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VIII Bomber Command 81

12 August 1943

Official description

Not yet known

Description

This mission is separated into two elements. The first element is a combined force of 183 B-17s from 1st Bomb Division: 91BG (22); 92BG (19); 303BG (20); 305BG (20); 306BG (20); 351BG (21); 379BG (21); 381BG (20); and 384BG (20) are dispatched to bomb the synthetic oil refineries at Bochum, Gelsenkirchen and Recklinghausen, Germany. This is the first daylight operation by VIII Bomber Command into the Ruhr Valley -- subsequently dubbed by bomber crews as "Happy Valley". The bombers had to fly unescorted to their targets but were met on the way out by P-47s. The formations got badly scattered on the way in and many were forced to bomb targets of opportunity due to clouds, smoke and evasive action from the high concentrations of anti-aircraft batteries protecting these targets. Both fighter opposition and flak were heavy. 133 of the bombers were effective on some target but many were not able to bomb their primary assignments. Bomber losses are significant with 23 Failing to Return (FTR) and 3 are so damaged that they are determined to be Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR). 384th Bomb Group (target Recklinghausen) sustains the loss of 5 aircraft. Total casualties in this formation are: 83 KIA, 49WIA, 154 POW, 1 DIC and 27 RTD (in DBRs). The bomber gunners claim 25-5-11 of the attacking German fighters.

The second element is a formation of 147 B-17s from: 94BG (21); 95BG (21); 96BG (21); 100BG (21); 385BG (21); 388BG (21); and 390BG (21) dispatched to bomb the industrial areas of Bonn, Germany. This is the first mission from 390th Bomb Group. 110 of these aircraft are effective on Bonn and other targets of opportunity in the area. Only 2 Fail to Return (FTR) - 5 KIA, 14 POW, 1 EVD. 1 from 390BG Returned to Base (RTB) but was so damaged it was declared Damaged Beyond Repair (DBR), all ten crewmen Returned to Duty (RTD). The bomber gunners claim 4-2-2 of attacking enemy fighters.

Mission details

1. Bochum, Germany / Recklinghausen, Germany (Primary) / Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Description

SYNTHETIC OIL REFINERIES

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

The Ruhr is targeted with concentration on manufacturing and synthetic oil facilities. Some B-17s become separated and bomb targets of opportunity instead.

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...

  • 381st Bomb Group

    381st Bomb Group

    Group
    The 381st Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Ridgewell, Essex between June 1943 and April 1945. The Group was awarded two Distinguished Unit Citations, the first for bombing shipyards at Bremen, whilst under heavy attack, on 8 October 1943 and...

  • 384th Bomb Group

    384th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 384th Bomb Group flew B-17s from Grafton Underwood, Northamptonshire, between May 1943 and June 1945. They were engaged in daylight bombing missions over Germany as part of the Allies' efforts to destroy the effectiveness of the Luftwaffe by...

  • 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 307.00
Number of aircraft Sent 183
Number of aircraft Effective 133
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 23
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 2
Number of aircraft Damaged 103
Number of people Killed In Action 83
Number of people Wounded in Action 49
Number of people Evaded 1
Number of people Prisoners of War 154
Number of people Died in Captivity 1
Number of people Returned To Duty 19
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 25
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 5
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 11

2. Bonn, Germany (Primary)

Description

MANUFACTURING PLANTS

Aircraft type

B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes

The 390th Bomb Group flies its first mission. 16 aircraft dropped on the leader when an enemy aircraft forced him to jettison his bombs while on the bomb run. 4 aircraft dropped 40 x 500GP on other Targets of Opportunity.

Units

  • 100th Bomb Group

    100th Bomb Group

    Group
    "The Bloody Hundredth", so-called because of a reputation for losing a high number aircraft and crews, flew B-17s from Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk. Their losses were not the highest of any Eighth Air Force Group but on several occasions the Group lost many...

  • 385th Bomb Group

    385th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 385th Bomb Group, who took the nickname "Van's Valiants" after their first Commanding Officer Col. Elliot Vandevanter, flew B-17s from Great Ashfield, Suffolk. The Group led the famous attack on the Focke-Wolfe aircraft factory at Marienburg on 9...

