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394

6 June 1944

Official description

The Eighth Air Force reaches its top strength as 493d Bomb Group (Heavy) becomes operational, making a total of 40 Heavy Bomb Groups now operational.

Heavy Bombers fly 4 missions in support of the invasion of Normandy. 1,361 Heavy Bombers are dispatched on first mission of the day. 1,015 of the Heavy Bombers attack the beach installations, 47 bomb transportation chokepoints in town of Caen, and 21 bomb alternate targets. Overcast and inability of Heavy Bombers to locate (or absence of) Pathfinder leaders causes failure of some units to attack.

The second mission strikes at transportation chokepoints in towns immediately around the assault area. Total cloud cover causes most of the 528 Heavy Bombers dispatched to return with their bombs but 37 Bombers manage to bomb secondary target of Argentan.

Description

D-Day. Start of Operation Overlord.

Mission details

1. Argentan, France (Opportunity)

Description

HIGHWAY ROAD JUNCTIONS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Not yet known

Units

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 0
Number of aircraft Sent 84
Number of aircraft Effective 0
Number of aircraft Damaged 1

2. ARGENTAN (Opportunistic)

Description

HIGHWAY ROAD JUNCTIONS

Aircraft type

Not yet known

Notes

In support of the D-Day landings, transportation chokepoints in the towns surrounding the invasion beaches are targeted. An almost total cloud cover frustrates operations and 84 B-17s and 259 B-24s return with their bombs. However 37 B-24s managed to hit Argentan. 2 B-24s are lost but all the crews were rescued.

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 109 T
Number of aircraft Sent 296
Number of aircraft Effective 37
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2

3. Normandy beaches / Arromanches Les Bains

Description

COASTAL DEFENSES

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

The 8th Air Force reaches its top strength during the war as the 493rd Bomb Group becomes operational and flies its first mission in support of the D-Day landings. This makes a total of 40 heavy bomber groups operational. All Bomb Groups participate. At first light the bombers hit the Normandy coastal targets between Le Havre and Cherbourg. 446th Bomb Group is first over the beachhead. Overcast and PATHFINDER (PFF) failures causes failure of some units to attack. The mission was led by the 446th Bomb Group flying B-24s. Later testimony by Germans subject to the attack revealed that many of the bombs fell a considerable distance (1000s of yards) behind the coastal defenses and damage and casualties were minimal. 1,729 Bombers participated in the D-Day Invasion.

457th BG - MISSION NO. 60 - ARROMANCHES BEACH, FRANCE

6 JUNE, 1944

INVASION DAY

At 0100, Colonel Luper entered the briefing room. The command, "Attention" was quickly followed by, "At ease". Col. Luper walked to the front of the briefing room and stood before the huge map of Europe. "Gentlemen", he said, "This is it." He continued, "This is what we have all been waiting for. I need not tell you how much depends on today's operation. Every resource in our possession must be put to use to make this mission Successful It must be successful."

The various briefing officers then took over and for more than thirty minutes, details of the mission were explained. Nothing was omitted; nothing was left to chance. Crews were also advised only boats heading towards the United Kingdom would pick up ditched crews.

Preparation for this day had been carried out with the utmost secrecy and no hint had reached the crewmen. Nevertheless, there had been many indications the long awaited day was at hand. Additional guards had been posted. Passes had been cancelled. Ground crews worked with a sense of urgency to service the ships. The lead crews were called for pre-briefing at 1900 hours on 5 June. Thus, when crews assembled in the early morning hours of 6 June, few had to be told today was the day.

The 457th was assigned two defense positions on the Arromanches Beach that were to be bombed ten minutes before the first assault wave of the British Second Army hit the beaches. Twenty-four craft, the "First Force", would attack a defensive position consisting of three pill boxes and three shelters on the beach just north of Creully, while eighteen craft, the "Third Force", would attack a defended locality at Anselles-Sur-Mer, three miles west. Both targets were on the Affomanches Beach between Bayeux and Caen. Zero hour was 0725 hours.

