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Italy Volume I: The Sangro to Cassino

(a) Air Bombing:

(a) Air Bombing:

This section and that following it are derived mainly from Training Memorandum No. 5 issued by Allied Force Headquarters on 14 June 1944 and based on the reports of the Air and Ground Commanders.


Heavy bombers should not be used in close support when an adequate tactical air force is available. Because of its greater experience in this kind of work, the aircraft of the Tactical Air Force gave a better performance, as to both timing and accuracy, and produced better results than those of the Strategic Air Force. Air bombardment by heavy bombers is not sufficiently accurate for general use in the tactical area of land battle.


When it becomes necessary to employ heavy bombers in close support, the following precautions to ensure accuracy should be taken: When practicable, bombers and navigators of leading aircraft should reconnoitre the target from the air previously; bombing altitudes should be specified (there was a tendency to bomb from too high); the run-in should, if possible, be along the line of the forward troops rather than at right angles so as to prevent casualties from ‘shorts’ and to save cratering on the approaches to the town from the Allied side; intervals between the waves of bombers should be shorter, especially when the wind is strong enough to clear the smoke from the target quickly, since the intermittent attack gave the enemy appreciable periods of rest.


An unmistakable artificial landmark, such as smoke, would assist all aircraft to identify the target, particularly when the approach is made from widely scattered points. (Opinion of the Ground Commander.)


In the Cassino attack, some delayed-action bombs would have been useful to penetrate cellars and heavy covered emplacements.


Alternative targets should be designated for aircraft arriving late.