Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Mission 805: 206 B-17s and 258 fighters are dispatched to make visual attacks on the Holten synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade (167); 1 hits the secondary target, the marshalling yard at Rheine; targets of opportunity are Dinslaken (12), Osnabruck (5), Heiden (8) and other (4); 5 B-17s are lost, 3 damaged beyond repair and 144 damaged; 13 airmen are WIA and 45 MIA. Escort is provided by 85 P-47s and P-51s; they claim 3-0-1 Luftwaffe aircraft on the ground. Other fighter missions are:
1. 128 of 136 P-51s fly a sweep in the St Vith, Belgium-Karlsruhe-Darmstadt and Kobenz, Germany areas, some as escort for Ninth AF bombers; 1 P-51 is lost (pilot MIA).
2. 10 of 11 P-51s fly a scouting mission.
Mission 806: 1 B-17 and 8 B-24s drop leaflets in the Netherlands and France.
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: Synthetic Oil Plant at Sterkrade, Germany. Crews Dispatched: 26 (358BS - 6, 359th - 6, 360th - 7, 427th - 7). Crews Lost: Lt. Woodson, 7 KIA, 2 POW Crewmembers Lost or Wounded: 6 WIA. Length of Mission: 5 hours, 47 minutes. Bomb Load: 10 x 500 lb H.E. M43 bombs. Bombing Altitudes: 24,400 & 24,300 ft. Ammo Fired: 4,500 rounds.
Twenty-six aircraft were dispatched to bomb the synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade (visual or GEE-H). The secondary target was the Rheims marshalling yard (visual or PFF), with the last resort a landing strip at Lingen, Germany. No aircraft returned early. The 360BS loaned a PFF aircraft to the 351BG.
There were no clouds over the target. In the general area there were 3/10 to 5/10 middle clouds with tops at 8,000 to 10,000 feet, dense, semi-persistent contrails at bombing altitude, and light ground haze. Twenty-four aircraft dropped 20 500-lb. H.E. M43 bombs, ten units of T277 leaflets, and ten units of T274 leaflets from 24,400 and 24,300 feet. Lead Squadron bombing was good. The low Squadron was unable to pick up the MPI due to smoke, their bombs hit 1 1/2 miles NNW of the target. One aircraft jettisoned its bombs before reaching the target.
There was no enemy air opposition. The very good 1st AD fighter support consisted of 36 P-47s and 75 P-51s. Chaff did not curtail the intense and very accurate flak in the target area. Twenty-one aircraft had major battle damage and three, minor damage.
One B-17 was lost over the target: #43-38530 (No Name), 358BS, received a direct hit on the No. 2 engine from anti-aircraft fire. Lt. Harry Gobrecht, pilot of #43-38999 Emma, 358BS, and Lt. Richard H. Gmernicki, pilot of #44-8427 Henn's Revenge, 358BS, reported seeing #43-38530 (No Name), 358BS, piloted by 1Lt. William H. Woodson, hit. The left wing broke off, the aircraft went down with the left side burning — it exploded in the air. Two to three parachutes were reported about the time that the aircraft reportedly exploded, as if some of the crew had been blown out.
Two aircraft landed on the Continent after being damaged by flak: #43-38734 Cheshire Cat, 427BS, piloted by 1Lt. Grafton N. Smith, landed at field #B-61 with three wounded men. S/Sgt. Paul G. Gray (TOG) and Sgt. Melvin Howell (TG) were hospitalized in a Ghent, Belgium. Sgt. G.F. Parker (E) was hospitalized with a back injury after returning to England. #44-8576 (No Name), 358BS, piloted by 1Lt. Ingersall J. Roberts (427BS), also landed on the Continent with one man wounded. The B-17 was salvaged.
