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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

  • Henry Alexander

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Bombardier | 376th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 515BS, 376BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Sofia, Bulgaria 20-Dec-43 with Bob Brown crew; Collided with out of control ME109, ripping wing from A/C. Killed in Action (KIA) MACR 1592 Awards: PH.

  • Philip Ardery

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

  • Clement Badeau

    Military | Technical Sergeant | Flight Engineer / Top Turret | 98th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 343BS, 98BG, 9AF USAAF. Underwood crew member, B-24 Liberator 41-11921 'Northern Star' 'Doc', flew on the 1st Aug 43 Ploesti raid. The aircraft successfully bombed the target and returned safely to Benghazi, Libya despite being intercepted...

  • 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. ...

  • Robert Brown

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Pilot | 376th Bomb Group
    Assigned to 515BS, 376BG, 15AF USAAF. Failed to Return (FTR) Sofia, Bulgaria 20-Dec-43 with Bob Brown crew; Collided with out of control ME109, ripping wing from A/C. Killed in Action (KIA) MACR 1592 Awards: AM, PH.

  • 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 | B-24D Co-Pilot - Command Pilot | 389th Bomb Group
    Lt. Kenneth M. Caldwell from the 8th Air force, the 389th Bombardment Group, and the 565th Bomb Squadron took part in Operation Tidal Wave, the raid on Ploesti with Col. Jack W. Wood, on 1 August 1943, flying a B-24D Liberator, 42-40629 named 'The...

  • Thomas Campbell

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

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Aircraft

  • 41-11613 'Florine Ju Ju' - 'Liberandos 71' - 'Teggie Ann' - 'The Blue Streak'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, #41-11613, 'The Blue Streak' of the 514th Bomb Squadron, the 376th Bomb Group, and the 9th Air Force was originally named 'Florine Ju Ju', then, '71 Liberandos', '71 Teggie Ann', and last '71 The Blue Streak'. She was a member of the HALPRO...

  • 41-24147 'The Duchess' - 'Evelyn'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, 'The Duchess', was in the 8th Air force, the 93rd Bomb Group, and the 330th Bombing Squadron in Britain. - Transferred temporarily to the 9th Air Force in North Africa and flew on Operation Tidal Wave to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti,...

  • 41-24226 'Joisey Bounce' - 'Utah Man'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, SN #41-24226, 'Joisey Bounce' was assigned to Pilot Col. Walter T. Stewart of the 330 Bomb Squadron, 93rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, for the famous mission to bomb the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, Aug 1,1943. Col. Stewart changed his...

  • 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' 'Teggie Ann' 'LIBERANDOS 100' '100 Teggie Ann'

    B-24 Liberator
    Not to be mistaken for the B-24D # 41-11613, named, 'Florine JuJu' / '71 Liberandos' / '71 Teggie Ann' / '71 The Blue Streak'. ...

  • 41-11825 'Hail Columbia' 'Grumpy' 'Little Chief Big Dog'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, 'Hail Columbia', # 41-11825, originally served in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bombing Squadron. It was, first, the 344th Squadron's CO, Col. John R. Kane's, personal aircraft until Kane became the 98th Bomb Group's...

  • 41-11768 'KICKAPOO'

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D Liberator, SN # 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 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...

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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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