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VIII Bomber Command 55

13 May 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

The large fighter sweeps of the last several weeks have not been successful in drawing any significant numbers of German fighters in opposition. So, if the German will not send his fighters up for a one-on-one confrontation with the American P-47s, then the strategy is to send the heavy bombers against his aircraft industry, to draw him up, and also target his airfield facilites to either catch his fighters on the ground or deny them them a base of operations. With this thinking in mind, VIII Bomber Command designates three primary target for this mission: the Avions Potez aircraft factory at Meault, France, and two German airfields at St. Omer, France (Longuenesse and Ft. Rouge) which are most likely to scramble fighters against the bombing mission to Meault.

A force of 97 B-17s is despatched by 1st Bomb Wing for the attack on Meault, France: 91BG (25); 303BG (21); 305BG (27) and 306BG (24). 88 of the 97 dispatched are effective on the target. The formation is supported by 124 P-47s from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG but not as a true escort but only along the approach and withdrawl routes. The fighter opposition is moderate. 3 B-17s are MIA. The bomber gunners claim 11-3-1 against the attacking fighters.

In the preceeding month of April 1943 the heavy bomber contingent of 8th Air Force has doubled with the addition of 4 more heavy bomb groups the 94BG, 95BG, 96BG and 351BG. This is the first mission for the lot. These constitute 4th Provisional Wing. 58 B-17s are despatched to attack the Longuenesse German airfield at St. Omer, France: 94BG (19); 95BG (19) and 96BG (20). In addition, 14 B-17s are despatched from 351BG to attack the Ft. Rouge German airfield at St. Omer, France. While there are two targets at St. Omer, the formation begins the journey from Great Britain to the target more or less as a single formation with 94BG and 95BG in the lead and 96BG and 351BG following. In mid-channel the lead aircraft had a mechanical malfunction and had to abort. As a result 96BG and 351BG became disorganised and returned to base. Thus, of the 14 B-17s depatched by 351BG to bomb Ft. Rouge airfield, none are effective; and of the 20 despatched by 96BG to bomb the Longuenesse airfield, none are effective. However, 31 of the 38 despatched by 94BG and 95BG against Longuenesse ar effective. There is only one aircraft from 96BG lost, and that was due to damage caused by an machine gun accident aboard the aircraft shortly after take-off. The aircraft turned back and was ditched into The Wash. All of the crew baled out safely, but the pilot died of hypothermia in the water before he could be rescued.

Mission details

1. MEAULTE (Primary)

Description

AVIONS POTEZ AIRCRAFT FACTORY

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Not yet known

Units

  • 303rd Bomb Group

    303rd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 303rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated on 3-Feb-1942 at Pendleton Field, Oregon. They assembled at Gowen Field, Idaho on 11-February 1942 where it conducted flight training until 12-Jun-1942. The Group then moved to Alamogordo Field, New...

  • 305th Bomb Group Can Do

    305th Bomb Group Can Do

    Group
    The 305th Bombardment Group (Heavy), nicknamed "Can Do" was activated 1-March-1942 at Salt Lake City Air Base, Utah which was their primary training base until 11-Jun-1942 when they relocated to Geiger Field, Washington until 29-Jun-1942, then on to...

  • 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers

    Group
    Constituted as 306th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained for combat with B-17's. Moved to England, Aug-Sep 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF Eighth Air Force in September 1942 Station 111 Thurleigh. During combat,...

  • 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars

    Group
    The 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated at Harding Field, Louisiana on 15-April-1942 and went to MacDill Field, Florida for the first phase of training from 16-May-1942 to 25-June-1942. The Group was then assigned to 2nd Air Force at Walla...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 218.25
Number of aircraft Sent 97
Number of aircraft Effective 88
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 3
Number of aircraft Damaged 11
Number of people Killed In Action 20
Number of people Wounded in Action 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 12

2. SAINT OMER/ FORT ROUGES (Primary)

Description

AIRFIELD

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

The 351st flies its first mission, but the formation is straggling so bad due to a misunderstanding among the formation leaders that the mission is abandoned at mid-Channel. 96th Bomb Group also affected.

Units

  • 351st Bomb Group

    351st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 351st Bomb Group flew strategic bombing missions from their base at Polebrook, Northamptonshire from April 1943 to June 1945. The Group's most famous member was Hollywood actor Clark Gable, who flew four/ five missions with them as an observer...