The remaining twenty-three Fortresses returned to Molesworth with two additional crewmen who had been wounded by anti-aircraft fire. S/Sgt Thomas A. Henn (TG) had wounds on his head and arms, and T/Sgt Elwood A. Griffith (E) suffered a leg wound. The first aid kits were squashed by the flak hits and were of no use. The wounded were treated in the 303rd Station Hospital. The crew later named #44-8427 Henn's Revenge after the wounded Tail Gunner.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
351BG Mission Report - 21 aircraft were sent on this mission.
44-6078 Lt. R. H. Goldsborough - Shot down by flak. POW 8, KIA 1.
source: 351st Bomb Group web page http://www.351st.org/ken.harbour
384BG Mission Report - 384th BG Mission Number 259. Primary Target: Oil Industry - Sterkrade, Germany
31 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 24. Failed To Return - 2. Scrubbed - 1. Returned To Base - 1. Ground Spare, Unused - 3 43-37703 Birder, Rodney Hugh - Failed to Return - MIA; a/c went down in the target area; flak, cr Dusseldorf; 9POW; MACR 11764; Manny Biera, TT; Wicked Witch or Tremblin' Gremlin 2 43-38850 Van Popering, Earle Allen - Failed to Return - MIA; left formation five miles after target and was still tracked by anti-a/c fire; levelled off for a short time, but soon went into a nose dive w all four engines running and one wheel down; flak, cr Dusseldorf; MACR 11994 44-8221 Koch, Robert B - observed leaving formation 15 min before Zuider Zee; #3 engine ran away after target; was under control when left formation and contacted deputy to take over the lead; 44-8401 Rice, Robert E - Landed away Woodbridge; prop came off (flak) while landing.
source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
source: 398th Bomb Group web page http://www.398th.org/
401BG / 613BS Mission Report - The 401st furnished two Squadrons of 12 aircraft each on January 22nd to comprise the Lead and Low Squadrons of the 94th "A" Group. Group Leader was Major Eric de Jonckheere and the target was a synthetic oil installation at Sterkrade, Germany. Bombing was by Gee-H with visual aids. Strike photos showed the majority of bombs hit well within the target area. Moderate to intense accurate flak was met in the target area. No air opposition was encountered. The crews from the 613th taking part in the mission were: 44-8550 Tausig, 42-102947 Steele, 43-38862 Carey, 008 Cushman (Gee-H a/c from another Group), Donaldson, Curran, May.
source: 613th Bombardment Squadron History
401BG / 614BS Mission Report - The Group furnished two Squadrons on this mission to form the Lead and Low Squadrons of the 94th "A" CBW Group with Major Erie de Jonckheere as Air Commander. The target was the synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade, Germany, and the bombing was by Gee-H, with visual aids, for the Low Squadron and visually by the Lead Squadron. Moderate to intense flak hit the Group over the target causing battle damage to 20 aircraft. Crew: 42-97322 St. Aubyn, 43-38738 White, 42-97478 Sorensen, 42-107151 Morton, 44-8508 King, 43-38646 Richardson.
