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VIII Bomber Command 61

29 May 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

Three primary targets are selected for this mission. The U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France are selected as the target for a force of 169 B-17s despatched from: 91BG (23); 92BG (22), 303BG (30); 305BG (25) 306BG (24); 351BG (21) and 379BG (24). This is a "maximum effort" operation. There is a new innovation being tried in this formation: the YB-40. These were conceversions of B-17F models and were primarily "gun ships" and not intended to carry bombs. A twin .50cal machine gun chin turret was added; a twin .50cal Martin power turret machine gun replaced the hand-held Radio Room MG. The right waist gun opening was moved slightly forward and a twin .50cal MG position was added, also a twin .50 cal MG position was made at the left waist gun position. The aircraft were also retro-fitted in England with an additional cheek gun (.50cal) on each side, bringing the total to 16 .50cal machine guns. The bomb bay was used as the central storage for 11,135 rounds of ammunition. These modifications and the tremendous quantity of ammunition added pver 4,000 pounds to the dry weight of the aircraft. The idea was that these gun ships would be placed in the most vulnerable positions within the bomber formations. The additonal weight affected the center of gravity of the aircraft and made them difficult to fly. In addition once the bombers had dropped their bombs, the YB-40s were still so loaded with ammunition that they could not stay in formation with the returning bombers. 7 of these aricraft flew this mission with the 92BG and 1 with the 305BG. None of the YB-40s were lost on this mission but the formation sustained 8 B-17s MIA, all due to anti-aircraft fire. 147 of 169 were effective on the target. Fighter opposition was light and the bomber gunners only claimed 6-0-1 on enemy fighters.

Another formation of 38 B-24s from 44BG and 93BG are despatched against the U-Boat pens at La Pallice, France. 34 of the 48 B-24s despatched are effective on the target. There is no fighter opposition and flak is light and inaccurate. There are no losses or claims. This is the last bombing operation for 44th Bomb Group before being assigned for Temporary Duty with the 12th Air Force flying out of North Africa.

Two elements are put together to bomb the naval storage depot at Rennes, France. The first of these is a combined force of 56 B-17s from; 94BG (18); 95BG (18) and 96BG (20). These fly in there own distinct BG formations. 54 of 56 are effective on the target but 6 (10.7%) are MIA. The bomber gunners claim 19-5-4 on the enemy fighters. The other element attackin a Rennes is a "composite group" made up of 16 B-17s from: 94BG (4); 95BG (2) and 96BG (10). This is the first instance where such a formation has been attempted. The navigators among the aircraft became confused and the formation was not able to make a coherent run on the target. Only 3 of the 16 were effective on the target. There were no losses or claims.

Mission details

1. LA PALLICE (Primary)

Description

U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft type

B-24 Liberator

Notes

This is the last mission for the 44th Bomb Group before leaving for North Africa.

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 99.00
Number of aircraft Sent 38
Number of aircraft Effective 34

2. RENNES (Primary)

Description

NAVAL YARD

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

A composite Group made up of 4 from the 94th Bomb Group, two from the 95th Bomb Group and 10 from 96th Bomb Group fly as a unit on this raid. First such instance.

Units

  • 94th Bomb Group

    94th Bomb Group

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

  • 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 132.50
Number of aircraft Sent 72
Number of aircraft Effective 57
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 6
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 30
Number of people Killed In Action 31
Number of people Wounded in Action 10
Number of people Evaded 8
Number of people Prisoners of War 22
Number of people Returned To Duty 9

3. SAINT-NAZAIRE

Description

U-BOAT PENS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

The 379th Bomb Group flies its first mission.7 YB-40s of 92nd Bomb Group and one YB-40 from 305th Bomb Group are used to escort the bombers for defence. The YB-40s are too heavy to keep up with the bomber formation. No fighter escort on 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,...

  • 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...

  • 379th Bomb Group

    379th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 379th Bomb Group (H) (heavy), based at Kimbolton, flew more sorties than any other Bomb Group in the Eighth Air Force and dropped a greater bomb tonnage than any other Group. The B-17 Flying Fortress Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit...

  • 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 sometime after arrivial in the UK converted to the role of in-theater combat crew indocrination and training. For this role, the Group traded its B-17F complement and obtained the B-17E, mostly from the 97th BG which was departing for...

Mission Statistics

Tonnage dropped 277.00
Number of aircraft Sent 169
Number of aircraft Effective 147
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 8
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 58
Number of people Killed In Action 23
Number of people Wounded in Action 10
Number of people Evaded 2
Number of people Prisoners of War 46
Number of people Returned To Duty 9

Service

People

  • Raymond Allaby

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 305th Bomb Group Can Do
    Raymond Allaby served as a tail gunner with the 305th Bomb Group. He was shot down on 29 May 1943 on his tenth mission, over St. Nazaire, France in B-17 42-29792. Nine of the crew were killed, he was the only one who survived. Taken as a Prisoner of...

