Amiens Raid

Date from 18 February 1944
Date to 18 February 1944
Place Amiens
Category Raid
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Codenamed Operation Jericho, the air raid on the Amiens prison on 18 February 1944 was mounted to free French resistance fighters prior to the invasion of Normandy. The raid was planned and executed by 180 Wing, consisting of three Mosquito squadrons - 21 Squadron, RAF, 464 Squadron RAAF, and 487 Squadron RNZAF. The Mosquitos were escorted by Typhoons from another three RAF squadrons - 174, 198 and 245.

Leaving Britain just before 11 am, the attacking aircraft made a low-level approach to the French coast through atrocious weather that disorganised their formations somewhat. Order was reimposed as conditions cleared over France and the aircraft swung around to the north of Amiens and assembled in sections of three to mount their attacks. Using the Amiens-Albert road as a guide, the Mosquitos attacked at less than five metres above the ground. 487 Squadron breached the walls in two places; 464 followed to attack the prison buildings, in particular, the guards' quarters. 21 Squadron, which was held in reserve, was not required. The attacking aircraft were back on the ground in Britain by 1 pm.

Of the 712 prisoners detained at Amiens, 102 died, 74 were hospitalised and 258 escaped. Among the escapees were 50 members of the French resistance, including 12 scheduled for execution. The most significant escapee was Raymond Vivant, a key resistance leader. The raid cost the attacking force two Mosquitos and two Typhoons destroyed, three aircrew killed, and three captured. It was later the inspiration for several films - 633 Squadron (1964) and Mosquito Squadron (1970).

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