VIII Bomber Command 58

17 May 1943

Object Number - UPL 23266 - Lt. Frank Robert Spitznagel and crew. 364th Squadron, 305th BG. Assembled June 18, 1943 in front of their B-17 #42-29633, nicknamed...

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

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).

The insignia of the 93rd Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 85.50
  • People wounded in action: 2
  • People returned to duty: 10
  • Aircraft sent: 39
  • Aircraft effective: 34
  • Aircraft missing in action: 2
  • Aircraft damaged: 1

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.

  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force Ninth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • People killed in action: 34
  • People evaded: 24
  • People returned to duty: 2
  • Aircraft sent: 11
  • Aircraft missing in action: 10

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.

  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 95th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment
The insignia of the 96th Bomb Group.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 92.00
  • People killed in action: 3
  • People wounded in action: 1
  • People evaded: 7
  • Prisoners of war: 7
  • People returned to duty: 10
  • Aircraft sent: 59
  • Aircraft effective: 38
  • Aircraft missing in action: 2
  • Aircraft damaged beyond repair: 1

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.

Official emblem of the 303rd Bomb Group approved 7 November 1942.
  • Unit Hierarchy: Group
  • Air Force: Eighth Air Force
  • Type Category: Bombardment

Mission Statistics

  • Tonnage Dropped: 199.00
  • People killed in action: 23
  • People wounded in action: 3
  • People evaded: 1
  • Prisoners of war: 15
  • People returned to duty: 3
  • Aircraft sent: 100
  • Aircraft effective: 80
  • Aircraft missing in action: 4

Connections

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People

  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 305th Bomb Group Can Do 364th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 15074451 / O-728540
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Co-Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs 66th Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 19062276 / O-726975
  • Highest Rank: First Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Navigator
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 322nd Bomb Squadron
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 322nd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 14049756 / O-437941
  • Highest Rank: Captain
  • Role/Job: Pilot
  • Military/Civilian/Mascot: Military
  • Nationality: American
  • Unit: 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars 322nd Bomb Squadron
  • Service Numbers: 36324682
  • Highest Rank: Technical Sergeant
  • Role/Job: Aerial Gunner

Aircraft

Revisions

Date15 Jan 2016 19:08:13
ContributorMags
Sources

303rd BG Web Page

Date3 Jan 2015 23:15:46
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

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

Date3 Jan 2015 23:13:45
ContributorLee8thbuff
Sources

Lee Cunningham 3-Jan-2015. Description based on "USAAF Combat Chronology" Jack McKillop and "The Mighty Eighth War Diary" Roger A. Freeman.

Date27 Sep 2014 18:43:17
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'.

VIII Bomber Command 58: Gallery (5 items)