387th Bombardment Group

Constituted as 387th Bombardment Group (Medium) on 25 Nov 1942. Activated on 1 Dec 1942. Trained with B-26 aircraft. Moved to England in Jun 1943. Served with Eighth AF until assigned to Ninth in Oct 1943. Began combat in Aug 1943 and concentrated its attacks on airdromes during the first months of operations. Made numerous strikes on V-weapon sites in France in the winter of 1943-1944. Hit airfields at Leeuwarden and Venlo during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 1944, the intensive campaign against the German Air Force and aircraft industry. Helped to prepare for the invasion of Normandy by attacking coastal batteries and bridges in France during May 1944. Bombed along the invasion coast on 6 Jun 1944 and supported ground forces throughout the month by raiding railroads, bridges, road junctions, defended areas, and fuel dumps. Moved to the Continent in Jul 1944 and participated in attacks on the enemy at St Lo in the latter part of the month and on German forces at Brest during Aug and Sep. Extended operations into Germany by fall of 1944. Received a DUC for action during the Battle of the Bulge when the group hit strongly defended transportation and communications targets at Mayen and Prum. Supported the Allied drive into the Reich by attacking bridges, communications centers, marshalling yards, storage installations, and other objectives. Ended combat operations in Apr 1945. Returned to the US in Nov. Inactivated on 17 Nov 1945.

322nd Bombardment Group 556BS

559th Bombardment Squadron 556th BS: 1942-1945.

322nd Bombardment Group 557BS

559th Bombardment Squadron 557th BS: 1942-1945.

558th Bombardment Squadron 558th BS: 1942-1945.

322nd Bombardment Group 559BS

559th Bombardment Squadron 559th BS: 1942-1945.

Squadrons. 556th: 1942-1945. 557th: 1942-1945. 558th: 1942-1945. 559th: 1942-1945.

Stations. MacDill Field, Fla, 1 Dec 1942; Drane Field, Fla, 12 Apr 1943; Godman Field, Ky, c. 11 May-10 Jun 1943; Chipping Ongar, England, 25 Jun 1943; Stony Cross, England, 18 Jul 1944; Maupertuis, France, 22 Aug 1944; Chateaudun, France, 18 Sep 1944; Clastres, France, 30 Oct 1944; Beek, Holland, 29 Apr 1945; Rosieres-en-Santerre, France, 24 May-c. Nov 1945; Camp Kilmer, NJ, 14-17 Nov 1945.

Commanders. Maj David S Blackwell, 20 Dec 1942; Col Carl R Storrie, c. 19 Jan 1943; Col Jack E Caldwell, 8 Nov 1943; Col Thomas M Seymour, 13 Apr 1944; Col Grover C Brown, c. 18 Jul 1944; Lt Col Richard R Stewart, 20 May 1945; Col Philip A Sykes, Jun 1945-unkn.

Campaigns. Air Offensive, Europe; Normandy; Northern France; Rhineland; Ardennes-Alsace; Central Europe.

Decorations. Distinguished Unit Citation: Germany, 23 Dec 1944.

Insigne. None.

Known Aircraft of the 387th Bombardment Group















































































































































































387th Bombardment Group Mission List

Mission Number Target Date
387BG Mission:001 Target: Diversion Jul 31 1943
387BG Mission:002 Target: Diversion Aug 02 1943
387BG Mission:003 Target: St. Omer Airfield Aug 15 1943
387BG Mission:004 Target: Bernay-St. Martin Airfield Aug 16 1943
387BG Mission:005 Target: Poix-Nord Airfield Aug 17 1943
387BG Mission:006 Target: Poix-Nord Airfield Aug 19 1943
387BG Mission:007 Target: Diversion Aug 24 1943
387BG Mission:008 Target: Rouen power plant Aug 25 1943
387BG Mission:009 Target: Lille-Vendeville Airfield Aug 31 1943
387BG Mission:010 Target: Lille-Nord Airfield Sep 02 1943
387BG Mission:011 Target: Lille-Nord Airfield Sep 03 1943
387BG Mission:012 Target: Coutrai marshalling yard Sep 04 1943
387BG Mission:013 Target: Rouen marshalling yard Sep 06 1943
387BG Mission:014 Target: Serqueux marshalling yard Sep 06 1943
387BG Mission:015 Target: Lille marshalling yard Sep 07 1943
387BG Mission:016 Target: St. Pol Marshalling Yard Sep 07 1943
387BG Mission:017 Target: Lille-Nord Airfield Sep 08 1943
387BG Mission:018 Target: Andante coastal defenses Sep 08 1943
387BG Mission:019 Target: Boulogne area coastal defense Sep 09 1943
387BG Mission:020 Target: Lille-Nord Airfield Sep 14 1943
387BG Mission:021 Target: Merville Airfield Sep 15 1943
387BG Mission:022 Target: Beauvais-Tille Airfield Sep 18 1943
387BG Mission:023 Target: Beaumont le Roger Airfield Sep 18 1943
387BG Mission:024 Target: Lille-Nord Airfield Sep 19 1943
387BG Mission:025 Target: Beauvais-Tille Airfield Sep 21 1943
387BG Mission:026 Target: Conches Airfield Sep 23 1943
387BG Mission:027 Target: Evreaux-Fauville Airfield Sep 24 1943
387BG Mission:028 Target: St. Omer-Longuenesse Airfield Sep 25 1943
387BG Mission:029 Target: Beauvais-Tille Airfield Sep 27 1943
387BG Mission:030 Target: St. Omer-Longuenesse Airfield Oct 02 1943
387BG Mission:031 Target: Woensdrecht Airfield Oct 03 1943
387BG Mission:032 Target: Woensdrecht Airfield Oct 09 1943
387BG Mission:033 Target: Evreaux-Fauville Airfield Oct 18 1943
387BG Mission:034 Target: St. Omer-Longuenesse Airfield Oct 18 1943
387BG Mission:035 Target: Evreaux-Fauxville Airfield Oct 21 1943
387BG Mission:036 Target: Evreaux-Fauxville Airfield Oct 22 1943
387BG Mission:037 Target: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield Oct 22 1943
387BG Mission:038 Target: Beauvais-Nivillers Airfield Oct 24 1943
387BG Mission:039 Target: St. Andre de L'Eure Airfield Nov 03 1943
387BG Mission:040 Target: Mimoyecques V-1 site Nov 05 1943
387BG Mission:041 Target: Montdidier Airfield Nov 07 1943
387BG Mission:042 Target: Meulan-Les Mureauz V-1 site Nov 07 1943
387BG Mission:043 Target: Lille-Vendeville Airfield Nov 10 1943
387BG Mission:044 Target: Martinvast V-1 site Nov 11 1943
387BG Mission:045 Target: Evreaux-Fauville Airfield Nov 19 1943
387BG Mission:046 Target: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield Nov 26 1943
387BG Mission:047 Target: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield Nov 29 1943
387BG Mission:048 Target: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield Dec 01 1943
387BG Mission:049 Target: Chievres Airfield Dec 04 1943
387BG Mission:050 Target: Ligescourt-Bois de St. Saulve V-1 site Dec 05 1943
387BG Mission:051 Target: Amsterdam-Schipol Airfield Dec 13 1943
387BG Mission:052 Target: Le Meillard-Bonniers V-1 site Dec 20 1943
387BG Mission:053 Target: Berk-sur-Mer Airfield Dec 21 1943
387BG Mission:054 Target: Cormette V-1 site Dec 22 1943
387BG Mission:055 Target: Le Meillard-Bonniers V-1 site Dec 22 1943
387BG Mission:056 Target: Cormette V-1 site Dec 24 1943
387BG Mission:057 Target: Le Meillard-Bonniers V-1 site Dec 24 1943
387BG Mission:058 Target: Cocove V-1 site Dec 30 1943
387BG Mission:059 Target: Le Meillard-Bonniers V-1 site Dec 30 1943
387BG Mission:060 Target: Cormette V-1 site Dec 31 1943
387BG Mission:061 Target: Eclimeaux V-1 site Jan 04 1944
387BG Mission:062 Target: La Glacerie coastal defenses Jan 07 1944
387BG Mission:063 Target: Linghem (?) V-1 site Jan 14 1944
387BG Mission:064 Target: Le Grismont V-1 site Jan 23 1944
387BG Mission:065 Target: Zudasques V-1 site Jan 23 1944
387BG Mission:066 Target: Maison Ponthieu V-1 site Jan 24 1944
387BG Mission:067 Target: Bois de Croquy V-1 site Jan 25 1944
387BG Mission:068 Target: Bois Rempre V-1 site Jan 25 1944
387BG Mission:069 Target: Beaulieu FME V-1 site Jan 29 1944
387BG Mission:070 Target: La Longueville V-1 site Feb 03 1944
387BG Mission:071 Target: Ruisseauville V-1 site Feb 03 1944
387BG Mission:072 Target: Bois Rempre V-1 site Feb 05 1944
387BG Mission:073 Target: Losterbarne-Ardes V-1 site Feb 08 1944
387BG Mission:074 Target: Cambrai-Neirgnies Airfield Feb 08 1944
387BG Mission:075 Target: Belleville en Caux V-1 site Feb 09 1944
387BG Mission:076 Target: Beauvais-Tille Airfield Feb 10 1944
387BG Mission:077 Target: Poix Airfield Feb 10 1944
387BG Mission:078 Target: Yorench-Bois Carre V-1 site Feb 10 1944
387BG Mission:079 Target: Amiens marshalling yard Feb 11 1944
387BG Mission:080 Target: Hambures V-1 site Feb 13 1944
387BG Mission:081 Target: La Glacerie V-1 site Feb 15 1944
387BG Mission:082 Target: Chateau de Bosmelet V-1 site Feb 15 1944
387BG Mission:083 Target: Eindhoven Airfield Feb 20 1944
387BG Mission:084 Target: Soesterberg Airfield Feb 21 1944
387BG Mission:085 Target: Soesterberg Airfield Feb 22 1944
387BG Mission:086 Target: Leeuwarden Airfield Feb 24 1944
387BG Mission:087 Target: Ray-sur-Authie V-1 site Feb 24 1944
387BG Mission:088 Target: St. Jossee Au Bois V-1 site Feb 24 1944
387BG Mission:089 Target: Venlo Airfield Feb 25 1944
387BG Mission:090 Target: La Longueville V-1 site Feb 25 1944
387BG Mission:091 Target: Ray sur Authie V-1 site Feb 28 1944
387BG Mission:092 Target: Vacqueriette V-1 site Feb 28 1944
387BG Mission:093 Target: Behen V-1 site Feb 29 1944
387BG Mission:094 Target: Linghem V-1 site Mar 01 1944
387BG Mission:095 Target: Amiens marshalling yard Mar 01 1944
387BG Mission:096 Target: Linghem V-1 site Mar 02 1944
387BG Mission:097 Target: Amiens marshalling yard Mar 02 1944
387BG Mission:098 Target: Montdidier Airfield Mar 03 1944
387BG Mission:099 Target: Malines V-1 site Mar 04 1944
387BG Mission:100 Target: Ray-sur-Authie V-1 site Mar 05 1944
387BG Mission:101 Target: Vacqueriette V-1 site Mar 05 1944
387BG Mission:102 Target: Bois des Huit Rues V-1 site Mar 06 1944
387BG Mission:103 Target: Aulnoye V-1 site Mar 07 1944
387BG Mission:104 Target: Soesterberg Airfield Mar 08 1944
387BG Mission:105 Target: Soesterberg Airfield Mar 08 1944
387BG Mission:106 Target: Lettingham(?)-Les Grandes V-1 site Mar 13 1944
387BG Mission:107 Target: Croisette V-1 site Mar 18 1944
387BG Mission:108 Target: Foret Nationale de Tourhem V-1 site Mar 19 1944
387BG Mission:109 Target: Criel marshalling yard Mar 20 1944
387BG Mission:110 Target: Haine St. Pierre marshalling yard Mar 23 1944
387BG Mission:111 Target: Ijmuiden E-boat pens Mar 26 1944
387BG Mission:112 Target: Le Havre coastal defenses Apr 10 1944
387BG Mission:113 Target: Namur Airfield Apr 10 1944
387BG Mission:114 Target: Namur marshalling yard Apr 10 1944
387BG Mission:115 Target: Bonnieres V-1 site Apr 11 1944
387BG Mission:116 Target: Dunkerque coastal defenses Apr 12 1944
387BG Mission:117 Target: Namur marshalling yard Apr 13 1944
387BG Mission:118 Target: Charleroi-St. Martin Airfield Apr 18 1944
387BG Mission:119 Target: Charleroi-St. Martin marshalling yard Apr 18 1944
387BG Mission:120 Target: Dieppe coastal defenses Apr 19 1944
387BG Mission:121 Target: Malines marshalling yard Apr 19 1944
387BG Mission:122 Target: Bois Cocqueral Airfield Apr 20 1944
387BG Mission:123 Target: Noires Bernes-Wissant V-1 site Apr 20 1944
387BG Mission:124 Target: Zudausques V-1 site Apr 21 1944
387BG Mission:125 Target: Wisques V-1 site Apr 22 1944
387BG Mission:126 Target: Bois des Huit Rues V-1 site Apr 22 1944
387BG Mission:127 Target: Benerville coastal defenses Apr 23 1944
387BG Mission:128 Target: Beauvoir V-1 site Apr 24 1944
387BG Mission:129 Target: Beauvoir V-1 site Apr 25 1944
387BG Mission:130 Target: Wimeaux V-1 site Apr 27 1944
387BG Mission:131 Target: Cambrai marshalling yard Apr 27 1944
387BG Mission:132 Target: Bois d'Enfer V-1 site Apr 30 1944
387BG Mission:133 Target: Somain marshalling yard Apr 30 1944
387BG Mission:134 Target: Monceaux-sur-Sambre marshalling yard May 01 1944
387BG Mission:135 Target: Louvain marshalling yard May 01 1944
387BG Mission:136 Target: Criel marshalling yard May 10 1944
387BG Mission:137 Target: Oissel bridge May 10 1944
387BG Mission:138 Target: Hardelot coastal defenses May 11 1944
387BG Mission:139 Target: La Parnelle coastal defenses May 12 1944
387BG Mission:140 Target: Benerville coastal defenses May 12 1944
387BG Mission:141 Target: Fort Mardick coastal defense May 13 1944
387BG Mission:142 Target: Douai marshalling yard May 15 1944
387BG Mission:143 Target: Somain marshalling yard May 15 1944
387BG Mission:144 Target: Quisterham coastal defenses May 19 1944
387BG Mission:145 Target: Benerville coastal defenses May 20 1944
387BG Mission:146 Target: Fecamp coastal defenses May 20 1944
387BG Mission:147 Target: La Parnelle-Barfleur coastal defenses May 24 1944
387BG Mission:148 Target: Etaples-St. Cecily coastal defenses May 24 1944
387BG Mission:149 Target: Liege-Val Benoit railroad bridge May 25 1944
387BG Mission:150 Target: Chartres Airfield May 26 1944
387BG Mission:151 Target: La Manoir railroad bridge May 27 1944
387BG Mission:152 Target: Orival railroad bridge May 27 1944
387BG Mission:153 Target: Liege-Renory bridge May 28 1944
387BG Mission:154 Target: Maison La Fitte railroad bridge May 28 1944
387BG Mission:155 Target: Conflans railroad bridge May 29 1944
387BG Mission:156 Target: Antwerp locomotive sheds May 29 1944
387BG Mission:157 Target: Bennecourt highway bridge May 31 1944
387BG Mission:158 Target: Epreville field battery Jun 02 1944
387BG Mission:159 Target: Etaples-Camiers coastal defenses Jun 03 1944
387BG Mission:160 Target: Calais-March (marck?) field battery Jun 04 1944
387BG Mission:161 Target: Madelaine coastal defenses Jun 06 1944
387BG Mission:162 Target: Rennes bridge & junction Jun 07 1944
387BG Mission:163 Target: Villedieu railroad siding Jun 07 1944
387BG Mission:164 Target: Pontaubault railroad junction Jun 08 1944
387BG Mission:165 Target: Foret de Grimusq Airfield Jun 08 1944
387BG Mission:166 Target: St. Lo troop concentrations Jun 10 1944
387BG Mission:167 Target: Bretteville defended area Jun 10 1944
387BG Mission:168 Target: Pontaubault railroad bridge Jun 11 1944
387BG Mission:169 Target: Vire road junction Jun 12 1944
387BG Mission:170 Target: Valognes defended town Jun 12 1944
387BG Mission:171 Target: Domfront fuel dump Jun 13 1944
387BG Mission:172 Target: Falaise road junction Jun 14 1944
387BG Mission:173 Target: Ambrieres road junction Jun 14 1944
387BG Mission:174 Target: Villers Bocage defended village Jun 15 1944
387BG Mission:175 Target: Rennes marshalling yard Jun 18 1944
387BG Mission:176 Target: Lambus (Lanbue?) V-1 site Jun 20 1944
387BG Mission:177 Target: Zudausques V-1 site Jun 21 1944
387BG Mission:178 Target: Bois d'Esquerdes V-1 site Jun 21 1944
387BG Mission:179 Target: Cherbourg tank trap Jun 22 1944
387BG Mission:180 Target: Foret de Conches oil dump Jun 22 1944
387BG Mission:181 Target: Remainsil V-1 site Jun 23 1944
387BG Mission:182 Target: Foret de Senoches fuel dump Jun 25 1944
387BG Mission:183 Target: Foret d'Ecouvers (de Couvers?) fuel dump Jun 25 1944
387BG Mission:184 Target: Laye-Le Belles Martin (?) defended area Jun 29 1944
387BG Mission:185 Target: Foret de Conches fuel dump Jun 30 1944
387BG Mission:186 Target: Villers Bocage defended town Jun 30 1944
387BG Mission:187 Target: Caen bridges Jul 05 1944
387BG Mission:188 Target: Cloyes railroad/highway bridge Jul 06 1944
387BG Mission:189 Target: Doulens Citadel V-1 site Jul 06 1944
387BG Mission:190 Target: Chartres troop concentration & mechanized armor Jul 07 1944
387BG Mission:191 Target: Mantes Gassicourt railroad bridge Jul 08 1944
387BG Mission:192 Target: Mantes Gassicourt railroad bridge Jul 09 1944
387BG Mission:193 Target: Nantes railroad bridge Jul 12 1944
387BG Mission:194 Target: Merey railroad bridge Jul 14 1944
387BG Mission:195 Target: St. Lo troop concentrations Jul 16 1944
387BG Mission:196 Target: Foret de la Guerche fuel dump Jul 16 1944
387BG Mission:197 Target: Transfer to Stoney Cross Jul 18 1944
387BG Mission:198 Target: Demouville Area D troop concentration Jul 18 1944
387BG Mission:199 Target: Tours railroad bridge Jul 19 1944
387BG Mission:200 Target: Serquigny railroad bridge Jul 23 1944
387BG Mission:201 Target: Livarot Airfield Jul 24 1944
387BG Mission:202 Target: Livarot ammunition dump Jul 24 1944
387BG Mission:203 Target: St. Lo toop concentration Jul 25 1944
387BG Mission:204 Target: Marigny troop concentration Jul 26 1944
387BG Mission:205 Target: Bourth railroad embankment Jul 28 1944
387BG Mission:206 Target: Senoches fuel dump Jul 28 1944
387BG Mission:207 Target: Caumont (Gaumont?) troop concentrations Jul 30 1944
387BG Mission:208 Target: Maintenon railroad bridge Aug 01 1944
387BG Mission:209 Target: St. Remi-sur-Avre bridge Aug 04 1944
387BG Mission:210 Target: Briollay railroad bridge Aug 05 1944
387BG Mission:211 Target: Blois-Bois de Blois Airfield Aug 06 1944
387BG Mission:212 Target: Brest-Lorient-St. Nazaire - leaflets Aug 11 1944
387BG Mission:213 Target: Corbeil railroad siding Aug 12 1944
387BG Mission:214 Target: Auvers-sur-Oise railroad bridge Aug 15 1944
387BG Mission:215 Target: Conches-Damville choke point Aug 15 1944
387BG Mission:216 Target: Anizy le Chateau Aug 16 1944
387BG Mission:217 Target: Pont Audemer fuel dump Aug 16 1944
387BG Mission:218 Target: Flers l'Falaise (leaflets) Aug 16 1944
387BG Mission:219 Target: Beaumont railroad bridge Aug 17 1944
387BG Mission:220 Target: Transfer to Maupertus Aug 22 1944
387BG Mission:221 Target: St. Gobain fuel dump Aug 26 1944
387BG Mission:222 Target: Querieu - various targets Aug 28 1944
387BG Mission:223 Target: Brest stong points Sep 05 1944
387BG Mission:224 Target: Brest stong points Sep 06 1944
387BG Mission:225 Target: Brest stong points Sep 06 1944
387BG Mission:226 Target: Foret de Haye - various targets Sep 10 1944
387BG Mission:227 Target: Area pillboxes (Brest) Sep 12 1944
387BG Mission:228 Target: Foret de Haye troop concentration Sep 12 1944
387BG Mission:229 Target: Siegfried line pillboxes Sep 12 1944
387BG Mission:230 Target: Metz strong points Sep 16 1944
387BG Mission:231 Target: Chateaudun Sep 18 1944
387BG Mission:232 Target: Ehrang marshalling yard Sep 21 1944
387BG Mission:233 Target: Foret de Parroy - various targets Sep 27 1944
387BG Mission:234 Target: Foret de Parroy - various targets Sep 28 1944
387BG Mission:235 Target: Euskirchen marshalling yard Sep 29 1944
387BG Mission:236 Target: Herbach defense area Oct 02 1944
387BG Mission:237 Target: Duren ammunition dump Oct 03 1944
387BG Mission:238 Target: Duren ammunition dump Oct 05 1944
387BG Mission:239 Target: Duren ammunition dump Oct 06 1944
387BG Mission:240 Target: Bullay railroad bridge Oct 07 1944
387BG Mission:241 Target: Erkelenz railroad bridge & troop concentration Oct 08 1944
387BG Mission:242 Target: Bullay railroad bridge Oct 10 1944
387BG Mission:243 Target: Camp de Bitche installations Oct 11 1944
387BG Mission:244 Target: Camp de Bitche & Rohrbach Oct 12 1944
387BG Mission:245 Target: Trier-Pfazel railroad bridge Oct 14 1944
387BG Mission:246 Target: Moerdijk railroad bridge Oct 20 1944
387BG Mission:247 Target: Moerdijk railroad bridge Oct 30 1944
387BG Mission:248 Target: Eschweiller gun positions Nov 04 1944
387BG Mission:249 Target: Homburg railroad bridge Nov 05 1944
387BG Mission:250 Target: Dieuze troop concentrations Nov 09 1944
387BG Mission:251 Target: Luchen troop concentrations Nov 16 1944
387BG Mission:252 Target: Weisweiller defended area Nov 17 1944
387BG Mission:253 Target: Weisweiller defended area Nov 18 1944
387BG Mission:254 Target: Merzig strong point Nov 19 1944
387BG Mission:255 Target: Landau ordnance arsenal Nov 19 1944
387BG Mission:256 Target: Birgel defended area Nov 21 1944
387BG Mission:257 Target: Kaiserslautern ammunition dump Nov 25 1944
387BG Mission:258 Target: Limberg (Linberg) ordnance depot Nov 29 1944
387BG Mission:259 Target: Pirmasens railroad tunnel Nov 30 1944
387BG Mission:260 Target: Saarlautern defended area Dec 01 1944
387BG Mission:261 Target: Saarlautern defended area Dec 02 1944
387BG Mission:262 Target: Reken (Beken?) road junction Dec 05 1944
387BG Mission:263 Target: Dulmen fuel dump Dec 06 1944
387BG Mission:264 Target: Mariaweiller defended village Dec 06 1944
387BG Mission:265 Target: Ahrweiller-Lebach defended area Dec 09 1944
387BG Mission:266 Target: Dellfield railroad siding Dec 11 1944
387BG Mission:267 Target: Ruthern oil storage Dec 15 1944
387BG Mission:268 Target: Mayen railroad bridge Dec 23 1944
387BG Mission:269 Target: Prum defended area Dec 23 1944
387BG Mission:270 Target: Nideggen railroad siding Dec 24 1944
387BG Mission:271 Target: Irrel highway bridge Dec 25 1944
387BG Mission:272 Target: St. Vith road Dec 25 1944
387BG Mission:273 Target: Nonnweiller railroad bridge Dec 27 1944
387BG Mission:274 Target: Bullay railroad bridge Jan 01 1945
387BG Mission:275 Target: Bad Munster railroad bridge Jan 02 1945
387BG Mission:276 Target: Simmern railroad bridge Jan 13 1945
387BG Mission:277 Target: Ahrweiler railroad bridge Jan 14 1945
387BG Mission:278 Target: Erkelenz rail & communication center Jan 16 1945
387BG Mission:279 Target: Dasburg highway bridge Jan 22 1945
387BG Mission:280 Target: Wittlich defended village (secondary) Jan 28 1945
387BG Mission:281 Target: Rheinbach supply center Jan 29 1945
387BG Mission:282 Target: Rosbach railroad bridge Feb 02 1945
387BG Mission:283 Target: Sinzig railroad bridge Feb 03 1945
387BG Mission:284 Target: Wittlach & Guthenthal (secondary) Feb 06 1945
387BG Mission:285 Target: Calcar defended town Feb 08 1945
387BG Mission:286 Target: Vierson communication center Feb 09 1945
387BG Mission:287 Target: Berg-Gladbach motor transport & AFV center Feb 10 1945
387BG Mission:288 Target: Sinzig railroad bridge Feb 13 1945
387BG Mission:289 Target: Engers railroad bridge Feb 14 1945
387BG Mission:290 Target: Xanten troop concentration & road junction Feb 14 1945
387BG Mission:291 Target: Sellingen ordnance depot Feb 15 1945
387BG Mission:292 Target: Rees communication center Feb 16 1945
387BG Mission:293 Target: Niederscheld marshalling yard Feb 19 1945
387BG Mission:294 Target: Niedersheld railroad bridge Feb 19 1945
387BG Mission:295 Target: Haltern marshalling yard & Reisenbach autobahn bridge Feb 21 1945
387BG Mission:296 Target: Nuttlar-Dulmen railroad bridge Feb 22 1945
387BG Mission:297 Target: Buer (Buir?) supply point Feb 23 1945
387BG Mission:298 Target: Vlatten communication center Feb 24 1945
387BG Mission:299 Target: Mulenbach-Duan overpasses Feb 24 1945
387BG Mission:300 Target: Gettingen railroad bridge Feb 25 1945
387BG Mission:301 Target: Ahrweiler railroad bridge Feb 25 1945
387BG Mission:302 Target: Zeiperich highway bridge Feb 26 1945
387BG Mission:303 Target: Munstereifal road junction Feb 27 1945
387BG Mission:304 Target: Mayen railroad bridge Feb 28 1945
387BG Mission:305 Target: Rheinbach communication center Mar 01 1945
387BG Mission:306 Target: Iserlohn barracks area Mar 02 1945
387BG Mission:307 Target: Giessen ordnance depot Mar 02 1945
387BG Mission:308 Target: Wermelskirchen ordnance depot Mar 03 1945
387BG Mission:309 Target: Unna ordnance depot Mar 05 1945
387BG Mission:310 Target: Kreutzal marshalling yard Mar 05 1945
387BG Mission:311 Target: Ettort (Eitort?) communication center Mar 08 1945
387BG Mission:312 Target: Neiderhausen marshalling yard Mar 09 1945
387BG Mission:313 Target: Arnsberg-Olpe marshalling yard Mar 09 1945
387BG Mission:314 Target: Altenkirchen road junction Mar 10 1945
387BG Mission:315 Target: Brettscheid landing ground Mar 11 1945
387BG Mission:316 Target: Sythen explosive works Mar 11 1945
387BG Mission:317 Target: Westerberg marshalling yard Mar 13 1945
387BG Mission:318 Target: Frankfurt Rhein Main Airfield Mar 13 1945
387BG Mission:319 Target: Gross Ostheim Airfield Mar 14 1945
387BG Mission:320 Target: Pirmasens supply & communication center Mar 15 1945
387BG Mission:321 Target: Landau communication center Mar 16 1945
387BG Mission:322 Target: Siegen marshalling yard Mar 17 1945
387BG Mission:323 Target: Frankenberg marshalling yard Mar 17 1945
387BG Mission:324 Target: Worms road junction Mar 18 1945
387BG Mission:325 Target: Kreutzal marshalling yard Mar 18 1945
387BG Mission:326 Target: Vossen railroad bridge Mar 19 1945
387BG Mission:327 Target: Sythen explosive works Mar 20 1945
387BG Mission:328 Target: Coesfield road junction Mar 21 1945
387BG Mission:329 Target: Stadtlohn road junction Mar 21 1945
387BG Mission:330 Target: Haltern communication center & flak positions Mar 22 1945
387BG Mission:331 Target: Alt Schermbeck communication center Mar 22 1945
387BG Mission:332 Target: Dinslaken defended town Mar 23 1945
387BG Mission:333 Target: Dinslaken defended town Mar 23 1945
387BG Mission:334 Target: Vlotho railroad bridge & flak positions Mar 24 1945
387BG Mission:335 Target: Vlotho flak positions Mar 24 1945
387BG Mission:336 Target: Weyenbusch road junction Mar 25 1945
387BG Mission:337 Target: Friedberg marshalling yard Mar 25 1945
387BG Mission:338 Target: Fleiden marshalling yard Mar 26 1945
387BG Mission:339 Target: Ebenhausen oil storage Mar 30 1945
387BG Mission:340 Target: Wurzburg marshalling yard Mar 31 1945
387BG Mission:341 Target: Holzminden marshalling yard Apr 03 1945
387BG Mission:342 Target: Ehrbach oil storage Apr 04 1945
387BG Mission:343 Target: Nienhagen oil storage Apr 08 1945
387BG Mission:344 Target: Amberg-Kummersbruck ordnance depot Apr 09 1945
387BG Mission:345 Target: Jena marshalling yard & flak positions Apr 09 1945
387BG Mission:346 Target: Rudolstadt ordnance depot Apr 10 1945
387BG Mission:347 Target: Aschersleben marshalling yard Apr 11 1945
387BG Mission:348 Target: Bamberg assembly & storage area Apr 11 1945
387BG Mission:349 Target: Kempten ordnance depot Apr 12 1945
387BG Mission:350 Target: Guzenhausen marshalling yard Apr 16 1945
387BG Mission:351 Target: Kempten ordnance depot Apr 16 1945
387BG Mission:352 Target: Madgeburg defended area Apr 17 1945
387BG Mission:353 Target: Donau oil storage depot Apr 18 1945
387BG Mission:354A Target: Ulm marshalling yard Apr 19 1945
387BG Mission:354B Target: Gunzberg railroad siding Apr 19 1945
387BG Mission:355 Target: Schrobenhausen oil storage Apr 26 1945

1 Dec 1942 – Group and squadrons activated

The 387th Bombardment Group (M), with its four member squadrons, the556th, 557th, 558th and 559th, was activated at MacDill Field, Tampa, FloridaDecember 1, 1942.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 4.

2 Dec 1942

The next day personnel of the newly activated group began arriving.The original cadre came from the 21st Bombardment Group of MacDillField. Later fillers to headquarters personnel were assigned from Headquartersand Headquarters Squadron, Third Bomber Command, Miami Beach, Florida,and Daniel Field, Georgia. The majority of the original members of the556th squadron were recruited from the 313th Bombardment Squadron. Originalpersonnel for the 557th came from the 314th, those of the 558th came fromthe 315th, and the 559th from the 398th. All those parent squadrons weremembers of the 21st Bombardment Group (M) stationed at MacDill. Otherscame from Barksdale Field, Louisiana, Anti-Submarine Company, Jacksonville,Florida, 344th Bombardment Group (M) Lakeland, Florida, and 309th BombardmentGroup, Columbia, South Carolina.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 4.

20 Dec 1942 – Major David S.Blackwell becomes first Group commander

On December 20 Major David S. Blackwell of Third Bomber Command wasassigned as first commanding officer of the group. Throughout Decemberand January additional personnel continued to arrive.

 – Historyof the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 4.

19 Jan 1943 – Carl B. Storriebecomes Group commander

On January 19, 1943 Colonel Carl B. Storrie was assigned from Headquartersand Headquarters Squadron, Third Bomber Command as group commander, relievingMajor Blackwell, who remained as group executive until January 22, at whichtime he was transferred to the newly created 391st Bombardment Group (M).

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 4.

Jan 1943

The greater part of the personnel, who had been recruited from OTUand BTU organizations, began, for the first time, to feel that they wereto become part of a real combat unit. During the first phase of training,group headquarters was located temporarily in a two-story barracks. The556th,557th and 559th squadrons were billeted in the casual camp area, ratheraptly called "Boomtown." In the shacks the men could look through the roofand see the sky, and look down through the boards of the floor and seethe sand. Some mornings in January were cold but, in true Army style, heatwas furnished only on warm mornings. Chow for the field mess was lousy,but could be supplemented by meals at the PX and soda fountains. Officersate at the swank officers' club, but rates were not exactly cheap for newlymade second louies.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 5.

Back in the States, the new pilots coming into Storrie's Group wereMarauder shy. There had been too many stories about the airplane. Storrie'sfirst indoctrination procedure was to take them for a ride in his own plane,skimming the tree tops, flying under telephone wires, flying sometimeswith the props clearing the ground by a matter of inches. Within a fewweeks, the same kids were skimming the tree tops, flying under telephonewires within inches of the ground. When their wings brushed the shrubberyin the Florida countryside, they reported that they weren't really flyinglow-they just hit a low flying green parrot.

With superb ground crews servicing the planes, they had gotten overthe fear of engine failure. Now these same men swear by the Marauder, evenas the Fortress crews say theirs is the only plane in the world.

The Marauder is a fast bomber; its crews are more like fighter pilots."But then," says Carl Storrie, in his broad Texas accent, "I guess everypilot is a pursuit pilot at heart." One thing is certain-most of the menin Storrie's Group are.

Yank (28 Nov. 1943).

2 Feb 1943 – "Hat in the Ring"session

The final details of the first phase were completed by February 2,when the entire group, at Colonel Storrie's summons, met at the base theaterfor his famous "Hat in the Ring session." The Colonel began the meetingby throwing his had "in the ring" in the name of the 387th, and calledon all men to do their part. The answer was a unanimous affirmative.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 5.This is Carl Storrie, ourGroup Commander. He was the body and soul of the 387th Bomb Group fromJanuary 1943 to VE day (May 7, 1945), even though he was transferred onNovember 14, 1943. He was the inspiration for both the enlisted man andthe officer. The early contact with him was the so-called “hat in the ring”appearance. There were actually two “hat in the ring” meetings—the firstone February 2, 1943, when a meeting was called in the theatre. This wasattended by approximately 3/4 of the 387th personnel. Another quarter ofthe total overall strength of the 387th had not yet reported for duty.They were called to a meeting in the fireproof machine room of the hangar.

This group, about 400, including myself, had settled in to the areabehind the large metal doors. When the time arrived for the meeting, themetal doors banged as if hit by a battering ram. This really focused ourattention on the doors. We could not see Col. Storrie, but this hard-visoredhat came sailing into the room. His first and only words were, “My hatis in the ring—is yours?” He meant every word of it. He then proceededto say that this Group was going to be the best and he expected everyoneto believe it.

Colonel Storrie carried this same enthusiastic attitude in trainingand combat. He wouldn’t expect you to do anything that he wouldn’t do.He was a believer in everyone doing the job he was supposed to do. He wasthe boss, and friend, of enlisted and officer alike. If a person neededdisciplining, he was the one to do it, but only after he was convincedthat that course of action was required. It didn’t make any differencewhether you were a private or squadron commander. His enthusiastic attitude,work ethic, and inspiration were evident throughout our entire trainingand combat period. It seemed to me that he had instilled a loyalty amongall, and they retained that “hat in the ring” attitude throughout our 2½ years.

– Gayle Smith, former OperationsOfficer, during an after dinner presentation at the Orlando Reunion Banquet 

8 Feb 1943 – Beginning of Second Phase training

On February 8, 1943 the group moved into Hangar 4 at MacDill. Therethe operations, intelligence, engineering, ordnance, and armament sectionswere quickly set up and the six-week period of second phase training began.A strenuous flying schedule was initiated with four-hour periods each formornings, afternoons and evenings. The bombing ranges at Venice, Osprey,Mullet Key and Avon Park were used for practice bombing missions, and selectedareas in the Gulf of Mexico for gunnery practice. Intelligence briefingsusually preceded all missions. Crews not engaged in flying attended groundschool, which included lectures on air tactics, aircraft identification,first aid and nomenclature of guns and ammunition. The result of this strenuousschedule was a steady welding together of the various units so that theycould move quickly and fight effectively..

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 5.

9 Feb 43 – Roster of Staff Officers filled

By February 9 the roster of group staff officers had been filled. Theseincluded Colonel Carl P. Storrie, commanding officer, Lieutenant ColonelRobert W. Stillman, group executive officer, Major Samuel L. Crosthwait,group adjudant, Captain John M. Campbell, group S-2, Major Thomas M. Seymour,group S-3, Captain Marvin M. Harvey, group S-1, Captain James L. Moffett,group surgeon, and First Lieutenant William F. Taulde, group chaplain.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 4-5.

18 Mar 43 – Colonel Stillmanleaves to take command of 322nd

On March 18 Lieutenant Colonel Herbert M. Stillman, Group executiveofficer, was transferred from the 387th to take command of the 322nd andthe air echelon of one squadron were in England, and Colonel Stillman flewto England to assume command. It was from there that he was to take offon the fatal mission to Ijmuiden, Holland on May 17, 1943. On that missionten B-26's, led by Colonel Stillman and flying at low level, were shotdown by the Germans. Colonel Stillman, fortunately, suffered only brokenbones in the crash and, though taken prisoner, escaped alive.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 5-6.

23 Apr 43 – Group moves to DraneField

By the end of the second week of April the group was nearing the endof second phase training. Since the third phase called for group operationsby itself in cooperation with a service group, personnel of the 387th beganpacking technical and personnel equipment for their first move to DraneField, near Lakeland, Florida. The move was accomplished on April 23, andin the end proved agreeable to all. At first the men missed the ornateand elaborate PX's and clubs of MacDill Field, but this loss was more thancompensated for by the adoption of more comfortable and less formal uniformsand the knowledge that they were the only unit on the field. Working inthe open and in tents after using the big hangars at MacDill gave thema feeling of real accomplishment, for they were operating under conditionssimilar to those in a combat theater.

Shortly after the group arrived at Drane Field, the second phase oftraining was completed and the third began. Under Colonel Storrie's abledirection the combat crews and ground personnel were becoming expert intheir jobs, and accustomed to operations at any time or place.

During second phase training several pilots had become quite "hot" andwere flying their planes rather low over the Florida terrain. One day LieutenantCharles B. White, now Major White, came back with leaves and twigs caughtunderneath the fuselage, scratches and green stain from leaves under thewings. He told the crew chief to hurry and get the plane cleaned up andthe scratches painted over. This the crew chief promptly accomplished.Soon Colonel Storrie came around the line to look over the planes and stoppedcritically before Lieutenant White's particular ship.

“Sergeant, what happened to your ship here with these scratches on it?"

"My pilot hit a bird, sir," answered the crew chief, loyally lying.

"Well, what caused this green stain underneath the wings?"

"Why, he hit a parrot, sir."

The colonel closed his jaw tightly and walked away.

Before leaving Lakeland the group, because of its fine record of trainingduring this period, received a personal commendation from Brigadier GeneralParker, commanding general of Third Bomber Command, stating that the trainingrecord of the 387th was the finest yet done by any medium bombardment group.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 6-7.

5 May 43 – Maj. Bykes joins Groupas Executive Officer

On May 5, Major Philip Bykes, of the 25th Wing of the Anti-SubmarineCommand, joined the group as executive officer, filling the vacancy leftby the transfer of Lieutenant Colonel Stillman.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 7.

10 May 43 – Air echelon movesfrom Lakeland to Godman Field

Third phase training continued into May and then slowed down becauseof a shortage of gasoline. ... With the end of the third phase in sight,the group was ordered to Godman Field, Fort Knox, Kentucky to completethis stage and to join the Second Army maneuvers, then in progress. On,May 10, Colonel Storrie led the air echelon in a group mission from Lakelandto Godman Field.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 7.

11 May 43 – Ground echelon leavesLakeland for Godman Field

The ground echelon, under command of Major Crosthwait, left Lakelandon May 11th by train and rejoined the air echelon at Godman Field two dayslater.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 7.

14 May 1943 – 322nd BG makesfirst B-26 attacks over Europe

12 B-26's are dispatched against the Velsen power station at Ijmuiden,The Netherlands; 11 hit the target at 1100 hours; 1 B-26 is damaged beyondrepair when it crashes upon returning to base and 9 others are damaged;casualties are 1 KIA and 7 MIA.  .... The attack at Ijmuiden is madeat low level by the 322d Bombardment Group (Medium), the first US mediumbomber group to become operational in the UK.

The three B-26 Groups slated for operations against European targetsarrived in England soon after the Allied invasion of North Africa and weresent on to Tunisia. There they soon learned that low-level attacks wereineffective and costly. A switch to medium altitude was made, with formationsof four to six a/c dropping on the lead a/c, equipped with a Norden bombsight.Losses were reduced, bombing accuracy improved and the groups effectivelysupported the fighting in Sicily and Italy from bases in Corsica and Sardinia.

In the meantime more groups were arriving in England and were assignedto the Eighth Air Force, understandably pre-occupied with heavy bomberoperations against strategic targets in Germany. The B-26 Wing's staffofficers apparently ignored the lessons in the Pacific and Africa and chosethe British Doctrine of small formations attacking vital targets at lowlevel, where precise bombing was necessary to minimize civilian casualtiesin the occupied countries of France, Belgium and Holland.

The first such mission was assigned on 14 May 43. The target was a powergenerating station at Ijmuiden, Holland—source of power for northern Holland.Twelve Marauders flew the mission; all were damaged, one man was killedand photo reconnaissance revealed no bombs hit the target.

– Paul Priday (556th B.S.),Missionto Mayen.

