RAF 3 Group Lancaster Attacks Bordeaux Refinery

Avro Lancaster IIIs of Royal Air Force 514 Squadron, 3 Group, attack Raflineries de Petrole de la Gironde (Petroleum Refineries of the Gironde Estuary) at Bec d'Ambes at the junction of the Garonne and Dordogne Rivers on August 4, 1944. Capable of processing 300,000 tons of petroleum per year, this refinery opened in 1931, fifteen miles (twenty-four kilometers) from Bordeaux. It had the capabilities of processing crude oil into gasoline products and asphalt. After several previous attacks since 1940, this raid by 288 Lancasters of 1, 3, and 8 Groups, supported by 27 DeHavilland Mosquitoes from 100 Squadron as escort fighters, damaged but did not destroy the refinery completely. No aircraft were lost. On August 10, 215 RAF aircraft dropped over 500 bombs and demolished the refinery, denying the Germans gasoline during the Normandy Campaign. Later Societe Caltex, a French Company, rebuilt the refinery from 1947-1950, almost trebling its output. Another nearby refinery at La Pallice, thirty miles (48 kilometers) from Bordeaux, was also attacked and destroyed. None of the RAF aircraft were lost. French civilian casualties are not determined. The reconstructed plants showed visible scars of the bombing for years.
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Royal Air Force
Date Photographed: 
Thursday, August 10, 1944
Bec d'Ambes