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VIII Bomber Command 58

17 May 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

VIII Bomber Command launches another operation against German U-Boat facilities with three elements. The first element is a formation of 100 B-17s despatched from: 91BG (24); 92BG (10); 303BG (21); 305BG (21) and 306BG (24) to attack the German U-Boat pens at Lorient, France. All but the 92BG have attacked this target many times in the past. Heavy fighter resistance is anticipated and those Groups with the most combat experience will lead the attack. 80 of the 100 despatched are effective on the target. The Bomber gunners claim 27-6-16 on the attacking fighters.

The second element is a force of 59 B-17s despathced from 94BG (21); 95BG (18) and 96BG (20) to attack the U-Boat pens at Lorient, France. This force also encounters stiff Luftwaffe resistance, but only 2 B-17s are MIA. 38 of the 59 B-17s are effective on the target. The bomber gunners in this formation claim 20-2-13 on the attacking fighters.

The third element is a force of 39 B-24s despatched from: 44BG (21); and 93BG (18) to attack the U-Boat pens at Bordeaux, France. This is the first attack on the U-Boat pens there. The formation approaches at low level across the Atlantic but uses every effort to climb to the 22,000 foot altitude to make the attack 23 minutes later than the attacks on Lorient. The first two elements have drawn most of the German fighter resources so resistance is light. 34 of the 39 aircraft despatched are effective on the target. No aircraft are lost to enemy aircraft, but one has engine trouble on the inbound route and crashlands at Gijon, Spain. The bomber gunners only claim 1 German aircraft as a "Probably destroyed."

The last operation is a completely separate operation against the power stations at Ijmuiden and Haarlem, Holland by 11 B-26s despatched from 322BG. This is basically a repeat of the operation flown by this Group on 14-May-43, but the Germans are ready for this one. 1 B-26 aborts and the other 10 head for the targets, but fighter opposition and especially AA fire down the remaining 10. A complete disaster, so bad in fact that the 8th Air Force never mounts another attack using the B-26. The resources will be given over to the 9th Air Force in October 1943 and used against tactical targets and support of ground forces following D-Day.

The planners are rapidly learning that there is much merit in the axiom of "divide and conquer."

Mission details

1. BORDEAUX (Primary)

Description

PORT AREA - U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

B-24 from 44th Bomb Group crash-landed at Gijon, Spain, 10 Returned To Duty (RTD).

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...

  • 93rd Bomb Group

    93rd Bomb Group

    Group
    93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) was activated 1-March-1942 at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. On 15-May-1942 the Group moved to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue advanced flight training and also to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico; they...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 85.50
Number of aircraft Sent 39
Number of aircraft Effective 34
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of aircraft Damaged 1
Number of people Wounded in Action 2
Number of people Returned To Duty 10

2. IJMUIDEN/HAARLEM

Description

VELSEN POWER STATION

Aircraft type

B-26 Marauder

Notes

11 B-26s of the 322nd Bomb Group are despatched on a low-level attack on power stations at Haarlem and Ijmuiden. One B-26 aborts and the other 10 are shot down before they reach the target. One of the Missing in Action (MIA)s is Lt. Col Robert M. Stillman, Commanding Officer of the 322th Bomb Group. He is wounded and captured becoming a POW. The lead B-26 is shot down by AA fire and two others suffered a mid-air collision. The explosion from the two that collided brought down another. One B-26 went down in the sea, 4 Killed in Action (KIA) and two rescued two days later by a British destroyer. This mission prompts 8th Air Force to abandon low-level medium bomber attacks. No fighter escort on this mission.

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

Number of aircraft Sent 11
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 10
Number of people Killed In Action 34
Number of people Evaded 24
Number of people Returned To Duty 2

3. LORIENT (Primary)

Description

PORT AREA- SHIPPING

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

One battle damaged B-17 from 95th Bomb Group crash-lands at RAF Exeter.

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 92.00
Number of aircraft Sent 59
Number of aircraft Effective 38
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of people Killed In Action 3
Number of people Wounded in Action 1
Number of people Evaded 7
Number of people Prisoners of War 7
Number of people Returned To Duty 10

4. LORIENT (Primary)

Description

U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

305th Bomb Group B-17 loses one down at sea, 5 RTD, 5Missing in Action (MIA) and 3 to AA and enemy aircraft.

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 199.00
Number of aircraft Sent 100
Number of aircraft Effective 80
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 4
Number of people Killed In Action 23
Number of people Wounded in Action 3
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 15
Number of people Returned To Duty 3

Service

People

  • William Auston

    Military | First Lieutenant | Navigator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On 3 January 1943 in B-24D 41-23771 while serving as Navigator the aircraft made a crash-landing near Puncheston, Pembrokeshire when it ran out of fuel upon return from a mission to St. Nazaire, France. He was uninjured and Returned to Duty (RTD) ...

  • 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. ...

  • Ray Hilliard

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    On January 3, 1943 B-24D 41-23371 while serving as Pilot, the aircraft crashed near crossroads south of Puncheston returning from target U/B yards (submarine) at St. Nazaire, France. Fuel shortage caused the crash. Pilot Hilliard was injured and...

  • Harry Hogan

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Gunner; Radio Operator | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    Joined Sqd 3-Aug-42. ETO/Flight Echelon 2-Oct-42. On 15-Feb-43 in B-24D 41-23800 "The Captain and the Kids' while serving as Radio Operator the aircraft was damaged by flak and enemy fighter attacks but managed to make it back to England where the...

  • 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.

  • Robert McGuire

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator | 303rd Bomb Group

  • 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).

  • Ralph Schweyer

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

  • Frank Spitznagel

    Military | Major | Pilot | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Born November 5, 1919 in Buffalo, NY. ...

  • Philip Spofford

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Gunner | 94th Bomb Group
    Philip Spofford was born in Arlington, MA. and graduated from Arlington High School in 1941. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps one month later completing his basic training at Fort Devens, MA. At a later date he completed Armament School at Lowery...

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Aircraft

  • 42-29635 Augerhead

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 24/1/43; Salina 7/2/43; Assigned 358BS/303BG [VK-M] Molesworth 26/3/43. 18 missions. Missing in Action on the mission to bomb the airfield at Amiens-Glisy, France on 31 August 1943. Pilot: William J. Monahan; Co-pilot: Louis M....

  • 42-29737 'Louise'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 11/2/43; Rapid City 22/2/43; Salina 4/3/43; Kearney 12/3/43; Assigned 92BG Alconbury 9/4/43; transferred 412BS/95BG [QW-N] Framlingham 12/5/43; with R.E. Robinson force landed Framlingham afd 17/5/43; with Robinson 19/5/43, Navigator...

  • 42-29767 "Boot Hill"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 15 February 1943; Walker 27 February 1943; Salina 10 March 1943; Assigned 338BS/96BG [BX- ] Grafton Underwood 17 April 1943; Andrews Field 13 May 1943. ...

  • 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...

  • 41-17982

    B-26 Marauder
    B-26B 41-27982 was shot down by AA fire on 17-May-1943 while on a mission to bomb a power station at Ilmuiden, Holland. The aircraft crashed into the sand dunes at Rozenburg, Holland. 3KIA, 3POW. MACR 15539.

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2016 19:08:13 Mags Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

303rd BG Web Page

Date Contributor Update
03 January 2015 23:15:46 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 3-Jan-2014. Correction of typo in description.

Date Contributor Update
03 January 2015 23:13:45 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 3-Jan-2015. Description based on "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop and "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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