698

2 November 1944

Object Number - UPL 6521 - Crew #664 Elmo Maiden Crew 466th BG - 786th BS Standing Left to Right: Bernard M. Atkins (TG), Vernon R. Hayden (WG), William R. Hoopes (B),...

Mission Details

Description: BOMB TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

BIELEFELD

Description: BRIDGE

BIELEFELD

Description: INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

BIELEFELD

Description: MARSHALLING YARDS

CASTROP/RAUXEL

Description: OIL REFINERY

Three little girls hold up a balloon celebrating the 100th mission of the 466th Bomb Group in front of a B-24 Liberator (serial number 42-95592) nicknamed "Black Cat". Handwritten caption on reverse: 'On our 100 Mission party Day- 18 Aug 1944, Attlebridge, 466th- wouldn't it be something if we could identify these girls? How could I do it?'
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 45.5
  • Aircraft sent: 29
  • Aircraft effective: 27
  • Aircraft damaged: 3

HALLE

Description: BOMB TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

MERSEBURG/LEUNA

Description: OIL REFINERY

Notes: 2nd Lt. Robert E. Femoyer, 711th BS/447th Bomb Group (Navigator) is awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during this action. This is the twelfth CMOH awarded to a member of the 8th Air Force.

MERSEBURG/LEUNA

Description: OIL REFINERY

Aircraft Type: B-17 Flying Fortress

Notes: An estimated 500 Luftwaffe fighters meet the bomber stream at Merseburg. The 9th AF provides the fighter escort for this mission. They supply 31 of 34 P-38s and 433 of 483 P-51s. These fighters claim 46-3-10 in the air and 25-0-0 on the ground. 8 P-51s are lost and the pilots are MIA 457th BG MISSION NO 143: MERSEBERG, GERMANY, 2 NOVEMBER 1944 In an attack which cost the Group nine aircraft lost to enemy fighters, the 457th's target was the high priority synthetic Leuna oil plant at Merseburg. It would mark the fiercest battle the Group engaged with the Luftwaffe. Major Peresich was Air Commander and Lt. Seesenguth was pilot. The Eighth Air Force committed 1,000 bombers to the bombing of German oil refineries. Route over England, and the Division assembly line, were flown as briefed, on time and on course. The route over enemy territory was flown approximately as briefed until the next to the last turn before the briefed IP, when the Group deviated north of course. The IP was reached about 30 to 35 miles north of briefed course. Ten tenths cloud coverage made it necessary to bomb by PFF. The bombs were released in the vicinity of Bernberg, approximately 35 miles north of Merseburg. After the BRL, a turn was made to the right. Shortly afterward, the Group headed southwest in order to close with other groups of the Division. About 15 minutes after bombs away, the formation was attacked by approximately 40 enemy aircraft, mostly FW-l 90s. The enemy attacked the low box in closely spaced waves of 10 abreast, pressed the attacks to within 100 yards and then broke away in all directions. They were reforming for a second tail attack when P-51s intervened. In a ten minute air battle, the sky over the area became an inferno of falling, burning planes. Seven Forts were shot down from this squadron. Two more were brought down, one each from the lead and high squadrons. The aircraft piloted by Lt. William J. Murdock, flying No. 1 position of the high element of the lead squadron, was hit by enemy aircraft in the tail and No. 3 engine, which caught fire. The aircraft stayed in fomration several minutes. Fire was observed coming out of the radio room and under the aircraft after the aircraft peeled off. The craft exploded at 25,000 feet. Three crew members lost their lives. The aircraft piloted by Lt. Gordon E. Gallagher, flying No. 3 position in the high element of the high squadron, was hit by enemy aircraft fire and peeled off with an engine and the entire right wing on fire. Twenty millimeter shells hit outside the No. 4 engine near the gas tank and slashed a hole on top of the wing and through the bottom. The craft pulled up and peeled off to the right over the No.2 craft. After peeling off it went into a dive. Five crew members lost their lives. The aircraft piloted by Lt. William A. Dawson, flying lead of the low squadron, was hit by enemy fire. It caught fire in the No.2 and No.3 engines, peeled off to the left and flew straight and level for about five minutes. It zoomed, then dove, pulled out at about 25,000 feet and then exploded. One crew member lost his life. The aircraft piloted by Lt. Kenneth E, Guptell, flying No. 2 position in the high element of the low squadron, was hit by enemy fire and the No. I engine caught fire. The craft appeared under control as it peeled off, then leveled off heading north. The crew successfully parachuted and were taken as prisoners of war. The aircraft piloted by Lt. Samuel H. Schimel, flying No. 3 position in the low element of the low squadron, was hit by enemy aircraft and peeled off to the left flying straight and level. The craft crashed near Ziegel rode, Germany. Three crew members lost their lives. The aircraft piloted by Lt. Earl M. Morow, flying No. 2 Position in the low element of the low box, was hit by enemy fire in the No. 3 engine and caught fire, and a short while later another hit caught another engine on fire. Almost simultaneously with the bail out signal, the ship exploded. Three crew members did not survive. The aircraft piloted by Lt. Graeme L. Bow, flying No. 1 position in the low element of the low squadron, was hit by enemy fire on the first pass. The hits caused a fire on the wing, that began to spread to the bomb bay. The bail out signal was given, the crew jumped just before the craft exploded. Five crew members, including Lt. Bow, did not survive. (Compiler Note: Apparently a piece of flak hit Lt. Bow's craft before the enemy aircraft fire hit.) The aircraft piloted by Lt. James B. Comher, flying No. 2 position in the low element of the lowsquadron, was hit by enemy fire. The craft crashed near Leimbach, Germany. Seven crew members did not survive. The aircraft piloted by Lt. Bruce F. Harrison, flying No. 6 position of the low element of the low squadron, was hit by enemy fire. The craft crashed near Nebra, Germany. Two crew members did not survive. In addition, four other planes suffered major battle damage and five minor damage. (Compilers Note: Six of the craft were from the 751st Squadron and three from the 750th.) After the mission, one crewman said it was almost a silent, eerie feeling over the target area, as if an omen as to what was to come. He stated it was one