Monday, February 3, 2020

"What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?" - Part 3-c

This is the final continuation of my father's WW2 flight diary.  For Part 3-A see link and for Part 3-B see link.

As in the first two posts, the information in [ ] are my insertions.  The information in quotation marks (" ") are from the Mighty Eighth Air Force Calendar web site.

Mission 21:  April 3, 1945.  Target: Kiel, Gr.  A 6-hour and 30-minute visual mission against sub pens, shipping and docks.  Flak heavy.  Flew ship #634 with 12 - 500's.
[Note: "Mission 924.  752 B-17s and 569 P-51s are dispatched to hit U-boats yards at Kiel."]

The "Killian" U-Boat Pen (on left at red arrow) and Associated Dry Docks in Kiel after the War
The German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper is in the flooded dock next to the Killian pen.
[courtesy of web site Battlefieldsww2,com]
Mission 22:  April 6, 1945.  Target: Gera, Gr. (Leipzig area).  A 9-hour and 15-minute visual mission against marshalling yard.  No flak.  Formed over France.  Flew ship #318 with 34 150's [bomb weight not clear] and 2 M-17s [incendiaries].
[Note:  "Mission 930.  659 bombers and 593 fighters [P-47 and P-51] hit rail targets in the Leipzig, Germany area using H2X radar. [of these, 109 hit a secondary target at Gera]."

Apr 7, 1945:  Smouse [co-pilot of  #807 "Dream Gal" as of Feb 6, 1945] flew with Owens as co-pilot.  His ship was rammed by Me-109 out of control.  Suppose he was killed instantly.  [According to a roster developed by the 452nd Bomb Group Association, of which I am a member, both First Officer James I. Smouse, Jr. and 2nd Lt David L. Owens were killed inaction on April 7, 1945.] 
[Further information developed from 452nd Bomb Group's newsletter of Dec 2022 is that this mission was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (renamed a Presidential Unit Citation in 1966) "for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy."  The Group sent 37 aircraft to bomb the German jet fighter base at Kaltenkirchen, Germany.  The German resistance was intense including air to air jamming of B-17s by German fighters.  Four of the Group's planes were lost that day and thirteen suffered battle damage.]
[Note:  "Mission 931.  1,314 bombers [B-17 and B-24] and 898 fighters [P-47 and P-51] are dispatched to hit airfields, oil and munitions depots and explosive plants in C[entral] and N[orth] Germany; all primary targets are bombed visually."  Smouse's plane was one of 15 lost in this raid.]

Mission 23:  April 8, 1945.  Target:  Grafenwhr, gr.  A 9-hour and 10-minute visual mission against arsenal, supply depot, and railyards.  Another tour of Germany from 15,000 feet.  No flak.  Saw activity on front lines, P-51's strafed train.  Ship #807 with 8 500 RDX and 2 M-17s.
[NOTE:  "Mission 932.  1,173 bombers [B-17 and B-24] and 794 fighters [P-47 and P-51] attack various targets in Germany."  The part of the mission to Grafenwohr consisted of 203 B-17s.]

Mission 24:  April 14, 1945.  Target: Bayon [-sur-Gironde] France.  An 8-hour and 40-minute visual MILK RUN against flak installations and naval guns.  This was a Nazi pocket near Bordeaux.  No flak over target.  Bombed from 22,000 feet.  Ship #807 with 38 M1A1's.
[Note:  "Mission 948.  1,167 bombers [B-17 and B-24] are dispatched without escort to visually attack enemy pockets on the French Gironde estuary. Other Allied AFs [Air Forces] and French naval units attack similar targets. The air attacks precede a ground assault by a French detachment of the Sixth Army Group on the defense pockets which deny the Allies use of port facilities in the Bordeaux area.  480 of 490 B-17s hit 15 strongpoints and flak batteries in the Bordeaux/Royan, Pointe Coubre and Pointe Grave areas.  338 of 341 B-17s attack 4 strongpoints and flak batteries in the Bordeauz/Royan area."  I don't know which sub-mission was my father's.]