17 May 1943 – B-26s of 322ndBG slaughtered en route to Ijmuiden

11 B-26's of the 322d Bombardment Group (Medium) are dispatched ona low-level mission to bomb power stations at Haarlem and Ijmuiden, TheNetherlands; 1 B-26 aborts, the other 10 are all shot down before theyreach the target; casualties are 58 MIA. This mission prompts the EighthAir Force to abandon low-level medium bomber attacks.

Three days later, over, the strenuous objections of the Group Commander,a second attack was ordered on the same target. Eleven a/c were launchedand flew across the channel at 50' altitude to avoid German radar. Thirty-threemiles from the Dutch coast, one a/c aborted with an electrical problem.The pilot increased altitude as he turned back and possibly alerted Germanradar. This incident was combined with a navigational error, which broughtthe formation over a heavy defended area before they even approached thetarget.

Bombing results were negative, ten a/c were shot down and the only Marauder,which returned to England was the one, which aborted over the channel.

This mission resulted in a reevaluation of' the low-level tactics inwhich the crews were being trained. Retraining was initiated, both in England,and the Operational Training Units in the United States. Bombing was tobe done from 10,000 to 15,000 feet with lead crews utilizing the Nordenbomb sight and wing a/c dropping, when the lead a/c dropped. This requiredprecise formations - six a/c in a flight, three flights in a box and twoboxes in a group. (three boxes for a maximum effort.)

– Paul Priday (556th B.S.),Missionto Mayen.

20 May 43 – Simulatedattack on power plant at Soneca, Georgia

During the Tennessee maneuvers of the early summer the missions flownby the B-26s of the 387th in close support of ground troops played a largepart in assisting the attacking Blue Army by inflecting large losses onthe defending Red Army. On May 20th during the visit of Third Air Forceinspectors, a mission was flown from Godman Field to simulate an attackon a power plant at Soneca, Georgia, and the group was pronounced "readyfor combat".

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 7-8.

21 May 43 – Air echelon alertedfor overseas movement

The next day the air echelon was alerted for overseas movement....

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 8.

23 May 43 – Air echelon arrivesat Selfridge Field to pick up new B-26s

...and by May 23rd all air echelon personnel had left Godman Fieldby train for Selfridge Field, Michigan. This separation of the air andground units was to last until the reunion in England. There were rumorsat the time that ground and air echelons were to be permanently separated,as in the case of the 344th Bombardment Group. No one wanted to believethose reports, because since December an efficient organization had beenbuilt and close friendships formed. Also, very few, after the months ofstrenuous training, had any desire to return to MacDill and begin trainingover again.

The flight echelon arrived at Selfridge Field on May 23, 1943. Therethe crews found new B-26s and new personal equipment. For two weeks thecrews were busy checking out the new ships, testing gas consumption, andbecoming accustomed to the feel of the new combat models of the B-26 Marauder.Since only a minimum of ground personnel had come along, the crews hadto take care of both technical work and administrative details. Pilotsbecame adjutants, gunners, first sergeants and sergeant-majors, new rolesfor flying crews.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 8.

Thu, 10 Jun 43 – Air echelonmoves to Hunter Field; Ground echelon leaves for Camp Kilmer

On Friday [June 10 was actually a Thursday], June 10, the entire flightechelon prepared to take off from Selfridge to Hunter Field, Savannah,Georgia on the first leg of the journey to England. When thunderheads werereported over the mountains on the route to Savannah, there was some doubtconcerning the time of take-off. All doubt was removed, however, aboutnine o'clock when Colonel Storrie, piloting Bat-Outa-Hell II, took offleading the 558th squadron. At intervals of one hour apart the other squadrons,the 556th, 559th and 557th, followed. Some planes did not leave at thattime because modifications had not been completed. The weather from Selfridgeto Savannah was nasty, and before all planes could arrive, the weatherhad closed in on Hunter Field. Consequently, all but two 557th planes hadto land at other fields and did not arrive at Hunter Field until the nextday.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 8-9.

The ground echelon remained at Godman Field, Fort Knox, Kentucky, untilJune 10, and in that time finished training and packing. On that day theband began to play, the big bass drum began to beat, and the ground personnelof the 387th followed it right out of Godman Field onto the train for CampKilmer, New Jersey.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 11.

Fri, 11 Jun 43 – Air echelonequipped for overseas service; ground echelon arrives at Camp Kilmer

At Hunter the crews received all equipment necessary for overseas service,and further modifications on the planes were made.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 9.

After arriving at Camp Kilmer on the morning of Jun 11 the group putitself into the hand of the staging officials for final check of equipment,supplies, and general readiness. With the promise of passes to New YorkCity as soon as the entire group was checked out, it took only two daysto tie all loose ends together and get the stamp of approval. It was herethat the distasteful but necessary procedure of mail censorship began.During the last eight days at Kilmer there were lectures and drilling duringthe day and passes to New Brunswick and New York City for half the menat night.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 11.

After leaving Godman Field, Kentucky, we went by train to Camp Kilmer,New Jersey and on June 23, 1943, we were loaded onto the Queen Mary with20,000 soldiers more or less and headed for England. There were two mealsa day and a two hour wait in line for each meal. I can still smell thatmutton and see those little round slimy potatoes and the cold coffee.

– Stanley Folk (556th B.S.),quoted in Maurauder Thunder

Sat, 12 Jun 43

Sun, 13 Jun 43 – First elementsof air echelon move to Langley Field, Va.

On Sunday Colonel Storrie again led the 558th on its trip to LangleyField. Others followed on Sunday and Monday, and by Monday night most planeswere serviced and ready for the trip north.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 9.

Tue, 15 Jun 43 - Air echelondeparts for Presque Isle, Maine, but weather forces landing in N.H.

More bad weather between Langley Field and Presque Isle, Maine, forcedthe planes to land at Crenier Field, Manchester, New Hampshire; ...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 9.

Wed, 16 Jun 43 – Air echelonresumes flight to Presque Isle

...but on the morning of June 16 the entire group, except about sixstragglers, took off for Presque Isle, which was the port of embarkationfor planes going over the northern route. The stay, prolonged to threedays at Presque Isle because of bad weather, gave the crews a chance toget their ships ready and to get thoroughly briefed on the difficultiesof navigation over the north Atlantic. There could be no approximations;navigation had to be perfect.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 9.

Sat, 19 Jun 43 – Air echelonflies to Goose Bay, Labrador, then to Bluie West 1, Greenland

On the afternoon of June 19 the squadrons took off at hour intervalsfor the trip to Goose Bay, Labrador. The trip proved a good orientationflight for the navigators, but was otherwise uneventful. The stay at GooseBay was only long enough to allow for eating, refueling, a short nap andbriefing.

Flying to B W 1, Greenland, was by far the most hazardous part of thejourney because most of the trip was made in a thick fog which limitedvisibility to a hundred yards. It also provided some beautiful sights,for when the planes were about fifty miles from land, the fog broke, andthe crews first saw the icebergs drifting in the sea 9,000 feet below,resembling giant ice cream cones of multiple geometric designs. The landingwas a difficult procedure requiring a great amount of skill. The approachis in one direction only and requires the landing of the plane on the water'sedge where the landing strip, made of mesh, rose rapidly uphill to a heightof 160 feet above sea level. The crunching of the wheels against the meshwas a welcome sound to all crews. Fortunately every one of "Kolonel Karl'sKombat Kids" safely touched soil on Greenland.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 9-10.

June 19—

556th Bomber Squadron, 387th Bomb Group off forduty at Station “X” somewhere in England, from Bresque Isle, Maine. TABASCOforced to return to base, engine trouble.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 20 Jun 43 – Air echelonleaves Bluie West 1 for Iceland

The weather at B W 1 was constantly closing in and lifting, but neverbecoming clear enough to permit a take-off. As a result, the various flightstook off at intervals of from four to ten hours apart; ...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 10.

June 20—

TABASCO off early in morning on first leg of overseas trip. First stop,Goose Bay, Labrador. Refueled and more engine work. Second stop, SW1, Greenland.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Mon, 21 Jun 43 – Air echelonarrives at Meck Field, Iceland

... but by the afternoon of June 21 all planes except one were offand on their way to Iceland. The trip from Greenland to Iceland was themost beautiful stretch of the trip. The sun was bright, and at one timevisibility was good for 152 nautical miles. No trouble was experience inattaining an altitude of 12,000 feet to get over the ice caps, and thescene of the planes at this height was a sight to remember. Iceland wasvisible forty-five minutes before the planes had arrived at the shoreline,and the landmarks on which the crews had been briefed in Greenland wereso clearly visible that there was no mistaking the destination.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 10.

June 21—

After overtaking rest of formation at SW1 off for Reykjavik, Iceland.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 22 Jun 43 – Ground echelonordered overseas.

On June 22 the final order for movement overseas came...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 11.

Wed, 23 Jun 43 – Air echelonflies to England; ground echelon boards the Queen Mary.

On Iceland, again, there was a delay because of bad weather, but onJune 23 the take-off for Prestwick was allowed. This trip, unlike the onefrom Greenland, was flown at an altitude of 1500 to 2000 feet, and theplanes were constantly darting in and out of low flying clouds. After threehours of flying the rocky shore of Stornoway, Scotland, became visible.Landfall was made and permission given to proceed to Prestwick. Prestwickwas reached about five in the afternoon, and the crews were fed doughnutsand chocolate by the Red Cross. After the planes had been refueled, theformation headed south and reached Aldermaston in England just at nightfall.The last planes came in with the help of landing lights.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 10.

...and the next day all were enroute to New York harbor. The trip consistedof a train ride to Hoboken and what all would swear was at least a fivemile hike with full pack and baggage to the edge of the Hudson River. Thencame the ferry trip across to the Queen Mary. With the group on this giganticliner were what seemed like two-thirds of the combined Army and Navy, butwas in reality, a contingent of about 14,000 troops.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 11-12.

June 23—

Next step, Prestwick, Scotland, bad weather forcing us to stop at Stornoway,Scotland.

June 24—

The night of the 24th spent in Prestwick, Scotland.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

[The night the air echelon actually spent at Prestwick was June 23.]

Thu, 24 Jun 43 – Air echelonovernights at Aldermaston, Queen Mary leaves New York

The following day the Queen pulled away from the dock and started downthe Hudson, into New York Harbor, through the mine field, and out to sea.Most of the men had assumed, without saying so, that the trip would beginin the middle of the darkest night available, but, as usual, the Army hadother ideas. The boat left the dock exactly at noon. To the accompanimentof whistles, bells, and fog horns the Queen Mary slipped slowly past theNew York skyline out into the Atlantic. It was felt by all that the noisecould be heard as far as Berlin.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 12.June 25—

Our seventh night en route spent in Aldermaston, England.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

[The night the air echelon actually spent in Aldermaston was June 24.]

Fri, 25 Jun 43 – Air echelonflies to Station 162

HQ 387th Bombardment Group (Heavy) arrives at Chipping Ongar, Englandfrom the US.

After waiting at Aldermaston a day for Colonel Storrie, who had beenforced to land at Stornoway, the planes took off on the afternoon of June25 for Chipping Ongar. The trip was short, but it gave them their firstglimpse of London, which they were to see many times thereafter. On seeingthe city and the installations of their permanent base, the reaction ofall the crew was "We'd like to stay here until we can return to the USA".The crossing had set two records. It was the fastest trip yet made by anygroup and the first group ever to cross without the loss of a single man.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 11-12.

On landing at Chipping Ongar the crews had found that the field wasbarely ready to receive them. The air echelon had arrived in such excellenttime that the runways were only partially complete. When he learned thatthe 387th planes were at Prestwick, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Brown, commanderof the 831st Engineer Battalion, had kept his men working far into thenight of the two days preceding the planes' arrival in order to get thefield ready for the landings. The hardworking engineers, who had spenteight months of rain and fog to get the field ready, admitted a feelingof satisfaction at the sight of sixty-five new B-26s dropping wheels onthe field.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 14.

June 26—

A tired and dirty group arrived at our new home after crossing the Atlanticwithout mishap, "Thanks" to Col. Storrie and his well-trained pilots.

Lt. Bartley (556) crashed his ship landing at the base, all escapedinjury.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

[The day the air echelon actually arrived at Statiohn 162 was June 24.]

The airfield site-three miles from Ongar and eight miles from Chelmsford-wasrequisitioned in 1941, but it was not until August 19, 1942 that the 831stEngineer Battalion of the United States Army arrived to start construction.

Much of the rubble used in the foundations came from the plentiful supplycleared from London bomb sites, but the airfield was still incomplete whenthe 387th Bomb Group arrived on June 26, 1943.

Under the command of Colonel Carl Storrie and equipped with B-26 MartinMarauders, the 387th formed a Wing in company with the 386th Bomb Groupat Boxted, near Colchester (later at Great Dunmow), the 322nd Bomb Groupat Andrews Field, near Braintree and the 323rd Bomb Group at Earls Colne.

– Newspaper clipping (2 Nov.1984).

[There is an inconsistency here: the group history has the group arrivingon June 25.]

Sun, 27 Jun 43


– Jack McKillop, CombatChronology of the U.S. Army Air Forces.

On June 27, 1943, the day after the arrival of the air echelon at A-162,Major General Ira C. Eaker, commander of the Eighth Air Force, and BrigadierGenerals Robert Candee and Francis M. Brady of the Eighth Air Support Commandarrived at the field and addressed the crews in the base hanger. GeneralEaker complimented the group on its successful Atlantic crossing and itsfine record as a medium bombardment group and outlined the job they wereto do.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 15.

When the men of the 387th arrived, they were told that the nearest Germanfighter field was only twenty minutes flying time away-directly acrossthe channel.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 17.

For the first two days the course was south, far enough for the paintto steam off the sides and far enough, too, for the men below docks tobecome thoroughly parboiled. All troops aboard had meanwhile been initiatedinto the ominous habit of wearing life preservers. From the very firstthe great number of soldiers on board gave the ship the look of a slaver.Personnel were divided into sections which changed quarters each afternoon.Those who had been on deck one night went below the next, and vice-versa.For the enlisted men and junior officers there was not much to choose betweenthe pallets on deck and their stifling air of the hold. A dozen secondlieutenants were jammed into a cabin originally built for two. First lieutenants,crowded eight into one of the same type cabins, fared a little better.The tradition of R H I P was carefully observed on up the line so thatthe single one-star general aboard basked alone in a single cabin.

Meals, served twice a day, were quite good as far as the officers wereconcerned; but to dignify the sorry stuff served to the enlisted men bythe name meals would be a gross overstatement. Luckily, there was a PXon board; the men lived largely on a diet of candy

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 12-13.

June 27 to August 15—

Spent in flight training and ground school.

Station 152, later to be known as “Chipping Ongar” is located 9 mileswest of Chelmsford between the villages of Willingale, Fyfield, High Ongarand Chipping Ongar. London lies approximately 25 miles southwest of station152.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 28 Jun 43

On the third day the course veered sharply north until weather conditionschanged from torrid to frigid. During the first trip the usual rumors oftorpedoes and subs made the rounds, but nothing sensational occurred. TheQueen, attended constantly by a B-24 Liberator overhead, ploughed alongimperturbably, zigzagging through a smooth sea.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 12-13.

Wed, 29 Jun 43

The first signs of land were the mountains of Northern Ireland which,on the morning of June 29, rose dimly out of the horizon off starboard.The bluish gray shadow of the crags outlined in the sunlight was the introductionsto many more beauties of the older world. The big ship passed two strongconvoys in military column, trailing barrage balloons behind them and escortedby destroyers. After turning south and proceeding down the Irish Sea, theQueen Mary, about dusk, made a horseshoe turn and headed northeast intothe Firth of Clyde. In the last sunlight of a gorgeous cloudless day thesoft light of a summer evening glanced across the hedgerows, rounded greenhills, ripe wheat fields, thatched roof cottages and yellow haystacks togive all objects a warm golden sheen. The sight of a girl in a red dress,walking with her dog in the fields along the shore, added the finishingtouch to a picturesque sight. Maybe the scene would be that beautiful anytime; maybe it only looked that good to soldiers ending an ocean voyage.

Finally the Queen Mary drew abreast of Gourock into the company of fifteenor more large ships, many ex-luxury liners, all loaded with soldiers. Almostimmediately the men were transported to shore by lighter—a job that didnot end until the next night.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 13-14.

Thu, 30 Jun 43

After the men had been loaded on the trains, the trip to the fieldbegan. At the end of an all night trip the train pulled into Chelmsford,Essex where the men were put into trucks and taken on a thirty-minute rideto the next base. On arriving at airfield A-162 at Willingale, near ChippingOngar, the ground echelons were welcomed by the flying crews, who spokeknowingly of left-hand driving, cycling, haystacking, "thruppiny bits,"RAAFS, mild and bitters, and Piccadilly.
...
Although neither the runways nor the squadron areas were complete,the spirits of the men were high. After the ocean voyage ground and aircrews alike were glad to be together again. Colonel Storrie expressed thefeeling of the group when he said, "Where are the bombs? Let's go to war!"

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, pp. 14.

On June 30, 1943 we landed in Glasgow, Scotland and traveled by trainto near Chipping Ongar, England.

– Stanley Folk, (556th B.S.),quoted in Maurauder Thunder 

Jul 43

During the period of fair weather in July the station was in the processof being completed, for the group had arrived several weeks ahead of time.Various officers and enlisted men attended training schools. In contrastto the training period, when the squadrons had operated with a good bitof independence, group headquarters took over a larger control. Group operations,group intelligence, group personnel and other sections in headquartersbegan drawing men from the squadron sections to help with their work. Therewas relatively little air activity because many modifications had to bemade on the planes and because there was no gas until late in the month.Ground school was organized for air crews and toward the end of July severalpractice bombing missions and "doughnuts" north to the Wash were flown.All efforts were made to see that the crews were sufficiently shaken downand primed before the time came for operations.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 16.

As operations began, squadron commanders of the 387th were: 556th, CaptainWalter J. Ives; 557th, Captain Charles R. Keller; 558th, Captain JosephH. Richardson and 559th, Captain William T. Boren. These officers wereto lead their men in laying the foundation of the long series of commendableand effective missions flown by the Group until the final defeat of Germany.

The group insignia, yellow slanted stripes on a black background, paintedon the vertical stabilizers of the planes, was given the name "Tiger Stripe"by the men of the 387th. As time went by the Group became generally knownas the "Tiger Stripe Marauder Group."

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 17-18.

Fri, 16 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission Number 1: 16 B-26B's are dispatchedagainst the marshalling yard at Abbeville, France; 14 hit the target at2000 hours; 10 aircraft are damaged; casualties are 2 WIA. With this mission,the VIII Air Support Command begins combat operations, having acquiredthe 322d, 323d, 386th, and 387th Bombardment Groups (Medium). [The 387th did not participate in this mission.]

Sat, 17 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission Number 2: B-26's fly a diversion tothe Cayeux, France area.

Formal dedication of the field took place on July 17 with all unitsof the field taking part. A review of the various units was held with musicby the 342nd Engineer's band. An aerial demonstration by thirty-six B-26sflying close formation followed. Brigadier General C. A. Moore, Chief EngineerEtimsa, then presented the field, on behalf of the Engineers, to BrigadierGeneral Robert C. Candee of the Eighth Air Support Command. General Candeecongratulated Lieutenant Colonel Brown and his men of the 831st Engineers,builders of the field, on the fast and capable work done. He concludedby saying, "Archimedes once said, "Give me a base on which to stand anda lever long enough and I can move the earth". You, General Moore, andyour men have given us the base and Colonel Storrie is very eager to startmoving the earth. A tour of the field was then made, followed by a luncheonwith Brigadier General Moore, Lieutenant Colonel P. C. Brown and representingthe British Army, General J. R. Nigan and Lieutenant Colonel E. A. K. Lake.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 15.

Sun, 25 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission Number 3: 18 B-26B's are dispatchedagainst the coke ovens at Ghent, Belgium; 13 hit the target at 1458 hours;6 aircraft are damaged.

Mon, 26 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission Number 4: 18 B-26B's are dispatchedagainst the Saint-Omer/Longuenesse Airfield in France; 15 hit the targetat 1112 hours; 4 aircraft are damaged.

Tue, 27 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission Number 5: 18 B-26B's are dispatchedagainst Tricqueville Airfield, France; 17 hit the target at 1825 hours.

Wed, 28 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission Numbers 6 and 7: The primary targetsare in Belgium and France, i.e.:

1. 18 B-26B's are dispatched against the coke ovensat Zeebrugge, Belgium; 17 hit the target at 1105 hours; 3 B-26's are damaged.

2. 18 B-26B's are dispatched against TricquevilleAirfield, France but the mission is recalled when the accompanying fightersdo not join up.

Thu, 29 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Missions 8 and 9: 2 airfields are the target:

1. 18 B-26B's are dispatched against Schipol Airfield at Amsterdam,TheNetherlands; the mission is aborted due to a navigational error.

2. 21 B-26B's are dispatched against Ft. Rouge Airfield, France; 19hit the target at 1828 hours; 8 B-26's are damaged.

Thu, 30 Jul 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission Numbers 10A and 10B: 2 airfields aretargetted:

1. 24 B-26B's are dispatched to the Woensdrecht Airfield,The Netherlands; 11 hit the target at 0657 hours; 1 B-26 is lost, 1 isdamaged beyond repair and 5 are damaged; casualties are 7 WIA and 6 MIA.

2. 24 B-26B's are dispatched to the Courtrai/WevelghemAirfield, France but the mission is recalled because the escorting fightersare fog bound on the ground.

In the 2 B-26 missions, the B-26 crews claim 6-5-1Luftwaffe aircraft.

Sat, 31 Jul 43 – Mission 1: Diversion

VIII Air Support Command Missions Number 11A, 11B, 11C and 11D: Thetargets are 4 airfields in France:

  1. 21 B-26B's are dispatched against Merville Airfield;20 hit the target at 1120 hours; 2 B-26's are damaged.

  2. 21 B-26B's are dispatched against Poix/Nord Airfield;19 hit the target at 1122 hours; 1 B-26 is lost and 5 ared damaged; casualtiesare 7 MIA.

  3. 21 B-26B's are dispatched against Abbeville/Drucat Airfieldand all hit the target at 1617 hours.

  4. 21 B-26B's are dispatched against Tricqueville Airfield;18 hit the target at 1623 ours; they claim 0-1-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 5B-26's are damaged.Operations began modestly on July 31, 1943 when thirty-six aircraft,led by Colonel Storrie, made a diversionary sweep over the English Channelin support of other Eighth Air Force groups.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

Mon, 2 Aug 43 – Mission 2: Diversion

VIII Air Support Command Missions 12A and 12B: Two airfields in Franceare targetted.

  1. 34 B-26's are dispatched to Merville Airfield; 31 hitthe target at 0810 hours; 1 aircraft is damaged beyond repair and 15 aredamaged.

  2. 21 B-26's are dispatched to the St. Omer/Ft. Rouge Airfield;18 hit the target at 0900 hours; 13 aircraft are damaged.

Total casualties for both missions are 6 WIA.

VIII Air Support Command Missions 13A and 13B: An attack WoensdrechtAirfield, The Netherlands is cancelled; Mission 13B is a diversion.

Again on August 2 Colonel Storrie led a similar [diversionary sweep]mission, which, like the first, was flown without incident.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

Wed, 4 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 14: 36 B-26's are dispatched to shipyardsat Le Trait, France; 33 hit the target at 1926 hours without loss or casualties.Aug. 4— Diversion. [I'm not convinced this date is right.]

A diversional raid aimed at the northern coast of France. For most ofus it was our first sight of the French mainland. We were well coveredby P47 fighters as our escort. As expected, we saw no enemy fighters orflak.

We flew F/O Dillionaire’s ship (QQQQ). As hoped, our crew was kept together.Lt. M.R. Campbell, Pontiac, Mich., Lt. B.J. Anderson, Butternut, Wis.,Lt. J.P. Spurlock, Atlanta, Ga., S/Sgt. E.V. Burd, Califon, New Jersey,S/Sgt. H.W. Altizer, Henlawson, W.Va., T/Sgt. Burl Thompson, Sedan, Kansas.36 Planes

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 8 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 15: 36 B-26's are dispatched to Poix/NordAirfield, France but the formation is turned back by weather

Sun, 9 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Missions 16A and 16B: 72 B-26's are dispatchedto the St Omer/Ft Rouge Airfield in France; clouds prevent bombing andonly 1 aircraft hits the target at 1904 hours; 11 aircraft are damagedand 6 men are WIA.

Thu, 12 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Missions 17 and 18: 71 B-26's are dispatchedto the Poix/Nord Airfield in France; 34 hit the target at 1052 hours; 13aircraft are damaged.

Sun, 15 Aug 43 – Mission 3: StOmer-Ft. Rouge Airfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 19A, 19B and 20: Three Luftwaffeairfields are targetted:

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched against St Omer/Ft RougeAirfield in France; 31 hit the target at 0959 hours; 18 B-26's are damaged.

2. 36 B-26's are dispatched against Woensdrecht Airfield,The Netherlands; they turn back at the Dutch coast aborted the mission

3. 21 B-26's are dispatched against the marshallingyard at Abbeville, France; 19 hit the target at 1933 hours; 9 aircraftare damaged; casualties are 1 WIA.On August 15th, a 387th formation led by Colonel Storrie flew its first[bombing] mission as a unit against St. Omar/Ft. Rouge airfield, France.Results were good.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

August 15— Sortie

Hot damn, the real thing. 36 ships to the Fort Rouge Drome at St. Omar,with 8 - 300 lb. bombs. Heavy flak at the coast, intense at target, allvery accurate. Good evasive action probably saved the day for a lot ofus. Took off at 0900, landed at 1115. Lt. Nielson in "Gravel Agitator"landed at an emergency airfield. 35 ships returned to base, several withflak scars, but none serious.

We flew "Stinky" in no. 33 position. M.R. [Manny Campbell] did a swelljob of flying. No fighter opposition, good coverage by "Spits."

Results uncertain due to 6/10 cloud cover at target. Later showed "Notso hot."

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary,quoted in Shootin' In, Nov. 2001, p. 10.

On August 15, the 387BGwould make its combat debut attacking the St. Omer/Ft. Rouge Airdrome.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, p. 51 (footnote).

Early days at Chipping Ongarwere taken up with fitting new equipment to the Marauders and in operationaltraining, but on August 15, 1943, the Group flew its first mission, againstLuftwaffe airfields in France.

– Newspaper clipping, 2 Nov1984.

Mon, 16 Aug 43 – Mission 4: Bernay-St.Martin Airfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 21, 22A and 22B: Airfields in Franceare targetted today; no casualties.

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Bernay St Martin Airfield;31 hit the target at 1117 hours; 2 aircraft are damaged.

2. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Beaumont Le RogerAirfield; 29 hit the target at 1700 hours and 3 hit Conches Airfield at1703 hours; 3 aircraft are damaged.

3. A diversion is flown by B-26's of the 323d BombardmentGroup (Medium).

August 16— Sortie

Our second mission was another 36 ship formation aimed at the airfieldat Bernay, France. Took off at 1000, met our escorts of "Spits" and proceededacross channel.

We had both light and heavy flak, very meager and fairly accurate. Againwe met no fighter opposition.

This time we really blew the hell out of things. Bombs hit all overthe target, starting fires that sent columns of smoke 2000 feet in theair. Lt. "Tex" Allen accompanied us on this mission, riding as waist gunner.All ships returned to base with very little damage.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary,quoted in Shootin' In, Nov. 2001, p. 10.

Tue, 17 Aug 43 – Mission 5: Poix-NordAirfield [Recalled-no escort]

VIII Air Support Command Missions 23 and 24: Two airfields in Franceare targetted.

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Bryas Sud Airfield;29 hit the target at 1051 hours; 2 aircraft are damaged.

2. 72 B-26's are dispatched to Poix/Nord Airfield;35 hit the target at 1552 hours; 20 aircraft are damaged; casualties are1 WIA.

Wed, 18 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Missions 25A and 25B: Two Luftwaffe airfieldsare targetted:

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Lille/Vendeville Airfieldin France; because of mechanical trouble with communications equipmentand the bombsight in the lead plane, 22 aircraft bomb the Ypres/VlamertingeAirfield in Belgium at 1016 hours; 23 aircraft are damaged; there are nocasualties.

2. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Woensdrecht Airfield in the Netherlands;32 hit the target at 1032 hours; 8 aircraft are damaged; there are no casualties.

Thu, 19 Aug 43 – Mission 6: Poix-NordAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 27A, 27B and 28: Three Luftwaffeairfields in France are targetted:

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Amiens/Glisy Airfield;all hit the target at 1129 hours; they claim 1-0-2 Luftwaffe aircraft;1 B-26 is damaged beyond repair and 9 are damaged; casualties are 2 WIA.

2. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Poix/Nord Airfield;35 hit the target at 1218 hours; 1 aircraft is damaged; there are no casualties.

3. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Bryas Sud Airfieldbut the target is obscured by cloud and the mission is aborted.

Aug. 19— Sortie

Our third raid took us to the much-bombed field at Poix, France. Again36 ships with the same bomb load took off at 1100, met our Spit escortat the coast and went into France. We received quite a surprise as we metneither flak or fighter opposition as this was to be one of the toughestfield yet visited by us. Hits were well patterned throughout the dispersalareas.

We flew Lt. Anderson’s ship, Jisther. All ships returned to base at1330 with no damage. Results—GOOD

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary

Sun, 22 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Missions 30A and 30B: Two Luftwaffe airfieldsin France are the targets:

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched to the Beaumont-le-RogerAirfield; 35 hit the target at 2110 hours; they claim 3-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft;1 B-26 is lost and 8 are damaged; casualties are 1 WIA and 6 MIA.

2. 36 B-26's are dispatched to the Poix/Nord Airfield;they all return early when they are unable to contact the escort fighters,RAF Spitfires.

Mon, 24 Aug 43 – Mission 7: Diversion

VIII Air Support Command Missions 33A & 33B: B-26's fly 2 diversionsfor the B-17's.

August 24— Diversion

This day proved to be a disappointment to me, my birthday and we werescheduled as a spare ship on a more disappointing mission – another diversionaryraid. We followed the formation off the ground at 1715 and very shortlyfell into no. 18 position. We headed for the coast of France then turnednorth just off the coastline hoping to draw fighters from a 17 formationstriking at Paris. We met absolutely nothing although we were a littlesurprised and excited when plenty of Spits appeared as escorts after beingtold we would have none.

This was the first trip for TABASCO, our own ship. More pleased thanever with the ship.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary

Tue, 25 Aug 43 – Mission 8: Rouenpower plant

VIII Air Support Command Missions 34A & 34B: Two locations in Franceare targetted:

1. 21 B-26's are dispatched to the power stationat Rouen; all hit the target at 1832 hours; 2 aircraft are damaged.

2. 36 B-26's are dispatched to Tricqueville Airfield;31 hit the target at 1834 hours; they claim 1-8-5 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2B-26's are damaged.

Thu, 27 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Missions 36A & 36B: Two missions are scheduledto targets in France:

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched to the Poix Nord Airfield;35 hit the target at 0826 hours; there are no losses or casualties.

2. 21 B-26's are dispatched to the Rouen Power Stationbut the mission is aborted because of bad weather and extremely heavy enemyfighter opposition.

Mon, 30 Aug 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 38: 36 B-26's are dispatched to anammunition dump at Foret d'Eperlecques near Saint-Omer, France; 33 hitthe target at 1859 hours; 14 aircraft are damaged; casualties are 3 WIA.

Tue, 31 Aug 43 – Mission 9: Lille-VendevilleAirfield [Lt. Anderson's plne shot down by flak]

VIII Air Support Command Missions 41 and 42: 216 B-26's are dispatchedto Rouen and Mazingarbe power stations; Poix/Nord and Lille/Nord Airfields;and the Hesdin fuel dump; 104 hit the targets; 1 B-26 is lost and 13 damaged;casualties are 5 WIA and 6 MIA.

These first missions, because the crews were "green" in combat andthe weather was bad, necessitated long bomb runs, but only one crew waslost in August. Over Lille/Venderville the plane of Lieutenant E. L. Andersonand Lieutenant L. C. Stevenson was hit by a direct burst of flak, brokein two, and went down burning.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

Eleven more missions followed in August. The Marauders were usuallyescorted by Spitfires, but on August 31 the first Chipping Ongar Marauder-named"King Bee" was lost to enemy action.

– Newspaper clipping, 2 Nov 1984.

Thu, 2 Sep 43 – Mission 10: Lille-NordAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 41-and 42: 216 B-26's are dispatchedto 5 targets in France (36 per target); the missions to a power stationat Rouen and Poix/Nord and Lille/Nord Airfields are aborted due to weather;35 B-26's hit a power station at Mazingarbe and 69 hit a fuel dump at Hesden;1 B-26 is lost and 13 damaged; casualties are 5 WIA and 6 MIA.

Sept. 2— Sortie

Briefed at 1500 for a dusk smash at an airdrome at Lille, France. Takeoff at 1730, 36 ship formation with Spit escort. We encountered no fightersbut those damn Huns threw everything but the kitchen sink at us. We missedour landfall and entered over Dunkirk after meeting flak while still overthe Channel. We failed to reach our target and returned to base with ourbombs. Some fun putting those pins back in the bombs before landing. Oneship lost – a direct hit from flak.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Fri, 3 Sep 43 – Mission 11: Lille-NordAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Mission 44: 36 B-26's are dispatched to theBeaumont le Roger Airfield and 31 hit the target at 1007 hours; 36 aredispatched to Beauvais/Tille Airfield and all hit the target at 0907 hours;and 69 are dispatched to the Lille/Nord Airfield and 31 hit the targetat 0828 hours; 20 B-26's are damaged; casualties are 1 WIA.

Sat, 4 Sep 43 – Mission 12: Coutraimarshalling yard

VIII Air Support Command Mission 47: 144 B-26's are dispatched to 4marshalling yards in France (36 B-26's to each target); 33 hit Courtraimarshalling yard at 1756 hours; 33 hit the Lille/Deliverance marshallingyard at 1756 hours; 34 hit the Hazebrouck marshalling yard at 1831 hours;and 23 hit the St Pol marshalling yard at 1833 hours; 22 B-26's are damaged;casualties are 3 WIA.Succeeding missions during August and September included attacks onmarshalling yards at Courtrai, Serquiz, Rouen and Lille.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

The formation leader on each of the first twelve missions run by the387th had been Colonel Carl R. Storrie, gallant and able group commander.Under his leadership the green flying crews had been initiated into combat,had learned to hold the course through flak-blotched skies, and had feltthe exhilarating pleasure of shooting down German fighters. Now they werebecoming experienced veterans, capable of carrying on the high traditionsof the 387th under another leader.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 20.

Sun, 5 Sep 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 48: 3 marshalling yards are targeted.72 B-26's are dispatched to 2 marshalling yards at Ghent, Belgium; 31 bombone yard at 0827 hours; 32 bomb the second yard at 0831 hours; the 36B-26'sdispatched to the marshalling yard at Courtrai, France are recalled dueto weather; 38 B-26's are damaged; casualties are 4 WIA.

Mon, 6 Sep 43 – Mission 13: Rouenmarshalling yard

Mon, 6 Sep 43 – Mission 14: Serqueux marshalling yard

VIII Air Support Command Missions 50 and 51.

1. 144 B-26's are dispatched to the marshalling yardsat Ghent, Belgium and Rouen, France; the Ghent mission is recalled whenbad weather prevents the fighter escort from taking off; 66 hit Rouen at0738 and 0739 hours; 3 B-26's are damaged; casualties are 1 WIA.

2. 144 B-26's are dispatched to the marshalling yardsat Amiens and Serqueux, France; 126 hit the targets at 1755 to 1757 hours;3 B-26's are damaged.

Succeeding missions during August and September included attacks onmarshalling yards at Courtrai, Serquiz, Rouen and Lille.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

Sept. 6— Sortie

Briefed at 0330 for a smash at the marshalling yards at Roen, France.We took off at 0630, met escort and the 386th, making a 72 ship formation.We had light to heavy flak over target. Col Storrie again led the formation.Results of the bombing were good, with hits all through the yards.

We flew Lt. Grau’s ship, "Los Lobos Grande", in the no. 34 position.Lt. A.W. "Willie" Wells went as co-pilot while Andy is recuperating. M.R. continued his good work at formation flying, he can't be beat.

This was the mission we had been looking for, No. 5, the Air Medal.

– Burl Thompson, Diary,quoted in Shootin' In, Nov. 2000, p. 2.

Sept. 6— Sortie

For the second time today we were briefed for another smash at marshalingyards, this time at Serquex, France. Again we went with the 386th, another72 ship formation. We took off at 1640 and as before met our "Spit" escortand the other Marauders at the coast. We proceeded into France along thesame route used in the morning.

We encountered no flak and no fighters. Made a good run on the targetwith very good results.

This time we flew our own ship "Tabasco", again in Purple Heart cornerwith Lt. Wells as co-pilot. All ships returned to base, the crews tiredbut happy for two sorties.

– Burl Thompson, Diary,quoted in Shootin' In, Nov. 2001, p. 10.

Tue, 7 Sep 43 – Mission 15: Lillemarshalling yard

Tue, 7 Sep 43 – Mission 15: St. Pol marshalling yard[Aborted]

VIII Air Support Command Mission 52: Marshalling yards at Lille andSt Pol are targetted; confusion at the rendezvous point causes one groupand half of another to abort the mission; St Pol is hit by 81 aircraftat 0854-0858 hours; they claim 0-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 B-26's are damaged;no casualties.

HQ Army Air Forces decides to transfer Lieutenant General Lewis H Brereton,Commanding General, and his HQ staff from Africa to the United Kingdomto reform the Ninth Air Force in the European Theater of Operations byabsorbing the VIII Air Support Command.

Succeeding missions during August and September included attacks onmarshalling yards at Courtrai, Serquiz, Rouen and Lille.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

Wed, 8 Sep 43 – Mission 16: Lille-NordAirfield

Wed, 8 Sep 43 – Mission 17: Andante coastal defenses

VIII Air Support Command Missions 53 and 54.

1. 71 B-26's are dispatched to Lille/Nord Airfieldin France; 68 hit the target at 0922 hours; 3 B-26's are damaged; no casualties.

2. 72 B-26's are dispatched to Lille/Vendeville Airfieldin France; 68 hit the target at 1011-1013 hours; 1 B-26 is lost, 1 is damagedbeyond repair and 21 are damaged; casualties are 1 MIA.

3. 72 B-26's are dispatched to Boulogne coastal defenses;68 hit the target at 1756-1818 hours; 26 B-26's are damaged.

On September 8 and 9 the group took part in a practice invasion ofthe French coast in the Boulogne/Calais area. Flying in inclement weatherthrough clouds and haze, 387th crews bombed coastal defenses of Boulogneand Andante.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

Thu, 9 Sep 43 – Mission 18: Boulognecoastal defenses

On D-day for Operation STARKEY (a rehearsal for the invasion of France),the Eighth Air Force dispatches a record number of 330 heavy bombers againstvarious targets in France:

1. 87 B-17's are dispatched to the industrial areaat Paris; 20 hit the primary target at 0903 hours and 48 hit the secondarytarget, the Beaumont Suroise Airfield; they claim 16-2-9 Luftwaffe aircraft;2 B-17's are lost and 21 damaged; casualties are 3 WIA and 21 MIA.

2. 63 B-17's are dispatched to Beauvais/Tille Airfield;59 hit the target at 0816-0819 hours; 6 B-17's are damaged.

3. 37 B-17's are dispatched to Lille/Nord Airfield;all hit the target at 0830-0833 hours; 10 B-17's are damaged; casualtiesare 2 WIA.

4. 56 B-17's are dispatched to Lille/Vendeville Airfield;52 hit the target at 0830-0840 hours; 7 B-17's are damaged.

5. 56 B-17's are dispatched to Vitry-en-Artois Airfield;51 hit the target at 0837-0840; no losses or casualties.

6. 38 B-24's are dispatched to St Omer/Ft Rouge andSt Omer/Longuenesse Airfield; 28 hit the target; 3 B-24's are damaged;casualties are 1 WIA.

7. 40 B-24's are dispatched to Abbeville/Drucat Airfield;35 hit the target; no losses or casualties.

All missions except 7. above are escorted by 215P-47's. They claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 2 P-47's are lost; casualtiesare 1 MIA.

Operation STARKEY is a disappointment as the Luftwafferefuses to commit fighter defenses on a large scale, thus preventing possibledestruction of many of their aircraft, which Allied air forces hoped toaccomplish.

VIII Air Support Command Mission 55: 217 B-26's aredispatched to the coastal defenses around Boulogne, France; 202 hit thetargets at 0745-0915 hours; 3 B-26's are lost, 2 are damaged beyond repairand 24 damaged; casualties are 11 KIA, 8 WIA and 19 MIA.

On September 8 and 9 the group took part in a practice invasion ofthe French coast in the Boulogne/Calais area. Flying in inclement weatherthrough clouds and haze, 387th crews bombed coastal defenses of Boulogneand Andante.

Results of these early operations were, in spite of the handicaps ofbad weather and lack of experience, generally good. They proved the effectivenessof medium bombardment in neutralizing enemy airfields and coastal defenses,as well as hindering the flow of supplies throughout France and Belgium.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

The 556th Bomb. Squadron furnished 15 A/C for the Boulogne mission- which was Lt. Brown's first. He was in Captain Ives flight when his aircraft [sn] was shot down.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 36.

Marauder # 911/FW-S, with 1st Lt. Thomas L. Alford at the controls,received extensive battle damage over the target. Lt. Alford nursed hisstricken aircraft back to 162, but was forced to make a crash landing.The A/C was later salvaged. Two of his crew were wounded.


Copilot
B/N
WIA
2nd Lt.
2nd Lt.

Winston W. Hunt
Michael G. Koury

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 37.
 

Sept. 9—

This morning we were the second formation to be briefed. The weatherwas as thick as soup, we doubted a try at takeoff as visibility was lessthan 100 yds. Col. Storrie soon informed us it was to be an instrumenttakeoff. Rumors were hot that an invasion of the French coast had started,was further strengthened by the fact that our targets were gun emplacementson the coast. These were our first pinpoint targets and were located atBolougne.

