- Wednesday, December 1, 1943 - 386th Bomb Group Mission Number 47:
- Target, Airdrome located at Lille Vendeville, France.
- Briefing got underway at precisely 0630 hours as directed by 1X Bomber
Command Field Order 149, and 386th Field Order 49. The target for the day
is the airdrome situated at Lille, France, also known as Z141. Our
secondary target is the airfield located at Bryas Sud, France - Z678, a
last resort target is a target listed as Z730. Our fighter escort will be
made up of 11 Group RAF flying both Spitfires and Typhoons. The RAF refers
to this type operation escorting bombers on a selected target as a RAMROD!
- We will supply thirty-six ships plus two spares, all are loaded ten
300-pound general-purpose type bombs designated as M-31. Two planes from
the 552nd Squadron will carry ten 250-pound general-purpose type bombs
identified as M-57. The bombs will have an M-103 type instantaneous nose
fuse. The tail fuse is an M-100A1 with one-hundredth second delay.
Aircraft required: The 552nd Squadron will supply six ships, along with
two spares. The 553rd Squadron will put up twelve aircraft. The 554th
Squadron will also have twelve ships. The 555th Squadron will supply six
- The 322nd Bomb Group will join us on this mission; the 386th will lead
on this one. The route out: Base to Splasher Beacon Number 8, to
Dungeness, to four miles south of Hardelot to the I.P. which is located
four miles north of Bethune, to target. Axis of attack is generally west
to east. Return route: Turn right off target to the rally point three
miles North of Lens to four miles south of Hardelot to Dungeness to base.
Altitudes: bomb from 11,500 feet, cross enemy coast out at 10,500 feet.
Emergency airdromes are, Manston and Gravesend.
- The weather at take off time will be clear with a visibility of one
and a half miles. The route out: Overcast stratocumulus over London area.
Breaking to one to three-tenths over English Channel, and French Coast,
with tops to 4,000 feet. No medium or high clouds. Some stratocumulus
cloud formations can be expected from southwest over France. The target
area will have one to two-tenths stratocumulus, no medium or high clouds.
Your visibility will be three to four miles in light haze. The return
route will be pretty much the same as the route out. Base at 1100 hours
will have one-tenth cirrus, with visibility at two and one half miles.
- The assembled flight crews also received the latest information
regarding flak batteries and number of guns, heavy or light type flak to
be expected along their route. The Group Communications Officer gave out
the call sign data, radio frequency data, and the hours Splasher Beacons
would be in operation today, along with identification colors of the day.
A ten second count down was made to synchronize watches. Briefing
completed at 0710 hours.
- Within ten minutes all crews had arrived at their assigned aircraft,
and began the task of inspecting their ships, and stowing aboard personal
equipment. Engine start up time arrived at 0759 hours, taxiing out to the
perimeter track commenced at 0809 hours. First man off was the formation
leader, Major Ramsey flying ship “HONEY CHILE II” number 131636 RU-B at
0814 hours. His high flight leader, Major Thornton with his ship called,
"CRESCENDO” 131644 RG-C. Low flight leader, Lieutenant Green flying a
plane named, “SMOKEY” 131667 RU-N. Back in the second box lead, was
Captain Gianatsis, flying his ship named, “BLAZING HEAT” 131585 AN-J. His
high flight leader was Captain Dewhurst in a ship named, “DINAH MIGHT”
131576 AN-Z. Low flight lead flown by Major Weiss flying his plane named,
“INCENDIARY MARY” 131768 YA-O.
- At 0911 hours the Group’s thirty-eight planes had reached their
assigned altitude of 12,000 feet; they left over field on a heading of 175
degrees true for Splasher Beacon Number 8 where they arrived at 0924.
Continuing on course for two minutes when they made rendezvous with the
322nd Bomb Group heading for Dungeness situated on the English Coast.
Arriving there at 0931 hours. At that point rendezvous was made with the
RAF fighter escort, the formation took up a heading of 132 degrees true
out over the channel. Lieutenant Fansler flying 131827 AN-G could not
catch up with the formation so he took his ship back to base.
- About mid point over the channel, test firing of bomber guns
commenced, a number of armament malfunctions began to occur: Captain Haber
flying, “ELMER” 131577 AN-Y returned early because the top turret guns
would not elevate when the elevation drive motor burned out. He had been
flying in number six position in lead flight, second box. Lieutenant
Robert Spencer flying, “HONEY CHILE” III in lead flight number six; first
box was compelled to return to base due to links jamming up an ammo chute.
A strange accident occurred when a bombardier was knocked unconscious when
his flexible nose gun struck him - probably was stowed incorrectly! His
pilot, Lieutenant Hoffman returned to base immediately from just ten miles
off the enemy coast with their ship, number 131805 AN-D. They had been
flying in the second box number six in the high flight. Lieutenant George
Howard had a rare case when his top turret gunner became ill, forcing the
crew of, “GAMBLER’S LUCK” 131639 RG-G to leave the number six position
high flight in the first box open. Lieutenant Romney Spencer, who had been
assigned as a spare pilot, took over that position with, “SHADRACK” 131587
- Enemy landfall was accomplished four miles south of Hardelot at 0940
hours where the formation took up a heading of 88 degrees true. This would
carry them to the I.P. located four miles north of Bethune, as they closed
on that position both heavy and light type flak came up at the formation.
Flak was also noted coming from nearby Aire, France. The Group was now
employing evasive action, and continued doing so as they made a slight
right turn onto a 190 m.p.h. run to the target on a 92-degree true
heading. Frost on the Plexiglas noses presented the usual problem of poor
sighting and visibility on a short fifteen second bomb run from 11,500
- It was bombs away at 0958 hours; good strikes were noted by the crews
as they made a right turn off the target to a point three miles north of
Lens. The formation continued on a course of 276 degrees to four miles
south of Hardelot. They exited the enemy coast at 1020 hours. At that
point a course of 312 degrees was taken which was a straight shot across
the channel to Dungeness. They arrived at 1031 hours and proceed back to
base by way of Maidstone. The first man landed at base at 1056 hours. Soon
flight crews found themselves engrossed in the interrogation process.
- One crew reported seeing twin-engine bombers in an open field at the
north edge of Auchel. The flak report indicated both light and heavy type
came from Bethune, Aire, and the target. It was slight and somewhat
inaccurate. Heavy type flak was slight and inaccurate coming from Merville,
eight miles south of St. Omer and Furnes. Light type flak, slight and very
inaccurate was encountered at the enemy coast on the way out. Thirty-eight
aircraft were dispatched on the mission, five of which were abortive.
Thirty-one aircraft bombed the primary target with 310 x 300 pound
demolition bombs. Five aircraft returned 50 x 300 pound bombs. The weather
at the target was one to two-tenths scattered stratocumulus, no medium or
high clouds. Visibility was three to four miles in light haze. No enemy
fighter reaction was encountered during the mission.
- Chester P. Klier
- Historian, 386th Bomb Group