Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Mission 23: 50 B-17s and 8 B-24s are dispatched to hit the St Nazaire submarine base in France for the 5th time in 2 weeks; the cumulative effect of the operation on the base is large though the sub shelter shows little permanent damage; 28 B-17s and 8 B-24s hit the target; they claim 16-2-1 Luftwaffe aircraft; the AAF crews report a change in fighter tactics from rear to head-on attack as the Luftwaffe learns that the B-17 and B-24 are weak in forward firepower; 4 B-17s are lost, 1 damaged beyond repair and 16 B-17s and 1 B-24 are damaged; 3 airmen are KIA, 16 WIA and 43 MIA.
Admiral Sir Dudley Pound, First Lord of the Admiralty, writes to Lieutenant General Ira C Eaker, Commanding General Eighth AF, praising the effects of the US bomber attacks on disorganizing the servicing schedule of the German U-boat bases on the French W coast.
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: Submarine Pens, St. Nazaire, France. Crews Dispatched: 12 (358BS - 5, 359th - 4, 360th - 2, 427th - 1). Crews Lost: Lt. A.E. Reddig - 10 KIA. Crew Members Lost or Wounded: Capt. Fulghum - WIA/POW Length of Mission: 5 hours, 45 minutes. Bomb Load: 2 x 2000 lb H.E. M34 bombs. Bombing Altitude: 20,000 ft. Ammo Fired: 5,754 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 2 Destroyed, 1 Probable, 2 Damaged. The briefing was conducted by Lts Whitehead, Johnson and Von Schmidt. Twelve aircraft took off at 0930 and were over the target at 1330. They dropped twenty-three 2,000 lb. H.E. bombs from 20,800 feet. Crews reported hits on sail loft, wet dock, small ship in drydocks, marshalling yards, etc. Cameras failed to function. Thirty or more FW-190s made vicious close attacks in groups of two or three immediately after the bombers left the intense flak over the target. Group gunners destroyed two enemy aircraft with one probable and two damaged. The Group suffered its first crew loss in #41-24568. Lady Fairweather was on its third mission and was seen to hit the water while still in flames. The aircraft crashed in the Atlantic in the Bay of Biscay near Belle Isle. Four parachutes were believed seen descending at the time of the encounter. The missing crewmen were: 1Lt. A.E. Reddig, Capt. C.G. Miller, 2Lt. J. Ercegovich, 2Lt. J.W. Plummer, T/Sgt. R.W. Van Fleet, T/Sgt. D.B. Nollen, S/Sgt. G.S. Sturgis, S/Sgt. F.A. Mann, Sgt. A.S. Grieb, and Sgt. G.T. Senior. All crewmen are listed on the Wall of Missing in Cambridge Cemetery, England. The formation was led by Deputy Group Commander Maj. George L. Robinson in #41-24609 Holy Mackerel. The lead navigator on the ship, Capt. Harold Fulghum, bailed out over the target. Holy Mackerel had been hit by flak, causing considerable damage which made the interphone inoperative. Hydraulic fluid flowing into the navigator's compartment led the navigator to assume that it was blood and that his pilot had been killed. He bailed out in a panic situation and was last seen descending near bursting flak. Capt. Fulghum, 358th BS, became a POW. Five other men on four different crews were injured, none critically. More info on this mission at the 303BG website
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report INFORMATION IN DETAIL
Bombs dropped from 18000 ft
4 abortives: turrets out; hydraulic switch stuck; could not find group
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Crew saw bombs drop 60 ft from target
Crew saw fires and bomb bursts in target area
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
10 FW and 2 ME109 attacked group over target for 20 minutes
Claims: 7 E/A destroyed
One crew report: Co-Pilot hit in leg by flak; Navigator hit in both legs by 20mm splinter; bombardier hit in legs and hand with 22mm; Engineer: splinter in neck and hand
One crew reported seeing Saw go down in flames about 20 miles from target. No parachutes.
Another crew saw a B-17 go down, but saw 3 parachutes
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Bombing mission to St. Nazaire, over occupied France. Weather conditions were very bad. No results could be ascertained. Enemy pursuit quite active. Only one (1) ship of this Squadron, Lt. McCarty as pilot, participated. Two (2) ships from 91st Bomb Group (H) were missing.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Of ten ships assigned by group to attack St. Nazaire, France submarine pens, only 5 went over target at 19000 ft. under command of Major Harold C. Smelzer of 324th. Two of three from squadron got over target. 4479, Major Zienowicz - 4512, Captain Kenneth K. Wallick. Due to cloud conditions, the target was not attacked. At a point 55 miles inside France 1st Lt. McCarty and Major Zienowicz were at some distance from the other four ships, Major Smelzer, Capt. Wallick and Lts. Cliburn 324 and Corman 324. Lt. McCarty returned from that point to base. No further report has been received of Major Zienowicz and he and his crew reported missing in action. The other four, some ten miles off the target were attacked by from 20-40 E/A and turned out to sea. In a running fight, an undetermined number of E/A were shot down and several casualties in our A/C were suffered. Captain Wallick safely landed his ship at Chivenor, with his tail gunner S/Sgt. John J. Hudjera suffering a fracture of his leg. Lt. Corman crash landed at Watford, England, five of his crew were killed. Major Smelzer was last seen at a point 20 miles west of Brest, France by Lt. Corman.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - A/C 503 last seen badly crippled off Brest peninsula. Target: Entrance to submarine basin. First A/C lost in group. First disastrous mission. We lost our Sq. Commander, Sq. Navigator and A crew pilot. 322nd lost their squadron C. O. Corman got back but had to make a crash landing on 2 engines with a damaged A/C killing half the crew. No bombs dropped on target.