The takeoff was as planned and worse than most of us thought. One shiplost on takeoff. The bomb run was uneventful other than for the usual heavyflak. One ship was forced to ditch after leaving enemy coast, (Lt. Brown,556). As we left the coast we saw a large invasion force about five milesfrom Bolougne. This later proved to be only a maneuver. Lt. Alford (556)made a nice belly landing at base. Lt. Hughes co-pilot. Results—Good.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary..

Sat, 11 Sep 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 56: Two locations in France are targeted:

1. 20 B-26's are dispatched to the Rouen power station;19 hit the secondary target, the shipyard at Le Trait at 1704 hours, whenthe primary target is obscured by clouds; 14 B-26's are damaged; casualtiesare 1 WIA.

2. 35 B-26's are dispatched to Beaumont le RogerAirfield; 32 hit the target at 1756 hours; 1 B-26 is damaged beyond repair;casualties are 4 KIA.

Tue, 14 Sep 43 – Mission: Lille-NordAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Mission 57: 108 B-26's are dispatched to theWoenisdrecht Airfield in the Netherlands and Lille/Nord Airfield in France;they are recalled due to weather; 18 B-26's are damaged; casualties are3 WIA.

Wed, 15 Sep 43 – Mission: MervilleAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Mission 58; 2 airfields in France are targeted:

1. 72 B-26's are dispatched to Lille/Nord Airfieldbut the mission is aborted due to weather.

2. 68 of 72 B-26's hit Merville Airfield at 1745and 1748 hours; 27 B-26's are damaged; casualties are 2 WIA.

Sept. 15— Sortie

Briefing at 1400, this time for a smash at the Merville, France airdrome.Took off at 1610, joined the 386th at the coast. We entered France at Gravelinesand proceeded to the target with moderate flak and no fighter opposition.Again we flew our own ship with Andy back as co-pilot. We flew in no. 28spot with Lt. Grau as box leader, Maj. Boren as group leader and Maj. Ivesas our element leader. Beautiful cover by escorting "Spits". All shipsreturned, some with slight damage from inaccurate, meager flak.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Thu, 16 Sep 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 59: 67 of 72 B-26's hit the Beaumontle Roger Airfield at 1735 hours and Tricoueville Airfield in France at1735 hours; 2 B-26's are damaged.

Sat, 18 Sep 43 – Mission: Beauvais-TilleAirfield

Sat, 18 Sep 43 – Mission: Beaumont le Roger Airfield[Recalled by escort]

VIII Air Support Command Missions 61 and 62: 3 installations in Franceare targeted:

1. 25 of 72 B-26's hit the Beauvais/Tille Airfield;12 B-26's are damaged.

2. 18 B-26's dispatched to the Rouen marshallingyard and 72 B-26's dispatched to the Beaumont le Roger Airfield are recalledbecause of failure to rendezvous with fighter escort and bad weather, respectively.

Sept. 18— Sortie

The airdrome at Beauvis-Tille listed as an important target for us.We met no fighters and very light flak. Results of the bombing uncertaindue to .7 cloud over target. Later called FAIR. Flew TABASCO in no. 29spot.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 19 Sep 43 – Mission: Lille-NordAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 63 and 64: 2 airfields in Franceare targeted:

1. 18 of 72 B-26's hit Lille/Nord Airfield at 1139hours; clouds prevent the 2nd group for bombing; 10 B-26's are damaged;casualties are 4 WIA.

2. 72 B-26's dispatched to Merville airfield arerecalled due to weather

Tue, 21 Sep 43 – Mission: Beauvais-TilleAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Mission 65: 44 of 73 B-26's hit the Beauvais/TilleAirfield in France at 0937-0938 hours; bad weather causes 20+ to abort;they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 1 B-26 is lost, 1 is damaged beyondrepair and 12 damaged; casualties are 2 KIA, 4 WIA and 7 MIA.On September 21 Major William T. Boren's plane was shot down by accurateflak over Deauvai/Lille airdrome; but several months later Major Boren,with the help of the French "underground", escaped back to England. Onthis same mission Lieutenant Clinton Dersheid, navigator in Captain CharlesWhite's plane, was killed by flak shrapnel.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 19.

Wed, 22 Sep 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 66: 2 airfields in France are targeted:

1. 72 B-26's are dispatched to Beauvais/Tille Airfieldbut abort due to bad weather.

2. 70 of 72 B-26's hit Evreux/Fauville Airfield at1612 & 1614 hours; no losses or casualties.

Thu, 23 Sep 43 – Mission:Conches Airfield

Sept. 23— Sortie

As usual, today called for the blasting of another air drome. This wasto be the deepest penetration yet made by our outfit. The target was theConches Airfield - 60 miles west of Paris. Capt. Don Scott led the group,Lt. Grau led our box, Maj. Ives our flight. The 322nd made up the 72 shipformation with us in the No. 29 spot again. The bombing on this missionwas fair. After making a perfect bomb run we damn near missed the target.No. 10 for us, and an Oak Leaf Cluster for the Air Medal.

– Burl Thompson, Diary,quoted in Shootin' In, Nov. 2001, p. 11.

Fri, 24 Sep 43 – Mission: Evreaux-FauvilleAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 69 & 70: 2 airfields in Franceare targeted.

1. 71 of 72 B-26's hit Evreux/Fauville Airfield at1150 hours; they claim 0-1-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 4 B-26's are damaged.

2. 66 of 72 B-26's hit Beauvais/Tille Airfield at1602-1603 hours; they claim 1-0-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; 17 B-26's are damaged.

Sept. 24— Sortie

Continuing our blitz on enemy airfields and installations, we went toEvreux-Frauville, 40 mi. west of Paris. This was the deepest penetrationyet attempted by our group and the second raid on this field in three days.Bombing results were very good, with hits well placed in both dispersalareas. On return trip we passed over Rouen (mistake no. 1) and caught a#*?& of a lot of flak. We missed our landfall (mistake no. 2) and caughtthe rest of Adolph’s flak. Flak was intense and accurate over the target,with lots of light flak, the tracers making the sky look like the 4th ofJuly in the U.S. This made No. 11 for us. In the afternoon "Andy" receivedthe Purple Heart from the raid of Sept. 2. (386th & 387th, 10-300 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sat, 25 Sep 43 – Mission: St.Omer-Longuenesse Airfield

VIII Air Support Command Mission 71: 68 of 72 B-26's hit St Omer/LonguenesseAirfield at 1717-1718 hours; 4 B-26's are damaged.

Sept. 25—

For the third straight day we hit at enemy airfields. This was our secondraid on St. Omar fields. Maj. Ives led our group. We made landfall southof Bolougne and made a SW to NE run on the target, leaving France at Furness.The target was almost covered by clouds and results of bombing were notimmediately known. Our crew went intact, including TABASCO. The plane wasperfect after two missions in which she suffered partial loss of power.All ships returned to base. Cold as [?] (322nd & 387th, 6-500 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 26 Sep 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 72: 72 B-26's are dispatched to ConchesAirfield in France; they are recalled due to weather.

Mon, 27 Sep 43 – Mission: Beauvais-TilleAirfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 73 & 74: 2 airfields in Franceare targeted.

1. 65 of 72 B-26's hit Beauvais/Tille airfield at1044-1045 hours; they claim 4-6-4 Luftwaffe aircraft; 1 B-26 is damagedbeyond repair and 23 damaged; casualties are 4 MIA.

2. 68 of 72 B-26's hit Conches Airfield at 1729 hours;1 B-26 is lost and 4 damaged; casualties are 6 MIA.

 A U.S. MAURAUDERSTATION, Oct. 3-Double Trouble is the name of a B26 at this station. Ona recent raid over France it lived up to its name with a vengeance. 

 All but knockedout of the sky by attacking enemy fighters and flak, it came back on oneengine, with the other spurting flame, a situation perilous enough to give the most hardened pilot nightmares.  Its bombs had been dropped and Double Trouble was headed for England when German fighterscame in, all guns blasting away. First the fuselage was hit, then the flaps,then the entire left nacelle and along with it one of the two engines. "Those Jerriescame in and shot hell out of us," was the way the 21-year old pilot, 1/Lt.Richard Ulvestaad, of River Forest, Ill., said. "I had just discoveredthe left engine had gone haywire when another 20mm shell knocked out therudder controls."

Ulvestad featheredhis left prop and looked out. Ten feet of flames were shooting out of thewounded engine. He saw flak ahead and had to take evasive action with oneengine gone and rudder controls useless. He did the almost impossible,using the trim tabs, those little controls meant only for slight adjustmentsin handling the 35,000 pounds of Marauder. His ship shuddered and he knew the B26 had been hit again. Then 2/Lt. A. K. Jorgensen, the bombardier,of San Francisco, began firing flares, signaling for escorting Spitfiresto come in and cover the Marauder.

Help came. Eighteen Spitsroared in. But the left engine still was shooting flames.

"That was our big worry," the pilot admitted. "We thought about bailing out, but all agreed to staywith the ship."

"All the way home we keptjoking and singing a song we composed by ourselves," said 2/Lt. GordonHatt, co-pilot, of Patten, Me. "Our one unspoken thought was, 'Will theengine blow up?' None of us asked that question, but we all thought a lotabout it.

– John Stine, Stars and Stripescorrespondent, "The B26 Double Trouble Gets into It One Engine, Aflame,Brings Marauder Home," Stars and Stripes (4 October 1943).

Sep - Oct 43

Results of these early operations were, in spite of the handicaps ofbad weather and lack of experience, generally good. They proved the effectivenessof medium bombardment in neutralizing enemy airfields and coastal defenses,as well as hindering the flow of supplies throughout France and Belgium.

On subsequent attacks during September and October gunners of the "TigerStripe" Marauders were credited with shooting down or damaging severalFW-190's. Their efforts prevented fighter formations from getting too close,and all losses during this period were sustained from flak, not from enemyfighters. Yet, the losses inflicted on the enemy could hardly compensatefor the shooting down of several valuable crews.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 18.

Four more Marauders were lost in September, but overall losses of thisaircraft were proportionately lighter than those suffered by the heavyLiberators and Fortresses. Their targets were Luftwaffe airfields, therailways network and V1 'buzz bomb' sites in the Pas de Calais area.

– Newspaper clipping (2 Nov1984).

Fri, 1 Oct 43

A report by the intelligence section of the Eighth Air Force showsthat despite recent efforts of the Allies to destroy the German aircraftindustry, fighter production has expanded greatly and enemy fighter strengthon the Western Front has increased.

Sat, 2 Oct 43 – Mission: St. Omer-Longuenesse Airfield

VIII Air Support Command Mission 75: 72 B-26's are dispatched to theSt Omer/Longuenesse Airfield in France; because of cloud cover, only 6hit the target at 1715 hours; the remainder refrain from bombing becausethe target is in occupied territory; 12 B-26's are damaged; casualtiesare 1 KIA and 4 WIA.

Sun, 3 Oct 43 – Woensdrecht Airfield

VIII Air Support Command Missions 76, 77 and 78:

1. 36 B-26's are dispatched to the Lille/VendeveilleAirfield in France but weather prevents their hitting the target.

2. 131 of 144 B-26's dispatched to Amsterdam/Schiphol(71 aircraft), Woensdrecht (34 aircraft) and Haamstede (26 aircraft) Airfieldsin the Netherlands hit their targets at 1120-1136 hours; 47 B-26's aredamaged.

3. 72 B-26's are dispatched to Beauvais/Tille Airfield,France; 63 hit the target at 1724-1727 hours; 1 B-26 is lost and 27 damaged.

Total casualties for all missions are 5 WIA.

Mon, 4 Oct 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 79: 25 B-26's are dispatched to Beauvais/Nivilliersand Evreux/Fauville Airfield in France; they return to base without bombing.

Fri, 8 Oct 43

VIII Air Support Command Mission 80: 144 B-26's are dispatched to Lille/Vendevilleand Chievres Airfields in France; the mission is abandoned due to thickhaze and generally unsuitable weather; 4 B-26's are damaged.

Sat, 9 Oct 43 – Mission: Woensdrecht Airfield

VIII Air Support Command Mission 81: 66 of 72 B-26's bomb the WoensdrechtAirfield in the Netherlands at 1516-1526 hours; 26 B-26's are damaged.This is the final Eighth Air Force B-26 operation; the B-26's will be transferredto the Ninth Air Force.

Oct. 9— 
Moving our aim farther north, this for our first time was the fighterdrome at Woensdrecht, Holland. This proved to be the toughest target yethit by our group. Poor visibility caused us to miss our landfall and asa result caught a hell of a lot of flak. We made a good bomb run in spiteof intense flak. After the bombing we put on quite a show for the peopleof Holland, just flying around like a bunch of darn fools. Maj. Sykes ledour group, Lt. Grau our box, following the 323rd, much to our sorrow. Lt.Grau finally led us out. We came close to returning on one engine, flakhit our oil return line. Bomb results good. (323rd & 387th, 10-300lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sat, 16 Oct 43

In the United Kingdom, HQ Ninth Air Force is established at Sunninghillas a tactical Air Force with Lieutenant General Lewis H Brereton as CommandingGeneral. The 3d Bombardment Wing at Marks Hall is transferred from theVIII Air Support Command, Eighth Air Force to the IX Bomber Command commandedby Major General Frederick L Anderson. (HQ IX Bomber Command will not beestablished in England until Nov 43.) The four B-26 groups transferredare:

322d Bombardment Group (Medium) [449th, 450th, 451stand 452d Bombardment Squadrons (Medium)]

323d Bombardment Group (Medium) [453d, 454th, 455thand 456th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium)]

387th Bombardment Group (Medium) [556th, 557th, 558thand 559th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium)]

388th Bombardment Group (Medium) [560th, 561st, 562dand 563d Bombardment Squadrons (Medium)]

In October of 1943 the Medium Bombers in the ETO were assigned to theNinth Air Force which was organized as a Tactical Air Force, one specificallycharged with providing support for the ground forces. Eventually, a totalof eight B?26 groups were assigned to the Ninth Bomber Command.

– Paul Priday (556th B.S.),Missionto Mayen.

Mon, 18 Oct 43 – Mission: Evreaux-Fauville Airfield

Mon, 18 Oct 43 – Mission: St. Omer-Longuenesse Airfield

228 B-26's dispatched to bomb 4 airfields in France are recalled beforeattacking because of unfavorable weather.

Oct. 18—

We were briefed for the drome at Evreux-Frauville. After penetratingabout twenty miles inland the Spits turned us back due to poor visibilityand possibly due to a poor formation. It was bad. We went deep enough toget credit for a sortie.

In the afternoon we were briefed for St. Omar again. The same formation,the same escort and the same position. This time we were turned back beforemaking landfall. (72 planes, 6-500 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Thu, 21 Oct 43 – Mission: Evreaux-Fauxville Airfield

Bad weather causes 72 B-26's sent to bomb Evreux/Fauville Airfieldin France to abort the mission.

Fri, 22 Oct 43 – Mission: Evreaux-Fauxville Airfield

Fri, 22 Oct 43 – Mission: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield

About 60 B-26's bomb Evreux/Fauville Airfield in France; 140+ othersabort missions against other airfields because of bad weather.

Sun, 24 Oct 43 - Mission: Beauvais-Nivillers Airfield

200 B-26's bomb airfields at Montdidier, Beauvais/Nivillers, and Saint-Andre-de-L'Eure,France.

1st. Lt. Houston N. Bartley, and his copilot, 2nd Lt. Charles W. Dickson,managed to fly their battered B-26B back to England on single engine. Lt.Bartley made a crash-landing at the RAF airbase at Gosfield. His on boardcrew were:

KIA
WIA
WIA
Pilot
Copilot
Bom-Nav.
Eng-Gun.
Rad-Gun.
Arm-Gun.
1st Lt.
2nd Lt.
2nd Lt.
S/Sgt.
T/Sgt.
Sgt.
Houston N. Bartley
Charles W. Dickson
Cleo C. Terrio
Burns P. Gillespie
Lloyd H. Allen
Peter (NMI) Smiljanich
0670489
0672043
0732914
11041464
15062904
17015999

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 1.

Oct. 24—

Our target was the auxiliary landing field at Beauvais, known as Beauvais-Niviliers.We led the 386th, escorted by 11th Gp. R.A.F. Spits. The cover providedwas perfect. The sky was full of Spits, P47’s and Lightnings. The othergroup had other escorts. Bombing results were good and the weather wasgood over there. This was the biggest day of the war for the B26’s andthe 4000 lb. bomb load our largest, raised more than 100 enemy a/c forour escorts to take care of. We were the first to land as the formationbroke up over the base due to weather. Lt. Bartley crashed at another field,killing Lt. Terrio. Our 15th op. (386th & 387th, 4-1000 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sat,30 Oct 43

5 B-26's bomb Cherbourg/Maupertus Airfield in France.

Mon, 1 Nov 43

The Ninth Air Force comes under operational control of the Allied ExpeditionaryAir Force (AEAF) which is activated on this date to provide the tacticalair force for the invasion of W Europe (Operation OVERLORD).

Wed, 3 Nov 43 – Mission: St. André de L’Eure Airfield

71 B-26's bomb the airfield at Saint-Andre-de-L'Eure, France; 71 attackTriqueville Airfield, France; and 65 bomb Schiphol Airfield in the Netherlands.

On November 3 the Group achieved its best bombing results up to thatdate. With good visibility and little flak, the formation, led by LieutenantColonel Seymour and Lieutenant William Tuill, hit the airdrome at St. Andrede L’Fure with excellent results. The aiming point was a group of repairshops and living quarters. Of the forty-five buildings in the area thirty-sixwere destroyed and several more damaged by the concentrations of bombsthat fell in perfect pattern. Four planes were damaged by flak. Resultsobtained on this mission gave them the confidence they needed in tacklingAmsterdam Schipol in the afternoon.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 19-20.

The missions during November creating the greatest amount of interestamong the crews were the attacks on Amsterdam Schipol airfield, over whicha number of American bombers had been shot down. On November 3 CaptainJoe M. Whitfield led the attack on this target. As expected, flak overthe target was intense. Results were only fair to good, but the missionserved a valuable purpose in giving the men confidence in their flyingability and in their planes. They had been through heavy flak, but theyand the B-26s could take it.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 20.

Nov. 3—

Another blast at enemy dromes, this time with darn good results. Thiswas one of our deepest penetrations, approx. 75 mi. inland to the St. Andredrome. Spit escort as usual, and credit should be given for a wonderfuljob. The bombing was done in perfect weather with visibility unlimited.Great fires were started, presumably oil storage and ammunition dumps.The fires and smoke were visible a hundred miles away on the return trip,almost to the English coast. Flew TABASCO. (387th & 322nd, 4-1000 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Four Marauder Groups (the 322nd, 323rd, 386th and 387th) had been sentto the Amsterdam-Schipol target exactly a month after the October 3rd [1943]attack. As later set down by Roger A. Freeman, they met a murderous barragethat resembled a huge, black cumulonimbus cloud, so dense that to participantsit was a wonder that only one bomber went down.

Seventy-two Marauders participated in the attack against the Amsterdam-SchipolAirdrome on the November 3rd [1943] mission, each Group flying a box of18 aircraft.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, p. 86.

Fri, 5 Nov 43 – Mission: Mimoyecques V-1 site

150+ B-26's bomb construction works at Mimoyecques, France; poor visibilitycauses one group to bomb the area SW of the primary targets; bad weathercauses numerous aborts.

Two noteworthy missions were flown in November against a new type target—the“NOBALL.” These objectives consisted of rocket guns and pilotless aircraftinstallations in the Pas de Calais area of France. The installations hada two-fold handicap for the bombardiers: (1) because of their comparativelysmall area and expert camouflage, they were very difficult to spot fromthe air, especially if the weather was hazy; (2) because of the small areacovered, they were extremely hard to hit. They required excellent “pinpoint”bombing. The first NOBALL target hit by the 387th was Vineyesques, Francenear Cape Gris Nes on November 5. The second was against Martinvast inthe Cherbourg area on November 11. Results were fair to good. The NOBALLsoffered a real challenge to pilot-navigator-bombardier crews in teamworkand coordination. Bombing accuracy steadily improved, and after the invasionforces had landed on the continent results could be evaluated. Mediums,again, had proved the effectiveness of pin-point bombing technique.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 19.

Nov. 5—

This was our first try at softening up the invasion coast of France.We hope. Our target today was construction works in the Calais area. Theywere pinpoint targets and we had results classified as FAIR. Flak was weakto meager and inaccurate. All ships returned. (387th, 2-2000 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 7 Nov 43 – Mission: Montdidier Airfield

Sun, 7 Nov 43 – Mission: Meulan-Les Mureauz V-1 site

200+ B-26's dispatched to attack airfields at Montdidier and Meulan-LesMureaux, France are forced to abort the mission because of bad weather.The B-26's are escorted by 54 P-38's and 49 P-47's of the Eighth Air Force;2 P-38's are lost.

Wed, 10 Nov 43 – Mission: Lille-Vendeville Airfield

Around 60 B-26's bomb Chievres airfield, Belgium. In France, bad weathercauses the force sent to bomb Lille/Vendeville airfield to abandon theirmission, though a few bombers manage to bomb other targets in the area;a force of 72 B-26's dispatched to attack Montdidier airfield suffers numerousaborts due to weather; 6 bombers manage to bomb the airfield believed tobe the secondary target of Amiens/Glisy.

The 556th Bomb. Squadron Monthly Reports (MR) do not divulge what happenedto "Gravel Agitator" on this date. It is believed that Captain WilliamR. Brown crash landed at a RAF fighter base at Bradwell Bay in Essex. A/C#700/FW-O was eventually repaired and returned to the squadron to fly again,and add to its combat sorties.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 25.

11 Nov 43 – Mission: Martinvast V-1 site

157 B-26's bomb military installations and targets of opportunity inthe Cherbourg, France area, mainly at Martinvast.

Returning to base from the afternoon mission, 1st Lt. Eugene H. Neilsonmade a wheels down landing. Flak fragments had punctured the left landingwheel tire on Middleweight Champ, causing the aircraft to go off the endof the runway. It was later salvaged.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 40.

13 Nov 43 – Col. Storrie leaves Group

Early in November Colonel Storrie was called to another assignmentin the States. Later it was learned that he was in the Pacific flying B-29Superfortresses. At the end of the war he was in command of a B-29 wing,and had flown the last incendiary mission of the war over Japan.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 20.

14 Nov 43 – Col. Jack Caldwell assumes command

[Other sources give this date as Nov. 14

On November 8 Colonel Jack Caldwell succeeded Colonel Storrie as groupcommander. Colonel Caldwell, by his work in higher commands, had initiatedthe technique of medium altitude bombing for medium bombers. Now he wasto demonstrate in actual combat the soundness of his theories.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 20.

19 Nov 43 – Mission: Evreaux-Fauville Airfield

100+ B-26's dispatched to attack airfields in France abort the missionwhen bad weather prevents rendezvous with the fighter escorts.

23 Nov 43

In France, 83 B-26's bomb Berck-sur-Mer and Saint-Omer/Longuenesseairfields.

26 Nov 43 – Mission: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield

In France, almost 140 B-26's attack Cambrai/Epinoy and Roye/Amy airfieldsand military construction in the town of Audinghen.

Nov. 26—

Attempting to hit a drome in Belgium, we were unable to bomb due toweather. Part of the formation did bomb, so we received credit for an op.Results were nil, flak weak, and no enemy a/c. (387th, 6-500 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

29 Nov 43 – Mission: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield

In France, 53 B-26's bomb Chievres airfield; 71 B-26's sent to bombCambrai/Epinoy airfield abort the mission due to bad weather.

Wed, 1 Dec 43 – Mission: Cambrai-Epinoy Airfield

175+ B-26's bomb airfields at Chievres, Belgium; and Cambrai/Epinoy,Lille/Yendeville, and Cambrai/Niergnies, France. 28 P-51's execute a sweepover NW France, marking the first Ninth Air Force fighter operation fromthe UK.

Sat, 4 Dec 43 – Mission: Chievres Airfield

A Ninth Air Force directive establishes Operation CROSSBOW (operationsagainst German missile launching sites) for the IX Bomber Command and providesa list of targets to be attacked immediately.

203 B-26's dispatched to attack the airfields at Chievres, Belgium andLille/Vendeville, France must abort mission due to bad weather.

Sun, 5 Dec 43 – Mission: Ligescourt-Bois de St. SaulveV-1 site

52 B-26's bomb Ligescourt, Campagne-les-Hesdin, and Saint-Josse, France.200 others are forced to abandon the mission because of heavy cloud coverover the targets, including V-weapon sites which the Ninth had scheduledto attack for the first time.

Fri, 10 Dec 43

20 German aircraft attack 4 Ninth Air Force airfields in the UK (Gosfield,Andrews Field, Earls Colne, and Great Dunmow), killing 8 and wounding 20+men.

Mon, 13 Dec 43 – Mission: Amsterdam-Schipol Airfield

Nearly 200 B-26's attack Schiphol Airfield in The Netherlands.

The return visit to this hot spot was made December 13 when a fifty-fourship formation, led by Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Keller, obtained goodresults. Flak was again heavy and the majority of the ships were damaged,but the place wasn’t so “hot” after that.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 20.

Wed, 15 Dec 43

The Ninth Air Force comes under operational control of the AEAF. Anew directive for tactical bomber operations lists reduction of enemy fighterforces as the basic objective. A Ninth Air Force planning staff, composedof officers who have had service with the Chief of Staff, Supreme AlliedCommander (COSSAC), is set up in London.

Fri, 15 Dec 43

The Ninth Air Force planning group joins the 21 Army Group, AEAF, andthe RAF's Second Tactical Air Force in preparation of the air section ofthe initial joint plan (Operation NEPTUNE) for Operation OVERLORD (theinvasion of Normandy). This begins planning which later results in a massiveNinth Air Force plan for moving the Ninth into battle on the continentof Europe.

16 Dec 43

On December 16, 1943, it was across the Irish Sea to Liverpool, bytrain to London and on to Chelmsford and Chipping Ongar and the 556th BombSquadron, 387th Bomb Group. My first few nights were spent with the Communicationspersonnel and other ground pounders, until I was assigned to Hut 14 upon the hill. Imagine my surprise when I entered that hut and there wasGwim Hughes, who entered cadets with me, crossed paths at Avon Park andnow in the same hut in England. Some of the men of Hut 14, and men theywere, included Bob Jones, Swede Abrahmson, Ace Clark, Joe Nestor, BillBoggis, Captain Neilson, Captain Jim Anderson, Jimmy DeLong, Gwim Hughesand a fellow I will remember for a lifetime, Mike Koury, whom we lost ona mission to La Glacerie on the Normandy peninsula. I was the replacementfor Carl Cooper on Captain Robert Jones’ crew and flew several missionswith them until the crew was returned to the States having completed theirtour.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Mon, 20 Dec 43 – Mission: Le Meilard-Bonniers V-1site

35 B-26's attack V-weapon sites in N France; 150+ others abort becauseof weather.

On December 20 the Ninth Bomber Command was assigned the destructionof NOBALL targets as their primary function, and the majority of the targetsattacked during those months were NOBALL. Even when the weather was goodenough to allow a take-off, the visibility over the target generally preventedthe bombardiers from getting the good results of which they were capable.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 20-21.

On December 20 the officers of the 556th squadron took over guard dutyso that all of their enlisted men could attend a grand “soiree” that lastedmost of that night.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 21.

Tue, 21 Dec 43 – Mission: Berk-sur-Mer Airfield

84 B-26's bomb V-weapon sites and other targets in France.

Dec.21— 
Dec.22 
Dec.30 
Jan.3.
Jan.7 
Jan.14 
Jan.23 
Jan.24 
Jan.29
Construction works in the Calais area.

Some of these missions we met heavy and intense flak. Some attacks were made by enemy fighters with no results. Results of bombing varied from GOOD to NIL. The
complete crew made these raids in our own ship, TABASCO. These targets were usually hit by squadrons of 18 planes.

Feb.5- Feb.8 - Extremely rough

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Wed,22 Dec 43 – Mission: Cormette V-1 site

Wed, 22 Dec 43 – Mission: Le Meillard-Bonniers V-1site

210 B-26's sent to bomb special targets in France are recalled becauseof bad weather.

Fri, 24 Dec 43 – Mission: Cormette V-1 site

Fri, 24 Dec 43 – Mission: Le Meillard-Bonniers V-1site

60+ B-26's attack NOBALL (V-missile sites) targets in Pas de Calaisarea of France. 30+ B-26's abort due to bad weather.

Thu, 30 Dec 43 – Cocove V-1 site

Thu, 30 Dec 43 – Le Meillard-Bonniers V-1 site

In France, about 100 B-26's bomb Saint-Omer Airfield and V-weapon siteson the French N coast. About 100 others abort missions because of bad weather.

My first mission was flown on December 30, 1943 against a “NOBALL”site in Corcove, France, and was the first of some twenty-five missionsagainst the rocket sites over the next several months. The sites in thePas de Calais area were heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns and whilewe did not incur fighters, we sure saw the black clouds of flak.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Fri, 31 Dec 43 – Cormette V-1 site

Around 200 B-26's bomb V-weapon sites in the French coastal area.

Dec 43 - Jan 44

The weather continued bad through December and January, necessitatingthe grounding of aircraft all too often.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 20.

Since comparatively few missions were being run, it became possiblefor the men to enjoy the recreational facilities of the base. Day roomshad been set up in the different squadrons and beer made available. A goodofficers’ club had been established in a large Nissen hut, and the enlistedmen had the Aero Club available for doughnuts and coffee and for dances.Usually there were two large huts available for movies. The parties anddances were a most welcome change from the dreariness of the weather. Bothofficers and enlisted men, in the presence of American nurses and Englishgirls, became party conscious.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 21.

Jan 44

I was given leave in early January and I elected to go back to NorthIreland to see my old friends. When I arrived there, the whole group werebeing transferred to the combat groups down in England. Thus began an adventureI do not think was duplicated by anyone. I was literally smuggled aboardthe troop train and stayed with the troops all the way from North Irelandto Great Sailing, England. We landed there about midnight and the troopswere shuttled off to the base for further assignment. Of course I had noorders and was left stranded in the railroad station. I asked the stationman if there was a train to London I could catch and was informed thatthere were no connections at least until the day following. He offeredand I accepted that if he could flag down a yard engine, I could ride inthe cab to Bishop’s Stortford and catch a train there. I honestly believeI am unique in that I, an Army Air Force Officer, rode in the cab of ayard engine on the British Railroad System. It was a joyful experience.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Sat, 1 Jan 44 – Capt. Glenn Grau succeeds Maj. WalterIves as 556th Squadron Commander

On January 1, 1944 Captain Glenn Grau had replaced Major Walter J.Ives as commander of the 556th. Major Ives went to a new assignment atNinth Bomber Command.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 21.

Captain Glenn Grau succeeded Major Walter J. Ives as C.O. of the 556thBomb. Squadron in December, 1943. Lt. Col Grau returned to the Z.I. inFebruary, 1945. The quiet, soft spoken Grau was an adept pilot and an admiredleader, popular with everyone who served under him.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 3.

Tue, 4 Jan 44 – Mission: Eclimeaux V-1 site

258 B-26's bomb NOBALL targets (V-weapons sites) in France. Weathermakes bombing difficult, and results range from unknown to good.

Fri, 7 Jan 44 – Mission: La Glacerie coastal defenses

35 B-26's bomb the Cherbourg/Maupertus Airfield. Bad weather restrictsfurther operations.

Thu, 13 Jan 44

193 B-26's bomb NOBALL (V-weapon) targets in France. 

Fri, 14 Jan 44 –Mission: Linghem V-1 site

Sun, 16 Jan 44

General Dwight D Eisenhower assumes duties of Supreme Commander, AlliedExpeditionary Force (AEF).

Fri, 21 Jan 44

119 B-26's bomb V-weapon sites in France.

Sun, 23 Jan 44 – Mission: Le Grismont V-1 site

Sun, 23 Jan 44 – Mission: Zudasques V-1 site

Nearly 200 B-26's bomb V-weapon sites in the French coastal area.

Mon, 24 Jan 44 – Mission: Maison Ponthieu V-1 site

175+ B-26's attack V-weapon sites in the coastal area of France.

Tue, 25 Jan 44 – Misson: Bois de Croquy V-1 site

Tue, 25 Jan 44 – Misson: Bois Rempre V-1 site

Nearly 150 B-26's, airborne to bomb V-weapon sites in France, are forcedto abandon the missions because of heavy clouds.

Wed, 26 Jan 44

144 B-26's scheduled to bomb V-weapon sites in France are recalledbecause of bad weather.

Sat, 29 Jan 44 – Mission: Beaulieu V-1 site

80+ B-26's bomb V-weapon sites in coastal France.

Jan or Feb 44

The missions most remembered for aircraft losses were the La Glacerie,Montdidier, and a mission in the Nieuport area, where one airplane washit in the engine area and pulled up sharply, broke in half around thebomb bay and then fluttered to earth. I cannot recall seeing any chutesbut I believe some of the crew actually did get out based on stories lateron.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Feb 44

Early in February there was a notable increase in the number of necktiesbeing worn about the base. The arrival of four flight nurses, for the purposeof learning procedure in handling injured crew members, was probably justa mere coincidence. “Four are O.K.,” said newly promoted Major WilliamEngler, group S-2, “but forty would be better.”

February, March and April brought with them improved flying weatherand a corresponding increase in operational sorties. Forty of the fifty-twotargets hit during this period were the now familiar NOBALLs. A new procedure,whereby the Group was given secondary targets in case the primary couldnot be hit, produced some excellent results. The destruction of an oilstorage plant on the Seine on February 9 was one result of this new adoptedpolicy. Losses on these missions, though few, were costly.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 21-22.

Wed, 2 Feb 44

36 B-26s attack Triquevill Airfield, France. Eighth Air Force escortsare 34 P-38s and 44 P-47s. No losses.

Thu, 3 Feb 44 – Mission: La Longueville V-1 site

Thu, 3 Feb 44 – Mission: Ruisseauville V-1 site

52 B-26s bomb V-weapon sites on the W coast of France. Weather causes 100+ other aircraft to abandon the mission.

Sat, 5 Feb 44 – Mission: Bois Rempre V-1 site

Around 180 B-26s attack 6 V-weapon sites in N France.

Sun, 6 Feb 44

Around 120 B-26s bomb V-weapon sites, airfields, and a factory, allin France; principal targets bombed are at Rosieres-en-Santerre, Amiens/Glisy,Cormeilles-en-Vexin, and Grandvilliers.

Tue, 8 Feb 44 – Mission: Losterbarne-Ardes V-1site

Tue, 8 Feb 44 – Mission: Cambrai-Neirgnies Airfield

HQ Ninth Air Force extends IX Bomber Command's choice of targets considerably,although first priority for Operation POINTBLANK missions [the CombinedBomber Offensive (CBO) of US and RAF air forces against the Luftwaffe andGerman aircraft industry] and next priority for Operation CROSSBOW (codename for operations against German V-weapon sites) targets is maintained.

In a morning raid, nearly 200 B-26s attack V-weapon sites and targetsof opportunity in NW France. In an afternoon raid, 100+ B-26s bomb V-weaponsites and military instsllations in the same general area, most of theB-26s attacking Breck-sur-Mer. This is the IX Bomber Command's first 2-missionday.

Feb. 8—

This was our first try at an enemy airfield for some time. We were unableto bomb the Cambrai drome so returned to the coast and bombed at the fieldthere, missing the field with our 120 lb. frag bombs, but plastering thetown of Bercksmer, starting fires and blowing up the gas works. This made30 raids for four of the crew, 33 for M.R. and J.P.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Wed, 9 Feb 44 – Mission: Belleville-en-Caux V-1 site

133 B-26s bomb V-weapon sites in coastal France, marshalling yardsat Tergnier, France and targets of opportunity in the area. This marksthe first of the IX Bomber Command raids on marshalling yards.

Thu, 10 Feb 44 – Mission: Beauvais-Tille Airfield

Thu, 10 Feb 44 – Mission: Poix Airfield

Thu, 10 Feb 44 – Mission: Yorench-Bois Carre V-1 site

114 B-26s attack V-weapon sites in coastal France, airfields at Poixand Beauvais/Tille, a bridge at Le Crotoy, and a coastal battery N of theConch River.

Fri, 11 Feb 44 – Mission: Amiens marshalling yard

Most of the 139 B-26s dispatched to attack NOBALL (V-weapon) targetsin N France are recalled because of bad weather; 35 manage to bomb themarshalling yard at Amiens.

Sun, 13 Feb 44 – Mission: Hambures V-1 site

182 B-26s attack V-weapon sites in the coastal area of France; 16 othersbomb secondary targets in the area.

Feb. 13— Calais area.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 15 Feb 44 – Mission: La Glacerie V-1 site

Tue, 15 Feb 44 – Mission: Chateau de Bosmelet V-1site

194 B-26s bomb V-weapon sites, Cherbourg/Maupertus Airfield and targetsof opportunity during a morning mission. 122 B-26s again bomb V-weaponconstruction sites in the coastal area of N France during the afternoon.

On February 15 “Shady Lady,” piloted by Lieutenant T. J. Alford, wasshot down over Cherbourg on the way home from a successful mission to LaGlacerie, France.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 22.

"SHADYLADY" was shot down over the target by enemy Flak. The on board crew were:


Pilot
Co-pilot
Bom/Nav 
ROG
EG
AG

1st Lt. 
2nd Lt. 
1st Lt.
T/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
MIA
Thomas L. Alford
Winston W. Hunt
Michael G. Koury
Robert M. Authur
Clyde M. Lawrence
Clarence E. Dalrymple

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26 MarauderReference and Operations Guide, p. 8.

Feb. 13— Calais area.

Feb. 15— Cherbourg (rough) Lt. Alford.

Feb 15— Calais area.

These missions were a continuance of the attacks against the "secrettargets" in France. The Cherbourg mission was very rough – heavy, intenseflak, very accurate. Brought Shady Lady (Lt. Alford) down over the target.Bomb results were very good.

The afternoon mission in the Calais area was the milk run of the day.No flak, no fighters and perfect weather. Again the bombing results werevery good.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Wed,16 Feb 44

Working feverishly to get the Marauders on target in bad weather, onFebruary 16th [1944] the 1st Pathfinder Squadron (M) Provisional was activatedthrough the assignment of highly experienced aircrews from each of thethen five Marauder Groups in England, the 322nd, 323rd, 386th, 387th and 391st.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen., USAF,Marauder Men, p. 159.

The B-26 Groups of the IX Bomber Command were required to furnish aircraftto the newly formed 1st (Provisional) Pathfinder Squadron at Andrew Field,in Great Saling, Essex. This squadron was comprised of elite airmen trainedto lead Group size formations on "blanket type" bombing missions againstcloud covered targets. "Dubissary" was sent to the 1st PPF Squadron inFebruary. The unique operations of this specially trained squadron commencedon February 21, 1944. Pathfinder led missions greatly increased the operationsof the IX Bomber Command, whose prior targets were limited by visibility.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 4.

Sun, 20 Feb 44 – Mission: Eindhoven Airfield

The Eighth Air Force begins "Big Week," attacks on German aircraftplants and airfields. For the first time, over 1,000 bombers are dispatched;21 bombers and 4 fighters are lost hitting 3 areas in Germany...
...
35 B-26s bomb Haamstede Airfield, The Netherlands, as a target of opportunity,after about 100 B-26s abort attacks on other airfields because of weather.

Mon, 21 Feb 44 – Mission: Soesterberg Airfield

18 B-26s bomb Coxyde Airfield, Belgium; weather causes almost 190 aborts.The Ninth Air Force's Pathfinder Squadron (provisionally activated on 13Feb) takes part in this operation, its first venture into combat. 185 aircraftscheduled to attack other airfields in the Netherlands and France in theafternoon are recalled because of bad weather.

Feb. 21—

This was our first briefing for a drome in some time. A long trip tothe Gilse-Regen field in Holland to be made in bad weather. In gettingthrough the overcast we lost so much time we had to be content with a diversionfor the day.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 22 Feb 44 – Mission: Soesterberg Airfield

66 B-26s bomb Gilze-Rijen Airfield, The Netherlands; bad weather causes100+ others to abort.

Thu, 24 Feb 44 – Mission: Leeuwarden Airfield

Thu, 24 Feb 44 – Mission: Ray-sur-Authie V-1 site

Thu, 24 Feb 44 – Mission: St Jossee au Bois V-1 site

180 B-26s attack NOBALL (V-weapon) targets and Rosieres-en-Santerre,France. Bad weather makes bombing difficult and causes 34 other B-26s toabort.

Feb. 24—

The longest trip yet attempted by B-26’s, 250 mi. north to the Leeuwardendrome on the northern tip of Holland. The weather was perfect and the bombingbetter. Great fires were started, visible 100 mi. away on our return trip.Our group met no flak. The 322nd received light, inaccurate flak but seemedto have knocked out the guns before we arrived. (322nd & 387th, 30-100lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Feb. 24—

The afternoon mission was another on the "secret targets", now called"rocket guns" by the press, on the French coast. The weather was stillgood and we did a FAIR job on the target.

I flew both missions today with Lt. Debolt in 866, Miss Satan 2.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

On February 24, 1944 we flew to Leeuwarden, Holland and bombed theairfield, and as we turned back towards England I could see high aboveus the heavies of the Eighth Air Force on their way to Berlin. I recalla Stars and Stripes article in which our efforts were compared to beingthe blocking backs taking out the opposition so the heavies would not incurfighters early in their mission. The con trails in the sky above us wasa most majestic sight and for me was a picture of our air power.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Fri, 25 Feb 44 – Mission: Venlo Airfield

Fri, 25 Feb 44 – Mission: La Longueville V-1 site

191 B-26s bomb Venlo, Saint-Trond, and Cambrai/Epinoy Airfields, Francein a morning raid as a diversion in support of the VIII Bomber Commandheavy bombers over Germany; 36 abort, mainly because of a navigationalerror; 164 B-26s dispatched against military targets in France during theafternoon are recalled because of bad weather.

