BATTLE OF THE AIRFIELDS

What happened on New Year's Day 1945? Read this book and you will discover the forgotten (to all but a few) facts about the last great aerial offensive launched by the Luftwaffe against the Allies in Europe.

What happened on New Year's Day 1945? Read this book and you will discover the forgotten (to all but a few) facts about the last great aerial offensive launched by the Luftwaffe against the Allies in Europe.

Following the Allies' success on D-Day and its aftermath, the failure of the Bridge too Far that was Arnhem, the liberation of Brussels and Antwerp in Belgium and the southern Netherlands, in December 1944 the Germans had counter attacked in southern Belgium in what came to be called the Battle of the Bulge.

As this German advance began to peter out in bad weather and under allied resistance, the German high command decided on one final gamble, Operation Bodenplatte (Baseplate). Following secret briefings between Christmas 1944 and New Year 1945, virtually every available Luftwaffe fighter aircraft was to be launched in an attack designed to obliterate the Allied Air Forces on the ground at their bases in the Low Countries.

So, shortly after 0900 on 1 January 1945, an armada of around 1,000 German aircraft, Me 109s, Fw 190s, and Me 262 jets among them, swept in to strafe every aircraft target they could see on these Allied bases. And this well researched book is the story of what happened that fateful day. It makes fascinating reading, taking one along at a cracking pace, even though 24 hours are stretched out over almost ten times that number of pages. The true casualty and loss figures for the day's action will never be accurately known (both sides having camouflaged losses and exaggerated victories), but well over 200 Allied machines were destroyed or badly damaged on the ground, and the Luftwaffe lost around 300 of its rapidly dwindling fleet of serviceable aircraft, and more than 200 pilots.

It is little wonder that General Adolf Galland described the decision to launch Operation Bodenplatte as the final dagger thrust into the back of the Luftwaffe. This book covers an important, even if little known, episode of WW2 in a very readable and interesting manner. James Allan.

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