  • 388th Bomb Group

    388th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 388th Bomb Group flew strategic bombing mission from Knettishall, Suffolk from June 1943 to the end of the war. During this time, though, detachments were sent to Fersfield, Norfolk to conduct Aphrodite missions. In these Aphrodite missions veteran...

  • 390th Bomb Group

    390th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 390th Bomb Group flew B-17 Flying Fortresses from Framlingham, Suffolk, between July 1943 and the end of the war in Europe. The Group was engaged in strategic missions until the invasion of Europe when its role became more of a tactical one. This...

  • 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...

  • 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 253.13
Number of aircraft Sent 147
Number of aircraft Effective 110
Number of aircraft Missing In Action 2
Number of aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair 1
Number of aircraft Damaged 69
Number of people Killed In Action 6
Number of people Wounded in Action 7
Number of people Prisoners of War 14
Enemy aircraft claimed as Destroyed by Bomber Command 4
Enemy aircraft claimed as Probably Destroyed by Bomber Command 2
Enemy aircraft claimed as Damaged by Bomber Command 2

Service

People

  • Joel Acker

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot | 384th Bomb Group
    Shot down 12 August 1943 in B-17 #42-30046 'Merrie Hell. ' Killed in Action (KIA). Missing Air Crew Report #289

  • Wilbur Alsheimer

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 381st Bomb Group
    BTG, Moon crew. 381st BG, 532nd BS, 8th AF. Shot down 12 August 1943 in B-17 #42-5847 'Margie Mae'. Mission #17 to the synthetic oil works at Gelsenkirchen, Germany. MACR 660. Prisoner of War at Stalag XVIIB. New York

  • Daniel Angarano

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Left Waist Gunner | 379th Bomb Group
    Daniel J Angarano served as a gunner with the 379th Bomb Group. He was shot down on 12 August 1943 in B-17 #425820. He was taken as a Prisoner of War (POW).

  • Richard Bailey

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group
    Retired from the USAF with the rank of Major

  • Luther Baker

    Military | Captain | Navigator | 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few
    Assigned to 327BS, 92BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bochum, Germany in B-17 42-5801 12-Aug-43; A/C belly landed. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 656 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Barclay Beeby

    Military | Captain | Pilot | 388th Bomb Group

  • Audrey Berry

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Right Waist Gunner | 92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few
    Assigned to 327BS, 92BG, 8AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Bochum, Germany in B-17 42-5801 12-Aug-43; A/C belly landed. Prisoner of War (POW). MACR 656 Awards: POW, WWII Victory, EAME.

  • Glen Bozarth

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 379th Bomb Group
    Shot down 12 August 1943 in B-17 #425820. Prisoner of War (POW).

  • 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. ...

  • Claude Campbell

    Military | Colonel | Pilot | 303rd Bomb Group
    Assigned to 359BS, 303BG, 8AF USAAF. 30 x combat missions. ETD Awards: DSC, AM (3OLC), WWII Victory, EAME, UN and Korean medals. Post war: Remained in USAF, serving in Korean conflict.

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Aircraft

  • 42-29553

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 3/1/43; Salina 9/1/43; Homestead 18/2/43; Assigned 366BS/305BG [KY-D] Chelveston 4/3/43; Missing in Action Gelsenkirchen 12/8/43 with Wright Gerke, Co-pilot: Tom Reade, Navigator: Joe Costa, Bombardier: Jack Little, Ball turret gunner:...

  • 42-29587 Jolly Roger

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 13/1/43; Salina 2/2/43; Nashville 30/3/43; Homestead 7/4/43; Assigned 401BS/91BG [LL-J] Bassingbourn 19/4/43; Missing in Action 9m Gelsenkirchen 12/8/43 with Bob Heller, Co-pilot: Wilbur Rowland, Navigator: Walt Ferguson, Bombardier:...

  • 42-29640

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 23/1/43; Salina 7/2/43; Assigned 359BS/303BG [BN-X] Molesworth 26/3/43; 16m Missing in Action Gelsenkirchen 12/8/43 with Art Pentz, Co-pilot: Tom Mulligan, Bombardier: Russell Philpitwia, later re-patriated, Flight engineer/top...