Toward the end of February targets for the mediums were temporarilychanged to German airdromes in order to divert the swarms of enemy fightersfrom the Eighth Air Force “Heavies” then in the process of destroying Germanairplane factories. Carrying one hundred pound demolition bombs, the formationsdestroyed enemy aircraft, hangers and ammunition stores. The Nazi airfieldat Venlo, Holland was attacked on February 25 in extremely bad weather.Major Richardson, commanding officer of the 558th, led the second box tothe target, and Captain Corburn, his bombardier, scored a direct hit onthe aiming point. Attacked by over twenty Me-109s after leaving the Dutchcoast on their way home, four of our planes were shot down. The pilotsof these aircraft were Major Richardson, Lieutenant J. H. Falls, LieutenantR. H. Jansing and Lieutenant J. H. Steinback. Enemy fighter losses (confirmed)were two destroyed, one probable and three damaged. Major Richardson wassucceeded by Captain Robert H. Keller as commanding officer of the 558th.About this time another change in squadron commanders took place, withCaptain Joe Whitfield replacing Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Keller ashead man of the 557th.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 22.

This was our first opportunity to see the so-called "Third Reich".The Venlo drome was located 1 mi. west of the German border. After leavingthe target, we circled over Germany in turning back. We were the firstB-26’s to fly over Germany. Weather was poor over England and the NorthSea but cleared over Holland. FW190’s attacked us after we left the coast,knocking down four 558th ships. Maj. Richardson and Lts. Falls, Jansig,and Steinback. R.A.F. Mustangs and Typhoons escorted us for the first time.We received considerable English flak both times we crossed the coast.

In the PM we made two unsuccessful tries (due to weather) at Calaistargets. (323rd & 387th, 10-250 lb.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Feb. 25—

On February 25, we flew to Venlo Air Field which was the longest missionto date and took us to the edge of Germany. The mission of mediums to drivethe fighters back into Germany must have been successful because we sawfew fighters on the missions I flew.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

The next day [February 25, 1944] the Group went out with the 387thGroup to attack another "Big Week" target, this time the Venlo airdromein the Netherlands. Led by Maj. Roy B. Pratt, the 54 Marauders plasteredthe airfield destroying seven enemy aircraft on the ground and damagingmany more. In addition, ground defense positions, runways, taxi strips,road junctions, refueling loops and dispersal areas were hit.22On the turn out, some of the 323rd Group's Marauders made their first penetrationof German air space.23

22The attack onthe Venlo Airdrome was such an outstanding raid that the 323BG Historianrecorded it as "the best raid we've yet made." This claim was subsequentlysupported by German documents that indicted that the airdrome was devastated.

23"Inbound andoutbound, there was a low overcast and we could see the German fighterspopping out of it but the RAF escort, Polish flyers, I believe, quicklymoved to the attack. Notwithstanding, on the way out, the 387th Group lostfour aircraft to the Luftwaffe attack." (Postwar comments of Roy B. Pratt.)

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, p. 147.

Probably the largest aircraft ever to land at Chipping Ongar was aB-24 Liberator from Seething in Norfolk which sought refuge and made acrash landing on February 25, 1944, on returning from operations.

– Newspaper clipping (2 Nov1984).

Mon, 28 Feb 44 – Mission: Ray-sur-Authie V-1 site

Mon, 28 Feb 44 – Mission: Vacqueriette V-1 site

180 B-26s attack NOBALL (V-weapon) targets and Rosieres-en-Santerre,France. Bad weather makes bombing difficult and causes 34 other B-26s toabort.

Feb. 28— 
Feb. 29 
Mar. 2
Calais
(Mar. 2 with Pathfinder)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 29 Feb 44 – Mission: Behen V-1 site

19 B-26s bomb a coastal gun position and nearby Breck-sur-Mer Airfield,France. 216 B-26s abort a mission against 8 V-weapon sites in France becauseof total cloud cover over the targets.

Feb. 28— 

Feb. 29 

Mar. 2
Calais
(Mar. 2 with Pathfinder)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

ProbablyMar 1944

Returning from one mission, we let down through the overcast and withme being the seeing eye dog in the nose we dropped very cautiously to analtitude of about 800 feet before I spotted a breakthrough. We had letdown so gradually we had flown off the north edge of the map, so we dida 180 degree turn and headed south until we saw the barrage balloons atChelmsford which should have been down. We turned in and landed at ourhome base, the only aircraft to do so—all others had been diverted northto other bases.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Thu, 2 Mar 44 – Mission: Linghem V-1 site

Thu, 2 Mar 44 – Mission: Amiens marshalling yard

In France, 353 B-26s attack NOBALL (V-weapon) targets, Tergnier, andAmiens/Glisy and Rosieres-en-Santerre Airfields in morning and afternoonmissions.

Feb. 28—Feb. 29 Mar. 2
Calais
(Mar. 2 with Pathfinder)

Mar. 2—

The Amiens marshalling yards made the second mission of the day. Weathermade the bombing difficult, but we bombed the target, already burning like[--] from the 323rd’s good work. We made a 360° turn directly overthe town of Amiens but caught only light inaccurate flak. The temperaturewas the coldest we had experienced.

(For the past month and time to come the groups have ceased to operateas full groups.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

As D-Day approached, activity at Willingale intensified and duringbad weather and thick cloud, they were led by a specially equipped Pathfinderunit operating from Andrew Field, Braintree. It was equipped with the "Gee"navigational device used by the Royal Air Force during night bombing operations.

– Newspaper clipping (2 Nov1984).

Fri, 3 Mar 44 – Mission: Montdidier Airfield

In France, 218 B-26s bomb airfields at Laon/Couvron, Beauvais/Tille,Rosieres-en-Santerre, Roye/Amy and Montdidier, and military installationsat Juvincourt-et-Damary and Berneval-le-Grand.

Mar. 3—

This drome at Montdidier, France was one of Jerry’s more popular JU88bases in France. Supposedly some 30 planes were based on this field. Thiswas our secondary target, but through some error in navigation we reachedhere first and plastered this field with 100-pounders, frags, incendiaries,etc. This mission, made without loss, was made in even colder weather thanthe previous day. We damn near froze.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sat, 4 Mar 44 – Mission: Malines V-1 site

In France, 251 B-26s and 21 A-20s scheduled to bomb Malines marshallingyard and Bernay Saint Martin Airfield abort the mission because of heavycloud cover over the targets.

Mar. 4—

Maline marshalling yards. Weather returned us.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 5 Mar 44 – Mission: Ray-sur-Authie V-1 site

Sun, 5 Mar 44 – Mission: Vacqueriette V-1 site

217 B-26s attack NOBALL (V-weapon) targets in the Saint-Omer-Abbeville,France area.

Mar. 5—

Calais.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Mon, 6 Mar 1944 – Mission: Bois des Huit Rues V-1 site

In France, 260 B-26s bomb NOBALL (V-weapon) targets, Hirson marshallingyard, and Beauvais/Tille, Airfield; heavy clouds cause 50+ B-26s and A-20sto abort missions.

Mar. 6—

Calais (Pathfinder)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 7 Mar 1944 – Aulnoye V-1 site

In France, 112 B-26s and 18 A-20s attack V-weapon sites on the Channelcoast, military installations near Criel-sur-Mer and Greny, and targetsof opportunity in the area; bad weather causes the recall of 150+ B-26sbefore they attack targets.Mar. 7—

Avesnes marshalling yards.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Wed, 8 Mar 44 - Mission: Soesterberg Airfield

Wed, 8 Mar 44 - Mission: Soesterberg Airfield

In the Netherlands, 225+ B-26s attack Volkel Airfield once and SoesterbergAirfield twice in morning and afternoon missions.

After the difficult pin-point no-balls much larger targets, such asthe marshalling yards at Creil and Chievres and the Soesterbert airfield,seemed easy to hit. Results on all these were excellent.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 22.

Duringformation assembly, "ITSY BITSY" and "DOUBLE TROUBLE" had a mid-air collisionin the clouds. 2nd Lt. Sam Ayers was able to safely crash-land his strickenplane. "ITSY BITSY" was salvaged for parts.

1st Lt. Edward Sargent's crew on board "DOUBLE TROUBLE" were not asfortunate. They were listed as KIA when their Marauder plunged to earthand crashed.
...
The entire crew [of Double Trouble] perished after mid-air collisionwith "Itsy Bitsy" during formation assembly.


Piilot
Copilot
Bom-Nav 
ROG
EG
AG

1st Lt.
2nd Lt. 
1st Lt.
T/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt/
KIA
Edward D. Sargent
Donald L. Ogden
Alexander Levi (557th Bomb. Sq.)
Robert A. Nordlohne
Joseph E. Somoski
Harry Bear
         – Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman, Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson,Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26 Marauder Reference and Operations Guide,pp. 7, 9.

Mar. 8—

Soesterberg (attempt)

Mar. 8—

Soesterberg.

After messing up good and proper on our first try, we went back in theafternoon and really plastered this field. This raid was timed to aid theheavies on their return from "Big B". Nice warm fires were started in thedispersal areas, hangars, and some planes parked on the ground. Lt. Sargent,Lt. Ogden, "Doc" Nordhlone, Joe Simonski and Harry Bear were lost aftertakeoff in a two-plane crash over the field, in Double-Trouble and Itsy-Bitsy.

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Another day, while we were at Station 162, the planes were taking offand circling over the field to get into formation for their flight acrossthe channel. One plane came up under another plane and collided with it.We had just returned from the flight line and heard this terrible noise.As I looked up, here comes this plane with engines running wide open, headedright for the buildings of the 556th area, with the co-pilot’s head andarm outside the window waving. Bang! The plane hit the bank of a farm pond,right back of an English farm home, 1/2 mile south of the runway.

The fire from the plane was sky high and the 50 caliber machine gunshells started going off. Fortunately, they had salvoed their bombs beforecoming down. When we got over there, the woman from the house was carryinga dead duck around saying, “Bloody Yanks! Bloody Yanks!” The medics cameout with sheets, but there wasn’t much left.

 – Stanley Folk(556th B.S.), quoted in Maurauder Thunder

The fact that the crew of “Double Trouble” was able to salvo theirbombs in the countryside prior to the crash limited the damage at the crashsite. When bombs were “salvoed” they were dropped with safety wires intactand the detonators were not armed.

  – PaulPriday (556th B.S.)

Art Newett and his pilot, JessWatson shared the same quonset hut as Ed Sargent and Don Ogden, who werethe Pilot and Co-pilot of "Double Trouble" on that fateful day. Art writes,"Don Ogden was my best friend and the day we returned from the missionand found that Headquarters had moved all of their belongings out of thehut, because they had been killed, was the saddest experience I think Iever had."

  – MarauderThunder, March 2000 

Sat,11 Mar 1944

61 B-26s bomb V-weapon sites in N France; 53 abort because of weatherand navigational difficulties.

Mon, 13 Mar 1944 – Mission: Lottinghen-Les Grands BoisV-1 site

40 B-26s attack a V-weapon site at Lottinghen/Les Grands Bois, France;37 abort due to bad weather.

Wed, 15 Mar 1944

A directive states that the Ninth Air Force is released from firstpriority commitment to assist the Eighth Air Force. ... Ninth Air ForceAdvanced HQ assumes the function of target selection and mission planningfor the IX Bomber Command. AEAF HQ has the authority to indicate percentageof effect to be expended on each type of target on a long-term basis.

In France, 118 B-26s attack marshalling yards at Aulnoye and Haine-Saint-Pierreand Chievres Airfield; during the afternoon, 10 B-26s using "Oboe" to testits accuracy, bomb Coxyde Airfield with poor results...

Fri, 17 Mar 1944

70 B-26s bomb the marshalling yard at Criel-sur-Mer, France.

Sat, 18 Mar 1944 – Mission: Croisette V-1 site

Sun, 19 Mar 1944 – Mission: Foret Nationale deTourhem V-1 site

In France, 152 B-26s and 65 A-20s attack NOBALL (V-weapon) targetsin the Saint-Omer area during morning and afternoon missions;

Mon, 20 Mar 1944 – Mission: Criel marshalling yard

In France, 200+ B-26s and A-20s bomb 4 NOBALL (V-weapon) targets andCreil marshalling yard; ...

After the difficult pin-point no-balls much larger targets, such asthe marshalling yards at Creil and Chievres and the Soesterbert airfield,seemed easy to hit. Results on all these were excellent.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 22.

On March 20 Colonel Jack Caldwell, able and gallant group commanderof the 387th, received a signal honor in the award of the Legion of Meritfor developing “strategy for use of medium bombardment aircraft in thistheater…and in training crews in new flying tactics.”

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 23.

Mar. 20—

Criel marshalling yards.

This was the morning we had been waiting for-our chance to lead thegroups on a raid. Manny did a beautiful job of leading and was highly complimentedon his work. Lt. Boggis failed to locate the target after turning on thebomb run. He had seen it all the time we were circling for the bomb runbut lost sight after turning toward the target. Bill was certainly a sickboy over his error and assumed all responsibility as Lt. McCabe had takenus directly to the target as briefed. This error made our formation of18 ships the only ones failing to drop the bombs on the target. Manny dida masterful job at evasive action, causing many to think the Old Master(Capt. Grau) was leading as scheduled. We flew Capt. Sanders’ ship, HangoverHut, with Lt. McCabe as navigator, and Lt. Boggis in place of our ailingJ.P. Spurlock. This was M.R.’s 50th op., the first pilot to reach thatnumber.

We all started a 14-day leave that evening. (First again) (387th &323rd, 6-500 lb. and 2-600 lb.)

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.Readying for D-Day, on March 20th [1944] a major mobility exercisewas undertaken by the Ninth Air Force's medium and light bomber units.Keyed to the theme of "Keep Mobile," the 323rd Group moved its aircraft,personnel and equipment to Great Dunnow, the home base of the 386th BombGroup.4



4The total "KeepMobile" exercise involved the 323BG and 386BG switching bases (Earls Colneand Great Dunnow), the 322BG and 387BG (Andrewsand Chipping Onger), the 391B and 344 BG (Matching and Standsted), the394BG and 416BG (Bereham and Wetherfeld), the 397BG (PCS Gosfeld to Rivenhall),the 410BG (PCS Birch to Gosfeld) and the 409BG (Walsen to Birch & return).

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen., USAF,Marauder Men, p. 153.

Tue, 21 Mar 1944

All B-26s dispatched to bomb NOBALL (V-weapon) targets in France arerecalled because of bad weather.

Thu, 23 Mar 1944 – Mission: Haine St. Pierre marshallingyard

220 B-26s on a morning mission bomb Creil marshalling yard and airfieldsat Beaumont-le-Roger and Beauvais/Tille; in an afternoon raid, 146 bombHaine-Saint-Pierre marshalling yard.

Sat, 25 Mar 1944

140+ B-26s attack the Hirson, France marshalling yard.

Sun, 26 Mar 1944 – Ijmuiden E-boat pens

338 B-26s and 35 A-20s attack the Ijmuiden, The Netherlands torpedo-boatpens.

Another change in targets was the raid on the E-boat pens at Ijmuiden,Holland on March 28. On this mission “Top Sarge,” the lead ship pilotedby Captain Glenn Grau, had one engine knocked out, the electrical systemdamaged and the observer killed. In spite of this great handicap four 1000pound bombs were laid inside the pens. After the bombs had been droppedit appeared an impossibility to get the ship back. By skillful flying CaptainGrau nursed his one engine along, carefully hoarding his altitude, andlimped back across the channel and crash-landed in England.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 22-23....the ship [Top Sarge] was severely hit by flak at the target killing2nd Lt. Earl J. Dillionaire, [pilot acting as] formation observer, andS/Sgt. Peter (NMI) Ogilvie, tail gunner. The plane was severely damaged,etc., etc., Only by the most skillful pilotage and heroic crew teamworkwas the ship brought back over the long water course to England where itwas crashed landed on an airfield just off the coast.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26 MarauderReference and Operations Guide, p. 27.

...a flak blast killed the right engine of the Marauder, "Top Sarge,"knocked out the electrical control system, shot out the aileron and ruddercontrols, blew off the right engine nacelle, and tore five feet off theright wing, including the right wing flap. Two members of the nine mancrew were killed. The plane shuddered, then resumed on an even keel. CaptainGlenn Grau (Major within a few days) of Brookville, Ohio, the pilot, managedto get it headed home with the meager controls he had left at his command.Over the North Sea, 2nd Lt. Richard Abrams of Bellingham, Washington, thecopilot, walked to the rear of the plane to see whether the rudder controlscould be patched. Pounding twisted metal with his bare hands, he managedto effect a splice at the rudder control break.

Another Marauder drew alongside the crippled ship. "Top Sarge" had noradio to talk with, so the bombardier of the other aircraft penciled awarning on the side of his Plexiglas nose: "Don't lower your landing gearor flaps." Captain Grau made a perfect crash landing at the RAF base inLeiston, Suffolk, England.

– Devon Francis, FlakBait

Mon, 27 Mar 1944

18 B-26s attack V-weapon sites in N France; 35 others abort due primarilyto failure of blind-bombing equipment. The onset of bad weather makes thisthe last B-26 mission until 8 Apr.

Apr 44

With only fifteen operational days during April the Group achievedexcellent bombing results. Targets included NOBALLs, marshalling yardsand, for the first time since September, a number of coastal defenses.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 23.

Many thoughts came to mind as I wrote this article—the quadruple Scotchand Coke (our standard drink), the tea-dances at the Officers’ Club, themost dangerous weapon we owned, our bicycle, Bill Boggis managed to geta motorized bike for a while, six by six foxhole somebody dug, the nightthe Luftwaffe declared B-26 bases as their targets, watching the spotlightsover London knocking down JU-88s, the Buzz Bombs flying over the base intoLondon, the flak from the Chelmsford battery, the flak we caught at leavingClacton-on-Sea from ATS girl training crews, the North Sea search for downedRAF bomber crews, “Shootin In” to London on leave, “Piccadilly Commandos”,having an Ike jacked tailored on Bond Street, the combat blue backgroundto our wings, Air Medals with ridiculous amounts of clusters, Spitfireescort flown by the Canadians, the once-a-week egg, the Mars bar on eachmission, the 30 second interval takeoffs on fog enshrouded runways, poppingout on top with B-26s all over the sky.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.), Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Two target areas that were loaded with anti-aircraft guns wereCalais and Boulogne—the normal guns were the 88s but also the heavier 105swere there. I cannot remember exactly when, but I believe it was late March.I flew on a special mission with two other aircraft to the Calais areain which we flew at an altitude above and ahead of the group and acrossthe line of flight dispersing “chaff” which was used to confuse the enemyradar and their ack-ack firing. It seems we made about three differentpasses before returning to base. I cannot be sure, but I believe this wasthe first time the countermeasure of “chaff,” tinfoil or other metallicstrips were used. I never heard of any report on the actual success ofthe mission, but having heard of later use of chaff, it must have worked.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.), Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

On my thirty-third mission in April, 1944 to the Pas de Calais areaagainst a NOBALL target, I was hit by flak coming in through the plexi-glassnose. Fortunately, I had a flak vest on and incurred no injury. I stillhave the piece of flak in my souvenirs.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

The bloodiest mission I took part in occurred with Captain Neilsonas pilot and Jimmy DeLong a co-pilot. On a bright sunny morning we tookour place in line and at the proper time took off down the runway and liftedinto the air only to be met by a flock of birds (I believe they were calledKing birds). We had birds all through the airplane, the plastic nose wassmashed, DeLong had a lap full of birds, I had a bird clear back in thenavigation compartment. Captain Neilson successfully landed the aircraftand after we looked at the extensive damage, nose broke, leading edgesdented, birds in the engine nacelles and blood and guts all over, Jimmyhad but one comment—“I wish I had a color film camera!” The bloodiest missionwas a non-mission.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

We flew some missions where we rendezvous with a Pathfinder andfollowed them in to a blind target and dropped our bombs on their bluepickle. Some time in April or May I began flying missions as the “G Box”operator. I cannot recall how I got into this position, but it was fascinating,kind of like “Buck Rogers” stuff—dropping bombs based on the feedback ona tube. On one mission we dropped using the “G” equipment—not too successful—butwe did not incur any flak either which certainly had its merits.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Mon, 3 Apr 1944

Because of a combat crew shortage which has caused abolition of the50-mission limit tour of duty and resulted in fatigue and morale problems,IX Bomber Command establishes a new operational leave policy. Maximum leavesfor bomber crews are set at 1 week between the 25th and 30th missions and2 weeks between the 40th and 50th missions.

Sat, 8 Apr 1944

In Belgium, 198 B-26s attack Hasselt marshalling yard and hit CoxydeAirfield; ...

Mon, 10 Apr 1944 – Mission: Le Havre coastal defenses

Mon, 10 Apr 1944 – Mission: Namur Airfield [and/ormarshalling yard?]

258 B-26s and 41-A-20s, including 12 aircraft dropping Window, attackcoastal batteries at Le Harve/Le Grand Hameau, France and military installationnearby. In Belgium during the afternoon 267 B-26s and A-20s bomb the marshallingyard, airfield, coastal defenses, and NOBALL targets at Charleroi/Montignies,Namur, Coxyde, Nieuport and other points on the N coast of W Europe.

Targets included...and, for the first time since September, a numberof coastal defenses. The first of these occurred on April 10 when ColonelCaldwell led a thirty-six ship formation over Le Havre. The bombardiershad not lost their accuracy, for all strikes were seen to hit the targetarea, and one scored a direct hit on a gun emplacement. The same afternoonLieutenant Colonel Seymour led the attack on the Namur marshalling yards.Following a formation of “window” ships, the 387th Marauders dropped incendiarieswhich started numerous fires.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 23.

April 10—

These guns, estimated to be 285 to 300 mm, were in the heavily defendedport of LeHavre. [It was] the most perfect job of bombing we had done.We won’t have to go back to that damn place. My clos-\est shave came whena piece of flak went completely through my turret dome, missing my headby about six inches. M.R. said I was good for 48 more. BULL*ONEY. (Allgroups, 4-1000 lb. Specials.)

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Tue, 11 Apr 1944 – Mission: Bonnieres V-1 site

In Belgium, 229 B-26s and 36 A-20s, including 3 dropping Window, attackCharleroi/Montignies, military installations on the coast, and ChievresAirfield. 90+ P-47s dive-bomb a military installation and Gael Airfield,France.

April 11—

A "noball" in the Calais area was one of our most flaky missions. Dida good job of bombing but lost one ship. (Lt. Pratt) Our base closed inand we set down at a "Fort" base near Norwich, home of the famous 96thBomb Group. Enjoyed our visit and left for home in the afternoon.

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Wed, 12 Apr 1944 – Mission: Dunkerque coastal defenses

231 B-26s and 20 A-20s attack railroad, shore batteries, radar installations,airfields, and V-weapon sites at Dunkirk and Courtrai/Wevelghem, France;Coxyde/Furnes, De Pannes-Bains, Saint Ghislain and Ostend, Belgium; andpoints along the coast.

The joy the crews felt after the two highly successful missions ofthe 10th was short-lived. Two days later, leading a formation over coastaldefenses near Dunkerque, Colonel Caldwell and his crew were shot down byenemy flak. Included in the crew were Major Williams and Captain Moffit.Colonel Caldwell was succeeded as commanding officer by Lieutenant ColonelThomas H. Seymour, who had been with the 387th since MacDill Field. Formationleaders on succeeding missions during April were Major Grau, Major WilliamBrown and Captain R. W. Keller.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 23.

April 12—

Our group CO, Col. Caldwell, with Lt. "Dick" Moffitt, was lost in theChannel while after coastal guns in Dunkirk proper. Lt. Col. Thomas M.Seymour became Group Commander.

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Wed, 13 Apr 1944 – Mission: Namur marshalling yard

121 B-26s and 37 A-20s attack a marshalling yard, coastal batteries,airfields and V-weapon sites at Namur, Chievres and Nieuport, Belgium;Le Havre, France; and along the N coast of France in general; nearly 175other aircraft abort missions mainly because of weather; ...

On April 13, 1944, Colonel Jack Caldwell took over for the remainingthree months of the Marauders stay at Chipping Ongar.

– Newspaper clipping (2 Nov.1984).

Tue, 18 Apr 1944 – Mission: Charleroi-St. MartinAirfield [or marshalling yard?]

121 B-26s and 37 A-20s attack a marshalling yard, coastal batteries,airfields and V-weapon sites at Namur, Chievres and Nieuport, Belgium;Le Havre, France; and along the N coast of France in general; nearly 175other aircraft abort missions mainly because of weather; ...

During this period the often discussed “mobility move” took place.To keep all units from feeling too settled, Major General Lewis Brereton,Ninth Air Force Commander, had given his command the motto, “Keep Mobile.”During the course of the day of April 18 a truck convoy made a practicemove to Borchan and the Group ground echelon marched to Blackmore.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 23-24.

April 18—

The Namur, Belgium marshalling yards was the beginning of a drive toput out of commission the rail facilities in the occupied countries alongthe invasion (?) coast. After almost three full months of hammering atthe Calais pinpoint targets, these targets now seemed easy to hit withdamaging results. We bombed this target through the edge of a cloud, butresults were very good.

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Wed, 19 Apr 44 – Mission: Dieppe coastal defenses

Wed, 19 Apr 44 – Mission: Malines marshalling yard

350+ B-26s and A-20s bomb marshalling yards, city areas, and targetsof opportunity at Gunzburg, Ulm, Neu Ulm, Donauworth, and Schelklingen,Germany; ... 

During the latter part of the month the Group, in addition to its attackson marshalling yards, NOBALLs and airfields, did valuable work in helpingreduce Nazi coastal defenses in Normandy. These attacks were part of theover-all plan of softening up German fortifications on the French coastbefore the invasion of the continent.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 24.

April 19—

Another Belgium marshalling yard caught our bombs this time. As weatherimproves we are going deeper and more often against those targets thatthe Germans depend upon in supplying those areas along the coast. The Malineyards were an important target, being used to furnish western Belgium andHolland with transportation. We stopped that completely, for the time being,at least.

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Thu, 20 Apr 44 – Mission: Bois Cocqueral Airfield

Thu, 20 Apr 44 – Mission: Noires Bernes-Wissant V-1site

In France, almost 400 B-26s and A-20s attack gun positions at Etaples,Bazinghen, Villerville, Gravelines and Fecamp, the airfield at Poix, andV-weapon sites and targets of opportunity in the Pas de Calais area; ...

Fri, 21 Apr 44 – Mission: Zudausques V-1 site

In France, 236 B-26s and 34 A-20s attack gun positions, coastal defensesand V-weapons sites at Etaples, at Berck-sur-Mer, near Doullens, and inthe Saint-Omer, Abbeville, and Amiens area; 4 B-26s are lost; ... 

April 21-22

Two more trys at the "rocket" installations in the Pas de Calais area.

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Sat, 22 Apr 44 – Mission: Wisques V-1 site

Sat, 22 Apr 44 – Mission: Bois des Huit Rues V-1 site

400+ B-26s and about 90 A-20s fly two missions against V-weapon sitesin the area of Saint-Omer and Hesdin, France.

On the social side the various squadrons staged several enjoyable parties.Accommodations at the field were improved, and the presence of Englishgirls and American nurses continued to be a welcome change. A decided upliftin the morale of the combat crews at this time was felt by the return tothe United States of several veteran combat teams for well-deserved rests.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 24.

April 21-22

Two more trys at the "rocket" installations in the Pas de Calais area.

We landed at our base about 1200 on the 22nd of April and then heardrumors that two crews from our squadron were being returned to the Statesfor thirty days. The rumors persisted, finally settling on Lt. Jones crewand ours. At 1500 hours that evening, Lt. Col. Seymour and Lt. Col. Crosswaitebroke the good news and also gave us our travelling orders. A happy bunch.

Home to Chipping Ongar

Left home on June 10th, starting the long return trip to the E.T.O.Spent the first night with the Dyers in Topeka and reported to the baseon the 11th. After a two-day train ride, reported back in Atlantic Cityfor the transportation to our outfit. After three days in A.C. we go bytrain to Camp Kilmer, N.J. to sweat out the boat. These two weeks werethe ones we had hoped to miss, K.P. gas chamber. In fact, we had one 47534of a time before we finally left for the boat on the 1st of July.

The return trip to the E.T.O. was made on the Queen Mary. Like the previouscrossing, this voyage was uneventful except a couple days of rough weather.The 81st Infantry Division really suffered and heaved. We docked in Glasgow,Scotland at the Gourock docks entrained for Stone, England after two nightsin Stone. We arrived at our station on July 8, completing the ten week,10,000 mile trip and 30 days at home.

 – Burl Thompson(556th B.S.), Diary.

Sun, 23 Apr 44 – Mission: Benerville coastal defenses

307 B-26s and 57 A-20s attack NOBALL (V-weapon) targets, gun positionsand marshalling yards in the Pas de Calais, France area and in an adjacentarea of Belgium.

Mon, 24 Apr 44 – Mission: Beauvoir V-1 site

38 B-26s dispatched against targets in France are recalled becauseof bad weather. 32 P-47s dive-bomb the Louvain, Belgium marshalling yardwith good results.

Tue, 25 Apr 44 – Mission: Beauvoir V-1 site

40 B-26s and 69 A-20s bomb V-weapon sites in the coastal area of Franceand gun positions at Le Treport, Vareneville-sur-Mer, Fontenay-sur-Mer/Crisbec,Ault, Fecamp, Houlgate and Saint-Pierre-du-Mont, France.

Wed, 26 Apr 44 – Preinvasion maneuvers in Devonshire

The Ninth Air Force Tactical Air Plan for Operation NEPTUNE (actualoperations within Operation OVERLORD; used for security reasons on OVERLORDplanning documents bearing place names and dates) is published, 10 daysafter receiving formal Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF) directiveordering such a plan.

Around 125 B-26s attack Plattling landing ground, Germany.

On April 26, 28 and 29, 387th Marauders assisted in pre-invasion maneuversstaged by allied army and naval forces in Devonshire. Tension and anticipationof the coming invasion of the continent filled the air, pervaded the Groupand increased each day.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 24.

Thu, 27 Apr 44 – Mission: Wimeaux V-1 site

Thu, 27 Apr 44 – Mission: Camrai marshalling yard

About 450 B-26s and A-20s and 275+ P-47 and P-51 dive bombers attackgun emplacements, marshalling yards, coastal batteries, airfields and severalmilitary installations in France and Belgium.

Fri, 28 Apr 44 – Preinvasion maneuvers in Devonshire

18 B-26s bomb the airfield at Cormeilles-en-Vexin, France as a secondarytarget. Nearly 250 B-26s dispatched to bomb marshalling yards are recalledbecause of heavy cloud cover over the targets.

On April 26, 28 and 29, 387th Marauders assisted in pre-invasion maneuversstaged by allied army and naval forces in Devonshire. Tension and anticipationof the coming invasion of the continent filled the air, pervaded the Groupand increased each day.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 24.

Sat, 29 Apr 44 – Preinvasion maneuvers in Devonshire

217 B-26s dispatched to bomb marshalling yards in France abort themission because of heavy cloud cover over the target area.

On April 26, 28 and 29, 387th Marauders assisted in pre-invasion maneuversstaged by allied army and naval forces in Devonshire. Tension and anticipationof the coming invasion of the continent filled the air, pervaded the Groupand increased each day.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 24.

Sun, 30 Apr 44 – Mission: Bois d'Enfer V-1 site

Sun, 30 Apr 44 – Mission: Somain marshalling yard

300+ B-26s and A-20s attack V-weapon construction works and marshallingyards in France.

Mon, 1 May 44 – Mission: Monceaux-sur-Sambre marshallingyard

Mon, 1 May 44 – Mission: Louvain marshalling yard

450 B-26s and A-20s attack numerous marshalling yards and industrial
targets in France and Belgium.

Two missions were flown on May 1. In the morning thirty-six aircraftbombed Louvain marshalling yards with excellent results. In the afternoonthe same number, carrying 1,000 pound bombs as on the Louvain mission,hit the locomotive sheds, choke points and rail lines at Monceau in northernFrance.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 24.

Tue, 2 May 44

250+ B-26s and A-20s bomb marshalling yards at Busigny, Valenciennesand Blanc-Misseron, France.

During the next week, since bad weather prevented flying missions,several formations of planes flew training missions in conjunction withground troop maneuvers on the south coast. In addition to the maneuvermissions all crews practiced new formation bombing by fours and sixes insteadof the standard eighteen-ship box. This change was tried in an effort toincrease the probability of hits on the targets.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 24.

Thu, 4 May 44

In France, 170+ B-26s and 36 A-20s bomb gun emplacements and othermilitary targets at Etretat/Sainte-Marie-Au-Bosc, Etaples, Le Treport,Ault, Fecamp and Ouistreham.

Sat, 6 May 44

75 B-26s and A-20s dispatched to attack coastal defenses abort themission because of weather.

Mon, 8 May 44

About 450 B-26s and A-20s bomb marshalling yards, coastal defenses,bridges, airfields and V-weapons sites in France and Belgium.

Tue, 9 May 44

40+ B-26s attack marshalling yards, railway batteries, coastal defensebatteries, bridges, and NOBALL sites in France.

10 May 44 – Mission: Criel marshalling yards

10 May 44 – Mission: Oissel bridge

About 300 B-26s attack marshalling yards, airfields, and NOBALL targetsin France and Belgium.

The Group went back on operations on May 10 with a morning missionof thirty-nine aircraft to remove the railroad bridge at Oissel, just southof Rouen. Two weeks’ practice proved its worth when the formation, flyingand bombing by fours, left the bridge definitely severed and the rail linesto the north out. The crews on this attack were given special commendationby Major General Samuel E. Anderson for the excellent job. In the afternoon,bombing in flights of sixes, the formation dropped 500 pounders on closelyparked goods wagons, locomotive sheds, warehouses and engine sheds at Creil.One flight, unable to get into position for the run on the primary target,bombed Boix airfield, the secondary target, with excellent results.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 24-25.

The talk of an invasion was constant and our targets began to takeon a different tone, going to marshalling yards and bridges, and coastaldefenses. I flew on missions to marshalling yards at Criel, Malines, Namur,Cambrai, ...

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

[I'm not sure this is the right bridge; Oissel is south of Rouen]
The bridges were exciting targets in that the results were evident,that is spans down in the river and the bridge broken. I remember mostvividly a mission in the Brussels area, where Bill Boggis was the bombardierand we laid a string of bombs on the center span of the bridge and thefollow on flights took out the approaches since the center was in the water.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Thu, 11 May 44 – Mission: Hardelot coastal defenses

330+ B-26s attack airfields at Beaumont-le-Roger and Cormeilles-en-Vexinand marshalling yard at Mezieres/Charleville, France and Aerschot, Belgium.Bad visibility and failure to rendezvous with fighters cause 100+ aborts.This is start of Ninth Air Force's participation in AAF pre-invasion offensiveagainst airfields.

From May 11th until the 25th the chief targets were coastal gun positionsat Ft. Mardick, Quisterham, Benerville and Barfleur.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Fri, 12 May 44 – Mission: La Parnelle coastal defenses

Fri, 12 May 44 – Mission: Benerville coastal defenses

450+ B-26s attack coastal defenses, airfields, bridges, railroads andrailroad guns, and V-weapon sites in France and Belgium; thick haze impedesvisibility and causes many aborts.

On the 12th of May, gun positions at Barfleur-La Parnelle on the Cherbourgpeninsula were attacked with good results. Our flights were led by CaptainSanders and Lts. Clark and Harrison. On this mission the ship in whichLts. P.R. Hanna served as copilot and Lt. H.J. Halnon as bombardier, becameunstable and they baled out over the Cherbourg peninsula. The ship wasbrought back to England by Lt. E. G. Bond and the four remaining membersof the crew baled out over southern England and returned uninjured to thebase the next day.

Monthly Report, 556thBombardment Squadron, Medium, May 1944.

The B-26B [42-96190] crashed on the Isle of Wight, offshore, and southof Southamption, England.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 49.

Sat, 13 May – Mission: Fort Mardick coastal defenses

300+ B-26s and A-20s bomb airfields, coastal defenses, railway batteryand V-weapon sites in France and Belgium.

Mon, 15 May 44 – Mission: Douai marshalling yard

In France, 45 A-20s and B-26s bomb airfields at Creil and Evreux/Fauvilleand Somain marshalling yard; 300+ others are forced to abandon missionsbecause of thick clouds.

Fri, 19 May 44 – Mission: Somain marshalling yard

In France, about 290 B-26s and A-20s bomb coastal defenses, port area,railway battery, and NOBALL (V-weapon) targets; 125+ others fail to bombbecause of extremely thick haze

Sat, 20 May 44 – Mission: Benerville coastal defenses

Sat, 20 May 44 – Mission: Fecamp coastal defenses

Around 450 B-26s attack airfields, coastal defenses, and V-weapon sitein France; about 250 aborts are caused mainly by bad cloud conditions andfailure to rendezvous with fighters. 

Sun, 21 May 44

In France 50 B-26s bomb airfields at Abbeville/Drucat; ...

Mon, 22 May 44

Around 330 B-26s and A-20s bomb airfields and other targets in theCherbourg, Calais, and Paris areas of France ...

Tue, 23 May 44

In France, 15 B-26s bomb the airfield at Beaumont-le-Roger in a predawnattack; during the afternoon 58 B-26s bomb coastal batteries at Etretat/Sainte-Marie-Au-Bosc,Maisy and Mont Fleury; ...

Wed, 24 May 44 – Mission: La Parnelle-Barfleur coastaldefenses

Wed, 24 May 44 – Mission: Etaples-St. Cecily coastaldefenses

In France, 450+ B-26s attack airfields, coastal defenses and V-weaponsites; ...

Thu, 25 May 44 – Mission: Liege-Val Benoit railroad bridge

225+ B-26s attack bridges near Liege, Belgium and airfields at Lille/Nordand Monchy-Breton, France.

On May 25 the crews attacking the Liege/Val Benoit bridge did a beautifuljob of cutting both spans and the ramps,...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Fri, 26 May 44 – Mission: Chartres Airfield

In France, nearly 400 B-26s and A-20s attack airfields at Beaumont-sur-Oiseand Chartres and bridges at Vernon and Poissy; ...but the next day the Group had to retire temporarily into the “doghouse”when one flight of six, after the other flights had hit the Chartres Airfield,dropped in gross error and almost hit the famed Chartres cathedral.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Sat, 27 May 1944 – Mission: La Manoir railroad bridge

Sat, 27 May 1944 – Mission: Orival railroad bridge

About 590 B-26s attack railroad, bridges, and marshalling yards inFrance.

Next day, making a good comeback to atone for this error, the flightsshowed excellent results on the railroad bridges at Le Manoir and Orival.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Sun, 28 May 44 – Mission: Liege-Renory bridge

Sun, 28 May 44 – Mission: Maison La Fitte railroadbridge

600+ B-26s and A-20s bomb marshalling and naval yards, railway bridgesand V-weapon sites in France and Belgium; 8 aircraft are lost.

With the help of a short spell of good weather, the good work was continuedon the bridges at Liege/Renory, Conflans and Maisone Lafitte.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Mon, 29 May 44 – Mission: Conflans railroad bridge

Mon, 29 May 44 – Mission: Antwerp locomotive sheds

450+ B-26s and A-20s bomb airfields, marshalling yards, railroad bridges,coastal battery and NOBALL (V-weapon) targets in France and Belgium.

The Conflans mission was costly in the loss of Captain E. C. Harmonand his crew. Captain Harmon had been one of the first pilots to join theGroup at MacDill.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Tue, 30 May 1944

Loading of assault forces for Operation OVERLORD (invasion of Normandy)begins.
...
In France, 320+ B-26s attack airfields at Denain/Prouvy and Mantes/Limay,and highway bridges at Meulan and Rouen.

Wed, 31 May 1944 – Mission: Bennecourt highway bridge

About 200 B-26s bomb lock and highway bridges at Bennecourt, Courcelles-sur-Seineand Rouen, France.

May 44

Among the awards coming through during May were the Silver Star forMajor Joseph Richardson and Bronze Stars of Technical Sergeants L.P. Whiteand Hendrickson, whose ships, “Lady Irene” and “Secksma Sheen,” respectively,had flown fifty missions without aborting.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Thu, 1 Jun 44

In France, around 100 B-26s bomb airfields and coastal defense batteriesfrom the Belgian border to the Cherbourg Peninsula.

Fri, 2 Jun 44 – Mission: Epreville field battery

A special conference for ground liaison officers is held by 21 ArmyGroup officers who present a detailed exposition of the plan for the landingsin Normandy.

In France, about 350 B-26s and A-20s bomb NOBALL (V-weapon) targetsand coastal defense batteries along the English Channel coast; P-38s andP-47s dive-bomb targets in the area, including V-weapon sites, fuel dump,railroad junctions and bridges.

As rumors of the approaching invasion increased, the 387th and othermedium groups were kept busy knocking out coastal guns along the channelcoast. On June 2nd, thirty-seven planes bombed Epreville.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Sat, 3 Jun 44 – Mission: Etaples-Camiers coastaldefenses

250+ B-26s and A-20s bomb airfields, highway bridges, and coastal defensebatteries in N France; 400+ P-38s and P-47s dive-bomb targets in NW Europe.

The next day six flights of sixes hit the Etaples/Camiers coastal defensepositions and scored direct hits on several gun positions and command posts.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

Sun, 4 Jun 44 – Mission: Calais-March field battery

In France, 300+ B-26s and A-20s  bomb highway bridge and coastalbatteries; almost 200 P-47s and P-51s dive-bomb bridges, railroad junction,rolling stock and targets of opportunity. 

Flak was heavy during the attack June 4th on the Calais/March coastaldefense guns. The next mission was on D-Day.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 25.

A day or two earlier, I had been in London on leave to go to Torquay,England. I had flown 64 missions and was getting a long awaited rest. WhileI was stopped at the Kensington Street Station to board the train for Torquaytwo MPs stopped me saying, “Lieutenant, may we see your orders, please?”As I showed them to him, he took out a list asking, “Are you with the 387thBomb Group?” When I answered affirmatively, he said, “Well, you’re to reportback to base immediately.” I returned to the base at Chelmsford and itwas the night of June 5th. As I pedaled my bike around the base I rodeout to the hard stands where our ships were parked. A group of men wereon top of the ships painting black and white stripes around the wings andfuselage. When I questioned our crew chief, he said, “I don’t know, butwe have to have all aircraft ready by tomorrow morning.”

– Al Cory, quoted in Shootin’In, Nov. 1995, p. 6.