Mission Statistics

Number of aircraft Sent 14

3. ST OMER/LONGUENESSE (Primary)

Description

AIRFIELD

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

The 94th Bomb Group, 95th Bomb Group, 96th Bomb Group fly their first mission. Of the 20 aircraft despatched by 96th Bomb Group, none manage to drop on the target. Because they did not drop, their first mission in regarded as being flown on 14-May-43, same with 351st Bomb Group.

Units

  • 94th Bomb Group

    94th Bomb Group

    Group
    Activated 15-Jun-1942 at MacDill Field, Florida. Initial organisation and training at Pendleton Field, Oregon on 29-Jun-1942; Primary flight training at Davis-Monthan Field in Arizona from 28-Aug-42 to 31-Oct-42 than at Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas from...

  • 95th Bomb Group

    95th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 95th Bomb Group was the only Eighth Air Force Group to be awarded three Distinguished Unit Citations. The first, shared by all four Bomb Wing Groups, was for the bombing of an aircraft factory under intense enemy fire at Regensburg on 17 August...

  • 96th Bomb Group

    96th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 96th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses to targets across occupied Europe from May 1943 to April 1945. ...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 73.35
Number of aircraft Sent 58
Number of aircraft Effective 31
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 1
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Killed In Action 1
Number of people Wounded in Action 2
Number of people Returned To Duty 9

Service

People

  • Carroll Briscoe

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    He reported to group on 15 Jan 1943. He was the 35th Officer to complete 25 missions. Reported on 05 Feb 1945 with the 2AF weather scouts. Retired as a Colonel from the USAF in 1972. ...

  • Norville Gorse

    Military | Captain | Co-Pilot | 96th Bomb Group
    B-17 #4229752 ditched into North Sea 13 May 1943. Gorse and pilot Rogers made a valiant effort to control the plane. Returned to base. ...

  • Vern Iverson

    Military | Lieutenant Colonel | pilot | 96th Bomb Group
    Story of "Mischief Maker" participation on 27 Aug 1943 Regensburg mission in Snetterton Falcons, pg 44.

  • Marc Pitts

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
    in one month Marc flew six combat missions, his final mission he was killed when his aircraft took 3 direct hits from flak, which took out the control cables and put a hole in the tail. ...

  • Arthur Poston

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Bombardier | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
    Killed in Action (KIA) 19 May 1943 in B-17 # 4124483 'Spirit of Alcohol. ' He went to Bassingbourn from MacDill Field about November/December 1942. He was on his 16th mission. The pilot (Lt. Baxley) told his parents in a letter that they were...

  • Ralph Saltsman

    Military | Colonel | C/O 331st Bomb Squadron | 94th Bomb Group
    Shot down 14 July 1943 in B-17 #4230243 'Good Time Cholly II. ' Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Albert Thompson

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator; Gunner | 387th Bomb Group
    Killed in Action (KIA) on 9-Sep-43 in B-26B 41-31908 [FW:U] 387BG/556BS while serving as Radio Operator. The aircraft was severely damaged by AA fire and crashed into the English Channel about one mile west of the target at Boulogne, France. The 322nd...

Aircraft

  • 42-29752

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 12/2/43; Walker 26/2/43; Salinas 10/3/43; Presque Is 8/4/43; Assigned 338BS/96BG Grafton Underwood 17/4/43; on assembly crashed in The Wash en route St Omer when controls were damaged and stabilizer shot off accidentally by own waist...

  • 42-30412 Mischief-Maker II

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Plane Mischief Maker II entered combat approximately Jun43 under command of Capt V.L. Iverson after the original Mischief Maker was damaged beyond repair. After this crew completed 25 missions Maj. Iverson was retained for HQ USSTAF, the crew...

  • 42-5180 DFC

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 5/10/42; Houlton 13/11/42; Assigned 423BS/306BG [RD-B] Thurleigh 24/11/42; Missing in Action Bremen 25/6/43 with Tom Logan, Co-pilot: Mo Davis, Navigator: Gene Dornbrook, Bombardier: Don Cox, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Selden...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
31 May 2017 00:39:17 BobPitts Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

www.306thbd.com

Date Contributor Update
03 December 2015 04:20:49 jgorse Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

John G Gorse, Lt Col, Nephew
C-130 Command Pilot

Date Contributor Update
03 December 2015 04:18:50 jgorse Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

John G Gorse, Lt Col, Nephew
C-130 Command Pilot

Date Contributor Update
03 December 2015 04:18:32 jgorse Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

John G Gorse, Lt Col, Nephew
C-130 Command Pilot

Date Contributor Update
01 January 2015 19:44:44 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Jan-15. Description based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:43:17 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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