Narrative - Official Air Force Mission Description
VIII Bomber Command Mission 37: 76 B-17s of the 1st Bombardment Wing and 17 B-24s of the 2d Bombardment Wing are dispatched against Bremen, Germany. The primary target is overcast so 59 B-17s and 6 B-24s attack the docks and surrounding areas of Wilhelmshaven, Germany dropping 164.25 tons of bombs between 1123 and 1125 hours local. We claim 21 Luftwaffe fighters destroyed, 9 probably destroyed and 5 damaged; we lose 5 B-17s and 2 B-24s plus 1 B-24 is damaged beyond repair; casualties are 14 WIA and 73 MIA. The Luftwaffe attempts air-to-air bombing by fighter aircraft and the use of parachute bombs fired by AAA.
Spitfire Mk Vs of the 4th Fighter Group fly 82 uneventful sorties; 6 on shipping patrols and 76 on 3 missions escorting Venturas attacking Dunkirk, France. [NOTE: At this time, there were 3 squadrons flying Ventura Mk Is and Mk IIs assigned to RAF Bomber Command and based in Norfolk, England. No. 21 Squadron, RAF, was based at Methwold; the other 2 squadrons, No. 464 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and No. 487 Squadron, Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), were based at Feltwell.]
Source: THE ARMY AIR FORCES IN WORLD WAR II: COMBAT CHRONOLOGY, 1941-1945 by Carter / Mueller, the Office of Air Force History,
A formation of nineteen B-17s, led by Maj. Romig, took off to attack the primary target at Bremen, Germany. Seven aircraft aborted the mission. The twelve remaining B-17s were unable to locate the primary target due to heavy cloud cover. The secondary target at Wilhelmshaven was bombed from 24,000 feet with 30 tons of 500-lb. M43 bombs. The target had 6/10th cover with 5-6 miles visibility. The broken clouds, plus industrial haze, precluded observation of bursts. The bomb run was short, but the heading was good, and most of the bombardiers felt that effective hits were scored on the port establishments.
Flak over the target was not intense and did not bother the Group much. Light heavy flak was reported at the German coast en route home. It was accurate for the height, but some distance from the formation. FW-190 and ME-109 fighters were observed before reaching the German coast and until a few minutes after leaving this coast. About 25 attacks were encountered on the formation, but they were not vicious. Twin-engine fighters were seen, but there were no attacks. The bulk of the attacks were aimed at other Groups (91, 305, and 306 B-17s and 33 and 93 B-24s), and especially at laggards or cripples as Groups left German territory. Some enemy aircraft were seen as destroyed by the 303rd BG(H), but an exact enumeration of encounters and claims was not available. All aircraft returned to Molesworth safely. There were no casualties or injured airmen.
Walter Cronkite, of United Press, flew in a 427th BS B-17. He reported being "escorted" by FW-190s and ME-109s and, in the most unpopular phrase of the day, "the flak was so thick you could walk on it." He said that he was "too excited to be afraid." Capt. Glenn E. Hagenbuch was the pilot of S for Sugar in which Walter Cronkite flew.
source: 303rd Bomb Group web page http://www.303rdbg.com/
306th Bomb Group Mission Report MISSION
VIII BC 37
Bremen (P), Wilhelmshaven (O)
INFORMATION IN DETAIL
T/O: 0800 - 0812
RESULTS OF BOMBING
No observation on bombs
Heavy flak over Nordney Island
Very heavy leaving target but not intense
Hennessey: damned accurate and fairly heavy over target.
ENCOUNTERS AND CLAIMS
35-40 E/A of mixed types: Ju88, Me109, FW190, Me110, Me210
10 E/A at target; most after target and over water
Few nose attacks, instead 3, 6, 9 oclock
Attacks not pressed home except on stragglers
E/A stayed away from B-17s but attacked B-24s from all angles.
E/A: silver with yellow or red and gray noses
Barrage balloon at 5000 ft over target
Maliszewski crew: ball turret: electric burn in foot; left waist gunner: finger frozen
Maliszweski: before target, saw B-24 go down; #4 engine on fire, exploded, wing came off. A/C dove straight down. No chutes
Casey bombardier: frozen fingers
Check: tail gunner frozen foot.
Did not see fighter support
Saw enemy shipping - 25-45 ships
Maliszewski: landed with enough gas for est. 1.5 hours more.
Smoke screen at target
Lally: airspeed too slow; stayed at altitude too long; bucked head winds
Buddenbaum: need more than 2 navigators per squadron in case of aborts.
Reber: formation highly confused; groups piled up together
Casey: saw twin-engine support heading out as we crossed coast on was back.
Casey: how about some heat in the plane!!
Check: Get a leader who can lead a wing formation; climb out was poor.
