Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Mission 492: Heavy bombers are scheduled to participate in a US First Army offensive (Operation COBRA) to penetrate the German defenses W of Saint-Lo and secure Coutances; 1,586 bombers and 671 fighters are dispatched but bad weather causes the ground forces to delay the attack until next day, and cloud conditions cause 1,102 bombers to abort. Targets hit are:
1. Of 909 B-17s, 343 hit the Periers/St Lo area and 35 hit the Granville railroad junction; 1 B-17 is lost and 70 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 1 1 WIA and 1 MIA.
2. 109 of 677 B-24s bomb targets of opportunity including road intersections and rail lines; 2 B-24s are lost and 74 damaged; 1 airman is KIA, 1 WIA and 20 MIA. Escort for the bombers is provided by 478 P-38s, P-47s and P-51s; they claim 1-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft in the air and 1-0-1 on the ground; 3 P-38s are lost (pilots are MIA) and 1 P-47 is damaged beyond repair and 1 P-47 is damaged.
143 of 169 P-51s fly a sweep over Lechfeld and Leipheim Airfields in Germany; they claim 3-0-0 aircraft in the air and 12-0-16 on the ground; 2 P-51s are lost (pilots are MIA), 1 damaged beyond repair and 6 damaged.
Mission 493: 7 of 7 B-17s drop leaflets in France during the night. 6 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions during the night.
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
OPERATION COBRA - First use of heavy bombers in a tactitcal role. Plan is to bomb troop concentrations on the SW side of the straight road (107 degrees E) between Periers and St. Lo. The area is defined by a rectangle 1,500 yards wide by 3,500 yards long immediately parallel to the road. The weather is overcast and the target area is not readily visible. The bombers are to attack from 10,000 feet. It was assumed that the bombers would fly parallel to the road and bomb the length of the rectangle, however, because of the number of bombers in the formation it was decided by 8AF representatives that the bombers would fly perpendicular to the rectangle. Units of the First Army were poised just 800 to 1200 yards NW of the road ready to punce upon the dazed Germans once the strike was completed. Because of the heavy overcast, Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, who was responsible for coordinating Allied strategic bombing in Nromandy issued a recall order to the bomber stream but too late to prevent 343 from dropping 685 tons of bombs. Some of the bombs fall short and land on units of the 30th Infantry Division, killing 27 soldiers and wounding 131 others. A tragic friendly-fire incident.
Source: Notes from Lee Cunningham
303BG Mission Report - Target: "Operation Cobra" Supporting US 1st Army St. Lo, France. Crews Dispatched: 38 (358BS - 10, 359th - 0, 360th - 17, 427th - 11). Length of Mission: 5 hours, 15 minutes. Bomb Load: 38 x 100 lb G.P. M30 bombs. Bombing Altitude: 15,000 ft. Ammo Fired: 0 rounds.
Thirty-eight 303rd BG(H) aircraft took off to support the US First Army ground troops in the St. Lo, France, area. One B-17 returned early: #42-32027 Betty Jane, 427BS (Gallagher), pilot's throttle disconnected.
A recall signal was sent out by the 1st Bomb Division, but it was not received until after the lead and low Groups had dropped 948 100-lb. G.P. M30 bombs on their assigned target from 15,000 feet. Results were poor due to 8/10 cloud cover. The high Group heard the recall signal and did not bomb.
No enemy aircraft were seen. The lead Group reported meager and accurate flak in the target area that caused one Fortress major and one, minor damage. The low and high Groups observed anti-aircraft fire only.
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
34th BG Mission Report - Mission #41 St. Lo area. Command Pilot: BOYD. 38 planes were dispatched and all 38 failed to bomb. 38 Credit Sorties. One aircraft lost, 9 crewmembers listed Missing in Action.