No word of invasion stripes was heard until the afternoon before “D-Day”.I was called to a meeting at group engineering about two o’clock in theafternoon and told all planes were to be painted before morning. I hadnot been issued any paint, nor brushes, nor sketches of where and how manystripes were to be painted. We were quickly assured pain and brushes wereon hand and could be picked up at any time. It took all the people we couldfind well into the night to get the painting done. Some of it did not looktoo hot but all planes were painted by morning. It must have been quitea site to those on the beaches and to the German airmen to suddenly findever Allied plane painted with black and white stripes. The reason wasobvious. How better could you mark all Allied planes for quick and easyidentification. I am sure when you are one of those on the ground you shootfirst and look for plane identification later unless identification isinstantly made.

– Alonzo Richardson, EngineeringOfficer, 352 BS, 451 BG; quoted in Maurauder Thunder

The use of  invasion stripes was motivated by a tragedy that hadtaken place in the invasion of Sicily, in Operations Husky 1 and 2, July9-12, 1943. During these night operations, troop carrier planes were mistakenfor enemy planes, and some 23 planes of the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing, somestill with paratroopers aboard, were accidentally shot down by AmericanNavy and Army units. Hence all Allied planes, troop carrier, fighters,and bombers, bore black and white “invasion stripes” for the invasion ofFrance and subsequent missions. The stripes also let the forces on theground know that they didn't have to take cover. The high security wasnot only to disguise the invasion date but to prevent the Germans fromconfusing the issue by painting similar stripes on their own planes.

Mon, 5 Jun 44

In France, 100+ B-26s bomb coastal defense batteries; 100+ P-47s dive-bombtargets in the same area.

Tue, 6 Jun 44 – Mission: Madelainecoastal defenses

800+ A-20s and B-26s bomb coastal defense batteries, rail and roadjunctions and bridges, and marshalling yards in support of the invasion;2,000+ fighters fly sweeps, escort for B-26s and C-47s, ground support,and dive-bombing missions over W France. During the preceding night andduring the day over 1,400 C-47s, C-53's, and gliders deliver glider troopsand paratroops, including 3 full airborne divisions, which are to securebeach exits to facilitate inland movement of seaborne assault troops. Atotal of about 30 aircraft are lost.

Beginning with D-Day, the targets hit by the Group changed from mediumrange strategic targets, such as marshalling yards and airfields, to short-rangetactical targets. Although there were missions in marshalling yards andthe NOBALLs, which had begun firing pilotless aircraft towards London,the majority of the targets were road junctions, rail lines and fuel andammunitions storage dumps. During the Normandy campaign the Group, besidesdoing good bombing, received several commendations for efficient, accurateand speedy reporting of observations by combat crews. It is estimated thatduring the first two weeks of the invasion the 387th observation reportsresulted in the location and destruction of one German division headquarters,three supply dumps and a number of tanks and other vehicles.

D-Day, June 6, 1944, the 387th participated in the Ninth Bomber Commandassignment of attacking the east coast beaches of the Cherbourg peninsula.The Group’s specific targets were three strong points on the beach in thevicinity of Les Dunes de Varreville. The mission came in at 0100 hoursand briefing was held at 0230 hours under the direction of Major WilliamB. Engler, Captain Karl G. Peterson and Captain Sam H. Monk, who had assembledH-Hour and D-Day data. The formation leader was Captain Joe Whitfield.Orders were to keep the bombs within a short distance of the coast, becauseparatroopers were to land just beyond the beaches. The mission was a success.Bombs fell about 800 feet west of the center of target, possibly damaginga north-south road, and none fell too far inland from the beach.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 26-27.

In June, 1944, I had already flown fifty-five missions over Europewith enough harrowing experiences to last me a lifetime. Most of our missionswere flown between eight and thirteen  thousand feet. This was idealfor the enemy to use heavy flak against us, since we needed to stay belowoxygen-breathing level, and also because our Norden bombsight was verygood at that altitude.

On June 6, we woke at 0130. We knew that this was the day; this wasthe hour we had been waiting for. Weeks before, we had been bombing bridgesand rail yards, cutting off all travel to the coast that we could.

Keeping track of the time on our watches, we began to get everythingset. Boy, it's dark and rainy. We're not accustomed to this at all; we'vedone only daylight missions. Time to fire the engines. Clear on the rightengine. The big Pratt Whitney 2800 sputters and coughs and belches outsmoke with fire from the exhaust, but she's running. The left follows.The taxi out is maddening. Thirty-six ships. Who to follow, and when tofollow? The take-off will be just as bad.

We have a climb pattern, but no time for practice. It's got to be perfectthe first time. Throttles wide open, and off we go. All planes are usinglanding lights while climbing, hoping it will help avoid collisions. Butthe lights flashing everywhere is weird, and confusing, and makes it difficultto fly the airplane. A cold sweat broke out on me, and it seemed we climbedforever, trying to stay in the rendezvous area. The engines sounded good,thank goodness.

Even with fifty missions under my belt, my hands were wet, and I feltdrained of energy. How were we going to see the target in this stuff? Itgot light above, and we broke out, running through the tops of a few clouds.At eight thousand feet, how sweet it is. I looked all around the sky. Wherewas the rest of the group? We took up a course when we spotted a B-26 groupahead of us. The plane tails told us it wasn't ours. Ours sported a seriesof orange-and-black slanting stripes on the top of the vertical stabilizer.We were known as the Tiger Stripe group. There was nothing to do but pullin with them and continue on. The sky was full of planes, and below, thewater was covered with surface vessels. We expected to see German fightersas we neared the coast, but didn't.

As we approached the target, the bomb-bay doors opened and "Bombs away!"There was light flak coming up, and the bombadier said we got a good hit.Out over the French countryside, scattered everywhere, were parachutesand pieces of huge crashed gliders. I don't believe I saw an undamagedone. I had this sick feeling that things were not going well.

We made a sweeping turn back to the coast and the formation tightened,and I could see aircraft everywhere approaching the coast. We flew backover the sea full of vessels and made landfall over the white cliffs atBeachy Head, and then around the London balloons to our base. We made anotherflight later in the day.

– James DeLong 

As the low flying Marauders approached Utah Beach, the sky brightenedand the air crews saw a sight unique in world history-Lt William Moriarty,a B-26 pilot said, "As we approached the coast we could see ships shellingthe beach. One destroyer, half sunk, was still firing from the floatingend. The beach was a bedlam of exploding bombs and shells." Lt. A. H. Corryremembered that "The water was just full of boats, like bunches of antscrawling around down there. I imagined all those young men huddled in thelanding craft, doubtless scared to death. I could see what they were headinginto and I prayed for all those brave young men. I thought, man I'm uphere looking down at this stuff and they're out there waiting to get onthat beach."

– Stephen Ambrose in "TheVictors," p 99. 

D-Day was of course special and once again I flew the G Box and whileI am not sure, I believe we were in the lead plane since only lead planeshad G equipment. The weather was atrocious and we went through layers ofclouds, and attempted to rendezvous at altitude, but it was impossible.The G equipment worked extremely well in this area and I could verify ourposition constantly. In the end we dropped to an altitude of about twothousand feet or less and proceeded across the channel. I remember seeingthe twenty millimeter fire off Point Balfour—it was certainly differentthan the 88s—more like firecrackers. We made our run across the beach andthen on across the peninsula, out past the Gurnsey Islands and home toEngland. I participated, but my view of the invasion was limited by myduty to the G box.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

– StephenAmbrose, D-Day.

It was in a B-26 that Blair and his crewmates flew over Normandy onD-day, June 6, 1944.

"The weather was terrible," Blair said, reminiscing about one of themost famous battles in U.S. military history. "It just wasn't good flyingweather."

It wasn't.

Stationed 30 miles northeast of London in a small village called WillingGail, the Wham Bam crew left at first light that day, flew into the overcastand got separated from the rest of their group. They latched onto anotherB-26 group, however, part of thousands of aircraft in the sky for the invasion.After they crossed over the channel they went down to 5,000 feet, droppingtheir bombs onto the beach. Blair said some planes went down, but not theWham Bam, which flew two missions that day.

– Sandi Martin, News Chief,"'Wham Bam' crew meets again," Polk Online.com (Polk County, Florida, 2001). 

Wed, 7 Jun 44 – Mission: Rennes bridge & junction

Wed, 7 Jun 44 – Mission: Villedieu railroad siding

600+ B-26s hit bridges, junctions, trestles, coastal and field batteries,and marshalling yards in France in support of the invasion; 1,100+ fighterssupport ground troops by dive bombing and strafing, escort B-26s and C-47s,and make sweeps throughout the battle area as Bayeux is liberated and theBayeux-Caen road is cut; ...

On June 7th it was learned that the 17th German Panzer Division wasmoving north to the invasion beachhead. The report called for a missionto deny this route to the Germans. Because of bad weather the formationattempting to bomb the rail junction at Rennes was not successful, butit did get good results on a railroad west of Vire and on a choke pointof vehicles near St. Lo.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 27.

...but the one that stands out was the raid on Rennes in June followingthe invasion. We left the marshalling yard in bright red flames and I remembertalking to Carl Cooper afterward, he was the lead bombardier, and whilethat was an extremely short bomb run through heavy flak, Carl had usedthe Norden sight and done a magnificent job of blistering the heart ofthe yard.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

The B-26 Marauders, two-enginebombers, continued their all-out assault on choke points in the Germantransportation system, principally bridges and highway junctions. Lt. JamesDelong was a Marauder pilot who had flown in low and hard on D-Day overUtah Beach. On June 7, it was a bridge at Rennes, on the Seine. On the8th, a railroad junction near Avranches.

These were defended sites."We were being met with plenty of flak from enemy 88s," Delong recalled."That Whomp! Whomp! sound just outside with black smoke puffs filling theair was still scary as hell, damaging and deadly." But there were no Luftwaffefighters, partly because the B-26s flew tight formations and stayed low,discouraging fighter attacks, but more because most German pilots wereon the far side of the Rhine River, trying to defend the homeland fromthe Allied four-engine bombers, and the Luftwaffe was chronically shorton fuel.

Almost exactly four yearsearlier, following the RAF withdrawal from the Battle of France, the Luftwaffehad ruled the skies over Normandy and all Europe. Field Marshall HermannGoering's air fleet struck terror in the hearts of its enemies. But inJune 1944 it was not even a minor factor in the battle. ...

In Normandy in June 1944,German soldiers learned to always look up for danger. GIs seldom had tolook up. So total was this dominance that the Germans became experts incamouflage to make themselves invisible from the sky, while the GIs laidout colored panels and otherwise did all they could to make themselvesplainly visible from the sky. They wanted any airplane up there to knowthat they were Americans, because they knew without having to look thatthe plane they heard was American.

– Stephen E. Ambrose, CitizenSoldiers, pp. 48-49.

Thu, 8 Jun 44 – Mission: Pontaubault railroad junction

Thu, 8 Jun 44 – Mission: Forêt de Grimbosq fueldump

Around 400 B-26s attack rail and road bridges and junctions, rail sidings,marshalling yards, town areas, fuel storage tanks, ammunition dumps, troopconcentration and strong points in the Calais, France area. Around 1,300fighter sorties provide support to B-26s and high cover over the assaultarea, and bomb and strafe bridges, marshalling yards, gun batteries, railfacilities, vehicles, towns, and troop concentrations.

The next morning a highly successful mission was flown against therailroad junction at Pontaubault. The best strike was made by LieutenantDonald Tall, bombardier in Captain Robert H. Will’s flight, whose bombshit the target perfectly.

The afternoon mission proved to be one of the roughest and most remarkableever flown by the Group. Captain Rollin D. Childress was to lead eighteenaircraft to a fuel dump in the Forêt de Grimbosq, south of Caen.At the takeoff at 1958 hours the ceiling was 900 feet. The formation assembledwithout difficulty, but on going up through the solid overcast it becamewidely dispersed. Eleven of the planes returned to the base; one crash-landedat Gravesend and one, piloted by First Lieutenant Raymond V. Morin, crashedwhile attempting to land at Briston in ceiling zero weather. Captain Childressgathered three aircraft with his own and continued on, sometimes at decklevel in quarter of a mile visibility. He managed to find the target andhis bombardier, First Lieutenant Wilson J. Cushing, bombed it with greataccuracy from 6,000 feet. As the formation of four turned off the target,moderate extremely accurate flak shot down the fourth airplane pilotedby Captain Charles D. Schober. The airplane exploded in min-air and noparachutes were observed. Included in Captain Schober’s crew was CaptainJohn D. Koot, group weather officer. The remaining three aircraft, proceedinghomeward, braved the horrible weather conditions over England and landedat the base at 2230 hours. Captain Childress was congratulated on his tenacityand perseverance by Colonel Willard Lewis, commander of the 98th CombatWing, and by group commander Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Seymour. He wasalso awarded the Silver Star. The effectiveness of the bombing was attendedto by a congratulatory telegram from the ground forces which stated thatthe important fuel dump, the immediate supply for an entire panzer division,was destroyed.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 27-28.

This mission began at 1958 hrs, with a ceiling of 900 ft. The formationbecame widely seperated during their ascent thru the solid overcast. Fourteen,of the eighteen ship formation, aborted. Twenty-two year old Lt. JeraldFisher became lost trying to find the formation. He saw the RAF fighterstrip at Gravesend, and landed on the short steel-mesh strip. His nosetire was punctured, collapsing the nose gear, causing "Black Fury" to tearup 50 feet of the strip as it came to a rest in a field. Cpl. Elton A.Armstrong, 556th Armament Section, who had volunteered to replace the hungover EG on Fisher's crew, was impressed that Lt. Fisher missed "...allthose barrage ballons" during their perilous landing. Fisher replied, "Whatbarrage ballons?!!" ... forty years latter. "Black Fury" was salvaged forparts.

 – Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman, Robert C.Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26 MarauderReference and Operations Guide, p. 31.

Two days after the invasion of Normandy the crew got into a stickysituation, with bad weather again playing a role. The crew flew into theovercast and planes in the formation began dropping out of the sky. TheWham Bam joined up with four other planes - they were all supposed tobe recalled but the radio message didn't go through. The planes droppedtheir bombs on a fuel depot and wiped it out, but enemy fire took downthe plane in the no. 4 position.

– Sandi Martin, News Chief,"'Wham Bam' crew meets again," Polk Online.com (Polk County, Florida, 2001).

Sat, 10 Jun 44 – Mission: St. Lo troop concentrations

Sat, 10 Jun 44 – Mission: Bretteville defended area

In France, 500+ B-26s and A-20s bomb targets in the assault area includingmilitary concentrations, road and rail bridges and junctions, artillerybatteries, marshalling yards and town areas; ...

During the remainder of the Normandy campaign two missions a day wereflown whenever the weather promised a fifty-fifty chance of success. ...thechief targets were road junctions, railroads, gun positions and NOBALLs.Results were good and the attacks did their part in preparing for the Alliedbreakthroughs at Falaise and St. Lo.

 – History of the 387th Bombardment Group(M) AAF, p. 28.

Sun, 11 Jun 44 – Mission: Pontaubault railroad bridge

In France, 129 B-26s and A-20s bomb rail and road bridges and intersections,rail lines, oil tanks, artillery and town areas, in morning operations;bad weather prevents afternoon operations; ...

Bridges at Paontaubalt, St. Lo and Ambrieres were hit...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 28.

Mon, 12 Jun 44 – Mission: Vire road junction

Mon, 12 Jun 44 – Mission: Valognes defended town

In France, 509 B-26s and A-20s bomb marshalling yards, road and railjunctions, bridges, artillery, town areas, troop concentrations and varioustargets of opportunity; ... 

Tue, 13 Jun 44 – Mission: Domfront fuel dump

The first V-1 "buzz bomb" lands in S England; more land during thenight of 13/14 Jun, and throughout the rest of the month.
. . .
In France, 397 B-26s and A-20s bomb rail and road junctions, marshallingyards and fuel dumps in the assault areas; aircraft of 9 fighter groupsescort the bombers and attack bridges, marshalling yards, troop areas,rail and road traffic, gun emplacements, ammunition dumps and other targets. 

Wed, 14 Jun 44 – Mission: Falaise road junction

Wed, 14 Jun 44 – Mission: Ambrieres road junction

500+ B-26s and A-20s attack rail communications SW of Paris and highwaycommunications centers S of the beachhead area; junctions, bridges, marshallingyards, gun emplacements and various defensive strongpoints are included; ...

Thu, 15 Jun 44 – Mission: Villers Bocage defended village

550+ B-26s and A-20s direct main attacks against fuel and ammunitiondumps, rail and highway communications, and armored division HQ S of thebridgehead on the Douve River; ...

Fri, 16 Jun 44

In France, bad weather prevents bomber operations; ...

Sat, 17 Jun 44

In France, 265 B-26s attack fuel dumps, a bridge and a railway lineS of the battle area; ...

Sun, 18 Jun 44 – Mission: Rennes marshalling yard

In France, about 130 A-20s and B-26s bomb fuel dumps at Foret d'Andaineand Conches and marshalling yards at Rennes and Meudon during the morningand NOBALL (V-weapon) targets in the afternoon; fighters, in addition toescort duty, continue strafing and bombing rail lines, troop concentrations,and highway traffic on the Cherbourg Peninsula; ...

Tue, 20 Jun 44 – Mission: Lambus (Lanbue?) V-1site

In France, about 370 B-26s and A-20s bomb 9 V-weapon sites and a coastaldefense battery at Houlgate; ...

Wed, 21 Jun 44 – Mission: Zudausques V-1 site

Wed, 21 Jun 44 – Mission: Bois d'Esquerdes V-1 site

250+ B-26s and A-20s bomb 13 V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais areaof France.

Thu, 22 Jun 44 – Mission: Cherbourg tank trap

Thu, 22 Jun 44 – Mission: Remainsil V-1 site

In France, around 600 B-26s and A-20s and 1,200+ fighters fly missionsduring the day; the main effort consists of an attack on the tip of theCherbourg Peninsula in support of the US VII Corps assault on the portof Cherbourg; beginning 1 hour before the ground attack and continuinguntil the attack begins. Fighters and fighter-bombers pound the whole areaS of the city from low level; as the ground assault begins, B-26s and A-20sstrike a series of strongpoints selected by the US First Army, forminga 55-minute aerial barrage moving N in advance of ground forces; laterin the day B-26s attack marshalling yards, fuel dumps and a German HQ;fighter-bombers fly armed reconnaissance over various railroads and bombrail facilities, trains, road traffic and gun emplacements; 25 fighter-bombersare lost during the day's operations.

Fri, 23 Jun 44 – Mission: Remainsil V-1 site

Bad weather prevents A-20 and B-26 missions during the morning; inthe afternoon 175+ B-26s and A-20s bomb 7 V-weapon sites in France

Sat, 24 Jun 44

430+ B-26s and A-20s attack targets in France, including 4 gun positions,3 V-weapon sites, 3 fuel dumps, 2 marshalling yards, and a railroad bridge;...

Sun, 25 Jun 44 – Mission: Foret de Senoches fuel dump

Sun, 25 Jun 44 – Mission: Foret d'Ecouves fuel dump

In France, 400+ B-26s and A-20s hit fuel dumps at Foret d'Andaine,Foret d'Ecouves, and Senonches, and rail bridges at Cherisy, Chartres,Oiseme and Epernon; ...

1st Lt. Sam Ayers was at the controls when "Los Lobos Grande" was hitby enemy Flak over the target. Lt. Ayers was forced to break formation,but by his skillful flying brought his aircraft back to England, wherehe made a crash landing at an RAF base located at Ford, in Sussex. TheB-26B was salvaged for parts.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 2.

Mon, 26 Jun 44

In France, weather cancels all operations save a few fighter sortieswhich result in claims against a few military vehicles and 3 aircraft asUS ground forces capture Cherbourg; 3 US fighters are lost.

Tue, 27 Jun 44

In France, bad weather precludes bomber operations; ...

Wed, 28 Jun 44

... bad weather cancels bomber and fighter operations from the UK;...

Thu, 29 Jun 44 – Laye-Le Belles Martin (?) defended area

In France, almost 200 B-26s and A-20s bomb gun batteries on Cap dela Hague, bridges and rail lines in the Rennes-Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcourt-Vitreareas, and rail bridge at Oissel; ...

Fri, 30 Jun 44 – Mission: Foret de Conches fuel dump

Fri, 30 Jun 44 – Mission: Villers Bocage defendedtown

In France, 125+ B-26s and A-20s, using blind-bombing methods in badweather, bomb fuel dumps and road junctions at Conde-sur-Vire, Foret deConches, Conde-sur-Noireau, and Thury-Harcourt; around 250 others are forcedto abort due to weather; ...

Sat, 1 Jul 44

In France, weather prevents operations by IX Bomber Command; ...

Sun, 2 Jul 44

In France, all IX Bomber Command missions are cancelled due to badweather; ...

Tue, 4 Jul 44

In France bad weather curtails bomber operations, but 95 B-26s andA-20s bomb a rail bridge at Oissel and strongly defended positions N ofAnneville-sur-Mer, using the Pathfinder technique; ...

Wed, 5 Jul 44 – Mission: Caen Bridges

In France, about 180 B-26s and A-20s bomb bridges at Caen and alsosidings, tracks, and rolling stock; in the afternoon 4 NOBALL (V-weapon)HQ are hit; ...

Following D-Day, we flew in support of Montgomery at Caen and I canrecall the heavy flak we encountered. I would call it as bad as anywherepreviously—like Calais, Boulogne and Cherbourg.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Thu, 6 Jul 44 – Mission: Cloyes railroad/highway bridge

Thu, 6 Jul 44 – Mission: Doulens Citadel V-1 site

In France during the morning around 500 B-26s and A-20s bomb bridgesand rail lines at 8 locations; in the afternoon 5 targets are attacked,including bridges, fuel dumps, railroad tracks, and a V-weapon location;...

The two most spectacular of these missions were the bombing of a buzz-bombheadquarters at Doullens Citadel on July 6 with good results and ...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 28.

Fri, 7 Jul 44 – Mission: Chartres troop concentration& mechanized armor

In France, 100+ A-20s and B-26s bomb rail bridge near Tours, and targetsof opportunity in the Lisieux and Beuzeville areas;

Sat, 8 Jul 44 – Mission: Mantes Gassicourt railroad bridge

In France, about 280 A-20s and B-26s bomb V-weapon HQ at Chateau-de-Ribeaucourt,numerous strongpoints in the Caen battle area, rail bridges at Mantes-La-Jolie,Saumur, Nogent-le-Roi, and Caen and (late in evening) fuel dumps in Rennesand a bridge at Nantes;

Sun, 9 Jul 44 –Mission: Mantes Gassicourt railroad bridge

In France, of 250+ B-26s and A-20s dispatched, about 60 bomb targets;bad weather prevents others from bombing; targets hit are a rail bridge,crossing, overpass and a highway bridge at Ablis, Orleans, Vendome, andMontfort-sur-Risle;

Tue, 11 Jul 44

In France, A-20s and B-26s strike fuel dumps at Foret d'Andaine, Chateau-de-Tertu,Flers, and Foret d'Ecouves; NOBALL (V-weapon) sites at Chateau d'Helicourtand Chateau d'Ansenne; and a rail bridge at Bourth;

Wed, 12 Jul 44 – Nantes railroad bridge

In France, 300+ A-20s and B-26s fly morning and afternoon missionsagainst fuel dumps at Foret d'Andaine and Foret d'Ecouves, military concentrationsat Foret de Cinglais, rail bridges at Merey, Cinq Mars-la-Pile, Saumur,Nantes, and Nogent-le-Roi, and other rail and road targets;

Thu, 13 Jul 44

In France, bad weather prevents bomber operations ...

Fri, 14 Jul 44 – Mission: Merey railroad bridge

In France, weather again curtails operations; 62 B-26s and A-20s, usingOboe, bomb a railway embankment at Bourth and rail bridge at Merey; ...

Sat, 15 Jul 44

In France, weather cancels most operations but 4 B-26s (92 others abort)hit the L'Aigle rail bridge during the afternoon; ...

On July 15, 1944, a total of 209 newly-graduated Pilots were dispersedamong 9AF medium bomber and transport units. (8AF Replacement Depot, SpecialOrder No. 197, July 15, 1944). The largest group of these new Pilots wentto the 323rd BG. The distribution to other Marauder units was: 387BG-12,397BG-6, 344BG-1, and 394BG-1.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, p. 244 (fn. 7).

Sun, 16 Jul 44 – Mission: Foret de la Guerche fuel dump

In France, about 375 B-26s and A-20s, during morning and evening operations,bomb strongpoints in the Saint-Lo area, bridges in the frontline area,and bridges and a fuel dump SE of Rennes; ...

July 16— No. 55

Window ship for the formation, (387th) dropping frags on German troopsin the St. Lo sector. Dropped bombs via pathfinder via 10/10 cloud. Noflak. No fighters. Flew ship 912 (Damfino)—our first "op" since returningfrom the states. McFee flew as engineer.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

I flew fifteen missions after D-Day, the last being my seventieth onJuly 16, 1944 in support of our troops at St. Lo, France. On that mission,which was a milk run, the crew led by Captain Toler consisted of all thecrew-members with orders to return to the States—needless to say we werevery concerned for our safety.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Mon, 17 Jul 44

With operations limited by weather in France, 69 B-26s hit fuel dumpsat Rennes ...

On July 17, the Group had an unfortunate experience in the loss ofColonel Thomas M. Seymour, commanding officer, in an airplane accident.His place was taken by Colonel Grover C. Brown, who left the positionsas Chief of Staff of the 98th Combat Wing (M) to take command of the Group.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 28.

Tue, 18 Jul 1944 – Advance unit moves to Stoney Cross

Tue, 18 Jul 1944 – Mission: Demouville Area D troopconcentration

In France, 400+ B-26s and A-20s hit various military targets in supportof the ground forces in the Caen area, and later in the day bomb rail andhighway bridges beyond the frontlines; ... and HQ 387th Bombardment Group(Medium) moves from Chipping Ongar to Stony Cross.

...and the attack on the fortified area south of Caen on July 18. Thecarpet-bombing mission, a consolidated effort of American and RAF bombers,was a prelude to the great push by the British under General Montgomery.Carrying 260-pound fragmentation bombs, the 387th formation, led by MajorRobert Keller, took part in the attack that wiped out a whole German division.Lieutenant Robert S. Weyell and his crew were lost on this mission.
...
During the campaign in Normandy, as a result of the retreat of theGerman from the coastal areas, targets for the mediums were getting fartheraway so that missions were becoming too long for effective tactical support.The 98th Combat Wing had been ordered to move to the south of England.On July 18, the advance echelon of the 387th moved from Station 162 toStation 452, located at Stoney Cross, Hants,...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 28.

July 18— No. 56

We led the second box of 18 ships dropping frags on German troops insupport of the British and Canadian troops attempting to break throughthe Orne River defenses. We were a small part of the greatest air armadaever massed in direct support of ground troops. In less than four hoursseven thousand planes dropped eight thousand tons of bombs. Gen. Montylater said, "After an enormous air and artillery bombardment, our troopscrossed the River Orne and moved forward. The day’s progress was very satisfactory."Bomb load: 16-260 lb. frags.

(later) The terrific air bombardment by itself completely destroyedone Nazi division. S-2 reports the division marked off the list. Encounteredheavy flak.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

On the 18th of July, at the same time the 387th moved from ChippingOngar, I left for the Repl Depot at Stone, England. then proceeded to Liverpool,boarded the USS West Point (in civilian life, the S. S. America) and sailedto the U. S. unescorted, taking 5 days, landing in Boston harbor.

– Bill Butler (556th B.S.),Reflectionsof a Replacement Navigator.

Wed, 19 Jul 44 – Mission: Tours railroad bridge

In France, during the afternoon 262 B-26s and A-20s bomb bridges onthe Loire and Seine Rivers and a fuel dump at Bruz; ...

NOTE: The mission referred to here was actually flown on the 19th.

The last mission from Chipping Ongar was the attack on the railroadbridge spanning the 
Loire at Tours on July 18. Results were excellent.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. ??.

Thu, 20 Jul 44

In France, weather forbids morning operations; in the afternoon 62A-20s and B-26s strike the Senonches fuel dump and Chaulnes marshallingyard;...

Fri, 21 Jul 44

In France, weather prevents all combat operations except for 1 fightergroup ...; and the 556th, 557th, 558th and 559th Bombardment Squadrons(Medium), move from Chipping Ongar to Stony Cross with B-26s.

...and on July 21 the rear echelon followed. The move was accomplishedwith a minimum of effort and no loss of operational efficiency. A wholeyear on one field had been a long time. Pleasant associations of Chelmsfordand the surrounding country remained, and several men, including CaptainAllen Sherman, had married English girls.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 28-29.

Sat, 22 Jul 44 – Mission:

In France, weather prevents all combat operations except for 1 fightergroup ...; and the 556th, 557th, 558th and 559th Bombardment Squadrons(Medium), move from Chipping Ongar to Stony Cross with B-26s.July 22— No. 57

A pathfinder smash at a railroad bridge at Lisieux, southeast of LeHavre.Bad weather at takeoff, worse on the return and 10/10 cloud at target.Led the high flight in 686 on her 107th mission. As yet she has never abortedwith us. Bomb load 4-1000 lb. (Bridge smashed)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 23 Jul 44 – Mission: Serquigny railroad bridge

In France, 330+ A-20s and B-26s bomb rail bridges along the Argentan-Parisand Lisieux-Bernay-Evreux railroads, and hit fuel dumps at Foret de Conches;...

July 23—

Sweat out the nose wheel on 811 for the day’s entertainment.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Mon, 24 Jul 44 – Mission: Livarot Airfield

Mon, 24 Jul 44 – Mission: Livarot ammunition dump

In France, 11 groups of bombers scheduled to participate in OperationCOBRA have missions cancelled due to weather; 5 groups of B-26s hit railbridges and 5 groups of B-26s and A-20s strike 3 fuel and ammunition dumps;...

Tue, 25 Jul 44 – Mission: St. Lo troop concentration

In France during the morning 11 B-26 and A-20 groups attack tacticaltargets in the vicinity of Saint-Lo in support of the US First Army; inthe afternoon 4 groups bomb bridges on the Seine and Loire Rivers; 42 B-26s,repeating errors of the previous day, short-bomb behind US lines and casualtiesagain are concentrated in the 30th Infantry Division; ...

The bad weather of late July hindered both air and ground forces. Thelull was used well by General Bradley to build up supplies and make plansfor his brilliant breakthrough at St. Lo. On July 25, after waiting fivedays for favorable weather, a formation of 387th planes took off for theSt. Lo sector and put all its bombs in the assigned area.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 30.

July 25— No. 58

Dropped frags on the St. Lo sector in support of the American drive.Our good coverage of the target area and the boys moved forward. We led2nd box, flying ship 835 (My Ideal S.O.B.)

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Wed, 26 Jul 44 – Mission: Marigny troop concentration

.In France, weather forces the recall of several groups of B-26s andA-20s, assigned to support the US First Army, but about 160 aircraft manageto bomb a fuel dump at Senonches with good results; ...

Thu, 27 Jul 44 – Mission:

In France, bad weather causes the recall of B-26s and A-20s sent tobomb Loire and Seine River bridges;...July 27— No. 59

Another pathfinder smash at a railroad bridge and fill east of Leidier.We led the group in 835 again. Willie made a forced landing in Normandyfor gasoline, was strafed by FW-190’s and shelled by guns, all in two hours.Bomb Load 8-500 lb.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Fri, 28 Jul 44 – Mission: Bourth railroad embankment

Fri, 28 Jul 44 – Mission: Senoches fuel dump

In France, the IX Bomber Command operates in support of the US FirstArmy, bombing rail bridges, supply dumps and ammunition dumps in the Foretde Conches, Dreux, and Le Mans areas;...

As the American Armies raced across France, units of the Ninth AirDivision were hitting fuel dumps, bridges and defended areas.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 30.

Sat, 29 Jul 44

In France, bad weather cancels all IX Bomber Command missions;;...

Sun, 30 Jul 44 – Mission: Caumont troop concentrations

In France, 450+ A-20s and B-26s bomb defenses in the Chaumont areain support of the US First Army;...

July 30— No. 60

Pathfinder smash at bypassed German troops in the Caumont area, alsoto assist in the launching of another American drive. Again we flew 835as lead ship for the second box. Box leading seems to be our job now. Weall like it. The missions since our return are really milk runs in comparisonto the work before our leave and D-Day. For the 5th out of 6 times we receivedno flak. Bomb load 16-260 lb. frags.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Mon, 31 Jul 44

In France, around 500 A-20s and B-26s attack bridges on the Seine,Loire, Mayenne, and Ruisseau la Forge Rivers and a fuel dump at Foret dela Guerche;...

Tue, 1 Aug 44 – Mission: Maintenon railroad bridge

In France, the XIX Tactical Air Command becomes operational in conjunctionwith the US Third Army; the Ninth's fighter and fighter-bomber groups (NinthAir Force refers to them collectively as fighter-bomber groups) are dividedbetween the IX and XIX Tactical Air Commands; about 250 B-26s and A-20sbomb rail bridges at Mezieres-sur-Seine, Maintenon, Les Ponts-de-Ce, Chartres,Cinq Mars-la-Pile, Bouchmaine, Nogent-sur-Loir, and Bourth;

Wed, 2 Aug 44

In France, the IX Bomber Command halts bombing of bridges, fuel dumps,and similar targets in Brittany except on the request of the 12th ArmyGroup, as the US Third Army wants the use of bridges access to all fuelthey may find in their advance across France; around 300 A-20s and B-26sattack bridges at Mezieres-sur-Seine, Mainvillers, Cinq Mars-la-Pile, Nantes,and Lisle, and ammunition dumps at Caudebec-les-Elbeuf and Le Lude;...

Thu, 3 Aug 44

In France, 180+ A-20s and B-26s bomb rail bridges, overpasses, andjunctions at Mantes-la-Jolie, Chartres, La Chenaie and Merey, fuel dumpat Maintenon, and alternate rail targets in N France;...

Fri, 4 Aug 44 – Mission: Briollayrailroad bridge

In France, 62 A-20s and B-26s bomb rail bridges at Oissel, Epernon,and Saint-Remy-sur-Avre and an ammunition dump and bivouac area in Foretde Sille;...

Aug. 4— No. 61

August 4, 1943 – our first operation – a diversion. Aug. 4, 1944 – targetrailroad bridge at Honfleur. Weather was bad over target, and after fourruns on the target, still unable to bomb. We started for home. The leadship erred slightly in navigation causing us to get the hell shot out ofus. Maj. Grau in the No. 1 spot, us in the No. 4 spot, both had to landin Normandy. We got our left engine shot out, and the hydraulic systemwas causing our right engine to heat up. Unable to get our landing geardown, we belly-landed at B-8 – a Canadian airstrip. Andy was injured inthe landing, M.R. was hit by flak—not serious. Lt. Morson seriously injuredby flak and died at 8:00 AM, Aug. 5. Everyone [else] was bruised but nothurt. The ship was a washout but Manny did a beautiful job of landing withone engine out. The next day we went to B-14 and were brought home by AvroAnson. Andy is still in 20th Gen. Hospital at Bayeux (2 days later).

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

The B-26C, #612/FW-R, had its hydraulics shot out while attemptingto bomb the bridge across the Aure River at Saint Remi. (The target wasobscurred by cloud coverage, and the mission was abandoned. Major GlennF. Grau, and his crew, made an emergency landing at a short P.S.P.* fighterstrip in Normandy. Grau said of his landing and #612, "having no hydraulics,[I] pretty much turned it into junk."

He added that he did not have any recollection of any neme being paintedon #612/FW-R. Grau mentioned to the late Bob Allen that he intended toname this plane "Los Lobos Grande II."

Major Grau's crew:

Pilot
Copilot
Bom.
Nav.
Gee
ROG
EG
AG
Maj.
1st Lt.
2nd Lt.

T/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.

Glenn F. Grau
Francis D. Scurr
Robert M. Sherman

Charles A. Martyn
Lloyd E. Frazer
Henry A. Havens

0731567
0742364
0797087

15071529
15072987
39012545

*P.S.P = pierced steel plank

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 53.

Flight commander Captain Mansel R. Campbell was at the controls of"Mah Ideel," when clouds obscured the target forcing the formation to abandonits efforts to take out the bridge across the Aure River at St. Mimi. Thesquadron had twelve ships in the formation. Captain Campbell's B-26C wasone of the three that received flak damage; forcing him to make an emergencylanding at one of the fighter strips in Normandy, France. 2nd Lt. RobertB. Morson, hoping to add the OLC to his newly earned Air Medal, died asa result of the crash landing. Lt. Morson was the crew's acting navigator.The other crew members escaped serious injuries. The Campbell crew:
 


KIA
 

Pilot
Copilot
Bomb.
Nav.
GEE
ROG
EG
AG
Capt.
1st Lt.
2nd Lt.
1st Lt.

T/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.

Mansel R. Campbell
Burton J. Anderson
James P. Spurlock
Robert B. Morson

Burl W. Thompson
Edward V. Burd
Harley W. Altizer

0735522
0742267
0666723

37202170
32276627
35433617

It was an oddity of war, that one this date two of the squadron's B-26C'swere forced to make emergency landings in France due to Flak damage. Thisfact, in itself, was not unusual during those days, but on this particularmission, both pilots of the downed Marauders were very instrumental inforging the history of the 556th Bomb. Squadron. Major (Lt. Col. two monthslater) Glenn Grau, the squadron C.O., was flying B-26C #612/FW-R (see page53) . In February, 1945 after Grau returned to the States, Major "Manny"Campbell became the squadron Commanding Officer.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 57.

Sat, 5 Aug 44 – Mission: Briollay railroad bridge

In France, 300+ A-20s and B-26s bomb Saint-Malo harbor and Foret deSille fuel dump during the night of 4/5 Aug, and during the day, rail bridgesat 6 cities in N and W France, and marshalling yard at Compiegne;

Sun, 6 Aug 44 – Mission: Blois-Boisde Blois Airfield

In France, A-20s and B-26s hit bridges, fuel and ammunition dumps,and a locomotive depot at Beauvais, Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, Courtalain, Foretde Perseigne, and Blois;...

Shortly after 1st. Lt. James H. Brantley began his taxi roll, his flightengineer attempted to load the plane's Very pistol, located overhead anddirectly behind the copilot's head. While inserting the recognition codedflare cartridge into the Very pistol, the flare accidentally dischargedinto the pilot's cockpit. The fireball from the live flare ricocheted wildlyabout causing much confusion in the smoked filled compartment. The flare'sfireball apparently came to rest on Lt. Brantley, causing severe burnsto the pilot's leg. In his great anxiety to escape his ordeal, Lt. Brantleyexited the B-26B by opening his overhead plexiglas hatch. The aircraftcontinued to taxi out of control, causing Brantley to slip from atop theplane, into the rotating propeller, killing him instantly.

Lt. Loren Hinton, a veteran combat pilot in the squadron, was actingas instructor and co-pilot during Lt. Brantley's first mission. Lt. Hintoncut the engines switches, but could not bring the rolling aircraft to astop because the brake pedals were located on the pilot's left side position.The rest of the crew escaped the coasting B-26 by exiting via the bomb-bayand the waist gun windows. They escaped with minor injuries. "Jisther"finally came to a stop after running into the front of a nearby squadronhangar.

The B-26B was salvaged for parts.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 6.

Mon, 7 Aug 44

Lieutenant General Lewis H Brereton relinquishes command of the NinthAir Force to become Commanding General First Allied Airborne Army.

In France, 380+ A-20s and B-26s bomb bridges at Nogent-sur-Seine andNeuvy-sur-Loire;

Tue, 8 Aug 44

Lieutenant General Hoyt S Vandenberg assumes command of the Ninth AirForce.

In France, 406 B-26s and A-20s bomb a rail embankment and bridges at8 locations in N and W France, attack radar installations between Argentanand Alencon, and give tactical support to ground forces near Saint-Malo;...

Wed, 9 Aug 44

In France, close to 400 B-26s and A-20s attack an ammunition dump inForet de Blois, shipping at Brest, and other targets, including rail bridgesat 10 locations in N and W France;...

Thu, 10 Aug 44

In France, almost 200 B-26s and A-20s bomb rail bridges and embankmentsin wide areas around Pariis;...

Fri, 11 Aug 44 – Mission: Brest-Lorient-St. Nazaire (leaflets)

In France, A-20s and B-26s attack bridges at Montrichard, Oissel, Fismes,and Creil/Saint-Maximin, gun defenses at Ile de Cezembre and Saint-Malo,and an ammunition dump at Foret de Roumare;...

Interesting secondary missions were the dropping of propaganda leafletson the Brest peninsula to warn the Germans holding out there to surrender.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 30.

Sat, 12 Aug 44 – Mission: Corbeilrailroad siding

In France, A-20s and B-26s attack Oissel rail bridge, Corbeil-Essonnesrefueling siding, and numerous points along highways in the Argentan areawith the aim of bottling up enemy troops;...

The formation did not drop their bombs on the target at Corbeil, Francebecause of overcast. Upon turning to return to bse, "Roughernacob", withLt. Moriarty at the controls, received damage to their fuel system fromthe light Flak put up over the target area. His left engine started tocut out as he neared the English Channel, forcing him to feathered it,and seek an emergency landing site. He made a 'wheels-down' landing ina farmer's field, short of the USAAF P-47 fighter strip at (A-13) Tour-en-Bessin,France. The landing gear subsequently sheared off when the bomber cameto the end of the field and went through a hedge row. The crew escapedunharmed. The on-board crew were:

Pilot
Copilot 
B/N
ROG
EG
AG
1st Lt.
2nd Lt. 
2nd Lt.
T/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
William Moriarty
Jess Wilkes
Clarence Bergland
Doyle Gantt
Kenneth Schell
Charles Salas

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26 MarauderReference and Operations Guide, p. 23.

Aug. 12— No. 62

Weather and a shortage of "petrol" forced us to salvo our bombs afterfailing to locate the Corbeil marshalling yards in the southeast sectionof Paris. We again led the group with Lt. Agner as co-pilot, Gehrke asengineer, Sloane as Gee, McCabe as navigator.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

August 12, 1944. (A-13)USAAF Fighter Base near Tour-en-Bessin, France. - 1st Lieutenant BillMoriarty landed his flak damaged B-26 in an open field near this fighterbase. His aircraft still retained its full bomb load due to the overcastover the intended target of the formation; the railroad siding at Corbeil,France.