  • Anthony Amaya

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 524BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 2 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) Bremen / Wilhelmshaven in B-17 42-29915 11-Jun-43; Shot down, plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 1760 Awards: AM, PH.

  • Harry Anderson

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 524BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 2 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) Bremen / Wilhelmshaven in B-17 42-29915 11-Jun-43; Shot down, plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 1760 Awards: AM, PH.

  • Leon Berger

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Radio Operator Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Radio Operator SSgt Leon Berger was Killed in Action flying his fourth and final mission to the synthetic rubber plant located at Hulls Germany on June 22, 1943. Enemy aircraft attacked the formation at approximately 09:15AM just prior to their...

  • Abram Birch

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 524BS, 379BG, 8AF USAAF. 2 x combat missions. Failed to Return (FTR) Bremen / Wilhelmshaven in B-17 42-29915 11-Jun-43; Shot down, plane crashed into North Sea. Killed in Action (KIA). MACR 1760 Awards: PH.

  • Earl Boies

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Top Turret Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Top Turret Gunner/Engineer Technical Sgt Earl J Boies was Killed In Action flying his fourth and final mission to the synthetic rubber plant located at Hulls Germany on June 22, 1943. ...

  • 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. ...

  • Oliver Carroll

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 94th Bomb Group
    Oliver Carroll was a Bombardier in the 94th Bomb Group / 410th Bomb Squadron. Shot down in B-24 # 42-29710 on the 29 May 1943 mission to naval depots in Rennes, France. Prisoner of War (POW). He later served in Korea and left the USAF with the rank of...

  • Cecil Craft

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner; Radio Operator | 303rd Bomb Group
    17-Feb-42 Assigned as Ball Turret Gunner on B-17F 41-24579 [PU-F] "Thumper", 303BG/360BS at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho. 16-Oc-42 Arrived at Molesworth, UK aboard "Thumper" ...

  • Erskine Dollarhide

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 379th Bomb Group
    Capt. Erskine Dollarhide Jr was Killed In Action flying his third and final mission to the synthetic rubber plant located at Huls Germany on June 22, 1943. As part of a composite strike force of the 525thBS/379th BG (H) & 303rd BG (H) Dollarhide led...

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Aircraft

  • 41-24602 Yardbird II

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    B-17F 41-24602 was assigned 360BS/303BG [PU-A] Bangor 14-Oct-42; Molesworth 16-Oct-42; On the 29-May-43 mission to bomb the U-Boat pens at St. Nazaire, France the aircraft was damaged by flak over the target and then attacked and shot down by fighters...

  • 41-24605 Knock-out Dropper

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-R] Bangor 22-Sep-42; Molesworth 22-Oct-42; First 8th Air Force aircraft to complete 50, then 75 missions- 27-Mar-44; with M/Sgt Buford Pafford as crew chief; 1 Base Air Depot, Burtonwood 5-Jun-44; Reconstruction Finance...

  • 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....

  • 42-29710 Hell Below

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 8 February 1943; 94th BG Pueblo 18 February 1943; Salina 25 February 1943; Laurel 18 March 1943; Smoky Hill 25 March 1943; Syracuse 10 April 1943; Dow Field 15 April 1943; Assigned 94th Bomb Group / 410th Bomb Squadron [GL-W] at...

  • 42-29792

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 18/2/43; Salina 2/3/43; Assigned 366BS/305BG [KY-G] Chelveston 8/4/43; Missing in Action St Nazaire 29/5/43 with Jim Perry, Co-pilot: Bob Roddy, Navigator: Herb Korenko, Bombardier: Russell Rose, Flight engineer/top turret gunner:...

  • 42-29915 'Thunder God'

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 8/3/43; Gore 31/3/43; Bangor 14/4/43; Assigned 524BS/379BG [WA-U] Kimbolton 22/4/43; Missing in Action Wilhelmshafen 11/6/43 with Ray Zucker, Co-pilot: Abram Birch, Navigator: Harry Anderson, Bombardier: Tony Amaya, Flight engineer...

  • 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...

  • 42-5826 JERAVAD "Une Petite Peu"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Long Beach 2/3/43; Walla Walla 29/3/43; Lowry 10/4/43; Presque Is 24/4/43; Assigned 369BS/306BG [WW-W] Thurleigh 7/5/43; Missing in Action Kiel 29/7/43 with Keith Conley, Co-pilot: Vince DeVos, Bombardier: Bob Sanford, Radio Operator: Frank...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
15 January 2016 19:15:12 Mags Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

303rd BG Web Page

Date Contributor Update
04 January 2015 21:45:18 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 4-Jan-2015. Added description based on "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman and "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop; YB-40 information based on "The B-17 Flying Fortress Story" Roger A. Freeman with David Osborne.

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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