Missiles & Mistletoe 1944 – Hitler’s Xmas Eve Blitz
YouTube / Mark Felton Productions
On Christmas Eve 79 years ago, the Germans launched an ambitious operation with the intent to batter one of Britain’s biggest cities with an ingenious new weapon.
A New Strategy
By 1944, Hitler was planning to unleash a new kind of bombing campaign against Britain. Conventional bombers were increasingly ineffective since Britain had powerful anti-aircraft defenses and highly efficient night fighter squadrons.
Hitler wanted to instill a kind of fear the British population experienced from the Blitz of 1940-1941, heavily striking London causing maximum damage and loss of life.
Two weapons were being developed to make this a reality – the V1 cruise missile and the V2 ballistic missile. The V1 was a robotic flying bomb that was cheap to make and powered by an Argus pulsejet engine and a simple autopilot system that aligns the missile onto its target.
The campaign to bombard London started in June 1944 were hundreds of V1s were sent toward the city causing enormous consternation- the city hadn’t been pummeled since the Blitz. Then, Hitler turned to air-launched missiles.
A decision was made to launch a surprise attack at a new target on Christmas Eve 1944 with the codename Operation Martha.
The chosen target was at the very limit of the V1’s range – the city of Manchester. 45 launches were made but only 31 missiles worked. The others malfunctioned and fell into the sea.
Out of the 31, only seven fell in hitting small towns, villages, or even the countryside. Only one successfully hit the primary target – Manchester.
The last air-launched V1 operation against England was done on the night of the 14th of January, 1945. However, operations were halted nine days later due to a lack of fuel for the aircraft.