B-24H 42-94757 B/Q The Dugan Wagon Missing in Action in St. Lo area. Flak tore #4 engine off and #3 caught fire. Plane spun in and exploded on impact with the ground at St Lo. With 18BS. Pilot: Harre.
source: 34th Bomb Group Mission List compiled by Gary L. Ferrell http://valortovictory.tripod.com
351BG Mission Report - 36 aircraft were sent on this mission.
source: 351st Bomb Group web page http://www.351st.org/ken.harbour
384BG Mission Report - 384th BG Mission Number 164. Primary Target: Tactical - La Chapelle en Juger, France
40 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 36. Ground Spare, Unused - 4
source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
388BG Mission Report - On the 24th of July the whole 8th Air Force was dispatched to a target West of St. Lo, France for saturation bombing to aid a break through of our Ground forces in that area. The 388th furnished three Groups, composing the 45th Combat Wing.
35 a/c were airborne between 0910 and 0940 hours and there were no aborts. Formations were effected and the Wing proceeded to the target on the briefed course. Weather in the target was hazy with broken skies causing the Wing to make four bomb runs. Bombs were away at 1311 hours from 16,000 feet on a mag heading of 325 degrees. Meager accurate flak was encountered in the target area along with 10-12 rockets. We were the only Wing in the Division that dropped its bombs.
In all the Groups of the 3rd Division the total battle damage was 21 minor and 1 major to the a/c with no casualties. All of our a/c returned to base by 1603 hours.
source: 388th Bomb Group web page http://www.388bg.info
source: 398th Bomb Group web page http://www.398th.org/
401BG / 613BS Mission Report - Tactical support of advancing ground forces in the St. Lo, France area was our assignment. Poor visibility and haze over the target was encountered and a recall from the 1st Division was received. Bombs were returned as ordered. At a point approximately 39 miles S.S.W. of Portland Bill on the return to base the ship of Lt. Edward Coleman caught fire in the left wing near the No. 2 engine. The crew bailed out and their position in the Channel was indicated by at least three B-17s that circled overhead. Lt. William C. Mannix brought his ship down near the water and released his dinghy close to the men in the water. Crews participating were Fowler, Mannix, Thomason, Lockhart, Etters, Lippert, Hanson, Coleman, Lemmons.
source: 613th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 612BS Mission Report - A change to tactical bombing was necessary on 24th July when the Group was assigned along with hundreds of other bombers to attack an area West-South-West of St. 10, France in way of support to a huge ground offensive which our forces were starting. The 401st furnished three boxes of 12 aircraft each comprising the whole 94th "A" CBW. Everything went as planned until the target area was reached where a clouded undercast obscured the area and the Wing was recalled by higher headquarters with instructions not to bomb. Such blind bombing, if done, would seriously jeopardize hundreds of lives on the ground if bombing was not perfect. Flak of the moderate and fairly accurate variety was encountered from German ground positions in the battle area which accounted for minor damage to six aircraft. All crews returned safely.
source: 612th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 614BS Mission Report - This mission was an area bombing attack in support of the US 1st Army offensive. The 401st supplied the Lead, High and Low 12 aircraft Boxes for the 94th "A: CBW and 4 aircraft for the Composite Wing Low Squadron under the command of Major Stann. The weather conditions were good for visual bombing but previous bombing and the ground artillery smoke made the bombing very difficult. Some formations bombed and others were recalled. Some of the 401st aircraft bombed their targets and others failed to find them and brought their bombs back to Deenethorpe. The accidental release of bombs by some Groups over the Allied lines caused the death of 20 US personnel with 60 plus wounded.There was no fighter opposition and the flak was moderate and fairly accurate. Crews: 42-39012 Cammack, 42-97395 Koons, 42-107084 Risher, 42-31863 Taylor, 42-97478 Harasym, 42-97780 Mercer, 42-97869 Carroll, 42-97145 Lerwick, 42-31369 Kovach, 42-97602 La Fevor.