source: 614th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
401BG / 615BS Mission Report - The 1st Air Division went out on its own on this Monday morning to attack visually the synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade,and the 401st was part of the force of 167 B-17's that dropped 402 tons of bombs on it. Just after midnight two Gee-H aircraft landed from Grafton Underwood to lead the mission, they were "Splashboard -Z" Serial No. 007 and "Clinker-Y", Serial No. 008. Briefing took place at 0630 hrs and was attended by 26 crews. The weather ship lifted off at 0715 hrs with the comment from the control tower that "runway No. 23 is not too bad as far as slipping is concerned". Some delays followed. but the 401st aircraft began to take off at 1000 hrs. At 1111 hrs Lt. R.M. Deen radioed that his No.1 engine had a runaway prop and his No.2 engine was feathered. Then, at 1150 hrs, RAF Saltby advised Deenethorpe that IY-D, Serial No. 43-38125, had crashed 3 miles SE of their base. It was Lt. Deen's aircraft, that, with a full load of gas and bombs, had ran down into a railway cutting, tore up the steel railway lines, ran up the banking on the other side and finished up a twisted mass of wreakage - amazingly the aircraft did not burn and the bombs did not explode. Three crew members were seriously injured, but the fact that anyone could have survived this crash was truly incredible. The 401st furnished two Squadrons for the 94th "A" Group with Major E.T. de Jonckheere as Air Commander and Lt. R.S. Hayes as the other Squadron Commander. The Lead Squadron carried out visual bombing with excellent results. However, the Low Squadron wasn't so fortunate when a small cloud drifted over the target and obscured their sighting angle. They bombed by Gee-H with the bombardier getting one visual check to help correct the bomb run. Their results were scattered but there was some hits in the assigned area. Moderate to intense and accurate flak met the formation in the target area and caused damage to 20 aircraft, one receiving major damage. All aircraft returned safely to Deenethorpe with no casualties among the crews. The 615th loading list was as follows: 43-38125 Deen (crash), 42-102468 Djernes, 43-38779 McKay, 43-38810 Hansen, 42-31730 Smith, 43-38425 Callahan.
source: 615th Bombardment Squadron History www.401bg.org
source: 457 Bomb Group http://www.457thbombgroup.org
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Sterkrade. Lt. Towner led the low squadron of the 1st A group with Major Thompson flying as his pilot. The synthetic oil plant at Sterkrade was bombed visually with excellent results. Many hits to vital installations can be seen in the strike photos from each of the two squadrons. Lt. Van Blarcom's A/C #083 was hit by flak before and after bombs away in the target area, crippling #2 and #4 engines which could not be feathered and continued to windmill. Co-pilot's oxygen system and all the system on the right side of the A/C was knocked out and he was forced to descend to 14,000 feet where he hoped to be able to stay under the formation. The electrical system was disabled and the Gee box and all instruments except the magnetic compass in the cockpit were inoperable. In spite of the lack of navigational equipment they were able to hit the English coast at Lowestoft, and endeavored to land at Woodbridge only to find that it was socked in. Going over to Medfield the wheels were cranked down by hand, the brake pressure built up manually and a landing was accomplished successfully, the A/C coming to a stop a few feet short of the end of the runway. During the trip back to England a fire in the left wing was extinguished by chopping a hole from the bomb bay into the wing and using a hand extinguisher.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: Sterkrade Synthetic oil plant The groups of 1 Division were called upon to furnish a group of 2 squadrons.The 91st ( lead & low ) being assigned the 1st A Group thereby making them Division leaders, and also of which privilege the 324th squadron held.. Major Klette together with his bombardiers put their bombs right in there, the synthetic oil plant two miles West of Sterkrade. The night target map bomb plot and strike photos indicate the results. Flak was observed and described being moderate, accurate and tracking.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - On the 22nd of January we dispatched 9 A/C and 2 crews to attack the Synthetic Oil Plant two miles west of Sterkrade. The secondary target was the Marshalling Yards at Rheine. The primary target was attacked visually with excellent results. AA fire in the target area was moderate, accurate, tracking. Fighter support was satisfactory. The Group furnished first"A" Group. All A/C and crews returned safely.
Aircraft: B-17G (#44-8611). Organization: 836BS / 487BG of Lavenham, Suffolk. Pilot: Braeunig, Robert H. Notes: taxiing accident. Location: Lavenham, Suffolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 4 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: B-24H (#42-52590). Organization: 789BS / 467BG of Rackheath, Norfolk. Pilot: Jacobsen, Robert E. Notes: landing accident. Location: Rackheath, Norfolk England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 3 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/
Aircraft: B-24H (#42-94811). Organization: 790BS / 467BG of Rackheath, Norfolk. Pilot: McArthur, John T Jr. Notes: killed in crash due to engine failure. Location: Catton Hall, Old Catton England. Damage (0-5 increasing damage): 4 source: Aviation Archaeology http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/