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Berca

Military site : airfield

Detailed history

Berca, near Benghazi, Libya was built sometime prior to 1938 by the Italians for civilian air flights to Benghazi in colonial Cyrenaica. The area, known as البركة (al Birkah, "the Pond") was adjacent to the southern part of Benghazi. By the arrival of the Luftwaffe in 1941, three landing strips had been built on the site. The British 8ᵀᴴ Army seized Benghazi on 20 November 1942, after which the landing strips remained in Allied hands. On 26 March 1943, the 98ᵀᴴ Bombardment Group of the 9ᵀᴴ Air Force, had established itself at Berca. By the time the 389ᵀᴴ Bombardment Group of the 8ᵀᴴ Air Force had arrived for TDY on 3 July 1943, there were now at least 10 landing sites at Berca. Phillip Ardery commented: "There were numerous airdromes in the area and by flying over and calling the radio tower of each, we finally surmised which one must be our new home." The 389ᵀᴴ operated out of Berca 10, sometimes called "Site 10." It was carved out of the desert, as Ernest Poulson recalled: "There was virtually nothing there when we arrived. ... The runway was nothing but a section of desert that the engineers had scraped clear of big rocks. It was dirt." Ardery adds, "It didn't have a hard surface, but it obviously didn't need one for this season of the year. It was dusty but plenty hard to sustain the ship." Once the site was operational, "The dust and sand were so bad that it was a real challenge for our maintenance men to keep the aircraft up and operating" (Poulson). The famous raid on the Ploesti oil fields was launched from Berca. After the war, Berca 2 was used as a radar site. Today the area has been absorbed by urban Benghazi.

English Heritage's record description

Not yet known

Service

Units

  • 98th Bomb Group

    98th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 98th trained for bombardment missions with B-24 Liberators during the first half of 1942. ...

  • 389th Bomb Group

    389th Bomb Group

    Group
    The 389th Bomb Group, known in more familiar terms as "the Sky Scorpions", flew strategic bombing missions in B-24 Liberators from Hethel, England. They also sent detachments to join bases in North Africa at Benghazi No. 10, Libya, between 3 July 1943...

People

  • Philip Ardery

    Military | Major General | Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Silver Star/ 2 DFCs/ 4 Air Medals/ Croix de Guerre. ...

  • Thomas Baum

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40722, Shot down 5 December 1943 in B-24 42-40738, "The Oklahoman." Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Leonard Boisclair

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Waist Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Flew Ploesti raid on 1 Aug 43 as the waist gunner on Jack Dieterle's plane, B-24 42-40722,"The Little Gramper" . One of its engines was hit by ground fire, and it barely made it back to the base at Benghazi, Libya.

  • John Brooks

    Military | Brigadier General | Pilot | 355th Fighter Group
    Led 17 B-24s on the low level attack at Ploesti whilst with the 389th Bomb Group. ...

  • William Budai

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Ball Turret Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Born in Toledo, Ohio in 1921, he enlisted in the Army in Aug. 1942. Despite surviving the harrowing Ploesti raid in August 1943, he was shot down on 18 November 1943 while a gunner on the B-24 "Vagabond King" (42-40787). He was killed when his plane...

  • Kenneth Caldwell

    Military | Major | Co-Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti on 1 August 1943, flying B-24 Liberator 42-40629. Shot down by FW 190 fighters near Orleans, France on 7 Jan 44 in B-24D 42-41013 'Trouble N' Mind' Killed in Action (KIA).

  • Thomas Campbell

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Navigator | 389th Bomb Group
    Flew on famous Ploesti raid of 1 Aug '43. ...

  • Chris Christensen

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Co-Pilot, Co-Pilot; Pilot | 453rd Bomb Group
    Shot down on 9th mission, 9 May 1944 in B-24 #4252186. Prisoner of War (POW). AM/ PH/ POW

  • Ernest Cox

    Military | Staff Sergeant | Tail Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    Flew as a tail gunner on the famous Ploesti raid of 1 Aug 43. The plane, B-24 42-40722 "The Little Gramper", barely made it back to its base at Benghazi, Libya, with one of its engines hit by ground fire.

  • Dan Craddock

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Engineer/Top Turret Gunner | 389th Bomb Group
    His home town was Muncie, Indiana.

Show more

Aircraft

  • 42-40733 Virgin for Short, But Not For Long

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 Liberator #42-40733 567th BS, 389th BG, 8th AF, flew on 1st Aug 43 Ploesti oil refinery raid piloted by Clarence W Gerrick, returning safely to Libya. ...

  • 41-24311 'Hadley's Harem'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, named 'Hadley's Harem' was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's personal airplane and the one he flew on the mission to destroy Hitler's oil refineries at Ploesti Romania in 1943. ...

  • 42-40664 'Honey Chile' - 'Liberandos 100' - '100 Teggie Ann'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24 Liberator #4240664 'Honey Chile' / '100 Teggie Ann' of the 515th Bomb Squadron, the 376th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force, as a participant of Operation Tidal Wave, the 1st Aug 1943 raid on the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. Flown by...

  • 41-11768 'Kickapoo'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator #41-11768, 'KICKAPOO', was piloted by Lt. John S. Young from Dallas, Texas as part of the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron, which arrived in North Africa in early 1943. This airplane and was...

  • 41-24040 'Big Operator' 'Whats Cooking Doc ?'

    B-24 Liberator
    Started out on the 1 Aug 43 Ploesti oil refinery raid, piloted by Lt Hoover Edwards and aborted near Corfu with turbo supercharger problems. Converted to a transport on 17 Aug 43. ...

  • 42-40722 The Little Gramper

    B-24 Liberator
    B-24 Liberator 42-40723 'The Little Gramper' 566th BS, 389th BG, 8th AF, flew on 1st Aug 43 Ploesti oil refinery raid piloted by Lt Jack W Dieterle, returning safely to Libya. Transferred to the 491st Bomb Group 15 May 44. Noted as War Weary repainted...

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
17 March 2019 20:04:09 Dieterle Changes to media associations
Sources

Removed an inappropriately linked image.

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2019 21:02:56 Dieterle Changes to history and person associations
Sources

Richard Dieterle, correcting typographical errors.

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2019 20:54:48 Dieterle Created entry with name, known as, latitude, longitude, usaaf from date, history and media associations
Sources

Jay A. Stout, The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: The U.S. Army Air Forces Against Germany in World War II (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2010) 116 (Poulson). Henry L. deZeng IV, Luftwaffe Airfields 1935-45, Libya (Tripolitania & Cyrenaica) & Egypt (The Author, 2016). Philip Ardery, Bomber Pilot: A Memoir of World War II (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky: 1978) 74-75. "Berca Airfield < Revolvy.com (https://www.revolvy.com/page/Berca-Airfield).

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