Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
Sixteen Spitfire Vs of the 4th Fighter Group fly ship protection patrols. VIII Bomber Command
Mission 28: The primary target is the St Nazaire U-Boat base in France; this is the first attack on this installation since 23 Nov 42 and the heaviest attack to date against U-Boat bases. The 1st Bombardment Wing dispatches 85 B-17s of the 91st, 303, 305th and 306th Bombardment Groups (Heavy); the 4th Bombardment Wing dispatches 13 B-24s of the 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy); 60 B-17s and eight B-24s hit the target dropping 171 tons of bombs between 1130 and 1140 hours local. Formation (instead of individual) precision bombing is used for the first time by the VIII Bomber Command, and considerable damage is done to the dock area.
The mission stats are: We claim 14 enemy aircraft shot down, 18 probably shot down and 4 damaged; we loose seven B-17s, three B-24s are damaged beyond repair, 44 B-17s and three B-24s are damaged. Human casualties are 5 KIA, 29 WIA and 70 MIA.
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: Torpedo Storage Areas, St. Nazaire, France. Crews Dispatched: 17. (358BS - 4, 359th - 5, 360th - 5, 427th - 3). Crews Lost: Lt. Clark, Lt. Adams, Lt. Saunders, Lt. Goetz Length of Mission: 7 hours plus. Bomb Load: 5 x 1000 lb M44 H.E. Demolition bombs Bombing Altitude: 20,000 ft. Ammo Fired: 6,552 rounds. Enemy Aircraft Claims: 12 Destroyed, 6 Probables, 2 Damaged. Capt. Lewis E. Lyle, CO 360th BS, led the 360th BS low formation, Maj. Wurzbach, CO 358th BS, led the 358th BS high formation, and Maj. Sheridan, CO 427th BS, led the 2nd flight lead formation. Three B-17s aborted this mission and were to land at Chelveston, but returned to Molesworth. The weather was beautiful, clear and cold. B/Gen. Haywood S. Hansell, newly-appointed commanding General, 1st Provisional Bombardment Combat Wing (PBCW), led the VIII BC effort as a passenger in Col. Wallace's lead B-17. The Group encountered intense black flak and 25-35 enemy fighters. Crews claimed twelve enemy aircraft destroyed, seven probables, and one damaged. Each of the four Squadrons lost one B-17 over enemy territory. B-17 #41-24517, Kali, piloted by 1Lt. W.A. Goetz blew up in mid-air over St. Nazaire. All crew members were lost. Snap! Crackle! Pop! crashed at La Bauleles Pins, France. Ball turret gunner S/Sgt Alan Magee was hit by flak, damaging his parachute. He left the turret and blacked out from lack of oxygen and was tossed out of a hatch without a parachute. Unconscious, he fell about 20,000 feet and crashed through the glass roof of the St. Nazaire railroad station, tangling in the steel girders. Germans cut him down and a German doctor saved Magee's arm and repaired his teeth, leg, knee and ankle. He remained a POW until the end of the war. B-17 #41-24608 was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and ditched. B-17 #41-24526 was shot down by enemy fighters and ditched in the Bay of Biscay. More info on this mission at the 303BG website
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report TARGET
St Nazaire U-Boat base in France 2
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
18 A/C took off; 1 did not take off due to blown cylinder head.
RESULTS OF BOMBING
Bombing between 1139-1141 hours at 22800 ft
3 A/C report bomb bursts in target area.
Moderate to heavy falk at Porte St. Pere near Nantes.
Intense heavy flak at target.
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
2 A/C did not return. Both believed shoot down. Cramer and Ferguson.
Cannon fire came through cockpit, lodged under pilot seat.
Several crew members suffered abrasions from flak.
Target became obscured by smoke pots.
