Operation Gomorrah

Operation Gomorrah: Allied Bombing Campaign Against Hamburg, Germany

During World War II, Operation Gomorrah was an eight-day air raid campaign by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). The operation targeted Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city, and aimed to cripple the city’s industrial capacity, infrastructure, and morale. Hamburg was a strategically important location, with its port facilities, shipyards, and U-boat construction facilities, making it a prime target for the Allied forces.


  • Operation Gomorrah began on July 24, 1943, with the RAF launching the first of several nighttime bombing raids. The USAAF followed up with daytime raids, creating a continuous assault on the city. In total, approximately 9,000 tons of explosives were dropped on Hamburg over the course of the operation.
  • The bombing campaign created a firestorm, a deadly combination of fire and wind that engulfed the city. The firestorm incinerated large parts of Hamburg, causing widespread destruction and 34,000 to 42,600 civilian casualties. The operation also displaced approximately one million people, as many fled the city to escape the devastation.
  • Took place over July 24, 1943 – August 3, 1943
  • The operation was named “Gomorrah” after the biblical city was destroyed by fire and brimstone in the Old Testament, reflecting the intensity of the bombing campaign.
  • Operation Gomorrah marked the first use of “Window,” a radar countermeasure involving releasing thousands of small, reflective strips of aluminum foil to confuse enemy radar systems.
  • The bombing raids were so intense that they created a rare weather phenomenon known as a “bomb cloud,” a mix of smoke, dust, and debris from the bombing.

Effects on Pop Culture:

  • Operation Gomorrah has been featured in various books, documentaries, and films depicting World War II events, including the 1983 German miniseries “Das Feuerzeug” and the 1993 British film “The Fire-Raiser.”
  • The operation is also referenced in the 2018 novel “Munich” by Robert Harris, which is set during the early years of World War II.

Prominent People and Countries Involved:

  • United Kingdom: The British Royal Air Force played a significant role in carrying out nighttime bombing raids during Operation Gomorrah.
  • United States: The United States Army Air Forces conducted daytime bombing raids as part of the operation, contributing to the destruction of Hamburg.
  • Germany: As the target of Operation Gomorrah, Hamburg suffered immense destruction and civilian casualties, severely impacting the city’s industrial capacity.

In summary, Operation Gomorrah was an intense eight-day air raid campaign by the British RAF and the USAAF against the German city of Hamburg in 1943. The operation caused widespread destruction, resulting in tens of thousands of civilian casualties and displaced approximately one million people. The events of Operation Gomorrah have been featured in various forms of popular culture, serving as a reminder of the devastating impact of aerial bombing campaigns during World War II.