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Personnel of the 452nd Bomb Group, and other 8th Air Force groups enjoy lunch at a base in Russia.
Image via William C Gaither.
Letter from Gaither enclosed with print: ‘These photographers were taken at Poltava, Russia on June 22 1944. On June 21st my group, the 452d and others flew from England to Poltava en route hitting oil refinery at Rhurland, Germany. That night after landing German dive bombers bombed the field destroying ninety or more B-17 aircraft. Our P-51 fighter escort which has landed at another field were denied permission to take off and intercept the German attack planes. My crew and I were assigned to the 730Sq.

My aircraft “Borrowed Time”. Was hit by an ME-109 over Yugoslavia. No 4 engine was knocked out and feathered, a hole was put in horizontal tail and hydraulic system damaged. Without brakes I ground looped on landing to stop the ship. There it remained isolated from the other ships which were destroyed that night.

PHOTO NO 9- Noon chow time. Soon after this an alarm was heard (false) that the Germans were incoming. This caused a rapid dispersal to the Russian country-side. The rumour continued that the Germans would return to hit the crews. That evening we were trucked out to the boon-docks for the night. The Germans directed their attack at the B-17s and not at the crew’s bivouac area. Only later did we learn that we were also a target- butterfly bombs were found in the tent area. Young Russians were used to search and destroy these bombs.’

IWM catalogue record

This contains information written on the back of the original print and some of it may be inaccurate.

Personnel of the 452nd Bomb Group, and other 8th Air Force groups enjoy lunch at a base in Russia. Image via William C Gaither. Letter from Gaither enclosed with print: ‘These photographers were taken at Poltava, Russia on June 22 1944. On June 21st my group, the 452d and others flew from England to Poltava en route hitting oil refinery at Rhurland, Germany. That night after landing German dive bombers bombed the field destroying ninety or more B-17 aircraft. Our P-51 fighter escort which has landed at another field were denied permission to take off and intercept the German attack planes. My crew and I were assigned to the 730Sq. My aircraft “Borrowed Time”. Was hit by an ME-109 over Yugoslavia. No 4 engine was knocked out and feathered, a hole was put in horizontal tail and hydraulic system damaged. Without brakes I ground looped on landing to stop the ship. There it remained isolated from the other ships which were destroyed that night. PHOTO NO 9- Noon chow time. Soon after this an alarm was heard (false) that the Germans were incoming. This caused a rapid dispersal to the Russian country-side. The rumour continued that the Germans would return to hit the crews. That evening we were trucked out to the boon-docks for the night. The Germans directed their attack at the B-17s and not at the crew’s bivouac area. Only later did we learn that we were also a target- butterfly bombs were found in the tent area. Young Russians were used to search and destroy these bombs.’

Connections

Units

  • 8th Air Force

    8th Air Force


    Eighth Air Force Bomber Command became the Eighth Air Force on February 1944, it oversaw bombardment of strategic targets in Europe until 1945. ...

  • 452nd Bomb Group

    452nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 452nd Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Deopham Green, Norfolk, from January 1944. The air crews hit strategic sites in Germany but also supported the movement of ground forces across Europe after D-Day. On 6 June 1944 itself, the Group...

People

  • William Gaither

    Military | Lieutenant | Pilot
    B17 # 42-38145 'Rosalie Ann' Crashed near Buckenham, England, due to mid-air coll. w/ #42-31242 from 388th BG on 19 May 1944. RTD

Locations

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
08 September 2014 15:28:07 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

IWM, Roger Freeman Collection

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