Lt. Moriarty was at the controlsof the B-26B Marauder named "Roughernacob" over Corbeil, when his bomberwas struck by Flak that pierced his Marauder's fuel lines. The rapid lossof fuel forced Lt. Moriarty and his copilot, Lt. Jess Wilkes, to feathertheir left engine and call Emergency Control for a suitable airfield tomake an emergency landing.

Lt. Moriarty describes hiscrew's tingling experience, "The weather was fairly good and the flightto Corbeil was uneventful. The overcast over our target prevented us fromdropping our bombs. As we turned to leavewe encountered some light Flak,but at the time, we didn't believe we were hit."

"We must have received damageto our fuel system. Shortly before we headed out across the English Channel,we noticed that our fuel guages suddenly showed we were almost empty. Wemust have been losing fuel rapidly. I broke away from the formation andhad Jess call emergency Flying Control for a heading to the nearest fieldsuitable for a B-26 to land; which they supplied."

"As we turned and headedfor the designated field, our left engine began to cut out...and come backin. We decided to feather it, and trimmed our plane for single engine operation.We were losing altitude because we still had our full payload of bombs.We were over friendly territory, so we did not salvo to lighten the ship.About this time, our right engine began to miss for lack of fuel-whenwe trimmed for single engine, it was necessary for both Jess and I to beat the controls when the engine would cut out.:

Moriarty continues, "I spotteda fighter field ahead and to the left, and thought that we could make it.The big mistake I made was in not getting Whitey, our bombardier, out ofthe nose compartment earlier. Now this was impossible since Jess had toman the controls with me."

"As we turned toward thefighter strip, I knew we would not make it. We were about forty-five degreesto the runway, when I saw this farm field and without hesitation, calledJess to put the landing gear down. I've thought about it many times andto this day I don't know what, or who told me to do that."

"We landed in that smallfield. At the far end of this field was a hedge row, and as we went throughit, all three of our landing gears were sheared off. We bellied to a stopin the next field. Jess and I went through the top hatches, then ran tothe nose to check on Whitey. The plastic nose section was broken off andhe was gone! We thought that possibly he had been thrown clear, but whenwe turned around there was Whitey running like hell across the field! Hehurried to the rear of the plane to check on Schell, Gantt and Salas, butthey were gone... Like our bombardier, they were running from the wreckage,and needless to add, Jess and I took off too."

"We were very fortunate wedid not have any injuries. Thinking back, having the gear down probablysaved our lives. It definitely saved Whitey's life."

"Roughernacob" was put downon the edge of Allied Landing Strip number A-13. The P-47 pilots, and personnelof the fighter squadron, treated the B-26 crew "royally" during the fewdays of their stay. When transportation was arranged, Lt. Moriarty, andhis crew, were taken back across the English Channel to their home baseat Stoney Cross, outside South Hampton...carrying their Norden bombsight.The crew members were:

1st Lt. William Moriarty
2nd Lt. Jess Wilkes
2nd Lt. Clarence "Whitey" Bergland
T/Sgt. Doyle "Honorable" Gantt
S/Sgt. Kenneth "Skip" Schell
S/Sgt. Charles "Chuck" Salas
Pilot
Copilot
Bombardier
Radioman
Flight Engineer
Armament

– Bill Moriarty (556th),"Tall Tiger Tales," Yea Botz, Vol. XIX, No. 1 (Dec 1987).

Sun,13 Aug 44

In France, around 575 B-26s and A-20s with fighter escort bomb fuelstorage at Les Buissons, points along highways around Lisieux and SE toRugles with the aim of containing the enemy in the Falaise pocket, railroadtargets at Peronne, Doullens, and Corbeil-Essonnes;...

Mon, 14 Aug 44

In France, A-20s and B-26s with fighter escort hit several highwayand rail bridges, junctions and sidings mostly beyond the battlelines todelay and complicate the German retreat;...

Tue, 15 Aug 44 – Mission: Auvers-sur-Oiserailroad bridge

Tue, 15 Aug 44 – Mission: Conches-Damville choke point

In France, 330+ A-20s and B-26s with fighter escort bomb Marseille-
en-Beauvaisis and Foret de Chantilly ammunition and fuel dumps, railbridges
at Auvers-sur-Oise and L'Isle-Adam, Serqueux marshalling yard, andcoastal
defense at Saint- Malo;...

Early in August the 387th was assigned the destruction of a RRY bridgeat Auvres-Sur-Olze, north of Paris. The mission was successful, but flakdamaged several of the planes. “Lady Irene” had been so badly hit thatshe could not be landed. Over the field the pilot, Lieutenant Don Morris,ordered his crew to bail out. After he had seen his crew safely on theirway down, Lieutenant Morris, an enthusiastic amateur photographer, decidedto try to get some pictures of the proceedings. After trimming the ship,he crawled back to the navigator’s compartment, found the camera, and afterdropping from the nose wheel well, took pictures of the other parachutesand the plane when it crashed. Under the expert care of Technical SergeantDan P. White, “Lady Irene” had flown a total of 116 missions, the last99 without aborting.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 30.

Wed, 16 Aug 44 – Mission: Anizyle Chateau

Wed, 16 Aug 44 – Mission: Pont Audemer fuel dump

Wed, 16 Aug 44 – Mission: Flers l'Falaise (leaflets)

In France, about 130 B-26s and A-20s, with fighter escort, hit a Foretde Roumare ammunition dump and rail bridges at Pont-Audemer, Thibouville,Brionne, Nassandres, and Le Bourg;...

Aug. 16— No. 63

Pont Audemer – a pathfinder smash at one of three bridges using 2000lb. bombs. Weather was clear and flak was meager but accurate as ---.

Lt. McClung’s radioman badly wounded in legs, forced to land in Normandy.Our right engine [was] badly shot up. We really sweat out the return tripacross the Channel, expecting the worst at any time. Bomb load 2-2000 lb.

 – Burl Thompson (556th B.S.), Diary.

Thu, 17 Aug 44 – Beaumont railroad bridge

In France, 400+ A-20s and B-26s bomb road bridges at Montfort-sur-Risle,Pont-Audemer, Nassandres, Beaumont-le-Roger, Le Bourg, Brionne, and Beaumontel,and a rail bridge at La Ferriere-sur-Risle;...

Fri, 18 Aug 44

In France, nearly 100 B-26s and A-20s strike a fuel dump, ammunitiondump, rail and road overpass, rail embankment, and junction beyond thebattleline to disorganize retreating German forces;...

Sat, 19 Aug 44

No IX Bomber Command operations.

Sun, 20 Aug 44

In France, 61 B-26s bomb troop and equipment concentrations waitingat Foret de la Lande to be ferried across the Seine River;...

Mon, 21 Aug 44

Bad weather grounds all bombers and fighters;...

Tue, 22 Aug 44 – HQ moves toMaupertus

IX Bomber Command operations are cancelled because of weather.
...
HQ 387th Bombardment Group (Medium) moves from Stony Cross, Englandto Maupertus;...

By this time it was apparent that at least some medium groups mustmove to the continent in order to support effectively the swiftly movingground troops. After several weeks of packing the reconnaissance and advanceparties went across the Channel from Stoney Cross to Station A-15 at Maupertus,in Normandy.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 30-31.

Wed, 23 Aug 44

In France, 4 B-26s drop leaflets in the Lisieux-Bernay area...

Thu, 24 Aug 44

In France, weather cancels a IX Bomber Command mission against 4 fueldumps N of the Seine River;...

The next afternoon, we climbed on board a B-17 which had been convertedinto a transport by the construction of unpainted wooden benches in thebomb bay. We were flown to the field in southern England near Stoney Crosswhere the 387th Bomb Group was based at that time. Our crew was assignedto the 558th Bomb Squadron, one of four such tactical squadrons attachedto the 387th.

We were soon informed that our days at Stoney Cross were numbered. Anadvanced party was in France at that time, preparing a field near Cherbourgfor our arrival.

– Robin Priday (556 B.S.), Missionto Mayen.

Fri, 25 Aug 44

Paris falls to the Allies.

In France, about 240 A-20s and B-26s attack various enemy strongholdsin and around Brest supporting the ground forces' attempt to capture Brestharbor;...

Sat, 26 Aug 44 – Mission: St.Gobain fuel dump

In France, IX Bomber Command, with fighter escort, strikes fuel dumpsat Saint-Gobain, Fournival/Bois-de-Mont, and  Compiegne/Clairoix,and troop and equipment concentrations at Rouen; fighters fly ground forcesand assault area cover, and armed reconnaissance in the Rouen, Dijon, Chatillon-sur-Seineand S Loire areas;...

  – Jack McKillop, Combat Chronology of the U.S. ArmyAir Forces.

Prior to the move, our pilot and the other crew members flew one ortwo combat missions over France with a veteran pilot. No such orientationflight was provided for co-pilots.

– Robin Priday (556 B.S.), Missionto Mayen.

Sun, 27 Aug 44 – Flight echelonmoves to Maupertus

In France, the IX Bomber Command attacks troop concentrations in theRouen area, Rouen bridge, Boulogne-sur-Mer/Boursin navigational beam station,and Bucy-les-Pierrepont and Foret de Samoussy fuel dumps;...

The flight echelon  flew over [from Stoney Cross to Maupertus]on August 27,...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 31.

My first view of the continent came later in the week when the flyingelements of the Group took off from Stony Cross, formed up, flew acrossthe channel and landed at our new base.

The field at Cherbourg had been a Luftwaffe fighter base and AmericanArmy engineers had made it suitable for heavier aircraft by laying a steelmat runway over the grass. As we were moving in, a P-61 "Black Widow" nightfighter unit was in the process of moving out. We were billeted in prefabricated,wooden barracks which had been erected by the Germans and subsequentlywell ventilated by allied air attacks prior to the invasion. Even so, ourquarters were reasonably comfortable. The area in and around the base hadobviously been the scene of recent ground fighting. Trenches, barbed wire,tank barriers and pillboxes were much in evidence as well as crates ofGerman hand grenades and mortar shells. The edges of the roads were markedwith many "Achtung Minen" signs. A burned out American Sherman tank satclose to our barracks and the charred remains of two of the occupants wereclearly visible through the forward hatches. It was definitely hedgerowcountry and one had to be impressed with the difficulties our ground forceshad experienced in that region.

– Robin Priday (556 B.S.), Missionto Mayen.

Mon, 28 Aug 44 – Mission: Querieu- various targets

In France, B-26s and A-20s escorted by fighters bomb fuel dumps atDoullens, Barisis-aux-Bois, an ammunition dump at Querrieu, an ammunitionand fuel dump at Compiegne/Foret de Laigue, and an alcohol distillery andfuel storage depot at Hamm;...

...and the next day flew its first mission from French soil, and attackedan ammunition dump at Querrieu, near Amiens. Enormous explosions and fireswere seen after the attack. Lieutenant M. A. Jordan and his crew were missingafter the plane had been hit by flak. Pilot Jordan and togglier Powellwere POWs, Co-pilot Earl J. Seagars was an evadee and the three other crewmembers were killed in the plane crash.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 31.

Aug. 28— No. 64

A fuel and ammunition dump north of Amiens was our first mission flownfor our new base at Cherbourg, France. Flak was rough. the 558th lost Lt.Jordan. We made it OK in 857 Shootin’ In. Maj. Grau again caught most ofthe flak, causing them to "sweat" the return.Bombing results were good,causing explosions on a large scale. Bomb load 8-500 lb.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 29 Aug 44

In France, bad weather allows only minimum bomber and fighter operations;B-26s attack 1 fuel dump while a few fighters fly sweeps over NW France;...

The rear echelon departed [Stoney Cross for Maupertus] August 29...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 31.

Wed, 30 Aug 44

In France, about 75 A-20s and B-26s bomb a fuel dump near Arques-la-Bataille,Rouxmesnil-Bouteilles, and gun positions around Ile de Cezembre;...

Thu, 31 Aug 44

In France, 99 B-26s and A-20s bomb an ammunition dump at Foret d'Arquesand gun positions at Ile de Cezembre;...

Fri, 1 Sep 44

In France, B-26s attack fortifications in the Brest area which artillery
fire had been unable to reduce;...and the 556th, 557th, 558th and 559thBombardment Squadrons (Medium), 387th Bombardment Group (Medium), movefrom Stony Cross, England to Maupertuis with B-26s.

...and arrived September 1, personnel were brought across the channelby LCIs and vehicles by LCTs. Landing at Utah Beach, rear echelon personnelmarched eight miles to a bivouac area, from which place they were takenby truck to A-15. The base was more comfortable than expected. Enough houseswere found to shelter part of the men, tents were set up for the othersand after a day or two the Group proceeded with its duties.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 31.

Sat, 2 Sep 44

In France, weather grounds the bombers;...

Sun, 3 Sep 44

In France, B-26s and A-20s supporting ground troops pound strongpointsand bridges in the Brest area;...

Mon, 4 Sep 44

In France, weather prevents bomber activity;...

Tue, 5 Sep 44 – Mission: Breststrong points

In France, 300+ B-26s and A-20s bomb strongpoints in the Brest areaand a coastal battery at Pointe du Grand Gouin,...

The stay at Maupertus was of short duration. Within a few days afterthe 387th had set up on the continent the B-26s could barely reach theGermans ahead of General Patton’s Third Army. Since the drive from southernFrance either had its own air cover or was so swift that it needed none,the only targets still available in early September were the garrisonsat Brest, St. Nazaire, Lorient and other coastal cities. The strong pointsat Brest received most attention and were attacked September 5 and 6.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 31.

Our first missions from Cherbourg were flown in support of the Americanassault on the port city of Brest. By this time, it was early Septemberof 1944.

Takeoffs from the steel mat runway were exciting. Due to frequent rains,the sod under the mat was soft and the B-26's often didn't accelerate asrapidly as they normally would. Aircraft taking off toward the coast wouldsometimes dip down over Cherbourg Harbor to pick up additional airspeedprior to joining up in formation. To the ground observer, a flight of B-26'swould simply drop out of sight for a minute or two before reappearing severalmiles from the field.

– Robin Priday (556 B.S.), Missionto Mayen.

Boogy Buggy was the B-26 that introduced me-and our crew-toaerial warfare. I recall sitting in the tail gun position on the morningmission to Brest, on September 5, 1944. We encountered light 40 mm groundfire as we neared the target, but nothing significant as I learned later.My thoughts at the time were rather rash, I must admit; "Hell,"I remember thinking, "this is a piece of cake."

We flew as a wingman; Lieutenant Henry C. Minkler was Neff's "combatguide" in the right seat. There were other missions, more fearsome of course,but that first mission, and my thoughts of it at the time, still linger.

– William J. Thompson, Jr.,556thBomb. Squadron, B-26 Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 35.

Wed, 6 Sep 44 – Mission: Breststrong points

Wed, 6 Sep 44 – Mission: Brest strong points

In France, B-26s and A-20s hit Brest area strongpoints, a coastal batteryat Pointe du Grand Gouin, defenses at Saint-Pierre-Quilbignon, and a Brestarea bridge;...

The strong points at Brest received most attention and were attackedSeptember 5 and 6.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 31.

Sept. 6— No. 65

An easy run over the stubborn German garrison at Brest. We were a smallpart of the large bombardment carried out against this point for severaldays in an attempt to force the surrender of Brest.

No flak, no fighters. Our tough luck spell seems to be broken. Flew857. Bomb load 4-1000 lb.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Thu, 7 Sep 44

In France, bad weather grounds the bombers;...

Fri, 8 Sep 44

In France, weather prevents bomber missions;...

Sat, 9 Sep 44

B-26s fly a leaflet mission to coastal France and Belgium..

Sun, 10 Sep 44 – Mission: Foretde Haye troop concentration

In France, about 340 B-26s and A-20s hit strongpoints and ammunitionstores in the Foret de Haye, Custines rail bridge, and a road bridge overthe Mosel River; escorting fighters provide general air cover in the Metz-Nancyarea,...

The advancing Third Army called for help, and on September 10 and 12missions to Gehternach and Foret de Haye were briefed and flown. Resultsachieved by Lieutenant Colonel R. S. Stewart and Captain E. Stanton, groupbombardier, were excellent.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 31.

Sept. 10— No. 66

A long haul to Nancy on the German border east of Paris. This was thelongest haul we have yet made—four hours and twenty minutes, 732 mi. Bombeda strongpoint of German defenses in the woods just west of Nancy. Againwe flew 857 as leader of the group. We passed to the south of Paris goingout and directly over while returning. A good view of the Eiffel Towerand the city. Seems darn funny to fly over France for 732 miles and seeno flak-what a difference three months can make! Bomb load 28-100 lb.H.E.’s

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Mon, 11 Sep 44

In France, 358 B-26s and A-20s, escorted by fighters, in support ofthe US Third Army, hit gun positions and strongpoints in the Metz area;...

Tue, 12 Sep 44 – Mission: Brest area pillboxes

Tue, 12 Sep 44 – Mission: Foret de Haye troop concentration

Tue, 12 Sep 44 – Mission: Siegfried line pillboxes

Tue, 12 Sep 44 – Reconnaissance party leaves for Chateaudun

In Germany, B-26s and A-20s hit Westwall fortifications, Sankt Wendelstation, where an armored division and important technicians are to entrain,and fortifications around Nancy, France;...

The advancing Third Army called for help, and on September 10 and 12missions to Gehternach and Foret de Haye were briefed and flown. Resultsachieved by Lieutenant Colonel R. S. Stewart and Captain E. Stanton, groupbombardier, were excellent.
...
On September 12, the reconnaissance party left A-15 for airstrip A-39at Chateaudun,...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 31.

Wed, 13 Sep 44

B-26s fly a leaflet mission to coastal N France and Belgium;...

Thu, 14 Sep 44

...about 140 B-26s and A-20s bomb gun emplacements and strongpointsin the Brest area;...

Fri, 15 Sep 44 – Advance party leaves for Chateaudun

In France, bad weather prevents bomber operations;...

and three days later were followed by the advance party.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. 31.

Sat, 16 Sep 44 – Mission: Metz strong points

In the Netherlands, 150+ B-26s and A-20s, escorted by fighters, attackthe Bath dike and Arnemuiden road and rail embankment.

Sun, 17 Sep 44

No combat bomber missions are flown; weather permits 1 leaflet mission.

Mon, 18 Sep 44 – Group movesto Chateaudun

Weather cancels all bomber activity;...; HQ 387th Bombardment Group(Medium) and the 556th, 557th, 558th and 559th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium)move from Maupertuis to Chateaudun with B-26s;...On arrival at A-39 the 387th found visible evidence of the accuracyof the “Big Brothers,” the B-17s of the Eighth Air Force. As a result ofearlier raids by the American heavies and RAFs, parts of the field andmost of the installations were complete shambles. Nearly all building andhangars were demolished and both runways were well peppered. On personalinvestigation the men found Chateaudun a neat town with several wine shopsand a good theater that was soon used for American movies. A private bathhousewas leased by the Group and provided the luxury of hot showers.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. 31-32.

After a few weeks, the fast moving ground forces had pushed beyondour effective range and a move to a field near Chateaudun was necessary.It had been a well established base with two intersecting concrete runways,taxiways and large reinforced concrete hangers which had been badly damagedby Allied bombing. The runways and taxiways had been repaired but the buildingshad not. Tents and stoves were issued and the 556th established camp ona low hill, overlooking the Base. We erected our tents in the scattered,random pattern which was supposed to minimize the effects of any one strafingpass by enemy aircraft. The mess-tent and headquarters tents were locatedwithin the edge of a picturesque grove of pine trees.

Flying weather was not consistently good during our time at Chateaudunand several missions were turned back by towering cloud formations betweenthe Base and the target. Some of the more industrious air crew membersutilized their free time to build furniture for their tents, collect firewoodetc. An adjacent German bomb dump offered a supply of excellent buildingmaterial. Each bomb was encased in a well-made wooden crate. It was animpressive sight to see these high explosives being lifted out of theircrates and carelessly tossed on a pile of other bombs. We naturally assumedthat all bombs were like our own and would not explode unless armed witha fuse.

– Paul Priday (556 B.S.),Missionto Mayen.

Tue, 19 Sep 44

In Germany, B-26s hit marshalling yards in the Duren area to preventreinforcements from reaching the Aachen area by rail; ...

Wed, 20 Sep 44

In Germany, about 40 B-26s hit the marshalling yard at Trier and defensivepositions at Herbach to complicate rail transportation and aid in the Alliedground attack on Aachen;...

Thu, 21 Sep 44 – Mission: Ehrang marshalling yard

In Germany, 79 B-26s and A-20s bomb marshalling yards at Gerolstein,Pronsfeld, and Ebrang; fighters escort the bombers,...

The 387th BG had just moved to its new forward base at A-39. Althoughheavily bombed by the Allied air forces, and sabotaged by the recentlydeparted Germans, its concrete runways-freshly repaired-were a big improvementover the steel-mesh (a.k.a. P.S.P., pierced steel plank) strip at A-15.

Robert Pitt II informed me that "Circle Jerk" cracked up when it struckan oil drum that was on the runway, during a practice night landing. Bobwas pinned in the wreckage of "Circle Jerk, and was extricated by S/Sgt.Henry "Lucky" Mayre, the crew' EG, just before the plane burst into flames.The other crew members escaped unhurt.

This was the first of three plane crashes that this crew endured whilemembers of the 556th Bomb. Squadron. On board "Circle Jerk" were:

Pilot
Copilot
Bom.-Nav.
Eng.-Gun.
Rad.-Gun.
Arm.-Gun.
1st Lt.
2nd Lt.
2nd Lt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
Verne H. Thompson
William "Red" Sherman
Russel H. Trapper
Henry L. Mayre
Robert H. Pitt II
Robert A. Leipse
O-699476

O-741113

37623800
36523886

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 46.

Fri, 22 Sep 44

No bomber missions are flown.

Sat, 23 Sep 44

B-26s and A-20s sent against targets in W Germany are recalled dueto weather;...

Sun, 24 Sep 44

Weather grounds the bombers.

Mon, 25 Sep 44

No bomber missions are flown.

Tue, 26 Sep 44

No bomber missions are flown.

Wed, 27 Sep 44 – Mission: Foret de Parroy - various targets

In France, nearly 300 B-26s and A-20s abort missions due to weather;8 manage to bomb a target at Foret de Parroy.

Thu, 28 Sep 44 – Mission: Foret de Parroy - various targets

In France, bombers hit the defended area of Foret de Parroy; fightersescort bombers,...

While landing in the rainafter an afternoon training hop Lt. Thompson's aircraft, #268/FW-H, drifted,or slid, off the right side of the runway. The aircraft's right main gearcollapsed after becoming mired in the mud. The fuselage of the B-26 brokein three places as a result of the crash. Miraculously, the crew sustainedonly minor injuries. This was the second landing mishap for this cew withina two month period. On board #268/FW-H were:

Pilot
Copilot
B/N
ROG
EG
AG
1st Lt.
2nd Lt.
2nd Lt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
S/Sgt.
Verne V. Thompson
Wm. R. Sherman
Russel H. Trapper
Robert H. Pitt II
Henry R. Mayre
Robert A. Leipse
O-699476

O-741113
37623800

36523886

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 50. 

Fri, 29 Sep 44 – Mission: Euskirchen marshalling yard

In Germany, 400+ B-26s and A-20s hit marshalling yards and rail sidingsat Prum, Euskirchen, and Bingen, dragon's teeth antitank defenses nearWebenheim, and marshalling yards, rail sidings, warehouses and barracksat Julich and Bitburg;...

Sat, 30 Sep 44

14 B-26s bomb the Arnhem, the Netherlands road bridge with poor results;...

Sun, 1 Oct 44

In France...weather prevents bomber operations;...

Mon, 2 Oct 44 – Mission: Herbach defense area

...in Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division strikes the industrialarea of Ubach and defended positions at Herbach;...

Oct. 2— No. 67

After an "unasked for" rest of three weeks we led the group in the missionto open the drive through the Seigfried Line in the Aachen area (south).We were the first ship to bomb with "bombs away" at 0900’45 to open thebombardment by over 500 planes. This was preceded by an artillery barragedirected against flak strongpoints. Lt. Fisher was forced to land 310 inBelgium after Dobbins, Braunsweiger, Patterson, and Fulgrum had hit thesilk. We received no flak in our flight—all others did. Bomb load 16-250lb. H.E.’s.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Tue, 3 Oct 44 – Mission: Duren ammunition dump

220+ B-26s and A-20s sent to bomb targets at Durena and Aldenhoven,Germany, and Arnhem, the Netherlands are recalled because of weather;...

Wed, 4 Oct 44

Bombers drop leaflets in the Metz and Saint-Die, France and Saarburg,Germany areas;...

Thu, 5 Oct 44 – Mission: Duren ammunition dump

330+ B-26s and A-20s dispatched against targets in Arnhem, the Netherlandsand Aldenhoven and Duren, Germany are recalled;...

Fri, 6 Oct 44 – Mission: Duren ammunition dump

300+ B-26s and A-20s hit marshalling yards, barracks, and ammunitiondump at Hengelo, the Netherlands and Duren, Germany and bridges at Arnhem,the Netherlands and Aldenhoven, Germany;...

Sat, 7 Oct 44 – Mission: Bullay railroad bridge

HQ Ninth AF cancels previous instructions against bombing bridges andopens to attack all bridges on the US front, except those over the RhineRiver. 300+ B-26s and A-20s strike bridges at Arnhem, the Netherlands andin Germany, bridges at Bullay and Dillingen, a supply depot at Euskirchen,and marshalling yard and warehouse at Hengelo and Trier; fighters fly bomberescort,...

Sun, 8 Oct 44 – Mission: Erkelenz railroad bridge &troop concentration

A revision and elaboration (from 28 Sep-8 Oct) of the Ninth AF interdictionprogram against railroads connected with the Rhine River results in theissuance of a new interdiction program; it includes rail lines furtherto the E and requires attacks by all 4 Tactical Air Commands of the NinthAF, plus aid from the British Second Tactical AF.  300+ B-26s andA-20s, with fighter escort, hit strongpoints and bridges over wide areasof E France and W Germany;...

Mon, 9 Oct 44

HQ Ninth AF gives the Tactical Air Commands an initial attack listof 10 bridges on the US front; other lists follow. 30 9th Bombardment Divisionaircraft attack a rail bridge at Euskirchen, Germany; fighters provideescort...

Tue, 10 Oct 44 – Mission: Bullay railroad bridge

Weather cancels daytime bomber and fighter operations.

Wed, 11 Oct 44 – Camp de Bitche installations

In France, 99 B-26s and A-20s, with fighter escort, sent to bomb theCamp-de-Bitche military camp are recalled when Pathfinder equipment malfunctionsand weather prevents visual bombing.

Thu, 12 Oct 44 – Camp de Bitche & Rohrbach

Almost 250 B-26s and A-20s bomb Camp-de-Bitche, France military camp,rail bridges at Grevenbroich and Ahrweiler, Germany, city areas of Langerweheand Aldenhoven, Germany, and Venraij, the Netherlands, and various targetsof opportunity;...

Fri, 13 Oct 44

9th Bombardment Division bombers hit bridges at Saarlouis, France,Roermond and Venlo, the Netherlands, and Euskirchen and Mayen, Germany,plus several targets of opportunity.

Sat, 14 Oct 44 – Mission: Trier-Pfazel railroad bridge

Bad weather grounds the A-20s and B-26s; fighters escort a leafletmission...Oct. 14 — No. 68

Unsuccessful due to weather over target—tried at railroad bridge inthe outskirts of Trier. Flak was moderate and accurate, but mostly against2ndbox. Flew 186 Los Lobos Grande.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sun, 15 Oct 44

Weather prevents bomber operations;...

Mon, 16 Oct 44

All operations are cancelled due to weather.

Tue, 17 Oct 44

All Rhine River rail and road bridges are cleared for attack; 2 dayslater Advance HQ prescribes bridges as having priority on the target listsecond only to rail lines. In Germany, 35 B-26s hit rail bridge at Euskirchen;fighters escort the bombers,...

Wed, 18 Oct 44

Weather prevents operations of all commands (including the 9th BombardmentDivision)...

Thu, 19 Oct 44

Weather prevents bomber operations;...

Fri, 20 Oct 44 – Mission: Moerdijk railroad bridge

In the Netherlands, the 9th Bombardment Division hits the Geertruidenberg/Parenboomand Moerdijke rail bridges; attacks on other targets are aborted becauseof bad weather.

Lt. Chapman experienced flight problems and was forced to land "S.S.F.F."at an abandoned fighter strip. Before it was possible to fly the B-26Cback to A-71 ten weeks later, the Marauder had both its engines replaced,as well as a new nose-wheel landing gear. S/Sgt. Frank Fetzer, the CrewChief, describes its return: "Lt. (Maurice) Fleischer and I went after#719 at the fighter base. I still think a test pilot wouldhave thought plenty before attempting to fly it out. Fleisher, a copilot,and I walked around looking at all the (repaired) damage when out of theblue he asked, 'Do you think we'll make it? I thought, 'Holy Cats! If hedon't know, then what the hell am I doing here?' Instead, I replied, 'We'llhave to jump it.' The twisted hanger at the end of our take off strip lookedto me at about 40 rods (600 feet), so we got back as far as possible. Weagreed he'd hold the controls, and I would rev it up. The nose wheel cameup, and he let it go! He was to give me the signal to raise the landinggear, but I decided we were close enough and it was Tine. I JERKED IT UPON MY OWN! For a second it felt like the plane was deciding whether torise, or to fall..but off we flew....into the wild blue yonder. I oftenwondered how they chose Fleisher and I?"

Fetzer also listed the various interpretations of the named: "S.S.F.F."(1)- "Started Second, Finished First," (2)-Started Slipped, Farted &Fell," (3)- Staff Sergeant Frank Fetzer," and last, (4)- "Started Sucking,Finished F---." His number (2) version was the widely accepted one.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 56.

Sat, 21 Oct 44

Bad weather grounds the bombers.

Sun, 22 Oct 44

Weather forbids bomber operations;...

Mon, 23 Oct 44

Weather prevents all commands, including the 9th Bombardment Division,from flight operations.

Tue, 24 Oct 44

In France, bad weather cancels all operations except fighter patrols...

Manny made Ops officer Oct. 24.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Wed, 25 Oct 44

9th Bombardment Division's missions are cancelled because of bad weather.

Thu, 26 Oct 44

No bomber operations as bad weather prevails;...

Fri, 27 Oct 44

Adverse weather prevents all operations except patrols by XIX TacticalAir Command and supply dropping missions...

Sat, 28 Oct 44

In Germany, 45 B-26s bomb rail bridges at Sinzig, Kempenich, and Ahrweiler,and airfield at Euskirchen; fighters escort the bombers,...

Sun, 29 Oct 44

About 170 B-26s and A-20s bomb rail bridges at Mayen, Konz-Karthaus,and Euskirchen, Germany and Ellern and Moerdijke, the Netherlands; fightersfly escort to bombers,...

Mon, 30 Oct 44 – Moerdijk railroad bridge

B-26s are recalled from a mission (mainly against bridges) becauseof bad weather;.... In France, HQ 387th Bombardment Group (Medium) movesfrom Chateaudun to Clastres.

Tue, 31 Oct 44

Weather forbids bomber operations and limits fighters;...

Wed, 1 Nov 44

Weather prevents bomber operations;...

Thu, 2 Nov 44

In Germany, 147 bombers of the 9th Bombardment Division, with fighterescort, attack rail bridges at Mayen, Euskirchen, Bullay, Konz-Karthaus,and Trier.

Fri, 3 Nov 44

In Germany, 140+ B-26s and A-20s hit a rail overpass at Kaiserslautern,and rail bridges at Neuwied-Irlich, Bad Munster am Stein, Morscheid andKonz-Karthaus;...

Moved to Saint Quentin Nov. 3, 1944.

Nov. 3 to Dec. 15—

Very little flying, only enough to get my flying pay. All of these flightswere either "ferrying hops" or transition with Manny or B.J.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sat, 4 Nov 44 – Mission: Eschweiller gun positions

In Germany, 218 B-26s and A-20s hit the Trier ordnance depot, Baumholder,and Eschweiler gun positions;... In France, the 556th, 557th, 558th and559th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium), 387th Bombardment Group (Medium),move from Chateaudun to Clastres with B-26s.

[NEED TO DECIDE HOW MUCH TO INCLUDE]
– Robin Priday (556th B.S.),Missionto Mayen.

Sun, 5 Nov 44 – Homburg railroad bridge

160 B-26s and A-20s strike ammunition, ordnance, and supply depotsat Hamburg, Germany; fighters escort the bombers,...

Mon, 6 Nov 44

Weather grounds the 9th Bombardment Division;...

Tue, 7 Nov 44

No bomber operations because of unfavorable weather;...

Wed, 8 Nov 44

Weather cancels operations against military depots and troop concentrationsin Germany, and fortified positions in France; a mission against rail bridgesin Germany is recalled due to weather;...

Thu, 9 Nov 44 – Dieuze troop concentration

74 planes of the 9th Bombardment Division attack road junctions, barracks,ordnance arsenals, artillery camps, military storage depot, and other targetsin the Dieuze and Faulquemont, France and Landau and Sankt Wendel, Germanyareas;...

Fri, 10 Nov 44

150+ bombers dispatched against an ordnance arsenal and camp area arerecalled due to weather; 7 others drop leaflets;...

Sat, 11 Nov 44

In Germany, 190 B-26s and A-20s hit strongpoints at Putzlohn and railbridges at Sinzig, Euskirchen, Ahrweiler, and Mayen;...

Sun, 12 Nov 44

Weather prevents operations by the 9th Bombardment Division;...

Mon, 13 Nov 44

Weather prevents all operations except for night patrol and weather reconnaissance...

Tue, 14 Nov 44

Weather prevents all operations except a few fighter patrols and reconnaissanceflights.

Wed, 15 Nov 44

Weather prevents bomber operations...

Thu, 16 Nov 44 – Luchen troop concentrations

In Germany, 80 9th Bombardment Division bombers hit defended areasand strongpoints at Echtz, Luchem, and Eschweiler;...

Fri, 17 Nov 44 Mission: Weisweiller defended area

30 bombers of the 9th Bombardment Division hit Haguenau, France; weatherprevents 100+ bombers from attacking targets; fighters escort bombers,...

Frank Fetzer, a former Crew Chief, relates that while taking off, oneof the aircraft's engines missed, and on relanding the nose gear on "ShortSnorter" gave out. The Marauder ended up in an old bomb crater at the endof the runway. The on board crew escaped injuries. The B-26B was salvagedfor parts.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 35.

Sat, 18 Nov 44 – Mission: Weisweiller defended area

340+ bombers of the 9th Bombardment Division strike barracks areas,rail bridges, rail facilities, strongpoints, and defended positions at13 locations in Germany; fighters escort the bombers,...

Sun, 19 Nov 44 – Mission: Merzig strong point

Sun, 19 Nov 44 – Mission: Lanau ordnance arsenal

450+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb storage depots, bridge, junction,ordnance depots, and defended positions in or near 10 German towns andcities; fighters escort the bombers, ...

Mon, 20 Nov 44

Bad weather prevents bomber operations;...

Tue, 21 Nov 44 – Mission: Birgel defended area

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits rail bridges and defendedareas at several points including Bergstein, Echtz, Sinzig, Neuwied, andDerichsweiler; fighters escort the B-26s...

Wed, 22 Nov 44

Bomber operations are cancelled due to bad weather;...

Thu, 23 Nov 44

Unfavorable weather cancels all flights.

Fri, 24 Nov 44

Weather cancels all operations except for 3 XIX Tactical Air Command(Provisional) fighters...

Sat, 25 Nov 44 – Mission: Kaiserslautern ammunition dump

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits an ordnance arsenal atLandau, road junctions, and an ammunition dump at Neustadt and Kaiserslautern;fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division...

Sun, 26 Nov 44

In Germany, 173 B-26s and A-20s bomb supply, storage, stores, and ordnancedepots at Gaulsheim, Bergzabern, Giessen, Reichenbach, and Homburg/Saar;...

Mon, 27 Nov 44

Weather forbids bomber missions;...

Tue, 28 Nov 44

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits the defended villagesof Birgel and Merken, a rail bridge at Sinzig, and a Billiger Forest ammunitiondump; fighters fly escort,...

Wed, 29 Nov 44 – Mission: Limburg ordnance depot

In Germany, 301 B-26s and A-20s hit defended areas, barracks, and militarydepots at Wittlich, Mariaweiler, Pier, Eisdorf, Limburg, Rastatt, and Landau;fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division...

Thu, 30 Nov 44 – Mission: Pirmasens railroad tunnel

In Germany, 288 B-26s and A-20s attack the defended villages of Vettweiss,Stockheim, Erp, and Pirmasens, an armored vehicle repair center at Gemund,a rail tunnel, a military camp at Malsbenden, and a marshalling yard atZweibrucken; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

Nov 44

crashed during take off and burned, while ona night training flight. The monthly report lists two airmen killed onan operational training flight during November. They were

1st Lt.
S/Sgt.
Floyd E. Farr
Leland Champion

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 33.

Fri, 1 Dec 44 – Mission: Saarlautern defended area

In Germany, 134 B-26s and A-20s strike defended areas at Fraulautern,Ensdorf, and Saarlautern;...

Sat, 2 Dec 44 – Mission: Saarlautern defended area

In Germany, 210 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb areas of Saarlautern,Ensdorf, and Fraulautern; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

Sun, 3 Dec 44

Weather cancels bomber operations.

Mon, 4 Dec 44

Weather prevents bomber operations.

Tue, 5 Dec 44 – Mission: Reken road junction

In Germany, 172 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s attack a marshalling yard,road junction, fuel storage dump, defended positions, and rail bridge at8 locations; fighters escort 9th Bombardment Division aircraft,...

Wed, 6 Dec 44 – Mission: Dulmen fuel dump

Wed, 6 Dec 44 – Mission: Mariaweiller defended village

In Germany, 154 A-20s and B-26s bomb the defended areas of Munstereifel,Erkelenz, Nideggen, and Daun; fighters escort the bombers,...

Thu, 7 Dec 44

All missions except a few fighter patrols are cancelled because ofbad weather.

Fri, 8 Dec 44

In Germany, 29 A-26s hit the Sinzig rail bridge;...

Sat, 9 Dec 44 Mission:Ahrweiller-Lebach defended area. In Germany, 254 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb defended villages, storagedepots, barracks area, and marshalling yard in W Germany; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

On December 9, the group had its first taste of American bombs in anaccident after the Dulman Supply Dept. mission. Since no bombs had beendropped because of bad weather, each plane was returning with sixteen 250pound demolition bombs aboard. In the haze and dusk the ship, flown byLieutenant J. T. Allman, 559th pilot, became caught in the "prop wash"and crashed into the field about sixty yards from the end of the runway. The gas tanks caught fire and exploded and fourteen of the sixteen bombsdetonated. In all twenty officers and enlisted men were killed and severalothers injured. The 559th squadron lost its commanding officer, Major RobertE. Murphy, and its assistant communications officer, Lieutenant Mac I.Fruch. Among the casualties were Captain Watters, Squadron surgeon of the556th and holder of the Soldier's Medal for other rescue work; and SergeantJ. F. Boch, also of the medics. Others killed were chiefly medical andfire-fighting personnel engaged in attemping to extinguish the fire andrescue the crew, who were still alive after the crash.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. 4.

I joined the 558th Bomb Squadron at Chipping Ongar, England, in January1944 as a pilot with a replacement crew and remained a member of that Squadronuntil November, 1944. I had completed 65 missions at that time and anticipatedflying more. However, Colonel Grover C. Brown, the 387th Bomb Group Commander,transferred me to Group Headquarters as the Group Training Officer in November.I was given the additional duty of Group Flying Safety Officer. Lt. Col.Gayle Smith, whom we all know and love, was my immediate boss.

On the morning of December 9, 1944, the 387th Bomb Group was locatedat an air base, A-71, near St. Quentin, France. I, as an experienced B-26pilot, was assigned to duty in the control tower that morning. My functionthere was to assist flight crews who encountered mechanical difficultiesthat might be corrected from the cockpit prior to landing.

The morning mission had taken off as scheduled. Each aircraft was loadedwith 250 pound demolition bombs. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft wererecalled to conduct a higher priority mission. This was not unusual inthose days, because we were supporting ground forces.

It was a clear and cold winter day with the thermometer below the freezinglevel. One of our newly assigned pilots was on his final approach. Apparentlyhis airspeed had dropped too low for the landing. He encountered prop washthat caused the aircraft to stall. The aircraft was only a couple hundredfeet from the ground and crashed short of the runway at 90 degrees to thelanding direction. The impact with the ground ruptured the fuel tanks,causing the aircraft to burst into flames.

The fire fighters, medics, and military policemen were in a standbyposition along the runway to provide immediate assistance in the eventof an aircraft emergency landing. Thus, they were the first to reach theburning aircraft to aid the crew members.

I had returned to the operations office, but was alerted immediatelyfollowing the crash. I rushed outside, jumped in a jeep, and sped to thescene.

When I arrived, the emergency crews had removed the air crew from thetail section and placed them in a waiting ambulance. We then attemptedto rescue the remaining aircrew members from the forward cockpit area.As I approached, it appeared that the bombs had broken through the fuselagewalls upon impact. The bombs were now on the ground and white-hot fromthe raging fuel fire. They were oozing a substance that I thought then,and still believe today, was the explosive material leaking from the bombcasing because of the intense heat. In the initial rescue operations, thefiremen had sprayed water on the rear of the aircraft to protect the rescueand surviving crew members from the intense heat and fire. They now shiftedthe water from the aft section to the forward section.

Let me digress at this point for a moment. Our Group moved from Englandacross the English Channel to France in the early fall of 1944. We werethe first bomber group to deploy from England to France. We stood downfrom combat for a few days in order to supply our new French base. Themethod used to supply bombs to our new base until additional bombs couldbe provided was probably at that time unique. We loaded each aircraft withunfused bombs and flew them to the French base. When we arrived, we taxiedto the designated bomb storage area, pulled the salvo lever, dropped thebombs on the ground, and returned to England. Because of this operationI assumed later that as long as the fuse was not activated, the bombs weresafe. A foolish assumption. I now know better. Consequently, on the fatefulday of the explosion I approached the burning aircraft with no fear. That was my last memory of the incident. I was apparently within 20 to 30 feetof a burning aircraft loaded with demolition bombs when they detonated.I felt no pain, heard no sound, and saw no explosion. My only sensationwas that I was floating along, enveloped in a warm, gentle breeze. I believebecause the aircraft engine was between the bombs and me I was shieldedfrom the direct blast.