of the very few missions he experienced flak and fighters simultaneously. For the day, the gunners were credited with eight enemy aircraft destroyed, eleven damaged and nineteen probably destroyed. (Compiler Note: Roland Byers details the mission in "Flak Dodger".) (Ed. Note: There is also an account of the mission in DEAD ENGINE KIDS) Sgt. Jack Scarborough, top turret gunner on the craft piloted by Lt. Emest T. Salzer, recalls the last words said in the briefing room, "Watch out for enemy fighters ". Sgt. Scarborough continued, "The assembly and the trip over were as usual and everything looked okay, until we noticed that there was only light flak over the target. You could just sense that trouble was brewing. On the bomb run everything went well and our fighter escort was with us. Just after bombs away, enemy jet propelled planes appeared in a big group at nine o'clock high. At that time I was cranking up the bomb bay doors. Hearing the report coming over the interphone, 'Bandits at nine o'clock high', just as I finished, I quickly retumed to my turret. At that time, enemy fighters were called out at eight o'clock level and high, sliding toward the tail. I was watching the dog fight at nine o'clock. Then as the jets led our escorts away, I glanced towards the tail and saw a company front of about 15 to 20 enemy planes coming in high from about 5 to 7 o'clock, with another front just behind them about level. The planes were identified as Focke Wolfe 190s. "I picked one out at five o'clock high, the tail gunner had one picked for himself at about six o'clock and the ball turret picked one out of the third wave, the only wave in his view. "The first two waves came in wiping out most of our box, but most of them were also wiped out. The plane I was shooting at went over our tail and tore off his left wing on the vertical stabilizer of our left wing man. I saw that our left wing man was on fire behind his number three engine and that he had begun to peel off. I swung my guns back to five o'clock again as the pilot using evasive action, dropped the plane about 25 to 50 feet, leaving the FW-190s shooting over us at the spot that we had just vacated. "The next plane that I fired at went over the top of us and straight down in front of our nose. 'There's one for you, Stef,' (Lt. William H. Steffen, the bombardier), I called over the interphone and the bombardier poured lead into him as he went down in flames. At about that time, five FW-l90s were falling around us as the third and last wave started to come in. They were more broken up than the first two waves, because some of them were picking out the straggling forts as they fell in flames. "Our low box now consisted of only two forts. The rest were scattered all over the sky. I could hear the ball turret gunner firing away. I started firing at the one at five, and the radio gunner was also firing at him. He started to smoke as he fell off our right wing, and down under our belly he burst into flames.The other one lost his prop and blew up about 25 feet from our tail. "It was over! What had seemed like hours, had been only between 3 and 5 minutes. Nine of our Forts did not come back, but we took our toll of the FW-190s. We are sure of the planes credited to us and know that many of the gunners on the unlucky Forts took their toll of enemy planes with them. The other boxes had their share of kills too. "It is a great satisfaction to have been able to help reduce the striking powers of the Luftwaffe. Our crew worked like a clock, due to our other rough missions together, but actually the good Lord rode with us and protected us." Sgt. Bernard F. Sitek reported: "Everything happened pretty fast that day, as it usually does when the Germans offer any opposition. "We had been off the bomb run about 10 minutes when vapor trails from fighters started to fill the sky. 'Friendly or enemy aircraft?' was the question in everyone's mind. But we soon learned the answer. There were FW-190s and Me-109s forming for one of those wolf-pack attacks. "At first, it appeared they were on the same level as our box, but as they came closer, they lowered themselves for an attack on the low and lead boxes. Every one of them followed his course except the leader who must have liked the looks of one of the planes in our box. "I got my sights on him from about 600 or 700 yards as he made his attack from 7 o'clock. I could almost see the bullets hit home. As he got closer I could feel his 20mm burst around me. At about 200 yards he seemed to stop dead. The ship rolled over and the pilot came out. A second later the plane burst into flames and broke into several pieces. The pilot did not wait long to open his chute, as I could see a chute open not too far beneath me. The chute attracted my attention because of the peculiar color. "Other gunners had quite a day, too, as I could see several other enemy aircraft burning and explodingbeneath me." Sgt. Brooks H. Eastes, tail gunner for the craft piloted by Lt. Carl P. Sundbaum, flying deputy lead in the high box reported: "We had already hit the target and started for home. At 6 o'clock, I could see a lot of planes coming our way. At first I could not tell if they were fighters or bombers. As they came closer, I knew they were fighters and coming our way. I called out over the interphone, 'Fighters at 6 o'clock low to level'. I then called up the lower ball and told him to watch them because I had never seen our escort come in that way and so many planes together. I also called the top turret, but his interphone was out and so was the pilot's. Just as they came close enough for me to tell were enemy planes the copilot cut off interphone us there bandits in area by this time fighters attacking lead and low box i saw two B-17s go down then up get first me-109 started tracking him he from about 8 o'clock on level with shot a short burst at when was 7 but had stop moved behind b-17 over 6 opened again never let triggers until his engine burning pulled if going back now 5 way it looked went into high speed stall watched one of wings knew gone. "I do not know much more about the fight because I was too busy with that one ship. I did see several more enemy planes firing at our squadron and saw one of our B-I 7s go down. "When the 109 was firing, it looked as though the leading edge of his wing was all ablaze. After the mission, the ball gunner (Sgt. Ed J. Zeitz), told me that he had seen the wing come off the plane just as I called up that I had knocked one down." (Compiler's note: These gunners' accounts were taken from the 457th records).