Mission 25:  April 15, 1945.  Target: Royan, Fr.  A 9-hour mission against troop concentration in Nazi ppocket near Bordeaux.  Formed over Laon, France.  Flew over Paris.  Bombed visually from 15,000 feet. No flak in our formation.  Ship #807 with 6 - 600# gasoline-jelly P-51 tanks (leaked all over hell [in airplane].  Free French Navy shelling town while we bombed.
[Note:  "Mission 951.  1,348 unescorted bombers [B-17 and B-24] are dispatched to visually attack strongpoints on the French Atlantic coast; the first two forces [My father's was the first one.] below make the sole operational employment of napalm bombs by Eighth AF against German ground installations (pillboxes, gunpits, tank trenches, and heavy gun emplacements); the results are negligible and HQ recommends its discontinuance against this type of target:
1.  492 of 529 B-17s hit four strongpoints and flak batteries in the Royan area."]

Mission 26:  April 16, 1945.  Target: Saulac [sic - Soulac-sur-Mer], Fr.  An 8-hour and 20-minute mission against tank barriers and defenses on the Gironde estuary near Bordeaux.  Bombed visually from 15,000 feet.  No flak.  Ship #807 with 6 - 1000# G.P.s  french Navy and artillery shelled target.
[Note:  "Mission 955.  During the morning, 485 of 489 B-17s bomb the tank ditch defense line at Pointe de Grave on the S[outh] side of the Gironde estuary in the Bordeaux area in support of the ground assault in that area."

Mission 27:  April 17, 1945.  Target: Dresden, Gr.  An 8-hour and 35-minute mission against marshalling yards.  Weather was bad and umpteen million other groups were over, betwix and between, and under us.  So, our squadron didn't drop.  Brung 'em home.  Lot of flak but not near.  Flew ship #807 with 12 - 500's.  [This was my father's last combat mission although he didn't know it at the time.]
[Note:  "Mission 957.  1,054 bombers [B-17 and B-24] and 816 fighters [P-47 and P-51] are dispatched to hit rail targets in E[astern] Germany and W[estern] Czechoslovakia.
1.  450 B-17s are dispatched to hit rail center (152) and marshalling yard (276) at Dresden.
2.  410 B-17s are sent to Dresden area (76) ... 86 hit the secondary target, the marshalling yard at Dresden ... ."]

Mission 28:  May 2, 1945.  Chow hound mission to Amsterdam.
[Note:  "Mission 975.  401 B-17s are dispatched to drop food supplies in the Netherlands at Schipol (250) airfield [Amsterdam's main airport - still in operation.  In fact I flew into and out of there in September 1983 on NATO Exercise Atlantic Lion.] and other locations."]

Mission 29:  May 6, 1945.  Chow hound mission to Amsterdam.
[Note:  "Mission 981.  383 B-17s are dispatched to drop food at Schipol (249) Airfield and other locations.  693,3 tons [in total] are dropped."]
[Note:  The missions this day were the last three offensive missions flown by the Mighty Eighth.  The war officially ended the next day.]

[Historical Note:  Operations Manna (RAF and other Allies) and Chowhound (USAAF) were humanitarian food drops, carried out to relieve a famine in German-occupied Netherlands, undertaken by Allied bomber crews during the final days of World War II in Europe.  A total of over 11,000 tons of food [were dropped] into the still unliberated western part of the Netherlands, with the acquiescence of the occupying German forces, to feed Dutch civilians in danger of starvation.  After it was realized that Manna and Chowhound would be insufficient, a ground-based relief operation named Operation Faust was launched.  On 2 May, 200 Allied trucks began delivering food to the city of Rhenen, behind German lines.  On the American side, ten bomb groups of the US Third Air Division [the division to which the 452nd Group was assigned] flew 2,268 sorties beginning 1 May, delivering a total of 4,000 tons.  400 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers dropped 800 tons of K-rations during 1-3 May on Amsterdam Schipol Airport.]
{courtesy of }

This ended my father's operational flying in Europe.  On June 29, 1945, his squadron left Deopham Green en route to the United States, flying via the Azores and Gander, Newfoundland, Canada to Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, where they landed on July 4.

I hope that this look at the past via my father's flight diary has been enlightening.  As I stated in the first installment, I hope to have more in future months.  But for now, "engines cut."

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

What an incredible time.

My grandfather does not remember much (or if he did he wouldn't say). He always said they were not allowed to remember their missions. He did one mission he remembered to pick up passengers. I think he said they were French. He was at Ipswich, UK teaching gunnery school.