To mark the 60th Anniversary of the Peenemunde Raid on the 17/18 August 1943 we have produced a commemorative cover to mark this historic raid against the research site for V-2 flying bombs and other projects. The artwork shows Lancasters of No 83 Squadron marking the target with flares and marks the first use of a Master Bomber to control the raid.
This was a special raid, which Bomber Command was ordered to carry out against the German research establishment on the Baltic coast where V-2 and V-1 rockets were being built and tested. The raid was carried out in moonlight to increase the chances of success. It was the only occasion in the second half of the war when the whole of Bomber Command attempted a precision raid by night on such a small target. For the first time, there was a Master Bomber controlling a full-scale Bomber Command raid; Group Captain J. H. Searby, of 83 Squadron, 8 Group, carried out this task. There were three aiming points - the scientists and workers living quarters, the rocket factory and the experimental station - and the Pathfinders employed a special plan with crews designated as shifters, who attempted to move the marking from one part of the target to another as the raid progressed. Crews of 5 Group, bombing in the last wave of the attack, had practised the time-and-distance bombing method as an alternative method for their part in the raid.
The Pathfinders found Peenemunde without difficulty in the moonlight and the Master Bomber controlled the raid successfully throughout. A Mosquito diversion to Berlin drew off most of the German night-fighters for the first 2 of the raid's 3 phases. Unfortunately, the initial marking and bombing fell on a labour camp for forced workers, but the Master Bomber and the Pathfinders quickly brought the bombing back to the main targets, which were all bombed successfully. 560 aircraft dropped nearly 1,800 tons of bombs. The estimate has appeared in many sources that this raid set back the V-2 experimental programme by at least 2 months and reduced the scale of the eventual rocket attack.
Each cover bears our British Forces Post Office BFPS 2751 special handstamp, dated the 18 August 2003, which shows a Lancaster and commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the Peenemunde Raid and this cover bears the Distinguished Flying Cross / Distinguished Flying Medal stamp. The covers have been flown in a Lockheed Tristar of No 216 Squadron which took part in the Queen's Birthday Flypast on 14 June 2003.
Hand signed by Wing Commander Bernard Moorcroft DSO DFC MA
300 Signed, Numbered and Certified
Wing Commander Bernard Moorcroft who took part in the Peenemunde as a No 83 Squadron Navigator on board Lancaster JA 686 'OL-K' and marked the target. He had joined the squadron in April 1943 after serving with No 61 Squadron and in March 1944 he joined No 635 Squadron.He completed 70 operations during WWII and at the end of the war was PFF Deputy Group Taining Officer.