Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission Number 71: 192 B-17s are dispatched against aircraft factores at Le Mans and Nanes, France; 166 make a very effective attack; we claim 52-14-22 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 7 with 1 damaged beyond repair and 53 others damaged; casualties are 1 KIA, 9 WIA and 70 MIA. 83 other B-17s are dispatched against submarine yards at La Pallice, France; 71 hit the target between 1201 and 1204 local; we claim 0-1-0 Luftwaffe aircraft; we lose 1 and 1 is damaged; casualties are 10 MIA. Bombing is extremely accurate.
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: Gnome Rhone Aircraft Works, Le Mans, France. Crews Dispatched: 24 (358BS - 8, 359th - 5, 360th - 5, 427th - 6). Crews Lost: Lt. R.S. O'Connor - 3 KIA, 4 POW, 3 ESC. Crew Members Killed or Wounded - 1 KIA. Length of Mission: 4 hours, 25 minutes. Bomb Load: 10 x 500 lb H.E. M43 bombs. Bombing Altitude: 22,300 ft. Ammo Fired: 47,534 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 4 Destroyed, 5 Probable, 3 Damaged.
Independence Day was celebrated in fine fashion as 303rd BG(H) Flying Fortresses attacked Le Mans, France. Three aircraft aborted the mission.
Weather on the way to the target was good with 1/10 cloud cover and unlimited visibility. The approach to the Initial Point (IP) was as planned. A left turn was made at the IP and when the bombing run began, it was noted that the 303rd BG(H) formation was flying on a collision course with the 379th Group. "S" turns were executed by Maj. Lyle to allow the 303rd BG(H) to fall in behind. This action caused our Group to scatter somewhat and the lead bombardier, Lt. M.S. Fonorow, had to hold his bombs a few seconds after the release line to prevent bombing aircraft passing under the lead Squadron. As a result, the bombing results were only fair with most bombs believed over the target. Eighteen aircraft bombed the primary target and two bombed the marshalling yards at Le Mans, the secondary target.
Enemy aircraft opposition was considerable with 35 to 50 encounters reported. Flak was meager and inaccurate. The Group claimed four German aircraft destroyed with five probables and three damaged.
The Mugger #42-5792 went down, apparently still under control. The aircraft crashed two to three miles outside the town of Malicorne and the townspeople believed that Lt. O'Connor stayed with his stricken ship so that it would not hit the town. A small granite monument was erected on the site of the crash after the war.
source: 381st Bomb Group web page http://www.381st.org/
384BG Mission Report - 384th BG Mission Number 6. Primary Target: Gnome et Rhone Aircraft Engine Plant - Le Mans, France. Target Attacked : Primary (Visual)
20 aircraft assigned to this mission: Completed Mission - 16. Failed To Return - 2. Aborted - 42-3235 Myer, Lawrence Wayne - Failed to Return - MIA e/a, cr Pipriac, Fr; MACR 3035/4495 42-29960 Erickson, Gordon B - Failed to Return - MIA; flak, then e/a (ME-109); cr Villepreux, Fr.
source: 384th Bomb Group web page http://384thBombGroup.com/
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Five planes 323rd squadron took off on the mission to bomb aero-engine works at Le Mans, France. Lt. Forsblad as spare was abortive and ships of Lt. Kethley, Silvernail, Bennett and Smith successfully bombed the target. No ships 323rd group were lost and fighter attacks were light.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Raid on the aero engine factory and marshalling yards at Le Mans, France. Bomb load: 10 x 500. Bombing altitude: 22,000 ft. Bombing results: Good. Fighter opposition: 20 FW190s and Me109s engaged this formation from 1233 to 138 hours, without causing damage to our A/C. Time: Leave base 955 hrs. Arrived tar. 1241 hours. Arrive base 1432 hrs.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - Target: - Le Mans, France (Aero engine works). - Bombing results were reported good, with several direct hits in immediate vicinity of target. Met Spitfire escort as briefed, but no P-47's were seen. Enemy fighter opposition was very aggressive by experienced men.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Hits well concentrated in target area. Believe many hits on MPI. Smoke from target visible for 20 minutes. Meager inaccurate flak, though heavy reported from only a few places along the route, and at the target. ENEMY AIRCRAFT: 20-30 single-engine E/A attacked the entire formation although only one pass was made at our group. The 91st Bomb Group led this raid with Lt. Col. Clement Wurzbach, the Group Commander flying as Pilot with Lt. Riley in A/C # 379, from this Squadron.