Later on I learned that I had sustained first, second and third degreeburns on my head, face and upper body. Concussion had caused internal bleeding,plus ruptured eardrums, and I had numerous abrasions and holes in my arms,legs and body. I will never understand how I survived and so many othersdid not. It makes one think.

After the accident, Col. Brown advised me that the water sprayed onthe hot bombs probably created such a shock that they detonated. He alsoadvised me that Dr. Schwartz and I were the only two survivors from a groupof 40 men. The aircrew members who were removed from the tail section andplaced in an ambulance were also killed. The chassis was the only partof the ambulance remaining after the explosion.

How I lived nobody knows. However, it sure made a believer of me. Iwas released from the hospital to return to the USA either in late Marchor early April of 1945. After my experience at A-71 I was returned to flightstatus and had the good fortune to fly with the U. S. Air Force for another28 years.

– Joe Johnson (558th B.S.),"Tragedy Strikes the 387th," Shootin' In, Nov. 2002, pp. 6-7.

The highly regarded 556th Flight Surgeon, Capt. Franklin L. Watterswas one of the rescuers, who was among the fatalities.

– Paul Priday (556th B.S.),"Tragedy Strikes the 387th," Shootin' In, Nov. 2002, p. 6.

Sun, 10 Dec 44

In Germany, about 130 B-26s bomb defended positions at Birkesdorf,and Huchem-Stammeln; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

Mon, 11 Dec 44 – Mission: Dellfield railroad siding

In Germany, 200+ bombers dispatched to bomb defended villages and storageareas are recalled because of weather; 1 bomber manages to bomb a storesdepot at Reichenbach;...

Tue, 12 Dec 44

In Germany, 90 B-26s and A-20s strike the defended villages of Gemund,Harperscheid, Hellenthal, Schleiden, Schoneseiffen, and Wollseifen, andthe towns of Dorsel, Mayen, and Wiesbaden;...

Wed, 13 Dec 44

In Germany, 250 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s hit a supply dump at Schleiden,plus defended positions in several villages and marshalling yard at Euskirchen;fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

Thu, 14 Dec 44

Bad weather grounds the bombers.

Fri, 15 Dec 44 – Mission: Ruthern oil storage

In Germany, 300+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s hit defended positions, camparea, and oil storage at Heimbach, Wollseifen, Harperscheid, Schonau, Ruthen,and Dorsel; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division, ...The great day! All checked out and off to Paris on the first leg ofthe long trip home. Stayed in Paris seven days, then flew (by C-47) toEngland and again reported to Churley for transportation to the States.Spent three weeks there before again boarding the New Amsterdam at Gurock,Scotland for home. Arrived in New York Jan. 22, 1945 and went to Camp Kilmer,N.J. for the night. Arrived at Ft. Leavenworth Jan. 25 and home in Wellington(KS) on Jan 26. For thirty days’ leave.

– Burl Thompson (556th B.S.),Diary.

Sat, 16 Dec 44 – Germans attackto begin Battle of the Bulge

Bad weather cancels 9th Bombardment Division combat operations.

The Allied advance into Germany was rudely interrupted by the plansof Von Runstedt, whose armies broke through the thinly defended Americansector in the Ardennes and for days, in the confusion of extraordinarilythick fog, made a dash for Liege, Antwerp and other key cities. As thefog cleared, the German advance was stopped only about seventy-five milesfrom A-71. The mission of the air forces in this campaign was largely todestroy bridges to hinder the German’s retreat, for the enemy’s advancehad been halted within a few days.

...Vigorous steps were taken for defense against sabotage and smallarms were carried by all personnel.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

The Battle began on 16 Dec 44 and most of the allied air strength wasgrounded by the adverse weather conditions—low clouds, fog, rain, snow—until the 23rd. Missions were briefed each morning and the aircrews stood bytheir aircraft throughout the day until late afternoon, when the missionwas officially scrubbed. It was a very frustrating experience for us tobe so close to the battle and unable to provide support to the beleagueredgroundforces. Our base, near St. Quentin, France, was relatively close to theBelgium border.

– Paul Priday (556th B.S.),Missionto Mayen.

Sun, 17 Dec 44

In Germany, weather prevents bomber operations;...

Mon, 18 Dec 44

In Germany, 160+ A-26s, A-20s, and B-26s hit defended positions atHarperscheid, Hellenthal, Blumenthal, Dreiborn, and Herhahn;...

Tue, 19 Dec 44

Weather grounds the bombers.

Wed, 20 Dec 44

Bad weather prevents all combat operations, except a night intrudermission by 2 fighters.

At A-71 the Group was alerted on December 20th to be ready to moveon six hours notice...

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

I was assigned to a new crew. We were assigned to the 387 Bomb Group557 Bomb Sqdn. Again arrived during the Battle of the Bulge. When we arrivedthey told us not to unload as the Germans had broken through the line.We were near San Quentin, France.

– Ray V. Davila, My MilitaryHistory.

Thu, 21 Dec 44

Weather grounds all operations.

Fri, 22 Dec 44

Fighters fly a few strafing, weather reconnaissance, intruder patrol,and alert missions; bad weather cancels all other missions.

Sat, 23 Dec 44 – Mission: Mayenrailroad bridge

Sat, 23 Dec 44 – Mission: Prum defended area

In Germany, around 500 B-26s and A-20s attack rail bridges, communicationstargets, villages, a rail junction and targets of opportunity losing 31bombers; fighters fly bomber escort,...

Meanwhile the planes, after being grounded for several days by heavyfog, took off on December 23 to get the Mayen railroad bridge, an importantlink in the enemy’s supply system. Ordered to bomb by PFF, the crews foundCAVU conditions in the target area and scored, as was learned later, fourexcellent and one superior out of seven flights. Just after crossing thebomb line en route to the target, the formation was jumped by fifteen totwenty-five ME-109s, who concentrated on the low flight of the second boxand knocked down four ships—those of Lieutenant W. O. Pile, W. N. Church,C. O. Staub and W. J. Pucateri. Partial compensation for this loss wasthe destruction of four ME-109s and four damaged by Technical SergeantJoseph Delia, Staff Sergeant D. D. Fasey and Sergeants James Jones, EdWesolowski and Leo Mossman. The other flights, after the Germans had beenbeaten off, continued to the target through intense and accurate heavyflak and destroyed the bridge. The fifth plane was lost when LieutenantSmith’s plane was picked off just before “bombs away.” In returning tothe field Lieutenants W. P. Wade and T. G. Blackwell were forced to crash-landtheir badly damaged ships.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Just preceding Christmas Lieutenant Don Whitsett had flown his seventy-fifthmission in”Mississippi Mudcar” and had departed for the States. This planewas one of the original B-26s which had been ferried across the north Atlanticin June 1943; Lieutenant Whitsitt had flown in it as co-pilot. On December 23rd the “Cat” was shot down on its 150th mission.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Finally, on December 23rd, the weather over the Bulge area clearedand fighters and bombers from both the 8th and 9th Air Forces literallyswarmed over the battlefield. The Luftwaffe was also out in a surprisingshow of strength.
The initial target of the 387th was the railroad bridge at Mayen, Germany,approximately 25 miles west of Koblentz, which carried a critical railline to the battlefield. Our losses for the mission were seven of the thirty-sixaircraft which were launched. The target for the afternoon mission wasPrum, a communications center approximately 35 miles east of Bastogne.
...
On the 23rd of Dec., 1944, the first day that we could launch a missionin the Battle of the Bulge, I flew as a substitute co-pilot on both theMayen and Prum missions. During the former, our a/c was in one of the wingpositions in the first box and except for the excitement of finally beingable to join in this critical battle, it was a fairly routine mission frommy standpoint.

When we reached our fighter rendezvous the escorting fighters failedto appear and, as briefed, the leader turned on course over Bastogne. Wedidn't realize it at the time, but for some reason our second box missedthe turn and became separated from us by five or six miles. In addition,their low flight was lagging behind the box leader. This violation of formationdiscipline resulted in a flight of ME 109's effectively attacking the lowflight and shooting down four of the six a/c. In the first box, althoughwe were aware of enemy fighter activity by the radio chatter, no enemyaircraft were in view from the cockpit. Flights in the first box approachedthe target in a routine manner, went into their in-trail formation andscored excellent results on the bridge. The flak was accurate and heavy,but no a/c were lost over the target.

In the meantime, the second box was engaged in a running gun battlewith the ME 109's until one minute prior to opening their bomb bay doors.The two surviving Marauders from the low flight had tacked on to the leadflight. The Box Leader, realizing he was approaching the target on a headingdifferent that that which had been briefed, made a 360° turn and linedup properly for the bomb run. The high flight followed him and the twoflights made long steady runs and dropped with excellent results.

Both boxes sustained further flak damage on the way out, losing anotheraircraft and two aircraft crash landed at the base. Photos showed one spanof the bridge destroyed and another span partially destroyed.

Within a few minutes after climbing out of the a/c, I was in a truckgoing to the briefing tent in preparation for a mission over Prum, Germany,a communications center for the German ground forces attacking in Belgium.As a substitute co-pilot for one of our Flight Commanders, I had more battle-timeto observe the intense aerial activity over the area of the battle.

Our group was at 10,000 to 15,000 feet—the B-17's and B-24's were aboveus, probably at 20,000 to 25,000 feet and flights of P-47's could be observedpeeling off below us in dive bombing and strafing attacks.

Prum was about thirty five miles northeast of Bastogne and I recallthe flak was especially accurate as we flew toward the target. Regardlessof our evasive action, the bursts seemed to be all over us. As our flightsmaneuvered into their intrail formation to commence the bomb run, the flightof six ships ahead of us from another group, literally blew apart. I presumethe lead ship received a direct hit and the other five aircraft bankedaway to his right and left.

The 387th had been able to launch only 26 aircraft for this missioninstead of the customary 36, and 21 of the 26 received battle damage. Thebombing results were excellent.

– Paul Priday (556th B.S.),Mission to Mayen.

The 387th Group lost four bombers and a pathfinder to some 20 Germanfighters that blasted away at the B-26s
between Bastogne and their target at Daun... In the hit on Mayen, the387th suffered the loss of four Marauders to enemy fighters and anothertwo to flak after failing to find their escort from the 367th Fighter Group.The B-26s did, however, claim 4 German fighters downed.

– Daniel Parker, To Winthe Winter Sky, pp. 234.

The 387th and 394th BGs hit the village of Prüm east of St. Vith.The 387th lost only one plane due to flak damage. The crippled bomber washit just before the bomb run and suddenly arched over on its back. Thepilot somehow managed to roll over and straighten out in time to drop itsbombs before the B-26 fell off to the side and spun to the ground...

– Daniel Parker, To Winthe Winter Sky, pp. 235-236.

Staffeln of JG 11 opposed the 70 B-26 Marauders of the 387th and 394thBGs bearing down on the marshalling yards at Mayen.

– Daniel Parker, To Win the Winter Sky, pp. 243.

Sun, 24 Dec 44 – Mission: Nideggenrailroad siding

276 B-26s and A-20s hit rail bridges and communications centers in W Germany; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

Mon, 25 Dec 1944 – Mission: Irrelhighway bridge

Mon, 25 Dec 1944 – Mission: St. Vith road

Nearly 650 B-26, A-20s and A-26s hit rail and road bridges, communicationscenters and targets of opportunity in W Germany and the breakthrough area;...

Following the attacks on Prum and Nideggen the Group, on Christmasday, amid hail and snow, went after the Irrel road junction. On this missionoccurred one of the most heroic incidents in the history of the Group.The lead plane of Lieutenant John A. Alexander of the low flight was hithard by flak over Bastogne, four minutes from the target. Two minutes laterthe interphone was shot out and a few minutes after the intervalometer.Since the time remaining was too short to make the necessary adjustments,Lieutenant Harvey W. Allen, the bombardier, signaled to the pilot to makeanother bomb run. With rudder, ailerons and wings full of holes, LieutenantAlexander managed to hold the plane level so that the bombs could be salvoed,hitting inside the target area. Losing altitude fast and perceiving anindicated air speed of only 160 mph, Lieutenant Alexander coaxed his shipback across the bomb line near Trier and ordered the crew to bail out.Seven of the nine aboard made the jump, but staff Sergeant Michael Aguilarwas thrown against the radio table and his chute flew open. LieutenantAlexander gallantly offered to try to crash land the plane, but SergeantAguilar gallantly refused to agree, realizing the impossibility of a crash-landingamong the hills. Climbing gingerly down through the nose wheel with theparachute draped over his arm, Sergeant Aguilar successfully made the jump.At 700 feet Lieutenant Alexander bailed out and watched his plane crashinto a small creek and explode. They were not yet out of danger, for someAmerican soldiers, thinking they might be Germans, fired at them beforethey could identify themselves. For their acts of gallantry, LieutenantAlexander was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and Lieutenant Allenand Sergeant Aguilar the Silver Star.

In the afternoon a 387th formation attacked St. Vith with excellentresults, but the most exciting events of the day were to happen after themission. A 397th plane, coming in after dark, hit short of the runway,burned and exploded. The twenty-eight 100 pound demolition bombs knockedout nearly all windows, both on the base and in Clasteres. Fortunatelyall the crew escaped. About twenty minutes later a 387th plane, returningwith sixteen 250’s from a test flight, came in. In landing the nose wheeltire was punctured by a bomb fragment from the 397th ship, the 387th planenosed over, caught fire and exploded. This crew also escaped, but all otherwhole window panes in Group headquarters were shattered.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, pp. xxx.

Came a never-to-be forgotten Christmas Day. In the morning the targetwas a road junction at Irrel. Ground in the target area was blanketed withfreshly fallen snow, and have made bombing more difficult. Nevertheless,most of the formation hit the target for good results, and the rest bombedthe defended town of Eshternach; also with good results. Making a secondaryrun on the primary target, the ship of Lieutenant [John] Alexander, leadingthe Low Flight of the II-Box, was hit hard by Flak, knocking out his oneengine and the bombsight. Lt. [Harvey] Allen, bombardier, ingeniously gothis bombs away in the target area, nonetheless, allowing his flight tobomb.

In turning off the target, the ship was hit again and again by Flak;the rudder being badly damaged, both left gasoline tanks punctured, thetop turret smashed and the nose Plexiglas of the plane shattered.

Lt. Alexander kept the ship under control while Lt. Allen and Sgt. Miller,GEE Operator, directed him to friendly territory, where all nine men inthe crew safely parachuted. S/Sgt. Aguilar jumped after his parachute hadopened accidentally inside the aircraft, and Lt. Alexander, last man out,with difficulty jumped from the careening plane at 700 feet. The planewas seen to crash seconds later into the bank of a small stream. All ofthe men returned later. None of the remaining nine planes furnished bythe squadron received damage.

– 556th Squadron, MonthlyReport, December, 1944.

On the Group's morning mission to Irrel, Germany, 1st Lt. John A. Alexander-0699645,by his undaunted actions, earned our country's second highest honor forvalor, the coveted Distinguished Service Cross.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 52.

1st Lt. James M. Neff was our crew's pilot, and I might add, a damngood one. His skills were certainly taxed to the limit during the afternoonmission to Saint Vith, Belgium on Christmas day.

After waiting most of the morning for a special mission, which did notmaterialize, our six plane flight was tacked on to the Group's second mission.The I.P. was the town of Malmedy, approximately twenty-eight miles northof St. Vith. The target was heavily defended, and the scene of much Alliedaerial efforts to disrupt German traffic in the area. We had a fresh snowfallon Xmas morning, the first of that cold winter. The visibility over thetarget was excellent, and each flight bombed visually.

I was in my gun position as tail-gunner, as our flight leveled out forthe bomb run. Lt. Vernon Briscoe was calling last second corrections.,when our plane seemed to shudder. The next second, I saw the planes inour flight do what I thought was a climbing right turn. This brief recollectionlasted only a millisecond before I realized our plane was descending fastin a steep left turn. I saw smoke coming from one of the engines and calledNeff on the intercome. His calm reply was, "I know it." He called Gambleto come forward, "On the double." I then saw that the left wing had holesin it, as well as the tail section. Neff adroitly managed to control ourdescent, and told the crew to standby to bail out. I grabbed my chest packand met Walt Simmons(AG-top turret gun.) at the waist gun window. Waltplugged into the waist window intercom as I made ready to jump.

I learned later... that when Gamble went forward, he waded through ankle deep gasoline in the aft bomb bay. He notified Neff of this potential danger.The pilot's compartment was a shambles. Jimmy Harris, our copilot, wasbleeding from shoulder and face wounds, the plexiglas was shattered andthe pilot's instruments were shot out. Neff had his hands full trying tomaintain control of our aircraft's desecent. Bris and Lt. Russ Trapper,our navigator, along with M/Sgt. Paris "Hoop" Hooper, our GEE operator,were feverishly, but methodically, plotting our position, and relayingheadings for Neff to steer in order to be over friendly lines. The leftengine seized up and Neff feathered it, when Harris announced that ourright engine had burst into flames. The danger was very great for a midair explosion, and Neff and Gamble realized it. At the persistent coaxing of our calm bombardier, Neff delayed the bail out order until Bris assuredhim we were over our lines. Neff ordered Trapper and Briscoe out of theirnose compartment, and then gave the order to bail out. Walt and I exited the flaming aircraft from the waist window, while the other six members used the open bomb bay. Neff was the last member of the crew to jump. The B-26G circled under him, and then exploded in mid air! The fuselage fell into the Muese River near Huy, Belgium, while its two engines fell on each embankment. Four of us descended by parachute into the front-line positionsheld by the 84th Inf. Div., where we ate our Xmas supper. Harris endedup in a Paris hospital, and the rest of us arrived back to the 387thBG within three days. I suffered injuries to my ankles, while Bris was crippled with a knee injury. Luckily, no one else was injured. On board were:

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 61.

Lieutenant Harvey Allen, bombardier on Lt. John Alexander's lead crew,suffered facial lacerations when the B-26 Plexiglas nose was shatteredduring their initial bomb run over Irrel. Lt. Allen reported that his bombsightwas also damaged by the flak. On their flight's second bomb run, Lt. Allenaligned the secondary target up visually and they were able to place alltheir bombs in the target area. For his actoins, 2nd Lt. Harvey Allen wasawarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.

Staff Sergeant Michael C. Aguilar's rip cord caught on the radiomandesk in the confined compartment of their stricken plane. His parachuteprematurely popped open as the crew were making their emergency exit fromthe Marauder. When Lt. Alexander saw Aguilar's plight, he offered to staywith their falling plane and attempt to make a crash landing in the mountainousterrain, in order to give his engineer a chance for survival. The airmanrealized the great risks of Lt. Alexander's offer. It was then that Anguilar(it is reported) picked up his unpacked parachute, draped it over his shoulder,and exited through the nose wheel. Fortunately, his parachute and shroudlines performed perfectly and he floated to earth safely. Lt. Alexanderwas right behind him. To add to their hectic experience, friendly infantrymenopened fire on them when they landed.

FW Supplemental Section,Personal Experiences & Anecdotes By And Of The Men Of The 556th Bomb.Squadron, p. 52-A.

[This account reports that the flight was attacking the secondary target;this is probably incorrect.]

When the aircraft sufferedits initial flak damage, Mike Aguilar, Engineer/Gunner, came forward fromhis position in the top turret to assist in the cockpit. As Mike passedthrough the bomb bay the ripcord of his chest pack parachute was snaggedand the chute was accidentally opened. After "Bombs away," when it becameapparent that the aircraft would have to be abandoned, John gave the orderto bail out.

As John struggled to controlthe rapidly descending "June Bug," crew members exited the aircraft untilonly John and Mike remained. At that point they were faced with an agonizingdecision. As aircraft commander, John was duty and morally bound to attempta crash landing if Mike was unable to jump. If Mike elected to gather hisopened chute in his arms and exit the aircraft, he faced the very realpossibility that his chute would prematurely deploy and snag on some portionof the aircraft, carrying him to certain death. Another possibility wasthat the canopy would become twisted or entangled in the shroud lines andfail to properly deploy.

Considering the uneven terrainover which they were flying, an attempted crash landing was a questionablealternative. Mike decided that he would jump rather than risk both of theirlives. Miraculously, Mike's parachute deployed and he landed safely. Johnexited the "June Bug" as soon as possible after Mike's departure and, thoughperilously close to the ground when his chute opened, survived the touch-down.

For his heroic act of unselfishness,Mike was awarded the Silver Star. So was Harvy Allen, Bombardier, who hadgallantly effectively directed the successful bomb run after the nose sectionhad been seriously damaged by flak.

General Orders No. 53

John A. Alexander O-699645,First Lieutenant, Army Air Forces, United States Army. For extraordinaryheroism in action against the enemy while serving as pilot of a B-26 aircraftin a daylight bombardment mission over Germany, 25 December 1944. On thisdate, during the initial approach to the target, flak damage severed communicationsbetween Alexander and his bombardier and since contact could not be reestablishedin time for accurate bombing Lieutenant Alexander continued to lead theflight on a true and level course. Midway on the bomb run another flakburst destroyed the bomb sight, shattered the plexiglass and tore holesin the wings and rudder. In spite of the great damage sustained by theaircraft, Lieutenant Alexander continued on an accurate course over thetarget and bombs were released with excellent results. The extraordinaryheroism and determination to complete his assigned mission displayed byLieutenant Alexander on this occasion are in keeping with the highest traditionsof the Armed Forces of the United States.By Command of General Spaatz

On 25th of December 1944 the 387th was assigned to hit the target atSt. Vith in the bulge. We misidentified the target and hit a small towna few miles away. That small town just happened to house the headquartersfor the German General who commanded the German forces in the bulge. Thatgeneral wrote an article that appeared in Life magazine in December of1945 wherein he suggested that our mistake crippled the effectiveness ofhis headquarters. I hasten to add that the first two boxes of the 387thdid hit St. Vith, but my box did a 360 degree turn at the I.P. to providebetter separation, and lost sight of the first two boxes. I read the articlein Life waiting to get a haircut. I would love to have someone find a copyof the article and make it available. Please e-mail me. Thank you.

Thomas C. Britton, Major,USAF (Ret'd)
– Wednesday, July 26, 2000at 13:51:17 (CDT)

Tue, 26 Dec 44

The 9th Bombardment Division attacks road junctions, rail bridges,rail head, communications and casual targets in the breakthrough area asthe enemy's westward drive ends short of the Maas River; fighters fly escort,...

Operations for 1944 ended with the attacks on railroad bridges at Konz-Karthauson December 26th and at Nonnweiler December 27th. Hits were scored on theformer; the latter was destroyed.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

...on the night of December 26 the field was strafed by a lone Germanplane. No damage was done.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

The sound of the German night fighter's machine guns grew louder, anCpl. Richard "Doc" Savage wondered whether he'd made the wrong choice.

"I could hear the bullets getting closer-bup, bup, bup," Savage says."I was saying, 'I wish I'd gone outside and jumped in that slit trench.'"

Savage's predicament started a few days before the Battle of the Bulgestarted on Dec. 16, 1944.

The 23-year-old Massachusetts native was an armorer with the 387th BombGroup at San Quentin in central France.

He and his seven tent mates had acquired about 500 pounds of coal through"friendly trading."

"It was quite cold, and we only got enough coal for a couple of hoursof heat a day," Savage says. "So, to be honest with you, we did a little
  black marketing.

"A coal barge got stuck in the ice on a canal, and we traded with them.They gave us coal, and we gave him cigarrettes, candy, gasoline. This wasn't,you know, quite legal."

The men hid the coal under the floor boards of their tent.

When the German attack jumped off, the group was put on alert: If theenemy broke through, everything except critical supplies and planes wereto be left behind.

"After going through all the work of getting that coal, I said, "Jesus,I'm not leaving it for the Germans," Savage says. "I hadn't had a bathin a month, so I said, "I think I'm going to have a nice hot bath withthat coal.'"

So after breakfast, Savage loaded the tent's stove with coal and leftthree jerry cans of water next to it to heat up. After lunch and supper,he added more coal, until the water was steaming hot.

Then he poured the water into a 50-gallon barrel and climbed in.

"You can't imagine how good it felt," he says. "Then I put on my lastpair of clean long johns and climbed in the sack. That was the nicest feeling.Right to this day, I can feel it, so cozy and comfortable."

About that time, though, the air raid signal went off.

"All we had for cover were slit trenches that were filled with mud anda crust of snow." Savage says. "I was all clean from my bath and didn'twant to jump into one of those damn things for an air raid.

"Everybody else left the tent, so I pulled up the floor boards and jumpeddown with the coal. I heard the strafing sounds of the machine guns comeright toward the tent. And then it was quiet.

"When everybody came back in, they had mud on them, and I was stillnice and warm and clean. They were all envious. They didn't know I wasscared as hell."

The next morning, Savage and his tent mates discovered parallel linesof bullet holes that stopped 30 feet from the tent.

"Another burst would have got me," Savage says. "So, whenever I thinkof the Battle of the Bulge, I think of that bath."

– Kevin Lollar, "Warm bathnearly cost GI his life," News Press (Ft. Myers, December 1994)

Wed, 27 Dec 44 – Mission: Nonnweiller railroad bridge

The 9th Bombardment Division attacks rail bridges, communications centers,and targets of opportunity in Germany and Belgium; fighters escort thebombers,...

Operations for 1944 ended with the attacks on railroad bridges at Konz-Karthauson December 26th and at Nonnweiler December 27th. Hits were scored on theformer; the latter was destroyed.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Thu, 28 Dec 44

Weather prevents all combat operations except night-fighter missions.

Fri, 29 Dec 44

Weather causes the recall of 100+ bombers except for 7 which bomb Saint-Vith,Belgium communications center and Keuchingen, Germany road bridge;...

Sat, 30 Dec 44

Weather forces the recall and cancellation of the 9th Bombardment Division...

Sun, 31 Dec 44

Weather grounds the bombers;...

Dec 44

Just wanted to tell a short story. My dad, T/Sgt Donald C Bell, nevermentioned much about the war, but did say a bunch of 26's saved his squad'sbutt at a bridge during the Bulge. Remembered them as angels spitting death.Thanks to the members of those unknown crews for my dad's life at thatpoint.

Snoopy Bell
- Saturday, January 29, 2000 at 02:04:37 (CST)

Jan 45

January of 1945 was characterized by bad weather, many briefings anda few missions against bridges, transportation and communications centers.With the exception of the mission to Sinzig railroad bridge, flak was muchless intense. Because of the small number of missions, it became possibleto get much work done improving facilities at the field and squadron areas.Enlisted men’s day rooms and officers’ messes and clubs were built withthe help of civilian labor and, to the profound relief of the lower gradesof enlisted men, civilian KPs were used for the first time in the ETO.

Following the arrival of new crews, the largest number in the historyof the Group, training classes were set up. Emphasis was placed on formationflying, navigation, GEE equipment, PDI, camera bombing, practice bombingand night flying. Inspections on the line found technical sections in excellentcondition. During the winter combat crews had been allowed to make visitsto the front lines, and some had been there at the time of the Ardennesbreakthrough.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Mon, 1 Jan 45 – Mission: Bullay railroad bridge

190 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s hit rail bridges, communications centers,a road junction, a command post, and HQ, all in Belgium and Germany; fightersescort 9th Bombardment Division...

Tue, 2 Jan 45 – Mission: Bad Munster railroad bridge

135 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s hit rail bridges and communications centersin Belgium and Germany; fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

During take-off, A/C 880/FW-H hit the prop wash of the preceding B-26 seconds after being airborne, causing the pilot to lose control of his aircraft. The plane crashed off the end of the runway, in a turnip field.

This terrible accident was the third one that this crew suffered-the other two during landings after training hops. Anyone who went to the accidentscene after the crash, or saw photos of the wreckage, can only shake their heads in wonder...wonder that anyone survived.

April, 1994. - Bob Pitt stated that he spent more than ten months inthe hospital, and underwent numerous operations to mend his broken body.His injuries were the most serious of the badly injured crew members.

Later in life, Robert Pitt became very successful in the financial World.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 64.

Wed, 3 Jan 45

All combat operations are cancelled because of weather.

Thu, 4 Jan 45

Ninth Air Force: All combat operations, except a defensive patrol by4 fighters, are cancelled because of bad weather. 

Fri, 5 Jan 45

The 9th Bombardment Division attacks rail bridges at Ahrweiler, Simmern,and Bullay, Germany and communications centers at Gouvy, Houffalize, andnear Durler, Belgium, and Massen, Luxembourg. Fighters escort the 9th BombardmentDivision...

Sat, 6 Jan 45

26 bombers of the 9th Bombardment Division strike Prum, Germany. Badweather prevents all fighter operations.

Sun, 7 Jan 45

All other commands and the 9th Bombardment Division cancel operationsas the weather is bad.

Mon, 8 Jan 45

Weather prevents operations.

Tue, 9 Jan 45

In Germany, 15 B-26s bomb the Rinnthal rail bridge with the aim ofisolating 3 enemy armored divisions in the Landau area; XXIX Tactical AirCommand (Provisional) fighters escort the B-26s.

Wed, 10 Jan 45

30+ B-26s sent against communications center and road bridge abortdue to weather; the XIX Tactical Air Command escorts the B-26s,...

Thu, 11 Jan 45

About 120 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s attack communications centers andrail bridges in Belgium and Germany; fighters escort the bombers,...

Fri, 12 Jan 45

All combat operations are cancelled because of weather.

Sat, 13 Jan 45 – Mission: Simmern railroad bridge

In Germany, 95 9th Bombardment Division bombers strike road and railbridges at Dasburg, Steinebruck, and Simmern to disrupt enemy movements;fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

Sun, 14 Jan 45 – Mission: Ahrweiler railroad bridge

280+ A-20s and B-26s strike bridges and communications centers in thebase area of the Ardennes salient and in other areas of W Germany. Fightersescort 9th Bombardment Division...

Mon, 15 Jan 45

In Germany, 16 B-26s hit the Simmern bridge to help thwart movementin the Trier area; the XIX Tactical Air Command escorts the B-26s,...

Tue, 16 Jan 45 – Mission: Erkelenz rail & communicationcenter

311 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s hit road and rail bridges, communicationscenters, motor transport repair center, and other targets in Germany; fightersescort 9th Bombardment Division...

Wed, 17 Jan 45

Weather cancels all bomber operations...

Thu, 18 Jan 45

Weather prevents all Ninth AF operations except for alert flights by11 fighters...

Fri, 19 Jan 45

Bad weather cancels bomber operations;...

Sat, 20 Jan 45

Bomber operations are cancelled due to weather;...

By January 20 the breakthrough had spent its force and the Germanswere in full retreat.

History of the 387th BombardmentGroup (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Sun, 21 Jan 45

In Germany, 166 A-26s, A-20s, and B-26s hit a rail junction and bridgeat Euskirchen and marshalling yard and defended positions at Mayen; fighters...escortbombers,...

Mon, 22 Jan 45 – Mission: Dasburg highway bridge

304 B-26s, A-26s, and A-20s bomb a marshalling yard, railhead, androad and rail bridges in Germany with the aim of obstructing troop movement;fighters escort the 9th Bombardment Division,...

On January 22 the Group materially hindered their retreat by bombingthe Dassburg highway bridge. Just as a long German convoy started across,the bombing knocked out the western approach and the end of the 134 footspan and also stopped the head of the column, which had already crossedthe bridge and was well on its way. This latter event occurred when oneflight dropped late and scored a lucky hit on the road. Shortly after theroad and bridge were tied up, American fighter-bombers appeared and destroyedthe complete column. On that day the fighters scored the highest numberof vehicles destroyed up to that time—some 1700 trucks and wagons.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Tue, 23 Jan 45

In Germany, a small B-26 force hits troop concentrations, a road bridge,and military transport targets at Blankenheim, Dasburg, and Arzfeld.

Wed, 24 Jan 45

25 9th Bombardment Division bombers hit communications centers at Schleiden,Stadtkyll, and Pronsfeld, Germany;...

Thu, 25 Jan 45

170 A-20s and B-26s hit communications centers and railroad bridges,overpasses, and lines in W Germany with the aim of harassing and obstructingtroop movement;...

Bombing Sinzig railroad bridge on January 25 through moderate and accurateflak, the formation had excellent results. Some flights, showing the resultsof the strenuous training and practice bombing, were able to lay all theirbombs within the 1000 foot circle. Results obtained on this mission werea prelude to the record making accuracy to be shown in March and April.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Fri, 26 Jan 45

In Germany, 27 B-26s bomb the Euskirchen rail bridge to interdict railtraffic SW from Euskirchen, much of which comes from Cologne and Bonn.

Sat, 27 Jan 45

Weather grounds the 9th Bombardment Division...

Sun, 28 Jan 45 – Mission: Wittlich defended village (secondary)

In Germany, 95 9th Bombardment Division B-26s hit a communicationscenter at Mayen, rail bridges and an overpass at Eller, Sinzig, Remagen,and Kaiserslautern, targets of opportunity in W Germany, and fly coverfor US First Army forces on the frontline in the Monschau-Butgenbach area.

Mon, 29 Jan 45 – Mission: Rheinbach supply center

364 A-20s, B-26s, and A-26s bomb rail bridges, supply and communicationscenters, and defended areas in W Germany; fighters escort the bombers,...

Tue, 30 Jan 45

Weather cancels bomber operations.

Wed, 31 Jan 45

All operations are cancelled due to weather.

Feb 45

During February the majority of the missions were led by Pathfinders,and several went awry when the PFF equipment failed. These abortions andthe lack of clear weather for visual bombing forced the use of GEE equipment,which proved unsatisfactory. Yet February was a highly successful month.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Thu, 1 Feb 45

46 B-26s, A-26s, and A-20s bomb rail bridges and defended areas onthe Rhine and Mosel Rivers and in W Germany near the battlefront. The IXand XIX Tactical Air Commands escort the bombers,...

Fri, 2 Feb 45 – Mission: Rosbach railroad bridge

350+ B-26s, A-26s, and A-20s bomb road and rail bridges to block theE-W movement E of the Rhine River and defended localities E of the battlefrontin W Germany; fighters hit bridges...fly escort,...

Sat, 3 Feb 45 – Mission: Sinzig railroad bridge

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division attacks the Berg-Gladbachstorage and repair depot, Dahlem communications center, rail bridges atAhrweiler and Sinzig, and marshalling yard at Junkerath; fighters escortthe 9th Bombardment Division,...

Sun, 4 Feb 45

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division attacks a repair depot atMechernich, the Arloff road and rail junction, and flies a leaflet mission.

Mon, 5 Feb 45

Weather cancels all operations except IX Tactical Air Command fighterpatrols...

Tue, 6 Feb 45 – Mission: Wittlach & Guthenthal (secondary)

In Germany, 261 B-26s, A-20s and A-26s attack the Rheinbach ammunitiondump, Sotenich communications center, Vlatten defended village, Berg-Gladbachmotor transport center, and several casual targets; fighters ... escortthe 9th Bombardment Division bombers.

Wed, 7 Feb 45

16 B-26s strike the rail siding at Lipp, Germany; weather cancels other operations. 

Thu, 8 Feb 45 – Mission: Calcar defended town

320+ B-26s, A-20s, and A-26s strike a road junction, marshalling yard,3 defended areas, and 10 casual targets in Germany.

Fri, 9 Feb 45 – Mission: Vierson communication center

In Germany, 347 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb communications centersat Viersen and Kempen, marshalling yards at Rheydt, Grevenbroich, and Viersen,and rail bridges at Neuwied-Irlich and Sinzig.

Sat, 10 Feb 45 – Mission: Berg-Gladbach motor transportand AFV center

In Germany, 320+ bombers of the 9th Bombardment Division attack communicationscenters at Kempen, Horrem, and Euskirchen, vehicle center and depot at Munstereifeland at Berg-Gladbach, and several casual targets includingrail bridge at Bullay; fighters escort the  bombers,...

Sun, 11 Feb 45

In Germany, 97 B-26s and A-20s bomb the Bingen and Modrath marshallingyards;...

Mon, 12 Feb 45

All combat operations cancelled because of bad weather.

Tue, 13 Feb 45 – Mission: Sinzig railroad bridge

In Germany, 320+ B-26s, A-26s, and A-20s, attack rail bridges at Sinzig,Neuwied-Irlich, and Euskirchen, military transport depots at Schwelm andIserlohn, defended points at Wittlich, and targets of opportunity; fightersescort the A-20s, A-26 and B-26s,...

Wed, 14 Feb 45 – Mission: Engersrailroad bridge

Wed, 14 Feb 45 – Mission: Xanten troop concentration& road junction

In Germany, 600+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s attack rail bridges, a marshallingyard, communications centers, an ammunition dump, a prime mover depot,and several targets of opportunity in morning and afternoon missions aimedprimarily at obstructing enemy movement and supply; fighters fly armedreconnaissance over wide areas, escort the bombers...

The Xanten and Engers missions were both flown on February 14th. Ledby Captain R. N. Gunn the formation, supporting British troops, laid bombsin excellent pattern inside the target area of the communications centerant Xanten. In the afternoon the floor of the heavily defended railroadbridge at Engers was pierced by 1,000 pound bombs, but was not destroyed.On these missions Lieutenants J. P. McClung, G. W. Patterson, Jr. and E.I. Walker showed outstanding flying skill in bringing back their badlydamaged planes.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

The Kron Prinz Wilheim railroad bridge, that spanned the Rhine Riverat Engers, Germany, was one of, if not the most notable flak concentratedtarget that the 387th BG undertook, while conducting combat operationsduring WWII. The Group's bombing accuracy on the mission was surpurb, scoringdirect hits on the span, but unfortunately, faulty fuse settings preventedthis critical target from being destroyed.

2nd Lt. Edward Walker managed to fly the battered "Sweatin' Five" backto A-71. He landed the plane, but due to damage to the hydaulic system,the aircraft's nose gear failed to extend properly. Consequently, "Sweatin'Five" ran off the end of the runway and nosed over. Lt. Walker, and hiscrew, were not injured.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 30.

A VALENTINE'S DAY MISSION

It was February 14, 1945 and at briefing I saw the reconnaissance photosof our target - a railroad bridge at Engers, Germany. I was to fly theNo. 2 position in my flight and the ship I was to fly was a new one inour squadron named "The Texas Queen." (TQ-G; Serial Number: 44-67916).

I met the co-pilot at the ship. He was from a replacement crew thathad just come into the squadron; his name was Lt. McDonough. I'll neverforget when he introduced himself to me, because he said, "Boy, at thisrate I'll be going home in a couple of weeks!" When I asked what he wastalking about, he said he had just gone on his first mission and this wasto be his second. I never knew whether he had been on a morning missionthis day or was referring to having been on one yesterday.

Little did I know what a prophet he was.

On the way to the target we got a moderate amount of flak at the bombline, nothing really heavy. As I was flying in the No. 2 position I wasresting my head against the middle window while watching the wing of thelead plane on my left. We arrived at the Initial Point and turned to startthe bomb run. The bomb bay doors were opened and we had started towardthe target when we took the first direct hit. The explosion of the shelldeafened me and blew my sunglasses off. My vision was blurred so I wipedmy face and eyes, and taking my hand away, I saw all this flesh and blood.

I thought My God, they have shot my face off but 1 didn't feel any pain.Then out of the corner of my eye I saw McDonough falling between our seats.I saw that about half of his thigh had been blown off. The debris of fleshand blood from his thigh was what had blurred my vision. I managed to getThorin, my engineer/gunner, up into the cockpit to attend to McDonough.I was doing my best to keep my position in the flight.

Since my vision was still blurred, I moved my head forward to the frontwindow compartment to see the lead plane better. Just after my head movedforward, a shell came through the middle window and hit between the tophatches blowing them open, damaging the trim cables, and taking out theradio. (You cannot imagine the speed of a shell until you experience it.It passed so close to my neck that 1 thought my flesh had been burned).

If 1 hadn't moved my head to the front glass, I would never have knownwhat hit me. I t would have taken my head off. So, McDonough getting hitand part of his thigh being blown onto my face really caused me to movethe position of my head, which saved my life and undoubtedly the entirecrew.

With all that going on, I still managed to keep the plane in a reasonablygood formation until our bombs were released on the target. We took anotherhit just as the bombs went away, and a piece of flak came up through myparachute and between my flight jacket's inner and outer lining. It exitedbelow the collar of the left shoulder area.

There was no way I could fly formation and keep up with the lead planetaking evasive action to get away from the target area. I remember goinginto a dive and seeing the air speed indicator go past the red line. Istarted to the base as fast as I could go. Thorin and Suders (radio gunner)worked at getting the hatches closed and began administering to Lt. McDonough,using sulpha powder, morphine and bandages.

I got back to A-71 ahead of the Group and started a straight-in approach.There was another B-26 just ahead of me and I was closing on him fast.Since I didn't have a radio I had Thorin fire a red flare. When the planeahead of me did not get out of the way he fired another red flare and thistime the plane pulled up, which gave me clearance to go in and land.

As I pulled off the end of the runway and onto the taxi strip the ambulanceswere right there so I killed the engine and the rescue crew brought outstretchers to take McDonough out. Sgt. Suders was also hit, but not asseverely, but they took him with McDonough to the field hospital. Our Squadronsurgeon, Dr. Thom, did the surgery on them.

Joseph O. Stevens

Joseph O. Stevens receivedthe Silver Star for the heroism he demonstrated on this mission.
 Lt. Stevens and Latvalawent to visit McDonough in the hospital while he was under treatment. Hiswounds were so gross to look at that Lt. Stevens fainted, hit his headon the floor and was unconscious for several hours. Eino also was so upsetat the sight that he had to go outside and vomit.
 Joe also commentedon an incident that happened after he landed that Valentine's Day, whichshows the imbecility of certain persons involved. The procedure after youcut off engines is to turn off the inverters, which in this case he forgotto do. Joe was embarrassed that he was criticized in front of his fellowpilots by our then commanding officer.

Thu, 15 Feb 45 – Mission:Sellingen ordnance depot

In Germany, around 90 B-26s bomb Sinzig and Mayen rail bridges and4 targets of opportunity in the area;...On February 15 Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Grau, senior squadron commanderof the Group, left the 556th for the States and a new assignment. He hadjoined the Group as a first Lieutenant and then been commanding officerof the 556th since January 1, 1944. His successor was Major M. K. Campbell.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Lt. Col Grau returned to the Z.I. in February, 1945. The quiet, softspoken Grau was an adept pilot and an admired leader, popular with everyonewho served under him.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 3.

