"If I live to be a thousand I will never
forget today, but I wish I could. Merseburg, 12 miles west of
Leipzig -- PFF -- synthetic oil refinery."
Lt William H Baker, 379th Bomb Group
(Extract from personal diary)
MERSEBURG and its Leuna synthetic oil plant - was one of the
most feared targets in Germany. The USAAF's 8th Air Force began
an 18 mission campaign against the Nazis most important oil
production site in May 1944 as part of the wider Oil Plan. Initial
attacks were successful but as the Germans began to realise
the magnitude of the threat to their vital supply of valuable
fuel and specialist oils the defences at Merseburg were expanded
to become the most feared of all - surpassing even Berlin.
Prior to the spring of 1944, few of the
8th's air crews had ever heard of Merseburg and its huge synthetic
oil plant but that soon changed. The remnants of the Luftwaffe
bolstered by the newly arrived jet fighters and the enormous
number of flak batteries which blossomed around Merseburg
reaped a vicious harvest of US heavies, almost exclusively
Veterans and survivors from both sides tell their stories,
through recollection, diary notes, reports and official records.
Target damage analysis from USAAF and German files and detailed
post war studies reveal the results of the raids. The destruction
is revealed and the human cost - to friend and foe alike.
Heavy bomber losses over Merseburg (most are discussed in
READ WHAT HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT
MERSEBURG: BLOOD, FLAK & OIL
© Ray Bowden 23 January 2021