Lambert: new system involves too much moving around.
source: 306th Bombardment Group website www.306bg.org/
44BG Mission Report - The mission for today was Wilhelmshaven with three planes from each squadron attacking the dock installations. Cloud cover was extensive but the planes of the 68th Sq. claim hits in the city as well as on slips in the north-west corner of the harbor. On the return trip the three 68th ships had considerable difficulty. A/C #41-23811, "Facinatin Witch" was crippled and fell out of formation and the pilots of 41-23813 and 41-23699 dropped down to protect it although they knew they would have plenty of fighter attacks. For a considerable time all three aircraft were attacked by FW 190s and Me 110s, with several claims of E/A destroyed and damaged, but all three returned safely. The 66th's planes were not so fortunate as Captain Adams and crew as well as Lt. McPhillamey and crew were missing in action. The 66th had sent up six planes on this mission, three aborted, and only one returned (1st Lt. Miller`s) from the mission. Lt. McPhillamey recalls that they were flying "tail-end Charlies", the lowest three in the groups of B-24s and hit the prop wash of the B-17s ahead of them, and immediately dropped out of the formation. The three of us were instantly under attack by ME's and FW's - about 20 or more - who constantly bored in from straight ahead. I had two engines shot out and on fire, the oxygen was shot out and there was a fire in the bomb bays - and controls lost. I gave orders to "bail out". Shortly thereafter Capt. Adams was shot down. Lt. Miller was able to dive down and fly home with a group of B-17s. The Co-pilot, Lt. Wockenfuss, recently transferred in from the 93 BG, states that on the first pass our Navigator (Lt. Rexford Lippert) was killed. We could see the coast of Sweden and opt to try for it. It soon became apparent to all that it was hopeless, and the order to bail out was given. After the crew was out I started out. Our engineer had passed out from lack of oxygen and was blocking the exit. I must have beaten and abused him very badly trying to get passed him. I finally made it and was about to jump when something stopped me. I thought 'My God I can't leave the Engineer.' I then grabbed him by the collar of his fur flying jacket and backed toward the bomb bay - falling out dragging his limp form with me. I saw him later on the ground and it looked like he had been through a meat grinder. I never did tell him that I almost had beaten him to death. I reasoned that he must have regained consciousness on the way down and had pulled the rip cord. I landed about 100 yards from the main gate of a German Army Camp. The other 66th plane piloted by Captain Howard F. Adams, A/C # 41-23777 went down at about the same time. Only two men managed to survive out of the 11 men aboard - S/Sgt. James Mifflin and 2nd Lt. Wayne H. Gotke. Also aboard the ship was Robert B. Post, a New York Times correspondent. He was the only one of seven journalists - the "writing 69th" who chose to fly with the 44th on this mission. The others chose to fly on the Fortresses and all returned safely. It is probably this unfortunate loss of the first and perhaps, last, correspondent that led to the almost complete exclusion of news of B-24 operations for many months to come. Lt. Gotke had been blown completely out of the nose section by a terrific explosion - either a flak hit or .20 mm shell. The explosion knocked him out and the cold air brought him back to consciousness. Though badly wounded he managed to pull his rip cord and parachuted on down where he landed between some trees. He stated that the plane had exploded, pieces of it fell around him after his parachute opened, and the Germans told him that the largest piece to fall intact was the rudder assembly. Immediately after-the return of the planes to the base, Lt. Kahl and two other aircraft took off to search for the two missing planes, thinking they could spot them ditched, but nothing was found - as they never reached the North Sea. Lt. Gotke said he landed about 3 miles south and west of Oldenburg, Germany. The gunners of the 67th planes piloted by "Pappy" Moore, Bucky Warne and George Phillip's crews were credited with several enemy aircraft destroyed. However, due to the thick cloud cover, bombing results were unobserved; and, although the bombs fell on the city it is surmised that they fell at scattered points.
source: 44th Bomb Group web page http://www.8thairforce.com/44thbg
91st BG / 323nd BS Mission Report - Four ships of 323rd squadron, piloted by Capt. Dwyer, Lieutenants McCarty, Giauque, Birdsong participated in raid against enemy submarine and shipbuilding yards at Wilhelmshaven, Germany. ResuLieutenants fair. Enemy A.A. fire was heavy. Also encountered twenty of their fighters and five bombers. The 91st shot down two fighters, S/Sgt. Trent accounted for one FW 190.
91st BG / 322nd BS Mission Report - Seventeen A/C of 91st Group under Lt. Col. Baskin L. Lawrence attacked the secondary target Wilhelmshaven, taking off at 0821. The lead of the group was assigned to the 322nd, leader of A Flight Captain Robert Campbell in #990. Five other squadron ships attacked: Capt. Bruce C. Barton #139, Lt. William D. Beasely #545, Lt. John T. Harding #453, Capt. Kenneth K. Wallick #481 ('), Lt. William Genheimer and their crews. Bombing results were fair, group lost 2 A/C. Capt. John S'ais #447 and Lt. Smith, both of 401st Squadron. Flak was heavy and intense. 20 E/A made cautious attacks. Group destroyed two.
91BG / 401BS Mission Report - Fairly good. Heavy pattern in Target area. Intense but scattered not aimed at this group. About thirty E/A seen, few encounters with this group. Were in Target area -six JU88 - twenty-four FW190's. A/C 447 - Last seen over water north of Wilhelmshaven headed back into Germany. A/C 362 - Last seen when it turned back just west of Frisian Islands - believed long range T/E E/A must have shot it down over water.