Major Mansel R. Campbell succeeded Lt. Colonel Glenn F. Grau as [556th]Squadron C.O. in February, 1945. He was the third, and last commander ofthe 556th Bomb. Squadron.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 12.
 

Fri, 16 Feb 45 – Mission: Rees communication center

In Germany, 300+ B-26s and A-20s bomb the Mayen, rail bridge, Reescommunications center, Solingen turbo-jet component works, Unna ordnancedepot, and a target of opportunity; fighters escort the bombers,...

Sat, 17 Feb 45

In Germany, 31 B-26s strike the Mayen rail bridge and a target of opportunityat Reinfeld;...

Sun, 18 Feb 45

In Germany, 60+ B-26s bomb the Dottesfeld rail bridge, a target ofopportunity at Daun, and 5 other targets of opportunity as the 9th BombardmentDivision starts a campaign to isolate the Ruhr; the XIX Tactical Air Commandescorts the B-26s...

Mon, 19 Feb 45 – Mission: Niederscheld marshalling yard

Mon, 19 Feb 45 – Mission: Niederscheld railroad bridge

In Germany, B-26s, A-26s, and A-20s, strike the Mechernich prime moverdepot, rail bridges at Pracht, Niederscheld, and Neuwied-Irlich, the Wiesbadenordnance depot, and 4 targets of opportunity; fighters escort the bombers,...

Tue, 20 Feb 45

Weather grounds the 9th Bombardment Division;... 

Wed, 21 Feb 45 – Mission: Haltern marshalling yard &Reisenbach autobahn bridge (secondary targets)

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits rail a overpass and bridges,an oil storage depot, marshalling yards, communications centers, and 13targets of opportunity;...

Thu, 22 Feb 45 – Mission: Nuttlar-Dulmenrailroad bridge

In Operation CLARION, 450+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s of the 9th BombardmentDivision bomb SW German targets including 46 rail bridges, 12 marshallingyards, 11 stations, plus junctions, roundhouses, a viaduct, a crossing,a workshop; this marks the first low-level operations by B-26s since May43;...Washington’s birthday brought the largest scale effort up to that timeof Allied Air Forces in the ETO. Every type of target was hit during theday. Flights from the 387th hit railway bridges at Wehrstapel and Nutlar-Dulmenand the defended village of Dulman with excellent to superior results.

The spectacular event of the day was furnished by Lieutenant GeorgeW. Patterson and his crew. Flying through heavy flak over the target, hisbrand-new B-26 had been damaged so badly that he found it impossible toland. On returning to the home field he gave orders to his crew to bailout. This they did with the entire Group watching the show. After the pilotbailed out, the ship flew smoothly along for several minutes, then divedgracefully into the ground. Lieutenant Peterson floated leisurely downand landed directly in front of his squadron orderly room.

“Why did you land here, George?” his friends asked. He answered, “Hell,you know it’s so damned hard to get transportation that I thought thiswould be the quickest way back.”

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

On this mission a 556th crew flew one of the 558th's Marauders, "Maraudin'Maude" on a mission to bomb the railroad bridges at Nutler-Dulmen, Germany.The pilot was George Patterson.  "Maraudin' Maude" sustained flakdamage to the control cables. By the use of the trim tabs, Patterson wasable to fly the aircraft back to A-71. Rather than risk a landing, however,it was decided that the crew should bail out over the field. While theremainder of the formation landed, Patterson circled the field, using upfuel and gaining a comfortable altitude.

One by one the crew members exited the aircraft and began their descent.After Patterson jumped, "Maude" continued on a straight course for a shortdistance and then began to turn to the left. It came back across the field,appeared to gradually climb, then made another turn and came across thefield at least one more time before nosing up and entering into a classictail spin. As the rate of descent increased, the rapid 360 degree rotationof the nose convinced everyone who was watching, regardless of their locationon the field, that they were a potential target.

Their feelings are probably best described by the amusing descriptionof this event, by Squadron Engineering Officer, Phil Detwiler: We ground peoplewere not often subject to danger. However, one fine day at our winter quartersin France our ships went on an early moring mission. Sivright and his armamentcrew had all the hardstands supplied with frag bombs for a possible secondstrike. There was battle damage on the first mission and the crew of oneplane (I don't recall from which Squadron) bailed out at high altitudeover the field. The plane climbed and spun, climbed and spun, etc. We earthlingswatched it with fascination for perhaps 15 minutes. It then became disturbinglypossible the final resting place would be in the 556th hardstand area.

A gradual departure fromthe airplanes and all those frag bombs was started by some maintenancepeople. As their leader, I thought it not fitting to exhibit concern toearly. As the place of impact became more apparent I joined the gradualmigration. I think the procession was somewhat according to rank. Privatesfirst, corporals second, perhaps crew chiefs and flight chiefs last. Istarted in the rear. As the impact zone became more final I increased myfoot speed to a lead of perhaps 50' beyond all the troops.
The plane crashed near,but not on, our planes and frag bombs. Some time afterward Glen Grau wentback to the USA on leave. While in Detroit, he visited my parents. He toldthem I was a fine leader of men-50' in front of all. I still keepin good shape but I doubt if I could match that sprint today. Fortunately, "Maraudin' Maude" impacted in an unoccupied area of A-71.Most of the crew members landed in or close to the Squadron area. BurnsGillespie was the first to jump. Patterson landed fairly close to the tentarea and first Sgt. Bates and I teamed up to collapse his chute after hehit the ground. Besides Burns Gillespie, the names of the other crew membersare not known.

Gillespie was not a member of Patterson's crew, but was substitutingfor the tail gunner. He was injured, and spent several days in the hospital.Following his release, he was reassigned to the United States. He had virtuallycompleted the standard operation tour of 65 missions.

– Paul "Robin" Priday (556thB.S.), Shootin' In, March 2000.

Fri, 23 Feb 45 – Mission: Buer supply point

The 9th Bombardment Division hits communications centers E of the RoerRiver as the US Ninth Army crosses the river and begins an assault (OperationGRENADE) toward the Rhine River;...

Sat, 24 Feb 45 – Mission: Vlatten communication center

Sat, 24 Feb 45 – Mission: Mulenbach-Duan overpasses

In Germany, nearly 500 B-26s, A-20s and A-26s hit 5 communicationscenters, 2 marshalling yards, 3 rail bridges, 6 town areas, and a targetof opportunity as part of interdiction operations against troops duringthe Rhineland campaign;...

Similar reports [that bombs were laid in excellent pattern inside thetarget area] were received about missions to Vlatten communications centerand the bridges of Ahrweiler and Mayen.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Sun, 25 Feb 45 – Mission: Gettingen railroad bridge

Sun, 25 Feb 45 – Mission: Ahrweiler railroad bridge

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division strikes 4 rail bridges, 4communications centers, a marshalling yard and 9 targets of opportunityas part of the interdiction campaign against Germany; fighters escort thebombers,...

Similar reports [that bombs were laid in excellent pattern inside thetarget area] were received about missions to Vlatten communications centerand the bridges of Ahrweiler and Mayen.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Mon, 26 Feb 45 – Mission: Zeiperich highway bridge

In Germany, 235 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s attack the communications centerat Wickrath, rail and road junctions at Zieverich and Gladbach, a supplyand ammunition depot (casual target), the towns of Kapellen, Viersen, andMunstereifel, and targets of opportunity;...

Tue, 27 Feb 45 – Mission: Munstereifal road junction

In Germany, 118 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s attack the Ahrweiler rail bridge,communications centers at Glessen, Munstereifel, and Monheim, and a targetof opportunity;...

Wed, 28 Feb 45 – Mission: Mayen railroad bridge

In Germany, 340+ A-20s, B-26s and A-26s bomb rail bridges at Mayen,Niederscheld, and Colbe, the Unna ordnance depot, Kamp road junction, Siegenand Sankt Wendel marshalling yards, the town of Rheinburg, and targetsof opportunity; fighters escort the bombers,...Similar reports [that bombs were laid in excellent pattern inside thetarget area] were received about missions to Vlatten communications centerand the bridges of Ahrweiler and Mayen. The latter bridge, severed by the387th on December 23, had been repaired by the Germans.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Mar 45

As winter showed signs of coming to an end, conditions at A-71 improvedby leaps and bounds. New kitchens and day rooms were furnished, and tableswere built that didn’t sway and rock, spilling food and its eaters alikeon the floor. For lack of paint, some walls were burned to bring out thenatural finish of the wood. Several parties were held at Carpenter Hall,St. Quentin, for both enlisted men and officers. To the officers’ dancescame both American nurses and French civilian girls; the nurses to dance,the French to eat. Many officers and men wore “Class A’s” for the firsttime on the continents.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

March and April rate as the peak period in the history of the Group.With the best weather in over a year and the accelerated Allied advanceson the western front, thirty-seven missions were recorded during March,the highest of any month, and the highest point of efficiency was achievedby the combat crews.

History of the 387th Bombardment Group (M) AAF, p. xxx.

Thu, 1 Mar 45 – Mission: Rheinbach communication center

In Germany, 340+ B-26s, A-20s and A-26s attack the ordnance depot atGiessen, communications centers at Pulheim, Rheinbach, Rommergkirchen,and Stommeln, the rail bridge at Pracht, a road bridge, and 8 targets ofopportunity; fighters escort the bombers,...

Fri, 2 Mar 45 – Mission: Iserlohn barracks area

Fri, 2 Mar 45 – Mission: Giessen ordnance depot

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits 5 bridges, 2 communicationscenters, 3 ordnance and motor transport depots, several city areas, and6 targets of opportunity; the objectives are to hinder movement of enemytroops trying to help the German army caught in front of the US Third Army,to obstruct movement in general, and to damage enemy repair and refittingcapabilities;...

Sat, 3 Mar 45 – Mission: Wermelskirchen ordnance depot

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits Wiesbaden, Giessen, BergischBorn, and Nahbollenbach ordnance and storage depots, rail bridges at Remagenand Simmern, a communications center at Heimersheim, motor transport concentrationat Schwelm, the Rheinbach ammunition dump, Kirn marshalling yard and town,and several targets of opportunity; fighters fly bomber escort,...

Sun, 4 Mar 45

In Germany, about 180 B-26s, A-20s, and A-26s strike marshalling yardsand a rail junction at Recklinghausen, Lenkerbeck, and Herne, communicationscenters at Bruhl, Sechtem, and Rheinbach, and several other targets includinga rail bridge and towns;...

Mon, 5 Mar 45 – Mission: Unna ordnance depot

Mon, 5 Mar 45 – Mission: Kreutzal marshalling yard

In Germany, 565 B-26s, A-20s and A-26s attack 6 marshalling yards,a communications center, an ordnance depot, a city area and targets ofopportunity with the aim of obstructing reinforcements and supplies toGerman forces being pushed back across the Rhine River; fighters escortthe bombers,...

Tue, 6 Mar 45

In Germany, 260+ A-26s, and B-26s hit Recklinghausen, Siegburg, andOpladen marshalling yards, Siegburg storage depot, and the town of Bochumas a target of opportunity;...

Wed, 7 Mar 45

Weather cancels combat operations except for the XXIX Tactical AirCommands support of the US XVI Corps along the Rhine River in the Weselarea.

Thu, 8 Mar 45 – Mission: Ettort communication center

328 B-26s, A-20s and A-26s hit 7 communications centers, 2 marshallingyards, a road overpass, and a military transport depot in the furtheranceof the interdiction program;...

Fri, 9 Mar 45 – Mission: Neiderhausen marshalling yard

Fri, 9 Mar 45 – Mission: Arnsberg-Olpe marshallingyard

In Germany, 600+ A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit 6 marshalling yards, storageand vehicle depots, ammunition-filling plants, and 12 targets of opportunityas part of the interdiction campaign;...

Sat, 10 Mar 45 – Mission: Altenkirchen road junction

In Germany, 383 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s strike 5 marshalling yards,a communications center, 2 city areas, miscellaneous targets in the Koblenz-Braubacharea, and a target of opportunity; Eighth and Ninth AF fighters escortthe bombers,...

Sun, 11 Mar 45 – Mission: Brettscheid landing ground

Sun, 11 Mar 45 – Mission: Sythen explosive works

In Germany, 696 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s, hit 4 airfields, 3 communicationscenters, 2 ammunition filling plants, and several city areas and othercasual targets; these attacks are to obstruct air operations and supplyand troop movements in general;...

Mon, 12 Mar 45

9th Bombardment Division A-20s, A-26s and B-26s attack 8 marshallingyards, an ammunition-filling plant, city areas and targets of opportunity;the attacks on the marshalling yards are aimed at blocking troop movementsby rail into the Ruhr and Remagen areas; fighters escort the bombers,...

Tue, 13 Mar 45 – Mission: Westerberg marshalling yard

Tue, 13 Mar 45 – Mission: Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airfield

In Germany, 450+ A-26s, A-20s, and B-26s, bomb 3 marshalling yards,2 airfields, rail sidings, and several targets of opportunity in the continuinginterdiction campaign; fighters fly escort,...

Wed, 14 Mar 45 – Mission: Gross Ostheim Airfield

In Germany, 350+ A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit 3 airfields, 4 rail bridges,a junction, 5 towns, and 3 targets of opportunity as the interdiction operationscontinue; fighters escort the bombers,...

Thu, 15 Mar 45 – Mission: Pirmasens supply & communicationcenter

In Germany, 9th Bombardment Division A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s attackcommunications centers at Neunkirchen and Pirmasens, marshalling yardsat Turkismuhle and Erbach, 3 flak positions, and several other targets,as well as dropping leaflets on Koblenz;...

Fri, 16 Mar 45 – Mission: Landau communication center

In Germany, 280+ A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit the Landau barracks areaand communications center, the Niederscheld town area and rail bridge,6 other town areas, a marshalling yard, rail junction, crossroads, andalso drop leaflets; fighters escort the bombers,...

Sat, 17 Mar 45 – Mission: Siegen marshalling yard

Sat, 17 Mar 45 – Mission: Frankenburg marshallingyard

In Germany, 650+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb 5 marshalling yards,2 communications centers, an ordnance depot, 3 city areas, and severaltargets of opportunity; the attacks are to impede the enemy movement oftroops, equipment, and supplies in the face of the advancing Allied forces;fighters fly escort,...

With clouds covering the ground battle area but with the need to continuesupport to the U.S. Third and Seventh Armies, on the 17th [of March, 1945]under PFF lead 481 bombers, accompanied by 20 Window aircraft, were launchedin the morning to drop 715 tons of bombs. The 323rd Group, together withthe 387th and 397th Groups, hit the Seigen Marshalling Yards as a partof a plan to impede the movement of German forces between the Ruhr andCentral Germany. All lines in the yards were cut, 95 percent of the wagonsin the yards were destroyed or damaged, and there was considerable damangeto industrial installations adjacent to the yards.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, pp. 355-356.

Sun, 18 Mar 45 – Mission: WormsRoad Junction

Sun, 18 Mar 45 – Mission: Kreutzal Road Junction

In Germany, 660+ A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit the marshalling yards atWetzlar, Worms, Kreuztal, and Bad Durkheim, a communications center atBad Durkheim, and 4 town areas with the aim of hampering enemy movement;fighters escort the bombers,...The final combat sortie of the veteran B26B "TABASCO" began as a pathfindermission. General Patch's Seventh US Army was attempting to cross the RhineRiver in the vicinity of Worms - the historical German town on its westbank known for The Diet of Worms in the 16th century, and the foundingof the Lutheran religion.

The solid overcast ended sharply, and unexpectedly, at the I.P. in favorof a clear sky, allowing the formation to bomb visually. The individualflights circled to form in-trail to make their visual bombs runs. EnemyFlak was intense, and Lt. Magowan's plane was shot down during this circlingmaneuver over the I.P. No 'chutes were observed. Aboard "Tabasco" werethe following airmen:


Pilot
Copilot
Togglier
Rad.-Gun 
Eng.-Gun
Arm.-Gun

2nd Lt. 
2nd Lt. 
Sgt.
Sgt.
Sgt.
S/Sgt.
KIA
George G. Magowan 
Joseph M. Pallene
Raymond C. English 
Donald S. Martin
William R. Cross
Edward J. Parker

0714735
0831781
36853022
32664115
39039899
13156344

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 12.

The story on "Tabasco" reminded me of my 9th mission as a Togglier,preparing to start our bomb run. For some reason I was looking at "Tabasco"and admiring the colorful name and painting of flames that seemed to beengulfing her nose from behind the Bombardier's position in the cockpit.I can still see the words "Hot Stuff" below the pilot's side window. Therewas a sudden wrenching of the plane-no explosion, fire or smoke. She rose,slowed down and drifted out of my sight. Others watched the descent. AsI remember it, pieces of the ship flew back, smashing the window of oneof our squadron's planes. I don't remember the name of the pilot who wasflying the plane that was struck by the debris, but he was later killedin an auto accident returning to our base in Holland from a day in town.

– Jim Taylor, writing inShootin'In, March 2000

In order to hamper withdrawal of enemy troops from the narrowing areabetween the U.S. Third and Seventh Army pincer, the Wetzlar and Worms MarshallingYards were made the focus of the morning attack of the 18th [of March,1945] in which 646 tons of bombs were dropped. At Wetzlar, the combinedattack of the 322nd, 323rd, 386th and 409th Groups cut all lines and sidingsand did other major damage. Similar damage was done at Worms by the 344th,387th, 391st, 394th, 397th and 416th Groups.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, p. 357.

S/Sgt. Edward J. Parker,Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward J. Parker, of West Ninth Street, Aspinwall,has been officially reported killed in action since March 18, 1945, accordingto a telegram received by his parents. Previously reported missing, hewas the only missing serviceman of Aspinwall.

On his fifty-eighth mission,Sgt. Parker, a tail gunner on a B-26, and his crew, received a direct hitby German anti-aircraft over Ingelheim, Germany, en route to their target.The plane, loaded with bombs, fell to an altitude of 100 feet and exploded.

None of the six crewmen survived.

– "Reported Dead S/Sgt EdwardJ. Parker," Newspaper clipping.

Mon,19 Mar 45 – Mission: Vossen railroad bridge

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division strikes 2 marshalling yards,5 rail bridges, a communications center and several casual targets as partof the interdiction program to impede enemy movement; fighters escort thebombers,...

Tue, 20 Mar 45 – Mission: Sythen explosive works

In Germany, 360+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb the Geisecke marshallingyard, Sythen ammunition-filling plant, the town of Gronau (including arail bridge), and several casual targets in or near 9 other towns; fightersescort the bombers,...

Wed, 21 Mar 45 – Mission: Coesfield road junction

Wed, 21 Mar 45 – Mission: Stadtlohn road junction

In Germany, 580+ A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s strike 6 communications centersand a marshalling yard E of the Rhine River, along with several casualtargets, in the interdiction campaign to obstruct enemy movement;...

Thu, 22 Mar 45 – Mission: Haltern communication center& flak positions

Thu, 22 Mar 45 – Mission: Alt Schermbeck communicationcenter

In Germany, nearly 800 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb 9 communicationscenters and a marshalling yard E of the Rhine River (plus 7 towns, flakpositions, and a target of opportunity) as part of the interdiction programto impede the movement of supplies and troops; fighters escort the bombers,...

Fri, 23 Mar 45 – Mission: Dinslaken defended town

Fri, 23 Mar 45 – Mission: Dinslaken defended town

In Germany, around 800 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s strike 7 communicationscenters, a factory, and targets of opportunity (including several flakpositions); attacks on communications centers are aimed at obstructingthe movement of reinforcements to the front; fighters escort the bombers,...

Sat, 24 Mar 45 – Mission: Vlotho railroad bridge &flak positions

Sat, 24 Mar 45 – Mission: Vlotho flak positions

In Germany, almost 700 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s blast communicationscenters, rail bridges, flak positions, and numerous other targets in cooperationwith the combined land-airborne assault across the Rhine River (Operation PLUNDER-VARSITY) by the British Second and US Ninth Armies and the US XVIIICorps of the First Allied Airborne Army; fighters attack with the bombersbefore the drop and carpet the landing zones with fragmentation bombs,immobilizing numerous flak batteries; fighters escort bombers...

Sun, 25 Mar 45 – Mission: Weyenbusch road junction

Sun, 25 Mar 45 – Mission: Friedberg marshalling yard

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits 4 communications centers,3 marshalling yards, and targets of opportunity, including flak positions;fighters fly escort,...

Mon, 26 Mar 45 – Mission: Fleiden marshalling yard

In Germany, around 300 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit marshalling yardsat Wurzburg, Gemunden, and Flieden, the town of Ruckers, and 2 targetsof opportunity; fighters escort the bombers,...

On the 26th [of March, 1945], the attack emphasis shifted to the areain front of the U.S. Third Army's bridgehead. Ther 323rd Group, along withthe 409th, 410th and 416th Groups, attacked the Gemuenden Marshalling Yardscutting all tracks, blowing two trains apart and destroying considerablerolling stock. Success was also acheived at Wuerzburg by the 322nd, 344th,386th and 391st Groups. At Fleiden, the 387th, 394th and 397th Groups did equally well. Secondary attacks were made onthe comunications centers of Gerchsheim and Neckargemuend. Only one Divisionaircraft returned with battle damage.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, p. 361.

Tue, 27 Mar 45

Weather cancels 9th Bombardment Division operations.

Wed, 28 Mar 45

In Germany, 215 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit the Neuenheerse and Erbachoil storage depots and 11 targets of opportunity; fighters escort the bombers,...

Thu, 29 Mar 45

All combat operations cancelled because of weather except for 2 fighters...

Fri, 30 Mar 45 – Mission: Ebenhausen oil storage

In Germany, 337 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s attack the Bad Oeynhausen tankfactory, the Munden ordnance depot, the Ebenhausen oil depot, 2 town areasand 6 targets of opportunity, and drop leaflets; fighters escort the bombers,...

Sat, 31 Mar 45 – Mission: Wurzburg marshalling yard

In Germany, 550+ A-20s, A-26s and B-26s hit storage depots at Ebrach,Wurzburg, and Marienburg, the marshalling yard at Wurzburg, the town areaof Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and a target of opportunity; fighters escortthe bombers,...

Apr 45

During April the bombardiers reached an ultimate of success in bombingresults. Outstanding bombing records were made by Lieutenants S. T. Ryper,R. F. Worthington, A. F. McGahen, W. H. Butterfield, M. E. Adkisson, V.J. Ward, H. W. Allen, W. C. Dumphy, J. E. Lemmons and J. E. Ritter.

 – History of the 387th Bombardment Group(M) AAF, p. xxx.

It was during the closing months of the war that the 387th BG reachedits zenith in bombing accuracy. The Group set a modern record for bombingaccuracy (at that time), not only withing the IX Bomber Division, but throughoutthe entire USAAF. In April, the Group improved its circular error averageby 87-feet, to a record circular error of 237-feet. This record was allthe more impressive since it was not marred by any gross errors.

Colonel Grover Brown's consistent training and refresher programs paidoff.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 66.

Sun, 1 Apr 45

No bomber operations due to weather.

Mon, 2 Apr 45

Weather prevents operations by the 9th Bombardment Division...

Tue, 3 Apr 45 – Mission: Holzminden marshalling yard

In Germany, about 230 B-26s, A-20s and A-26s attack Holzminden andHameln marshalling yards, the town of Gottingen, 2 targets of opportunity,and fly a leaflet mission; fighters fly escort,...

Wed, 4 Apr 45 – Mission: Ehrbach oil storage

In Germany, 330+ B-26s, A-20s and A-26s hit the Ebrach oil depot, Crailsheimmarshalling yard and barracks area, Grossaspach supply depot, the townof Ellswangen, Backnang rail and road junction, and 2 targets of opportunity;fighters escort the bombers,...

Thu, 5 Apr 45

Weather prevents operations by the 9th Bombardment Division.

Fri, 6 Apr 45

In Germany, 99 B-26s, A-20s and A-26s hit marshalling yards at Gottingenand Northeim and the city area of Herzberg, and drop leaflets over 3 cityareas; fighters fly escort,...

Sat, 7 Apr 45

In Germany, 268 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s strike marshalling yards atNortheim and Gottingen, plus 2 town areas; fighters fly escort,...

Sun, 8 Apr 45 – Mission: Nienhagen oil storage

In Germany, around 620 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s bomb the Munchenbernsdorfoil storage depot, the Sonderhausen communications center, Nienhagen oilrefinery, Celle marshalling yard, and 8 city areas; fighters escort thebombers,...

Mon, 9 Apr 45 – Mission: Amberg-Kummersbruck ordnancedepot

Mon, 9 Apr 45 – Mission: Jena marshalling yard &flak positions

In Germany, 700+ A-20s, A-26s and B-26s strike marshalling yards atJena and Saalfeld, oil targets at Bad Berka and Dedenhausen, ordnance depotsat Naumburg and Amberg-Kummersbruck, and several targets of opportunity;fighters escort the bombers,...

The USAF Research Center at Maxwell AFB do not have the operationalreports for the two missions flown by the 387th BG on this date. They canoffer no reason for the missing files.

Seven flights bombed the ordnance depot at Amberg-Kummersbruck, Germany.Amber flight was the last flight. Lt. Stroud, at the controls of "VulgarVulture," was the flight's deputy, flying No. 4 position. On the bomb run,and what appeared to be a milk run, Amber flight was attacked twice byGerman ME-262 jet fighters. Lt. Stroud, and his crew, were shot down onthe initial attack. Only one chute was observed. The crew were:
 

KIA
POW
KIA
KIA
KIA
KIA
Pilot
Copilot
Radio-Gun.
Eng.-Gun.
Eng.-Gun.
Arm.-Togg.
2nd Lt.
2nd Lt.
Sgt.
Sgt.
Sgt.
S/Sgt.
John D. Stroud
Robert K. McCune
William D. Seitz
Owen D. Kendrick
Glenn A. Ryel
Albert T. Hodgson
0696916
0718791
16078285
18219250
38405228
17153109

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 62.

Tue, 10 Apr 45 – Mission: Rudolstadt ordnance depot

In Germany, 423 A-20s, A-26s, and B-26s strike oil storage and ordnancedepots, rail bridge and viaduct (all primary targets) and several othertargets including a marshalling yard and an industrial area; fighters escortthe bombers,...

Wed, 11 Apr 45 – Mission: Aschersleben marshalling yard

Wed, 11 Apr 45 – Mission: Bamberg assembly & storagearea

In Germany, 689 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s strike marshalling yards atBernburg, Oschersleben, Zwickau, and Kothen, the Naumburg ordnance depot,Bamberg motor transport plant, and several other targets; fighters escortthe bombers,...

Thu, 12 Apr 45 – Mission: Kempten ordnance depot

In Germany, 167 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s attack the Hof rail bridge,Kempten ordnance depot, and Goppingen marshalling yard, plus a town areaand a casual target of opportunity; 275+ planes abort because of weather;fighters escort the bombers,...

Kempten is in southern Germany, close to the western Austria border.The mission was one of the longer ones during the war. As the formationpassed over the bomb line, the Swiss Alps and Lake Constance could be seento the south. But, as the Group neared the target, a barrier of commulonimbusclouds blocked the route. Efforts to fly above the immense build up ofclouds proved impossible and the mission was aborted. As the cloud coverageclosed in around the returning formation, maintaining flight positionssoon became impossible as the aircraft darted in and out of the clouds.Many individual planes found themselves alone, blind, and in a sky filledwith B-26s; left to find their own way back. Fortunately, on the returnheading, better weather conditions prevailed and most of the Groups planeswere able to reform for their return to A-71. The B-26G #86/FW-H, flyingdeputy lead position in II-Box, Low flight, disappeared. Onboard the Marauderwere:


Pilot
Copilot
B/N
ROG
EG
AG

1st Lt.
2nd Lt.
1st Lt.
Sgt.
S/Sgt.
Sgt.
MIA
R.W. Bates
F.F. Bangert
G.E. Warner
Leland S. Wiggs
Arthur Homer, Jr.
M.L. Marr

01285695
0779049
01296600
38366654
31211102
35564000

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 65.

[The aircraft apparently went down with crew on board, and was apparentlylater found. Three of the crewmembers are buried at the Lorraine AmericanCemetery at St. Avold, France, where they are listed as having been killedin action on April 12, 1945. I suspect that the bodies of all six crewmemberswere found and that the families of the other three requested their bodiesbe returned to the United States.]

Fri, 13 Apr 45

...weather grounds the 9th Bombardment Division;...

Sat, 14 Apr 45

In Germany, 18 B-26s fly a leaflet mission in the Ruhr area;...

Sun, 15 Apr 45

In Germany, 258 B-26s and A-26s bomb marshalling yards at Gunzburgand Ulm (primary targets) and several other targets including 3 marshallingyards; fighters escort the bombers,...

Mon, 16 Apr 45 – Mission: Guzenhausen marshalling yard

Mon, 16 Apr 45 – Mission: Kempten ordnance depot

In Germany, about 450 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s bomb the Zerbst communicationscenter, Gunzenhausen marshalling yard, Kempten ordnance depot, and Wittenbergmarshalling yard and gun positions;...

Tue, 17 Apr 45 – Mission: Magdeburg defended area

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division attacks the defended cityof Magdeburg (including numerous gun positions in the area), marshallingyard and ordnance depot at Aalen, marshalling yard and ordnance depot atTubingen, and ordnance depot at Ravensburg; fighters fly escort to thebombers,...

I was radioman on Captain Jim Neff's crew during the mission to Magdeburg,Germany. This was our crew's last combat mission, and my 42nd one sincewe joined the Squadron in mid August of 1944. It was also one of the longestmissions flown by the Group. On this mission Captain Neff led the II-Boxof the Group's formation-the last of eleven bombing groups of the IX Bomb.Division to support the 30th Inf. Div. and the 2nd Armored Division's attackon the defended city. Our II-Box's TOT was 1440-1445; the ground forcesattacked within five minutes. The city on the Elbe River fell the followingday to the Ninth Army units.

– William J. Thompson, Jr.,556thBomb. Squadron, B-26 Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 68.

Wed, 18 Apr 45 – Mission:Donau oil storage depot. In Germany, about 590 B-26s, A-26s, and A-20s attack oil storage atNeuburg an der Donau, marshalling yards at Juterbog and Nordlingen, andrail junctions at Falkenburg and Juterbog; fighters escort the bombers,...

The Donau Oil Storage was attacked twice on this date by the 387th BG. It was on the morning mission that Lt. Walker's crew's luck finally ran out. The fomation was attacked during the bomb run by the revolutionary new German jet fighter, the ME-252. Lt. Walker's plane was shot down, and no chutes were reported to be seen before it crashed. Also German records of JV44 reported shoting down a B-26 Maurder on this day and the unit was operating M-262 at the time, the german pilot is unknown. The ME-262 also damaged a 559th Squadron Marauder. Its crew crash-landed

Lt. Walker's crew had more than their share of bad luck during their brief duty with the 556th Squadron. They were the last KIA listed for the 387th BG during WWII. The Group flew its last hostile operation the following day. They were flying

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 28.

Thu,19 Apr 45 – Mission: Ulm marshalling yard

Thu, 19 Apr 45 – Mission: Gunzberg railroad siding

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits marshalling yards atUlm, Neu Ulm, and Gunzburg (primary targets), the city of Donauworth anda target of opportunity at Schelklingen; weather prevents 70+ of the 450+dispatched aircraft from bombing targets; fighters fly escort to the bombers,...

on April 19 were also the last combatmissions flown by the 387thBG during WWII. Two outstanding lead crews wereaboard #071 that day.

– William J. Thompson, Jr.,556thBomb. Squadron, B-26 Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 68.

Fri, 20 Apr 45

In Germany, 564 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s strike oil storage at Deggendorfand Annaburg, marshalling yards at Memmingen and Wittenberg, ordnance depotsat Nordlingen and Straubing, and other targets including flak positions;fighters escort the bombers,...

Sat, 21 Apr 45

In Germany, 121 bombers hit the Attnang-Puchheim marshalling yard;fighters fly escort,...

Sun, 22 Apr 45

Weather prevents combat operations by the 9th Bombardment Division...

Mon, 23 Apr 45

Weather cancels combat operations by the 9th Bombardment Division.

Tue, 24 Apr 45

In Germany, the 9th Bombardment Division hits the airfield at Landauan der Isar and an oil depot at Schrobenhausen; fighters fly airfield cover,escort the bombers,...

Wed, 25 Apr 45

In Germany, 296 A-20s, A-26s and B-26s strike Erding Airfield and Freilassingordnance depot; fighters fly airfield cover and escort missions,... USand Soviet forces establish contact near Torgau.

Thu, 26 Apr 45 – Mission: Schrobenhausenoil storage (recalled)

In Germany, 125 bombers hit Plattling Airfield; fighters escort thebombers,...

The B-26B named "STINKY" survived its combat duty in the ETO, onlyto end up on the scrap heap at Landsburg, Germany shortly after WWII. "STINKY"was part of the Group's first bomb mission on August 15, 1943. The planewas slated to be part of the Group's formation on April 19, 1945; the lastcombat mission flown by the 387th BG. The old warrior was also armed andready on April 26 when the last "hostile formation" of the 387thBG tookto the air; only to be recalled three minutes from base, en route to theirintended target at Schrobenhausen, Germany—Schrobenhausen had been overrun by the fast advancing US Ground forces.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 15.

Fri, 27 Apr 45

Weather grounds the 9th Bombardment Division.

Sat, 28 Apr 45

Weather prevents all Ninth AF combat operations.

Sun, 29 Apr 45

Weather cancels operations by the 9th Bombardment Division. ... HQ387th Bombardment Group (Medium) from Clastres, France to Beek, the Netherlands.

Mon, 30 Apr 45

Weather cancels 9th Bombardment Division and XXIX Tactical Air Command(Provisional) operations.

Tue, 1 May 45

9 A-26s bomb an ammunition plant at Stod, Czechoslovakia. The IX TacticalAir Command escorts the bombers...

Wed, 2 May 45

Weather cancels 9th Bombardment Division operations.

Thu, 3 May 45

132 A-26s (on the final 9th Bombardment Division raid) bomb the Stod,Czechoslovakia ammunition plant. The IX Tactical Air Command escorts theA-26s...

Fri, 4 May 45

No bomber operations. ... 556th, 557th, 558th and 559th BombardmentSquadron (Medium), 387th Bombardment Group (Medium), from Clastres, Franceto Beek, the Netherlands with B-26s.

Sat, 5 May 45

No Ninth AF operations except tactical and photo reconnaissance inforward areas.

Sun, 6 May 45

No operations by the 9th Bombardment Division...

Mon, 7 May 45

The German High Command surrenders unconditionally all land, sea, andair forces at Reims, France effective 9 May 45.  General of the ArmyDwight D Eisenhower says, "The mission of this Allied force was fulfilledat 0241 local time, May 7, 1945."

[Is this right? I didn't think the group was assigned any A-26s.]

On the day Germany capitulatedto the Allies, a mission had been planned using A-26 aircraft of the 387thBG, 558th BS. Nathan Pearson was a gunner on one of the Invaders scheduledto fly against the target-Berchtesgaden, Hitler's retreat in the BavarianAlps. Perhaps needless to say, the mission was scrubbed.

– Nathan Pearson/RichardC. Jameson

Thu, 10 May 45

The 9th Bombardment Division is redesignated the 9th Air Division.

Sun, 20 May 45

It was on this date that "Off Limits" crashed near the village of Junet,Belgium while on a training flight. The deaths were especially tragic,as they had survived the rigors and risks of combat, and saw the war inEurope to its conclusion. The three man crew consited of:

Pilot
Copilot
EG
1st Lt.
2nd Lt.
S/Sgt.
George W. Patterson
Robert W. Sibinski
Harold W. Stafford
0173597
0834043
38495228

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 58.

Thu, 24 May 45

HQ 387th Bombardment Group (Medium) from Beek, the Netherlands to Rosieres-en-Santerre,France;...

Wed, 30 May 45

556th, 557th, 558th and 559th Bombardment Squadrons (Medium), 387th Bombardment Group (Medium), from Beek, the Netherlands to Rosieres-en-Santerre,France with B-26s;...

May 45

A few days after the end of hostilities, the pilot of the aircraftwho's windshield was broken in the collision between "Itsy Bitsy" and "Tabasco"was killed in an auto accident returning to our base in Holland from aday on the town. A jeep in which several "556ers" was riding was side swipedby a 6x6.

Shootin' In, March 2000.

Jul 1945

After VE-Day, personnel of the MarauderGroups in the IX Bomb. Division found themselves being reassigned to variousBomb Groups. Basically, these new assignments were divided into:
*  Occupational forces for Germany-lowpoint and career men.
*  Retraining for possible redeploymentin the Pacific Theater, if required.
*  High point personnel with enoughpoints to return to the States for discharge.

The 387th BG was designated as one ofthe later Groups. During July, as the other B-26 Groups were being brokenup to meet the above criteria, the 387th BG experienced a huge influx ofhigh point personnel from other units; to be processed for return to theZ.I.

The 387th's base at B-87 also becameone of the storage bases for the older B-26's until a method of their disposalcould be determined. Many of the newer Marauders became part of the 344th occupational Bomb. Group. The majority of the newer F and G models wereacquired by the French Air Force. Most of the older B and C models eventuallyended up at Landsburg, Germany, as scrap. I am afraid that "Top Sarge 2nd"became a victim at Landsburg.

There is no greater tribute than to haveserved your country nobly.

– Peter Crouchman, Alan Crouchman,Robert C. Allen, William J. Thompson, Jr., 556th Bomb. Squadron, B-26Marauder Reference and Operations Guide, p. 55.

1st Lt. Willis D. Muselman had74 points and topped the list of “556ers” on Special Orders No. 64, dated10 July 1945. Special Order No. 64 were our orders to “Return to the ZIO/a 11 July 1945.”

When we left the 387th inJuly, we were assigned to the 70th Reinforcement Depot at Le Bourget Field,outside Paris. After the ten days or so required for processing we werefinally placed on a troop train for “Camp Tophat” on the outskirts of Antwerp,Belgium. 1st Lt. Muselman was the ranking officer and was placed in chargeof that troop train.

It was towards the end ofJuly, and I remember we were going through a hot spell in the weather.We were all in a good mood when we boarded the train, anxious to get home.The train was full of GIs. The seats were hard and cramped. We finallyreached the French-Belgium border about mid-day. There we were switchedto a siding to await our new (Belgian) engine.

The marshalling yard wasbusy with train traffic and railcars were being moved by various switchengines. We were all given permission to stretch our legs. It was duringthis stop that one of the GIs noticed the flat-bed rail car next to us.On it were two huge wooden casks, in an upright position. They were thelargest wooden vats I had ever seen. They took up the entire flatbed.

As we stood admiring thesecasks, speculation whelmed as to their contents. The vats were tapped andthe sound told us they were indeed full. I almost fell over when one ofthe GIs made his way through the gathering crowd with a pick in his hands.It was abundantly clear what his intentions were, and we all scurried foravailable containers.

The man drove that pick intoone of the casks, about a foot from the bottom. We had wine! Everyone crowdedto fill his container. Some just put their face in the torrid stream andgulped. The distance between the two railcars was narrow and when wordwent out to all the troops on the train about the “free” wine, the areawas a madhouse.

Naturally, the volume ofwine pouring out of that pick hole had great pressure and for every cupgathered, about fifty cups ran wild onto the tracks. Soon another GI pickedup the pick and plunged another hole into the remaining vat. Again a greatvolume of wine poured forth. We were all giddy with delight. Every possiblecontainer on board that troop train was filled with wine. We had to bethe happiest troop train ever to arrive at Camp Tophat.

The train authorities wereabsolutely furious. They came from all over the yard to view the drainedvats and all the time their French voices were going a mile a minute. Wegiggled. “C’est la guerre” was shouted by many of us. We toasted the French—anddrank wine. We toasted the Belgians—and drank wine. God, we were wildlyhappy. The more furious the trainmen grew, the more we laughed at our recklessdeed.

Soon Lt. Muselman appearedin our car. He wanted to know what the hell went on. He had a half grinon his face, but the conductor next to him was not grinning. Muselman hadto sign the bill of lading for that entire cargo of wine, making the U.S.Army responsible for payment.

– Bill Thompson (556th B.S.),ShootinIn, March 1988.

The history of the 456thSquadron approprately sets forth the unexpected blow that fell on everyone[in the 323rd Bombardment Group in May of 1945]. Major Louis E. Rehrcalled a squadron meeting in the mess hall and told us he had bad newsfor us-the squadron was being temporarily "disactivated." The combat crewswere assigned on detached service to the 397th Bombardment Group.44Most men transferredto the 397BG were subsequently transferred to the 387BG.

– John O. Moench, Maj. Gen.,USAF, Marauder Men, p. 393.

Oct 1945

In late October '45 everyonewas shipped out to Camp 20 Grand at LeHavre, France.

– Edwin Hogan (558th B.S.),Shootin' In, November 2004, p. 393.

4 Nov 1945 – Departed Le Havre aboard U.S.S. LeJeune

They departed LeHavre on Nov.4th on the USS LeJeune, formerly the German Liner Windhuk.

– Edwin Hogan (558th B.S.),Shootin' In, November 2004, p. 393.

11 Nov 1945 – Arrived New York; transported to Camp Kilmer

They arrived New York onNov. 11th, and after an all day wait at the pier, they proceeded to CampKilmer...

– Edwin Hogan (558th B.S.),Shootin' In, November 2004, p. 393.

13 Nov 1945 – Separation

... all had departed forSeparation Centers by Nov. 13 or 14. The 387th Bomb Group was no more.

– Edwin Hogan (558th B.S.),Shootin' In, November 2004, p. 393.

13 Nov 1945 – Separation

... all had departed forSeparation Centers by Nov. 13 or 14. The 387th Bomb Group was no more.

– Edwin Hogan (558th B.S.),Shootin' In, November 2004, p. 393.

Documents incorporated in this chronology

Kiliiop – finished

Mission list – finished

Burl Thompson (556th B.S.), Diary – finished

387th History – Have finished MacDill to Chipping Ongar,Air offensive europe, Normandy, Northern France, [NOT Rhineland], [Ardennesdone thru Dec]

FW Operations guide –

Mission to Mayen –

This webpage was updated 9th July 2018