The "First Force", led by Col. Luper with Lt. Charles D. Brannan as pilot, began taking off at 0430 hours, followed by the "Third Force", at 0450 hours, led by Major Fred A. Spencer, with Captain Russell M. Selwyn as pilot. Assembly was accomplished as dawn broke and the English Coast was crossed at 0632 hours. At mid-channel the cloud cover was ten-tenths. Looking out in front through a hole in the clouds and under the overcast, one could see some of the thousands of water craft on their way to the invasion.

The "First Force" dropped its bombs at 0700 hours. The "Third Force" dropped at 0710 hours. At the same time the primary targets were being shelled by warships and hit by dive bombers. The whole invasion coast was obscured by clouds and it was not until the formation approached the English Coast that the many invasion craft could be seen again. No enemy fighters or flak were encountered. All planes returned to the Base and crews stood by for a second mission, but none was ordered.

The crews finished the day's work hopefully their efforts had aided a Great Crusade. The Eighth put up a total of 2512 bombers during the day. Only five planes were lost.

Units

  • 1st Bomb Division
  • 3rd Bomb Division
  • 457th Bomb Group

    457th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 457th Bomb Group began combat operations during the Big Week of 20-25 February when American bombers carried out concentrated raids against German aircraft bases, factories and assembly plants. The air crews' targets on that first mission were...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 3,096
Number of aircraft Sent 882
Number of aircraft Effective 659
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 0
Number of aircraft Damaged 14
Number of people Killed In Action 1
Number of people Wounded in Action 1
Number of people Missing In Action 0

4. Normandy beaches

Description

COASTAL DEFENSES

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

Mission 394: At first light, 659 of 882 B-17s and 418 of 543 B-24s hit coastal targets in the area of the invasion beaches between Le Havre and Cherbourg; overcast and inability of the bombers to locate (or absence of) PFF leaders causes failure of some units to attack; 1 B-24 is lost, 1 B-24 is damaged beyond repair and 14 B-17s and 1 B-24 are damaged; 12 airmen are KIA, 2 WIA and 13 MIA.

Units

  • 2nd Bomb Division
  • 446th Bomb Group

    446th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 446th Bomb Group, who came to be known as "the Bungay Buckaroos" after the name of their Suffolk base, flew B-24 Liberators on strategic, support and interdictory missions over Europe. The Group led the Eighth Air Force and 2nd Bomb Division on the...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 543
Number of aircraft Effective 418
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 1
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 1
Number of people Killed In Action 11
Number of people Wounded in Action 1
Number of people Missing In Action 13

Service

People

  • John Asher

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner / Togglier | 384th Bomb Group

  • Thomas Barton

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    newly assigned May 1944

  • Joseph Booth

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group

  • George Boozer

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 388th Bomb Group
    The person with this name and birth/death dates buring at Fort Bliss National Cemetery is listed as "Master Sergeant - US Army" on his headstone. Boozer is wearing Captain's bars in his photo. This birth and death date may well be for the wrong ...

  • James Braa

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball turret gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    James Braa served as a ball turret gunner with the 566th Bomb Squadron of the 389th Bomb Group, flying bombing missions out of Hethel, England. He completed his tour of 30 missions between March and June 1944, flying his final two missions on D-Day.

  • William Brooks

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 466th Bomb Group
    St. Dizier, France 24 Mar 1944; Brunswick, Germany 8 April 1944; Hamm, Germany 22 April 1944; Leipheim, Germany 24 April 1944; Paderborn, Germany 26 April 1944; Siracourt, France 27 April 1944; Mimoyecque, France 28 April 1944; Liege, France 1 May 1944...

  • Chester Cox

    Military | Colonel | Group Commanding Officer | 388th Bomb Group
    Retired from the USAF with the rank of Brigadier General

  • Morgan Cox

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 466th Bomb Group

  • Frank Deuerling

    Military | First Lieutenant | Bombardier | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Flew on 'Priority Girl' 42-97305 on June 18, 1944.