Pilots reported upwind approach to target is bad
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
44BG Mission Report - St. Nazaire, primarily a ship building and fitting-out port, was the target on 3 Jan. The purpose of the attack was to disrupt the work going on, and especially in the submarine shelters. There were normally a large number of subs being built and fitted for Atlantic raids on Allied shipping. The 44th was assigned the destruction of torpedo stores there. Of the 13 planes taking off, eight bombed and three of them 67th's. The formation flew over Nantes, encountering slight flak, but from that point on until it passed over the French coast on the way back, increasingly heavy flak was encountered. The bombs were dropped short and to the left of the main area of the target with but surface vessels being hit. On the way out our Libs followed the Forts back past Lands End, turned off in the vicinity of Templeton Airdrome, close to Haverfordwest west Wales, all running low on fuel. Three ships crash-landed.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Four ships of 323rd squadron participated in bombing mission over enemy submarine pens and docks at St. Nazaire, France. One ship turned back due to malfunction of engines. The ships were piloted by the following - Capt. Clancy, Lt.s Birdsong, Anderson, and McCarty. Heavy A.A. fire and quite a few enemy fighters were encountered. One of our ships was last seen going down in the vicinity of the target. The plane was the first loss to our squadron and the following crew is missing - Pilot, 1st Lt. Anderson, Co-Pilot, Lt. Lee, Nav., Lt. Roten, Bombardier, Lt. Karnarth, Engineer, T/Sgt. Marrar; Assistant Engineer, S/Sgt. Senn, Radio Op. T/Sgt. Barker; Assistant Radio Op. S/Sgt. McCauley, Tail Gunner, S/Sgt. Odegard; and Utility Gunner, Sgt. Flint. The other ships returned safely though slightly damaged by enemy action. Bomb load was five, one thousand general-purpose bombs. Damage to enemy installations was considerable. Four enemy fighters were shot down. T/Sgt. Remmell accounting for two; S/Sgt. Olexa, and S/Sgt. Carter for one each.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Target for today was St. Nazaire, France. Aiming point was torpedo shed near sub pens, bomb load was 5 x 1000 G. P. bombs. Take off was at 0912 hours and ETR was St. Eval at 1410 hours. Groups 303, 305 91st and 206 were to furnish maximum number of planes. 91st Group sent 14 A/C over target of which 5 were from 322nd Squadron. #481, Capt. Fishburne and Capt. Campbell; #482, Lt. Don C. Bader; #483, Lt. Ralph Felton; #453, Lt. John T. Hardin; #497, Lt. W. Genheimer.
E/A fighters hit us at target in large numbers. Heavy flack, at 21,000 feet was intense and accurate, many hits being scored. Bombing was good, pictures from Lt. Hardin's ship showing many hits on the target by 322nd. Coming off target Lt. Bader's A/C was hit by flack, one engine and wing catching fire. He was forced to lose speed and fell behind. He called the group leader over command set but Maj. Putnam did not hear.
Capt. Campbell leading B Flight heard him and made a 360 degree circle to pick him up. As Campbell arrived on Bader's wing, Bader was being attacked by 5 E/A. Two were shot down and rest fled. E/A followed our A/C 80 miles to sea, shooting down our A/C piloted by Lt. Anderson of 401st Squadron. First Division (M) got 38 E/A of which 24 were bagged by 91st and of these the 322nd got 17.
91st BG / 324th BS Mission Report - A/C 069 1 engine on fire at target. Lucky to get back. Sgt Justice killed. Target: Torpedo Store. F.R.U. photo revealed direct hits on target. No fighter support. Flak heaviest and most accurate to date. Nose attacks continued.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - BOMBING RESULTS: Pin Point target hit by heavy pattern. FLAK: Intense accurate in area of target. E/A: Many vicious nose attacks. This accounted for the casualties on our aircraft as it was hit on the bomb run. Lt. Stricker did a grand job getting his aircraft back to England after Capt. Harris was hit, for most of his controls were shot away. CASUALTIES: Sgt. J. J. Zeglin, 13048011, was killed. Sgt J. C. Carteer hit by flak in leg. Capt. W. R. Harris, pilot, hit by 20MM shell breaking his leg, also wounded in left arm. Lt. Stricker, piece of flak in right shoulder. Lt. Schwendiman, flak wounds in right hip. S/Sgt. DeBarbrie, piece of flak in left calf.