Black Thursday for the Royal Air Force

17th December 2018

The night of 16th-17th December 1943 was known as "Black Thursday" among those of the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command including men from Northern Ireland.

On 16th-17th December 1943, the Royal Air Force suffered what became known as "Black Thursday", one month into the Battle of Berlin.

It was not enemy planes or anti-aircraft fire that downed planes and resulted in so many losses that night, but the British weather. A force of 483 Avro Lancasters and 15 Mosquitoes returned from Berlin to find thick fog blanketed England from the south coast to Yorkshire.

The Germans downed 25 Lancasters over Berlin and the surrounding areas. A further 31 Lancasters fell victim to the havoc caused by the poor weather over England. Bomber Command squadrons such as RAF 97 Squadron suffered huge losses in one night of fog. Other planes including Stirlings, Halifaxes, and Lysanders on other missions also fell victim to the fog.

RAF Bomber Command Memorial

WartimeNI Photo: The permanent memorial to Royal Air Force Bomber Command stands in Green Park, London, England. It remembers those who died in service with the Royal Air Force Bomber Command squadrons. Photo taken on 12th January 2014. Copyright Scott Edgar - WartimeNI.

Ulstermen on Black Thursday

Many men from Northern Ireland served in the Royal Air Force throughout World War Two, and those below died as a result of "Black Thursday" incidents.

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