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VIII Bomber Command 56

14 May 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

Today's operations will be the most extensive yet mounted by VIII Bomber Command. The operations call for a "maximum effort". Whereas in the past a single target or those close together have been chosen, today's effort is against widley separated targets. The main effort for today will be the shipyards, U-boat pens and harbour facilities at Kiel, Germany. This target is defended by a substantial configuration of anti-aircraft batteries and fighter aircraft. The experienced Bomb Groups of 1st Bomb Wing and 2 Bomb Wing are designated to attack this target. Because of the distance to the target, figther escort is not possible. In addition, 92BG which has been operating as the host organization of a Combat Crew Replacement Center has been re-designated as a full combat group.

The main force despatched against Kiel is a formation of 115 B-17s: 91BG (27); 92BG (7); 303BG (27); 305BG (28) and 306BG (26). Despite the heavy defenses 109 of the 115 depatched are effective on the target. Aircraft losses are light at 3 B-17s MIA. The bomber gunners put up a magnificent defense claiming 41-11-26 of the enemy. This force is joined by 21 B-24s despatched by 44BG. 17 of 21 are effective on the target. This force faces significant fighter attacks and 5 aircraft are MIA. The bomber gunners slug it out with the Luftwaffe and claim 21-13-1.The 44th BG is awarded the first Distinguished Unit Citation in the 8th Air Force for their actions on this date.

Meanwhile, the Ford and General Motors vehicle factories at Antwerp, Belgium are the primary target for 42 B-17s despatched from: 94BG (21) and 95BG (21). 38 of 42 are effective on the target. NOTE: Roger A. Freeman reports 2 aircraft MIA from this formation 1 from 94BG and 1 from 95BG but only 1 can be supported from MACR records. The bomber gunners claim 5-1-4 on enemy aircraft. This formation receives fighter support from 118 P-47s despatched from 4FG, 56FG and 78FG.

The German air depot Courtrai (now Kortrijk) Belgium is the primary target for 39 B-17s despatched from: 96BG (21) and 351BG (18), thus redeeming themselves from the turn-backs of yesterday and logging their first mission. 34 of 39 are effective on the target. 2 B-17s are MIA. The bomber gunners claim 0-0-1 on enemy aircraft.

A power station at Ijmuiden, Holland is the primary target the 322nd Bomb Group (Medium). This Bomb Group is equipped with the Martin B-26 Marauder. 12 B-26s are despatched and 11 are effective on the target. This is the first mission for the 322BG and the first use of the B-26 by the 8th Air Force in the ETO. In October 1943, they will be transferred to the 9th Air Force for use in tactical, rather than strategic, bombing missions. 1 B-26 crashes upon return, 1KIA 5RTD, aircraft is salvaged.

Mission details

1. ANTWERP (Primary)

Description

FORD and GM PLANTS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

Fighters escort this element only.

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...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 86.50
Number of aircraft Sent 42
Number of aircraft Effective 38
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 15
Number of people Killed In Action 10
Number of people Wounded in Action 3

2. COURTRAI (Primary)

Description

AIRFIELD

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

The 96th Bomb Group and 351st Bomb Group fly their first missions where they actually bomb the target.

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...

  • 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 75.40
Number of aircraft Sent 39
Number of aircraft Effective 34
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of aircraft Damaged 10
Number of people Wounded in Action 2
Number of people Prisoners of War 8
Number of people Returned To Duty 10

3. IJMUIDEN/HAARLEM

Description

VELSEN POWER STATION

Aircraft type

B-26 Marauder

Notes

The 322nd Bomb Group is awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its operations from this date through 24-Jul-44. This is their first mission. The attack on Ijmuiden is made at low level. This is the first US medium bomb group to become operational in the UK

Units

  • 322nd Bomb Group

    322nd Bomb Group

    Group
    The 322nd Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was activated on 19-Jun-1942 at MacDill Field, Florida with B-26B Marauder aircraft. In late September 1942 the unit moved to Drane Field, Florida. The Ground echelon sailed for the UK aboard the Queen Elizabeth...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 10.75
Number of aircraft Sent 12
Number of aircraft Effective 11
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 9
Number of people Killed In Action 3
Number of people Returned To Duty 5

4. KIEL (Primary)

Description

SHIP YARDS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

This is the first mission for 92nd Bomb Group since 9-Oct-42. One -B-17 of 91st Bomb Group bombs Suderoog Island as target of last resort (included in bomb total). There is no fighter escort for this mission.

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...

  • 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

    Group
    The 92nd Group's 327th Bomb Squadron was the only Eighth Air Force squadron to fly YB-40s in combat. YB-40s were B-17s modified to fly as a heavily armed escort for other bombers. They were flown on missions between May and June 1943. Between May 1943...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 264.25
Number of aircraft Sent 115
Number of aircraft Effective 109
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 3
Number of people Killed In Action 20
Number of people Wounded in Action 5
Number of people Prisoners of War 10

5. KIEL (Primary)

Description

SHIP YARDS

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

The 44th Bomb Group is awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for this mission, the first DUC to be awarded in the 8th Air Force. One of the B-24s is abandoned by the crew near their base (all RTD) and the aircraft crashes into the English Channel near Sheringham, England.

