This week in the War, 12–18 March 1945: RAF attacks the Schildesche viaduct

The Schildesche viaduct, March 1945 [Public domain]

This week in the war, on 14 March 1945, the RAF’s 617 Squadron launched a daytime raid against the Schildesche viaduct near Bielefeld, on the railway line linking Hanover to Hamm. The viaduct dated from 1847.

A large section of the viaduct was destroyed.

A new type of bomb, the ‘Grand Slam’ or so-called earthquake bomb—designed by British engineer Barnes Wallis of Dam Buster fame—was used for the first time.

Avro Lancaster of 617 Squadron drops a 22,000 pound Grand Slam on the viaduct at Arnsberg, 19 March 1945 [Public domain]

Weighing 22,000 pounds, the bomb was almost twice the size of its predecessor, the ‘Tall Boy,’ which was also designed by Barnes Wallis.

After a similar but unsuccessful raid against the viaduct at Arnsberg, another RAF ‘Grand Slam’ raid demolished part of the Arnsberg viaduct on 19 March.


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