source: 614th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 615BS Mission Report - The two PFF ships to lead this mission, 1701 and 1636, arrived from Polebrook on the night of the 23rd July. Briefing was at 0300 hrs for 40 crews but after putting the mission back one hour then telling all aircraft to taxi back to their dispersals, the mission finally was on and the 40 ships became airborne by 1026 hrs - 7 hours after briefing! This was a tactical support mission for the US 1st Army and the briefed target was a rectangular area 1500 yards forward of the troops. The explicit instructions in the Field Order mentioned that sighting had to be visual and not to drop if otherwise. It had to be otherwise for visibility of recognition markers was impossible - hence no bombs were dropped, due to a recall order from Division. The 401st furnished the Lead, High and Low 12 aircraft boxes for the 94th "A" CBW and also four aircraft for the Composite Low Squadron of the High Box of the 94th "B" CBQ. Major L. Stann was the Wing Leader. Lt. Kalinski with Major D.E. Silver, High Box Leader, led the 615th Squadron. Six aircraft received minor flak damage and one, IN-M, Serial No. 42-32005, piloted by Lt. Edward W. Coleman, was forced to ditch in the Channel with the loss of the co-pilot, Flight Officer Stewart L. Wilcox. The 615th loading list was: Kalinski, Ossiander, Melofchik, Wingard, McIlraith, Dow, Mann, Konze.
source: 615th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
44BG Mission Report - Capt. Aldridge led the Group on a mission to St Lo, France in a ground supporting role. In advance of a big push by the American Ground Forces in the Normandy area of France, the Air Forces were to bomb the enemy troop concentrations. But the weather was bad for this type of operations, so the big push was postponed for a more favorable weather set up. Bombs were not dropped due to this 10/10th cloud cover. However, sortie credit was given to the 37 planes participating (14 of them 67th's) as enemy flak was encountered. The proximity of our own forces made it too dangerous for unseen type bombing practices. No PFF ships were utilized in this type of attack. An afternoon beer party was given in honor of M/Sgts. Illick and Horvath who are returning to the Z.O.I. Sgts. Illick and Horvath are two of the original members of the 67th Squadron. Sgt. Illick has served in the capacity of Line Chief; Sgt. Horvath as Squadron Supply Sergeant. The party started at 1630 hours and continued until the wee hours. There was plenty of beer and plenty to eat, and everyone who attended had a wonderful time. All are sorry to see them leave, but on the other hand, glad to see them get the opportunity to return to the good old USA. Lt. Shepherd assigned and joined; assigned as Assistant Squadron S-2. Capt. Barber, Base Medical Officer, inspected Site #3, comments good.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
446th Bomb Group Mission Report Grannville, France
A railroad and highway intersection were hit in support of ground troops.
source: 446th Bomb Group www.446bg.com
447BG Mission Report - Briefing was at 0700 hours. The code name given to this mission was, COBRA. The mission was designed by the ground generals based on how aircraft were used in WWI. The First Army wanted to blast the German forces in the Peteirs/St. Lo area, then make an assault before the Germans could recover. The Group was to bomb just ahead of the ground troops. 100 lb. GP and fragmentation bombs were loaded into the aircraft. Take off started at 0930 hours and the bombing altitude of 16,000 feet was reached as the Group crossed Normandy Beach. The target are was covered by a haze so an order was given not to drop bombs. A few Groups did. A little less than one third of the dispatched 1,586 heavy bombers released their bombs.
source: 447 Bomb Group Association http://www.447bg.com
source: 492 Bomb Group Mission Links http://www.492ndbombgroup.com
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - St. Lo. Four 12 ship groups were dispatched by the 91st Bomb Group as A force of the 1st CBW on a ground support mission of the 9th AF in support 323rd forces in Normandy. The target was German troops and installations south of the St. Lo - Perriers Road 2 to 5 miles W. of St. Lo. The 322nd Squadron flew as B: group in this force, and bombed the assigned area. Subsequent wings were recalled before dropping their bombs.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Enemy troop positions, N.W. St. Lo., France. Photos show good pattern in target area with main concentrations within the assigned area. D group was unable to drop because 306 Group flew directly beneath formation. This offensive was supposed to start a big American push, but most groups were unable to drop and the offensive did not take place until the next day.