ALLIED HEADQUARTERS, North Africa -- An All-American fleet of Flying Fortresses, Liberators, medium bombers and fighters raided Rome for the first time in history today, concentrating on railway and aviation facilities of the ancient city.
Promptly at 11:13 a.m. Rome time, the first wave of Flying Fortresses blasted the San Lorenzo marshalling yards -- a big railroad switch yards where trains are made up -- four miles from Vatican City, inaugurating the precision bombing by daylight of the Italian capital.
The raid lasted two and one-half hours.
They were followed in by wave after wave of raiders in a 100 per cent American show.
Teamed with the four-motored Boeing B-17s of the Northwest African Air Force were Liberator bombers of the Middle East Command, as well as Lt. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz's Marauder and Mitchell medium bombers and Lihtning fighters.
The long-planned and carefully executed raid on Rome was aimed exclusively at military targets. It was carried out by select crews, many of the men familiar with Rome at first hand, schooled to hit the target and see that no explosions touched the Vatican or other non-military objectives.
All the targets were at least four miles from Vatican City, it was announced officially. The nearest was the San Lorenzo marshalling yards.
Forty-five minutes after the first wave of forts hit the San Lorenzo yards, another fleet swept over.
Just as the big Boeings completed their assault on the yards, the first Liberators began bombing the Littorio marshalling yards.
They were followed in immediately by large formations of Marauders and Mitchells, escorted by Lightnings, which bombed the Ciampino Airdrome.
The Fortresses of the Northwest African Air Force flew unescorted to send the first bomb crashing on Rome, headquarters of the Fascist Party and prime military target despite all its historic shrines.
The utmost precautions were taken days in advance to "brief" the bomber crews with detailed maps so military targets alone would be hit.
Various cultural, religious and historical monuments were circled in red on the maps. Four hospitals were marked with red crosses. These specified places were marked in large letters, "Must Not Be Bombed." fleet of Flying Fortresses, yards a big railroad switch four miles from Vatican City,