A graphic documentary series with moving personal accounts from both sides on the strategy adopted by both the Allied and Axis Foces. When cities and civilians became the target in the Second World War. This includes the destruction of Berlin, Hamburg, Koln, London, Coventry, Plymouth, Manchester, Dresden, Hiroshima and Nuremberg.
Those words that every bomber crew will remember ‘Gentlemen our target for tonight is…” the moment when they were given their orders for the evening bombing raid over Germany.
Would it be a short hop across the channel, or were they going to have to venture deep into the German heartland and face the tenacity of the fearsome German Nightfighters. Was it going to be a heavily defended industrial city, or was it going to be a surprise raid on a submarine pen.
Knowing that this could well be their last raid and that the chances of coming back were stacked against them, this was a tense moment. As one rear gunner recalled, ‘I was more apprehensive waiting to find out where the target would be, than I was on the actual raid itself’
These were very young men. It was once said ‘a man of 26 was an old man in Bomber Command’ and how true those words were. Almost half of them never came back!. For a rear gunner in the tail turret, it was perhaps the most isolated and lonesome position on the aircraft. Stuck out in a perspex bubble, they were the first targets for the fighters coming in to intercept them as they made their way to the target. The lumbering heavy bombers, laden with a heavy bombload couldn’t outfly the nimble and agile fighters. The best defence they could hope for was cloud and the rear gunner was always the first target for the fighter pilots flying in from behind. For once the gunners were taken out, the bombers were virtually defenceless and their size and comparable slow speed, made easy pickings for the fighters.
Crossing the channel, the bombers could rely on having an RAF Fighter escort to defend them. But flying deep into Germany, they were out of range and were on their own. Flying at around 20,000 feet to avoid the anti-aircraft guns and flak, these aircraft would be vulnerable to attack for almost the entirety of their six or seven hour mission. Flying at night under the cover of darkness, it is hard to imagine what it must have felt like for these young men, knowing that every raid and every minute spent in the air, could be their last.
Another of the veterans recalled how they always looked out on the way back, for the spire of Lincoln Cathedral. Spotting it would mark the first moment that the tired crews could breath a sigh of relief. Relief that they had made it home.
Target for Tonight is a two hour documentary, portraying their missions and reliving those moments, told by the bomber crews.