  • 42-29686

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 2/2/43; 94BG Pueblo 18/2/43; Salina 25/2/43; Brookley 19/3/43; Smoky Hill 23/3/43; Gulfport 10/4/43; Assigned 331BS/94BG [QE-R] Earls Colne 12/5/43; transferred 547BS/384BG [SO-B] Grafton Underwood 12/7/43; Missing in Action...

  • 42-29884

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 4/3/43; Patterson 8/4/43; Eglin Fd 16/4/43; Dow Fd 19/4/43; Assigned 325BS/92BG [NV-D] Alconbury 23/5/43; force landed base with friendly fire damage with Lopez Mantou 9/6/43; then transferred 326BG [JW-D]; Missing in Action...

  • 42-29898 Scarlett O'Hara

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 4/3/43; Sioux City 19/3/43; Kearney 8/4/43; Bangor 13/4/43; Assigned 524BS/379BG [WA-K/I] Kimbolton 22/4/43; Missing in Action Bochum 12/8/43 with Ralph Osborne, Radio Operator: Mildred Fambrough, Ball turret gunner: Larry Truman,...

  • 42-29945 Sylvia

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 13/3/43; Walla Walla 28/3/43; Smoky Hill 13/3/43; Dow Fd 30/4/43; Assigned 339BS/96BG Grafton Underwood 2/5/43 DAISY JUNE II; Andrews Fd 13/5/43; Snetterton 12/6/43; transferred 326BS/92BG Alconbury 23/7/43; Missing in Action...

  • 42-29950 Forget Me Not

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 3/4/43; Pueblo 30/4/43; Smoky Hill 11/5/43; Dow Fd 23/5/43; Assigned 535BS/381BG [MS-N] Ridgewell 29/5/43 with Chas Dowell, Fred Evans, John Lander, Clarry Watkins, Chas Dodge, Herb Kern, Walt Wessler, Chas Miller, Stuart Doll, Ken...

  • 42-29954 Devil's Angel

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Denver 17/3/43; Pueblo 8/4/43; Smoky Hill 7/5/43; Dow Fd 25/5/43; Assigned 534BS/381BG [GD-D] Ridgewell 25/5/43 with Bill Wroblicka, Omen Jones, Jim Delano, Lester Schneider, Joe Labushevicz, Fred Smith, Dick Wante, Edwin Jonson, John Kratzer...

  • 42-30046 "MERRIE HELL"

    B-17 Flying Fortress
    Delivered Cheyenne 3/4/43; Sioux City 14/4/43; Kearney 4/5/43; Bangor 20/5/43; Assigned 546BS/384BG [BK-K] Grafton Underwood 24/5/43; Missing in Action Recklinghausen 12/8/43 with Ernest J. Sierensbody never found, Co-pilot: Joel M. Acker Jr.,...

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Revisions

Date Contributor Update
31 January 2018 17:29:49 william henry Changes to description
Sources

Correct typos

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 09:47:37 Rainer Changes to event
Sources

Updated unit connections to correspond with narrative

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 09:47:09 Rainer Changes to event
Sources

Updated unit connections to correspond with narrative

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 09:43:32 Rainer Changes to aircraft associations
Sources

Linked 42-30057

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 09:42:26 Rainer Changes to event
Sources

Updated location

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 09:32:53 Rainer Changes to event
Sources

Corrected typo

Date Contributor Update
12 June 2016 09:27:21 Rainer Changes to description and aircraft associations
Sources

Various MACR

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2015 18:26:19 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-May-2015. Added bomber gunner claims to Bonn statistics per "The Mighty EIghth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2015 18:25:18 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-May-2015. Added DIed in Captivity statistic to Bochum/Gelsenkirchen/Recklinghausen element statistics per "The Mighty EIghth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2015 18:22:34 Lee8thbuff Changes to event
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-May-2015. Added bomber gunner claims to Bochum/Gelsenkirchen/Recklinghausen statistics based on "The Mighty EIghth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2015 18:20:18 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-May-2015. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty EIghth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2015 18:17:44 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-May-2015. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty EIghth War Dairy", Roger A. Freeman.

Date Contributor Update
15 May 2015 18:16:32 Lee8thbuff Changes to description
Sources

Lee Cunningham 15-May-2015. Added Mission Narrative based on "The Mighty EIghth War Dairy", 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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