Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission No. 54: 79 B-17s are dispatched against the former Ford and General Motors plants at Antwerp, Belgium; 65 aircraft hit the target between 1839 and 1843 hours local. We claim 10-0-2 Luftwaffe aircraft; 16 B-17s are damaged. Casualties are 3 WIA. The B-17s are escorted by 117 P-47Cs up to 175 miles (280 km) from base. A diversion is flown by 20 B-17s and 13 B-24s towards the French coast arousing more than 100 German fighters (about half of the total number in the region) and keeping many of them airborne long enough to prevent their attacking the main effort. None of the 33 diversionary aircraft are damaged or lost.
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: General Motor & Ford Motor Co. Plants, Antwerp, Belgium. Crews Dispatched: 27 (358BS - 7, 359th - 7, 360th - 7, 427th - 6). Crews Wounded: 2 crewmembers had slight wounds. Length of Mission: 4 hours, 30 minutes. Bomb Load: 5 x 1,000 lb. General Purpose bombs. Bombing Altitude: 23,500 ft. Ammo Fired: 21,907 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 5 Destroyed, 1 Probable.
Capt. C.F. Ball, CO 511BS 351BG, was on this mission flying as co-pilot. Capt. J.W. Fredericks was the lead pilot of the High Squadron, main 303rd BG(H) formation, in #42-29570 (No Name). Lt. Col. George L. Robinson led the VIII BC mission to bomb the General Motors and Ford Company plants and warehouses at Antwerp, Belgium. Three of the four 1st Bombardment Wing Heavy Bombardment Groups participated, with each contributing a Squadron in a fourth composite Group formation.
Six 303rd BG(H) planes aborted the mission. The visibility on the trip was perfect. The bombers, with full fighter coverage to keep the enemy off, made a faultless bomb run to drop 52 1/2 tons of 1,000-lb. bombs with deadly accuracy right on the target.
The flak was slight and inaccurate and not many crews even saw as much as a puff of it. The bombers were escorted by RAF Spitfires and US P-47 Thunderbolts. From 30 to 40 enemy FW-190s and ME-110s came in for an attack which lasted about 20 minutes. Crews said they never saw so many fighters in the air at one time, with the escort fighters doing an excellent job at keeping them away. However, some came in through the fighter cover to attack the bombers. They came in so close that on several occasions, it looked as though they might collide with the Forts. Five enemy planes were claimed as destroyed and one damaged. Six to eight attacks were made on the 303rd Group.
Many of the gunners commented that they had not been briefed on the fact that friendly Spitfires and P-47s would escort them all the way to the target. As a result, many gunners fired on the Spitfires and Thunderbolts in the belief that they were German fighters.
Great billows of smoke and flames rose from the target area. Photographs confirmed that tremendous damage was done.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
44BG Mission Report - Today was another diversion from Orfordness to North Foreland to assist Fortresses that were attacking Antwerp. The 44th Put up 13 aircraft, with the 67th sending out only three. Again, we encountered no enemy.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Six of our ships, commanded by Captains Dwyer, Clancy and Giauque; Lieutenants. Retchin, Evins and Birdsong took part in the mission on the Ford Works at Antwerp as the lead flight of a composite group made up of the 91st and 305th - over strength. This mission - the first evening attack - was carried out with heavy fighter support, including six squadrons of P47s. It was affected by a complicated crisscross diversion and accomplished excellent bombing results. There were no losses and almost no enemy fighter opposition.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Nineteen A/C of the group bombed the Ford Motor Works at Antwerp, Belgium, at 1842 from 24,500 with 6 x 1000 bombs. Four were from 322nd: Capt. Robert Campbell #990, Lt. Wm. D. Beasley #724, Lt. Edwin L. Baxley #497, Lt. John T. Hardin #453. Flak was moderate and inaccurate. E/A were 15-20 but did not press attacks. Fighter support was excellent. Bombing was good. No casualties, no losses. Group credited with 2 E/A destroyed.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Antwerp Ford Motor Co. One of most successful missions to date. Target well hit. Excellent fighter cover. Air to air bombing attempted by FW190's. Close but no hits.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Pin point well covered as well as buildings on both sides of the canal. Flak along the route and at the target was inaccurate and heavy. No more than 12 E/A were encountered, and with few attacks. Several attempts at aerial bombing were made but proved ineffective. The Group was led by Capt J. W. Carroll in A/C 484