In 2022 Osprey are publishing Robert’s new book, ‘Operation Jericho’, which tells the story of the remarkable Mosquito raid on Amiens Prison on 28 February 1944. Early 1944 was a time of massive intelligence activity across northern France in advance of D-Day, and in pursuit of the launching sites of the new German secret weapon, the V1. Large numbers of résistants were been captured by the Germans and imprisoned in gaols across northern France. Among these was Amiens. The raid was mounted as a debt of honour by both MI6 and the RAF to try to release the men who would otherwise be executed by the Germans for what was considered traitorous activity, for which the penalty was a firing squad. About 30,000 French men and women were executed during the war.
A precision air raid was requested by MI6, to blow holes in the prison walls and free as many men and women as possible. The RAF decided that, with the fast and accurate Mosquito light bomber, the raid had a good chance of success, and for no other reasons than thanking the French Resistance for their work, it was launched.
But this would be a challenging mission to say the least. At least two breaches had to be blown open. Exceptional accuracy was required, to destroy the walls while minimizing casualties among the prisoners, and simultaneously hitting the German guards’ quarters. A Mosquito wing was chosen that comprised British, Australian and New Zealand squadrons. It was commanded by Group Captain Charles Pickard, one of the most outstanding and experienced bomber pilots in the RAF. Two Typhoon fighter squadrons performed escort duties.
This book explains how this most daring of raids was planned and carried out, and debunks some of the conspiracy theories that have arisen since 1944. There are no special secrets associated with it. It wasn’t part of the Operation Fortitude plans (the deception associated with persuading the Germans that D-Day would take place in the Pas de Calais) and it wasn’t designed to release a particular resistant or secret agent. One of the most spectacular and challenging RAF operations of the war was undertaken merely as a statement of gratitude. It was an astounding success, and Robert Lyman retells the story in a beautifully produced account with new artwork by Adam Tooby.