The lack of accuracy for these bombing missions often inflicted damage to non-military areas; the Allies knew it, but felt it was an inevitable part of war.
Some precisely used this tactic against Germany, such as Royal Air Force Bomber Command's Air Marshal Arthur Harris.
The five surviving aircraft now had to make the perilous return flight across an enemy territory patrolled by Luftwaffe night fighters.
Fortunately none appeared and the Lancaster bombers landed in England at 2300 hours that night.
Smaller scale raids were conducted against Lbeck subsequently.
Disaster struck when a Messerschmitt pilot spotted the low-flying formation. 44 Squadron's aircraft were shot down; a third of the force had been lost and the remainder still had 300 miles to fly to reach their target area.
Regardless, Nettleton refused to turn back and the eight surviving aircraft pressed on. 44 Squadron aircraft dropped their bombs, but only Nettleton's aircraft escaped the heavy flak to return home. 97 aircraft arrived over the factory heavy anti-aircraft fire quickly claimed one machine and, as the last section dropped its bombs, a second Lancaster bomber was seen to explode in mid-air.
234 Wellington and Stirling bombers dropped about 400 tons of bombs.
Though German defenses were light, 12 of the RAF bombers were still lost in the attack. The first of three waves of bombers used the new "blockbuster" bombs to blast over the building roofs and windows, allowing subsequent bombers and their incendiary bombs to contents inside of buildings on fire.