Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission No. 53: 78 B-17s are dispatched against the Sainte-Nazaire, France U-boat base and shipyard. They find bad weather over the target and only 29 B-17s hit the target between 1125 and 1131 hours local. We claim 18-6-8 Luftwaffe aircraft; 7 B-17s are lost, 2 are damaged beyond repair and 20 others are damaged. Casualties are 3 KIA, 17 WIA and 73 MIA. At the same time, 24 B-24s fly a diversion along the Brittany Coast.
HQ 351st Bombardment Group (Heavy) arrives at Polebrook, England from the US.
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: Harbor Installations, St. Nazaire, France. Crews Dispatched: 19 (358BS - 0, 359th - 6, 360th - 6, 427th - 7). Crews Lost: Lt. Walsh, Lt. Sterling. Crew Members Wounded or Killed: 15 Killed & 3 Wounded. Length of Mission: 5 hours, 50 minutes. Bomb Load: 2 x 2000 lb G.P. M-34 bombs. Bombing Altitude: 22,700 ft. Ammo Fired: 56,350 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 9 Destroyed, 7 Probables, 4 Damaged (23 different attacks made on 303rd formation).
Two other 351BG officers also accompanied 303rd BG(H) crews on this mission. The 351 BG(H) air and ground echelons arrived at Polebrook on 12 April 1943. They had not yet flown their first Group combat mission. Maj. T.R. Milton, operations officer, flew with 427BS Capt. Broussard in #42-5221. Capt. W.R. Forsythe, CO 510BS, flew with 360BS Capt. J.W. Farrar in #42-5260, Yardbird II.
Nineteen aircraft took off loaded with two M-2 2,000-lb. bombs. Ten aircraft dropped their bombs, one jettisoned bombs and six brought their bombs back to Molesworth. Bomb results were poor, since the few aircraft that bombed had less than 10 seconds on their bomb run.
Moderate accurate flak was encountered. Heavy fighter opposition was experienced with 40 to 50 seen and 20 to 25 encounters. Crews claimed nine enemy aircraft were destroyed, with seven probables and four damaged. Several reports indicated that enemy aircraft were painted to resemble P-47s. The Group experienced enemy aircraft dive bombing with exterior pre-fused aerial bombs.
Two 303rd BG(H) aircraft crashed at St. Nazaire, France, #42-5780, Black Swan, piloted by 1Lt. Jay R. Sterling, and #41-24610, Joe Btfsplk, piloted by 1Lt. Vincent X. Walsh. Black Swan was seen to explode in mid-air over the sea and four parachutes were observed opening, three after the aircraft blew up. Joe Btfsplk was last seen heading toward Belle Isle with one engine on fire.
Weather conditions prevented Group airplanes from landing at Molesworth. Landings were made without difficulty at advanced Bases at Exeter and Davidstow.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report MISSION
VIII BC 53
Sainte-Nazaire, France U-boat base and shipyard 3
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
A/C: 18; 3 aborts with engine out (2) and bad vibrating engine (1)
Bombing: 1126, 25000 ft
Landing: 11 A/C at Prendrannock at 1530 due to fuel shortage; 3 of these turned over the Service Command for salvage due to extensive battle damage
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Bad due to overcast; Hits that could be observed were in water or on land but short and to the right of the aiming point.
Heavy overcast at target
Light and ineffective at target; on return over Brest Heavy
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
Light at target; less than 10 E/A
15-20 E/A over Brest on return
Briscoe Tail gunner John Roller badly injured when oxygen lines in tail severed by flak; seven separate wounds; burns from fire; also radio op and ball turret wounded
Man right waist gunner Kliffer killed by E/A over Brest
3 A/C lost over Brest: 42-29620 (Luby), 42-5422 (Pipp). 42-29784 (Wigginton) down in water
Me110s dropped aerial bombs on formation
Bad navigation lead formation over Brest on return.
