The Granville raid was an air raid conducted by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War on the coastal town of Granville in northern France.

Launched on 5 March 1941 in desperation by the Scientific Intelligence Division and Bomber Command, it was hoped the raid would destroy all work relating to the Nazis' top secret Hartung Project.

The raid took the occupying Germans by surprise and ravaged Granville. However, the Luftwaffe zbV had been working on the Project in a nearby hidden airfield. The British were unaware of this and failed to destroy it.

History Edit

Origin Edit

The Hartung Project was a project led by Emil Hartung to create a stealth bomber invisible to radar detection. The resulting aircraft, Hugin and Munin, were nearing completion at the beginning of March 1941, although Hugin was destroyed in a flight accident at midnight on 1 March, killing Hartung. Development on Munin continued, led by Oberst Oskar Steinmann and the Luftwaffe zbV, at a specially-constructed airfield near Granville in occupied France. The airfield was designed to appear from a distance and from an aerial view as a natural expanse of hills, trees and countryside; in reality, it was largely made from concrete and hid numerous facilities and hangars.

Although the Hartung Project was kept top secret, British intelligence recovered fragments of information which indicated that the Germans were developing a superbomber. All the information was examined by the Scientific Intelligence Division led by Admiral Arthur Kendrick, cooperating with the Tomato Network whose thirty agents were operating in occupied Guernsey and northern France. However, on 4 March, the network was compromised by the Germans and all the agents were killed.

On 5 March, Admiral Kendrick met with the War Cabinet. In light of the available intelligence, it was agreed that the Project was too dangerous to ignore. The Royal Air Force was sent to bomb Granville and the nearby airfield (different from the hidden one), reasoning that destroying the town was the most reliable means of ensuring the destruction of Hugin and Munin (the SID were unaware Hartung was dead and that Hugin had been destroyed). Weeks of aerial reconnaissance had helped the SID create a clear picture of the layout of Granville from which the bombers could plan their attack. A similar raid was planned for Guernsey in the event the raid failed or the results proved inconclusive.

The raid Edit

The RAF bombers launched from England at approximately 5:55 pm and flew south across the Channel. Just after 6:30 pm, German searchlights spotted the incoming bombers. The air raid sirens were sounded to issue a yellow alert and civilians fled to the shelters. The three anti-aircraft batteries began firing at the attackers but because of the lack of defences, the RAF had the advantage.

The first RAF bombs struck the harbour, destroying many small boats and storage sheds and breaching the German coastal defences. Another plane simultaneously attacked the coastal road and brought down key bridges to delay the German damage control efforts. Other planes in the first wave dropped flares in key areas to direct the following waves, as well as decoys to confuse the Germans.

The first targets to be bombed included the two water pumping stations, cutting off the town's water supplies.

The main fire station was also hit but the bomb failed to explode. The firemen survived in the underground shelter.

A fuel storage area on the outskirts of town killed thirty soldiers, the raid's first casualties, and the rest of the fuel tanks exploded in a chain reaction, starting massive fires. As the sun set, the fires illuminated the town allowing the RAF to continue with the raid in the darkness.

The church spire was hit and the bell-ringing mechanism was damaged. The church bells therefore began ringing non-stop.

The telephone exchange in the town centre survived three attacks at the expense of the nearby residential areas. A fourth attack took out the telephone exchange, severing the Germans' mean of communication until they restored it ten minutes later.

The RAF also began to attack the (non-camouflaged) airfield. The Luftwaffe pilots were ordered to scramble as soon as the news of the RAF attack on the harbour reached them. However, a smaller group of RAF bombers arrived and wiped out an entire Messerschmitt squadron with carpet-bombs. More than twenty-four Luftwaffe pilots were killed before they could take off. In the end, no German aircraft could be launched and the RAF encountered no resistance in the air.

The RAF were now able to consolidate their position and deployed incendiary bombs, adding to the fires already engulfing parts of the streets.

The Luftwaffe zbV were using the Granville townhouse as their regional headquarters. It had been built by Jean Lassurance in 1715 and experts considered it one of his finest earlier works. During the raid, a 2,000-pound bomb partially-demolished it and a second direct hit blew it apart and destroyed every painting, book and antique piece of furniture inside. Only one wall remained standing in front of two massive craters.

As soldiers and firemen attempted to gain control of the situation, a small crowd of civilians ran for a shelter in the park while under fire. The Seventh Doctor and Chris Cwej were among them. On their way, the shelter was struck by a bomb. The explosion, collapse and fire killed everybody inside. The Doctor tried to calm the remaining crowds, assuring them that while they were in the park, they were at least safe from falling walls and broken glass. The stronger men began shovelling earth and pouring water from a duck pond onto the burning shelter.

At 9:30 pm, almost three hours after the raid began, the RAF squadron leader ordered his group to break off. Not a single plane had been lost and every target in the town had been destroyed. According to the German figures, 1,450 people had been killed, including thirty German officers.

Aftermath Edit

Granville was described by the survivors as a dead town. Fires, rubble and smoke were all that remained of the area as a light fog moved in from the sea. Bomber Command announced that the raid had been a 100% success but on the morning of 6 March, Admiral Kendrick was unsure if the raid had destroyed Hartung's Project. The fog prevented the RAF from performing further aerial photographic reconnaissance to confirm anything. In reality, Munin was safe in the camouflaged airfield.

Chris Cwej was horrified by the reality of the raid. He was aware that the Nazis continued to inflict the same kind of suffering on British cities in the ongoing Blitz but could barely conceive of the British being responsible for such an act against French civilians.

Oberst Steinmann arrived to meet with the Doctor. Like Cwej, he was horrified by the suffering and destruction. He claimed the Doctor had helped prevent further deaths as he shared the official figures, although the Doctor rejected this. Steinmann noted that the town had been inadequately prepared for such an attack and resolved not to let the same mistake be repeated. A committed Nazi, he struggled to justify Germany's actions when the Doctor pointed out they were doing the same thing to Britain on a nightly basis. Steinmann did, however, claim that Munin would minimise casualties and prevent future wars.

Following the raid, Standartenführer-SS Joachim Wolff deliberately allowed himself to be captured by the SID to relay the British an ultimatum from the German government. In the event of a failure to bring hostilities to a close in a short amount of time, Munin would be deployed on Southampton, before the city's defences could be prepared. With this indication that the raid had failed to halt the Hartung Project, Kendrick contacted the Cabinet and announced “Cromwell”, the codeword indicating that a German invasion of Britain was imminent. Church bells and air raid sirens rang throughout London and the south coast to warn the population. Kendrick and the Cabinet agreed that RAF should launch another destructive raid on Guernsey that night in second attempt to knock out the weapon before it could be deployed.

After meeting with Steinmann, the Doctor and Cwej gained access to the camouflage airbase. They were able to steal Munin and flew her back to London where they blew her up, ending the Hartung Project. Now aware that the crisis was over, the invasion alert was called off and the planned raid on Guernsey was cancelled.

Some of the fires in Granville, started when the fuel exploded, burned for three further days. (PROSE: Just War)

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