Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission Number 57: 113 B-17s are dispatched against various targets in Germany as well as airfield and naval installations on Helgoland Island and the naval base and submarine construction works at Wilhelmshaven; 76 bomb the targets at 1050-1055 hours local; we claim 29-20-30 Luftwaffe aircraft destroyed; we lose 5 B-17s, 1 is damaged beyond repair and 26 damaged; casualties are 1 KIA, 7 WIA and 51 MIA.
80 B-17s are dispatched against the U-boat yard, marshaling yard and airfield at Emden, Germany; 59 bomb at 1056-1103 hours local; they claim 14-3-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 1 B-17 and 9 others are damaged; casualties are 10 MIA.
116 P-47s are dispatched on a high altitude sweep of the Amsterdam/Rotterdam area prior to the bombing raids; they claim 2 Luftwaffe aircraft damaged; 1 P-47 is lost and the pilot is listed as MIA.
The 109th Observation Squadron, 67th Observation Group, with Spitfire VBs, transfers from Atcham, England to Membury, England.
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
The weather was ideal. Maj. Lewis E. Lyle led the main 303rd BG(H) formation of 18 B-17s and Maj. Hagenbuch led the six aircraft 427BS formation that was part of the 303/305BG Composite Group. The primary target was the naval dockyards at Wilhelmshaven in northern Germany. One 427BS B-17 in the Composite Group aborted: #41-24587, Bad Check. The No. 1 engine and two generators went out.
The weather on the way to the primary target at Wilhelmshaven was excellent, but as soon as the Group formation approached the German coast, 10/10 cloud cover developed. Light and inaccurate flak was seen.
The 1st Bomb Wing, unable to bomb the primary target, opted to bomb targets of opportunity. The 303rd BG(H) elected to bomb targets on the island installations at Heligoland, but was forced to abandon the bomb run when the 101st PBCW passed underneath. Seven aircraft dropped 16 1/2 tons of 500-lb. bombs on the Heligoland airdrome and naval installations. Six aircraft jettisoned their bombs and 10 brought their bombs back to Molesworth.
Enemy aircraft opposition was considerable; 50 to 75 were reported. A running attack of over one hour developed when the formation crossed the enemy coast until it was well out to sea on the way home. FW-190s, ME-109s, and ME-110s met Group aircraft and literally pounced upon them from all directions. Crews say they had never before seen so many at any time. There were 21 enemy attacks on the 303rd BG(H). Group gunners destroyed two German fighters with an additional three as probable and two damaged.
One B-17F, #42-29481 (No Name), failed to return. It was last seen being attacked by enemy aircraft about 10 miles west of Scharhorn Island, heading east toward the island at an altitude of 24,000 feet. One parachute was seen leaving the aircraft.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report MISSION
VIII BC 57
VIII BC 57 Heligoland Island
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
A/C: 26; 3 did not return: Ritland 42-5055, Mann 42-29677, Clemons 42-29744
Bombing: 1056, 23000 ft
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Some in water, some hit installations on Island
TARGET covered in clouds, but visibility good
Little to moderate and inaccurate
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
50-60 E/A from 1045 - 1055; flat head-on attacks; came in groups of 4-5 at a time
Air-to-Air bombing continues.
Check: 100 E/A - yellow noses
Furhmeister: 30 E/A; 1 direct attack from tail
Tail gunner - frostbite
Check reported B-17 in trouble on way to target under fighter attack - 3 chutes; boms would not release; bomb bay door would not close
Check : check weather before sending us out
Ineffective smoke screen at target
B-24 hit with flak, tail came off, went straight down, no chutes, just after target
Robinson: B-17 ditch 1143 at 53 40N, 4 10E
4 boats in convoy at 54 30 N, 5 45 E heading 250
Ritland 42-5055, MACR 16058
Mann 42-29677 MACR 16060
Clemons 42-29744 MACR 15512
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
351BG Mission Report - 18 aircraft were sent on this mission.
42-3173 Lt. J. A. Meli was hit by bombs from above. KIA 10.
source: 351st Bomb Group web page http://www.351st.org/ken.harbour
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Five ships from our squadron, piloted by Capt. Clancy, Capt. Giauque, Capt. Birdsong, Lt. Silvernail and Lt. Retchin took part in the mission to Wilhelmshaven, Germany. 10/10 clouds prevented the ships from reaching the target and the bombs were dropped on Heligoland. All ships returned safely.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Raid on submarine construction yards at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Enemy Opposition: Approximately 100 ME109s, Me110s, FW190s and JU88s attacked formation viciously at 1030 hours and continued to do so until 1050 hours. AA Fire: Meager and inaccurate. Casualties: None. Damage to A/C: #483, #724, #990 slightly damaged by AA fire and 50 calibers. Target was obscured by 10/10 clouds; formation dropped bombs on naval base and airdrome on Heligoland.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Wilhelmshaven - Not attacked 10/10 - Heligoland: target of opportunity - 10/10 weather covered N. Germany. Capt. Busman directed formation to Heligoland where both islands were well hit as photos show. Airdromes severely damaged and many direct hits on buildings. Considerable fighter competition was encountered. Over 100 E/A of all types were reported.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Primary target area and most of German mainland covered by 10/10ths clouds. Target of opportunity selected and believed to be German Naval base on island of Helgoland. Bombs were dropped on airport barracks and small town. Bombing results on these targets appeared to be excellent. Slight but heavy flak seen in vicinity of Trischen, Scharnhorn and Neuwark Islands. Flak at target ( Helgoland ) all flak inaccurate. Was up and waiting leading one to believe that enemy had advance information or spotting devices were working perfectly. Considerable opposition was encountered and vicious attacks by E/A lasted for more than half an hour. About 100 E/A including ME 109F, Me 110, Ju 88, were seen. Four FW 190 dropped aerial bombs from above with no damage.