Luby crew declared dead; MACR 15715
Pipp MACR 15619: Airplane crashed in water off Brest with all on board. Six men got out. Four were in dinghy and picked up by Germans. 4 KIA
Wigginton crew declared dead; MACR 15635
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report Report of the Johnson crew tail gunner Maynard Smith of his first mission in the war. He won the MOH recipient for this action:
We had left St. Nazaire and headed out to sea with some FWs tailing us. I was watching the traces from a Jerry fighter come puffins by our tail when, suddenly, there was a terrific explosion. Whoomp! Just like that. Boy, it was a pip!
My interphone and the electrical controls to my turret went out, so I hand-cranked myself up and crawled out of the radio room and another fire by the tail wheel section.
Suddenly, the radio operator came staggering out of the flames. He made a beeline for the gun hatch and dived out. I glanced out and watched him hit the horizontal stabilizer, bounce off, and open his chute. The poor guy didnt even have a Mae West. I think it was burned off. By this time the right waist gunner was trying to jump but was stuck half in and half out of his gun hatch. I pulled him back into the ship and asked him if the heat was too much for him. All he did was to stare at me.
The smoke and gas were really think. I wrapped a sweater around my face so I could breathe, grabbed a fire extinguisher and attacked the fire in the radio room. Glancing over my should at the tail fire, I though I saw something coming and ran back. It was Gibson, the tail gunner, painfully crawling back, wounded. He had blood all over him.
Looking him over, I saw that he had been hit in the back and that it had probably gone through his left lung. I laid him down on his left side so that the wound would not drain in to the right lung, gave him a shot of morphine and made him as comfortable as possible before going back to the fires.
I had just got started on this when that FW came in again. I jumped for one of the waist guns and fired at him. As he swept under us, I turned to the other waist gun and let him have it from the other side. He left us for a while, so I went back to the radio room fire again.
I got into the room this time and began throwing our burning debris. The fire burned holes so large in the side of the ship that I just tossed the stuff out through them. Gas from a burning extinguisher was choking me, so I went back to the tail fire. I took off my chute so I could move easier. Im glad I didnt take it off sooner, because later I found that it had stopped a .30 caliber bullet.
I fired another burst with the waist guns, and went back to the radio room with the last of extinguisher fluid. When that ran out I found a water-bottle and a urine can and poured those out.
After that I was so mad, I urinated on the fire and finally beat on it with my hands and feet until my clothes began to smolder. That FW came around again and I let him have it. That time he left us for good. The fire was under control, more or less, and we were in sight of land.
Lt. Johnson brought the ship in okay, and by the time we stopped rolling I had the fires completely out. It was rally a miracle the ship didnt break in two in the air.
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
44BG Mission Report - Today the 44th sent 18 aircraft (3 of them 67th's) on a diversion near Lizard Point in aid of Fortresses that were attacking St. Nazaire, France. There were no incidents.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Seven of our ships, piloted by Captains Dwyer, Birdsong; Lieutenants Evins Gladstone, Lethers, Rand and Biggs making up "C" Flight, took part in the mission to St. Nazaire. The weather was so poor that our group dropped no bombs on the target. Strong head winds and thick weather contributed to the formations breaking up and many made a land fall near the Channel Isles, off the French coast, thinking it was England. Enemy fighters attacked at that time when our ships were at a low altitude and Lt. Rand was shot down into the sea, north of Brebant Island.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Fifteen A/C of this group took off at 0848 to attack the eastern locks of the basin at St. Nazaire, France. Bomb load was 2 x 2000 G.P. bombs. Four A/C were of 322nd: #990 Capt. Robert E. Campbell, #057 Lt. Wm. H. Broley, #178 Lt. James D. Baird, #139 Lt. John T. Hardin. Raid was led by Major Paul L. Fishburne. Impossible to attack target because of 10/10 cloud. Bombs were jettisoned. Planes of group were scattered, and Lt. Baird, while alone, was attacked by 7 FW's. He shook two in clouds, shot down 3 and outran last two at zero altitude.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: St. Nazaire shipbuilding and repair shops. Abortive sortie. Collision in course on bomb run forced our Group away from target. Our load of 2000 pound bombs was jettisoned in the Bay of Biscay.