The RAF night attack of 26 July at was extremely light because of severe thunderstorms and high winds over the North Sea, during which a considerable number of bombers jettisoned the explosive part of their bomb loads (retaining just the incendiaries) with only two bomb drops reported.
Dwellings destroyed amounted to 214,350 out of 414,500. Widespread damage was caused, mostly in housing and semi-commercial districts rather than in the docks and industrial areas. However 119 fires were started of which 71 were large. A countermeasure against the radar-directed German nightfighters in the form of "Window" was used for the first time.The name Gomorrah comes from that of one of the two Canaanite cities of Sodom and Gomorrah whose destruction is recorded in the Bible: "Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens." – Genesis The Battle of Hamburg, codenamed Operation Gomorrah, was a campaign of air raids beginning 24 July 1943 and lasting for 8 days and 7 nights.It was at the time the heaviest assault in the history of aerial warfare and was later called the Hiroshima of Germany by British officials.The Allied bombing of Hamburg during World War II included numerous strategic bombing missions and diversion/nuisance raids.As a large port and industrial centre, Hamburg's shipyards, U-boat pens, and the Hamburg-Harburg area oil refineries were attacked throughout the war.
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The British conducted night raids and the USAAF daylight raids.The initial attack on Hamburg included two new introductions to the British planning: they used "Window", otherwise known as chaff, to confuse the German radar, while the Pathfinder Force aircraft, which normally kept radio silence, reported the winds they encountered, and this information was processed and relayed to the bomber force navigators.No subsequent city raid shook Germany as did that on Hamburg; documents show that German officials were thoroughly alarmed and there is some indication from later Allied interrogations of Nazi officials that Hitler stated that further raids of similar weight would force Germany out of the war.The industrial losses were severe, Hamburg never recovered to full production, only doing so in essential armaments industries (in which maximum effort was made).Figures given by German sources indicate that 183 large factories were destroyed out of 524 in the city and 4,118 smaller factories out of 9,068 were destroyed.
Other losses included damage to or destruction of 580 industrial concerns and armaments works, 299 of which were important enough to be listed by name. Bomber losses were high, 15.3% for the main group bombing that night. It was the first H2S radar-assisted attack of the war. The Pathfinders marked the wrong target, mistaking a mud bank for the docks with their H2S radar, so most of the bombs landed 13 miles downstream from the centre of Hamburg, around the small town of Wedel. Mission Number 67: 275 B-17 are to attack submarine pens and industrial areas of Hamburg and Bremen, but the primary targets are obscured by cloud so the bombers hit 167 bomb "targets of opportunity in NW Germany".Extra firemen were brought in from other cities including Hanover; as a result when the US bombers attacked, these firemen were in Hamburg and fires in Hanover burned unchecked.Another attack by the RAF on Hamburg for that night was cancelled due to the problems the smoke would cause and 700 bombers raided Essen instead. A third raid was conducted on the morning of the 26th.The majority of deaths attributed to Operation Gomorrah occurred on this night.A large number of those killed died seeking safety in bomb shelters and cellars, the firestorm consuming the oxygen in the burning city above.