Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission No. 48: 78 B-17s and 24 B-24s are dispatched against the shipyards and dock area at Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The target is clouded and only 33 B-17s drop 99 tons of bombs at 1225 hours; we claim 1-1-2; we lose 3 B-17s and 1 B-24 plus 3 B-17s are damaged beyond repair and 4 B-17s and 1 B-24 are damaged; casualties are 16 KIA, 10 WIA and 10 MIA.
The air echelons of the 414th and 415th Night Fighter Squadrons, AAF School of Applied Tactics arrive in England from the U.S.; the ground echelons are enroute to Algeria. Both squadrons will train with Beaufighters before moving to North Africa.
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
303BG Mission Report - Target: Wilton Shipyards, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Crews Dispatched: 20 (358BS - 6, 359th - 3, 360th - 6, 427th - 5). Crews Lost: Lt. James R. Dunn - 7 KIA, 3 injured in bail-out Lt. Keith O. Bartlett - 8 KIA, 2 uninjured in bail-out Length of Mission: 4 hours, 45 minutes. Bomb Load: 6 x 1000 lb H.E. M44 bombs Bombing Altitude: 24,000 ft. Ammo Fired: 13,770 rounds.
Seeing a possible break in the weather, the Wing sent in a loading order at 0335 hours, and followed it up with an operational order at 0600 hours, giving the Rotterdam shipyards as the primary target. No secondary or last resort targets were named.
The briefing, held by Maj. Green, was scheduled for 0800 with the take-off set at 0935, which meant that a few short cuts were necessary. In the past at least three hours had been allowed between briefing and take-off. This worked to the disadvantage of most crews, as verified in their comments at post mission debriefing.
At 0935, Maj. Romig, 359th BS(H) CO, took off followed by nineteen other B-17s. The last plane was in the air at 0946 hours. Shortly after take-off, at approximately 1026 hours, Capt. Shayler, who was flying with Lt. Bilek in the 360th's plane #42-5382 Witches Tit, returned as an abortive after losing contact with the formation in heavy cloud cover. The crew reported seeing two B-17s collide in mid-air.
The colliding B-17s were later verified as the 360th BS #41-24559, Ooold Soljer, and the 358th BS #42-29573, Two Beauts. Ooold Soljer was Capt. Lewis Lyle's regular B-17F that he flew overseas. The two aircraft collided when the right formation passed through 10/10 clouds in the vicinity of Wellingboro. Ooold Soljer was completely demolished and was seen to have lost its right wing from the No. 4 engine. Two Beauts was later salvaged. In 1996 a memorial was erected at the crash site near Mears Ashby, U.K.
Seventeen remaining aircraft went on to bomb Rotterdam with 51 tons of 1,000-lb. bombs from 24,000 feet. Because of poor visibility over the target area, observation of bombing results was difficult. Some bombs were seen to hit the target through breaks in the clouds. Photos taken later were of little help. The 8th Air Force dispatched 102 aircraft on the mission and only 33 bombed the target, 17 of which were in the 303rd BG(H).
Flak over the target, as well as over three other points, was reported as slight and inaccurate. Due to strong winds and almost zero visibility, the course taken was at times off that prescribed. About 25 enemy aircraft were reported. Most were seen on the last diversion leg and no encounters were experienced. There were no contact casualties. All 17 aircraft returned safely between the hours of 1417 and 1442.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
44BG Mission Report - On the last day of the month we again put up our two aircraft along with 10 others of the Group to attack an important shipyard for the fitting out of E-boats and merchant vessel repairs. During the establishment of the formation a 68th Squadron aircraft was caught in the propeller wash of another plane that forced the ship from the formation at a violent angle. This spilled the gyro instruments and the ship went down spinning. Lt. Garrett righted his ship after it had fallen approximately 4000 feet and had to land because of possible damage to the tail structure. Our small formation reached the target of Rotterdam, but found it covered with 10/10th clouds and could not bomb the Dutch city without visual sighting of the target area. All planes returned to base safely, but one 68th plane had to circle the field for some time as the nose wheel was locked up. It was finally lowered manually and he made a good landing. This was the third mission of our newly arrived fourth squadron, the most welcome 506th. *This aircraft, #41-23699 "Lemon Drop" went on to complete the famous Ploesti lowlevel mission and became the Groups assembly ship. During the month the 67th Squadron received their first replacements - 1st Lt. William Roach and crew in new A/C #42401269 Annie Oakley.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Target today was Wilton shipyards at Rotterdam, Holland. 20 A/C of group took off of which 3 were of 322nd. Capt. Bruce D. Barton #497, Lt. Edwin D. Baxley (first as pilot) #453, Lt. Don C. Bader #712. Large numbers of E/A were sighted on both diversion and main legs of but no attacks. Flack in distance was intense. 10/10 clouds were encountered. 101st Combat Wing did not attack and returned with bomb load. 102nd Wing bombed with great degree of accuracy. Group had no losses.