  • Unit Hierarchy: Division
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
Unofficial emblem of the 457th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

RHEINE

Description: MARSHALLING YARDS

STERKRADE

Description: OIL REFINERY

WOLFENBUTTEL

Description: BOMB TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Connections

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People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 384th Bomb Group 547th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 36743988
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: MOS 757 - Radio Operator / Mechanic / Gunner, AAF
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 401st Bomb Group 615th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Master Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Engineer/Top Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 401st Bomb Group 612th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-760521
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 401st Bomb Group 615th Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Staff Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Ball Turret Gunner
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 401st Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: O-761845
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot

Aircraft

Revisions

Date21 Apr 2020 00:18:57
Contributor466thHistorian
Sources

466th BG Archives - Report on Mission No 135 - Castrop-Rauxel, Germany 2 November 1944
NARA Research provided by Brad Sullivan

Date21 Apr 2020 00:02:00
Contributor466thHistorian
Sources

466th BG Archives - Report on Mission No. 135 Castrop-Rauxel, 2 November 1944

Date22 Apr 2015 16:46:28
Sources

Mission details added courtesy of Diane Elizabeth Reese from 457th Bomb Group Mission Documents.

Date22 Apr 2015 16:17:30
Sources

Mission details added courtesy of Diane Elizabeth Reese from 457th Bomb Group Mission Documents.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:43:08
ContributorAAM
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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