  • Jack Dieterle

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    After completing his training as a bomber pilot at Biggs Field in Texas, his squadron, the 566ᵀᴴ BS of the 389ᵀᴴ BG, was established at Hethel Field in Norwich early in 1943. In subsequent action, his ship was the sole survivor of his element of three...

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Aircraft

  • 41-28838 Misery Agent / Tommy Thumper

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 Liberator 41-28838 was originally assigned to the 486th Bomb Group and nicknamed "Tommy Thumper". The aircraft flew 7 missions with the 486th Bomb Group from 8 May 1944, before being transferred to the 34th Bomb Group and being renamed "Misery...

  • 42-102589

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/3/44; Gr Island 6/4/44; Dow Fd 28/4/44; Assigned 561BS/388BG Knettishall 30/4/44; On a local flight 9/7/44 with Doug McArthur, Co-pilot: Stamos Zades, Navigator: George Mille, Bombardier: Chas meyer, Flight engineer/top turret...

  • 42-102591 Cactus Pete

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    While returning from a mission over Caen on 6 June 1944 at 23:49PM, D-Day, B-17 (serial number 42-102591) nicknamed "Cactus Pete" called for landing instructions and was advised to land at Rattlesden. The aircraft landed too fast and skidded into B-17 ...

  • 42-103287

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) strafing mission to Rouen area, made 3 passes to strafe a truck convoy over a grass airfield and was shot down by flak on 6-Jun-44. Pilot Lt Harold H Fredericks evaded capture and was returned...

  • 42-103332

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned to 336FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) bombing mission to Rouen area. A/C hit by flak in engine attempting to bomb train in ravine, engine oil spilling from nose to tail. A/C abandoned Lyons area. Pilot 1st Lt Oscar Lajeunesse baled...

  • 42-103347

    P-51 Mustang
    P-51 Mustang (42-103347) took off from Bottisham on 6 June 1944, D-Day, on a fighter escort mission over Dreux airfield France. It was hit by flak 5 miles from Chartres before bursting into flames and rolling onto its back and finally crashing at...

  • 42-106449 Princess Elizabeth

    P-51 Mustang
    Princess Elizabeth was lost on 6 June 1944, D-Day, on a strafing mission over Northern France at 21:00PM. The aircraft was hit by flak while strafing a railway, and the pilot Robert Butler, was forced to bale out. Butler evaded capture until 20 July...

  • 42-106576

    P-51 Mustang
    Assigned 335FS, 4FG, 8AF USAAF. Whilst strafing a truck convoy, section bounced by 15+ enemy fighters, A/C not seen after engagement began. Pilot Capt Bernard McGrattan KIA. 6-Jun-44. MACR 5611.

  • 42-106768 Linda Lou

    P-51 Mustang

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
25 January 2019 15:22:48 general ira snapsorter Changes to official description
Sources

USAAF Combat Chronology.

Date Contributor Update
18 January 2019 15:28:14 Emily Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Associated aircraft lost on 6 June 1944 from Bishop & Hey Losses of the 8th and 9th

Date Contributor Update
18 January 2019 03:40:46 Dieterle Changes to person associations
Sources

Richard Dieterle, personal communication from his father, Jack W. Dieterle.

Date Contributor Update
18 January 2019 03:38:26 Dieterle Changes to event
Sources

THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History.

Date Contributor Update
10 December 2018 16:42:00 Emily Changes to official description
Sources

Air Force Combat Chronology

Date Contributor Update
27 May 2015 11:04:05 general ira snapsorter Changes to event
Sources

Mission details added courtesy of Diane Elizabeth Reese from 457th Bomb Group Mission Documents. http://www.457thbombgroup.org/

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:06 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Lee Cunningham, 8th Air Force missions research database / Stan Bishop's 'Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces', the Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces and the work of Roger Freeman including the 'Mighty Eighth War Diary'.

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