campaign was. Mine was the easier task of researching the RAF and SAAF records. Between us we have compiled a complete and detailed account of a small-scale campaign that had a major impact.
In an appendix we detail the complementary night intruder attacks on Danube shipping carried out intermittently between June and September by Beaufighters of 255 Squadron.
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