At the beginning of 1945 a series of heavy air raids was being considered on German cities by the British Air Ministry. The idea was that this would cause such confusion and consternation that the end of the war would be hastened. Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz were considered as suitable targets as they were at this point just behind the German lines on the eastern front. Considered to be important communication and supply hubs they were also full of refugees from the overrun German eastern territories. As well as the effect on morale there was also the intention to prevent the Germans from moving reinforcements from the west to face the successful Soviet advance. The Air Ministry issued a directive to Bomber Command at the end of January for raids on Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz. On the 4th February 1945 at the Yalta Conference the Soviets asked for raids of this type to be carried out, although these requests came after the plans had been drawn up. The Americans were asked to help and they agreed to do so.
The first raid was to have been carried out by the USAAF on Dresden on 13th February 1945 but due to bad weather this raid did not occur. That night the RAF bombed Dresden with 796 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitos causing an immense fire storm that destroyed most of the city. The following day, 14th February, 311 American B17s dropped 771 tons of bombs with the marshalling yards at Dresden as their target.
On the night of 14th/15th February Chemnitz was targeted with 499 Lancasters and 218 Halifaxes taking part. Due to cloud most of the bombs fell in open countryside.
On 5th/6th March 498 Lancasters, 256 Halifaxes, 6 Mosquitos attacked Chemnitz.