Units

  • 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs

    Group
    The 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 15-January-1942 at McDill Field, Florida and equipped with B-24Cs. The Group moved to Barksdale Field, Louisiana and acted as a training unit for the 90th 93rd and 98th Bomb Groups and flew anti...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 117.75
Number of aircraft Sent 21
Number of aircraft Effective 17
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 5
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 9
Number of people Killed In Action 26
Number of people Wounded in Action 12
Number of people Prisoners of War 24
Number of people Returned To Duty 11

Service

People

  • John Bledsoe

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined squad 14 October 1942. Shot down 14 May 1943 in B-24D 41-23819 'Rugged Bunny' while serving as Navigator. Prisoner of War (POW) imprisoned at Stalag Luft 3 and moved to 49-11. POW Me 109 probable 3/22/43

  • 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. ...

  • Richard Castillo

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined squad 3 August 1942. Shot down 14 May 1943 in B-24D 41-23819 'Rugged Bunny' while serving as Tail Gunner. Prisoner of War (POW) at Stalag 9C. Castillo was knocked out of his turret by the fighter attacks. Upon bailout, he was taken to a German...

  • Walter Dooley

    Military | First Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    Shot down 14 May 1943 in B-17F 42-5243 "FDR's Potato Peeler Kids", 303BG/359BS. Battle damaged aircraft crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA).MACR 15593 Mission participation (UNDER CONSTRUCTION) See Biography events.

  • Ralph Ernst

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Radio Operator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On 3 January 1943 in B-24D 41-23371 while serving as Radio Operator the aircraft made a crash-landing near the crossroads south of Puncheston, Pembrokeshire returning from target U/B yards (submarine) at St. Nazaire, France. Fuel shortage caused the...

  • William Hatcher

    Military | Colonel | Co-Pilot; Pilot; Group Commanding Officer | 351st Bomb Group
    William Hatcher Jr was born in Grand Rapids, was brought up in Detroit’s north end and attended Northern High School. After his enlistment in the Air Corps, he followed pilot training courses and rose rapidly through the ranks. ...

  • Malcolm Howell

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined squad 3 August 1942. Shot down 14 May 1943 in B-24D 41-23819 'Rugged Bunny' while serving as Pilot. Losses reports the he died at Suderbrarup, Germany 12 miles north of the crash site. Killed in Action (KIA). ...

  • John Husselton

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined squad 1 October 1942. Shot down 14 May 1943 in B-24D 41-23819 'Rugged Bunny' while serving as Waist Gunner. POW

  • 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.

  • Raymond Kilgore

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 303rd Bomb Group
    28-Feb-42 Assigned as Radio Operator on B-17F 41-24565 [BN P] "Idaho Potato Peeler Kids", 303BG/359BS at Pendleton Fielsd, Pendleton, Oregon and arrived 25-Oct-42 at Molesworth, UK aboard that aircraft. ...

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Aircraft

  • 41-23819 Rugged Buggy

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24D 41-23819 'Rugged Buggy" 44BG/66BS, Shipdham was shot down 14-May-43 on a mission to bomb the port facilities at Kiel. Germany. The aircraft crashed at Eckenforde, Germany. 2KIA 8POW MACR 15509. ...

  • 41-24278 'Miss Delores'

    B-24 Liberator
    Assigned to 67BS, 44BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) hit by flak over Kiel, Germany, and shortly after all four engines stopped. It crashed into the Baltic Sea south of Ærø, Denmark. 3 x KIA, 7 x POW. 14-May-43. MACR

  • 41-24481 Hell's Angels

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 322BS/91BG [LG-M] Bangor 2/9/42; Bassingbourn 26/9/42; Missing in Action 10+m Kiel 14/5/43 with Bill Broley, Co-pilot: Albert Davies, Navigator: Armando Ambalagi, Bombardier: Joe Darmiento, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Ed Clyne, Radio...

  • 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...

  • 42-3115

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 17/2/43; Kearney 28/3/43; Assigned 335BS/95BG [OE- ] Alconbury 4/43; 2m, Missing in Action Antwerp 14/5/43 with Jim McKinley, Co-pilot: Jim White, Navigator: Jim Smith, Bombardier: John Payne, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Cecil...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
01 January 2015 21:51:38 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Jan-2015. Corrected statistics per "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

Date Contributor Update
01 January 2015 21:47:16 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Jan-15. Revised statistics per "The Mighty Eighth War Dairy" Roger A. Freeman, MACRS 15498, 16055 and 15593.

Date Contributor Update
01 January 2015 21:40:23 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 1-Jan-15. Description based on "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop; "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman; "Losses of the 8th & 9th Air Forces" Stan Bishop & John A. Hey MBE.

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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