1941 Bomber Command Directives


January 1941

The 15th January 1941 directive stated that, “until further orders”, the sole primary aim of the bomber offensive should be the destruction of the German synthetic oil plants.

Targets included Leuna, Politz, Gelsenkirchen (Nordstern), Zeitz, Sholven Beur, Ruhland, Bohlen, Magdeburg, Lutzkendorf, Sterkrade Holten, Homberg, Kamen, Wanne Eickel, Bottrop, Dortmund, Castrop Rauxel and Brux.

March 1941

The 9th March 1941 directive stated that “for the next four months”, Bomber Command’s energies should be devoted to defeating the attempt of the enemy to strangle our food supplies and our connection with the United States. Operations should therefore be directed against submarine and long-range aircraft facilities whenever circumstances permit. However, a proportion of effort should still be applied to the destruction of the synthetic oil plants (as per the 15th January 1941 directive).

Priority Targets included Kiel, Bremen, Vegesack, Hamburg, Augsburg, Mannheim, Dessau, Lorient, St Nazaire, Bordeaux, Bordeaux-Merignac and Stavanger.  (On 18th March 1941, Augsburg, Dessau and Stavanger were deleted from the list and Cologne, Hagen and Stuttgart were added)

July 1941

The 9th July 1941 directive stated that “until further instructions”, the main effort of the bomber force should be directed towards dislocating the German transportation system (road, rail and inland waterways) and to destroying the morale of the civil population as a whole and of the industrial workers in particular.

Priority targets included Hamm, Osnabruck, Soest, Schwerte, Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf, Dortmund-Ems Canal, Ems-Weser Canal, River Rhine, Schopau, Huls, Hamburg, Bremen, Hanover, Frankfurt, Mannheim, Stuttgart; 21 smaller towns on railway routes were added to the list on 30th August, with Leipzig and Schweinfurt added on 11th September.

October 1941

The 27th October 1941 directive stated that “whenever weather conditions permitted”, high priority should be given to hampering  targets associated with “the submarine construction programme”.

Operations were therefore directed against the submarine bases on the west coast of France (such as Brest and Lorient) and against the ports of Kiel, Hamburg, Bremen and Wilhelmshaven in north-west Germany.

November 1941 

The 13th November 1941 directive stated that Bomber Command’s energies should be conserved over the winter period in order to build up a strong force in readiness for Spring”.

In reality, the Butt Report published in September 1941 had identified major problems with the accuracy of the bombing offensive and work was being carried out to establish what needed to be put in place in order to improve it

December 1941

The 10th December 1941 directive stated that Bomber Command should prepare and submit plans for the immediate daylight bombing of the enemy cruisers in Brest (Operation Veracity).